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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Full Disclosure

When my husband and I started discussing baby names (I believe at that time were were only dating), I was clear from the get go - the names were going to be secret. Any name that he seriously wanted to consider for a future child had to be kept secret, from everyone.

I am not entirely sure why. I mean, there are lots of people that will not discuss baby names, but I was particularly militant. It just seemed... right. I wanted it to be a surprise. I did not want our names stolen. I did not want anyone they would honor to know in advance. I did not want anyone elses opinions on whether they were good or bad names. I think I felt that by sharing a name I was somehow spoiling it.

Now my position has changed a little bit. I just love discussing names so much, not mentioning my favorites has become impractical. Plus, after deciding to do everything with my first pregnancy a certain way, all of which are decisions I liked (keeping the name secret, not finding out the sex, etc), I realized that there was no reason to do it the same way the next time. If I get pregnant again, I can have an entirely different experience. So, I lifted the ban on discussing names. 

And now, for the full disclosure name. What exactly names got discussed when we were naming our first child?

Well, his name (Benjamin Robert) was picked out for years before he was born. It was picked out while we were still just dating, in that very first conversation about baby names mentioned above. Therefore, we did not need to discuss boy's names that much when I got pregnant. We still did a little bit, in case one of our cousin's who was due shortly before us used it (we had two). Other boys names that were discussed are Barrett, Bode/Bodhi, and Nolan. Possible alternative middle name of Nathan or Nathanial. Actually their are lots of boys names we both like, its just a matter of finding one we both love and are OK with the popularity and honor value of!

Girls names are what really got the heavy discussion. We do not agree on many. In fact, as far as I can tell, DH just flat out does not like many! We discussed it ad nauseum. Natalie was strongly in the running for awhile, but ultimately felt too popular. For awhile early on it seemed like it would be Keira/Kiera but ultimately we could neither agree on the spelling or pronunciation (I liked Key-air-a, and he liked Kir - a). He vetoed some of my favorites- Virginia (Ginny for short) and Verity. It kept coming back to the same thing. My favorite name was Felicity. He was OK with it, but did not love it. His favorite name was Cosette. I was OK with it, but did not love it. We tried to throw those two out and just start going through the baby name book. Aurelia. Ariella... we had a growing list of names we liked but did not jump out as the one.

In the end, we struck a bargain. We agreed that if the baby was a girl, we would use one of our favorites (Felicity or Cosette), and then if there was ever a second girl, it would be the other. Of course the only question was which name to use first? (After all, the bargain was as much a gamble as anything). Finally, I decided to "give in". Thinking about the two names, I thought in the event that she ended up being an only child, Cosette was somehow fitting. Cosette is from the novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. He pretty much invented it for the novel as a pet/nick name for his main female character. Some people think its a spin off of Nicole, or a different take on Colette, but really no one is sure. The character Cosette is an orphan, single child, who ends up with a life full of love and happiness after a rocky start. So, I agreed that it would be Cosette, but that the middle name needed to reference a strong female role model. We debated it for weeks and eventually landed on Jane for Jane Austen. Jane also happens to be the anagram of a family name, which we liked. So, had he been a she, she would have been Cosette Jane.

But he was a he! And now the bargain is called off. We are back to square one with girls names, and I have no idea what will happen if we ever have a daughter!

I may in the future write a more general entry on the decision of whether to keep names secret or disclose them, but don't you think I will be better able to do that once I have experienced both worlds?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname: Ginny

Ginny is a fun nickname, a slight variation from the ever-present "Jenny" of my generation. (Of course, because Jenny is now a "mom name" it would itself be quite unique on a little girl). Anyways, Ginny is also featured in Harry Potter. There are some pretty unique options if you want to use Ginny for your little girl!

Virginia - I think that Ginny is most often derived from Virginia. Virginia is of Latin origin, it originally referred to a certain tribe, and means virgin or maiden. It is of course strongly associated now with the U.S. State, but maintains status as a name as well in popular media such as the famous letter "Yer Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"

Ginevra - This is the Harry Potter name that they use to derive Ginny.  It is of Italian origins and means fair and smooth. It is actually considered a variation of Jennifer.

Imogen - I have heard a lot of buzz about this name recently. I ran into it when reading the novel Middlesex, and had to look up the pronunciation, which it turns out is actually kind of controversial. The "I" is soft, but other than that there are some variations. I see both i-moe-jen, i-moe-jean, and the softer more flowing im-a-jin, where the middle syllable almost disappears and is just a swivel point for the rest. Anyways, Imogen is Celtic and means maiden. It also is found in Shakespeare.

Genevieve - This master of nicknames was already discussed once when I was looking for a source for Evie. It means white wave and is strongly associated with Saint Genevieve.

Eugenia - The much less used feminine version of Eugene (which in and of itself is not too popular at the moment). Eugenia is Greek and means well-born, or noble. Concerned that it should lead to the nickname Genny rather then Ginny? You can use the variant spelling Eugina (note the slightly different ending as well).

Regina - This name is of Latin origin and means Queen. It was a nickname for Queen Victoria.

I am sure I am missing other options. There are a lot of names that begin with "gin" that I suppose could also get you to the nickname, but I don't feel like featuring these names because they are either so short as to not need a nickname (Gina, Ginger), or I prefer a different spelling (Jeanette, Janelle). 

Do you like the nickname Ginny? What name would you use to get there?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Names Post (by Proxy)

I had been thinking of doing a Christmas Names post, but as I kept procrastinating because I was busy, and sick, and because I felt like it was too narrow minded to do a post just about Christmas when there are many other religions out there. Then, I started to see other baby name blogs doing Christmas name posts, and decided that they had done a good enough job. So, if you are interested in some Christmas names, I would check out:

Appellation Mountain: Unexpected Christmas Names for Girls
Appellation Mountain: Unexpected Christmas Names for Boys
Nameberry Blog: Christmas Baby Names from Natalie to Noel

As my child was due right around Christmas, we actually discussed whether this should impact the name. For example, we liked the name Natalie due to family connections and the sound, and Natalie means Christmas. However, it is at an all time high of popularity and ranked number 14th last year, so we decided not to go with it (not that it mattered as we ended up having a son).

Here are my favorites from the above blog posts:

Douglas - They recommend Douglas due to Douglas pines, to me it brings to mind the Christmas Song "Douglas Mountain". The name is Scottish and means "black river"
Casper - Recommended because it is one of the three wise men. This, and its cousin Jasper, are already on the rise, regardless of its Christmas association. Name meaning is "treasurer"
Rudy - Recommended as a shortened reference to Rudolph. It means "famous wolf" in Old English.

Neva - Recommended because it means Snow. Remember how I said once you see a name once it keeps coming up? Well here is Neva again!
Bell - Its obvious why its recommended, right? Would be a word name if spelled like this.

Would you consider using a Christmas themed name for a child?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Nerd the New Cool?

One of the most popular sitcoms out there right now is The Big Bang Theory. It features a bunch of socially awkward geniuses in all of your typical Sitcom situations (dating, career, etc).
The names they chose for the characters are obviously meant to be "nerdy", but I have a feeling by being featured on the show, they may actually be priming these names for a comeback. Maybe not immediately, but perhaps in 5, 10, 15 years when some of the younger people who love the show are trying to name their kids and have positive associations with the names thanks to the characters.

Leonard - If Leo is popular, and Leonardo has had its day, why not Leonard? I know its pronounced a bit differently, and has its associations (Lynyrd Skynyrd comes to mind), but Leonard from the show is smart, funny, loveable, and has the most common sense of all of them. The meaning is "lion strength" from old German.

Sheldon - Ah, the nerdiest of then all! Sheldon has the popular "on/en" ending associated with many "last names as first names", it actually is an old-school place name, meaning "steep valley" in old English.

Howard - Howard has never gone completely out of style as there are many celebrity Howards, but its never been super popular either. I love the nickname Howie. Howard means "Noble Watchman" and is of English origin.

Rajesh - Ok, so I actually have no idea if Rajesh sounds nerdy in India, or if they just picked an Indian name for their Indian character. Nickname could be "Raj", this name refers to royalty/ruler.

Leslie - I actually don't find this name "nerdy" at all, and it is surprisingly more popular (currently ranked 245th for girls) than I would have guessed. It is Scottish and means "Holly Garden". In the show it is a girl, though can be used for boys as well.

Bernadette -Derived from Old Germana and French, Bernadette means strong, brave bear. It shares the root word with Bernard. It yields the nickname Bernie, which may be a bit tainted the movie Weekend at Bernies (or perhaps more tainted for me by an old babysitter we did not like). I prefer the alternate nickname Etta or Ettie, or you could even do Birdy!

 So what do you think? Are these current "nerd names" and will the show reinforce that image or give them a new charm?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

20 Names Meaning Peace

As the rest of the country, I was horrified by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut yesterday morning. I tried to write a normal (non-name) blog post last night relating my feelings, but couldn't really put it down. This morning I have decided to write a name post about it instead. To honor the twenty children who lost their lives, here are twenty baby names that mean peace.

Concordia - With root word concord, Latin for the god of peace
Olivia - Latin for olive tree, a symbol of peace.
Amani - African (Kiswahili) name meaning peace
Irene - The Greek god of peace
Theresa - Greek origin, literal meaning "late summer", but namesake of Mother Theresa
Hacana - The word meaning peace in native Bolivian language Aymara, pronounced Ha-saan-ia
Beke - The word meaning peace in Hungarian, pronounced Bay-ca.
Lahna - The word meaning peace in native Algerian language Kabyle
Kimia - The word meaning peace in native Congonese language Lingala.
Friede - The word meaning peace in German.

Solomon - Hebrew name meaning peace
Shalom - Hebrew word meaning peace
Gjorn - Scandinavian god of peace, pronounced gee-yorn
Pax - Latin for peace, could be lengthened to Paxon
Calum - From the Latin Colombia, meaning dove, a symbol of peace
Frederick - Old German, meaning peaceful ruler. Same root word as Frieda
Heddwyn - Celtic name meaning "fair peace".
Erray - The word meaning peace in native Australian language Olkola.
Paco - The word meaning peace in Esperanto.
Ro - The word meaning peace in Micronesian language Tarawan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Harry Potter Alphabet: B is for Bathilda

Bathsheda - I actually have not been able to find this exact name and almost wonder if it is not a mistake and it should be Bathsheba. It is a very minor character. Bathsheba is a Hebrew name meaning "daughter of oath".  It can be shortened to the more common Sheba (Bathsheda Babbling)

Bathilda - I am quite fond of this name. So close to the popular Mathilda, Bathilda means woman warrior. It is old German in origin. It could use nicknames such as Tilly or Hilda - I would aoive Battie! (Bathilda Bagshot)

Bellatrix - This is a Latin word (not name) meaning "female warrior", transformed to name status by use in multiple pieces of fiction. It is also the name of a constellation. Since baby names are subjective, it could also be viewed as a mixture of the popular names Beatrix and Bella, producing a meaning such as "beautiful voyageur". I know this is not a friendly character in the book, but it it a beautiful name and yields nicknames Bella, Bell, and Trixie  (Bellatrix Lestrange)

Bartemius - A biblical name meaning "son of temius", nicknames Barty, Bart, Temi (Bartemius Crouch)

Blaise - Blaise is increasingly popular for girls though it is traditionally a boys name. It means "stutter". The alternate spelling Blaze is a "word as a name".  (Blaise Zabini)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Literary Inspiration: To Say Nothing of the Dog

My next book for Literary Inspirations is To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. I know its not very famous, not very many people have read it, but it is highly entertaining. It is a comedic time-travel mystery. The main characters are traveling from 2057 to 1888. It is full of a mix of quirky and Victorian era names, and it is the place I first saw what remains to this day one of my favorite girls names.

Ned Henry - Ned is a classic nickname for Edward, meaning 'wealthy gueard'. With Theodore/Ted/Teddy on the rise, I would not be surprised if Ned follows suit. Henry has a classic feel and is already on its way to the top.

Verity Kindle - A classic virtue name, meaning of course truth. My husband dislikes it because of something called a "Verity Index", but I think its brilliant and love the meaning. My husband hates it due to something in computer world (People Soft specifically I believe?) called a "verity index". I do  not think the vast majority of the population would make this link. I would also suggest Kindle as a nice name if it had not been corrupted by the branding of the popular E-Reader.

James Peddick - Another classic English name, James means 'he who supplants". Not exactly a nice name, but the historical weight outweighs the old Hebrew meaning I believe. James is of course one of the twelve disciples in the bible, a royal name of England, and used often in popular culture (think James Bond). I actually recently discovered the Scottish version of James in the movie Brave and then again somewhere else (ever notice how once you hear a name you start hearing it multiple places). Anyways, the Scottish version is Hamish.

Finch - In the book, Finch is a assistant in 2057,  turned butler in 1888. Finch comes off as a classic Butler name. It could be seen either as "last name as first name" or as a nature name, as in the songbird.

Tocelyn Merring - I am having no luck identifying the origins of this quirky first name, Jocelyn with a T. The character goes by the nickname "Tossie," which has some minimal usage in the United State, but it is quite possible that Connie Willis made this name up and that it is even meant to be comedic (Tossie does evoke notions of tossing something out). Jocelyn is a Germanic tribal identification name. Mering could be a nice "last name as first name" type for a little boy.

Terence St. Trewes - Terence is derived from the Latin name Terentius, who was a poet of ancient Rome. It turns out that there is actually no Saint named Trewes, in fact the word appears to refer to a part of Medieval underwear, so I would suggest avoiding it. Did I mention is a comedic novel?

William Patrick Callahan (Baine) - Enough names for you? All three names are great. William and Patrick are both classic, while Callahan offers a nice "last name as first name" option with nickname Cal. The character's nickname Baine means "pale bridge", though I can't help but think of the word bane, meaning "cause of distress or annoyance".

T.J. Lewis - I am a big fan of initial nicknames, so of course I love T.J. I would prefer it stayed as an initial based nickname (how about a Theodore Joseph? Tristan Jude? Thames Jarret? Terence Jerome?), but if a person really loved it they could spell it out Teejay. Lewis is a nice alternate spelling to the classic Louis, that gives it s different feel. Lewis means "famous battle" and is an old German surname.

Elizabeth Bittner - Elizabeth is of course a classic name with biblical and royal reference. It means "God's promise".

Princess Arjumand - Ok, so in the book this is a cat. But the cat is an important character (to say nothing of the dog... hahahahaha!!) Arjumand is a famous historical Indian name, the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was made (as a tomb).

Cyril - The dog. A greek name meaning lordly or masterful.

Place Names
Thames - Pronounced Tames, the Thames is the biggest river in the U.K. To use this name in the UK would probably be like naming a child Mississippi here, but I think for an American it has a nice sound, similar to James but with a twist.

Coventry - Coventry is a district in England. To an American ear, it evokes a cozy country feeling. It has a nice flow, with the popular feminine Y ending.

Oxford - Again, if you used this in the UK, it would be liked naming a kid Harvard. A bit pretentious? But in America, it has a nice ring. 

Other references
Connie Willis - Of course you could take the author's name as inspiration! In this case, Connie is short for Constance (another virtue name!) meaning consistency, loyalty. Willis could easily be made a first name, an Old English derivative of William.

Jerome K Jerome - the title of the book is inspired by a novella of similar humor called Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) - I love the name Jerome, meaning "sacred name"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Thing about Common Names I Never Knew I Loved

My son has a pretty common name. Benjamin. It was 19th overall in 2011, and 5th in the state we are living in. If you asked my family, they never would have guessed I would use such a common name. They know I love baby names, and have always had some unique ideas for them. But Benjamin was the perfect storm of circumstances. I started liking the name when I was in third or fourth grade when I read it in The Boxcar Children. My husband had also always liked the name. Then, our two best friends in college, who we lived with, ate with, studied with, and played with for four years, ended up both being named Benjamin. It was a no-brainer when we were trying to find a boys name that it should be Benjamin.

Even knowing it was the perfect name for us, I still had my reservations about the source, meaning, and popularity of the name (It is not just from the Bible, but unlike most "biblical" names, did not exist until it appeared in the bible, it means "son of my right hand" or "son of the south"). But little did I know, the name had  a surprise for me. It started shortly after my son was born. I had a lot of downtime, mostly while breastfeeding, and I started re-watching old M*A*S*H Episodes, and got a little thrill when I remembered/realized that one of the main characters was Benjamin Franklin Pierce. I know its nerdy, but I just really liked that one of my favorite fictional characters shares my sons name. The little bits of excitement kept coming as I realized that my son shares his name with all sorts of cool and interesting people, and it ties him to all sorts of interesting books and historical tidbits. I never imagined I would get joy out of who my son shares a name with, I expected almost the opposite!

I intend to post more broad posts about the good and the bad of unique and common names, but I just wanted to throw this out there first. Here are some of the great Benjamin references that have made me smile over the last year:

Benjamin Franklin Pierce- AKA Hawkeye
Benjamin Franklin
Much to my Husband's Chagrin, there IS a Benjamin in the Twilight Series, though a very minor character!

Benjamin Martin - Main Character in The Patriot
Benjamin Harrison - 23rd President
Benjamin Disraeli - an old British Prime Minister, Google him, he has some cool quotes!