🏷  English Semitic pun spook name · name   —   by Gerry · May 2019 · 842 words

The strange yet common aristocratic name Armstrong may be a sort of wordplay, where an “arm” is similar to an “offshoot”, and “strong” also means “power”, so the whole name could stand for being “offspring of powerful people”.


The name Armstrong is very generic, but it is used by very many spooks, crooks and aristocrats. I therefore suspected it to be some sort of wordplay. My first guess was that it was a translation of “god-seed”, Yzreel in Hebrew. I have not found any other indirect translations like this though, so it may be that my first guess was wrong.

However, in Old Irish “arm-strong” can also mean “offspring of powerful people” as well. That’s because an “arm” is a type of “offshoot” in many languages, and “strength” & “power” are also the same in many languages. So my first guess may hold true in Irish or some other local language. Other explanations are also possible.

Armstrong same as “offspring of powerful people” in Hebrew

My first guess was that Armstrong may be a translation pun to the spooks who use it.

The Semitic root zrˁ means “arm”, “seed”, “offspring”, “grain”. The common denominator is likely that all these things are outgrowths that branch off from something else.

The Semitic root ˀl is sometimes translated as “strong”, but mostly means “God” or “gods”, and is also used for powerful human lords, all of which are “strong” in a sense.

Together, these 2 roots form the compound zrˁ-ˀl zera-el. With a Y prefix, this is the Biblical name Yzreel which officially means “God sows”. But it can also be translated into “arm-strong”, “god-seed”, and also “descendant of powerful people”.

The name Armstrong as “arm-strong” could therefore be explained as a pun-translation of being “offspring of powerful people”. (It also puns with Israel, which has pun-meanings of its own.)

Hebrew zrˁ = arm, offspring; ˀl = strong, power

זרוע zrwˁ : arm, shoulder, strength — Old Hebrew (Strong)

זרע zrˁ : sowing, seed, offspring, children, descendants, family, grain, intercourse, seminal — Old Hebrew (Strong)

אל ˀl : God, god, gods, mighty, Mighty One, power, strong; applied to men of might and rank — Old Hebrew (Strong)

יזרעאל yzrˁˀl : “God sows,” two Israelites, also two cities in Israel, also a valley in Northern Israel — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Armstrong same as “offspring of powerful people” in Irish

The same similarity exists in Irish, spoken in the general region where the name Armstrong comes from: géag means “arm” and also “offspring”. tréan means “strong” and also “powerful”. So “arm-strong” translated into Irish is the same word as “offspring of powerful people”. Almost all other puns I found are local-language puns, so this is more likely. Still other explanations are possible too.

Irish géag = arm, offspring; tréan = strong, powerful

géag : branch, bough, limb (of a tree); limb (major appendage of human or animal); (genealogy) genealogical branch; offshoot, offspring; scion, (young) person — Irish (Wikt)

tréan : strong, powerful, mighty, doughty; violent, intensive — Irish (Wikt)

trén : strong man; strong — Old Irish (Wikt)

Armstrong as an aristocratic name

Regardless of any hidden wordplay, Armstrong is an official aristocratic name.

Miles has already analyzed Lance Armstrong, Neil Armstrong and George Armstrong Custer, and outed them as spooks & frauds. But of course there are many more Armstrongs. Since they’re legion, I’ll only list official aristocrats named Armstrong here:

There must be many, many more aristocratic Armstrongs though, since as of lists a whopping 692 people in the British peerage named Armstrong, plus a great number of variants.

🏷  English Semitic pun spook name · name