Meaning and Influence: Why Are Names Important

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Words: 1016 |

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6 min read

Published: Aug 23, 2018

Words: 1016|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 23, 2018

Our names give an impression of who we are and can be very powerful in determining how people perceive others. The first impression people have about others is through their appearance. The second impression people have about others is through their name. When two strangers meet, they usually start with an introduction of themselves by telling others their name. Our names give us a unique identity and are meant to distinguish people. This diversity is vital especially when dealing with an informal audience. Culture gives meanings to words and that influences what names people adopt for their kids. But this brings us to the question that does popular culture dictate the names we inherit or choose to pass on to our successors? Our names can tell a story of where we come from and can affect our status in the society we live depending on which culture we are in.

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In the article, Experiencing History: Integrating Cultural artifacts into a Study of the Dust Bowl, it states, “Cultural artifacts do indeed inform the historical record, but because they were produced by humans in a particular place and time under distinct circumstances, they contain unique strengths and shortcomings” (Wilson 4). They are used to identify humans so people do not easily get confused. They have been around for centuries. It is commonly accepted around the world to use them to identify someone and have been constantly evolving to suit modern times. It comes from different backgrounds and from certain experiences. People link it to certain experiences which influence how it is interpreted by society. It can also be the reason to why people behave the way they do. It has been an accepted tradition all over the world to not change it once is has given to you by your parents. It is something that we all tend to stick with because we have had it all our lives so we have grown attached to it that it has become a major part of our identity. In the past it was in the form of something that you could not see or touch but was something that you could use to call someone. Now it has become materialized to the point where it has to be on a government document in order for it to be official.

This is not just to include the names of people. Names can also derive from objects such as companies, museums, elite schools, etc. In the article, Celebrity Names/Brand Names: Nicole Kidman, Chanel No. 5and Commodification, it states, “analyzing names – personal, star, and brand names – helps to shed light on the nexus of personal identity, celebrity and consumer products” (Nittins 33). Our names hold significance through their meanings and through their cultural interpretations. People are more likely to take names for their children that are culturally accepted as companies are more likely to choose names for their products or for the company itself if it increases buying and popularity. It is common for names to reoccur in different cultures especially if the name is well known and appreciated by many. When people are born into certain families it is accepted around the world for the children to take the last name of their father to carry the family. In the family unit, the male is represented as the leader of the house. That is why when a woman marries a man, she inherits the last name of the man and when they have children together, the children also carries the last name of their father. This symbolizes the position of the father/husband of the house. He has the leadership role which means he has more responsibility over his family.

In the article, Keep Your Eye on the Ball: Investigating Artifacts-in-Use in Physical Education, it states, “Similarly, recent educational research has shown that the meaning of an artifact is constituted in different ways for different pupils in different practices” (Ohman 2). What may be interpreted a certain way in a culture may be interpreted differently in another culture. Cultures help provide order and stability in the world. They help in promoting diversity. That way people around the world have different interpretations of names and words. Names are inspired through languages. That is why when you hear a foreign name being pronounced it will sound similar to the native language being spoken in that culture. However, these days, names from popular culture such as Grace, Mercy, or Geraldine are being widely accepted and more common to use in different cultures across the globe. This may slowly be breaking the cultural barrier on what names we decide to pass on to our children. The names, Grace and Mercy, are both tied to the Christian religion. Since Christianity is being widely promoted and accepted by many cultures around the world, adopting a name from the bible may not be an issue if the religion becomes a part of the culture. The naming process is becoming more and more lenient.

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In conclusion, culture gives meaning to names and that influences which names we pass on to our children. Names are always changing due to how cultures around the world evolving. Names are being interchanged with different cultures as people from around the world find meet. For example they can partner with other people from different cultures to pursue something they all agree on by establishing a union with each other through religion. Religion can also be a culture that can slowly infiltrate all other aspects of a culture where original cultural values would easily be compromised for the sake of pursuing something higher and greater than all of us. It would then be seen fit to adopt a name from that religion which has become a part of the culture and there would be minimal to no resistance because people are not allowed to question religion. It is likely that other members from that religion would do the same and somehow the names they pass on to their generation would be what the other member from another culture is passing on to their children.

Works Cited:

  1. Barker, E. (2007). Christmas in America: A History. Oxford University Press.
  2. Brouwer, S. (2012). Christmas around the world. Springer.
  3. Cohen, S. (2013). Exploring the meaning of Christmas: A comparative study of the United States and Mexico. Journal of American Culture, 36(3), 345-355.
  4. Lloyd, J. (2008). Celebrating Christmas around the world. National Geographic Society.
  5. Miles, C. (2010). The Origins of Christmas. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  6. Monaghan, E. (2011). The symbolism of Christmas. The Continuum International Publishing Group.
  7. Parker, E. (2012). Christmas traditions around the world. Gareth Stevens Publishing.
  8. Rutter, J. (2010). Carols: The History of Christmas Carols. Lion Hudson.
  9. Santino, J. (Ed.). (1994). Christmas in America: A History. University of Pennsylvania Press.
  10. Ward, C. (2011). Christmas Trees: Fun Facts & Trivia. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
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Meaning and Influence: Why are Names Important. (2018, Jun 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Meaning and Influence: Why are Names Important.” GradesFixer, 11 Jun. 2018,
Meaning and Influence: Why are Names Important. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
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