In the case of Jethro – in Hebrew Yitro – there are seven names and seven meanings, according to rabbinic midrash.
His two main names are connected with a root that means “additional” – he was “Yitro” because he performed extra good deeds and “Yeter” because he caused extra texts to enter the Torah.
He was “Chovav” because he was beloved of God, “Re’u’el” because he was God’s friend, “Chever” because he was a close associate of the Almighty, “Puti’el” because he abandoned idolatry, and “Keni” because he was zealous for God.
Many people these days acquire their names just because of what is fashionable at the time or because their parents liked the sound of a particular name. Biblical parents were more creative and thought hard about what they wanted their child’s name to express.
In modern Israel this type of creativity has come to the fore again, and sometimes there are names that are specially coined for the occasion.
It can be a good idea. We need to encourage parents everywhere to invent names with more than mere sound to recommend them.
Of course in many cases the task has already been done by family tradition and the name of a precious loved one is perpetuated in a new generation.