Feb 222011
Baby Giant Anteater at SF Zoo, via Zooborns

Not a nameling*

A few months ago, Mrs. Hot Cocoa posted about an effort that encourages people to “adopt” rarely-used words from days gone by. As a fellow word nerd, of course I rushed over to the Save the Words site.  The experience was a bit sad — all those sweet, abandoned words waiting for their forever homes. Several gazed at me hopefully as I walked past, blinking their liquid vowels and wagging their stubby consonants, but none seemed like quite the right fit.

And then I found it:

namelings (plural noun, c. 1706)

persons bearing the same name

If there is one type of word I love, it’s anything that sounds like a little forest creature.** Nameling definitely fits that bill, so nameling it is.

Also?  Totally useful!  Lately I’ve been receiving alumni mail from Boston College. I never attended Boston College,*** but my maiden name is so unusual, I think they did an Internet search, found me, and assumed there couldn’t possibly be more than one. There actually is one other — a few years ago I met someone who actually knew her. And now she is no longer just “the one other person in the world who shares my maiden name” … she is my nameling.

Do you have namelings?  Have you ever met one?


* But isn’t this baby anteater OMGcute??!?  Why haven’t I visited Zooborns before?

** Favorite Dutch word — makelaar (mah-keh-lahr). It means real estate agent, but tell me that doesn’t sound like something you’d find scampering around in the underbrush….

*** Dear Boston College: I’m sure you’re perfectly nice, but I have zero plans to donate money to my own law school because it’s a pricey private school … can you guess how likely I am to donate to a private school that I didn’t even attend??!?

  4 Responses to “Have You Ever Met a Nameling?”

  1. I love the word namelings! And if we’re talking just first + last name (so, excluding middle name) then yes I have met a nameling: my second cousin. I was born first! Ha. My name. Although to be fair, there are lots of ‘me’s out there. In fact, I shared a name (maiden name) with a popular children’s book author! Though I’m 99% sure there’s only one of me with my new maiden + married last name.

    • Wow, was it WEIRD meeting someone with the same name? (Even if it was family?) Mr T once met someone with his name but spelled differently. When the guy introduced himself, Mr T just blanked. His brain flat-out couldn’t process whether the other guy was saying “Mr T” (as in “nice to meet you”) or “Mr Tea” (as in, saying his own name).

      • I feel like it probably would have been more weird had it been a stranger. Since I grew up knowing she existed of course, it was more funny than weird when we finally met. She stayed with our family for a week once and we had to go by first+middle names because both of us went by Megan strictly (no Meg, Meggie, etc) so we had no nicknames or anything to distinguish! I think the strangest thing for me was mostly just that my 2nd cousin and I are SO different, it’s weird to know that the same name stands for these two totally opposite people. If I just met someone and they introduced themselves with my name, I’m sure I’d also stand there in stunned silence!

        • Interesting that you were so different — so much for the people who believe names help shape our personality!!

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