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Meaning and etymology of the Hebrew name Claudia

Claudia Claudia

Claudia is a Roman (Latin) name, but it the Bible it occurs in the New Testament, which is written in Greek. She's immortalized in Paul's salutations at the end of his second letter to his young friend Timothy (2 Timothy 4:21). Apparently, Claudia was among the congregants of Paul's Roman church, who visited him during his second incarceration in Rome (see 1:8, 17 and 2:9). She and some others wish to greet Timothy, then in Ephesus, and Paul attaches their warmest regards to his letter. Scriptural details like that argue like no theological theory, the delight of fellowship in the Body of Christ.

The origin of the name Claudia is obscure. Apart from it obviously being the feminine variant of the masculine name Claudius, nobody seems to know what the original name-giver meant to say with it. But there are a few options:

Claudia is usually reported to come from the Latin verb claudico, meaning (2) to limp or be lame, or (2) to halt, waver, to be wanting, incomplete or defective (Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary). This verb is used to indicate the kind of physical infirmity that makes a person limp or leaves him lame all together, but also the wavering of scales during weighing, or even the untrustworthiness of a shifty person. It's perfectly conceivable that once upon a time there was a cripple or a con person who was named Claudius (Lamo) by his neighbors, who then passed on his name to his progeny as a kind of family totem. But one would expect that a name that's not really a nice thing to have people say about you, would die out rapidly. Even during the days that people spoke Latin, and were quite aware of the verb claudico, the names Claudius and Claudia were big hits.

All the more reason to look at the root group claudo:
Claudo (1)means the same as claudico, namely to limp, but claudo (2) means to shut something that is open, to close. In certain forms it even means to shut up or in something by something, to enclose, encompass, surround, imprison, hide, confine. The derived noun clausum denotes a confined space (think "claustro"phobia). This verb survives in our language in word such as clause, for instance. And via claudo -> clodo -> con-clodo it's related to our words conclusion and conclusive. Even our common verb "to close" comes from this Latin root, tells us the Oxford dictionary.

Especially in a world where dangerous animals and even more dangerous people wandered about freely, enclosure must have given the Romans a sense of security. Our words conclusion and clause still reflect firmness and perpetuity. The link to the verb claudico mentioned above is easily revealed when we realize that a limp or lame person is limited in his movements and possibly even confined to home. A lame person is a forcibly shut in person, but enclosure denotes security first and foremost.

The meaning of the name Claudia may be formally obscure but here at Abarim Publications we're guessing that it doesn't mean Lame; it means Enclosure, even Haven or slightly indirect: Safety.



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