What’s in a Name?

Shakespeare said a rose by any name would smell as sweet, but I wonder about that. If we called roses skunk cabbage would it affect our perception of them? I choose my characters’ names with great care simply because in my mind, certain names are associated with certain characteristics. For example, Phaedra sounds like a girl on an adventure while Jane is the heroine of a cozy mystery.

In my mainstream romance Blue 52 my hero’s name is Richard Henry Lovinggood III, and they call him Hank because his father is called Richard and his grandfather is called Henry.  Let’s take a look at the meaning of these names.

Richard is derived from German and means powerful ruler. Have there been any powerful rulers by that name?  You betcha.  Think King Richard the Lionheart of England. It fits my story perfectly because Hank’s father was the president of the United States. Currently, Richard is the 216th most popular boy’s name in America.

Henry is my hero’s middle name. This name too is of German origin. It means power and ruler. Again, the name is appropriate because Hank’s grandfather is a powerful senator. There have been a lot of famous Henrys too.  King Henry II who established common law in England is one. Currently Henry is the 9rd most popular name for a boy.  

Do these names fit Richard Henry Lovinggood III? They sure fit his father and grandfather. Truthfully, at the beginning of the book they don’t, but by the end…. Well, that’s a story for another time.

Blurb Blue 52:

“First Lady Kills President Lovinggood”

Thirty years later, Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother’s innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Dr. Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, and merciless enemy who’ll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.


About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
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6 Responses to What’s in a Name?

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I’ve long been fascinated by names — including names of PLACES. In my travels and the various places I’ve lived, it seems I’ve often come across odd names (or, I should say, odd-sounding to me). I’ll usually learn that they were native American names which were often altered (or misrepresented) when the European settlers tried to transcribe them. Another example are the names — often translated from French or Spanish — of sites which were historic to indigenous populations. The one that often comes to mind is Baton Rouge (LA). That’s French for Red Stick. And Red Stick came from the native people living in the area who used a tall red pole to mark a territorial boundary or some other ceremonial spot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      We have quite a few native American names for local places. A few of them are Oconee, Estatoee, and Keowee are only a few examples. I myself live in an area that was once Cherokee land.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As you can imagine, I rather ‘collect’ unusual names or why people are named what they are. My husband’s family has a rule, which I broke, where they always name the first son after the father. (I have to add that the Joyces have “Johns” going way back in a line.) Joe’s father was “Edward” and so is his oldest son has the same name and his oldest son ‘s oldest son is called “Trip”, because he is ‘the third’ with the same name, although it goes farther back with a different middle name.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      I think that’s rather nice, but I liked the name Scott, and I didn’t want my son to be called either Wallace or Nathaniel. He’d probably have picked up a nickname like Wally or Nathan, but I still like Scott better. It would be nice though to trace all those Johns back and try to find out a little bit about them.


  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    If the names don’t fit Hank at the beginning of the book, I’m sure they do by the end! I often spend a lot of time selecting names for characters, too. I look at the meanings, and since I often write historicals, I look at whether or not the names were used at that particular place and time. As for my family, I gave each of my daughters the feminine form of one of their grandfathers.


    • Elaine Cantrell says:

      That’s an honor the the grandfathers. My son named his son after my father. I think that’s an honor too.


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