What’s in a Name?

Those of you who follow my blog know I’m constantly remarking about how powerful and fun words are.  I love words.  And if you can tell a story and manage to raise the image you’re trying to paint in another person’s mind, well, that’s when storytelling becomes art.

I love it when words can be used in alternative tenses.  Past, present, and future.  But they can also be used in multiple fashions.  As a noun, adjective, and verb.  All three.

But have you ever seen a proper noun be used with such multiplicity?

Of course you have.  But often it’s not in a positive light.  Like to “pull a Homer,” means to do something like Homer Simpson did, which is usually stupid.  To pull a Clinton means to cheat on your spouse.  And on and on . . .

Where am I going with this?

Well yesterday, I was shopping for some good rain gear for upcoming travels and I came across the use of a word I had not seen before.  It’s a proper noun, which can be used as a name for a person or a plant.  But it can also be used as an adjective to describe colors, or as a verb to describe the construction of fabrics.

The name is Heather.

And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a couple of Heathers in my life who are very wonderful women.

Heather, as a name for a person, is derived from Middle English and refers to a flowering evergreen plant thriving on peaty, barren, rocky lands, such as in Scotland.  The flowers of this plant are a mix of pink and white.

The context I saw yesterday, however, had to do with the interweaving of yarns to produce alternative flecks of color.  The composite color was then referred to as “charcoal heather.”  To “heather” with yarns means you interweave and mix colors to produce flecks composing an alternate color.  It can be any two colors but commonly it is a mix of grays or black and white to produce a muted hue.

So “Heather,” as a noun, can be a person, plant, yarn, or a color.  And the word can be used as an adjective to describe a color, or as a verb to describe the process of blending colors.

A versatile and complex word, Heather also carries the symbolism of admiration, good luck, and as being a protective force.

I’m not sure about your name, but my name seems to lack such depth and diversity in meaning.  Harold, from the Old English Hereweald, means “army ruler” or “army commander.”  I haven’t been commanding any armies lately (maybe armies of words) and I’m not sure you could use Harold as a verb or adjective.  Actually, I rather like the Old English name and spelling much better than the current form.  It seems more powerful and majestic somehow.

Ironically and apart from its definition, some people seem to relate the name Harold with being puny, sickly, or with being a “dweeb.”  And Hollywood has chosen to reinforce this image.

This point was driven home to me when I forayed into the land of internet dating.  Some women made it quite clear their bias towards that name, and I found that when I used my last name, “Stearley,” I received fifty-fold the number of responses and interactions.

So yes, “What’s in a name?” 🙂

I am pleased to have met the Heathers I know.  They are strong, complex, beautiful, interwoven souls.  Their names are fitting.


Photo: No, it’s not the Heather plant.  I didn’t have a picture of that.  This is the Mohave Lupine.  But it does have pink and white in it.  I just happen to love this small delicate flower and the close up really brings out its features.  Beauty in so many forms.  So “What’s in a name?” as the line from Romeo and Juliet ponders 🙂

Mojave Lupine + Crop + SPFx2

26 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?”

  1. Stearley sounds manly and sounds like money (Sterling) which may explain your increased response rate. And yeah, strippers always change their name to something glamorous like Jade. What man doesn’t want to throw some money at Jade? Who would throw money at a Susan? LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, the evolution of some are quite interesting. And in the old days, names were probably given out more judiciously – the parents picked names to represent qualities of their children 🙂


  2. I struggle to find names I like for my dogs or names suitable to my fictional characters. Some names just bring a picture into your head, but I can never think of them when I want them. (Mind you, I have the same problem with words in general these days.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have one of those dreadfully old fashioned names that will never regain popularity. It would never ever be used in the throes of passion and has been a drawback all my life. Forty years ago I did consider changing it, but you know what? My parents had a reason for naming me thus, and I was named after someone special in their lives.
    Jeez, I would have loved to be a Moonbeam:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like Moonbeam 🙂 Yes, I was named after my Grandfather and that was very important to my father. He briefly had a brother named Harold, Jr. who died at about one year old. Interesting enough, Harold Junior was born the same day I was, just many years before me.


  4. Harold is my brother’s first name, but most of his life he has gone by his second name…. I had a hell of a time trying to find the meaning of “Carol”. I usually got back Carolyn or Caroline, until one day this popped up: “Carol:: a song of joy”. That made me very happy. LOL so now I do my best to live up to that….though I don’t always succeed. I love words as well – it’s like a treasure hunt to find the perfect word to express what I want to express…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You just confirmed that naming my daughter Heather Dawn was a good idea. She is like a flower at sunrise. (She has been teased for having a name only a hippie would choose) Like Shakespeare said…”what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”

    Liked by 1 person

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