Suri: A Rose By Many Other Names

Tom Cruise’s and Katie Holmes’ metaphor baby.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes just had a little girl. Her weight, at seven pounds, seven ounces, her height twenty inches, and her name – well, it depends on who you talk to.

The truth of a name is in its meaning. Dale Carnegie found that by using one’s name when speaking with them, you were more likely to win their friendship and influence them. This is surely true with pet names, and frequently true with nicknames.

Pet names and nicknames are usually metaphors, with intimate ones referring to say sweetness or beauty (say “Sugar” or “Dewdrop“), tribal ones alluding to ones particular strength or character (say “Keys” or “Pepper“) and ostracistic ones equating the individual with things we discard or find vulgar (“S***head” or “A**hole“). In the end, a metaphor is a more memorable choice for naming one than a seemingly random set of phonetics.

Mom and Dad decided to name their young ‘un in four distinct ways. That is, though little baby “Suri” has only the one reported name, her name, according to the press release, has several meanings. In Hebrew, “Suri” means “princess“. In Farsi, the name “Suri” means “red rose“. In Japanese, daughter “Suri” is a “pickpocket“. And to people who don’t speak Hebrew, Farsi or Japanese, the name “Suri” means nothing, forcing people to ask.

By extension, Tom and Katie apparently view themselves as either royalty, gardeners, mobsters or completely meaningless. Whether she’s a princess, red rose, pickpocket or phonetic hodgepodge, one thing is certain: today little Suri is the star of the Metaphor Observatory.

Our congratulations to the new parents.

Note: Since publishing this post, numerous articles have appeared declaring the Hebrew and Farsi (or Persian) meanings of Suri as something other than stated in the original press releases. Some new meanings have appeared, as well – almost all being metaphors as well. I received a comment from “Anonymous” today, stating that “Suri” means “fire or a specific shade of red” in Farsi. In the end, there’s been a lot of namecalling from this. And all of it has been directed at a spittliferous young lady who would like to remain nameless!

2 Responses to “Suri: A Rose By Many Other Names”

  1. Anonymous writes:

    As a native Farsi speaker, I’d just like to add that the name Suri does not actually mean “red rose.” Suri is the word for fire or a spacific shade of red, like “Charshahmbay (spelling?) Suri,” which is the Wednesday before New Year when kids for some demented reason jump over fire. A “suri rose” means a blaze rose. But the word “suri” itself has nothing to do with roses. So it’s like they’re naming her “blaze.”

  2. Kamyar writes:

    The “native Farsi speaker” need to learn a little more farsi before trying to translate. Suri derives from the persian world surur (pronounced Sue Roor ) and means happiness and joy. Hence “Charshanbeh suri” is not about the color red or rose.It is a pretty name for a girl.

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