Name Etymology Map

“What’s in a name?”

So Juliet ponders in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene II. Tis a question for the ages – and a very important one! Many cultures believe there is power in knowing one’s true name — can the meaning behind your name have some influence on your personality? Your life? Your destiny?

I invite everyone to join my Greek and Latin Roots of English class in adding your name to the map. Do a little research on the origin and history of your name — this is what we call etymology, the study of words, or more specifically, onomastics or onomatology (the study of names, from the Greek word ὄνομα (ónoma) meaning “name”).

What country does your name originate from? Take a moment to situate you name on our classroom map with a marker — everyone is welcome to participate! Please only reveal your first name and if you desire, add a brief summary of your name’s history and meaning in the description box.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions!


Greek and Latin Roots of English, Hunter College




  1. Cathy is my legal name, inspired by the main character in the novel Wuthering Heights, and also by both grandmothers. It is, according to Wikidictionary: “from the Ancient Greek Αἰκατερίνη (Aikaterínē), *Ἑκατερίνη (*Hekaterínē), of debated meaning, possibly from ἑκάτερος (hekáteros, “each of the two”), or from the name of the goddess Hecate. The spelling with ‘h’ in Latin languages, German and English, is due to a folk etymology, dating from Roman times, which associated the name with the Ancient Greek καθαρός (katharós, “pure”). The name belonged to a 4th-century saint and martyr from Alexandria who was tortured on the wheel.” Interestingly, my paternal grandmother changed her name to “Mae” to sound more American. “Mae” is my middle name, again from Wikidictionary: “From Middle English, from Old English, from Old French mai, from Latin māius (“Maia’s month”), from Maia, a Roman earth goddess, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *magya, she who is great, from Proto-Indo-European base *meg-, great”

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