Your name is a key to who you and your baby are. It is the link that connects the inner self with the outer world, the first contact point that ties you to family and the community in which you live. Your name contributes to your character and can affect the outcome of events for decades to come. To most native cultures, a name reflects the essence of the individual and is more than just an identification tag.

Naming a child is taking unprecedented importance in today’s American culture, and there are many name books available to help in this process. Unlike other name books, Inspired Baby Names from Around the World offers over 6,000 multicultural names carefully matched with a quote that connects the name’s meaning and original culture with an affirmation intended to enrich and bless your baby’s name, as well as your own. The affirmations are drawn from thousands of inspirational writings and sacred texts from around the world, as well as thousands of inspirational authors and historical figures. Along with the meaning, etymology, pronunciation, and usage of a name, the quotations are offered as tools for better understanding a name. Other features include cultural naming customs, current baby naming trends, and guided meditations to help a reader intuitively approach finding the perfect baby name, or to discover a deeper awareness of one’s own name.  If the book is being used to find a new name, steps on how to legally change one’s name are included. Additionally, helpful glossaries of selected name meanings and names by country usage are included, as well as international grandparent names, the most popular names by decade, favorite pet names, and brief biographical notes of authors from whom the quotes are derived.

Parents facing the often-daunting process of finding the perfect name can consider many factors. Many children are named to honor a relative, religious affiliation, or ethnicity. Some name their children after historical or popular figures, while others simply want a name that sounds right. Americans are using diversity, originality, and tradition in choosing names for their children. Many are making up their own names, and why not? At some point in history, all names were made up!

Parents choose names in all sorts of ways, and inspiration can come from many sources, and not just from family or religious traditions. Movie stars, song lyrics, literary characters, and so on may all inspire us with great names. Current naming trends are influencing modern prospective parents, particularly names drawn from colors, locations, trees, and flowers. Popular color names include Bleu, Hazel, Hunter, Kelly, Jade, Olive, Ruby, Violet, and Scarlett. Place names, such as Tennessee and Ireland, and cross-gender surnames are also popular. Other place names include Bristol, Brooklyn, Cairo, Dallas, and Paris, and popular country names include Africa, Asia, China, Kenya, and India. Tree names sound strong and stable and include Acacia, Ash, Forest, Willow, Juniper, Olive, and Maple. Poppy and Clover, popular wildflower names, are also on the rise. Film characters, such as Katiniss from the Hunger Games and Django from Django Unchained, are also on the rise.

These trends vary significantly from our ancestors. Puritans often named their children after Biblical virtues, phrases, or verses, which resulted in such names as Silence, Abstinence, and Thankful.. One of the most unusual Puritan names was Through-Much-Trial-and-Tribulation-We-Enter-the-Kingdom-of-Heaven — or “Tribby” for short. In Colonial times, parents might open the Bible and randomly point to a word, and so Notwithstanding Griswold and Maybe Barnes were created.

Most of the world’s native cultures believe that your name reflects your true essence. A name reveals, clarifies, or indicates one’s life purpose and goals. In some African tribes, the baby “chooses” his or her own name. While a list of names are recited, adults watch for the infant to respond to one with a smile, cry, sneeze, or other body movement. In other cultures, the baby is offered sticks with inscribed names; whichever stick the child grasps is the name she or he “chooses.” Some Africans regard a chronically crying child as communicating displeasure with his or her name and a new name is therefore chosen.

Middle names are also important, as they often serve as an adjective for first names. For example, Nelson Mandela’s middle name was Rolihlahla, which means “pulling the branch of a tree” or “troublemaker.” Nelson means “cloud,” but it also means “champion.” This name fits Nelson Mandela extraordinarily well: as everyone knows, he was imprisoned by the South African apartheid government for being a “troublemaker,” and yet he became a champion of human rights. His troublemaking cloud had a silver lining, one that inspired millions around the world!

Your name—whether it is the one given to you by your parents or one which you have chosen on your own—can help you to better understand yourself and to better understand what it is you are here to do. So whether you use Inspired Baby Names from Around the World to discover your baby’s name or as a pathway to better understanding your own name, it is my hope that you see your name as the blessing it truly is. Blessed be thy name!

Neala Shane’s religious studies led her to research the meanings behind names. Over time, this became her full-time pursuit. She lives in Vancouver, Washington.


Based on the book Inspired Baby Names from Around the World. Copyright © 2015 by Neala Shane. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.


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