Name Game

Be prepared for another rambling post.  It’s a mystery where the post will end up.  Let’s start……

Here is my Chinese name ………

chi leongMy very wise parents chose this name for me and I am often told either that the name suits me or that I have lived up to the name given me.  It is pronounced “ci liang” and means “kind and good”.

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to be named “rich and famous” but I  guess that is not a bad thing to have a name like “kind and good”.

One has to be careful with Chinese names because characters with similar sounds can mean something totally different.  For example, my brother’s name actually means “kind dragon” (which I think is really cool to be called a ‘dragon’, don’t cha think?).  However, with just a slightly wrong pronunciation and accent, such as might be said by a Westerner with no experience with the Chinese language , then “kind dragon” will suddenly be transformed into “pig sty”.

It is precisely because of all these mispronunciations of my name when I studied in the United Kingdom that I decided to adopt an Anglicized name.

I chose “Calvin”.  I like “Calvin”. However, in retrospect, it was not the wisest of choices.

If you were to look up the meaning of the name “Calvin”, it has only one unfortunate meaning…………”bald”.


Oh, yea.  Good choice there squirrel.  Can you imagine a bald squirrel?  No bushy tail?  Not a pretty sight, I think.

Many years ago, I went to Geneva, Switzerland and got to see a statue representing a rather famous “Calvin”……………John Calvin – a key historical figure of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.  The statue is part of a series of Protestant figures in what is called the “Reformation Wall“.

Photo by LGS
Photo by LGS


Calvin is the second from the left.  Now, I am not 100% sure, but don’t they all look bald to you?

Apart from being an important church figure, they also named a beer after him called Calvinus Beer.  I tried it.  It’s okay but not great……certainly won’t put hair on your head.

Strangely, there aren’t a lot of famous ‘Calvin”s.   The 30th President of the United States was a ‘Calvin” but he is mostly known for being a bit strange and being a man of few words. The story is told that a matron, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you.” He replied, “You lose.”   Another tale relates  that upon learning that Calvin Coolidge had died, Dorothy Parker reportedly remarked, “How can they tell?”

The only other ‘Calvin” that people seem to have in their consciousness is “Calvin and Hobbes”.

A Boy and His Tiger (comics by Bill Watterson)
A Boy and His Tiger (comics by Bill Watterson)


Now I don’t mind that association cause Calvin is kinda cool but it gets a little tiresome when people keep asking me “Where’s Hobbes?’

Anyway, what does your name mean and are you happy with it?

20 thoughts on “Name Game”

  1. Mark has many meanings post 19th Century but I’ll go old school and stick with Warlike.

    As a bald squirrel you’re actually pretty safe from the stew pot you’d look to scrawny to waste a shot on. count your blessings where you find them.

  2. Rebecca seems to have a lot of meanings too. But nothing nice, imo. A snare, a noose, knotted cord. Although, some places will go so far to say “captivating”.

    I have read “Rebecca” by Daphne DuMauier, but I’ve never read “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”.

  3. “Debra” means “honeybee” in Hebrew. My name honours the Divine Feminine because in ancient times, priestesses of the Goddess were called honeybees. I am very pleased that the name my parents chose for me ultimately reflected my spiritual path as an adult.

  4. My name means I can’t Google myself because about a million other people are my namesakes… but then again, neither can anyone else out there who might want to creep on me! 😉

  5. I don’t know that many westerners put much thought into what a name means – we seem to go by whatever sounds nice and does not remind us of someone we didn’t like as a child.
    Having said that – my name means lily flower and according to one website “people who like my name also like Violet”. so. I did not know that when I chose Violet as my blog name!

  6. Mark,
    Ah, yes…..named after the Roman God of War. DO you think the name suits you? Are you a warrior type? I think you are. I think that if you had it your way, you’d knock some heads together to shake some sense into them.

  7. emerrube,
    I have always liked “Rebecca”. I am surprise to learn some of those meanings. I think “captivating” is probably the most appropriate like Rebecca the wife of Isaac in the bible.

  8. Debra,
    I understand that Debra is derived from Deborah who was certainly a very strong woman in the bible. I am not sure though which tradition you are referring to with regards to the priestesses of the Goddess? Glad you like it and feel it fits who you are.

  9. VioletSky,
    I suspect from your description that you share the same name as my mother. What a convergence that you also chose “Violet”! How strange but how wondrous.

  10. I love your comparison of near misses with Chinese! I like the name Calvin. I was named after a Beatles song, and the masculine version of my name has this explanation: From the Hebrew name מִיכָאֵל (Mikha’el) meaning “who is like God?”. This is a rhetorical question, implying no person is like God.

  11. Debra,
    Thanks. This is totally new to me but interesting. I guess its origin dates back to when humans first learned how to keep hives …….which is a long, long time ago.

  12. Riot Kitty,
    Huh. I always thought that your name’s origin was French or Latin. I’m surprised to learn it is actually from Hebrew. But then I also thought all noble cats come from the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Clearly, this squirrel needs further education. 🙂

  13. I never looked up my name Now I did and it means Sea of sadness or berry. Now what is that for a name, makes you cry 🙂
    There is by the way another name association for you Calvin Klein,
    which is famous expensive perfume. There you go.A little rich and famous rubbing of on you

  14. Not sure what my first name means, and no, I am not thrilled by it. I was named after my father, which has created all kinds of havoc in the past 40 odd years or so.

    Calvin is cool. My son’s middle name is Calvin, which was directly pulled from the “Calvin & Hobbes” comic strip.

  15. Marja,
    Pick the “berry”! Pick the “berry”! 😉 But actually I found out that it is the Dutch equivalent of “Mary” which has such a great lineage like Mary, mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene etc. Thanks for trying to cheer me up with “Calvin Klein” but I am really not much into brand name perfumes or perfumes of any sort really.

  16. G.B.,
    I too am not a fan of the “named after the father” approach. We don’t do that in the Chinese culture. However, children of one generation (i.e. all the cousins) sometime share one of the two given names.
    Greetings to your Calvin.

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