Can’t Choose Your Own Nickname


The third door down the hall bore the legend LAWRENCE SENA, SHERIFF. VALENCIA COUNTY. WALK IN. The capitalized LAW, Chee had heard, represented Sena’s effort to replace “Gordo” with a less insulting nickname. It hadn’t worked.

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

Adora – Meaning Behind The Name

Adora is a very girly name. It’s the kind of thing that inspires pretend tea parties held by perfectly manicured miniature ‘ladies’ in lacy dresses with matching dolls. It’s a pretty name for a pretty picture of a girl who does not exist.

Well, OK, maybe she does exist, somewhere – just not here.

I have never been a girly girl. While I freely admit to fully enjoying my time wearing twirly skirts (if you don’t know what that is, please post the question below and I’ll fill you in!), those skirts were usually worn over the top of a pair of shorts and accompanied by some worn out sneakers. Remember that girl covered in band aids, climbing a tree and fixing the chains on her friends bikes while wearing her best Sunday dress? Yeah, that was me.

From this you should (correctly) gather that the disconnect between what was expected from a female named Adora and the reality of who I am has been a very consistent source of friction in my life. This has affected me in a myriad of ways – one of which being a tendency to research the history behind my name.

Oddly enough, many people assume this is a form of narcissism. Not so! Here’s why: perfect strangers make a point of quizzing me on the history behind my first name, and the reasons why it was bestowed upon me.


Never-seen-you-before-in-my-life strangers will assume the right to usurp lengthy minutes of my time for the sole purpose of asking direct (rude) questions about my racial and cultural history, frequently following those up with further annoyingly obvious implied-questions along a similar vein, all because I have an ‘unusual name.’ (Side note: the racial aspect to these inquiries will be explored later.)

I assure you, the research is a matter of survival not narcissism.

That said, let’s take a look at the research. What does the name Adora mean…really?


Baby Books

The baby books like to focus on the romantic and pretty aspects of the name. They revolve around some form of the words Adored or Adoration, with definitions including terms like Beloved, a Gift, and Glory. It appears in Latin, Greek, French and Spanish (among many other languages).


Most people don’t know it, but Adora is a Biblical name. It is the name of a town found in 1 Maccabees 13:20. The reason most people don’t recognize it is because of the many names given to this town, including: Adurim, Adoraim, Dura, Dora and Adora.


The literal translation of Adoraim is ‘pair of knolls,’ but the Biblical story about this town makes a far more interesting contrast to the preferred interpretation provided in the baby name books.

The story as I understand it: Adora is the place where a piece of impressive, yet brutal, war-trickery occurred. A Jewish tribe confronted another (non-Jewish) tribe and convinced the enemy (why they are enemies, I do not know), to both surrender and prove their new-found loyalty by willingly circumcising themselves.

Wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall during that negotiation?

Soon after, while the men are recovering from minor penile surgery and (therefore) unable to fight, the Jewish tribe attacks and…well…yeah…

It is often listed as the only recorded instance of forced conversion to Judaism. For some reason this short-version always leaves out the mass killing of all men prior to the forced conversion of women and children.

True interpretation of the name Adora

When she was good
She was very very good
But when she was bad…

Final Comment

I did not complete a full and proper fact-checking on the Biblical story of Adora. I relied primarily on my memory of in-depth research completed several years ago. If you have facts to correct or details to add, please use the comment box below.

Destiny of Names


“I got the feeling he’d looked and dressed like this since he was eight, mustache included. Maybe if his parents had called him Rocco he would’ve turned out differently. But they’d made him a Eugene, and that’s destiny.”

The White Magic Five & Dime by Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Falco

John Adams: Education and the Constitution



…a love of science and letters and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our Constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments…”

United States Presidents’ Inaugural Speeches by United States. Presidents.

Adora Translated

IMG_0485Many years ago I visited Disney World and Epcot Center. During that visit I bought a paper fan with a landscape painting from a woman who was selling both the fans and her services as a translator. for a nominal fee, she would write the buyer’s name on the upper right corner of the fan, in Japanese characters.

The little table where she worked was located on a relatively quiet (for Disney World) sidewalk populated by street artists drawing caricatures and portraits of tourists willing to pay the fees for their services.

Walking up to the table I indicated that I wanted a fan with my name. She smiled and we went through the usual formalities of clarifying the service and making payment. I recall liking her sincerity – for reasons I cannot explain she came across as a person who was inherently authentic and trustworthy. Ready to begin the work, she my name.

“Adora” I replied. Just to be clear, my name is pronounced Uh-Door-Uh, with the emphasis on the second syllable. In other words, ‘Dora’ with an A.

The look this poor woman gave me was something I had become all to familiar with over the years. There are many variations, ranging from simple I-don’t-understand panic to outright anger (yes, anger over the audacity of admitting to my legal name…but that is a story for another blog posting). This woman fell under the former category and, for a brief moment, I thought she was going to ask me to repeat my name but (for whatever reason) decided against it. She nodded, bent over the table to complete her task and handed me the completed fan.

At the time I wondered whether or not she had actually written my name and how I would even know if she hadn’t. Regardless, it was a pretty fan and my ‘name’ looked elegant, painted in the corner, so I went with the flow, proudly displayed my fan, and told people it was my name…no doubt about it.

Recently, I have been using Fiverr to complete some work for my website. (Many aspects of my Wild Raccoon plans are still in the formation stage, so the work is somewhat exploratory as I test out ideas.) I noticed Fiverr has an entire category for translation, which reminded me of that old fan.

Amazingly enough, the fan has survived many decades of time and thousands of miles of travel. So, I took it outside, snapped a picture and posted a gig to Fiverr, requesting a translation of the text. I did not provide an explanation of the fan’s original or my decades old request to write my name. Several Fiverr-accounts posted their bids and I selected a company that specialized in Japanese, Chinese and Korean because I honestly could no longer remember what language it was.

For $5, I requested a translation that included the following: 1) the language, 2) a roman letters translation of the foreign language text (read: the text in the non-English language but using the English-language alphabet) and 3) a translation of the text into English. Here is what I was provided:

雅&多 are both existing in Chinese and Japanese, but 娜 only can be find in Chinese.
雅 多娜 is absolutely a girl’s name. But actually, this kind of name is often the transliteration from Japanese name. So this 娜na could be a translation from Katakana.
Thus, this name also have a possibility from Japan. In this way, it is 雅多ナ(雅-みやびmiyabi,多-たta,ナna).

From this I gather that Adora (Uh-Door-Uh) was translated into Yaduona, and I’m guessing the pronunciation would be Ya-Doh-Nah, which isn’t to far off.

In the end, my $5 Fiverr translation has made me re-appreciate that old fan, which is more than worth the money.



Baby Names and Tattoos


“If you was a boy, you’d be Marlboro,” my father said in his Appalachian twang when I asked him why he named me Brandy. While this insight didn’t appear to answer my question immediately, I began to see the twisted logic behind my father’s penchant for narcotic substances serving as inspiration for naming offspring—and it made me glad that I turned out to be a girl.

I was beginning to think that my father wasn’t so crazy after all for wanting to name me after cigarettes and booze. How was that any different from wanting to name my kids for tattoos I wanted to get? How could I pass judgment on something that was imbued with meaning for him so much that he wanted to name me accordingly?

Chick Ink: 40 Stories of Tattoos–And the Women Who Wear Them by Karen L. Hudson

The Right To Live As Nature Designed

(Note: I have scheduled this commentary for Wednesday because the research described was primarily focused on Linguistics with some commentary about the subtle cruelty of pun-based name. Otherwise, it is primarily science, conservation and outdoors focused.)

When I was a teenager, working in the boundary waters or northern Minnesota (many years ago), I had the privilege of working alongside a wilderness guide. He was a man who knew true respect for the wild, the water, and the unique area in which he worked. He was a hunter and, as such, had some interesting arguments with a fellow student – a sometimes vegetarian and extremely youthful animal rights activist. One of the arguments he made has stuck with me over many years (paraphrased from memory): “…you eat that animal that was raised on a farm. It spent its whole life locked in a cage or trapped behind a fence. this deer [venison stew he’d brought to share] lived in the wild. It got the chance to be a deer. Now you tell me which is worse, the animal that dies on the farm, or the animal that lived in the wild?”

At the time I thought he’d made sense in a very important way. It wasn’t about whether or not humans lived up to their predatory nature by eating the flesh of other animals. It was only partially an issue of quantity – do we eat entirely too much meat? What was at the core of the issue of animal rights was the quality of life as dictated by the animal’s ability to live within its own birthright, as an animal. Being hunted is part of the deer’s life experience, just as hunting is part of the life experience of a wolf, cougar or bear. By trapping animals in cages and pens, we remove their ability to live and die, according to their own nature.

This long-ago argument kept resurfacing in my memory as I read this article. The author provides some heartbreaking descriptions of cruelty toward animals at the hands of researchers. It was hard to pull out quotes because my heart kept going out to the animals described in the story. I wanted to heal their pain and set them free to experience the life, pleasure, hardship, and pain that an animal deserves to experience – the life they were meant to live as the creature they were made to be.

However, the core of that cruelty seemed to be based on the human perceptions, and individual arrogance, about the nature of both animals and humans. The following quotes (hopefully) illustrate that lack of respect for the animals subjected to research and lack of understanding of both human and animal nature.


Speculation on the origin of human language was long discouraged among linguists; inquiry into the subject was formally banned by the Société de Linguistique de Paris in 1866, and the taboo thereby established persisted for nearly a century.

“What makes us human?” The way we phrase the question—which presupposes that the answer must be a definite thing we possess—tends to make language the most satisfactory answer.

There is something glib and thoughtless about bestowing on another conscious being a pun for a name. Glibness and thoughtlessness, as one sees in the documentary, are just a couple of Terrace’s winning traits, and Nim Chimpsky’s name was only the first indignity in a life full of indignity and suffering, which is the main subject of Marsh’s film.

“We enjoy mocking that sliver of biological difference between us and chimpanzees. Yet anyone who has ever looked with curiosity and respect into the face of a chimpanzee has seen a presence there. If we abandon the notion that language is necessarily the bedfellow of consciousness, we get a better understanding of ourselves, while our relationship to the other beings we share this planet with becomes more enlightened, more humble, and more humane.

The Last Distinction,” by Benjamin Hale – An entry in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, Edited by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Name Game: Lucifer

New Zealand has been creating a list of baby names submitted for approval and declined by The Department of Internal Affairs. Unlike the official banned name lists maintained by other countries, New Zealand simply keeps a tally of names the department has declined in the past – and will decline again in the future. As of May 2013, the list contained 71 names – including single letters and punctuation marks.

Before getting more stringent on acceptable baby names, parents in New Zealand selected the following for their children:

  • Benson and Hedges (brand of cigarettes), given to a pair of twins
  • Violence
  • Number 16 Bus Shelter
  • Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii

For this round of the ‘Name Game’ (details can be found on my first Name Game posting), I have selected the name Lucifer from the New Zealand banned (rejected) names list. What follows is a list of 50 alternatives to the name Lucifer. These options range from the mundane to the unusual, but they all have some similarity in meaning – minus the association with Biblical fallen angels.

Banned Name: Lucifer

  • Cultural meaning: A name attributed to Satan, devils and evil beings.
  • Translated Meaning:  Shining one, morning star, bright one, Venus (the planet).
  • Religious: Found in the Old Testament of the Bible and commonly interpreted to be the name of Satan before the fall of the Angels from heaven.

Part 1: Shining or Bright

  • Light: Abner, Ignatius, Kiran, Lucian, Lux, Lucius, Raiden, Zohar
  • Shining: Alucio, Chan, Dalbert, Kasi, Munir, Seabert, Uberto
  • Bright: Akeno, Albert, Berwyn, Birch, Brighton, Colbert, Delvin, Morgan, Robert, Sherwin, Wilbert

Part 2: Star, planet or Venus

  • Star: Merrit, Rigel, Sirius, Starr, Altair
  • Planet: Cairo, Saturnin, Ares, Marcus, Mark, Martin, Joven, Atlas, Astro

Part 3: Angel, trickster (clever or wise)

  • Angel: Angel, Cael, Michael, Raphael, Racheil
  • Clever: Pratt, Wylie, Rasmus
  • Wise: Conrad, Sage

(C) Adora Myers 2014

Name Game: Burger King

The Mexican state of Sonora has instituted a baby name black list, which legally restricts the names that can be given to children born in that area. You can see the entire list on and a discussion of the politics (in Spanish) on

When I see stories like this, I like to look at the black listed names, root out something particularly unusual, and try to come up with a reasonable alternative – something I call the ‘Name Game.’ So, here we go…

Banned Name: Burger King

Part 1: Burger

  • beef: Reuben, Wellington, Angus, Chuck, Kobe
  • cow or cattle: Birley, Boyne (Boine), Gobind, Vachel

Part 2: King

  • king: Roy, Arthur, King, Ryan, Leroy, Malik
  • royal: Auberon, Basil, Royal,

In the United States a list of potential boys name (first and middle) that are reasonably standard and have the hidden meaning of Burger King would be:

  • Reuben Roy
  • Angus Ryan
  • Kobe King
  • Chuck Leroy
  • Wellington Arthur

The meanings behind most of these names were pulled off of the internet, so please take the ‘definition’ with a grain of salt. Also, I am not well versed in Mexican or Spanish naming conventions so the list might be different if the game were played by someone whose native language is Spanish.

(C) Adora Myers 2014

Naming Politics: Messiah

The controversy surrounding the naming of a Tennessee child is interesting on two fronts: 1) the right to choose a child’s first name, and 2) the right to give a child the mother’s last name.

The child was originally named Messiah Deshawn Martin. The father initiated a court battle because he wanted the child’s last name changed to match his own: McCullough. The judge rules in favor of changing the boy’s first AND last name, despite the objection of both parents. So the child was (briefly) named Martin Deshawn McCullough.

The judge was fired over this decision because she specifically cited Christian-specific reasons in the courtroom (you can read all about the mess former judge Lu Ann Ballew created for herself here and here).

The press has focused on the first name because Messiah is an unusual choice, but I have found the combination of decisions concerning both first and last names particularly interesting. If you step back and look at the ruling (minus the invocation of Jesus Christ) there is a simple logic – both parents want their last names attached to the child’s legal name and Messiah is very close (in sound and appearance) to Martin, so give the mother the first name and the father the last. If this suggestion was made by friends or family members, in the manner I have just described, it would not seem offensive. In fact, it would have been an excellent opportunity for arbitration or alternative dispute resolution. For example:

Take this out of a courtroom and discuss it in private with a mediator – here are a few naming suggestions to get you started. If you still can’t come up with a mutually agreeable decision, bring it back to the courtroom. From what I understand, this has become something of a standard procedure in family courts in the United States.

However, the judge did not make those suggestions or decisions. Instead she simply ruled to give the child the father’s last name and, while she was at it, changed the first name to something that he could live up to (yes, she actually said the child could not live up to being Jesus Christ) – which is where the politics of last names enters into the discussion.

While it is never mentioned in the news articles that I have read, there is a strong possibility that this judge also believes that children should not be given the mother’s last name – and married women should not keep their last name (and women should not have children outside of marriage). These are all standard opinions of the politically conservative and Christian fundamentalist/evangelical communities within the United States. There are those who consider a hyphenated last name, a double last name (e.g.: Messiah Deshawn Martin McCullough or Messiah Deshawn McCullough Martin) or the use of the mother’s last name to be offensive for political, cultural and religious reasons.

Regardless of her personal opinions, these are not decisions that the judge can make for the parents in question. In fact, it is specifically stated that she can not use her religious beliefs as the basis for decisions made on the bench – therefore, she is now out of a job.

But, the American legal system aside, the question still remains: would either the first or last name prove to be a burden on the child? Personally, I don’t think the community at large (or other children) would think twice about the child’s last name unless the parents entered into a loud and much talked about battle within that community – then the gossips would have a field day. Using the mother’s last name is no longer the hot button issue it once was, and it is possible that a reasonable compromise could have been reached (on that issue) through mediation (e.g.: talking it out with the help of a trained ‘referee’) – as mentioned earlier, I really think this issue should have taken out the courtroom in the first place.

The first name is unusual, but it’s neither brand new nor as uncommon (in the United States) as you might think. According to the Social Security Administration, the name Messiah was number 904 in popularity (1 being most popular and 1000 being the least popular among those common enough to be counted) in 2005 and has steadily increased in popularity, reaching number 387 in 2012. By comparison, Jesus was number 73 in 2005 and 101 in 2012 – leaving the top 100 for the first time since 1999.

Again, that is in the United States. In New Zealand, Messiah is one of the officially blacklisted names and, therefore, not legally allowed as a baby-naming-option.

Here in the USA, Messiah might result in some teasing and bullying on the playground, but I suspect the child’s friends and peers will simply shorten it to Messi (pronounced meh-SIGH), which would make it easier (faster) to say, less formal and less religious. It would be interesting to hear what a child given the name Messiah in 2005 (reaching age 9 in 2014) has to say about his or her experience.

While I find this naming problem fascinating I am of the opinion that it never should have made it into the courtroom, much less the press (yes, that is the third time I’ve said that).

(C) Adora Myers 2014