Monday, August 3, 2015

Roll Call

Every four years about this time, I feel it is incumbent on me to write about the origin and meaning of the name of each presidential candidate—just in case such information might prove helpful to you in the voting booth (which I doubt). This year there is a surfeit of names to deal with, thanks mainly to the Republicans, so hold on to your hats!

To avoid any suggestion of partisan bias (and how blue I would be if that happened), we’ll take them alphabetically, first by political party and then by candidate name.

To start with Democrats (D comes before R—remember), Chafee has more than one possible etymology. Some say it came from the village of Chaffcombe in Somerset, England. The name was listed in William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book in 1086, so it goes back a long way. Others insist it is of French Norman origin, introduced to England just after the Conquest of 1066, derived from Old French chauf and Latin calvus, meaning “bald.” Variants of this name include Caff, Chaff, Chafe, Chaffe, Chaffey, Chaffee, Cave, La Cave, and Le Chauf. 

Clinton is Old English for a “fenced settlement,” derived from the town of Glympton in Oxfordshire. 

O’Malley is an ancient Irish clan name from the province of Connacht. It derives from the Gaelic O’Maoileoin, dating from before the 10th century, and means “a descendant of a follower of St. John.” The clan was renowed for its prowess on the seas and was once led by a woman sea captain, the famous Grace O’Malley (1530-1600).

The origin of Sanders is the name Alexander, meaning “helper of mankind.” It was common for the firstborn sons of European families in the Middle Ages to be named in honor of Alexander the Great, and the name appears as Alessandro in Italy, Alisandre in France, and Zander in German, as well as Sanders and Saunders in Great Britain. 

Webb is an English and Scottish occupational name, from the Middle English Webbe, referring to a weaver.

That takes care of the Dems.  Now for the G.O.P., or Gop, and the list is long, so better grab a cold sarsaparilla, put your feet up, and relax. 

Bush is Anglo-Saxon and refers to a person who lives by a bush, probably meaning a wine merchant, since the image of a bush adorned the customary sign for a vintner. 

Carson is a name of Scottish origin, probably from a now-forgotten place-name. It is seen in Dumfries records in the 13th century in the form of Acarson and a’Carson. The first record of the name is Sir Robert de Carsan, dated 1276, in the "Records of Holm Cultram", during the reign of King Alexander III of Scotland. 

Christie is a patronymic meaning “son of Christian” or “son of Christopher.”  Since the candidate’s full name is Chris (short for Christopher) Christie, he is “Christopher, son of Christopher.” Christopher means “Christ-bearer,” alluding to the mythical Saint Christopher, who was said to have carried the young Jesus across a river. 

Cruz is of Iberian origin, first known in Castile, Spain, and is the Spanish word for “cross” (as in the cross we have to bear). 

Fiorina comes from the Latin root "Flōs", meaning “flower, blossom” or, figuratively, “innocence, virginity.” It is Italian in origin and related to Florio and Florens (“bloom, flourish, prosper, be overjoyed”). Flōra in Roman mythology was the goddess of flowers, gardens and spring. 

Gilmore is either Irish or Scottish in origin, from the Gaelic Mac Gille Mhoire or Mac Giolla Mhuire, meaning a “son of a servant of the Virgin Mary,” or “servant of St. Mura.”  It might also mean “son of a spirited lad.” 

Graham is an Anglo-Saxon name, later transplanted to Scotland and Ireland, derived from the town of Grantham, Lincolnshire. It means “homestead on the gravel.” 

Huckabee is an English variant form of the surname Huckaby or Huckerby. Its origin could be either from the town of Huckaby in Devonshire or from Uckerby in North Yorkshire. It is derived from the Old English woh, meaning “crooked,” and byge, meaning “river bend.” It is also possibly related to Old Norse origins meaning the “farmstead of Ukyrri.”

[Did I mention this is a long list?] 

Jindal is a gotra (or clan) name in the Agrawal province of India. The Jindal clan is a subgroup of the Baniya, a class of wealthy merchants, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit for trader, and who largely control India’s economy. 

Kasich is a Latin spelling of the original Cyrillic КАСІЧ'. It is of Croatian origin, and my best guess it is that it is derived from the Old Slavic kazac, meaning "to order, command," referring to one whose authority was obeyed. 

Pataki is a Hungarian habitational name for someone from any of several places in Hungary called Patak, or a topographic name for someone who lived near a creek.

[We’re getting there.] 

Paul derives from the Roman family name Paulus, which means "small" or "humble" in Latin. 

Perry has several possible origins. It could be a derivative of the Latin peregrine, meaning “wanderer,” “traveler,” or “stranger.”  It might also originate in the Anglo-Saxon pyrige, or “pear tree,” meaning a person who lived near such a tree. Perry may also have sprung from the Welsh ap Herry, meaning “son of Harry or Henry.” And yet another possibility is the Norman French perrieur, or “quarryman.” You pays your money and you takes your choice. 

Rubio is Spanish for “red,” probably referring to someone who has red hair or a red beard or comes from a state he hopes will be red a year from November. 

[Hang on, there are just two or three more.]

Santorum is from the Latin word sanctus, meaning “saint,” of which sanctorum is the plural genitive, which would mean “of the saints.” Other Italian names like Santoro, Santorini, and Santorello stem from the same root. 

Trump is either an English name, from Devonshhire, referring to someone whose occupation is trumpeter, from Middle English trumpe (“trumpet”), or a German name from Bavaria, referring to a drummer, from Middle High German trumpe, meaning “drum.” 

Walker is an occupational name for a fuller (dresser of cloth), from the Middle English walkere, Old English wealcere, a derivative of wealcan (“to walk, tread”). The name might also refer to an officer whose duty consisted of walking forests, in order to inspect them. The origin may also be Dutch or German as Walker is the modern German for “Fuller.”

Believe it or not, at least 200 others have officially declared their candidacy for President, including a Democrat named President Emperor Caesar and a Republican named Ole Savior, not to mention other party candidates—but no one I know has ever heard of any of them.

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou is thinking of declaring, but he doesn’t think he fits in any known political party. It’s just as well.
           The candidates warm up their legs

            For the race that’s just begun.           

            They all remind me of fried eggs—

            When you poke them, then they run.     

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