What's in a name? A rose by any other would smell as sweet.   (William Shakespear)

Economos (English)

Oikonomou (Greek)    "Oi" in Greek is pronounced as a long E.

Oikon (English = ēcon) means house in classical Greek. The original meaning of Oikonomou was a home owner.

Oikonomou evolved from home owner to estate manager. Somebody who was responsible for all resources on the estate, a steward. Oikonomou was a medieval Eastern Roman title for somebody who was in charge of a project or institution. It is still used by the Greek Orthodox church. Hence the word economy means the management of resources. Since the proper management of resources would use the least amount, economy has also taken on the meaning of frugality.

Ever since the creation of currency, economic resources have been translated into and confused with money. Wealth is usually measured more in terms of money rather than what the money will buy or how much tangible assets we have accumulated.. We often talk about how much money we have in the bank, not what it will buy or what we own. We often forget that money and tangible assets are not the same thing. As a result, Oikonomou has evolved from a manager of resources, to a manager of money, a treasurer.

My great-grandfather Constantine lived in northeastern Greek province of Epirus near the city of Ioannina. Constantine was fighting the Turks with his village in the early 1800s. In order to avoid capture by the Turks he came up with the bright idea of putting the horseshoes on their horses backwards. The Turks always thought they were coming when they were going. The trick worked and his village rewarded him by making him the town Oikonomou, treasurer/steward. Over time, this title became the family name. I do not know what it was prior to this.

The "mou" ending connotes a sense of belonging. Greek names ending in "ou" are generally reserved for female members of a family. For example, the female members of a family named Mazarakos would have the last name Mazarakou. However, Oikonomou is an exception to this rule because the Oikonomou contains the sense of belonging/cartaker. Unfortunately, the officials at Ellis Island didn’t always appreciate the fine points of Greek grammar and sometimes changed the ending to "os" upon arrival in America. In the United States there are about an equal number of Economos and Economou, but in Greek they are the same name.

Evan is a Welsh name meaning youth, however, this is only the anglized version of my baptismal Greek name, Evangelos. My parents did not want to burden me with this, so they shortened it to Evan on the birth certificate.  Evangelos mean good news(evangelical, evangelism). It is the name given to the holiday celebrating the Annunciation, when Mary was told by the angel Gabriel that she would bear God's son. It is celebrated on March 25, nine months before the celebration of Christ's birth. In 1821, it was also chosen by the Bishop of Patras as the day to proclaim Greece's independence (good news) from the Ottoman Turkish empire. Greeks celebrate name days rather than birthdays. As prescribed by Greek custom, the first son is named after the father's father, so Evangelos was also my grandfather's name. He ran away from his home in Epirus near Ioannia, at the age of 10 in 1870 and eventually owned a chain of bakeries in Athens and made lots of money (I never saw a penny). Although he never went to school, he was self taught and married a college graduate from a socially prominent family - the American dream in Greece!

Constantine is a very popular Greek name. It is the name of the first Christian emperor of the Roman Empire and also the last. The first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, founded the city of Constantinople (Istanbul) as the capital of the eastern Roman empire. It became the center of Greek learning starting with its founding in 336 A.D. and ending with its fall to the Turks in 1453. Greece is an Orthodox Christian nation and honors as a saint the one man who did more for the promulgation of Christianity than any other (except maybe Jesus and Paul).  Greek custom provides that the father's name become the first born son's middle name. My father, Constantine, translated it to Dino upon formal entry into the U.S.A. (a name I have always found base). Although my father was not the first born, he has his grandfather's name. The first born child of my grandfather died at birth and my grandfather decided to try the name again with his last (10th) child, my father.

home.gif (536 bytes) Home Page