Monday, November 7, 2011

A Little Name Calling

Just a bit of a list of meanings of names from various sources. I've recently been curious about name choices in this play. As a heads up, here's where I get most of these definitions, I just directly copied what they have at the site. Definitions are marked using a different color.

What's in a name?

  • Lear
    Clearing.  Alternately, "of the meadow."
  • Goneril
    Unfortunately, I find almost nothing on this besides that it's a "Shakespearean name."  However, given her personality, I associate it with other horrible things, such as venereal diseases, namely, gonorrhea. Sorry about any unpleasant images this association might cause.
  • Regan
    My main source didn't have any meaning on this one, but elsewhere I found it means "royal" or "regal."  Ironic?  Well, not necessarily, I'm sure there were many royal folk in Shakespeare's time that he could subtly make a jab at through this character.
  • Cordelia
    The name is of uncertain derivation. Some claim it is from the Welsh name Creiddylad, allegedly meaning 'jewel of the sea', although other reliable sources state there is no evidence for a true Celtic origin. Another theory derives the name from the phrase 'coeur de lion'. It may also be an elaboration of the Latin 'cor' (heart).  
    I particularly like this one, since its origin is uncertain and has a few different possibilities.  I personally like the 'coeur de lion' take, as it means heart of lion in French (hence King Richard the lion-hearted), and Cordelia truly does have a brave heart to still desire to help her father even when he so wrongly disowns her. 
  • Edgar
    From the Anglo-Saxon 'eád' or German 'ôt' - 'good, property, inheritance' and 'gar' or 'ger' meaning 'spear'. This combines in the meaning 'spear of prosperity', 'protector of the good (with the spear)'.
  • Edmund
    From the Old English elements 'ead' (prosperity, fortune) and 'mund' (protection). This concludes in the meaning 'prosperous protection' but another possible meaning is 'protector of prosperity (or inheritance)'.
  • Oswald
    It is of Germanic origin. It might be derived from the Old English elements os "god" and weald "rule".
"King Lear and the Fool in the Storm"
by William Dyce
(Thank you Wikipedia)

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