What’s In A Name?

This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt.  The prompt today is “name.”

girl sitting

It’s always interesting to hear the stories of how people got their names.  Often they’re chosen for a reason – named after a family member, or because the name has a significant meaning – or else it’s just a name their parents particularly liked.

I sometimes wish I had a significant story behind my name.

The reality is my parents knew exactly what name they planned to name a boy but hadn’t got round to coming up with one for a girl (to be fair, I did arrive three weeks early).  Apparently they spent three days considering just about every name they could think of, got to the point where they didn’t really like any of them, and eventually settled for Lesley.

As a name it’s been OK.  I’ve liked the fact that it’s neither extremely unusual nor super-common.  I can tell people my name without getting strange looks, but in most situations I have been the only Lesley, which has avoided the confusion experienced by those who share their name with several others everywhere they go.

I do wish it had a better meaning.  According to online name dictionaries, it either means “garden of holly bushes” or “from the grey fortress” (wherever that is!).  Other people’s names seem to have meanings that are much more profound.

And then there’s the issue of spelling my name.  Let me make a confession: I find it incredibly frustrating when people spell my name “Leslie”.  I give a lot more grace to people from America because I know that’s how it is usually spelled there, but in Scotland, “Leslie” is the masculine form of the name (though it is very rare these days) and “Lesley” is used for a girl.  I understand there could be confusion if people haven’t seen it written down, but I do find it frustrating when people reply to my emails with the wrong spelling!

It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I began to like my name a bit more, thanks to Robert Burns, when I discovered that he had written a poem entitled “Bonnie Lesley”.

“To see her is to love her,
And love but her forever.
For nature made her what she is,
And never made anither!”

I’ll take that! 🙂

I don’t know how you feel about your name, but, whatever the story behind it, whether your feelings are positive or negative, the important thing is that God knows.  He knows us by name, and he calls us by name.

“O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.  I have called you by name; you are mine.”  (Isaiah 43:1 NLT)

And if you don’t like your name, you can hold on to the hope given in a rather intriguing verse in Revelation where God says, “To everyone who is victorious… I will give to each one a white stone, and on that stone will be a new name that no-one understands except the one who receives it.”  (Revelation 2:17 NLT)

I wonder what those new names will be…

What about you?  Does your name have a special meaning or a story behind it?  What do you like or dislike about your name?

31 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. Neighbor de la FMF…I enjoyed this post. My name is Jennifer..way too common.
    It means “white wave” well that’s just sill. Waves are blue to me. I love that song too from your link. I enjoyed learning about your name Lesley.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoyed this post, Lesley. Isaiah 43:1 is what came to my mind as well when I saw the prompt. You added such a wonderful song – He knows each of our names and I am so grateful He called me. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That poem is LOVELY! We have the same origin story! I was to be a boy, but SURPRISE! So my mother told my grandmother she didn’t care- to just give me a name. My grandmother had LITERALLY just watched ‘Play Misty For Me’ and so… To this day, I’ve never seen it but have been told that’s a horrible reason! (meanwhile, my mother spent her lifetime bitter that she’d been named after her least liked grandmother over her favorite one. Emma. WHY DIDN’T SHE NAME ME EMMA???? oh well…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing the story of your name, Misty! I’ve never seen “Play Misty For Me” but I do like the name Misty. It does seem strange that your mother didn’t call you Emma though when that name was obviously special to her!


  4. Lesley, I am in USA. I named my daughter Leslie. (I did not know it was a boy spelling). When I named my son I went through so many names that my husband said no on that I gave him the book of names and said here you pick a girl name. He came up with Leslie Ann. I said Leslie is fine but she has my middle name. So it is Leslie Renee. Now she is married and her father-in-law (who is called Pete) has the name Leslie. They shared a PO box at one time and I had to write her FULL name to be sure she got her mail. Who would think your father-in-law would have your name. I thought it means “from the valley” and I tell her that it is in the valley that you grow. She has grown beautifully… married to third gen missionary and they are missionaries with 4 kids.
    Enjoyed your post and loved the poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing the story of your daughter’s name, Karen! I think the spelling “Leslie” for a girl is common in the US but it’s not in the UK!
      That is funny that your daughter ended up sharing her father-in-law’s name! And I haven’t heard the meaning “from the valley” but a lot of the name websites do seem to say different things!


  5. Heather is a flowering shrub. I used to wish it had a more significant meaning as well, but then I saw a heather plant and it is very pretty. At least it’s a pretty shrub LOL Love the song!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t care what you call me;
    names are ephemeral, of earth,
    and I am not a signatory
    of what’s bestowed on me at birth.
    Other people made a choice
    of label, and I don’t care,
    since in this I had no voice
    in what was decided there.
    I neither love nor hate my name,
    whether it does or does not fit;
    I’m indifferent, but all the same
    I’ll answer when you call it.
    And when into Heaven I intrude,
    I bet that God just calls me ‘Dude’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always liked the name Andrew, but I’m sure whatever the new names are that God gives us it will be ones that we will like, and maybe yours will be “Dude”!


  7. I just love your post, Lesley. I’m of Scots background myself and all the Leslies I knew were guys — I knew only one Lesley in my younger days. It’s a beautiful name.

    My full name is Helen Jean (maiden name MacEachern, as Scottish as you can get!). Helen is after my maternal grandmother; Jean is after my dad’s sister and my grandfather’s sister. My parents wanted to call me Jean but they thought Helen Jean flowed better than Jean Helen. (Having my 2nd name as my 1st name has caused me a lot of headaches!) I was nicknamed Jeannie to distinguish me from the other 2 Jeans in the family, and Jeannie has stuck.

    Anyway, enough about me, ha ha! I especially loved the reference to the “white stone” with our name on it. That has always really moved me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeannie! I enjoyed reading about the story of your name. Your full maiden name is very Scottish! It will be interesting to see what our new names on the white stone will be!


  8. Hello Bonnie Lesley! What a lovely post, and how sweet to have a poem written about Lesley/you by Robert Burns! I’d never looked up the characteristics of my name before because they seemed self-explanatory, at least in a Christian sense. Though when I just did that I saw it was a very popular name in the decade I was born and is also quite a common one in China, believe it or not. I used to be called Joyce by many because they assumed my name was short for that. And with no middle name I felt quite deprived so I used to make one up! Oh the joys of naming people… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joy! I think you have a lovely name, especially for a Christian when it can remind us of the joy we have in Christ! I quite like the idea of making up your own middle name because then you have a name you’ve chosen for yourself as well as the one you were given!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The verse from Revelation is fascinating–I never noticed it before. I’m glad that you focused on the fact that God knows us, and knows our name. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good morning, Lesley,
    I appreciated your sharing about how you have grown into your name. My name does not a significance in my family. I haven’t bothered to look it up online. Thank you for the Scripture affirming our hope, we have new names waiting. And thank you Jesus for calling us by name, saving each one by Your powerful name. Have a beauty-full weekend, Lesley. Oh and I have been meaning to ask you. How is that new project going, the new venture you mentioned a couple weeks back?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Julie! Yes, it is amazing that God calls us by name. Things have been moving very slowly with the new venture – I’m still trying to find the way forward and the last few weeks have been so busy I haven’t had much time to think, but thanks for asking how it’s going! Hope you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think Robert Burns got it right. There is none other like you and we are blessed because of your uniqueness. Because my name is so different, I also struggled with it as a child. Now I realize it took a unique name for a special person. I too belong to God and there in no one else like me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, however common or however unusual our name is, each of us is unique and special to God! It is amazing to know that he created us that way and he calls us by name!


  12. Thank you for sharing about your name. I have a somewhat unique first name paired with a much more common middle name. My first name Jolene is a shortened form of my grandmother’s name Josephine. I am so thankful that He knows my name.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for visiting my blog.

    I loved your post!

    My mother’s father’s mother, my great grandmother, was Elizabeth Groom, of Germany.

    Elizabeth means “Consecrated to God; my God is a vow; my God is abundance.”
    My God is bountiful; God of plenty. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist.

    No wonder I am so in LOVE with Him! It was destiny! When I first learned, He knew my NAME, I shivered like a teenager. He’s the LOVE of my life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I love the meaning of your name. My relatives have been called Elizabeth for at least three generations, probably more, on my mother’s side. It is the one name I definitely wasn’t going to be called because my mum wanted my name to be different from hers!


  14. I love learning what people’s names mean and the stories of how they got their name. Funny story…I named after a soap opera character from Days of our Lives. There was a couple named Tara and Chance so if a girl, Tara and if a boy, Chance. My name means ‘rocky pinnacle.” I am in the 57 spot. I got a few weeks behind so I am catching up.

    Liked by 1 person

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