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"Let us now praise famous men"...

Academic institutions are known for their famous men, but they could not operate without less famous men, like Frank Coronado of the Hoover mail room. He and his staff are unfailingly courteous and helpful, and Hoover is deeply indebted to them. Frank recently had his first grandchild, a girl named Samantha. I asked Frank about the name, and he was a puzzled as much as I. It is an American name I never heard in England. So I asked Eric Heath, the likewise courteous and helpful member of Green Library. He quoted from the Dictionary of First Names, Oxford U. Press, 1990:

"...problematic and much debated origin. It seems to have originated in the southern states of America in the 18th century, possibly as a combination of SAM (from Samuel) + a newly coined feminine suffix -antha (perhaps suggested by Anthea)." Samuel: "from Hebrew Shemuel,... variously interpreted as: 'God hearkened' or 'asked of God.' Anthea: "Latinized spelling of Greek Antheia... a name derived from the feminine of the adjective antheios, flowery. Applied in classical times as a byname of the goddess Hera, and ... reinvented [as a name] in the 17th century by English pastoral poets such as Robert Herrick."

Ronald Hilton - 10/29/01