Meaningful Name / Myth and Religion

Since the invention of the spoken word, the name a character is given has often held special relevance to the tale being told.
  • Happens quite frequently in The Bible.
    • The name of God, YHWH/Yahweh/Jehovah means "I Am Who I Am".
    • The first man, Adam, is derived from Adamah, meaning ground. Yahweh formed Adam from the earth.
    • Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, mean "Scorched" and "Trash Heap".
    • Joshua and Jesus are both the same name, a few thousand years apart and translated: both are derived from the Hebrew Yehoshua—later shortened to Yeshua—meaning "Yeho (i.e. YHWH) saves/is salvation". Elisha is the from the similar Elishua, meaning "My God saves/is salvation". Joshua is the name of the Founder's protege, Elisha is the Prophet's student, and (if you're Christian) Jesus is the Son of Man. Apparently, you can't qualify as an epic Hebrew hero without your name being "God Saves".
    • And if that old name isn't quiet as appropriate as you wished, then God will change it for accuracy, most prominently with Jacob whose name, after a lifetime of struggling beside and against God and epic wrestling match with the same (or one of his best angels), is switched to Israel which means "Struggles with God". But Abraham was once named Abram before God switched his name to Abraham (which means Father of Nations).
      • Jacob's original name (meaning "supplanter") was appropriate enough, considering he exchanged a bowl of soup for his brother's birthright - which entitled him to inherit the family patriarchy and 2/3 of Father Isaac's possessions. Nice going there, Esau.
    • Hannah decided to give her son, Samuel, one. 'Samuel' means 'God heard my prayer'.
    • I Samuel 25 records the story of Naval, whose name means "villain".
    • Satan is derived from ha-satan, which translates to "the accuser" or "the adversary" in ancient Hebrew. The former fits his role of cosmic prosecutor, accusing people of sin, and the latter fits his role of being the adversary to God and mankind.
    • This is almost the universal naming rule for biblical characters. Take angels, for example; at least as far as the most prominent ones go, their Hebrew names explicitly characterize them as God's living extensions and/or specific traits: Gabriel ("Strength of God" or "God is my strength"), Michael ("Who is like God?", a rhetorical question — which expects an answer in the negative — meant to ascertain God's superiority before all of Creation), Uriel ("Light of God" or "God is my light"), Rafael ("It is God who heals" or "God heals").
  • Most mythology is like this—check The Other Wiki for details, but some examples include Odin meaning something like "fury, excitement, poetry"; Aphrodite, "sea foam", as in what she was born out of; Ra means probably "sun" or "creator"; Amaterasu-ōmikami is "the great august deity who shines in the heaven"; Shiva, "The Auspicious One", was originally a euphemistic nickname for Rudra, "the Roarer"; even El (and its plural Elohim), Hebrew names of God, were Semitic for "deity". Meaningful names were the only names people had for most of history—why would a person be named gibberish, after all?
    • In fact, the few times the trope is averted in mythology are when the name is a corruption of a previous meaningful name. Zeus is just nonsense, but put it together with Pater, meaning "father", and it goes back to the previous deity Dyeus Pater, "sky father." The Romans would later corrupt Zeus Pater into Jupiter.
    • One important aversion: there are a few tenuous theories, but nobody is too sure just what Yahweh means.
  • The seventh Sunday after Easter is formally called Pentecost, because the following day is the 50th day after Easter, and "pentecosa" is Greek for "fifty". Not only that, but priests traditionally wear white robes on Pentecost, leading to its informal name of "White Sunday" — or "Whitsun" for short.
  • Nart Sagas: Argwana, whose name in Circassian may be broken down etymologically as "to stuff the vagina", reflecting his role as Setenaya's rapist. Interestingly, his name has been linked to that of the Gorgons, and it is hypothesized that the Greek word is ultimately of Northwest Caucasian origin.