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Blog > October Writing Prompt: Origin of your name

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October 1st is World Postcard Day, so we’re publishing next month’s writing prompt a few days in advance. The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

Sheila (aka altmanhome) sent in this fun suggestion for a writing prompt: she mentioned being curious about people’s name meanings, or why they were given a particular name. It’s often interesting to hear about naming traditions within families, unusual name origins, etc, so that’s this month’s prompt!

In October, write about the origins of your name.
Stone carving of the goddess Nike at the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus

I usually go by the name “Nicky”, which is a shortened version of the name my parents gave me that means “victory of the people” (or possibly “people of victory”). I suppose it must come originally from the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, though I haven’t dug deep into the etymology of it!

How about you? What does your name mean, or do you have a fun story about how you came to be called by it? Some folks choose to change their names as adults for a whole variety of reasons, so perhaps if that’s you, you can tell us why you chose yours? We’d love to see your answers in comments to this blog, and as always, you can use it as inspiration when writing postcards in October, as well!

81 comments so far

Alenka1508, Russia
My name is Alena. My name comes from the ancient Greek name Helena and means "Light", "Shining" :)
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EinarB, France
My name is Einar. Einar is old Scandinavian viking name with Icelandic roots. It means "The one who fights alone".
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Heepy, United States of America
I'm one of those who changed my name. I was originally named for my mother's favorite actress (from the 1940s) but never thought it suited me. When I became a writer in 2007, I adopted a pen name. The first name came in a dream (it was the name of a cat), the last name is derived from my favorite band.
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jasnaa, Slovenia
My name is Jasna. In English sounds Clear, like Klara in German, I think. I like my name. When I was in first class of elementary school, I wanted to change it to Majda, because, I liked the teacher by that name so much. All the best to all of you!!
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Hemang, India
Omg ,this would be the bestest Promt , love explaining meaning of my name to everyone:)
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Florallle, United Kingdom
I LOVE this prompt! It's such an interesting idea. In fact, I might put it as an idea on my profile. Thanks very much for the suggestion.
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purplepassion, Bermuda
My name is Willie-Mae. I was named after my Godmother Willie Mae who was from Alabama one of the southern states in the USA.
My sister is Johnnie-Mae named after a lady from Texas . Both ladies were good friends of my Grandmother.
I really love my name and have never wanted to change it because I think it is unique.
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Alinchen1996, Germany
The name Alina is very common in Europe and probably has Old High German and Old Greek origins. As a modern form of the Old High German name Adelheit, Alina can be translated as "the sublime" and "the noble".
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debster, United States of America
My name is Deborah. She was a judge in the Bible. My name means bee.
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Flippie, Canada
My name is Anna Maria given by my parents and religion, Catholic. My other name is Anneke. I personally like this name but in my passport I'm Anna Maria.
My profile name is Flippie, given by my father, he love it and me too.
My husband and I call each other Moppie. It's our love nick name for each other since 1989.
Our car has a car plate with Moppie since a couple years, now...
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Aguaroble, France
Very nice idea!
My last name is Chesneau, and it litterally "oakwater". My username is a translation of words "water" and "oak" in Spanish :-)
My name Léopold means "bold people". Like the Iranian one...
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PeaceOliveDove, United States of America
Irene is the Greek goddess of peace. I like that. I am named after the song Goodnight Irene a dance song my parents enjoyed. That is alright too.
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Euni, Australia
My name is Eunice and means victory. It was given to me by my parents as I was born 6 weeks early and also because my father was a Pastor and the name comes from the Bible.
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ejeddy, United States of America
So, I'm one of those people who answers to two different names, depending on who I am with. My family calls me Jean, my middle name. And in school, too, until the second grade when there were three people with variations of Jean (Jeannie, Gina) and my teacher, whom I adored, asked me to go by Emily. And so it goes all my life. I've talked to other people who have this two-names thing and we think that's why we are goofy. At least that gives me some excuse. So, Emily is a Roman family name "Aemilius", and is the feminine form of the name Emil. Apparently the etymology is murky, but may be Aemulus, which means "a rival". Nobody would consider me a rival. And it was very popular name several times in my life and I have answered a lot of mothers who were calling across a store for their child named Emily. Jean is the Scott is form of Jane and there is an older Hebrew name Yehochanan which some how comes out as "Jean". Best regards, Aemulus Yehochanan
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ArtEmiliya, Russia
Emiliya My grandfather named me after his secret girlfriend 😉. Secretly, he took a birth certificate, went to the registry office and registered as Emiliya. Needless to say, everyone was shocked, especially my grandmother, who hated me later. Here's a story 😄
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Olenka777, Russia
My name is Olga. There are several versions about the origin of the female name Olga.
The first version says that the name was formed from the Old Norse Helga and means "holy", "bright", "clear", "wise", "sacred".
According to the second version, it originates from the Old Slavic language, came from the names Volga, Volkh and acquires the meaning of "sunny", "good", "significant", "great".
I like my name.)
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nm_rockhound, United States of America
Rockhound is an American word for a person who collects rocks, gems, minerals, and fossils. It could also mean "an amateur geologist".
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kirimaru, Japan
My name is Megumi. It means Grace, Blessing, Mercy etc. I love my name!
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AbbyDiamond, United States of America
I was named after my paternal great grandmother Ida Roth. So my name came out as Abby Ruth. My dad said as much as he adored his grandma, he (and mom) knew I'd be teased for it. My grandparents and their kin emigrated from eastern Europe later part of the 1800's and early 1900's. A lot of the stories about Ellis Island are true.
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ruthkepler, United States of America
I am the third Charlotte Calvin, and before that was a Charles Calvin. Each is of French origin, though we emigrated to America from other countries in Europe. I think the name Calvin was picked because that side of my family have long been Presbyterians, so honored John Calvin.

I like both names, but I've always used my nickname, Callie. It's amusing that a lot of people here have named their dogs Callie! I think of Charlotte as a bossy, tea-party lady, and Calvin as a mad scientist. I'm in the middle.
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skissman, United States of America
My name is Susan which means "lily". My mom picked it 14 years and 4 sons before she got to use it.
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AnnJewel_Chyi, China
My Chinese name is Meng (梦 or 夢), meaning "dream". My mom and my dad's sister liked it because they thought dream can be beautiful, with all possibilities, and can be one's motivation. My mom also gave me my nick name Lili (俐俐), meaning smart. It was a popular nick name in 1980's for Chinese baby girls. That's why I choose the english name Lily for myself.
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Betty1605, Spain
My name is Beatriz (in Spanish) and it comes from the Latin form "Beatrix" which means: "She who brings happiness, joy". Also "blessed". However, I have also recently find out that it could also mean "voyager, traveller".
My parents picked this name because they liked it very much and to be honest, I have always loved my name, so I am really happy with it. :)
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Anandhuggi, India
My name is Anand that means *Happiness*
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maciens, United States of America
My given name is Macie, although I was supposed to be named Christina. My sister was given the name instead as my mom had 2 friends with newborn babies named Christina in 1981. While searching for an alternate, a friend of my mom’s mentioned that Macie would be a cute short name for McKenzie, & she liked it so much that she chose it as my first name. While the name itself is considered unique in origin, there are several Macy’s now (thanks in part to the popular singer, Macy Gray), but has roots in French and was once popular in the 1880s.
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love197101, Russia
The female name Svetlana is Slavic in origin. It is formed from two words – "light" and "lan". Literally, the meaning is interpreted as "The Light of the Earth".
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RESHMARESHMA, India
Hey...
I was named by my mom's sister who were college going then...
Reshma...Suma...kusuma...Sushma...was the trend that time...
So they choose Reshma meaning soft, smooth and strong like silk.
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rhuqes, India
My name is a combination of Man(mind) + ish (God), so it translates to "God of Mind" :) . It was a very common name back when I was born.
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Tjoks, South Africa
This is a super prompt! So interesting☺
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ikramqureshi, India
My name is Mohammed Ikram. "Mohammed" means "who has been praised" in Arabic and "Ikram" means "honour, title" etc.
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D2M2, United States of America
I was named after my father's mother, in Greek tradition. She was Artemis, "Diane" in English. The famil surname "Karayanides"
means "Son of Black John." There is a version for females: "Karayanithou (sp?)." In Oxford, England I learned that this surname originated in Asia Minor Byzantine Greece." That delights me. When the family had to
move from there the didn't go far: to Samos, a half mile swim to the mainland.
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jocolin, Netherlands
Jocolin; Letters of my name, my husband and kids in it.
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Demmi, Romania
Demmi > short form of Demetra
>> according to Wikipedia :) that is the origin of my name: "in ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter (/dɪˈmiːtər/; Attic: Δημήτηρ Dēmḗtēr [dɛːmɛ́ːtɛːr]; Doric: Δαμάτηρ Dāmā́tēr) is the Olympian goddess of the harvest and agriculture, presiding over crops, grains, food, and the fertility of the earth."
>> "Although she is mostly known as a grain goddess, she also appeared as a goddess of health, birth, marriage, and had connections to the Underworld.[1] She is also called Deo (Δηώ).[2] In Greek tradition, Demeter is the second child of the Titans Rhea and Cronus, and sister to Hestia, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. Like her other siblings but Zeus, she was swallowed by her father as an infant, and rescued by Zeus."
© Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

that's about the origin but talking about how they had chosen the name these is the short story :)
So being an orthodox Christian and I was born in October, my parents wanted a saint guardian name so from Saint Dumitru the feminine form of it they choose Demetra!

Have a nice autumn and Happy Postcrossing!
Demmi :O
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lokosbeata, Hungary
My name is Beata. It is derived from the Latin beatus, meaning "blessed", "happy". My family call me Beata, but all of my friends, colleagues call me Bea. As far as I know, my parets expected a boy, and wanted to give the name Christian. Then I was born surprisingly as a girl, but my parents didn't have girl name idea. As Beata was a popular name in those time, they chose me this name.
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TORSAM, Norway
Tor (Þor) is a Nordic masculine given name derived from the name of the Norse god Thor.
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Dashasea, Russia
My name is Daria, Russian dimunitive - Dasha. It is believed to be of Persian origin, meaning Sea.
this name was popular in Russian before 1917 Revolution among peasants and merchants. After the revolution this name was strongly assossiated with Tzar Russia that's why it was long forgotten and not used in ussr.
In the eighties when I was born this name was still not very widespread, mum says she learnt this name from the novel by Alexey Tolstoy The Road to Calvary, there were two sisters named Ekaterina and Daria, and my older sister is Ekaterina.
Now Daria is one the most popular names to name newborns in Russia, along with Anastasia and Maria.
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ELWright, United States of America
My name is Eboni. This is an alternate spelling of the word Ebony (Latin, Greek, Egyptian). The word means "the color black". I was named after my grandfather on my mother's side. His name was Edgar Leon, mine is Eboni Leonna.
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honeyayuclover, Japan
My name is Ayu, and it is written 彩由 in Kanji (Chinese character). I think I have unique (or weird) origin, since I was named after a fish Ayu (鮎). My parents told me that fish Ayu only lives in a clean water, so they wanted to me to grow up with clean and pure heart. Since Japanese names are mostly written in Kanji, my name also a combination of Kanjis 彩 (A - colorful) 由 (Yu - Freedom).
I was surprised to learn that my name means different in other countries from messages in Postcrossing, many Indonesian Postcrosser wrote me that my name means "beautiful" in their language, yay, better than just a fish! (By the way, Ayu tastes great! You should give it a try when you're visiting Japan during summer time)
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Gertarud, Germany
My name Gertraud means the one who is familiar with handling a spear (Ger is the old Germanic name for spear). It is not as common as Gertrud (which means the one who powerfully handles a spear). My dad had a sister named Gertraud who died as a baby after the expulsion from the Sudetenland after the second world war. I am not named after her, but he liked the name.
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Katus, Russia
The name Ekaterina (from Greek) purity, spotlessness. Colloquial: Katerina. 😉
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anemone1, Finland
My name Vuokko means a group of spring flowers, anemone in Latin and many other languages. That is why I chose anemone as my Postcrossing name. It has been considered a bit old-fashioned name, but it has come back into fashion. As a young girl I asked my Mother why she chose that name for me. She was a little mysterious and said only that it is a pretty name. Well, it is.
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humerick747, United States of America
Mine Lisa Marie I don’t know the meaning but my mother named me after Elvis daughter.
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redabenji, Morocco
My name is Reda. It’s Arabic for satisfaction/blessing
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Frutz, Luxembourg
Hello my name is Francoise, like the country France… it comes from the old francic word for freedom. So I am a free woman. My nickname is Frutz which is a combination of my name Francoise an My last name Putz.
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_zahra_, Bangladesh
My name is Zahra Anjum. Both Zahra and Anjum are Arabic words. Zahra means brightest, shining, flower, blossom, beautiful. Anjum means star. Together, Zahra Anjum means "Brightest Star".
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VERENANERY, Portugal
My name is Verena and for many years I did't have any Information about it. My mom read a book and felt in love with the story (Lieb ist nur ein Wort or Love is just a word from Johannes Mario Simmel) which there is a Verena who fight for her love.
Not I know my name means fighter, the one who defends, who protects but I actually do not know if this is true but i Think it is a beautidul meaning.
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Amogus, Russia
Hello! I'm Milena and in many Slavic languages it means "sweet" ^-^
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Mister1975, Germany
Hi together my name is Jörg (Joerg) and comes origianlly from Georg - Agriculturist. Even Martin Luther uses Jörg as a nicke name while he lived on the Wartburg.
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R_Lucy, Japan
Hello, kon-ni-chi-wa!
My name is Ruri. Ruri means the color of lapis lazuri in Japanese.
One of Japanese proverbs, there is “Both ruri (lapis lazuli) and glass shine when illuminated.”, which means that great talent will stand out anywhere, or encouragement brings out the best in people.
So I like the blue such as lapis lazuli color!
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Regndroppar, Finland
My name is a female form of the male name Henrik which a Scandinavian form of the old German name Haimrich (haim = home, rich = great). The meaning is "ruler of the home", so this is the lady of the house speaking!
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DrDave, United States of America
I'm a junior, so my name comes from my father. Not very imaginative. My father goes by John and I go by Dave. I've never been called Junior. My last name, however, is a little more interesting. Some surnames are attributed to jobs like Baker or Smith or Clark. Try translating Rausch in Google Translate. I wonder if the first Rausch was the town drunk.
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kmbarn12, United States of America
My name is Kristina, and I am named after one of my mother's childhood friends. I was called Tina as a child because my father did not like Kris or Krissy. I did not like Kristina because many people would call me Kristine, and when I got older, I started to politely correct people.
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Aquavirus, Germany
My name is Matthias. It was one of the most popular names for newborn boys in Germany from 1960 till 1980. I‘m born 1983 and I had six (!) other Matthias‘ in my year at school. There are several writing possibilities - Mathias, Mattias and Matthias. My mother said she preferes the last one because it has all letters in. So if I have to say my name I say with double t and h to be sure that they write the name in the right way.
The male first name Matthias translates as "the gift of God". Matthias is considered a short form of the Greek name Mattatias, which goes back to the Hebrew name Mattitjahu („given by Yahweh“).
My friends call me Matze but I prefere Maze because it reminds me of the english word for a labyrinth. Just as my thoughts sometimes.
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sabine1972, Germany
My name is Sabine

Where does the name Sabine come from?

The name Sabine occurs in several countries, but has a Latin origin. Sabine refers to the ancient Roman epithet "Sabinus", which refers to the Sabine people. Especially around 1960, Sabine was one of the most popular names for newborn girls in Germany. The most popular translation for Sabine is "the Sabine".
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riek1955, Netherlands
The name i got by birth is Frederica, Frederica is an Italian girl name. It means 'peaceful, mighty ruler'. Additional info: Where is it used? The name Frederica is mainly used in English speaking countries and in Portugal.
My parents where both Dutch, but the funny fact is, many people always said i looked like an Italian girl when i was small.
They call me Riek, Riek is an abbreviation of the originally Germanic Frederica = 'Mighty through peace'
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Smitti92, Austria
My name is Elizabeth. The name Elizabeth comes from the Hebrew words shava (oath) and el (God). It is found in the Old Testament, mentioned as the wife of Aaron. It is also found in the New Testament as the mother of John the Baptist. But I was named after the beautiful Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor because my mother liked her so much. 😄
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Punma, China
My English name is Anny .It comes from a movie .But I think it is a really simple name ,isn't it ?Bilan is my Chinese name .It means a small tree grow up under the blue sky directly.😀
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ktbela, New Zealand
My given name is Catherine, which is derived from the Greek word "Katharos", meaning "Pure", but mostly I go by Catie. Interestingly, the school motto of the Anglican Highschool that many of the women in my family atteneded, including me, my Mum and my Sister, is "Beati Mundo Corde" ("Blessed are the pure at heart."), from the Bible verse, Matthew 5:8. Our school hymn is also based around the same verse. My Mum says that she just liked the name but I think, at least subconciously, this had to be a contributing factor. My middle name is Aimee, of French origin, meaning "Beloved".
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Snezhaker, Russia
My name is Snezhana. In Russian, it is consonant with such words as snow, snowy, bullfinch [snegir']. However, that's what it means. The name is of Slavic origin. My mother wanted to name my older sister like that, but something went wrong, and I got this name (age difference with my sister is 6 years) :)
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Schwobi, Germany
My Name is Elke, Elke is Old High German and means "of noble nature".
My father wanted to call me Elfriede, but my mother got her way, so I was lucky again.
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Lisa_kz, Kazakhstan
Happy Postcard Day everyone!!!^.^
My name is Yelisaveta. It's a variation of Elizabeth and means "God is my oath".
I wish you a great October!<3
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BeachWanderer, Germany
My name is Michael. It is originally Hebrew, and it means "Who is like God?" I don't think that my parents cared about the etymology very much but it was a very popular name in the 1960s, and it has never really been out of fashion - an evergreen name!
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Herkenbe, Germany
My name is Beate, which is Latin and means: the lucky one.
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Rosenilenna, Sweden
My name is Ilenna. It's my mother's name spelled backwards: Ilenna - Anneli. Anneli is a common name in Sweden, originally from Finland I think. Never heard of anyone else with my name. But when googling it someone with a PhD in the US comes up and a garden in Finland.
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Pele32, Germany
My name is Petra and it is greek and means rock. It is the female form of Peter.
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Eli18, Germany
My name is hebrew and means servant of god. But I don't really like my name and I'm thinking of changing it in the future
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RuslanArtemovich, Russia
Ruslan is a masculine given name mainly popular among Turkic (Turkish, Azerbaijani), North Caucasian (Avar, Chechen, Lezgi, Cherkes, Ossetians) and some East Slavic people. The name is an old Azeri/Caucasian Albanian variant of the Turkic word arslan or aslan – meaning lion. The name is derived from Arslan, Eruslan (also Uruslan, Eruslane, Yeruslan), another earlier Tatar variant of the word. The name became popular through the folk tale hero Yeruslan Lazarevich (originally Uruslan). It is also a masculine given name in Indonesia and Malaysia; a common variant in these countries is "Roslan". The name is also popular in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus.
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LookOutKid, Germany
My name is Inge and it comes from Germanics who lived at the Northern Sea, their god was Yngvi (or Ingwiö). The name also means ‚to protect‘.
But I doubt that my parents knew about this. When I was born, it was simple an often used name at that time. Nevertheless I like it!
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Bossmare, United States of America
My name is Sue Ann, boring and I hate it. My mom was going to call me after my aunt Lorna and I wish she would have.
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Pieslady51, United States of America
My first name is Barbara, which means "stranger," and my family name, Doty, means "brave one."
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PeterCrombach, Netherlands
My name is Peter. It's is a common masculine given name. It is derived from Greek Πέτρος, (Petros) and means 'rock' or 'stone'.
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Tarane, Germany
In my case, my name is Michèle, which is the french female version of Michael. It‘s origin is the hebrew name Mikhail, which means „Who is like the lord“
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Pn2022, Finland
My name means young girl or woman พนิดา วนิดา. Thai people has forename and nickname which usually shorter. We generally call nickname among friends. Some has many nicknames, and many has the same nickname which confused sometime whom mentioned :) And mine also has chinese nickname 欣 means happy.
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guqianhua, China
My name is Qianhua Gu, which is made up of my parents' surnames
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AbstraktesHerz, Germany
I love that within the trans community we get to chose our own names. It was always kind of weird to me how other people decide on names for their children. So a person who doesn't know you (yet) gives you a name you have to have for the rest of your life? Even before I knew I was trans it always was a really weird concept to me. I think everyone (no matter if trans or not) should be given the chance to pick their own legal name at some point in their life. In Germany it is really really hard to have a legal name change, even if your gender marker stays the same.
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PaiviM, Finland
My name is a very common Finnish female name among ladies around 60 years old. Päivi is close to Finnish word päivä = day. My father wanted me to be Linnea but my mother managed to convince him and so I got my name. My siblings's names are all related to nature: small tree, summer, branch (all these naturally in Finnish language). In my father's family all names of 11 children started with the letter V, like their mother's. Now the last one left is my father with his 98 years :)
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Bookhuntress, United States of America
Diana was a Roman goddess of the moon, hunting, forests and childbirth, often identified with the Greek goddess Artemis. My 4 younger siblings all have Bible names associated with Christians, but Diana was a pagan goddess. Paul Anka's song "Diana" was popular the month I was born.
My middle name is that of my mom's best friend in college, Jane.
My Postcrossing name is Bookhuntress; for my career as a librarian--a hunter of books and information--as well as for Diana's connection with hunting.
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Devola, Lithuania
My name Daiva . The name Daiva is primarily a female name of Lithuanian origin that means Beloved Or Supernatural Entity.Slavic, feminine form of the name David (“beloved”) or an Avestan language term for a supernatural entity with disagreeable characteristics, called a "daeva" or "daiva.":) Shena from USA sent me postcard that my name from Sanskrit language means "Godby"
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Ziecha71, Latvia
May name Ziedonis. The period of time (May), when do flowers start to bloom in spring, in Latvia is called "ziedonis".
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Nana_Sue, Germany
My name Susanne means "white lily" and probably comes from the Hebrew. I like it very much. Many women of my year wear it.
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JoMarie, France
My name is Joëlle. There is also the "male version" : Joël. I love my name because it's a rare and mixt name. It comes from the Hebrew language and means "Yahweh is God".
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