Monday, October 6, 2008

What Does Your Name Mean

Barack Obama's religion and name are coming under scrutiny again, as his opponents don't seem to be making any headway talking about the real issues.

For the record, here is the meaning of Obama's name, as best I can tell. (I'll talk more about his faith in a future post.)

Barack is a Semitic word (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic) meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22: "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə ) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Hussein is from the Semitic word, hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Obama was named in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a resident of Nairobi, Kenya.

Obama is a name from the Luo ethnic group of southwestern Kenya, where Barack's father was born. It was originally the given name of Barack Obama's great-grandfather. It is based on the Luo word bam, which means "crooked, slightly bending" . The prefix O- means "he", and many Luo male names begin with it. Since most traditional Luo names were given by the baby's mother referring to something about the child's birth, the best guess is that when Obama's great-grandfather was born one of his arms or legs looked slightly bent. (Thanks to Juan Cole and WikiAnswers)

In case you're interested, Carl Lindquist is Swedish/Scandinavian in origin. Carl means 'one who is strong', while Lindquist means 'Linden tree branch.'

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