Slade : Meaning of The Name Slade

Yes, my "real" name is Slade -- it's not a chosen name; I didn't change my name as a rite of passage; it's not a pen name, pagan name, or faerie name. It's just my name -- a damn cool one, if I do say so myself -- given to me by my Mama while I was still in the womb. She discovered it in the credits of a Western film -- it's most commonly found as the name of gigolos, gangsters, and cowboys. It's bad ass.

My parents, unfortunately, chose to call me by my middle name, which always presents a bit of confusion when people address me as my first-name "Eric." I grit my teeth every time someone calls my name off an official list or emails me with this glaringly un-familiar salutation. (It does however provide me with a built-in strategy for screening unwanted telephone solicitations -- anyone who calls and asks for "Eric"... I know it's not someone I want to talk to.)

If you look at my Vacation Bible School certificate from Mars Hill Baptist Church, you'll see that I have indeed been called Slade all my life.

Enough correcting and explaining -- I LOVE my name. It's more common as a last name in Britain, but it's a killer boy's name -- it's butch, its singular syllable is musically versatile and goes nicely as a middle name behind just about any first name. I often submit it to online name databases because it's a name I have grown up to dig and for which I am very thankful.

But it's not a name that was easy to find on a bicycle license plate or belt-buckle when I was a kid. It's not often found in baby name books or dictionaries -- over the years I've scoured any potential source for the meaning. When I first traveled to England in 1992, I discovered it as a common place name, last name, as well as in a British Name dictionary.

For years, the only meaning I knew was "dweller in the valley you can't see inside of."

Recently, linguist and phonosemantic genius Jeff Lilly of Druid Journal -- researched the name Slade and discovered the following:

Slade is an English name that ultimately derives from the Proto Indo European root lei or slei, meaning "slide". Lei/slei is also the ancestor of words such as slippery, slick, loam, and oblivion. In Proto Germanic, slei became the verb slidanan (ancestor of English slide), as well as the noun slido, from which is derived sled, slede, and sleigh. In Old English, this root was probably also the source of slade, which was used to refer both to the sole of a plow and a steep-walled valley (i.e. a valley with "slippery" sides).

This latter meaning ("valley, glade") gradually extended to someone who lived in, or was from, such a place. There are a number of towns in Great Britain and elsewhere called Slade, and it is a surname as well.

The sound of the name Slade is powerful, as is obvious from its homophones sleighed and slayed. Motion is inherent in it -- swift, directed, strong motion, but also expansion, like a river filling a valley. And the motion has an endpoint: it leads to decisions, and opens doorways.

-- Jeff Lilly, Druid Journal Word of the Day

Check out more of Jeff Lilly's truly unique exploration of words and linguistic lore at Druid Journal Word of the Day. In exchange for a donation to Jeff's site, you can request a phonosemantic portrait of your own name.

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