First Name Meanings

When choosing the perfect name for your baby, the meaning of the name can be an important factor in your final decision. Literal first name meanings are often based on the origin of the name and what that word means in its original language. However, many people also choose a name based on its sentimental meaning -- what it means to the couple personally. Sentimental names can represent important people, special places or events, or family heritage and tradition.

An Overview of First Name Meanings

So you've found out you're pregnant and a baby is on the way. Congratulations! Along with the celebrating and planning to come, it's time to begin your quest to find the perfect name for your child. Many couples begin by looking at the meaning of different baby names.
 
First name meanings can be different for everyone -- what one name means to the husband may carry a completely different meaning for his wife. Some couples choose to look at the meaning of a first name literally (by looking at the translation and origin of the name); others prefer to think of what a name means to them sentimentally. No matter what approach you take, with some time and research, you'll be able to find the perfect name for your new baby.
 

The Literal Meaning of a First Name

Many first names have a literal meaning associated with them. The study of words and their meanings is known as etymology. Etymology involves studying:
 
  • When a word entered a language
  • What source the word came from
  • How the word's form and meaning have changed over time.
     
These factors can affect how a first name is spelled, how it sounds, and what it means.
 
Literal name meanings can be based on the origin of the name (i.e., what country it originated in) and what that word or combination of words meant in the original language. Take, for example, the meaning of the name Alexander. Etymologically, the name is derived from alex- (the compound form of alexis) meaning "refuge, protection, defense." This is combined with -andros, the compound form of aner, the Greek word for "man." Thus, the first name Alexander can be roughly translated as "helper or protector of mankind."
 
Some people choose to give their children first names based on this literal meaning. For example, a couple that has a premature baby who fought hard to survive may want to name him something that means "strong," "miracle," "tough," or "resilient." So, they may choose the name Andrew (meaning "strong, manly") or Arnold (meaning "strong as an eagle").
 
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