Does the meaning of your character’s name matter?

Tiara
My mom, who gave me a name that means “God’s princess” also sent me this tiara. I mean, I HAVE to wear it, right?

I’ve known what my name–Sarah–means forever–God’s Princess. And since a princess is what I always wanted to be (more for the clothes than anything else), I always really liked that.

Which got me thinking, when naming characters in novels, does it matter what the name means? I didn’t take meaning into account when I named my characters, but I’m wondering if it might not add a whole layer of interest as I write future novels.

I checked a few names from Miracle in a Dry Season, which are pretty well set at this point, to see if they fit the characters’ personalities.

  • Perla is Italian for little sphere. Which fits, since Perla is a very self-contained person.
  • Sadie–get this–is a diminutive of Sarah, so it means “princess,” too. Ha! How about that. She is a little princess.
  • Frank is short for Francis or Franklin which means “free one.” Now that’s a great fit for the character in question!
  • Elizabeth or Liza means “My God is bountiful,” a perfect description!
  • Evangeline means “good news” and her nickname, Angie, means angel. This one seems almost tongue in cheek for the character.
  • Casewell–poor guy–his name doesn’t come up. I got that name from a tombstone–just loved it and knew I wanted to use it.

So what do you think? What’s in a name and does it matter?

If you’re curious about your own name, click here to look up the meaning. And then share in the comments below. Does it fit?

13 thoughts on “Does the meaning of your character’s name matter?

  1. Sarah, I chose the names of my characters in my sci-fi book specifically because of the meanings. If a reader knows what the names mean, it can add depth to the story. Thanks so much for sharing this post. By the way, my given name, Edith means rich gift. Pretty cool, huh!

  2. Mom

    If I had not been reading a book about a strong character named Sarah, you might have been named something else… 😉 Not Molly or Catherine (for reasons you already know) but maybe God had a hand in “forcing” us to pick the name Sarah because He knew it would fit you.
    I’m reading a good book with a character named Luce. Isn’t that the name of the girl in the Mitford books? Your list says it’s a “boy” name.

  3. My mom REALLY wanted to name me Holly. Her last name at the time was Polley. Hence, the name of Jennifer.

    My long suffering, courageous, beautiful heroine is named Sarah. Yuh huh! NICE name, eh?
    My hero? His real name is Natanii, which means ‘leader of men’. But he cannot abide that he failed his people, and lost his wife, so he calls himself ‘Ta-gaid’, which means ‘without’. When he marries Sarah, he wants to change his name back.
    Why? Because, as he says, “I am no longer without.”

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