Etymology of names

Some people are under the impression that by tracing the etymology of their first name, they can infer traits about their personality. For example, according to this website, my name Eric is derived from ei meaning “ever” and rikr meaning “ruler,” hence signifying a mighty ruler. While it is true that I am going to become a mighty ruler, that is a happy coincidence rather than the result of being named Eric. In reality my parents were just uncreative and could think of nothing else–they probably picked up a book of baby names from the gas station on the way to the hospital and indiscriminately flipped to the E page. “OK, here’s a name that means ‘mighty ruler,’” they said. “That means he’ll grow up to be successful, and we won’t have to give him any attention during the course of his entire childhood.”

The flaw in my parents’ plan is that a person’s first name guarantees nothing. I know this because almost every name denotes a very flattering thing, like “powerful leader” or “spectacular lay,” but how many people that you know actually fit these descriptions? Despite what baby-naming guides would have you believe, every Eric cannot grow up to become a mighty ruler. If it were so, the world would be a chaotic place in which a million rulers ran around with the exact same name. Everybody not named Eric would have to listen to all the Erics’ confusing rules, and it would be impossible to keep track of anything. Eric would say, “Joseph, I told you to tend to the sheep! Who told you to pick berries?” And Joseph would say, “Eric told me to pick berries. He requested we make him a pie. I’m so confused right now. How come everybody named Eric gets to boss us around? This fucking sucks.” Then everybody would start naming their children Eric, and soon we’d be living in a bizarre fantasy world in which everybody was somehow simultaneously a mighty ruler named Eric. Nice try, baby-naming books, but that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

2 thoughts on “Etymology of names


    Gender: Masculine

    Usage: English

    Pronounced: BRAN-dən [key]
    From a surname which was derived from a place name meaning “hill covered with broom” in Old English.

    I think I got fucking ripped off. On the other hand, I do like covering hills, and brooms are pretty neat.

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