What’s in a Name?

When Ted and I chose names for our three boys, one of the criteria was that the name had to have some kind of tangible association.  For Griffin, it was the mythical gryphon.  For Rowan, the rowan tree.  And Gavin’s name means “white hawk.”

Our names are, obviously, inseparable from our sense of self, but I wanted names that also gave the boys a sense of self-in-the-world.  There is a rowan tree, a thing like me.  Our names are not just a feature of our identities, they are talismanic.  It is a treat to reach out into the world and touch that which names us. 

We are witnessing this excitement in Gavin, who is 2, and who can read the letter G and sees it everywhere and exclaims, “Look!  It’s a G for Gavin!”  We also recently saw this excitement in action at the Ontario Science Centre, where there is a display of mythical creatures.  Griffin was delighted to find so many gryphons on display, and both he and Rowan lit up with excitement. 

There were models and pictures and coins all representing my son’s namesake.   I have long collected images of gryphons, books about them, bookbags with their image, bookplates, even earrings.  It was lovely to see the boys get a share of that excitement and to see Griffin feel himself slot into the great body of mythological tales about the noble gryphon. 

Image credit


4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. I had no idea what lay behind their names (that is, that you were being systematic about naming them after concrete objects). How lovely!

  2. My grandsons’ names are: Griffin and Alden. I am very happy to share your blog posting with my daughter. I know that Griffin, age 6 will enjoy hearing about his name with a terrific illustration, no less.

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