Name Theory: Students in Society

Some of the college students I work with are characters. It’s not always a good thing, but it’s always an inspiration.

Today I thought I’d tell you about a few of them and their interesting names.


One of the biggest characters is Maguire. I love that name.

He is confident, together, intelligent, and all-together what you would want in someone you have to deal with. He’d also make a great character—the kind of character that would charm the girl, save the day, get things done, and move the plot along.

Technically, Maguire is not his name. His name is James Maguire Stainton (only it’s not; I’ve substituted similar names for privacy). So Maguire, what I’m guessing is a family name (mother’s maiden name?), is almost a pseudonym for this “character”. While he seems to use his given name with people he doesn’t know very well (I’ve heard other students refer to him as “James”) he prefers for most people to call him Maguire.

I think it could be great to have such a character who has an excellent middle name that she or he uses with most people, but a common or boring given name that is used by those who have been relegated to permanent acquaintance status.


I haven’t meet the next student I’d like to introduce to you, but I wonder about her. The name has me making up stories about her.

She is one of our many Asian students, and like is oft done she is also known by an American (or English) name. Unlike most of those Asian students who have chosen common or slightly out of date names, this girl seems to have been given something with a “story” for a background.

I imagine an American student dubbed her this nickname, but she may have taken it on herself after reading the book or watching the movie Twilight.

Her name is Sewan, and her nickname is Bella. Bella Sewan.

It’s cute, it’s memorable, and it makes me think. Is she at all like Bella Swan? Is she an everygirl who isn’t remarkable? Does she hate the cold and love to read? Does she love Vampires?

Or is she nothing like that. Is she a punk girl, or a hipster? Does she break the mold and make her “joke” name into another form of rebellion?

Someday I hope to meet her and find out.


The last character is another who I haven’t met, but who is soon to find that her rare and different name has suddenly leapt in popularity.

Arya. You may have heard of her? No, yes, maybe?

Arya used to be an extremely rare name in the US. It is an Indian name meaning Noble, Great, or Truthful. I’m not sure if the Arya who we work with is Indian, but I would guess she is.

If she was a newborn, however, I wouldn’t make that kind of guess.

Arya has shot up in popularity in the past few years, both as an alternate spelling for Aria (which is also up in the popularity charts) and as an homage to the Game of Thrones character.

I wonder what the student Arya thinks of the character bearing her name. I wonder what she thinks of the name’s popularity rising. And I wonder whether she is even aware of these aspects of our society (the book series, the television series, and the name popularity).

Characters who are outsiders might not know what their names sound like or mean to those in a society they have recently entered. In fact, learning about their name in the new society could help show the reader something about both the character and the society.


These are just a few of the interestingly named characters I am working around. I haven’t even told you about Mr. Rabbit, yet. Maybe next time.

Until then, have fun naming your characters. And remember, even if it ends up on the cutting room floor, the story of your character’s name could be an interesting character sketch.


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