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  • Carmen Cristini Eichman

What's in a Name?


A name not only identifies something or someone, it also gives insight into the person or thing. When given the opportunity to attach a name, it's monumental and lasting. So this isn't a task to be taken lightly because of its endurance, whether you're privileged enough to name a person, place, thing or idea.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration. Are you looking for attention, a feel good sensation, a meaningful connection, relatability, or easy recall? Of course, this barely skims the surface of the multitude of reasons for a specific name.

According to the "Psychology of Naming," (November 10. 2014) names have an emotional significance because people are social beings. "When we encounter something new, we want to know how it fits into our social world, how we are supposed to interact with it, what it can do for us, or how it might harm us. And we look to its name as some sort of indication of these characteristics."

When my husband and I named our kids, we thought about everything from ethnic and familial connections, alliteration, common spellings, meanings, uniqueness, and our likeability. We both have always related to our shared Italian heritage, so we knew we wanted to continue this heritage link with our children.

Growing up, I didn't always appreciate my name or it's significance. I was named after one of my Italian grandfathers. Carmen. I couldn't believe my parents would name me after a man! The only other Carmens that I knew were other, older Italian men. This didn't help my self esteem. I was also tired of people misspelling my first and last name, while not knowing on paper whether they were dealing with a male or female. So, I wanted my kids to have a very gender specific, easy to spell, with only one spelling name.

Needless to say, although it took some time, I love that I was named after my grandfather, and I have an Italian name. I'm proud of it, and I only hope my grandfather was happy with his namesake. It's certainly a meaningful connection within our family.

It has also been very exciting for me to name my book series. Initially I choose "Tony Baloney", which I felt was a perfect fit for so many reasons. Unfortunately, another writer was inspired by the same name and beat me to it! When I found out the name was taken, I was very disappointed and sort of devastated. Then I convinced myself that great minds do think alike! Right?

It was back to the drawing board for me. I focused on alliteration, meaning, and memorability. So "Tony Baloney" now became "Tony, If Only". As a typical, rambunctious eight year old, who gets into trouble and hasn't grasped accountability, I hope this new name is an even better fit. I think that "Tony, If Only" he would consider the consequences of his actions, he wouldn't get into so much trouble! Let's wait and see!

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