Thursday, February 3, 2011

The O.D.F.M.

So many baby name books are rubbish.  I'm not certain how some managed to get published!  Meanings are often an afterthought and the worst offenders simply make them up.  One book actually stated that Michael was of unknown origin and had no particular meaning.  The same book declared Belinda to mean 'grace' when a quick google search will tell you of the possible meanings (bright serpent, immortal beauty, pretty) grace plays no part.  Often poorly researched, they amount to little more than a republished census list with little thought to history, etymology, culture, much less cognates or even reliable definitions.  It was not until I was pregnant with E. that I found a baby name book worthy of the paper it was printed on.

The Oxford Dictionary of First Names, a.k.a. the O.D.F.M, is that tome.  In between it's covers you can find name history and origins, names from many different cultures, diminutives, but most importantly cognates!  Never do the editors defer to the gas station keychain name origin lottery (will it mean grace, beauty, graceful beauty?  Spin the wheel and find out!).

Take the name, Elizabeth.  In addition to the history of the name and trends associated with it, there are also  34 short and pet forms and 10 cognates listed.

Anyway, it is fun to read, learn about other cultures names, and sometimes you learn something unusual.  This entry, tickled my funny bone:
OMAR (m.) English: biblical name borne by a character mentioned in a genealogy (Genesis 36:11).  It has been occasionally used since Puritan times down to the present day in America. More often, however, it is of Arabic origin, as in the case of the film actor and internationally famous bridge player Omar Sharif (b. 1932 in Egypt). (emphasis mine)
Only the O.D.F.M. would assume we're all stacking our Fantasy Bridge Leagues with Omar Sharif.  Laugh out loud.


Mimi said...

He's also fabulously helpful to know about for Crossword Puzzle solving.

Who knew he was a bridge player?

lifetimebikes said...
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