Saturday, February 14, 2009

Weekly Geeks - 2.14.09

For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?

Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character's name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

If you'd like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.

Charles Dickens was the first name that came to my mind when I read this week's topic. Not because I like his name, per se, but because I love so many of the names he has given to his myriad of characters. Very often just the sound of the name is indicative of the character's personality. For example:
  • Uncle Pumblchook (doesn't that sound like a pompous arse?)
  • Mrs. Pardiggle (can't you just see a hypocrit wiggling down the street?)
  • Mr. Turveydrop (a most suitable name for a man of "deportement")

There are so many other wonderful examples from Dickens' writing, Harold Skimpole, Philip Pirrip (Pip), Fagin, Caddy Jellyby, and Lady Honoria Dedlock also come to mind. But I think my most favorite character is Ebenezer Scrooge. I love the setting of the novella (Christmas - my most favorite time of year), I love the theme of the novella (it is never too late to change and be redeemed); and I love the way the name - Scrooge - perfectly fits his personality. I did, however, decide to research "Ebenezer" and wonder if his first name fit him as well as his last. From Behind the Name's website I learned that Ebenezer means "stone of help" in Hebrew. While this was somewhat interesting, I did not feel enlightened. Upon further investigation I discovered that Ebenezer can further be translated as "
a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help" (Thank you Dr. Gregory S. Neal)

Now this makes more sense. Isn't it just like God to use the least likely character in our lives to reveal Himself to us? And isn't it just like God to gently and persuasively lead the one lost sheep out of 100 back to His fold? I used to read this story and focus on the name Scrooge --- but after doing the research, I think I will now focus on the name Ebenezer --- it is, in fact, the true meaning of Christmas after all.

As far as the meaning of my name -- well it appears that I am several "diminutives" removed from Maria. It seems that Molly is a diminutive of Mally which is a diminutive of Mary which is a diminutive of Maria (English) or Miryam (Hebrew) - good grief! According to Behind the Name, it seems that there are several possible meanings: The meaning is not known for certain, but there are several theories including "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness", and "wished for child". However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love".

Hmmmm....there appears to be a preponderance of negative nelly possibilities. Sea of Bitterness?? Well, I do often see the glass as half-empty rather than half-full, but I don't think I am bitter. Rebellious? Well, I suppose my parents would say that I went through a rebellious phase, but truly, I am probably one of the most conventional people around. Wished for child -- perhaps there is truth in that statement. My parents were married 9 years before I happened upon the scene - and I think they had probably given up hope of having a child. I would like to think that I was "wished for" -- so I will choose to believe that I was appropriately named for that reason alone :)

I truly enjoyed this meme and actually learned quite a bit about myself. Will any of you choose to participate this week?


  1. I just love P.G.Wodehouse and his crazy characters' names. Really now, who could not adore Gussie Fink-Nottle or Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, not to mention Bertram Wooster?

  2. Great post Molly! Some of my very favorite literary characters are in Joyce's "Ulysses" and Leopold Bloom is so dear to my heart. I'm delighted to see that his name means "brave people". Personally, I think his journey on June 16 was a brave one.

    In terms of my own name, I'm loving the interpretation on "Behind the Name" -- "My God is abundance." Haven't seen that one before and it really resonates. When I do feel the presence of God it is most certainly a sense of total abundance. Thank you! And Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. Great post Molly. Dickens made up some lovely names didn't he?

  4. Dickens did choose weird sounding names. He was master of creating quirky characters.

    PG Wodehouse too, to a certain extent.

    Names and more names

  5. I've always loved the name "Ebenezer Scrooge". It's so memorable, and it seems to fit the character so well.

  6. Wnderful post and full of insight. Ebenezer Scrooge is a great name to find out more about.

  7. Great post. Dickens chose wonderful names for his characters.

  8. That was most interesting ... and I love the Dicken's names! So funny!

    I wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and entering the giveaway. Good luck with that. And thanks for the feedback on the Kindle. I'm glad to hear you love yours. Ever since I heard about it, I've been wanting one -- I mean how often is there a technological breakthough in reading!??? I'll be writing about my experiences as quite a few people seem to want to know about the Kindle.

    Thanks again!


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