Today, the world celebrates “Learn What Your Name Means Day.” Inspired by this really interesting not-quite-holiday, I set out to find the definition behind my first name—Kristel Marie.
Except, being naturally curious, I didn’t really stop with my name. Instead, I fell down this rabbit hole of entertaining but time-consuming and potentially useless name binge that led me to a large list of popular names with very bizarre meanings behind them. Here are ten of my favorites.
Kennedy – While according to some sources, Kennedy is the English cognate of the Gaelic name, Cinnéidigh, which translates to helmeted chief, other sources claim that the name means ugly or misshapen head.
MacLeod – According to multiple sources, Wikipedia included, the Scottish last name MacLeod means Son of Leod, which in itself isn’t a bad thing. Except Leod allegedly also means ugly man. Put two and two together and MacLeod would translate to “son of the ugly man.” Yikes. Beautiful name with a not-too-flattering definition behind it.
Cecilia – This lovely English first name is said to be derived from its masculine cousin, Cecil. Cecil, in turn, comes from the Latin word coccus, which means blind.
Mallory – The French name Mallory is said to mean bad luck or ill-fated.
Calvin – The male first name Calvin is said to be derived from the French last name Cauvin, which means the little bald one.
Claudia – I’ve always loved the French baby name Claudia. This beautiful name is based on the male name Claud—from the Latin word Claudium, which means lame.
Byron – Lord Byron may have been the ultimate seducer, but his last name comes from the Old English word byre, which means barn for cows.
Gideon – The Hebrew baby name Gideon is said to mean the destroyer with a stump for a hand.
Portia – Portia may have been the lead in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” but according to some sources, the name also comes from the Latin word Porcia, which means hog or swine.
Leah – The baby name Leah has two possible meanings. In the Semitic nation, Chaldea, the name Leah meant ruler or mistress. But the Hebrew name is also said to have come from the Hebrew word le’ah, which means weary.
P.S. In case you’re interested, these are the (possibly) legit definitions for Kristel and Marie:
Apparently, Kristel is either (a) a derivative of the Greek word Christianos, meaning “follower of Christ,” or (b) a 19th century name from the word Crystal, which is a type of transparent quartz. As for Marie, according to BabyNameWizard.com, the name is a French derivative of the biblical name, Mary—as in the Mother of God. But aside from this, Marie could also mean a myriad of other things, including “the sea of bitterness or sorrow,” “rebellion,” “the mistress of the sea,” and the “wished-for child.”