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What does your name mean?

Always Write

Darby Hinkley

I’m a carefree friend. At least that’s what my first and middle name tell me.

“The name Darby is both a boy’s name and a girl’s name of Irish, Norse origin meaning ‘free from envy, or, from the deer estate.’ Once a common boys’ name in Ireland (e.g., ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’), the dynamic Darby now has a definite unisex feel.”

Dynamic Darby. I’ll take it! That’s what nameberry.com has to say about my first name, which I’m told my paternal grandfather Maurice Cornelius came up with. Thanks, Gramps! I happen to like my name. It’s also interesting that it means, “from the deer estate,” because I grew up in a log cabin in the woods of Spruce near Hubbard Lake.

Now, let’s look up my middle name, Ruth, which is my maternal grandmother Harriett Kelm’s middle name, as well as my paternal great-grandmother’s first name. Not to mention my eldest niece’s middle name! Hi, Abigail Ruth!

Ruth, of Hebrew origin, means “compassionate friend,” so says nameberry.com. I like to think I live up to that, but you’d have to ask my friends and family.

I try to be available even when I’m busy. I’m never too busy to listen to a friend. Nothing is more important than relationships. Nothing. Not money, not getting your work done (although I understand deadlines), not eating lunch. I can always spare 10 or 15 minutes to listen to a friend, or go on a quick coffee break, or just have a quick phone call.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That Maya Angelou quote hangs on my kitchen wall, a gift from my late dad, Mike Cornelius, and stepmom, Jeanne Cornelius. (Yes, I’m name-dropping in a column about names). I look at that sign often, recalling that relationships are the most important thing in life. Without relationships, we are alone. We were not created to be alone.

Onto the next name — Justin Alan Hinkley. Also known as, “Fair Handsome Forest Clearing.” Sounds about right. Ha! Another translation says Justin means “justice” or “righteous.” I feel like that makes sense, as he is the publisher of a newspaper, and he cares about getting the facts straight and doing the right thing. Justin is of Latin origin, and he never ceases to remind me that all languages stem from Latin, and that he took it in high school, and that he is therefore smarter than I am. I added that last part, but who takes Latin class? I took Spanish, which I have been able to use in a practical way throughout different parts of my life. So therefore, I am street smarter than he is.

For those of you who don’t know why I’m teasing my own boss, he’s also my husband, so I’m able to do that and not get fired. Well, at least not yet. I’d better throw some compliments in here. Alan means “handsome,” which is spot on!

Hinkley is of British origin and means “forest clearing.” So I guess I married a field. Of course, I am “from the deer estate,” so a field would be useful to me, I suppose. Since my maiden name was Cornelius, whose Irish meaning is “strong-willed or wise,” I think I’ll go with that. My original birth name better describes me than my married name. And everyone in my family is strong-willed (perhaps to a fault, at times) so that fits, too.

On the topic of changing your name when you get married, I’m kind of torn about it. A name is a sacred identifier. It defines you. Why would you want to change it? And who decided that only women are supposed to change their last names? It was obviously a room full of men, probably in wigs or cloaks. Sorry, ancient homies, your ideas are outdated. I still did change my name, because I don’t mind being traditional, and I wanted people to know whom I married, and that we are a family. Plus, when you’re engaged, it’s super fun in a 14-year-old girly way to secretly scribble your new last name on notebook paper to see how your new signature will look. Obviously I put a heart over the “i”. Duh.

No matter what your name means, whether you love it or hate it, or how many times you’ve changed it, it’s still a part of who you are. I like to find out more about myself daily, so knowing what my name means is interesting and important to me. It only takes a few minutes to check the internet for the meaning of your name. Look it up on several websites and cross-reference what you find. Then, if you so desire, shoot me an email to let me know what you learned. After all, everyone can use a wise and carefree friend! Reach out if you need one.

Darby Hinkley can be found looking up random things on the internet in the newsroom at The Alpena News. It’s all work-related, boss. I promise. Reach her via email at dhinkley@thealpenanews.com.

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