Identity · Personality

What’s In A Name?

Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English defined name as “a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing OR a word or symbol used in logic to designate an entity OR a reputation OR a family, clan…” defines a name as “a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known…”

Kabalarian Philosophy defines a name as “the grouping of several letters of an alphabet, or other symbols, which represent the identification of a person or an object.” It noted that “the power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, and religious ceremony. Everyone recognizes himself or herself by name”. It goes further to ask a critical question: “what does a name mean and how does a name influence a person’s character?”

 A name as a form of identity transcends the facial and physiological features of an individual. From the above definitions, we see that a name can [and does] act as a representative of an individual. Thus it is safe to say that the significance of a name transcends the physical identification. It has even greater meaning in the spiritual. And we know that the physical is controlled by the spiritual.

In the book Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Juliet posed a question “What’s in a name?”

The unique thing about the inquiry is not the question itself but the outcome of the question

The names that we call things are just randomly assigned by us. Just because people named something a billion years ago doesn’t mean that’s what it is. Names might not hold any significance at the beginning, but they become relevant and indispensible over time.

Have you ever wondered why a horse was named a horse and not a cheetah? Some might argue that names are just arbitrary and random combination of alphabets and symbols and so we should not read so much meaning into them. There is no distinct reason a horse should be called that initially.

If I should say a horse is the fastest animal on earth (when I meant a cheetah), I would be regarded as an unserious or insane individual.

Thus we see that traits and characteristics can be attached to a name both for plants, animals and humans and these are what really define a person.


We usually come across this phrase when people argue that a name does not really matter. After all, we are only interested in the use of something, not its name. This might apply to designer brands. What’s in a name anyway? You can buy the made-in-Nigeria replica for way cheaper and still have a dress or a purse or whatever. Why should we assign so much meaning to a name or label in the first place?


Father Abram had 318 trained servants in his house! These did not include the women and children. Indeed he was an ‘exalted father’. It was not until his name was changed that he became a father indeed.

Jacob lived according to his name [deceiver] until God effected the change and the deceiver became a prince.

Jabez was headed in the wrong direction as a result of the name he answered to until he decided to effect the required change.

Thus we see that a name does not just identify a person, it defines the course of his/her life.


However, there are some painful exceptions to the rule.

Ananias is a Greek name that means Jehovah has been gracious. Sapphira is an Aramaic name that means Jewel or beautiful.

This couple ended their lives in shame and without any glory or beauty.

I-chabod, translated the glory has departed, was the grandchild of Eli the Priest of a family who should have been relevant. However, we observe that aside the record of his birth, nothing more was heard about him.


We should not hide under the canopy of grace and allow complacency or acquiescence to rob us of the promises due us.

Lest we forget, God knew AND called us by name before we were born [Isaiah 49vs1]. If we end up with another name aside that particular one, due to one circumstance or the other, there would be dire consequences. Recall John the Baptist. Recall our Lord Jesus Christ. The list is endless…


Friend, there is a whole lot in a name.

What is your name?


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