Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's in a name? [Updated]

Onomastics is an interest of mine, and since I've already made a partial translation of my name into Quenya, I thought I'd take a moment to discuss the etymology of my own name, for those very, very few who might be interested.

Jason – “Healer”. Greek Ιασων /iason/, from ιασθαι /iasthai/ “to heal”.

My mother originally wanted to name me Travis (< Old French traverse “a crossing”, once indicative of the profession of toll-collector). Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Aldrich – “Old/All Ruler”. It seems to contain the Old English elements ald, eald “old” + ríc, ríce “ruler, powerful person”. The latter is a common element of personal names in English (as is ælf “elf”). Or it may be eal "all" + dryht(en) “lord, ruler”. In either case, the meaning is pretty much the same. There are a number of cognate forms, including French Aldric and Aldéric, and Germanic Aldridge, Al(l)ric(k), Eldritch, et al.

The name comes from my father’s mother’s brother: Aldrich Vrska, a second-generation Czech immigrant. Does anyone know the meaning of the name Vrska? [Update:] Poking around the Internet, I found a great Czech dictionary online, and based on that, I think the name Vrska probably derives from vršek "knoll", or more likely, the plural, vršky "knolls". Surnames derived from features of the local landscape are, after all, very common. But here's the really fun part: the word vrš has a whole series of "fish" meanings — "fish basket", "fish pot", "kiddle". (What's a kiddle? It's — you guessed it! — a kind of fish basket. :P)

Fisher – “Fisher”. Pretty self-explanatory. The only point to make here is that this is the English, and not the German, form of the name (though, of course, they're related). That is, its antecedent is Old English fiscere “fisher”. I hate seeing people misspell my name Fischer. Ech!

Anyone with an etymology of his or her own name, please feel free to leave it in the comments! :)


  1. It's comments like this "(What's a kiddle? It's — you guessed it! — a kind of fish basket. :P)" that make me hear your voice in print, smile and think happily about how much I dig you man!

  2. Awww, shucks! That makes me all warm and toasty in my — er — fish basket. :)

  3. Leo Max is also your father's father's sister's husband, fyi. :)