Names – we all have them. We use them to identify ourselves and they are such a huge part of who we are. While some of us might have more than one full name in our lifetimes, most of us get one.
They are so normal that most of us have never thought twice about names. But names can tell us a lot about a person’s ethnicity and even their family history. So what are the origins of names? Why were they invented? Keep reading to find out.
The first names
Names first came to be thousands of years ago when languages first became common. Unlike modern names, where we often choose names of significance or that we simply like, ancient names were very practical.
Your name would typically be something related to your occupation, what you looked like, or even the environment around you. These names were simply used to craft an identity for an individual to help people identify each other. It’s similar today, but over time, names have become more creative and more about self-expression.
Type of names
According to an article from Wikipedia, names typically refer to first names, last names, and middle names as we know them today. But they can also include nicknames, titles, and aliases.
First names are typically personal names and are unique. Meanwhile, last names or surnames are passed down by family. In many cultures, first names can also be given based on a component of a parent’s personal name, known as a patronym (from the father) or matronym (from the mother.)
Names and religion
Names also carried religious and spiritual weight in history. Gods and deities have historically been viewed as important and powerful, making them popular inspiration for names over the years.
For example, in ancient Egypt, people were named after their gods and goddesses. In Hinduism, names often have a significant meaning and are given based on the qualities and characteristics that parents hope their child will embody. This is similar to Biblical names that come from the Bible, where names reflect the individuals’ lives.
Many religious names remain popular today.
Getting the origin of your name
In modern times, names are often chosen based on personal preference. Your name is unique to you but also likely has a story behind it. By looking up the origin of your name, you can get some pretty interesting insights about your cultural or family background.
So where does one start?
You can start by looking up the etymology of your name, which will provide information on its meaning. Companies and apps like Namsor can help you trace the origins of your name to tell you things like the origin and the ethnicity of any name.
The history of names as a concept and individual names themselves is absolutely fascinating. Although they’re so commonplace today, they carry a rich history and tell a story of evolution in language and culture.
To deepen your research and vary your sources of information, you can also use specialized websites that deal in depth with names and their origin.
Scientific websites are often the ones used for this type of research. The data they have on names, ethnicities, diasporas, etc. is comprehensive and reliable.
We also recommend that you rely on more traditional media such as books or encyclopedias. Many books such as encyclopedias of family names represent reliable information to learn more about the history of names through the centuries and around the world.
You can also get in touch with historians or experts in genealogy or human history. Through interviews with them, you can learn more about where names come from and how they were invented.
Beyond the method you use for your research, we recommend that you define your research criteria, your goals, etc.
Now that you have an idea of how names were invented, where they come from, and how you can go about researching them, don’t hesitate to start your project! If you want to trace your origins or the history of a name, you have everything you need to start your research!
Interesting Related Article: “Top 100 Most Popular Male and Female Dog Names“