Name Origins

Many people have asked me about my name. What does it mean? Where does it come from? I usually give a pat answer.”It’s a German name and my mom is German.”  But I want to tell you where it really comes from, if you have a few moments.

The original word, “Petra”, comes from a Greek word that means a large, massive stone. There is even a city in Jordan by that name made out of, what else? ROCK. I have had many youth tease me about my name, once they found out the meaning of it, and ask me if I am as hard-headed as a rock, and I have gotten more than a little offended.

That was then. This is now.

Now I count it a blessing to have such a strong name. I come to think of it as having an inner determination, fortitude, and strength. I love my name.

But this morning I have a whole new appreciation for my name because my mom explained to me why she named me that. I thought that after fifty years, it might be time.

For those that are unaware, my mom is handicapped. I never really labeled her as such since that was all I had ever known. She lived in Germany in WWII and had an accident while getting to a storm shelter when she was about four. Long story short, she has never been able to walk like most people.  When she met and married my dad, the doctors all said that she would never be able to have any children. Mom was watching some show on German television in the early 60’s when she came across this news anchor/reporter who seemed so brave and stalwart. Come to find out, she was in a wheelchair. Her name was Petra. Mom told herself and my dad that if they ever had a daughter they would name her Petra after that very courageous woman who overcame so many obstacles in order to be the person she was. (I’m not telling the story as well as my mom did.)


Now that I know the REAL story of how I got my name, and add to that what the original Greek definition of my name is, I love it even more. Knowing that my mom thought it was a strong name, giving hope and courage, makes me want to throw my shoulders back and lift my chin a little higher. Yes, I get a little stubborn sometimes, but I represent a name that is full of determination and strength! Maybe that is why I have a fascination with all of the old castles of Germany? They are fortresses AND they are in my mother-country.

For those of you who may be wondering how to pronounce it: The German way is difficult for most Americans to pronounce. I have been, since living in the states, been pronouncing it “Pay-tra.”

And bringing this back around to my writing (because that is what I do)…well, I want to be even more careful when choosing the names for my characters. Because for the first time in my life I have the sole responsibility for giving my “book children” names that will be worthy of their character. A name that is befitting of them. And I have the distinct privilege of doing it AFTER they have been created. How cool is that?!?!?!


3 thoughts on “Name Origins

  1. I have been fascinated by your name ever since I met you. It does seem like a very strong name and now I understand more about it.

    Is there a book or resource that lists names in the bible? I think I recently saw Petra in the bible, but now I do not know in which book or verse.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your message with your Heart”wings” sisters in Christ. j


  2. My first thought was the Petra in Jordan, but then I wondered if it was a German female counterpart to Peter. And Peter was surely a rock! An amazing place if anyone hasn’t looked it up. God is very interested in names! You stand on The Rock and you are a chip off the old block, sister! Now that I know how you pronounce it, I will have to get that in to my head. LOL. Is the German pronunciation more like Pier-tra? I study Biblical names and names of the cities and such. It is amazing!


  3. So glad you posted this, Petra. In my head, I’d been pronouncing it pehTRUH! So I’ll get used to pronouncing it correctly now! That’s a great and most likely comparison, Sandy! Petra is definitely a strong name, and I’m glad you found out (and shared) your mama’s story!

    Liked by 1 person

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