Humanities › History & Culture The Hidden Meaning in Your Name Share Flipboard Email Print MachineHeadz/E+/Getty Images History & Culture Genealogy Surnames Basics Genealogy Fun Vital Records Around the World American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Kimberly Powell Genealogy Expert Certificate in Genealogical Research, Boston University B.A., Carnegie Mellon University Kimberly Powell is a professional genealogist and the author of The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy. She teaches at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. our editorial process Kimberly Powell Updated March 17, 2017 Could someone named Biff ever be president? Could a Gertrude ever become a prima ballerina? Does your name really play an integral part in who you are and what you will become? Can changing one's name -- common practice with many immigrant families -- actually change one's destiny? The hidden meaning of names is a popular query on Internet search engines as people hope to learn what their name says about them and who they will become. Different than traditional name meanings found in baby name lists and last name meaning dictionaries, the hidden meaning of a name is more akin to astrology or fortune telling than true etymological science. With some exceptions, most sources which reference the hidden meanings of names appear to use a variation on research known as sound symbolism, which attributes meanings to individual sounds based on their emotional response. So what exactly is sound symbolism? The traditional view of most linguists is that word meanings are related to morphemes (roots, suffixes, prefixes, etc.). There are a few, however, who place great faith in the theory of "sound symbolism," suggesting that the letters of the alphabet -- individual sounds such as 'p' or 'st' -- actually mean something based on how they are pronounced. Sound symbolism, in its basic form, suggests that letter meanings influence how we feel about words and how we react to names, whether personal names or brand names. As one such individual, Joseph Gilbert, explains it, "look at the words that start with 'st'. Whether steadfast or just plain stubborn, they're almost all really stuck in one place (stop, stick, stand, stall, stoic, store, stack, still...), unless of course there's a raring, rearing, roaring 'r' in there who can get your 'st' 'started'." Curious, of course, I checked out the hidden meaning in my name. Entering my first name, I was told "Your name says that you are curious. People with your name are naturally curious and inquisitive. You are a true researcher and investigator who likes to get to the bottom of complicated things, and find solutions to yet unsolved problems." Of course, trying many possible combinations, I also was unable to find a meaning that was not positive and also was given meanings for names which are, essentially, concocted gibberish. Either way, it was a fun exercise in linguistics. If you're curious about the meanings behind the individual letter sounds, check out the hidden meaning in your name. Numerologist Joy Light also claims to be able to find the hidden meaning in your name by using the numbers which correspond with the letters in your name. By adding all of the numbers in your name together, you arrive at a number that represents your destiny, or what it is in this lifetime you want to accomplish. A hidden meaning behind your name.