Tag Archives: Shakespearean names

Name of the Day: Malcolm

The name of 4 Scottish kings, an Australian prime minister and of course Malcolm X, this name is great for a boy you want to teach to be a strong leader. An old name, with lots of history, Malcolm is pretty uncommon, ranked at #410 in 2016.

I think for my generation the 2 immediate associations with the name Malcolm are Malcolm in the Middle and Malcolm X. Malcolm in the Middle was a fictional show about a gifted boy in a dysfunctional family.. it was funny. It was clean humor without being goody goody and boring. I think it’s a positive association. I have fond memories watching it with my brother on Sunday nights.

Moving to Malcolm X, the real life association. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge of Malcolm X from my public school education is very limited. I was taught that he was a civil rights activist, but resorted to violence and anger..  the educators of my youth presented Martin Luther King Jr as the good guy and Malcolm X as the bad guy. As an adult I obviously recognize that they can both be good while having different methods and different journeys. I wonder if my teachers truly thought of Malcolm X as a bad guy, or if they were just scared to teach about his complex and murky history. To summarize my opinion, in case anyone reading this is realizing that their own education on the subject is lacking: Malcolm X had spent his life being treated unfairly. In looking for a fix to the solution, he presented ideas in a compelling manner, with good intentions. Though I disagree with many of his ideas, I can appreciate where they were coming from. By the time of his death has had reformed many of his ideas. He was more peaceful and loving. If given the chance to live a full life, he may have changed his position on other matters, too. He was young and excited and I think, like most young people, he expressed some of his feelings before properly exploring them. Overall, him and Martin Luther King Jr were on the same side, after their deaths, their widows were best friends.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth Malcolm is based of the real life Malcolm III of Scotland. The rightful heir to the throne, this reference combines royalty, leadership and literature in one.

Malcolm Young is one of the founding members of AC/DC, Malcolm Lowry a poet and novelist (best known for Under the Volcano), the list of great namesakes goes on and on… Lastly I think the nick name Mac is adorable!




Name of the Day: Cassius

Cassius has 2 acceptable pronunciations, both of which I love. KAS-ee-us and KASH-us. I slightly prefer the 2nd, partially because it’s the way I always heard it in history class. Also because I love the nickname Cash. Cash makes me think of Johnny Cash and it’s a definite guilty pleasure name for me. Because of its association with money I would never use it as a standalone name… but I think as a nickname it works just fine!

Cassius means empty. Not a great meaning… but  not terrible. If you think of empty as needing to be filled I think it’s a creative and beautiful meaning. Full of potential. A reminder that every new life is a blank slate and their experiences will help determine who they become and the kind of influence they have on the world.

If you can’t put a positive spin on empty, Cassius has enough history to override that. Cassius Clay was most known for his work towards the abolition of slavery as well as being the ambassador for Russia under president Lincoln, Johnson and Grant. In 1845 he began printing an anti slavery newspaper, True American. His views and publications were not well received by all and he received death threats. But this didn’t stop him from speaking out against what he thought was right.

Muhammad Ali’s birth name was Cassius Clay Junior, named after his father who was named after the abolitionist. Ali lived the life he wanted to live, regardless of social acceptance. Though I don’t agree with everything he has done, I agree with that attitude. And I do agree with his refusal to join the draft for the Vietnam war and the publicity it brought for the anti war movement. Also though I don’t love boxing (I’m not really into sports in general) I do respect all the hard work he put into being the best in his sport.

Cassius is a character in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar who is of course based on the real life Roman senator. Cassius Dio was a historian who published 80 volumes covering 1,000 years of ancient Roman history, he lived from 155-235 AD. Cassius is also the name of several Catholic saints.




Name of the Day: Nerissa

Nerissa was invented by William Shakespeare for his play “The Merchant of Venice”. He took it from the Greek word, Neries, meaning nymph or sea sprite or the Greek God of the sea, Nereus. For me, being Shakespearean and connecting to the Sea is enough! No need to dig further. But if you need more convincing…

There is also a Filipino politician named Nerissa Corazon Soon-Ruiz. A cousin of Queen Elizabth II is also named Nerissa. If it’s good enough for royalty, it’s good enough for me!

Last, I LOVE the nicknames Riss, Rissa, Ness or Nessa.