Power of Names

Names wield power. They can be used for good or bad. Kids sometimes use them to destroy on the playground. You get labeled Ugly or some other demeaning nickname and it can scar you for life. God used names to show a transformation to a higher calling…like Abram to Abraham.

In this scene from Eyes of Light, the power in a name is shown. Suvi has just met James (Jamie) for the first time and learned his name. She changes it, and it symbolizes the change in him as well. I love how Suvi always calls him James from here on out—never Jamie like the rest of his friends do. To me, it shows her respect and admiration.

Suvi searched his face for any sign of pretense or deceit, but could detect none. A sudden ache came over her to learn everything about this man—what made him tick, what made him angry, what were his dreams. The desire confused her since she hadn’t let herself get close to anyone since she left Seattle. Why would she want to care for someone again? That only led to heartache.

For several seconds, she stared at him. “Does being a missionary make you have light around you?”

His brow furrowed.

She shook her head, embarrassed that she’d voiced her thoughts. “Sorry. I think my eyes are messed up from that punch. You seem to glow. It’s weird.”

She shifted positions and rested her eyes, not knowing how she would pay for a Quick Care visit since rent was due in two days. Why couldn’t life stop throwing wrenches into her plans? She braced herself with her hand to keep still and not hurt her ribs as he backed out and pulled onto Parkcenter Boulevard.

“Is Jamie your real name or a nickname?” she asked.

He turned his twinkling eyes her way. “It’s short for James.”

“Then I’ll call you James. I like that better. Jamie seems like a little boy’s name, and well…what you did for me today, James…” she paused for emphasis, “…You were a real man.” She blushed and looked out the window.

What do you think? Do names and nicknames have the power to make a person act different? Have you ever been hurt or uplifted by a name in your life?


20 thoughts on “Power of Names

  1. I think of names of endearment. I have a friend who calls me Miss Gina. I like that. It signifies I’m special to her.

    • Yes, I have a teacher in college that although we’re friends and he’s told me I can call him by his first name, I can’t bring myself to because of respect and the high regard I hold him in for what he taught me.

    • I agree. We have different names to different people. I use Char online, but cringe when someone actually calls me that in real life (besides a couple of my sisters who do it anyway; I’m okay with that). But if we ever meet in person, I’ll insist you call me Charissa (Shur–EE-suh).

        • Don’t worry. Hardly anyone ever gets it right, and I answer to almost anything. My 10th grade year of HS, I answered to Clarissa all year in art because my teacher was deaf and a little senile and kept saying it wrong even after I corrected her a few times. Oh well!

  2. I prefer names of endearment versus plain, old, ugly name calling (5th – 9th grades for me were horrible with the name calling). I think in a way it was a right of passage growing up, but it was still hurtful too. It made me grow a thick skin and my mom taught me to act like a duck just let it roll down my back. As an adult I am independent, educated and intelligent and at times it backfires into coming across blunt, brash and _itchy – B, B & B – ha! – Oh well cannot win them all, right.

    Happy Weekend 🙂

    • Name calling is so wrong! That sounds horrible. It’s too bad a lot of us have to grow thick skins as we grow up. And after your comment, I will never look at ducks the same. Ha ha.

  3. So, I noticed the pronunciation of your name in your comment above and I had no idea that was how you say your name! Good to know! So it’s like Teresa, only with a Sh?
    My daughter’s hubby is named Seve. (Sev-ie) Everyone always thinks it’s Steve misspelled.
    Names can certainly be tricky, but I do love that Suvi calls him James instead of Jamie.
    Now if I could just start calling my son Jonathan instead of Jonna-bear. Ha! Guess he needs a Suvi in his life!

    • Yes, like Teresa. I’ve never heard the name Seve before. That’s funny how people think it’s Steve misspelled, because as I read your comment, I did exactly that before reading past it. I think Moms have the right to call our little boys whatever cute and cuddly name we want–even when they outweigh us and pat us on our heads.

  4. I wish I were better at choosing names and using them to further my stories. I’m horrible at titles in general, darn it! I need to hire someone to title my novels. So thanks for the heads up.

    • Titles are hard. I find the shorter the writing goal, the harder it is for me. A whole novel, no problem. A synopsis or blurb of that novel…I come unglued.

  5. My nephew, who is 22 years old, likes to be called “Tommy,” but his birth name is “Thomas.” On his business cards, he has “Thomas,” but always introduces himself as “Tommy” whenever he meets a client. He thinks his nickname is friendlier and more relaxed, and I agree. I think nicknames really do make a different impression than full names. It’s interesting to see how people interpret personalities based on a name.

    • It is interesting how nicknames can be perceived–for good in your nephew’s case, but sometimes they can be perceived as condescending. Names are fun to think about, aren’t they?

  6. Like you, I have a name that, depending on the country I live in, some people have difficulty pronouncing. I accept most versions of it but sometimes it’s just too different, haha!, in which case I do have to insist they make an effort to learn the pronunciation. I suppose our names are somehow linked with our sense of selves in the end. By the way, Letizia = Leteeceeya …. only said faster than that 🙂

  7. When I was younger, I used the short version of my name like all my family and friends did. But once I hit my 30s, I began preferring the full version, and that’s how I introduce myself to new people.

    Names can be powerful. Many cultures are very careful about who can know a person’s “real” name. I think ideas like that can make for strong impressions in fiction, too. Suvi has the right idea. 🙂

    • I agree. As a kid, I sometimes hated my name and wished for a common name. But I’ve grown to love the uniqueness of my name the older I’ve got. It’s who I am. I love how you’ve grown to love your full name now too. That’s cool!

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