What’s in a name? or nouns vs. verbs


Saint Amand et le serpent (Saint Amandus and t...
Saint Amand et le serpent (Saint Amandus and the Serpent) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) His name is also derived from the same Latin stem. 

I go a Catholic university. Many of my peers and friends attended private Catholic high schools, where they were taught Latin.

Have you ever had somebody recount you tales from their Latin classes? It sounds pretentious, but it is actually just really cool (until they begin reciting passages from Virgil‘s Aeneid.) I have had many a conversation about word meanings and definitions, and every single time, my Latin-learned friends bring up my name.

My given name, Amanda, is the feminine gerund of a Latin verb, amare. It translates to “worthy of love” or “she who must be loved.” (Some other interesting “Amanda” facts: it was one of the top four popular U.S. baby names from 1978-1992, even though I only know a handful of Amandas my age. Also, it is a really popular name in Puerto Rico and Sweden right now. )

The name says it all. I am worthy of your love; you must love me. Simple enough,right? Except for this one nagging question in the back of my mind: Am I living as a noun and not a verb?

Life is dynamic and changing. Few things have fixed properties, except for boring things like equations and scientific chemicals.   After all, who is the same as they were three years ago? Three weeks? Three days?

I identify as a lot of things: student, daughter, sister, aspiring young professional, blogger, wannabe journalist, friend, leader, an old soul, reformed theater kid, part-time vegan, skeptical Methodist, dog-lover, blonde, cautious optimist, sorority girl, worker, frazzled 20-something, Nebraskan, raisin lover, etc.

Looking at this list, I see a lot of nouns and self-given titles. I do not see many verbs. (Yes, I know you will say that many of these words are nouns and nouns only, but just suspend your disbelief for a little bit. Go with me here.)

Am I truly a “friend?” Am I a person who acts as a supporter to others? Friends are supposed to build each other up and help out and give their time and share their feelings. Friends are not supposed to take advantage of friends or flake out or act selfishly.  Don’t tell me that you have never been an imperfect friend, because then I will know you are a liar.

What about the term student? That is a seemingly simple one: a student is a person who studies something because of an interest. Yet, I can say I am a student without actually learning anything. I can study without retaining knowledge. (Just ask me how my midterm studying is going.)  In other words, am I taking advantage of every opportunity afforded to me?  I’m not just talking about pizza and drink specials. I’m talking about having built in mentors and resources and an excuse to learn from everything. Be young and slightly stupid and reckless and to throw myself head first into anything and everything and to fall in love with the world. Will I ever be able to wear glitter nail polish again? Probably not. I should take full advantage now.

So what about that name? I am a verb, like it or not.  My parents sealed my fate when they decided I was an Amanda and not a Sally or Sheryl or Sabrina.  I am going to strive to be worthy of love, not because I am a human being or because it is a right afforded to me by birth, but because I have earned it. I will win this worthiness on merit, by being myself. Because, after all, that is all I can be.

Plus, it makes me sound smart when my friends break out in Latin.

Is your name a verb? Can you transform it to one?

(I must credit my friend Roman for helping me finally piece this post together. I have been working on it for weeks now, and his idea about names inspired me.)



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