For this week’s edition of Weekly Geeks, we’re going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?
If you’d like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.
Looking over my shelves and the lists of books I’ve read, it’s surprising how many of them fail to bring a character name immediately to mind. The what is so much easier to remember than the who. And most of the ones I do remember fail to grab my imagination; perhaps having such an uncommon name myself makes everything else seem ordinary in contrast.
I’m fond of the name Joseph, though I’ve no idea why. It’s derived from Yosef, a Hebrew name meaning “The Lord’s addition (to the family).” The only fictional Joseph I can think of offhand is Stephanie Plum’s Morelli, but I’m sure I must have encountered more.
I also like Maud, from Possession (the second Weekly Geeks in a row I’ve mentioned that book!) It’s from the Germanic Mathilda, meaning “powerful battler”; and aptly it came into vogue in the Victorian era, when part of the book is set. I think it suits her character well - she has to work hard to get at the truth and to keep it from her and Roland’s rivals.
Since I’m currently reading Far from the Madding Crowd I have to mention Gabriel Oak and Bathsheba Everdene - two fabulous names in the one novel! Bathsheba is from the Hebrew Bat-Sheva, meaning “Daughter of oath.” The Biblical Bathsheba married King David after he had her husband killed in battle. I can’t say how well this fits Hardy’s heroine - the reason I’m re-reading the book is because I realised how little I remember of it. Gabriel comes from Gavriel, Hebrew for “strong man of God”. Well, he is the hero of the book - does that count as a good fit?
As for looking up my own name - it is, in a convoluted way, a form of Jane, meaning “God is gracious”. It fits after a fashion - I’m a proverbial plain Jane, and I’m weird (all the forms of Jane available, and I got the unspellable, unpronounceable one - thanks, Mum and Dad!)