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The Meaning of Heather

Updated on August 23, 2017

What does it mean to be a "Heather" in this world?

Hello. My name is Heather. I am also one of the many millions of other Heathers on this Earth. We are all very different people, but as fate would have it, we just happen to share the same name.So, as Shakespeare once poignantly asked, "What's in a name?" Indeed. In fact, there is much to a name, as we are about to discover. To understand the power of names, all we have to do is think back to when we last met a person with the same name as our own. Perhaps you felt an immediate bond with the person? Perhaps resentment? Regardless of how you felt, an emotion was certainly triggered by the shared ownership of your name. Names can also cause you to prejudge people. For instance, I have never had a good relationship with a person named Emma. Does that mean all Emmas are disagreeable? Not by any means. However, I am always wary when I meet a new one, because of my previous experiences.Names are powerful and profound. As such, I am excited to write an article all about the meaning behind my own name - Heather. What's more, I invite all other Heathers of the world to share their experiences on this page. I look forward to meeting you all! Note: Yes, that is me in the photo. One of the many Heathers in the collective. Peace, out!

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The Meaning of Heather - History and Origins

Where did our beautiful name come from?

In Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, there exists a brave little shrub. On its own, you would hardly notice it, but in abundance, it converts the almost inhospitable moors, hills and mountains into breathtaking undulations of vivid purple. This inconspicuous plant is called heather.The name "heather" comes from the Middle English "hather" and most likely the Old English "haddre." The word "heath" itself means low-growing evergreen shrub of the genus Erica.It has the scientific name of Calluna vulgaris, or literally "common cleaning". This name was chosen because heather was often used to make brooms. It was also used for bedding, basket and rope making, and thatching for roofs.Heather is native not only to Great Britain, but also to Scandinavia, Russia, and North America. It comes in a variety of colours such as the typical purple, red, pink and white.Our beautiful name is said to symbolize admiration, good luck, selflessness, caring, resistance, beauty, attraction, cleanliness, romance, purity, protection and intoxication. Many of these associations come from Celtic beliefs. For instance, the heather plant was often used to make mead. As such, it is no wonder that heather became linked to intoxication, romance and attraction. The Celts also used heather for medicinal purposes. It proved useful in breaking up blockages in the body, hence the link to cleanliness, protection and purity.Heather was a very popular name back in the 1970s, peaking at no.3 in 1975, but has slowly decreased in popularity over the years. (Goodness knows why!)

Sources: Teleflora, The Celtic Meaning of Heather

Variations on the name "Heather"

There are a number of variations on the classic name "Heather." Below, you will discover the most popular.

  1. Heather can be written as "Heather" or "Hether" without the letter 'a.'
  2. The masculine version of Heather is "Heath" (pronounced hee-th).
  3. Possible abbreviations for the name Heather are "Heath" (pronounced he-th) and "Healthy," though this abbreviation tends to be uncommon.
  4. "Heather" can also be a surname.
  5. The Italian equivalent to Heather is Erica. People here are tempted to call me just that!

Purple heather on the hills in Wales - The heather flower in full bloom during the month of August

The Varieties of Heather Plant

They come in as many shades and colours as the human Heathers of this world!

Did you know that there are over 1500 varieties of shrub with the name "heather"? As such, listing every variety would be, in my opinion, a useless endeavour on this website. Instead, I would like to present you with a selection of my personal favourites in the heather family. If you are interested in seeing a full list, please feel free to hop over to The Heather Society Online. You will find all you ever wanted to know about the heather plant and more, not to mention that they seem like a very friendly group!

1. Silver Knight Scotch Heather (Calluna Vulgaris)

This hardy little heather shrub just adores the sun. Her beautiful erect branches are covered in scale-like evergreen leaves and tiny golden bells of silver and grey that become increasingly more purple in colour as the winter months approach. She loves well-drained, slightly acidic soil and organic material around her roots. She is native to Europe, though you can find her in most countries in the world.2. Purple Beauty (Erica cinerea) Bell Heather

The flowers of this charming little heather shrub are urn-shaped and come in purple, pink or white, while the foliage is dark green in colour. Like all heather plants, she is evergreen with needle-like leaves, and enjoys the full sun. Make sure to give her sandy and acidic soil, and to cut back her branches every year if you want her to thrive. She will generally bloom during the late summer months.3. White Perfection Mediterranian Heather

This pretty little heather plant produces the most perfect white flowers from December to April. The yellow tips on the end are the start of new foliage. She loves to grow in sandy soil mixed with peat moss, and requires a good trimming after flowering. Her foliage is bright green in colour.

Did you know that...

...heather plants can be roughly divided into three categories?1. Calluna (Scotch Heather)2. Daboecia (Irish Heath)3. Erica (Heath and Winter Heath).

Review of Gardening with Hardy Heathers - by David Small and Ella May T. Wulff

Gardening with Hardy Heathers
Gardening with Hardy Heathers

This book was written by David Small, the head of the Heather society in the UK and leading authority on heather plants, and Ella T. Wulff, the president of the North American Heather Society from 2001-2004. This thoroughly researched book provides a detailed background into the history of heather plants and how to grow them. It is full of beautiful colour photographs, and information that could prove useful not only for growing heathers but also for other plants as well. It is the perfect reference for a gardener wanting to venture into the world of heather shrubs.

 

Personal story: How I got to be called Heather

From Madeline to Heather overnight

I may have my Mum rewrite this story as I am sure she can give it a far more personal spin that I can, but I'll give it my best shot.Up until the few hours before I was born, my parents were intent on calling me Madeline. You know, like the character in those ever-so-famous children's books of the same title. Even as my Mum was being wheeled into the hospital, she knew exactly what my name would be.Or so she thought. Upon scooping up this miniature creature with a mop of black hair and saucer-like eyes in her arms, she understood then and there that I wasn't a Madeline. No, I could only be a Heather.That the name Heather came to my Mum without any previous thought or consideration proves to me that names really do have meaning, and what's more, it is the name that picks the person rather than the person who picks the name.In the picture above, you can see me at the age of six sitting among the heather plants in England. We look just perfect together, don't you think?

Heather426's story about how she got her name

Another story about a girl who was meant to be a Heather from the start

"From the minute I read Heather's Squidoo name, Tokyonights7, I felt a connection. Same name, and I was born in Tokyo, Japan. So I contacted her and we have several things in common besides our name and love of traveling.Fast forward and this morning I was reading her lens about how she got her name, and about how names sometimes choose you, and it seems we even share that! You see, Heather was not the name I was given at birth. But from a very young age I used to tell my Mother that I got the wrong name. She would ask me what name I would rather have and I didn't know, but I knew the name I had did not feel like it was my real name. It must sound strange, but it was a very real feeling.In Junior High I had a friend who just started calling me Heather. He said I fit his idea of what a Heather should be and not his idea of my other name. I immediately loved the name and it felt right. So I went home after school and told my Mother that I was changing my name to Heather. I think the blood all drained from her face and she sat down in a chair. "Heather is what I wanted to name you!" she cried. It was then she told me that she and Dad had never found agreement on my name, and I came early, and he filled out the papers and gave me the wrong one in her eyes. But until that day, I had never heard this story.Very soon after that, we all went down to the courthouse and changed it legally to Heather.So you see, Heather and I were meant to be Heathers, no matter what!"- Heather426

Beautiful Heather Fragrances by Garden of Ireland - Sprinkle yourself with the scent of your namesake

Products by the Garden of Ireland leave you feeling fresh and scented. They exfoliate and clean without leaving your skin feeling dry or bogged down by thick and heavy lotions. What's more, the scents are sweet but not excessive. Though these products are only produced in Kinsale, Ireland, they are now available on Amazon for a very reasonable price.

How did you get your name? Heather or not, I'd love to hear your story!

By Chris P. on flickr
By Chris P. on flickr

The White Heather Flower in Scottish Wedding Tradition

Why brides wear the white heather flower in their hair

The legend goes that long, long ago in Scotland, there lived a beautiful princess by the name of Malvina. Malvina was deeply in love with the fierce warrior Oscar who, upon their betrothal, left to chase after fame and fortune. Malvina was so heartbroken that she sought comfort from her beloved father, with whom she talked about her love for days on end.One day, a messenger arrived from far away. He carried with him the message that Oscar had been killed in battle. Upon his deathbed, he had given a sprig of purple heather to the messenger, asking him to tell Malvina that he loved her to the very end. Malvina, distraught by the terrible news, wept upon the purple sprig, to the point that all the colour from the flower disappeared, leaving it white as snow. It is then believed that Malvina said "May this white heather forever bring good fortune to all those who find it." It is for this reason that young Scottish brides wear white heather in their hair. They believe that it will bring them good luck where Malvina had lost it.

Source: Scottish Wedding Traditions

Did you know that Heather is a difficult name for non-English speakers to pronounce?

The three consonants in "Heather" - /h/ /th/ and /r/ - simply do not exist in many languages. As such, my Italian students call me "Edo," my French relatives call me "Eduur" and my Japanese friends call me "Heza." Close but no cigar!

Famous Heathers - Heathers who make us proud (or not so proud)

Though there are a handful of very famous Heathers out there, I have to admit that not many of us have made it to the big time. I'd like to think that we're working behind the scenes, making things happen! In the meantime, here is a list of Heathers who have achieved fame and fortune. Some have gained our respect - others, not so much.

  1. Heather Graham became popular due to her star performance in the films Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Rollergirl (1997). More recently, she has starred in TV shows Scrubs and Arrested Development, and films such as The Hangover and From Hell.
  2. Heather Locklear is a television actress and model who has starred in shows such as Spin City, Melrose Place and Dynasty. She was married to Tommy Lee of Motley Crue and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi.
  3. Heather Mills is most famously known for her marriage to and messy divorce from Sir Paul McCartney. She is also a former model and charity campaigner. She lost her left leg in a car accident, and has done much work to support amputees since then. She has recently been pursuing a Paraolympic skiing dream.
  4. I only came to know of Heather Parisi after arriving in Italy. Though she is American, she has become a massive star here in Italy thanks to her frequent appearances on Rai Television, variety shows and more. She is a professional ballerina and singer.
  5. Heather Thomas is a famous actress and sex-symbol from the 1980s who appeared in the hit TV show The Fall Guys and the movie Zapped! Though she has acted in a handful of films in recent years, she mostly dedicates herself to charity work.

Trailer from the film "Heathers" - The box office flop turned cult hit

Buy the Heathers Film - Never have a group of Heathers been so despicable!

Heathers
Heathers

The Heathers film, a dark comedy starring Winona Rider, Christian Slater and Richard Lehmann, talks about a clique of four girls, three of whom are named Heather, who rule the social scene with an iron fist at their Ohio high school. Rider, who plays the fourth member of the clique, Veronica, hates the Heathers so much that she wishes them dead. When the young rebel J.D. arrives on the scene and starts to take revenge on everyone in the school, Veronica finds herself tangled up in a series of attacks against her popular group of "friends".

 

And to end this article on a silly note...

How many words can you think of that rhyme with Heather?I wonder whether Heather the feather all dressed in leather braved the weather together with her tether ball...?

The Meaning of Heather Guestbook - Are YOU proud of your name?

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    • HeatherM2 profile image

      HeatherM2 4 years ago

      For many years I picked up the "nickname" of HEATER. Apparently several of my work colleagues (from two different companies, in fact) were terrible spellers. Name tags, work schedules and the like were quite often spelled incorrectly. Well, the name Heater stuck with me for a few years. My friends thought it was fun. ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nyc cab driver "you know why you were named heather?" "no" "because heather flowers grow wildly and hard to pick from the root".

    • profile image

      cmadden 4 years ago

      Probably, but at the nether end of the pole.Christi suits me, I think, especially since the 'rents avoided the girlier versions: Christie and Christy.

    • Holly22 profile image

      Christine and Peter Broster 5 years ago from Tywyn Wales UK

      Heather in Welsh is Crug. Welsh etymology is such fun.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I'm fine with my name now. It was fodder for lots of nicknames growing up though. Ugh.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I very much enjoy how my name sounds. It is nice when we suit the name that our parents honor us with.

    • profile image

      halloweenprops 5 years ago

      Always interesting to find out the meaning of a name if it's not obvious.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Yes, I like my name. And I have absolutely no clue how my parents (my mother, actually) selected it. -- Brilliant idea for a lens.

    • profile image

      BelieveItOrNot 5 years ago

      Kool lens... who would have thought writing about your name would be so beautiful?

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I love the plant heather and I also think Heather is a lovely name. Nicely done, blessed.

    • elizabethknows lm profile image

      elizabethknows lm 5 years ago

      Yes I am. More so as I have gotten older.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well heather you finished off on a great note I loved the humour just above and yes I have come to feel comfortable with my name

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 5 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Heather is a great name. thank you, I learned a lot about the History of that name. great page full of fun facts

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      I always thought Heather came from the word hearth which had something to do with warmth and cooking. I'm proud of my name, it doesn't matter what the meaning is, just that it makes people think of me the most!

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 5 years ago

      I have always adored the name Heather. I always thought my own name (Kathy) was pretty dull. I don't mind it anymore - after all, short of going and changing it to an incredible name... say, like "Heather," I'm kinda feeling like it's with me for the long haul. :) Fun, intriguing and very creative lens! :) Blessed! Kath

    • christinsword profile image

      christinsword 5 years ago

      Beautiful name. I'll likely name a daughter Heather.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Heather is a beautiful name. I am so glad that you connect so well with your birth name.

    • profile image

      rottenpixies 5 years ago

      Nobody does it better, than Heather! If anyone has time to give me a thumbs up or comment I always return the love. My lens

    • Susan300 profile image

      Susan300 5 years ago

      Awesome lens!! It makes me want to explore the origins of my own name. :)

    • DogWatchColumbus profile image

      DogWatchColumbus 5 years ago

      What a great lens! Very nicely done...

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I sure am Now!!!! ... :) Blessed!

    • canoz profile image

      Heather Bradford 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you for this lens. I was very excited to see it featured. You've done all the Heather's proud. It's very well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I can live with it! I may 'not' carry it forever! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      So Heather means someone who is a Heath Lover right? Love the name

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 5 years ago

      I had no idea that the names Heather and Erica are related. ::::blessed:::

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Absolutely wonderful lens! I always love getting to know my fellow Squids and this is quite a creative way to go about it - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • Auntiekatkat profile image

      Auntiekatkat 5 years ago

      Congrats on being nominated for Community Favorite Lenses of 2011. A wonderful lens. Fortunately we both share one thing it was easier to vote than for most as mine was my "why-I-am a- vegetarian was nominated as well. A proud moment for all of us. Good luck in the voting.

    • MCB2011 profile image

      MCB2011 5 years ago

      Thank you for the reminder of the meaning of names.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sweetly done....and blessed!

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading about the two Heathers, Congratulations on being one of the final 100 favorite Squidoo lenses of 2011!

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Absolutely. My husband is the only one who ever uses it, though.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 5 years ago

      Heather is most certainly a lovely name! Congrats on making the top 100!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Congrats on being one of the community favorites! When I was a kid I wanted to trade names with my sister, but now I like my name, Erin, a lot. I've always liked the name Heather. All the Heathers I've known personally have been nice people to be around.

    • emmajowebster profile image

      emmajowebster 5 years ago

      i love the stories of the 2 Heathers getting their names - wonderful!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Such a lovely name and fabulous story behind the name ... Mexican Heather was my choice in my townehouse garden.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I always liked the name Heather and we have two Heathers in our Friends of the Park organization. I enjoyed learning more about the origin or your name. Congrats on being in the Top 100 Community Favorites.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens, I had much fun reading through your name related stories.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 5 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      It's nice to meet you, Heather. Congrats on your Purple Star! ~Wendy aka WindyWinters

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My name isn't Heather but I do like Heath bars. This could be your "About Me" lens on Squidoo, very fun and well done....oh...and Squid Angel Blessed. I did an About Me a while back called "By Terry" but it doesn't have the popularity of yours, although I was in a silly mood when I made it.

    • Sara Valor profile image

      Sara Valor 5 years ago from Breezy Hills

      I love the idea behind this lens, it is a great idea and one I plan to do for myself.Yes, I am proud of my name and no matter what anyone may ever call me I am and will always be Ginger...

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 5 years ago

      I love my name. Or rather, I love the shortened version of my name: Cat!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I think you may have started a trend here...as GramaBarb says below, I'm also adding it to my list for 2012! Thanks for a delightful lens.

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 5 years ago from Vancouver

      What a neat idea - writing about your name. Wouldn't it be fun if we all did that? :) I will add it to my "to do list for 2012"

    • profile image

      Jack-in-the-Box 5 years ago

      Great lens! I really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your story about the meaning of Heather.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      One of the young actresses in the Sound of Music was named Heather in real life. Heather Menzies!

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Heather is a lovely name. Very feminine. I have always liked it.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 5 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      We must have watched that movie "Heathers" about a thousand times. I love my name, and most of the Heathers I've ever met. I was often called " Heather the feather" by my father. Cool, cool page.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 5 years ago

      Heather is a beautiful name and I like the story of how you got your name. I like my name "Ruth" although I go by "Ruthi" mostly.