About Names: Ethan, which means “enduring,” has lasted since Old Testament times

Actor John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards in the 1956 film “The Searchers” (AP/Warner Bros.)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 6th column, he looks at the history of the name Ethan.

Ethan is the English form of Hebrew Eitan, “solid, enduring.” Four Ethans are mentioned in the Old Testament. The most famous, Ethan the Ezrahite, wrote Psalm 89, beginning “I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever.” Ethan was one of the obscure biblical names New England Puritans adopted. Ethan Allen (1738-1789), Vermonter who led the “Green Mountain Boys” at Fort Ticonderoga’s capture from the British in 1775, is the most famous example.

When Edith Wharton published classic novel “Ethan Frome” in 1911, the name was a good choice for a downtrodden New England farmer born around 1860.

In 1956, director John Ford adapted a novel by Alan LeMay into the Western “The Searchers.” John Wayne played Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran searching for his niece, who’s been kidnapped by Comanche raiders. In the novel, the character was “Amos.” Ford changed that to Ethan because Amos was too identified with the comic character from “Amos ’n’ Andy.”

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Ethans in American history!

Anthony Shore on Naming: Explore Concepts, not Words

Anthony Shore is Chief Operative of Operative Words and was formerly Global Director of Naming and Writing for Landor Associates. In this blog post, he offers advice about creative brand names, starting with the concept “To name well, you must name abundantly.”

To create the many name candidates needed for a new brand name, Shore counsels that you should explore concepts, not words:

Concepts are intrinsically more generative than specific words because concepts can include other concepts.

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“Hello, death”: Coca-Cola’s te reo marketing blunder

Photo from @waikatoreo on Twitter

A Coke vending machine with the words “Kia Ora, Mate” is doing the rounds on Twitter, with social media users pointing out the dangers of mixing te reo and English. “Mate” is Māori for “death” which brings a whole new meaning to the sentence – and definitely not the one Coca-Cola intended.

An article at the New Zealand Herald rounds up the responses, which were kicked off by a tweet. Twitter user @waikatoreo posted the photo on Sunday, saying “Coke got an unexpected result when they mixed Māori and English”. Click through to see what people had to say!

About Names: A name that’s managed to stay in our good Grace(s) for centuries

Superstar Miss Grace Jones

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 25th column, he looks at the history of the name Grace.

Grace is from Latin “gratia,” “favor, good will.” In Christian theology, it means “God’s unmerited favor or love.”

Medieval Catholics occasionally used the term as a girl’s name. One example is St. Grace of Lérida in Spain. Born the daughter of a Muslim caliph, she was martyred in 1180. Normans brought the name Grece when they invaded England in 1066. This was probably from a Germanic word meaning “gray,” also found in the first syllable of “Griselda.” Early medieval records used “Grecia” as Grece’s Latin form. By 1250, this changed to “Gracia.” Soon, the everyday English form was “Grace.”

Grace peaked again at 13th in 2003 — though with names more varied today, it accounted for only 0.64 percent of girls born then as opposed to 1.13 percent back in 1890.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Graces in American history!

About Names: From Welsh roots, Gladys has worked its way through the grapevine

Gladys Knight

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his October 9th column, he looks at the history of the name Gladys.

Gladys is the modern form of Welsh Gwladus. Medieval records in Latin used “Claudia” as its equivalent. Experts disagree on whether Gwladus was just the Welsh form of Claudia or from Welsh gwlad, “countryside.” The first historical Gwladus was St. Gwladus, a princess of Brycheiniog. Kidnapped by Gwynllyw, king of Gwynllwg, she became his queen.

The modern form was spread by the novels “Gladys of Harlech” (1858) by Louisa M. Spooner and “Gladys the Reaper” (1860) by Anne Beale. Both authors were English women living in Wales. Spooner’s tale features a medieval noblewoman and Beale’s a simple country girl. Both show the Welsh as good people oppressed by corrupt Englishmen. The 1870 census includes 128 Gladyses, almost all born during the 1860s in the North. (Perhaps the novels didn’t make it to the South during the Civil War.)

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Gladyses in American history!

About Names: Evolution of Randall has spanned multiple generations

Poet Dudley Randall

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 24th column, he looks at the history of the name Randall.

Old Norse Rannulfr, “shield-wolf,” came to England with Norman conquerors in 1066 as Randulf. Clerks writing in Latin made Randolph the common spelling. Randall or Randell was Randolph’s nickname, adding French diminutive “el” to Rand. In 2010, 54,764 Americans had Randall as a surname, while there were 41,129 Randolphs, showing Randall was more common as the everyday medieval form.

Randall and Randolph became rare as first names after 1400, but never vanished. When Social Security’s yearly name lists started in 1880, Randolph ranked 398th and Randall 731st. For the next 55 years, Randolph ranked about the same while Randall steadily rose. Randall surpassed Randolph in 1936. Both then boomed — Randolph peaked at 154th in 1952 and Randall at 53rd in 1955, when 6,684 were born.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Randalls in American history!

Andrew Douglas Clifford maps te reo place names

Andrew Douglas-Clifford, who is in his early twenties, used a range of resources to put together an online map and poster giving New Zealand places and natural features the te reo Māori names bestowed by the indigenous people.

He spent months creating the detailed, interactive online map that offers Māori names for towns, cities, lakes, notable mountain peaks, rivers, bays and international cities and countries. The map on his Map Kiwi website also shows marae locations around the country.

You can read more about his work, or listen to an audio version of the story at the Radio New Zealand website.

The Skinny on Meal Kit Company Names

Meal kit delivery is relatively new, but the concept has spawned fierce competition in the last six years. With a raft of similar companies vying for the same customers, the pressure is on for branding teams to make sure their company stands out from the crowd. That process starts with the company name. And for those of us outside of the meal kit industry, looking at an entire category like this provides great naming lessons for how to differentiate our brands.

Of course, in its branding and marketing, each company conveys messages beyond what’s obvious from the name. Most of those are common to the category: farm-to-table freshness, great taste, healthful eating, sustainability, ease, convenience. But focusing on the names themselves yields plenty of choice branding morsels.

At Marketing Profs, Mark Skoultchi of the naming firm Catchword dives into the meal kit naming world and provides five takeaways from the naming of meal kit brands. Click through to get some tasty naming naming lessons!

The Changing Place Names of Washington, D.C.

“View looking northwest from Anacostia: [Washington D.C.],” John L. Trout, 1901. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.

Kim Edwin, a library technician in the Geography and Map Division, has written about the history of place names in Washington, D.C. for the Library of Congress. She discusses the complicated array of toponyms and political geography over its history. Here’s a sample:

The Residence Act of 1790 created a national capital, known as the Federal District, from portions of Maryland and Virginia, centered on the convergence of the Potomac and the Anacostia rivers, which are names derived from the Algonquian Native American language. In 1791, President George Washington appointed Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant to develop a plan for the new city. This resulted in a map, now famously known as the L’Enfant Plan, an enhanced version of which can be seen below. L’Enfant does not name the new city in his map, but within his layout of streets, marked by circles and diagonals, he shows locations for the “President’s House” as well as the “Congress House.” It even has a “Grand Avenue” on the site of today’s National Mall.

Want to know more? Click through to read it all at the website for the Library of Congress!

About Names: Swahili names like Taraji, Sanaa see swell in popularity

Taraji P. Henson

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 10th column, he looks at Swahili names.

Actress Taraji P. Henson turned 48 recently. Bernice and Boris Henson named their daughter Taraji Penda. In Swahili, taraji means “hope” and penda means “love”. Both taraji and penda are verbs in Swahili. “Penda maadui wako” is Swahili for “Love your enemies.”

The English verb “hope” is more often translated by the Swahili word “tumaini” than “taraji.” Swahili speakers use “tumaini” when they trust what’s hoped for will really happen. “Taraji” is a bit more tentative, closer to English “wish.”

Swahili was first spoken in Zanzibar and coastal Tanzania and Kenya. It became the trade language of all East Africa. Today, it has around 75 million speakers in Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda and the Congo, as well as Kenya and Tanzania.

Since the 1960s, African-American parents have turned Swahili words into names. Many of them aren’t actually used as names in East Africa. Of course, they aren’t the only foreign words turned into American names — Irish “colleen” (girl) and French “chérie” (darling) weren’t names in Ireland or France.

In East Africa, the huge majority of Swahili speakers are Muslim, and most of the names they use are Islamic. Swahili variations of Muslim Arabic names are also used by African-Americans. One of the most common is Omari, Swahili form of the Arabic “Umar,” “long life” or “flourishing,” name of the second caliph after Muhammad’s death. Actor Omari Hardwick (1974), since 2014 starring as the nightclub owner “Ghost” St. Patrick on the crime drama “Power,” has helped this name boom in the African-American community. Omari ranked 512th for American boys in 2017.

Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Swahili names in American history!