I am both sensitive and curious with respect to names. How do parents choose the names and what impact do those names have on children through their lives? I’ve lived my whole life with the first name Bernard, which is more familiar than Autria but still unusual. In fact, I have only met seven other Bernards in my whole life and I was related to two of them.The most popular names for girls born in 2014, according to babycenter.com, include Sophia, Emma, Olivia and Emily. I know a 26-year-old named Emma but the only other Emma I ever met was my Mother’s sister who was born in the early 1900s. The most popular boy names for 2014 include Jackson, Aiden and Noah. I know a 50-year-old Jackson and a 19-year-old Noah. Autria, Jacqui and Jummy are not on any list.
To further torture myself about my own name, I dug deeper into the list. Bernard is not even on the top 100. Some names like Michael, John and David seem to be popular over decades, even centuries. Others from the distant past make a comeback, like Henry and Oliver. Why? I don’t know.
Jennifer is the name of my favorite female, yet her name is not on the top 100 girl names for 2014. I know at least six Jennifers, but the youngest is in her 40s; I guess that name will make a comeback some day. Some names that I associate with older women are on the list, however … Amelia, Hannah, Isabelle and Claire. I know several women named Lisa and Linda, yet neither is in the top 100. Another great friend is named Leahe (non-traditional spelling of Leah); that name IS on the list, in the middle of the top 100.
What’s in a name? I looked up a few names on behindthename.com. Michael means ‘who is like God?’ David means ‘beloved’, Noah means ‘rest, comfort’, Sophia means ‘wisdom’ and Emma means ‘universal’. Jennifer is derived from Guinevere, which means ‘smooth, fair’. Interesting.I’ve never really liked the name Bernard and I’ve gone by Bernie since high school. As I age, however, I feel better about my name because it is uncommon, like me. I am named for my Dad and another relative. If I had had a son, would I have named him Bernard? No. I did pick out names once and Jason topped my list.
So what does Bernard mean? ‘Brave, hardy’. Well, that’s not so bad. I guess I’ll keep it.