I was given the name Ronen. My parents named me based on a suggestion from one of my aunts. They simply liked the sound of it. Ronen means cheerful in Hebrew. Not exactly cheerful though, as there is no English word that precisely carries its meaning; maybe gale. Ronen is the verb for the root Ron, which means in Hebrew a cheerful song. Thus Ronen means to sing out of cheer; of joy. And while I am agreeable with that description when it comes to myself, singing voice is one talent I was not granted. But that’s okay, I can live with it given some of my other skills.
Until arriving in the USA, back in 1989, I was not aware that my name, albeit misspelled, may have other meanings in other languages. As it turned out, people in the USA often write my name as Ronin, confusing it with the Japanese term for masterless warrior; a samurai without a lord. That, actually, would not be too far from my truth. My nature is of a warrior, and I answer to no masters (expect for my wife, and that too, not often enough according to her.)
Others spell my name in the Irish way as Ronan which means baby seal. As an avid scuba diver, that is not a bad fit either! Another popular Anglicized form of the Gaelic Ruadhán name that mine is confused with, is Rowan. If to believe the internet, it means little red-haired one, and while the hairy part may apply, mine is not quite red. Then there is Roman, which has its distant origins dating back to the Roman Empire and the Latin language. It comes from the Latin word “romanus”, which means “of Rome”. In this initial sense, the title “Roman” means “a citizen of the Roman Empire”, a man of Roman (or Byzantine) culture, Latin or Greek. As Israel was once part of that empire, I guess that’s correct.
Onan, another common pronunciation confusion of Ronen, is not a name I am aware is being used. Yet, some still spell my mine that way when not hearing the R. Putting aside the sorry biblical affair with which this name is associated (Genesis 38:1: “wasted his seed on the ground”) Onan is taken from the Hebrew root of ‘on or ‘awn, which means vigor. By the way, is it possible that this is where the English word On may have originated?… But ‘on may also mean sorrow in Hebrew. And yes, some days are days of vigor, others of sorrow. Finally, there is Ryan, another fine Irish name occasionally confused with mine, which may mean ‘decedent’ of a king or even ‘little king’.
A late addition to this blog post is the name Rene. I get that a lot too. Turns out that René means born again, or reborn in French. This, as far as I can tell, is unrelated to the Christian Born-again movement, but rather it is a common first name in both French-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries. Wikipedia further informs us that it is derived from the Latin name Renatus. René is for the name form for boys and Renée is for girls. The name is no longer a popular in the USA — it reached its peaks in popularity in 1969 and 1983, when it ranked 256th. But since 1983 its popularity has been continuously in decline and it ranked 772nd in 2013. As it fades into history maybe so will be the confusion with my name, though I doubt it. Born again… hmmm… And I was so hoping to break the karmic cycle of rebirth this time around…
My name had been misspelled, mispronounced, and butchered more times than I care to remember. Luckily I really do not give this much weight. Still, why not have some linguistic fun?
Learned from: Googling the meanings of my many name variations