What’s in a name?


Words are so important. I'm a writer and editor so I'm particular about both the written and spoken word. There is a lot of scripture about the importance of the words we use (my personal favourite is 'The tongue can bring life or death; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.' from Proverbs 18:21) and there is currently general consensus to align with that. "Talk yourself positive" and similar advice is metered out on many an inspirational Pinterest board.

'My Nigerian name means "to have a child is to have wealth"'

In Nigeria, it is believed that when you call people you are speaking into their lives, so the meaning of names is deemed particularly important. Some names are literal and so you'll find many people of West African origin named Blessing or Favour. It is also common to name children around the circumstances of their birth or to connect them to their heritage. My Nigerian name means 'to have a child is to have wealth'. My maternal grandma (who I never met) gave me the English name Patricia. I've always kind of disliked it and didn't think it suited me at all but recently I've been finding out more about this wonderful woman I never got the chance to meet and decided to check out the meaning behind the name she deemed fitting for me.

'Anyone who knows me will know that I do behave as though I'm a member of the aristocracy'

My grandma was the wife of a man of high standing in Nigeria; my grandfather was well-known and respected by his peers. My grandma was sent to finishing school in the U.K. and met the Queen Mother as she was "presented" to society. Apparently she was a wonderful host and chef and with a prophetic nature; something of a seer. It wasn't until this morning that I looked to look it up and I discovered that the name Patricia comes from the word "patrician" meaning "noble", a word defined as: 'belonging by rank, title or birth to the aristocracy.' So far, so correct. Anyone who knows me will know that I do behave as though I'm a member of the aristocracy lol. Unlike many fellow women blessed by height, I stand tall; deliberately not slouching because my mother taught me not to diminish myself for anyone. I have expensive tastes and I love a (speaking+heeled) platform. But these are perhaps the symptoms of my high birthright rather than the explanation for it.

'...maybe she gave me that name as a reminder.'

When my grandma named me, she was at home in Nigeria, so she sent the name via letter to my mother who had me not long after she moved to start working in the UK with my father. Grandma never met me, never knew what kind of person I would become, but she knew that I would be brought up in a country which historically looked down on those with my skin colour. She had lived here and maybe she received that treatment herself. So maybe she gave me that name as a reminder. So that every time my name was called and I would answer, it would be a reminder of where I came from. That no matter where in the world I found myself, my birthright would be reiterated to me and hence a key part of my identity reinforced.

'Every time I am called, the reminder to honesty and virtue calls with it'

Another definition of the word "noble" is 'having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles'. As a highly sensitive child I've always been super self-aware and my moral compass does often steer me to do and be "better". But maybe this is another reason for my name. Every time I am called, the reminder to honesty and virtue calls with it and, when I answer, I am reminded that I owe it to myself to be so.

So what does your name mean? And do you know who named you?

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