Weekly Geeks – What’s in a name?

wgbookpile1 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?

Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character’s name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

If you’d like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.

There are many names that ran through my head as I read this post, both from classics and contemporary fiction.  The one that really struck a cord was Lyra Belacqua, the young heroine of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy.   The title of the trilogy comes from Milton’s Paradise Lost and Pullman used lots of terms and images from that classic and well as many others in his densely written novels.

golden_compass_hthmb1Lyra is the name of a constellation.  It is derived from lyre, an ancient musical instrument. Lyra was one of the 48 constellations listed in the 1st century by Ptolemy, the Roman astronomer.

Belacqua was a native of Florence, an instrument maker and supposed friend of Dante Alighieri.  In Purgatoro Canto IV of the Divine Comedy he is among those waiting to enter Purgatory after having repented.  Samual Beckett has also used the character in his fiction.

Thus Lyra Belacqua, a name envoking stars, music,  some form of grace and forgiveness.

This  Weekly Geek has special meaning for me for I chose the name Gavin in my late thirties.  It means hawk or  from the hawk field.  I had been wanting a name change for a while, for many reasons, mostly because my given name never fit.  It was as if it went right through me and never connected.  After long discussions about what my new name should be a friend asked me to think of someone I admired.  I immediatly thought of a women friend from college.  Strong, independent and very bright. I had lost touch with her in my travels, did not even know if she was alive.  So that name is now my name.  It’s confusing to people as most assume it is masculine.  It is not or I wouldn’t have chosen it. It’s  just one of those name that can be used either way, like Riley,Hillary, Davis or Evelyn.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Weekly Geeks – What’s in a name?

  1. Oh, I really thought you were male until I read this post :)
    In Denmark there are rather strict rules for which names you can give boys and girls.

    I like your information about Pullman´s story. I watched it in a Danish theatre right after Christmas and was quite impressed by it.

  2. So that’s why you use a hawk as your icon Gavin? Like Dorte, I assumed it was a male name. My name Kerrie can be spelled Kerry and then it becomes one that is male or female. Thanks for the reserach on Lyra Belacqua – that was very interesting. I would have thought Belacqua meant “good water”

  3. Lyra is a beautiful sounding name. Thanks for the info about it.

    Names and more names

  4. Lovely post :D You picked one of my favourite characters ever. I’ve always loved her name.

  5. Fascinating post! Thanks for sharing.

  6. What a great post! I thought you were a guy at first also! I like your name. Picking Lyra’s name was such a good choice.

    I understand when you say your former name was something that you didn’t connect with. My last name was one I couldn’t connect with. I changed it years ago, but still haven’t filled out the paperwork.

    Have a great week!

  7. I thought you were a guy, too. Sorry!! Obviously, we really needed this week’s topic!

    Lyra is a gorgeous name…and a good choice for your post.

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