Home » Philosophy » What’s in a Name? Everything!

What’s in a Name? Everything!

A name is not merely a label; it is an expression of the thing itself.

For instance, in Hebrew a donkey is a chamor.  A variant form of the same word, chomer, means “mortar,” the cement used in laying bricks.  And so the animal most characterized by its stubbornness is called by a name that also connotes “thickness.”  The dog, known for its loyalty, is called a kelev, which can also be read as k’lev, which means “of the heart.”  Names can provide insights into the nature of the world, if we know how to interpret them…

The meaning of a name can offer an insight into one’s intrinsic character.  The name David means “beloved,” suggesting the capacity to form deep emotional bonds.  The name Deborah means “bee,” suggesting an industrious nature as well as a personality that can both sting and sweeten.  The name Abigail means, “source of joy,” suggesting a talent for providing happiness to others.  Awareness of our innate, individual abilities can motivate us to develop potential that would otherwise remain dormant deep within us.

Read the whole article here.



  1. Sydney Chase says:

    I [heard in] a class the Hebrew name of a thing is the essence of the thing itself.

    I think that’s pushing it. I think that in many – or most – of the examples I’ve seen (leaving out the name Avigayil, mentioned by you), it’s an illogical stretch to find some possible connection.



  2. Sid, you’re certainly entitled to your opinions, but its irresponsible to dismiss the intrinsic meaning of names “illogical.” Logic is not involved. Any student of the Hebrew language and its etymology will confirm that the nuance and flexibility of biblical Hebrew not only allow but demand recognizing the association between words that share a linguistic root. The tradition of this kind of interpretation has sources all the way back to the Talmud and is reaffirmed in the literature of virtually every generation of scholars and commentators.


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