Agents of SHIELD Names and Meanings

So, the UK just witnessed the shitstorm that was Turn, Turn, Turn. Ooooh, yeah, that was a fun hour on Twitter. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say that a lot of people turn (hah) out to be something we were not expecting. A lot of people. Good to bad, bad to good... good to bad to good and bad to good to bad... and, well it made some heads spin.

The double crossing and old TV story telling "are they/aren't they" got me thinking about names though. Whedon's characters are often given bizarre names that, when looked into, reflect the character perfectly, or with hindsight reveal something the audience did not realise was there.

There's a good article about Whedon and character names in Finding Serenity, a collection of essays on Firefly... but I can't remember which one and my copy is hiding in a box somewhere. Anyway, an example would be; a river is unpredictable, not easily controlled, but also a source of life and energy, just like River Tam. Another example would be willow; easily bent but so hard to snap. Rosenburg means "mountain of roses"... yeah, I got nothing for that so moving swiftly on...

POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILERS!! For Turn, Turn, Turn and onwards.

Phil Coulson; alas, our beloved Everyman, was not named by Whedon. For funsies though;
  • Philip is from the ancient Greek for "lover of horses"; Philippos. Philos is "friend" and hippos is "horse". Hippopotamus means "river horse"... a horse isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I see a hippopotamus.
  • Coulson has a variety of origins, but the one I like best came to English via the Norse from Greece; son of Nikolas. Nikolas means "victory of the people". He's the people's hero!
Melinda Qiaolian May; this is the BEST name. I thought it was going to be one of the most dull, but it fits her perfectly!
  • Melinda is a bit more made up than some names. In the 1700s, people took the "linda" bit of Belinda and stuck "Mel" on the beginning. This is where it gets tricky. "Mel" could is from the Greek melaina, which means "dark, stained" or from the Latin meli meaning "sweet". I know which version I prefer there. "Linda" could be Germanic "dragon" or "tender, weak" or the Spanish "beautiful" I'm going with Dark Dragon...
  • Qiaolian means "skilful always" or "clever always". Fits May to a freaking T!
  • May could be "able to" which fits her, again. It's more likely from the actual name, May, which comes, via the month, from the Greek goddess Maia. Maia has lots of attributes, as a deity who withstood the changing of cultures. She was an Earth goddess, a mother and midwife goddess, linked with growth, strength and creation.
Leo Fitz; such a strong name... oh, God I fear for Fitz!
  • Whether the full thing is Leopold, Leonard, Leon or just Leo; it means "lion" in Latin. You know; like the star sign! Lions are physically powerful, resilient and noble... but probably the least sly of the cats. Fitz is on the opposite scale in every way. Where is his character going!!
  • Fitz is the equivalent of the "son" or "mac" in surnames. Fitzroy; son of Roy(alty). Fitzgerald; son of Gerald. So Leo Fitz is a round about way of saying son of the lion?**
Jemma Simmons; this one could have legs in later seasons.
  •  Jemma is an alternate spelling of Gemma, which is very simply from "gem" as in "gemstone". Not a lot to go on there. Sparkly? Shiny? Multifaceted? Rare? It's from the Proto-Indo-European for "tooth, claw". Yikes! Maybe hard as a rock... now wait a second...
  • Simmons is ultimately from Simon. Simon is a Biblical name, from the Hebrew Shim'on. It means "he has heard". So far, so puzzling. There are several Biblical Simons, but the most well known would be Simon, known as Peter (essentially, Jesus gave him a nickname). And what does Peter mean? Stone! Actually, he was known as Cephas, because that's the Aramaic for stone... don't question it, just... don't. All you need to think about is this; Simon (who was Peter) was the rock on which Jesus Christ's new faith would be built. A shiny, sparkly, multifaceted and rare rock...
Skye; she has another name... I'm pretty sure she made it up. Mary Sue Poot?
  • Sky is an old Nordic word that English adopted. When the Vikings used it to describe the big expanse above their heads, they were talking about the cloud. It makes sense that Middle English stole it and used it for the general sky... because, you know; there are a lot of clouds in Northern England. It is linked to various other old northern European languages as "cover" or "conceal", "shadow" and "mirror". Is that just a reference to Skye being a pseudonym or is there something else to it? 0-8-4 anyone?
And for the fun of it;
  • Mary... well, we've got The Virgin or The Whore there, but going back beyond the Bible (because it meant things before it was used in the Bible), it could mean, get this, "sea of bitterness", "rebelliousness" or "wanted child" in Hebrew. Also, an epithet for the Mother Mary is "Star of the Sea"... which brings to mind the 0-8-4 aspect again; alien space thingy crashing in the sea?
  • Sue, from Susan. This one goes back to ancient Egypt, but comes to us through, again, THE BIBLE! >_> It's nestled in the roots of the Egyptian for "lotus" and the Hebrew for "lily" and "joyous".
  • Poot is a northern European surname meaning "pot". It's an occupational name, like Thatcher and Smith; Potter... yeah, I got nothing there either.
Grant Ward; I'm saying NOTHING about his, er, journey... just think on what you know and leave it at that.
  • Now, Wiki and other sources say that Grant comes from the same root as "grand", i.e., it means "big". Well, he is a bit, I suppose. This is dull and I'm not having any of it. The etymology of the word, rather than the name, "grant" is much more interesting, in light of current SHIELD events. We use "grant" today to mean "allow" or "acknowledge". However, it ultimately derives from the Latin word credere "to trust". To. Fucking. Trust!! *flails*
  • The surname Ward is just like the common word. It's an occupational surname; a warden. That is, a guardian or protector. *flails some more*
Well, that's the main cast. If I can find the energy after Ward's name I might look at the secondary folks like Raina (queen or song, because I know that one already) and Trip (Triplett, like three)... though I don't know the extended universe so well; I need to find out who was and was not named by the crew behind Agents of SHIELD.


SalsaTash has suggested the use of "Fitz" on its own, without the father's name, to mean illegitimate; son of no-one. Hmmmm..?
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