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Those that we call Winchester by any other word would be as sweet…. Forgive me, kind readers, the blasphemy of paraphrasing the words of magnificent Shakespeare for my own intentions… But, as the bard and I have shared a loving relationship from my 16th year on, I trust William would not take it amiss…

I have been thinking, in one of those high temperature sleepless summer hiatus nights about the names in our favourite show. I wouldn’t say that Kripke & Co chose the names of the characters in regard to their mythological, biblical (or whatever else) meaning, but I found it to be a fun exercise to look at our characters’ names as if he might have.

For the first time I came across some possible meaning happened when I was thinking more about Mary – did she carry that name deliberately? Or was it a coincidence that this iconic mother figure had the same name as the woman who gave birth to Christ? Since her story is full of tragedy and evil circumstances that were planned by those entities that did strive to destroy this planet, I am inclined to think that her name is no coincidence.

So, you are invited to accompany me on a history of Supernatural’s names. Perhaps you might find it as interesting as I did when going on my little search for them. And you might say that hot summer nights bring out the geek in me, occasionally.
Winchester

The name of Winchester is of Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from a family living in the city of Winchester in Hampshire. In the 10th and early 11th century Winchester happened to be the capitol of England (and before that the capitol of the realm of Wessex). It is an old city – pre-Roman city grounds have been found, and after Rome’s conquest of England, they called it ‘Venta Belgarum’, meaning ‘market of Belgians’. After Anglo-Saxon takeover of the area about 520 A.D., the place was called Wintanceastre.

The poet John Keats lived there for a short while (August-October 1819) and wrote ‘Lamia’, ‘Isabella’ and parts of his ‘Hyperion’ there. And Jane Austen died in Winchester on July 18th 1817, finding her last resting place in the local cathedral.

There are more cities/towns by that name, 18 in the US alone.

The name might be most famous, however, for the Winchester rifle which was one of the earliest repeating rifles. It’s forerunner had been the so-called Volcanic rifle produced by Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. The businessman who founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company was Oliver Winchester, son of Samuel Winchester (I couldn’t resist), married to Joan Ellen Hope.

This gun played a huge role in the Western Expansion and therefore is often referred to as ‘the gun that won the west’. To some extent these weapons were also used during the American Civil War. So, why not assume, that this name was attractive to Kripke to establish a family of equally effective ‘guns’ in their fight against evil. I always smile about Dean’s ‘Aren’t you a handsome son of a gun’ in Dream A Little Dream Of Me. Indeed, the son of a damn good repeating rifle, ahem, a repeating demon slayer...

Sam

A version of the Hebrew name Samuel which means ‘God has heard’. It is also the name of he prophet who anointed Saul and David as kings of Israel.

Another reference is to be found with the angel Samael (sometimes Samuel, Samyel), a contradictory figure. The name might mean ‘poison of God’. Sometimes he is identified with Satan, saying that Samael was his angelic name, and not Lucifer, and he is associated with the angel of Death (who was assumed by ancient people to administer poison). His partner is Lilit and together they rule the realm of evil (according to the Kabbalah). – Now isn’t that a intriguing idea? Sam and Lilith… oh, wait, that almost happened in some way…

The book of Enoch refers to him as the angel who sits alongside Satan, writing down the sins of Israel. They pass the writing tables to the Seraphim to pass on to God, but the Seraphim burn them instead, so God never learns of Israel sins.

The name is in popular use, there’s a song by Olivia Newton-John from 1977, Uncle Sam personifies the United States government, and a town in Sweden goes by Säm. In Croatian the adjective ‘sam’ means ‘alone’.

Comments  

elle
# elle 2010-08-09 23:27
Brilliant article, Jas! The origins and means of the names are so largely well suited to their bearers. Interesting...I wonder if they were chosenspecifica lly? Probably not but the possibility is intriguing, for sure. It certainly gives some food for thought on the depth of the mythology.

I know that with some networks the names of the characters have to be cleared by the brass (no idea the criteria for an unapproved name) so I wonder if the CW had a role in directing the names to their final incarnations?

Either way, I can't imagine our boys going by any other title! ;-)
Bethany!
# Bethany! 2010-08-10 05:38
Jasminka thanks for sharing, this was really interesting.

I heard that Kripke wanted to name the main characters Sal and Dean after the main characters in Kerouac's "on the road" which he has said inspired him in the creation of Supernatural (if you read the book you can see the parallels). But the name Sal for some reason wasn't deemed right so he changed it to Sam.
tigerlily2
# tigerlily2 2010-08-10 07:59
Good article, Jasminka.

I've always been thankful they went with Sam instead of Sal. It bugs me when writers give young characters geriatric names. Also, it would have been just too on the nose to name the characters directly after the Kerouac characters. I thought it was much cooler that they used the name "Sal Moriarty" for the original owner of the Impala. (Oh, and who would have wanted to hear Dean refer to his brother as "Sally" all these years? Yuck.)

I've always thought it was odd that we've never learned middle names for the boys. (We haven't, have we?) I would have thought that a couple who so carefully named the children after the maternal grandparents would have certainly given thought to some middle names.
elle2
# elle2 2010-08-10 08:35
Sally....cracks me up!!!

Jas, as always, an intriguing article. Where do you come up with these creative ideas?

I had no idea the name John had som much tragedy/superst ition in England and while I've often wondered at the significance of Mary I didn't know about Dean's and Sam's 'other' meanings in other languages.

Thank you for writing this.

Tigerlily2, I don't think we have heard of any characters' middle names except Robert Stephen Singer and Jo Beth Harvelle.

Perhaps we could come up with some ideas.

:-)
Karen
# Karen 2010-08-10 08:39
Hi Jasminka
Great article. I liked hearing where these names had originated from.
I too wonder if it was planned or just coincidence.

Tigerlily2 – I had to laugh at the thought of (Sam/Sal) being called Sally. Dean would have had a heyday teasing Sam/Sal with that name.
Marie Winhester
# Marie Winhester 2010-08-10 08:39
Amazing Jas :-)

Did you know Lilth was supposed to have been God's wife?
Yeah..But i guess they where people who didnt like the idea of god having a wife.

Distant members of my family go by the name Winchester which i found very exciting :D

The reason many of us (Including the royal family) dont like the name John, is because of bad King John who you spoke of. He was forced to sign the Magna Carta after what he did to the de Braose family. Though it changed little.

I always asscociate the name Robert with Robert the Bruce :-)
mysticpeach
# mysticpeach 2010-08-10 10:28
From Wikipedia:

"When it came time to name the two lead characters, Kripke decided on "Sal" and "Dean" as an homage to Jack Kerouac's road-trip novel On the Road. However, he felt that "Sal" was inappropriate for the main character, and changed the name to "Sam".[5] It was originally intended for the brothers' last name to be "Harrison" as a nod to actor Harrison Ford, as Kripke wanted Dean to have the "devil-may-care swagger of Han Solo". However, there was a Sam Harrison living in Kansas, so the name had to be changed for legal reasons. Combining his interest in the Winchester Mystery House and his desire to give the series the feel of "a modern-day Western", Kripke settled on the surname of "Winchester". However, this also presented a problem. The first name of Sam and Dean's father was originally "Jack", and there was a Jack Winchester residing in Kansas, so Kripke was forced to change the character's name to "John"."

This was an awesome article though. It inspired me to look into my family's names! XD
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-10 14:46
Hello - Elle, Bethany!, tigerlily2, elle2, Karen, Marie Winchester, mysticpeach - thank you for commmenting!

Elle, actually I don't think Kripke chose the names in regard to their mythological background, but I like the idea that he might have.

Bethany!, I didn't know about that, thank you for enlightening me! There are indeed parallels to On The Road...

tigerlily2, just like the others, I like the perverse idea of Sam (ahem Sal) being called Sally... Imagine the bitch faces he would throw at that.

elle2, thanks so much, dear. Sometimes I get good ideas, not always, though (*coughs*)... I was amazed myself when I found out about the John-bad luck in England...

Karen, thanks, dear bard - I fear we will never know.

Marie Winchester, yes, thank you, I knew about that myth, and I agree - the patriarchial founders of religion probably found a strong woman to be too dangerous... But there's a whole myth about her which is intriguing.

mysticpeach, thanks for the Wikipedia excerpt! I didn't know about this. That's interesting!

Dear ladies, thanks again, blessed be! Jas
Christine Apple
# Christine Apple 2010-08-10 19:05
Hey Jas,
Your postings with all the clever insights, never cease to amaze me! You have a very active mind. Do you ever sleep? :-) :lol: I would've never thought to analyze what's in a name. Very entertaining and thought provoking. Makes me want to check into where my name came from.(Adding to the very long list of things I have yet to accomplish this summer:oops:-).

This is one of the many reasons I come here to TWFB. All of you do such a great job with your articles. I laugh, I cry, I contemplate, and I'm never afraid to post a comment. Whether I agree or disagree, I'm always treated with respect. Thanks again to all of you beautiful people, for making Helletus a little less hell. As well as for all you do all year long! Keep doing your thing and I will keep coming back!
Christine Apple
# Christine Apple 2010-08-10 19:08
One more thing....Sally :roll::........ too funny! :lol: :lol: :lol:
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2010-08-10 19:25
Jasminka, you evil, evil genius. That article is pretty awesome, very detailed, an unusual concept and it definitely set the cogs in my head going at full pace (damn you!)

I don’t think the names were picked at random. Even if they are named for the ‘On the Road’ protagonists, the significance of those names (Sam, Dean, John, Mary, Bobby), especially in biblical lore, is startlingly appropriate when you look at the characters in the show and what they have done. Plus, if a name reflects who you are, their names become even more fitting.

John, for me, would suggest John the Baptist (you can’t escape a good auld Roman Catholic upbringing!) John the Baptist was, of course, the forebearer of Jesus the Saviour, the one who prepared the way for him and his deeds. In light of the angel/devil storyline, could this be relevant? At age 30, John the Baptist left to go preach against the evils of the time. What age was John W when he left to fight the evils of his time? John the Baptist was also quite the hairy dude, something else he has in common with our John.

‘Dean’: the honour of rank given to long serving soldiers. Cool. If anyone deserves that title it’s our boy. He’s been a soldier, a protector, his entire life. I really like the meaning of a dean being the leader of a religious hierarchy in a community. It’s perfectly applicable when you consider ‘The End’ and its community of survivors. Dean had his own small band of followers/soldi ers within this community and what position did he hold in this new religious hierarchy? The dean. (Dean the dean, that’s funny).

Also a dean is someone with a position of power in an educational facility and as Dean W (and his red shorts) found out ‘the whistle makes me their god’. Anyone who can compel you to run is a person with power....

Ah Bobby, named for (I think) the first martyr and... the first guy to sacrifice himself when he shot Lucifer. All to protect what remained of his family. Martyrdom truly awaits Bobby Singer (or it would have if he managed to STAY dead). Bobby was the calm voice of reason throughout the series who had no problem delivering (well deserved) verbal ass-kickings to Sam, Dean and even Castiel to make them realise what was truly important.

Jasminka, since you mentioned Samael and the Virgin Mary, my brain has been working freaking overtime thinking of the ties between Samael/Sam and Virgin Mary/Mary W. Would it be ok if I spent a few hours (and maybe some alcohol) pondering their names and then post my mindless musings in the morning?
Christine Apple
# Christine Apple 2010-08-10 22:14
Tim....It has been said before, but I will say it again...you truly are the Enchanter..well said!
Randal
# Randal 2010-08-11 10:25
Sal, for some reason, would have made me think of the chef from the sitcom Alice, not very heroic.

Great stuff, Jas!
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-11 16:06
boobula, enchanting Tim and Randal - folks, thank you for commenting!

boobula, this is so sweet of you - on behalf of all my co-writers: thank you! It's an honour to reach you with what we do here, and - it goes without saying that we make a point in treating everyone with respect.

Thank you from myself, too - I am happy that you like this! Would it ruin your idea of me if I told you that I do sleep? (though I think it's overrated - sometimes I wish the day had 48 hours to do all I'd like to... :o)

Tim The Enchanter, I don't know really whether the names where picked deliberately, but I do love the idea!
Please feel free to come back in the morning with new musings, I'd love to read them!
Thanks so much for your acknowledgement ! ehehehehehe (evil laughter.... :-))

Randal, so good to have you back! Thank you for throwing in your opinion!

Cheers to you all! Take care, Jas
Ardeospina
# Ardeospina 2010-08-11 19:20
That was really interesting and very informative, Jas. It made me really curious about my family names, too! Great idea, and great article.

I'm glad that they went with Winchester instead of Harrison because Winchester just sounds like a tough name, you know? It's intimidating.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-12 06:02
Thanks, dear, for your comment. Hm... what could be origin of Flamey? ;-)... You go ahead and find out more about your family's names... (There's a great book by Anne Fortier, 'Juliet', it's not about names, but about a young woman who goes to search for her family's history that is connected to the historical, SHakespeare's Juliet... it takes place in Siena... one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time -sorry, this has nothing to do with SPN, but I love it)

And, yes, Winchester does sound more intimidating... and swashbuckling and, well, shallow me, manly...

Love Jas
Julie
# Julie 2010-08-12 07:01
Really interesting article Jas,
This is the type of research I can get on board with. The meaning of names has always fascinated me, it appeals to my inner geek being a lover of useless trivia. I had a look at the meaning of the names of the actors who portray these characters we spend so much of our time watching and discussing around here. they were very interesting too.
In the book I own most of them had Hebrew origins
Jared had the meaning of Down to earth or Like a rose,
James (Jim)- supplanter,
Samantha - Listener of God,
Alona - Beautiful dear child or strong as an oak (how apt),
Jeffrey had English/French/ German origins and was either Gift of Peace or Divine Peace,
Jensen, Scandinavian origin - God is Gracious (no comment )
Misha is the Russian form of Michael - Who is like God , I figure Misha would like that one.
Thanks again Ju
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-12 15:23
Julie, this is a fine detective's work, thank you for these additional names. Where did you find those? And could you look for Tristan, Jared's middle name (which happens to be my all time favourite boy's name)?

This is really great, dear. Love Jas
Freebird
# Freebird 2010-08-12 22:42
This was much fun to read, Jas, thanks for sharing!

The meaning of names is not news to me, after all I AM a geek (right there with you, Julie :-)). In my "research" I even went further and found out that Numerology categorizes names into "good", "bad" and "neutral" ones. Weird, I know. According to them, every name can be summed up to a number which, again, can be a positive, negative or neutral one. That's why a name for a child should be picked very carefully. So far the theory and superstition. In practical (real ;-)) life I gave my inner geek complete liberty and started to connect people (names) with the things I knew about their lives. The result was astonishing! It's like the horoscope, where you can make connections between certain people's characteristics and their birthdays.
Superstition or just mere harmless geekdom, I don't know. But it surely is fun, isn't it?
Julie
# Julie 2010-08-13 04:37
Ok Jas as requested here goes,
Tristan is of celtic origin and the meaning varies from country to country , its most common meaning is the Scottish definition Tumult or sometimes Sad. The Irish meaning is Bold or Melancholy , in Wales it is Noisy.
BTW (non bias here of course ) Ross is also celtic and means Peninsula , Headland or Cliff.
More useless information to join all the other stored weirdness! ;-) Love Ju
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-08-13 05:06
Freebird and Julie, hey, thanks!

Lara, I have a knack for geekdom, :lol:, thanks so much for your comment. I've read about numerology, too, but try not to believe everything there. I am quite superstitious (well, you know how the Balkan blood is... ;-)), and wouldn't like to build any more beliefs...
Happy that you enjoyed this!

Ju, thank you... well, I don't love that name for no reason... And, of course I know you are nooooot biased :-)... Useless information is also information, isn't it?

Love Jas