This week, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a lovely holiday, an occasion to gather together in appreciation and give thanks for the bounty with which we are blessed. This seems a natural time to consider baby names rooted in the concept of gratitude. Here's a sampling:
Bongani (Zulu, male, "give thanks")
Shakir (Arabic, male, "grateful")
Shukura (Kiswahili, female, "grateful")
Tatenda (Shona, male/female, "thank you")
Tendai (Shona, female, "be thankful")
No, I didn't intentionally avoid names of European origin. Oddly enough, European naming tradition -- which directly celebrates many other virtues -- offers little in the way of gratitude.
Some names may seem to suggest thanks. Grace, for instance, shares deep etymological roots with the word gratitude. The two concepts make contemporary links in some languages whenever you give thanks (gracias, grazie), and in English when you say grace before meals. But other powerful connotations, especially elegance and God's love, dominate the name's meaning.
Similarly, divine gifts are celebrated in a plethora of names: Bogdan, Donato, Dorothy, Jonathan, Matthew, Theodore, Zebadiah. The focus, though, is on the child himself as God's gift to the family. That's a loving expression of parental gratitude, but different from a celebration of the fundamental virtue of thankfulness.
For more direct expressions of gratitude in English names, you have to look back in time. The Puritans were known to use Thankful as a name along with Obedience, Humility and their ilk in centuries past. And you'll occasionally -- very occasionally -- find a namesake of Saint Deogratias.
Or you could just stick with Grace. Your daughter might be especially thankful if you did.