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A Concise Dictionary of First Names [Paperback]

Patrick Hanks , Flavia Hodges
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 18 2003
Do you love or hate your name? Do you know what it really means? How do you choose the right name for someone? With well over 6,000 entries, this is the most comprehensive dictionary of first names available. In addition to a new introduction from the authors, it provides the answers to all your questions on the meanings and histories of names, how they have risen or fallen in popularity, and who are the famous bearers from history, fiction, and the screen. There is detailed appendixmaterial which includes European, Arabic, and Indian names, and this new edition now contains detailed coverage of Japanese and Chinese names. Over 150 brand new first names listed, including Aeronwen, Ardal, Calista, Gaia, Macy, Nirvana, and Xena

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Review


"Fascinating....Fun to browse."--Booklist (on the previous edition)


About the Author

Patrick Hanks was Chief Editor for Current English Dictionaries at OUP. He now works freelance. Flavia Hodges is a philologist, lexicographer, and publisher.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing April 28 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I recently purchased this book as a reference book for naming characters in my stories. What I was looking for was a baby names book that would offer me a wide selection of names, with clear definitions and origins.
What I got was a book that isn't particularly clear on what it contains. On the back, it says "Do you know what your name really means?" It claims to provide the answers to your questions. Upon opening the book, I found mostly descriptions of name origins, and barely any information on what the names actually mean.
For example, my name is Chloé. I looked it up, and rather than finding 'meaning = green flourishing shoot' (which I know is what my name means), I found a short paragraph containing biblical references and things about the name being used in the 17th century.
My name is not the only name to not name a full explanation. Almost all of the names in the book are like this.
On the whole I was intensely disappointed with this book, and promptly returned it. If you're looking to discover clear meanings to first names rather than the origins, do not buy this book. It is very detailed if you are interested in the origins of names, but what good is knowing just the origins of a name when you don't know what the name actually means?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Onomastic delight! Jan. 5 2002
Format:Paperback
Most books on names are written by people with no qualifications other than they can collect lists and reprint them. Not so with this book!
Although the authors are British, and there is a bit of bias towards names used in the U.K. it is well researched. They could have double-checked US sources a little more when commenting on its use as a US name. Yet, this only means that they wrote what they knew to be true rather than making wild uninformed guesses. For instance, they suspect that "Oprah" was a form of Orpah but without being completely sure they only list it as a supposition and attribute it's existance in the US to Oprah Winfrey. Their linguistically inspired guess was correct! Oprah has mentioned in an interview that her name was a typo of Orpah. Not having this obscure information, the authors did the responsible thing.
In fact, they deferred to consultants for the appendices for cultures they were not familiar with.
This book is great for students of onomastics, parents and authors.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but why use the reduced version? Sept. 25 2001
Format:Paperback
Hanks and Hodges are real scholars, who however communicate their information clearly and intelligibly. I cannot see any obvious need for a CONCISE version of their *Dictionary of First Names*, first published by Oxford University Press in 1990 and regularly reprinted. That book is only just over 400 pages, so by no means too long. It is the longer version which I personally regularly use for my research - mostly in Renaissance literature - and I have found it an excellent source of reference. Those looking for names for their children, too, or wanting information about their own names, will rarely be disappointed. You find out readily what a name means, what its derivation is, who have been famous bearers of it, etc. Wonderful for browsing, apart from anything else! I also often use David Pickering's *Penguin Dictionary of First Names*, which is similarly useful, but which Amazon does not appear to supply. (A matter of copyright restrictions?) - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Clear, Pithy Book April 21 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book, lively and enthusiastic. Unlike other name guides, it focuses on the cultural and linguistic roots of the name, rather than the fluffily mystic (astrological and so forth.) In addition to the original meaning of the name and variations over time, it also lists prominent historical or mythological bearers of the name, such as saints, kings, or heroes. The appendices, with names and their original meanings from Russian, Arabic, French, German, and so forth, are an added bonus. If you like words, or just like to peek at the secret roots of everyday things, buy this book. Great fun.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Clear, Pithy Book April 21 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book, lively and enthusiastic. Unlike other name guides, it focuses on the cultural and linguistic roots of the name, rather than the fluffily mystic (astrological and so forth.) In addition to the original meaning of the name and variations over time, it also lists prominent historical or mythological bearers of the name, such as saints, kings, or heroes. The appendices, with names and their original meanings from Russian, Arabic, French, German, and so forth, are an added bonus. If you like words, or just like to peek at the secret roots of everyday things, buy this book. Great fun.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but why use the reduced version? Sept. 25 2001
By Joost Daalder - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hanks and Hodges are real scholars, who however communicate their information clearly and intelligibly. I cannot see any obvious need for a CONCISE version of their *Dictionary of First Names*, first published by Oxford University Press in 1990 and regularly reprinted. That book is only just over 400 pages, so by no means too long. It is the longer version which I personally regularly use for my research - mostly in Renaissance literature - and I have found it an excellent source of reference. Those looking for names for their children, too, or wanting information about their own names, will rarely be disappointed. You find out readily what a name means, what its derivation is, who have been famous bearers of it, etc. Wonderful for browsing, apart from anything else! I also often use David Pickering's *Penguin Dictionary of First Names*, which is similarly useful, but which Amazon does not appear to supply. (A matter of copyright restrictions?) - Joost Daalder, Professor of English, Flinders University (South Australia)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Onomastic delight! Jan. 5 2002
By C. Reyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Most books on names are written by people with no qualifications other than they can collect lists and reprint them. Not so with this book!
Although the authors are British, and there is a bit of bias towards names used in the U.K. it is well researched. They could have double-checked US sources a little more when commenting on its use as a US name. Yet, this only means that they wrote what they knew to be true rather than making wild uninformed guesses. For instance, they suspect that "Oprah" was a form of Orpah but without being completely sure they only list it as a supposition and attribute it's existance in the US to Oprah Winfrey. Their linguistically inspired guess was correct! Oprah has mentioned in an interview that her name was a typo of Orpah. Not having this obscure information, the authors did the responsible thing.
In fact, they deferred to consultants for the appendices for cultures they were not familiar with.
This book is great for students of onomastics, parents and authors.
2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I don't like this book. Sept. 10 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I think this book should give more than one definition for the names. It should also give meanings from different languages
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