Website Review: Behind the Names


Vision 68



Behind The Names


Necia Phoenix



Copyright © 2012, Necia Phoenix, All Rights Reserved


This is a dangerous site; plot bunnies come jumping out with every click of the mouse!


So, you're writing along and suddenly you get hit with an idea for a new character, but you come up empty on the name. What do you do? Borrow the baby book from your friend who just had a baby? But that might take time to explain, and what if you don't have a friend who just had a kid, and you don't feel like buying one, which can lead to a whole bunch of uncomfortable moments:

"Oh! A baby name book! Are you expecting?" Says the nosey cashier


"Um, no. Actually, I'm writing a book."


"Oh? Really?"


Yes, I've had that conversation. So what do you do? Once upon a time I got an idea for a character who had a certain flavor, so I tested out my Google-fu searching for names. The top of the results was this site called


I found myself in etymology heaven. I do believe I lost time that day. So what IS In short it is a site dedicated to the meanings (etymology) and histories of first names. Created in 1996 by Mike Campbell, he states in the About page;




"I wanted to put something on the web that was unique and, as far as I know, this was the first site that was quite like this when it was first created. Also, etymology is a hobby and linguistics has always interested me."




The database boasts over 18,000 names, which have snippets of meanings historic and mythological meaning. I have lost myself for hours in this site just reading names, meanings, and seeing how many different variations there are. The site itself is easy to use, and isn’t difficult to look at either.


There are several different ways to search. Simply browse the names alphabetically, by gender, regional names, or use the search bar. To use the search menu you just chose how you want to search: Searching names, searching words in meanings, searching words in description.


There are also some fun things you can do to expand your knowledge of names, from learning about laws about names and what you can and can’t name your child, to name themes and ideas for names for twins. also has a list of popular names in various countries right on the front page. There are message boards, polls, a name translator and if you find the database is missing a name, you can submit one! There is also a random re-namer which looks like it could be tons of fun.


If you decide to search by way of regional area and click the more link you get a Huge list of countries and regions. Some are also listed by category, including Biblical, Theology, Astronomy, Popular Culture and Mythology. The last has a whole range of mythological areas from around the world.


Behind the is a wonderful site, with tons of neat, nifty tidbits which can add flavor to any story. If this were a star rating system, I’d give it 5. Go there, check it out, just beware; I always end up with new ideas when I go, and I lose time.