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

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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!

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