What's in a Name?

Samuel Morse
Gender:  Masculine
Origin:  English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Scandinavian, Finnish, Biblical
Pronunciation:  SAM-yoo-əl (English), SAM-yəl (English)

Meaning & History
From the Hebrew name Shemu'el, which means either "name of God" or "God has heard".  In the Old Testament, Samuel was the last ruling judge of Israel and the son of Hannah, brought up at the temple under the tutelage of the prophet Eli.  As a judge of Israel, and under the command of the Lord God, he anointed the first king of God's chosen people, Saul.  Later, when God deemed Saul unworthy to lead His people, Samuel also anointed David as Saul's successor. 

As a Christian name, Samuel became common after the Protestant Reformation.  Famous bearers of this name were American inventor Samuel Morse (1791-1872), Irish writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), and American author Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), who wrote classic literature under the pen name Mark Twain.

Gender:  Feminine
Origin:  English, Italian, Dutch
Pronunciation:  sə-MAN-thə (English)

Meaning & History
Possibly intended to be the feminine form of Samuel (see above), adding the name suffix antha, which most likely comes from the Greek anthos, meaning "flower".  It originated in America in the 18th century, but was fairly uncommon until the year 1964, when it was used by the main character on the TV show "Bewitched".

Erik the Red
Gender:  Masculine
Variations:  Scandinavian, Finnish, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Dutch, English
Pronunciation:  E-rik (German), AY-rik (Dutch), ER-rik (English)

Meaning & History
A form of Eric, which comes from the Old Norse name Eiríkr, derived from the elements ei "ever" and ríkr "ruler".  Bearers of this name include several kings of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.  In the 12th century, King Erik IV is the patron saint of Sweden.  Other bearers include the founder of the first Norse settlement in Greenland, Erik Thorvaldsson, also known as Erik the Red, an explorer and outlaw from Western Norway.  Leif Ericson, the Norse Icelandic explorer, was Erik's son.  He is regarded as the first European to land in North America, 500 years before Christopher Colombus.  At some point, Leif converted to Christianity and was given the mission of bringing his faith to the people of Greenland.  As to his father, Erik strongly rejected the religion of his wife and son.

Gender:  Feminine
Origin:  Ancient Greek, English (Archaic)
Pronunciation:  yoo-FEM-ee-ə (English)

Meaning & History
Means "to speak well".  It is derived from the Greek word for "good" and "to speak".  Saint Euphemia was an early martyr from Chalcedon.

No comments

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules,
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.