What Can We Learn from a Name?

When E.B. White wrote his still-beloved story, “Charlotte’s Web,” he was careful about giving his lead character a meaningful name. He named his creation “Charlotte A. Cavatica.”

If we dig a bit deeper, into the origins of that name, we learn some interesting things. Those things tell us a lot about Charlotte:

  • The “A” stands for “Aranea.”
  • “Araneae”—the pluralized form of "Aranea"—is the Latin word for the order of orb-weaving spiders.
  • “Cavatica” comes from the Latin word “cavus” (which means a pit, hole or hollow).
  • Aranea Cavatica was the scientific name for barn spiders, located in the general area of E.B. White's farm in Maine, at the time White was writing “Charlotte’s Web.”
  • Charlotte, the star of White’s book, is an orb-weaving barn spider.

So ... we can learn a lot about Charlotte just from understanding the different parts of her name.

When parents name their children, should they pay attention to the meaning of the names they choose? Why, or why not?

Does your name have a particular meaning? If so, what is it?

Do you have any friends with particularly meaningful names? What are they—and—what do the names mean?

What is most special about your name?

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