Posted on April 21, 2012


There’s a movie version of Freakonomics, and it’s very interesting.  It opens with a discussion of names and the factors that people consider when choosing names for their children.  For example, some names are popular for a generation or two and then disappear for a couple decades; others show up for a generation then disappear completely.  Some are adopted by specific racial, social or ethnic groups, used for a few years, then go away.  What this represents, from a big picture view, is subject to debate, but the impression I got from the movie was this: different groups choose names for their children based on the perception of that name’s potential for success.

Yeah, let’s not dwell on that right now.  Instead, I really wanted to talk about my take on names.  I’ll try to summarize this as best I can (’cause if I don’t, it’ll turn into an essay)…

The Bible tells us that:

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it. (NLT)

We also know that, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3, NLT)  And pretty much everything else that happened in the creation story is preceded by God speaking.  Then there’s this gem: “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.'”  So here’s my thinking: God has the word, and the word is power.  Power to create; to destroy; to control all things.  Man is made in the image of God.  We’re not exactly like God, but we’re similar to Him.  God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; man is mind, body and soul.  God created the world with words; man can control the world with words.

Words have power.

(Now, what’s really interesting about the New Living Translation is that it refers to the “word” as a person.  The “He” in verse 2 is talking about the word.  “[The word] existed in the beginning,” and “God created everything through [the word].”  See, this is how I could write an essay on this topic: there’s so much potential in just fives sentences…)

Now, you may not agree with this completely, and I understand that.  But look at how people control other people: through our words.  Actions matter too, don’t get me wrong, but very often, and we’ve seen this before, words have the power to direct and control people’s actions.

So is it too much to think that what you name your child matters?  Because that’s what Freakonomics suggests, and I’m inclined to think there’s some truth to it.  I don’t think that just because I name my daughter after her great-grandmother that she’ll turn out to be as awesome as that woman was; but it won’t hurt none.

Anyway, the real reason I wanted to talk about this topic is because I’ve been researching names for a long time, and I’ve found some very interesting ones along the way.  Here’s just a sample of the more… intriguing ones.

america: I’m sure you’ve heard of this one before.  If you haven’t, look up the movie.

ABCD: Pronounced “ab-se-dee.”

Le-a: Pronounced “le-dash-a;” turns out, though, that this spelling is an internet myth.  Either way…

Unique: Pronounced “you-nee-kwa.”

Kal-El: … seriously?  I’m assuming, of course, that a website like checks its sources…

And I have a friend who’s middle name is a number.  No joke; it’s on her birth certificate and her driver’s license.  She actually had to change the “spelling” of it to get it authorized.  I won’t tell you who she is, though, out of respect for her; if she wanted the world to know, she’d publish a book or something…