It occurred to me one day that the word "Trump" doesn't actually have any meaning as a noun outside of the context of the man who emblazons it on everything possible. My last name is "Bump," a truncated version of the longer, less-comprehensible name Boumpasse, and which led to a lot of joke-making in my youth. (Not that the longer version would have been much better.) A bump is a thing. A trump is not.
But "Trump" does have a meaning, as do all names. "Clinton" has a meaning, as does "Carson" and "Sanders" and "Christie." And in the spirit of having a day in which hyper-tangential explorations of the world of politics are allowed -- nay, encouraged! -- I decided to figure out what the next president's last name actually means.
There's a book called the Dictionary of American Family Names which defines and contextualizes 70,000 common American surnames. It retails for the low, low price of $448, which seemed like it might be a hard expense to justify to The Post. Luckily, the good people at Ancestry.com have a tool which allows you to see what the dictionary says about any surname, for the actually low, low price of $0.
Notice as we move through these how fitting some of them are. Which are the most fitting? We will let you be the judge, so as not to editorialize.
Possible national origins: English
Meaning: "Bush" is surprisingly straightforward. According to the DAFN, it refers to someone that lived near a bush or thicket. Say, in Crawford, Texas.
Possible national origins: Scottish or Irish
Meaning: "Carson" is a variant of "Curzon," which refers to inhabitants of Notre-Dame-de-Courson, a town near Normandy in France. That town's name likely derives from the Roman name Curtius.
Possible national origins: Scottish
Meaning: A pet name for "Christian."
Possible national origins: Irish or English
Meaning: In one English version of the name, "Clinton" is a reference to people who lived in England's Glympton, which itself is named due to its being a town -- -ton -- on the Glym River. The river was named from the Celtic, meaning "bright stream."
Possible national origins: Spanish or Portuguese
Meaning: "Cruz" refers either to someone who is from a place called Cruz or La Cruz -- or is taken from the Spanish word for "cross."
Possible national origins: Scottish or English
Meaning: Have you ever seen the show "Downton Abbey"? It's a good show (or, at least, has had its good moments). It centers on an expansive British estate at which there are strict social norms and a reliance on maintaining the boundaries of proper manners. If it were in America, it would be set in South Carolina.
"Graham," as it turns out, is a name identifying residents of Grantham in Lincolnshire. And Lord Grantham is the main character in "Downton Abbey."
As for "Grantham," it's apparently a combination of "homestead" -- -ham -- and either the Old English word for gravel -- grand -- or a reference to the name "Granta," which means "snarler." Making Lindsey Graham actually Lindsey Guy-who-lives-near-a-gravelly-home-or-near-where-the-snarler-lives.
Possible national origins: English
Meaning: A variant on "Huckaby," which refers to someone from Huccaby, which itself is named either for a combination of "crooked" and "river bend" or the Old Norse word for "homestead."
Possible national origins: Irish
Meaning: This one isn't clear. It may derive from a variety of Celtic words, including ones meaning "prince," "slow," "sedate," or "poet." Take your pick, Governor.
Possible national origins: Hungarian, Slovak or Jewish
Meaning: Someone from Patak, or someone that lived near a creek.
Possible national origins: English, French, German or Dutch
Meaning: This one is a pretty straightforward adaptation from the Biblical Paul, who was known as Saul before his conversion to Christianity. There are other options, like a Spanish version of Paul which comes from the word "marsh" or "lagoon."
Possible national origins: Spanish
Meaning: The dictionary indicates that this likely began as a nickname for a redhead.
Possible national origins: English, Scottish, Dutch and basically anything in Northern Europe
Meaning: "Sanders" is a reference to someone whose father's name was "Sander." "Sander" is equally obvious: It's someone that lived on sandy soil.
And now we get to the name that prompted the question.
Possible national origins: English or German
Meaning: An occupational name referring to a trumpeter (in English) or a drummer (in German).
Again: We are not going to editorialize.
Incidentally, as I was thinking about writing this article, I got an e-mail from someone. It was from a man who was born with the last name Bump, like mine, but changed it to a version of the pre-truncation name: Bonpasse.
He was writing to let me know that he was running for president.