The Meaning of a Name

Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name-- any name: first, middle, last, nickname-- and its origin. A paragraph to a page long.

If my identity were built upon the different components of my name, my middle name, YingYing, would be the foundation. Both of my parents grew up in China’s capital city and they wanted a part of my name to reflect my heritage. In Mandarin Chinese, “Ying” means “to win.” Typically, Chinese given names are two syllables long; my parents purposefully chose to repeat the syllable in order to emphasize that they hope for me to lead a prosperous, satisfying life. Indeed, I have a fiercely competitive edge when necessary, which can be explained nicely by this translation of my middle name. While my name does hold a specific meaning, generally speaking, it serves as a reminder that my culture is (literally) a part of my identity.

Upon this YingYing foundation sits the framework of who I am today, which is quite accurately represented by my first name, Caroline. My father chose this name, inspired by the accomplished Caroline Kennedy, whom he saw as a worthy role model. He revered her for both her strength, which she displayed after losing her father at such a young age, and her success. In fact, my father was so set on the name Caroline he claims it would have been my name even if I had been a boy! Whereas my middle name reflects my...

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