- Fizzy Thoughts: Weekly Geeks 2009-06

Weekly Geeks 2009-06

Saturday, February 14, 2009

For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names? Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character's name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?If you'd like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.

I'm going to start with my own name, Jill. Depending on where you look, there are various meanings assigned. Some say it is just a shortened form of Jillian, which is derived from Julian, which means downy-bearded. Other sources say it comes from Latin and means either youthful or sweetheart. For obvious reasons, I prefer that second definition, particularly the youthful part. Namespedia even has an interesting story:

The name Jill has a very long history dating so far back that researchers are unable to pinpoint it's exact emersion into the world. It is believed to have started however as a form of currency. Back in the B.C. days a form of currency in circulation was called a 'gil.' It was kinda like our small change is today. Larger currency was known as a 'jack.' The story goes that the popular children's nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill, originated when a king and his economy were doing very well, the values of the jacks and gils were rising (Jack and Jill went up the hill). Unfortunately the people were struck by a plague that left everyone short of drinkable water (to fetch a pail of water) with the death of thousands the economy suffered (Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.)

I have a reason for blathering on about my own name, when we're supposed to be focusing on characters. Since no favorite characters immediately popped into my mind, I decided to use a couple of the characters from my current favorite author, Charles de Lint. Last week I read Dreams Underfoot, and this week I bought Tapping the Dream Tree. Two of the recurring characters in de Lint's stories are Jilly and Geordie. So see, I wasn't being all self-absorbed. I was really talking about a character. (Okay, so I was talking about myself, too.)

Jilly is definitely youthful in de Lint's stories. Although she is mature and has seen a lot, her appearance is somewhat childlike and I think her open-mindedness keeps her young.

As for Geordie (and hallelujah that de Lint didn't name him Jack), it's derived from George, which means farmer. Since that doesn't exactly work for Geordie the character, we can stretch it and think of St. George, the patron saint of England, who fought the dragon. Hmmm, okay, so that works a bit better for our Geordie.

Finally, going back to the name Jilly. Or more particularly, characters that you share a name with. I honestly never thought about the fact that Jilly and I shared a name until I started to think about this post. I think because I read so much I've started to disassociate character's names from people I know with the same name. How about you...do you think about this when you're reading a book with a character who has the same name as yourself, or your significant other, or your mom/dad/brother/sister, or your best friend, or even that kid from high school that you thought was a total jerk?

14 comment(s):

Maree said...

I haven't read those books, but I love Charles de Lint. Great name choices.
Happy Weekly Geeks :)

girasoli said...

I will now forever think of your story of Jack & Jill when teaching my kids this nursery rhyme in my class :)
Interesting post.

Kerrie said...

Interesting post. - I think Jillian, Jill, and Jilly all have different connotations.

gautami tripathy said...

I like Jill. It is short and sweet.

Names and more names

lisamm said...

Jill, Jilly, and Jillian seem very different to me. My fave is Jill! Jilly is too young and frivolous sounding, Jillian to formal. Jill is perfect!

My kids and I read The Little House series together, which was extra fun since my oldest daughter's name is Laura. And when my youngest daughter Kelly was tiny we found a book called Red is Best- the little girl in the book is also Kelly and she thinks red is the best color for absolutely everything, just like my Kelly does. So perfect!

Kelly means "Warrior Woman"- totally perfect for her. She is fierce! Laura comes from laurel leaves which were given to heroes or victors. We just liked how it went along with our last name :-)

Wow, that was a long tangent I went off on, sorry! Hope you and 'burger had a good V-Day!

Care said...

I love your response to this week's theme! Great post.

trish said...

Does anyone ever call you Jilly Bean? I think that's a cute nickname.

When I see someone with my name, Trish, I get really excited. It's not a very popular name, especially the shortened version (my full name is actually Trisha, but I've been going by Trish since I was 13).

Kristi said...

I liked the information about Jack and Jill and the king etc! As for associating characters with people I know - I think I tend to do that only if they share some of the same characteristics. For example - in the new Dreamhouse King series by Robert Liparulo, youngest daughter is named Toria and my daughter is Tori - so did picture her as I was reading - but then I read For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper - and though my husband's name is Pete, the Pete from the book was a baby girl!

Anne said...

Great entry, Jill! Neat story about the possibly origin of the Jack and Jill story. Whether I associate characters and real life people with the same name depends somewhat on the quality of the writing. If the characters are well written and have some depth, I usually get absorbed, but if not, my mind will wander off in the name association game!

softdrink said...

Maree - I'm looking forward to reading more of de Lint.

girasoli - I like that story much better than all of the obscene versions I was teased with in 6th grade. I can't believe that's the first time I've ever heard of that meaning of gil.

Kerrie - lol, even though I'm a Jill, I've been called by all three versions of the name.

Care - thanks. :-D

Trish - yep, my friends in junior high. And they liked to give me Jelly Belly's, too. And I know two Trish's, hold the a's (besides you, of course).
gautami tripathy - I always thought my name was too short! Everyone always lengthens it.

Lisa - I love tangents! That's so cool that your girls have those books to relate their names to. (And I'm a Laura too...only it's my middle name and it's spelled different.)

Kristi - I'm not sure I've ever seen Pete as a girl's name!

Anne - Good point - I never thought about it that way, but you're right.

Kim said...

Great explanation of Jack and Jill! I really like the name Jillian--it is not a very common name around here where I live. I really don't see my name in books too much--Kimberly--and when I do, they tend to be airheads! I guess I get so immersed in my reading that I don't do name associations---but interesting point to think about. I kind of am though with my current book--Very Valentine though--she is such a strongly written character.
Happy Reading!

Erika Lynn said...

wow this was such an interesting post. I never knew the story behind jack and jill. that is fascinating, thanks for that.

Linda said...

Hi Jill! Wow, blogger's being a poop tonight. ;)

Anyway, whiteraven13 here. We are currently south of where you live and you said to let you know if I was ever in the neighborhood. And I am. And if you don't already have my email, it's linda at anyofmydomains.com (not literally anyofmydomains, just pick one of my domains) or you can get me through BX. I will check email tomorrow before noon. I left you a PM at LJ, too.


Dawn - she is Too Fond of Book said...

"downy bearded"? Sounds like it's time for electrolysis! :)

I associate character names with people I know, and I'll admit I'm pre-disposed to judge the characters based on the real people! Same problem when it came to naming our kids ... many names with personal connections I'd rather not be reminded of.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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