Take a word that has a meaning of some kind attached, say faith, or hope, or charity. Then use that word as the name of a person…Faith, Hope, Charity.
The word gets stripped of its meaning when used in the context of naming a person. When you meet someone named Faith, you don’t really link to the connotation of “faith”. When you meet someone named Hope, you don’t really link to the connotation of “hope”.
This seems to apply to surnames, as well. “Baker”, for instance. In the phrase “He’s a baker”, there’s an instant flash when our brains link to the occupation. In the phrase “That’s Tom Baker”, we don’t link to the occupation at all.
It’s like the use of a known concept as a name strips the word of its meaning.
Am I way off base here, and if I’m not, is there an actual name for the phenomenon?
The term for the phenomenon of a repeated word losing its meaning is"semantic satiation". This is more appropriately applied to a stoner obsessing over a word until it no longer seems to be connected to its counterpart in reality rather than a word being appropriated as an unrelated proper noun.
I think “stripped of meaning” isn’t the way to describe this phenomenon. It’s more a case of substituted meanings and you can see that all over the place. When I’m talking about my computer mouse, I’m not (generally) thinking of furry rodents at the same time. And when I do mean a furry rodent, I’m not thinking about computer peripherals.
Very few words don’t have multiple meanings, so it’s not such a stretch to say that faith is a virtue, but Faith is your girlfriend.
Occasionally, we construct a phrase in which you have to think of both definitions (puns, jokes, double entendres, etc.) and the fact that we get such a strong psychological reaction by doing this shows something about how the mind copes with multiple meanings for the same words.