Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's In a Name

Magnet # 188:  Elizabeth in Chinese Calligraphy

Material:  Acrylic

Purchased By:  Dad

I thought I'd get a head start on Learn What Your Name Means Day, which is actually tomorrow. This is an excellent opportunity to gain a better understanding of your name and perhaps appreciate it even more.

Well, Elizabeth is a pretty old name that dates back all the way to Hebrew times. In fact, it is a Biblical name that was used by John the Baptist's mother. It means "God's abundance" or "my God is my oath." Elizabeth truly came into the spotlight when Elizabeth I reigned in England, and it's been a consistent favorite for many years. Jane Austen dubbed her most beloved heroine in Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth, and in Little Women, Elizabeth is the name of the March sister who sadly dies. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most beloved poets of the Victorian Era. And, of course, a second Elizabeth now sits on the throne of England. Yep, there are a lot of Elizabeths out there. Some people even have it for a last name, although I've never run across anyone who does. My parents weren't naming me after anyone in particular when they gave me the name. They just liked it and they figured it has so many nicknames I could pretty much choose whichever name I liked for myself, which was pretty considerate of them. They call me Beth, but there are plenty of other nicknames to choose from like Betsey, Libby, Liza, Elle, Betty, and Eliza (I like that one). All in all, there are over 150 variations of the name. I guess I just ended up going with Elizabeth because it's my full name and, when I was grown, I stopped telling people to call me Beth when they used Elizabeth. I like the name - it's pretty and a little formal, even if it can be on the long side. And I like that there is a "Z" in it. Don't ask me why, but I like unusual letters like "Z" "X" and "V" in names - I guess it kind of sets them apart. All in all, I'm happy with my name - it's definitely a keeper.

Of course, this magnet gives a whole new meaning to my name, one that comes from the East, where, apparently, the symbols depicted on this magnet combine to form Elizabeth. The symbol at the top stands for nobility.  On the second row, the symbol at the left means beautiful while the one at the right means sand.  Finally, the bottom symbol stands for white.  So, I'm white (or maybe pure), noble, beautiful, and... full of sand?  Okay, that might be a bit odd, but it's still fun to see my name translated into not just another language, but an entirely different system of characters.  I'm glad my Dad was able to pick it up for me on a business trip to Singapore, and I'm proud of myself for having hung onto the piece of paper that has the translation on it for the symbols this long.  I keep it between the magnet and my fridge.

So what does your name mean? You might want to check it out tomorrow, or go ahead and look today. You could start by searching at http://www.behindthename.com/ .  And, as always, you're welcome to post the results here - now start learning more about your name - maybe you'll find out new information about it you would have never imagined!


  1. That's crazy 150 variations of the name Elizabeth! I guess you could call yourself just about anything with your name.

  2. When my Elizabeth went to college there were 7 other girls with the same name entering that year. Pretty impressive given that the yearly class size was only around 100. So to avoid confusion all of them had to choose nicknames they would use. Mine went with Ellie, but she only used it those four years. Like you, she prefers the full Elizabeth.

    Of course its still funny talking about you or my wife with Linz. I tend to call you "Savannah Elizabeth" or EP and she often just uses your last name to avoid confusion. And its certain to be all the more fun this weekend with you right there too! See you in a couple days!

  3. Yep, the possibilities seem endless.

    I guess we're both kind of traditional. And I'm looking forward to it!