What your name means - if it sounds funny and made up

Share
Related Topics
TODAY I am glad to welcome back Dr Vernon Monicker, the man who knows more about the origin of names than anyone. He's here today to answer your queries about where your name comes from, or where someone else's name comes from, if your name is too boring to ask questions about. All yours, Vernon !

Netanyahu's a funny sort of name, isn't it? It sounds sort of silly and made up, doesn't it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Yes, it does, doesn't it ?

On the other hand, Yasser Arafat sounds equally silly and sort of made up, doesn't it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Yes, it does, doesn't it? Look, I don't want to complain, but could we have something a little less topical and controversial, please?

Garibaldi's a funny sort of name, isn't it? It sounds sort of silly and made up, doesn't it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Yes, it does, doesn't it? Actually, could we have something a little MORE topical, please ?

Mandelson is a funny sort of name, isn't it? Looks sort of made up, really, doesn't it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Not at all. Mandelson is another name like Mendelssohn, or Thomson. Mendelssohn means "son of Mendel" and Thomson means "son of Thomas".

So Mandelson means "son of Mandel", does it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Er, yes, I suppose so. Yes, definitely.

I have just looked up "Mandel" in a German dictionary and in German it means either an "almond" or a "tonsil". So you think that Mandelson means either "Almondson" or "Tonsilson", do you?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Look, I'm getting fed up being asked to explain names I'm not sure about. Hasn't anyone got any names I can easily explain?

Daphne du Maurier is a a funny sort of name, isn't it? It sounds sort of silly and made up, doesn't it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Yes, it does, doesn't it? Of course, many well-known names in England have a foreign origin, but once we get used to them they no longer sound exotic. One thinks of Bronte and de Glanville and Portillo and Dallaglio...

Don't evade the subject. You don't know the origin of Daphne du Maurier's name, do you?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Of course I do. But before we leave the subject, you might be interested to know that in Italian "aglio" means "garlic".

So?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Well, that means that the name of the current captain of the English rugby team -. Dallaglio - means, in Italian, "from the garlic" or "of the garlic".

Fascinating. So what does Daphne du Maurier's name come from?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: From the word "daphne". This refers to a kind of flowering shrub known - coincidentally - as a daphne. It comes via Latin from the Greek word "daphne", meaning "laurel". So it's interesting to know that Daphne du Maurier and Stan Laurel had the same name!

What's interesting about it?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Nothing. Sorry.

So, what does du Maurier mean, Dr Vernon Know-all?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Well, obviously "maurier" is a French word referring to a profession like "patissier" or "epicier"...

Yes, but what profession?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Well, obviously, someone who deals with "maures".

Which are... ?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: Well, according to the dictionary, a "maure" is a "Moor". Not the kind of moors which the people of Bradford and Leeds always claim are five minutes walk from the city centre, but the kind of Moors that invaded Spain, and of whom Othello was an example.

So what kind of profession would work exclusively with "Moors", then, eh?

Dr Vernon Monicker writes: I don't know. Oh, why won't someone please please PLEASE ask me a name I can explain, like Hempleman-Adams?

What does the name Hempleman-Adams come from?

I'm sorry - that's all we have time for this week. Dr Vernon Monicker will be back again soon!

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

General election 2015: Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence