Email Me!

Email me questions, comments, or post ideas!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Northern Minnesota Real Names (Oct 13 and 20th)

Louis H
Thomas John
Tallon Raining
Benjamin Theodore
Bryton Phoenix
Bryson James
Ernest Leroy

Sophia Joyce
Piper June
Rowan Marie
Berit Emily
Freya Vivianna
Aria Lynn Marie
Charlotte Nancy
Mila Kaelynn Sam
Lanie Beth
Janaya Jo

Emily Rae and Elise Marie

Funny that two names that Nameberry recently listed as on the rise appeared this week (Freya and Louis). What do you think of a little girl named Berit?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Name Inspiration: The Little Mermaid Sisters

According to Disney, King Triton, ruler of the see in The Little Mermaid, is quite the naming buff (or maybe its his never-seen wife?). He has seven daughters, all with complex "A" names, ending of course in the main character Ariel. Her is some "under the sea" inspired names for you! 

Attina - A name with unknown origins, used infrequently. Possibly a take on Athena (Greek goddess of wisdom, strategy, and heroes. Possibly a female version of the ancient Macedonian name Attinas. Also a place name - there is an Atina, Italy, an Atina, Greece, and an Atina, Turkey (as well as an Atina, Ohio, because the U.S. loves to borrow place names). Or, just play on the common name ending/nickname Tina.

Aquata - With Aqua right in it, its hard to miss this beinga  play on the word for water (especially as it is assigned to a mermaid in this case). It is actually a Latin word meaning "having a watery constitution".

Adrina - This is a variant of the Latin name Adrienne, meaning "from Hadria".

Adella - A variant of the Old German "Adela" or "Adelaide", which all mean "Noble and Kind".

Arista - A Greek name meaning "the best", related to the word Aristocrat, comes in variant forms Aristella and Aristelle.

Alana - A derivation of the masculine Alan or possible old German Elaine. Depending on how you come to it, it could have many different meanings and is a rather modern version of the name.

Ariel - And here is the big one, the one that is officially a "Disney Princess". I was quite young when Little Mermaid came out and the movie was my very first reference for that name. I was astounded when I was bit old to meet a "real life" Ariel. I am pretty sure I can (and maybe should) write an entire post about using Disney Princesses names. Anyways, Ariel is Hebrew name meaning Lion of God, and originated as a boys name.

Would you use any of these names? I find Adella and Ariel quite appealing. Is there any great "a" names that fit with this group that you are surprised Disney didn't use? My own name, Amanda, fits into the song quite well but isn't exotic enough for a Mermaid!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Northern Minnesota Baby Names: Sept 29th and Oct 2nd

Maili Marie
Rayna Lynn
McKenzie Mae
Jaclyn Sara
Nora Jean
Addison Claire
Addison Grace
Adeline Elizabeth
Kathlin RaeAnn
Dorthea Senja
Elouise Janene
Adilynn Florence
Kayden Elizabeth

Mason Matthew
Tayton Daniel
Brayden Edward
Hunter Allen
Casheon Lane
Izack Matthew
Kendrick Allen
Braxton John

More rare names, many which of intrigue me - Maili, Senja, Tayton, and Casheon. Also many potential Addy/Addies were born with Addison, Addison, Adeline, and Adilynn. Also, some unique spellings with Janene, Izack, Elouise, Kathlin, Dorthea, and Jaclyn. Not made up certainly, but not the most popular versions either.

Friday, October 11, 2013

By the Numbers - Top 100 Girls Names 2012

It recently came to my attention that Stella is a top 100 name. Actually, it has been in the top 100 for three years already after a meteoric rise that started in 1998. I guess I was not the only one that found it to be a quirky, fun alternative to the extremely popular Ella. What this discovery made me realize is that I really don't know the top 100 names. I tend to look up rankings when I want to know something specific and haven't just looked at them in depth much. So, I am going to try to do a bit more of that.

It Starts With...
If all letters were created equal, each letter would have about 4 names in the top 100, but that is clearly not the case. The letter "A" is by far the most popular for girls in 2012, and probably as a general rule, the most common start of girls names. The other letters that are overrepresented are S, M, L, K,E, and C. I was surprised to find out there isn't a single "D" name in the top 100, so if you are looking for a unique initial, try Darcy, Dori, or Deanna on for size.

It Ends With...
Just another interesting break down about how popular various endings are. 

It Sounds Like...

 Depending how you look at it, there are either 5 or 6 names that are phonetically identical in the top 100. The last, Madelyn and Madeline, really depends on the parent's intentions, as they can be pronounced differently but not everyone does (to the chagrin of many naming nerds I am sure). As these names are effectively in the top 100 two times, they are even more popular than their ranking alone suggests. Also, if we could all agree on how to spell these names, five (or six) more names could be in the top 100. In that case, Maria, Brooke, Payton (wait! its another phonetic twin), Paisley, and Paige could squeeze in! Even Ruby may have squeezed in.

 Along with the identical spellings, there are also some names that are obviously related, even though they are distinct from another. They may share a sound or a nickname. This is obviously quite subjective. For awhile I had Aubrey and Audrey both on here, only one letter difference, but I decided to try to limit it more than that (similarly I removed the name family of Arianna, Ariana, and Aria). Once again, a name that appears on this list (or could if I broadened it) is more "popular" than even the top 100 ranking suggests. No one is certain how many "Maddie/Maddy"s there are in classrooms, or"Belle"s, or "Lexi"s, these nicknames may be much more common than their lengthened versions. As with all things with name popularity, its a matter of opinion whether having a Kaylee and Kayla in the bedroom is better than having two Kaylee's. It is something interesting to think about though!

WHAT? That is top 100?
What inspired this post was the discovery that Stella is in the top 100, but there are plenty of others in the top 100 that surprised me. These are the names women who are not name nerds may choose feeling like its unique and they have never heard it used on a child, just to realize once the child is born that the name is shockingly popular amongst newborns.  Of course labeling these names is again somewhat subjective, but a name is likely to feel like it should be on this list if its a recent arrival to the top 100, especially after a fast rise. Even if a name has been in the top 100 for a decade, it might have this "rare" feeling if it has longer history is of rarity. For example, Riley has been in the top 100 since 2002, over a decade, but has only been in the top 1000 since 1990. It had a fast rise. When the people who are currently choosing baby names (20-40 year olds) were forming their naming vocabularies, Riley was hardly on the name radar, it would have been very rare to know one. I did not go through and analyze every name this way, but I did go into names I had this "surprise" feeling about and pulled some numbers. After looking at some of the numbers, I found out some of the names that surprised me (such as Maya and Lydia) are probably just personal blind spots, but the below list is names that could be surprising based on their fast rise.

*Stella reappeared in the top 1000 14 years ago after a hiatus

In Summary
OK. Was this post nerdy enough for you? FIVE charts. It took a lot of time and effort. I do hope to complete it for the boys top 100 as well. I hope people find some use in it, I certainly learned a lot. I also wanted to say, I know a lot of times when I blog about names being popular it comes off as "negative". That tone is a result of my personal preferences. When push comes to shove, popularity is just one fact about a name that could contribute to someones choice to use it. Its good, in my opinion, to have all the facts when your choosing a name, and popularity is part of the puzzle, for better or worse!

What do you think? Were there any "surprise" names for you? Any names I found to be surprising that you thought obviously were popular? Would any of this information change your choice for a name?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lois Clubs

Did you know there is a national club in the United States for people named Lois?

Its called Lois Club (straight to the point I guess). I learned this recently because they appeared in the local news. Yes, its not a very big city if you were curious. They made the news for inducting a new member that was 3 months old. 28 Loises got together to meet the newborn, who one RN said she had been looking for in her hospital's newborn ward form 35 years. The name Lois last peaked in 1930 at 17th. It steadily fell in popularity since then, falling out of the top 1000 in 1983, making the 35 year claim quite plausible. The SSA only lists names in state data if at least five were born in that state in a given year, and this has not happened in Minnesota since 1974, when six Loises were born.

Is Lois on the rise? The baby Lois in the story was  named after her Grandma. Lois is a true vintage, and it has the popular culture tie in of Superman (Man of Steel was recently released here, though not to much acclaim). It also shares some sounds and traits with some more popular names such as Lucy, Lola, and Eloise. However, its not on the move just yet. Nationally there were 92 babies named Lois in 2012. Ten years ago in 2002 it was 83. That's not much movement! I guess we will just have to wait and see if the Lois Club is doomed to die out, or if its about to be reborn.

In related predictions... I am going to be watching out for Louise to enter the top 1000 names for the first time in the next few years. I am just hearing so much buzz about it, and again it shares sounds and traits with many other rising names. There were 5 born nationally in 2002, and 152 in 2012... a bit more movement, though it still has a a ways to go! Last year name #1000 was Katalina with 251 births.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Northern Minnesota Real Names (Sept 15th and Sept 22)

Easton James
Mason Matthew
Avery Allen Daniel
Riker Richard
Cole Christopher
Gavin Michael
Henry Joseph
Alex Jon
Noah Russell
Axel Charles
Jesse Jon

Quinn Eileen
Abigail Zoe
Ella Christine
Elsie May
Aurora Naomi
Liari Quinn
Clara Rose
Anastasia Paige
Bella Marie
Salina Rose
Piper Dagny
Ellie Mae Miranda

With Ella, Elsie, and Ellie, you can see the "EL" trend is alive and well, but people are putting their own twist on it. I do wonder if Ellie Mae Miranda will go by the double-barrel first name Ellie Mae, which is lovely. Dagny is an interesting middle name choice - quirky, fun and gender neutral, it is an old Norse name meaning "New Day"I also noticed a lot of alliteration in the boys names - Avery Allen, Cole Christopher, etc. The two names from this week that are the most rare are Riker and Liari, drastically different feels but neither has ever been in the top 1000.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Harry Potter Alphabet - I is for Ignatius

Earlier this week my sister and I were discussing how "I" names can be hard to come by. There are some very popular ones (Isabella and variants), and some traditional ones (Isaac and variants), but once you get beyond those you tend to find either rare names (Iona, Isis, Iliad) or foreign names (Inigo, Igor, Ilsa). It's no surprise then that I is our smallest letter yet in the Harry Potter alphabet. In fact, I only could find three names, and one of them I had to go out looking for (It was not on the master list I was using because the person is mentioned, not an active part of the book). So here they are!

Ignatius and Ignotus - I have discussed the first of these related name before as a possible source for "ace" (a different version, Ignace, is a more likely candidate). There are many versions of this name, besides the two above, there is Ignace, Ignacius, Ignacio, Ignatz, Ignaz, Inacio, and several more. It has a questionable meaning of "ardent" in Latin. I like this school of names, rarely used, and the great nickname Iggy.  (Percy Ignatius Weasley) (Ignotus Peverell)

Igor (Igor Karkaroff) - Igor is a Russian character, and its very popularly known as a Russian name. Most infamously, Frankenstein's hunchbacked assistant in popular media. Also famous composer Igor Stravinsky (with vary particular sound). Igor means Soldier. A similar name is Scandinavian "Ingvar".

What do you think? Would you consider either of these? What "I" names should JK Rowling have used that she neglected?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Northern Minnesota Real Names (Sept 8th)

I thought it might be nice to give you some names that are actually being used in the area I live, Northern Minnesota (Northern Midwest USA).

Abel Denis
Bentley Grey
Chase Converse
Tristan Daniel
Jordan Thomas

Averie Ann-Marie
Lydia Rae
TWINS - Joy Agnes and Sherin Faith

I love to see Agnes used, even in the middle position. It has become a recent sweetheart of mine. Anything stick out to you?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deft or Daft: Everest

"E" names are popular right now, especially for girls, but in general. Ethan, Elijah, Eli, Evan, and Easton (along with Ian) are all in the top 100 boys names with names like Elliot, Emmett, and Elias also trending. Everett, currently ranked at 214th, reached its peak back in 1915 at 89th, spending over ten years in the top 100 names. It is one of those "grandparent" names that is feeling fresh again and is currently on the rise. Everett is a great name, but what if you want something a little more unique with a little more zing? What not give Everest a try. Literally one letter different, but with an entirely different feel. Everest is a place name, referring of course to Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Mount Everest has become synonymous both with the power and wonder of nature, and with the endurance and vision of mankind. Because of its simalarity to commonly known masculine names like Everett and Ernest it is a natural fit and does not feel "out there" as some other mountain names might (like Denali or Ranier might.. although these also sound like great names to me). Everest might just his that sweet spot - unique but familiar, easy to pronounce, good meaning.

So what do you think, is Everest deft or daft?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Name Rainbow: Green

Names with Green Meanings

Berilo - A Pale Green gemstone, the name is Spanish and Greek. Related to the feminine Beryl. The stone is thought to be good luck.
Denver - While this will stick out as a Place name to most, the word itself is actually old English for green valley.
Irvin - A Gaelic name meaning "green waters". Can also be spelled Earving.
Greeley - An old English name meaning green meadow.
Hewney - An Irish name meaning simply green.
Vardon - An old french name meaning Green Knoll. The emphasis is on the second syllable.
Verdell - Another French name, again emphasis on the second syllable, meaning green.
Verlyn - Uncertain origin, but with root Ver, may be interpreted as Green
Vermont - Another place name, with actual meaning Green Mountain.
Vireo - A name that references a small green bird.

Beryl - A Pale Green gemstone, the name is Spanish and Greek. Related to the masculine Berilo. The stone is thought to be good luck.
Cheryl - The origins of Cheryl are unclear, but one theory is its a variant of Beryl.
Chloe - This is a Greek name meaning "green shoot" and meant to symbolize fertility.
Chloris - Another greek name, this one meaning  a greenish yellow shade, related to the goddess of vegetation
Esmerelda - A Spanish variant of the name/gemstone Emerald, with much more feminine
Fern - a word name referring to a luscious green plant
Jade - a deep green stone used similarly to gold (decoratively and to display wealth) by Asian cultures
Midori - A Japanese name meaning green, this name is also associated with many products and places.
Olive - a shade of green, or a word name referring to a food that is often green, this name is RAPIDLY rising in popularity (it has going for it that its a word name, which are trending, it is a nice stand in for Olivia, which is top ten, and it has some celebrity/hollywood usage recently) - it has climbed from unranked to 368th in six years. If it keeps up that rate, it will be top 100 in 2-3 years.
Teal - A shade of bluish green, and a bird of the same color.
Turkessa - An opaque blue-green stone mined in Turkestan and Persia
Verde - The word for green in Spanish, also could be spelled Verda
Verna - Of Latin origin, this name means spring green, related to the masculine Vernon
Viridiana - Another Latin name meaning green, I love the flow and phonetic sound of this name. Other variants include Virdis, Viridia, and Viridian
Yara - A Brazilian pagan goddess with green hair

Shades of Green
Brunswick - a series of green pigments made using copper
Celadon - a pale greyish shade of Green often used in Asian pottery
Emerald - light and bright, also a gemstone
Harlequin - more strongly associated with a diamond pattern, but also a bright yellowish green
Hunter - word/job as name? Or a beautiful dark shade of green.
Kelly - the name Kelly doesn't mean green, but it is the same word as the traditional Irish "true" green.
Malachite - a green mineral, similar in sound to Malcom, Micah, or the biblical Melchior
Neon - I know it can be applied to any color, but could it also be a quirky name?
Paris - besides a city, and epic character from Troy, Paris is a blue-green shade.

What do you think? Any keeps? The discovery of Viridian was one of the things that inspired me to create a baby name rainbow! I also love the name Verdi for a boy, which while it technically is after a composer, conjures up images of green due to its similarity to the Spanish Verde. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Get Your Nickname: Gus

I was recently inspired by this post at Swistle Baby Names to do a post on the nickname "Gus". in the post, the letter writer states that she is considering the name August, but only because they like the nickname Gus. As I pointed out in the comments, there are many other ways to come to Gus! This is one of those nicknames that was used to be a "funny" name when I was a child. My dad would throw it out there when he was pretending to forget one of our names, or we would use it to name a frog we caught. Now it is the exact kind of nickname that seems just right - a bit of vintage charm with cute familiarity, like Hank and Fred (fifteen years ago, Jack would have fit this category). On to the name!

August/Augustus/Augustine - All of these are derived from Latin meaning "great, magnificent". The different versions carry different feels though. August can come off as a "quirky" word name due to its use as a month. Augustus feels regal and Roman, while Augustine has a religious tone. These also offer the adorable nickname "Augie".

Aengus/Angus - Technically speaking, these two names are pronounced similarly, though I am sure you will find plenty of people will pronounce the the same or switch the pronunciations. Aengus (with a long "a", rhymes with bay) is the original Gaelic name, which means "one choice". Angus is the more anglicized version, and is pronounced Ann-gus.

Argus -  I have discussed this name before in the Harry Potter "A" post. It is a Greek name meaning vigilant guardian.

Fergus/Ferguson - This is another Scottish/Irish name, meanig "supreme man, highest choice". This may be one of my favorite options! It reminds me of other names that I like but not quite enough to use, like Vernon and Fern.

Gustavus -  Pronounced Gus-Tay-vus, this is a "last name as first name" related to as Scandinavian name meaning "royal staff". It is also the name of a University.

Lugus - Pronounced Lou-gus, this is a Welsh name meaning "shine". It is very similar to the more common Lucas, but with a little twist to make it unique.

Magus - This Latin name related to the word "magic", meaning sorcerer.  It sounds similar to the more feminine Maggie. I would be a bit worried about the phonetic nearness to Maggots however.

In addition to the above names which make the nickname Gus a no brainer, there are also names  that would get to it a little less directly, for example, Auguste (aw-goost), Gustav (Goo-stawf) are the more European pronunciations of some of the names above. Other options would be Magnus (Latin for "great", as in magnificent), Agathius (Greek meaning good, honorable), Eligius (french/Latin for "chosen"), Eugenius (Greek for "well born"), Giorgius (a variant of George), or Sergius (a variant of Sergio)/

Of course, if none of these strike a chord, just use Gus!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Literary Inspiration: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, with the recent new film, is "in Fashion. How about the names from it though? The book actually has a plethora of names, as the narrator (Nick Carraway) decides at one point to list ALL of the people who are at one of Gatsby's parties. I don't think I can possible expound on every name, but I would like to list as many of them here as possible, and comment on some that interest me.

The Main Players
Nick Carraway
Jordan Baker - I have always liked the name Jordan, which is odd since typically I am not attracted to unisex names. Seeing this in the novel, which is set in the 1920s, made me curious about how long exactly it has been unisex. Looking up the data, it would appear that choosing to name a female Jordan was quite risque when the book was written (1925). Jordan did not appear in the top 1000 names for girls until the 1970s, and it wasn't until the 80s that the name became very popular for boys or girls. I don't think its coincidence that the name's rise for both genders coincides with Michael Jordan's rise to fame.
Jay Gatsby - An adventurous parent or literature lover could go for the name Gatsby. The sound itself is quite pleasing, the question is if that is a character you would want to honor!
Daisy Buchanan - A cute flower name that has stayed in the middle of the charts for sometime. With Lily so popular right now (currently 16th), and other flower names also trending (like Violet, Ivy and Iris), I am surprised Daisy is actually slowly declining (very slowly). 
Tom Buchanan
Myrtle Wilson
George Wilson 
Meyer Wolfsheim - Meyer would fit nicely in with the "last name as first name" trend that continues, yet it hasn't been in the top 1000 since 1928. I think its probably that Oscar Mayer brand that has done this (pronounced the same way).

Other Names
Chester Becker
Webster Civet - Webster, to me, is a great name. It immediately invokes the dictionary of the same name, and implies intelligence. It is a last-name first as well. It has never been to popular and hasn't been in the top 1000 since 942. Maybe its time to bring it back?
Willie Voltaires
Hubert Auerbach
Edgar Beaver - If Edward has been ruined for you by Twilight, but you love the name nickname Ed or Eddie, this might be a good place to look! I feel a nickname post for Eddie coming on...
Clarence Endive
Ripley Snell - I actually just met a newborn Ripley. It has never been in the top 1000 boys names. It is a last name first and is associated with "Ripley's Believe it or Not" here in the U.S. It has just the right level of quirkiness for some families. The Ripley I know is little brother to Rex. What a great sibset!
Ulysses Swett
Maurice Flink
Cecil Roebuck/Cecil Schoen
Newton Orchid
Clyde Cohen
Don S Schwartz
Arthur McCarty
G. Earl Muldoon
Ed Legros
James B. Ferret
Ernest Lilly
Gus Waize
Horace O'donavan
Lester Meyer - The name Lester used to rank pretty high on my personal list, because I saw it not as a "last name first", but rather as a place name for a river and park in my hometown. Now that I live in my hometown, the local connection doesn't seem as important. It is important, I think, to note that the names Lester and Chester both are much more popular in specific segments of the population - Amish communities.
George Duckweed
Francis Bull
Russel Betty
Henry L. Palmetto
Benny McClenahan
Jaqueline, Consuela, Gloria, Judy or June (the girls who were interchangeable) - I find it amusing that these are the names seen as interchangeable to the narrator. They don't seem all that similar! I did look into their popularity, and that is not where the similarity is coming from! Jaqueline and Consuela were virtually unheard back in that time period, while June and Gloria were quite popular. I wonder how Fitzgerald chose these names, or if he put much thought into them at all?
Faustina O'brien - While this name makes me immedietly think of the German philosopher and author Faust, it actually is a Latin name meaning fortune.
Ardita Fitz-Peters - The name Ardita is of Albanian origins and means "golden days". Ardy as a cute nickname?
Claudia Hip 

So, what do you think? Any names in here interest you?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Harry Potter Baby Names - H is for Hestia

Hannah - This is a Hebrew name meaning "God has favored me", a variant of Anna. (Hannah Abbot). It has experienced much recent popularity, ranking as high as #2 from 2000-2002, and is currently (We have 2012 data people!) 22nd.

Hermione - The "interesting" name of the series, due to its use on such a main character and its former status of completely unknown. It is pronounced her-my-oh-nee. It is of Greek origin and means "messenger", related to the other name on this list Hermes.  (Hermione Granger)

Helga - An old German name meaning "holy" or "sacred". This has never been in the top 1000. With other old names rising (think Ilsa and Adelaide for example), maybe it is due (Helga Hufflepuff).

Hestia - The Greek goddess of the hearth, this name has a lovely meaning and a nice sound.  (Hestia Jones)

Hedwig - Another Old German name meaning "strife". Perhaps less than ideal if meaning is important to you.

Hassan - Pronounced hah-sahn, this is of Arabic origin and means handsome. It lingers in the second half of the top thousand due to its ethnic use. (Hassan Mostafa)

Hippocrates - Most people have heard of the Hippocratic oath, but I doubt many people have considered this as a given name. The meaning is technically "horse", but the main association would clearly be medicine, ethics and healing (Hippocrates Smethwick)

Hermes - The Greek messenger God, famous for his awesome sandals.

Hagrid - Okay, so this is a character's last name, but the books give it life as a first name since the character goes exclusively by this. The name references a giant in Greek mythology. (Rubeus Hargrid)

Harold - I have to admit, this name reminds me of a horror story from when I was little, but that shouldn't stop others from liking it. It is a Scandinavian name meaning army-ruler. (Harold Dingle)

Harry - The flagship name of the series. Despite the strong association with the book, it hasn't been "ruined" because there are lots of famous Harry's, most notably Prince Harry. Harry is old German for "home ruler". The bigger issue with Harry in America is pronunciation. To most American dialects, it is pronounced just like hairy. We often fail to get the strong "A" sound in names like this.

Hengist -  An Anglo-Saxon name used in the Arthurian legends as a minor character. It likely is related to an old word for Stallion (Hengist of Woodcroft)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Deft or Daft? - Coriander

So this is the first post of a series that will pop up now and then were I throw out some "out there" ideas for names that I either see somewhere, or pop into my head.

First up is Coriander!

Depending on your background, Coriander might strike you first as just a strange word, or if you know your cooking, a spice. It is the seed of the Cilantro plant and is used in a lot of wonderful dishes. With other spices and herb names making an appearance in the naming world (think Sage, Cayenne, and Ginger), why not this beauty?

I see it as a boys name. It shares a rhythm/style with Alexander, and if broken down can actually be seen as a compound name of Corey and Ander. Corey is an Old Norse surname currently ranked 351. Anders is a Scandinavian version of Andrew, meaning Lion, and is ranked 900th.

I don't think Coriander would stick out as odd due to these familiar components, but it would be a unique name. What do you think? Deft or Daft?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to Get Your Nickname: Ace

Ace is a great nickname for a boy! Of course a lot of boys get called this without it having any root int heir name, just like nicknames like Bud or Guy. Ace has very positive connotations. It is the "#1" of the card deck. In WWI, the best fighter pilots earned the label "Ace". Wouldn't it be cool if this could be a nickname based on a given name? Well, it can! There actually are a variety of options that can get you to Ace with varying levels of directness. I have tried to order them from the most obvious connection to Ace to the more tenuous stretches. 

Aeson - This is of from Greek Mythology, and is the father of Jason (the origins of that popular name), which the name rhymes with. This is by far the most obvious way to get Ace because it uses the typical "first syllable" is the nickname formula.
Casey - Of Irish and Gaelic origin, likely means "alert and watchful".
Dacey - Of Irish and Gaelic origin, meaning "from the south"
Jason - A Greek name meaning "healer"
Acelin - Pronounced a-ce-lin, this is French in origin and means noble. For the American ear this may come too close to including the word "ass", though said correctly it avoids it.
Asaph - Similar to Acelin in the potential pronunciation problem as Acelin (it is ah-SAHF), it is Hebrew for "god has gathered"
Aslan - This Turkish name was made famous by Chronicles of Narnia, and means lion.
Ignace/Ignatius - This is most likely of Latin origin meaning ardent burning.
Eustace - Greek origin, pronounced Yu-stiss, meaning "good grapes"
Horace - pronounced Hor-ess, an old Latin family clan name, related to Horatio
Seamus - An Irish name, pronounced Shay-mus, is a form of James
Phineas - pronounced Fin-ee-us, likely from a Hebrew name meaning "oracle".
Mathias - pronounced ma-tee-us. A German variant of Matthew meaning gift of god.
Silas - pronounced Sigh-las, a Latin Name meaning "forest"
Wallace - an Old french name meaning Welshman, also a Scottish surname. (Think Braveheart!!)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Literary Inspiration: The Help

Life has been busy and I have been slipping in my blogging! It happens. I just finished this post about the names from a best selling book and hit movie, The Help, about some black maids and their white employers in Civil-Rights era south. I have lots of ideas for posts, its just a matter of sitting down and hammering them out! I also thought I would mention I am having problems with the Social Security Baby Name site tonight... so no rankings. Hopefully that clears up soon. It would be nice to know how popular Stuart, Leroy, and Clyde are, and if any of these have started trending since the movie.

Eugenia - Previously mentioned on this blog as a possible way to get to the nickname Ginny, Eugenia is the feminine version of Eugene. It means noble and is of Greek Origin

Aibileen - A variation of the more common Abilene (strongly linked to the book), Abilene is a place name (both from the holy land and Texas) and also could mean "grass" in Hebrew. The variation in spelling could be interpreted to have a different pronunciation - Aib as in Abraham rather than Ab as in Abigail.

Gretchen -  This is a German variant of Margaret, meaning pearl.

Kindra - An Old Norse name meaning "greatest Champion"

Mae - Short and sweet, Mae and is a variant spelling of May, a month name.

Constantine - Here is a baby name with history. Constantine the Great was a Roman emporer. The twist here is that it is a woman. I think it jumps the gender barrier easily, as there are other female names structured like this - Angeline, Christine, etc . The name meaning is obvious - Constance, loyalty. Connie for short?

Yule May - A southern-style double-barrel name with a Christmas flare.

Lulabelle - A new (to me) addition to the "belle" names, and Lulu (either as a nickname or just as part of the name) is on trend with other names making a comeback like Ethel/Ettie, Harriet/Hattie. Just today Swistle wrote about a little girl who will be called Polly!

Sugar- Its unclear if this is a nickname or a given name in the book. As a given name it would be quite cutesy and feminine.

Minny - Again, this may be a nickname, but I don't think so. Minnie is traditionally short for Melinda or Minerva.

Hilly - Possible short for Hillary? I think its cute as a stand alone name, or it fits in with other nicknames like Hattie and Millie.

Leroy - I still cant' hear this name without humming Bad Leroy Brown. But it also has a certain appeal to it.

Carlton - And this name makes me think of the character on Fresh Prince of Bellaire (a very cheesy but lovingly remembered sitcom from the 90s where Will Smith got his start). Carlton fits the "Last name as first name" sound, and the character reference feels distinguished.

Raleigh - To the American ear this is a place name pronounced as Rall rhymes with ball Lee. It has more history though, as an old English name meaning deer's meadow. Also, Sir Walter Raleigh was an explorer.

Treelore - As far as I can tell, this is word as a name, a word (or words tree lore) referring to the ancient mythical, celtic, and wiccan beliefs about trees.

Clyde - Like Leroy, another old fashioned "southern" sounding name, which could offer some current charm. It is of Scottish origin and is a place name (Clyde river, for example).

Stuart - This is an Old English occupational name (Stewart, a type of servant). Offers the nickname Stew or Stewie, which may be contaminated by Family Guy right now, but still cute.

So what do you think? Would you consider any of these names? Is there a little Abilene in your future? Or perhaps a Stuart?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Name Rainbow: Yellow

Yellow is the most cheerful color. It offers some interesting name choices

Shades of Yellow
Aureolin - This reminds of of Aurelia or Aurora combined with Lynn. The color meaning is a bonus!
Citrine - For some reason, I have been loving the "soft" c names lately, and this fits right in. Why not twin girls - Cerise and Citrine. Too out there?
Ecru - A quirkier shade that would make a quirkier name.
Gold (Goldie) - One of the few actual "real" name options, makes me think of Goldie Hawn.
Goldenrod - A longer more floral way to get to Goldie?
Jonquil - This one sounds very masculine and could fit in quite well in some areas.
Mikado - Actually a Japanese word meaning emperor, yellow being the royal color.
Naples - This would be seen more as a place name than a color name
Sunglow - This definitely comes off more as "word as a name", but gives you a warm feeling.
Maize - Beware Ohio State fans (this is one of the official colors of their rival Michigan). I have seen interesting discussions about the use of Mace as a boys name due to its violent nature, Maize seems like a nice alternative Maizie could also be cute for a girl.
Gamboge - This is the color yellow used to dye Buddhist robes.
Lemon - A nice "word as name" shade.

Things that are Yellow (that could make good names)
Daffodil, Sunny/Sunshine, Marigold, Oxalis, Dandelion, Celandine, (Black Eyed) Susan, Turmeric, Curry, Oriole

Would you use any of these yellow names? I especially like Citrine, Celandine, and Jonquil.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Surprising Flower Names for Spring

It has officially been spring now for a couple of weeks. Sorry for not posting about it immediately, but living in Northern Minnesota means Spring is still a few weeks off for us.

To honor spring, I thought I would find  surprising flower names. We all are familiar with names like Rose, Lily, and Violet. And, while they are less common or old fashioned, we also know Petunia, Pansy, and Iris can be used. In the past year Swistle has been asked about a sister for Magnolia and whether Marigold will become trendy. These last two are more what I am looking for. Beautiful naming options, but not common. Marigold has never been in the top 1000 baby names in America, but has the popular name "Mary" in it and sounds natural as a name. Magnolia fell out of the top 1000 in the 1940s, and seems like a mixture of Maggie and Agnes with the popular 'ia" ending.

I think unexpected flower names fall into two categories - flowers everyone knows and just do not think to use as names, and rare or uncommon flowers (or not native to the U.S.) that would make pretty names but would not be necessarily associated with being a flower name unless the person asked or is scientifically inclined. 

Azalea & Zinnia - I actually met a sibset with these two names! A bit matchy together, but either is beautiful on its own, especially for"z" lovers
Calla - Like the more popular Callie/Kali, but with a twist!
Lilac - If Lily is so popular, why doesnt
Begonia -Another "ia" ending!
Gladiolus - OK. I admit it... Gladys made me think why not Gladiolus. Nickname Glady?
Tansy - This one has a bit more spunk!
Lotus - Or the exotic...
Briony - I did not even know that this was a flower until I got onto the baby name blog scene. It seems so much like a girls name!
Chrysanthemum - nick name Chrys?
Crossandra - A twist on Alexandra that is also the beautiful orange flower below.

Rafflesia - This reads as a feminine version of Raphael, but is actually one of the rarest flowers in the world!
Cosmos - This could work even for a boy, but there are some other non-flower connotations
Koki'o - Definitely an exotic twist, but I like how it comes off the tongue.

Are there any flower names, popular or rare, that you would consider using? Do you like any of the options here, or are they to "out there"?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Harry Potter Alphabet: G is for Gilderoy

Gabrielle - Gabrielle is not exactly uncommon, but its not over used either. It is, of course, a French female version of Gabriel, which is Hebrew in origin and means "hero of god"  (Gabrielle Delacour)
Ginny/Ginevra - I already discussed this name somewhat in my How To Get your Nickname: Ginny. It is an Italian version of Jennifer, meaning fair or smooth. It is actually really growing on me... funny how names do that! (Ginny Weasley)
Gladys - An old name that has largely fallen out of use, perhaps due for revival? Gladys makes me think of the flower Gladiolus, but it is actually a name of many origins - perhaps a feminine version of Claude, meaning "lame", perhaps French meaning "sword" (Gladys Gudgeon)
Griselda - Reminiscent of a fairy tale somehow, this is an old German name meaning "dark battle". Shortens to the more popular "Zelda" (Madam Griselda)

Gilderoy - Another name that seems reminiscent of stories, Gilderoy is a variant of Gilroy, which is Gaelic and means "son of a red head"  (Gilderoy Lockhart)
Godric - This Old English name means what it sounds like - god or ruler. It feels like an old knights name to me. Quite romantic. I can see myself using it! (Godric Gryffindor)
Gideon - This name meaning powerful warrior is biblican in origin, and rising in popularity. It has gone from non-ranked to 412 in the last 15 years.  (Gideon Prewitt)
Gilbert - Has this name yet overcome the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Not statistically, it has been dropping in popularity since 1930, but has yet to fall out of the top 1000. I like the nickname options of Gil or Gilly (couldn't Gil also be for Gilderoy though... hmm perhaps this deserves its own post). Gilbert is old French in origin and means bright promise (Gilbert Wimple)

More common names that I chose not to discuss:
Gregory (Gregory Goyle)
Geoffrey (Geoffrey Hooper)
George (George Weasley)
Graham (Graham Pritchard)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saint Patrick's Day - Solute to the Irish

While we think of Irish names as being Patrick, Brian, Caitlin and Ciara, or unpronounceable Gaelic gems like Aithche, Moirna, and Nuadha, in reality Irish families are naming their kids many of the same things American's are, with a few exceptions. What names are actually popular in Ireland right now?

Pretty typical over all. although of course you wont find Harry, Ryan or Chloe anywhere near the top 10 here in America. If you are looking for something a big more exotic though, you do not have to venture far outside the top ten. For boys, Oisin, Cian, Darragh, and Cillian all come in the top 25, while for girls Aoife, Caoimhe, and Saoirse make the same cut.

The Boys
Oisin - Pronounced "oh-sheen", this name is from Gaelic mythology, son of a legendary warrior and a goddess. The name means "little deer"

Cian - Pronounced "Key-in", this name means ancient or enduring. While not currently in the top ten, it has been in the past and is on a down swing in popularity.

Darragh - Pronounced "die-rah", this name means fruitful or fertile. This is also used as a girls name with alternate spelling Daire or Dara.

Cillian - Pronounced like Killian, this name makes me think of the beer (Killian's Red). It means "associated with the church". There is a St Cillian who left Ireland to convert German tribes.

The Girls
Aoife - Pronounced like Ee-Fa, this is Irish spelling of Eva. It means Beautiful, Radiant, or joyful.

Caoimhe - Pronounced like "Key-vah", this is a female version of Kevin and means "gently, beautiful, preciuos".

Saoirse - Pronounced "sir-sha", this is a "word as a name, it is the Gaelic word for freedom or liberty. Its use as a name is relatively new and is very patriotic.

I also though, just for fun, why not pull the stats for Northern Ireland? So here those are! Very similar, but not identical, to those of Ireland.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Names that Cars Ruined for Me

There are literally thousands of car models in the world, some more famous or infamous than others. Therefore I guess its no surprise that car names overlap with baby names. The follow is a list of some names that I actually really like but probably would never use because they have become car names.

Cayenne - Here is a unique name that is a type of hot pepper, and more recently the name of a Porsche. My husband and I actually both liked this for a girls name when I was pregnant, but crossed it off due to the car association, so really this is the name that inspired this post! I do not think this particular car will be long lived, but the timing was just poor for when we were choosing a name.

Pacifica - Recently featured as the name of the day at Appellation Mountain, a Chrysler Pacifica is the type of car I am driving right now. Its unfortunate, because I think its actually a really beautiful girls name and has a nice long history of use (its not just a place name!). Once again, like the Cayenne, this model is not long lived, but as I drive one, the name is unusable.

Taurus - This is the most "typical" car on the American roads. The Ford Taurus. It was THE Sedan for a long time, so unlike the first two options the assocation with the car is here to stay. Taurus is also a zodiac sign, and a boys name meaning bull in Latin. It is also related to the saint's name Taurinus. I think this name might gain some popularity if it were not for the car, especially with the trending "s" ending.

Ford - This could easily be a great "last name as first name" or a presidential honor name, if it were not for the car company. When I see Ford these days. I think "Fix Or Repair Daily".

Bentley - I actually DO know a guy named Bentley. The name is strongly associated with the brand, but it is a luxury brand so the association is not as negative as it might be for some other cars.

Shelby - Here is another case where the association might be OK because it is not negative. The Shelby Cobra might actually be a car that is worth naming a little girl after!

Other "car" names I considered putting in this post but did not quite make the cut: Denali, Acadia, Odyssey, Sonata, Elantra

Do you like any of these "Car" names? Does it matter that they are associated with a car? Did I miss any obvious ones? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Get Your Nickname: Millie

 The nickname Millie, traditionally a nickname, recently has made it into the top 1000 on its own as a given name, ranking 816th in 2011. If you think its cute, but prefer to keep it as a nickname, here are some longer names it can come from.

Amelia - By far the most popular/trendy option, ranked 30th in 2011. It is Latin and Old German meaning "industrious, striving". Closely related names that are also options would be Emily, Emilia, Amalia,or Amelie. Emily is very common in the U.S. and has been for ages. However, using the nickname for it would give it a new twist.

Amil - This is a form of Amy meaning "beloved". It is so short and sweet it may not need a nickname at all, but the option is there.

Camilla/Camille - Camilla is a Latin name meaning "helper to the priest". The most popular spelling/version is actually Camila, ranked 48th. Spellings with a "k" are also an option (Kamille/Kamilla etc).

Mildred - Mildred, of Old German origin, means Gentle Strength. There is a Saint Mildred who was known for kindness. Mildred has not been in the top 1000 since 1984, it was most popular from 1915-1920, when it ranked 5th. I try to be positive about most baby names, but I had to admit this is one of my least favorite baby names out there. This name is actually what inspired this post, because I think Millie is adorable, but could not bear the idea of Mildred. The reason for my dislike - the like sound word "Mildew" and the inclusion of the syllable "dred" (just like dread). That said, it is a perfectly good name and has a nice strong meaning.

Millicent - With Old French origins meaning "brave and strong," Millicent has never been in the top 400 names, and hasn't been in the top thousand since 1965. For some reason, it reminds me of the evil queen in Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty, but her name is actually Maleficent, so its not really that close of a connection.

Milana - This is a slavic name meaning "favored". The very similar Miliana is of Latin/Spanish origin and means eager.

Milagros- Like Miliana, Milagros is Spanish, meaning miracle. With Miracle becoming a popular "word as a name" name in many communities, Milagros could fit in well.

Vermillion - When I discussed red names, I labelled Vermillion as having a more masculine feel to me, but really it could work quite well for a girl and Millie would be the perfect nickname.

Do you like the nickname Millie? Would you use it as a given name, or opt for one of the above options? I think my favorite is Camille.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Name Rainbow: Orange

Welcome to any new readers that may be visiting! And much thanks to Disney Baby for including me in a list of The Best Blogs for Baby Name Inspiration! I was pleasantly surprised to see so much traffic from a new source! Onto the baby names...

Orange is my favorite color. There are some great name options if I decide this is an inspiration to name our next child! The interesting thing about shades of orange is that many of them are actually the names of something else as well. When we did red names we had "Cherry" (or Cerise) red, but there were also many shades unrelated to a tangible red object. Orange does not have the same number of "unique" shade names. In fact, of the list below, only ONE is not also the name of a fruit, spice, mineral, or flower! 

Tenné/Tenny/Tawny - This brownish shade of orange is used by sports clubs, schools, and even the South African army at one time. Tenny is cute and has a nickname sounds. Tawny has a history of use as a name for girls and has a nice ring to it.

Rust/Rusty - This strikes me as a "cowboy" name as my sister would call it, goes with names like Dirk, Wayne, Tex and Colt/Colton. Rusty was a ranked baby name in the U.S. from 1946-1995, topping out at 328th in 1961.
Amber - One of the more common "orange" color names, a semi-precious gem formed when tree resin petrifies. Amber was pretty popular back in the 80s and early nineties, currently ranked 260th. It might be a "Mom" name now, but its still beautiful.
Amber can come in a variety of shades.

Saffron - Commonly known as the most expensive spice, Saffron is derived from a Crocus. It would make a lovely name for boy or girl, though I particularly like it for a girl because for some reason I think of nicknaming her Sassy. (Though with Seb for Sebastian, and Sep for Septimus or Guiseppi and Sef (occasionally) for Joseph, a little Saf would fit in quite well).
Poppy - A beautiful vibrantly orange flower, Poppy has never been a top 1000 names, which sort of suprises me. It does have a "nickname" ring, but there are plenty nicknames that are ranked.
Ginger- I debated what color to put Ginger under. My husband thinks of it as red (as it is a nickname for red heads), it can be pink when pickled, yellow when ground and dried, with all that in mind I put it under orange. The main problem with using Ginger as name IS the fact it is derogatory slang for a red head. That said, it has quite a history of use.

Pumpkin - This might be a bit of a stretch as a given name, but many previously "term of endearment" words have been used before.
Persimmon - While unique, I really like this option for a boy. While it is pronounced differently, (per- sim - um), it visually has the name Simon in it (pronounced Sigh-mon). You could use Simon as a nickname, or Pers. For a girl, nickname Simi. 
Clementine - I have been a fan of this name since seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in college, a unique movie about love and memory. It is a name that everyone has heard but no one thinks of - thanks to the song "Oh my Darling Clementine". Admittedly not the most happy song. Clementine has not been in the top 1000 since 1953. but I knew a couple Clementine's born in the past year or two and I think its about to surge and make a reappearance.
Tangerine - If Clementine can be a name, why not Tangerine? Yes, a bit more of a stretch again. but still seems quite viable to me.

All the names above are actual shades of orange, or closely associated with a shade of orange. Below are three other options, all "real" names that have a connection to the color orange somehow. Coincidentally, all of them are girls names.
Lantana - A county in Florida, but also a small flower that can sometimes be orange. (Kind of a double orange meaning to me since Florida is known for oranges). Possible nicknames Lana or Ana.
Nerola- An Italian name meaning "orange flower"
Valencia - A type of orange (named for the region they come out of), or a girls name of Latin origin meaning "strong and healthy".

Do any orange names appeal to you?

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The independent film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is about a group of British elderly that for various reasons go to India, to Marigold Hotel, an old folks home. The movie offers some great names because most of the main characters are elderly - that generation of names that is currently being revived (Just look at Evelyn). The rest of the characters are Indian, names not used much in the USA. 

The English
Evelyn - Enjoying a recent surge of popularly, Evelyn is a name with diverse origins and meanings. It has been in the top 100 for the past 10 years, ranking 24th in 2011. It has great nickname options like Evi and Lynie

Norman - Unlike Evelyn, Normal has been dropping in popularity and is currently ranked 910. It is of Old German origin and means northerner.

Madge - This is a nickname for Margaret that has been lost to the ages in favor of Maggie and Margo. I think its retro feel fits perfectly with Hattie and Millie, which are rapidly on the rise. It has not been in the top 1000 since 1948, maybe it will come back soon?

Graham - Current ranked 255th, Graham is at its most popular point since statistics were tracked for America.  It is of Old England origin and refers to a gravelly area.

Douglas - This name was discussed briefly during the Christmas post as a possible Christmas name due to Douglas pines (or, for me, the song Douglas Mountain). Douglas is a place name of Gaelic origin meaning black river. It has the nickname Dougie (or Doug), which I think is cute despite the recent associated dance. Douglas has been slowly declining in popularity since a high of 23rd in 1942. Perhaps it should start a slow rise again soon.

Muriel - I am a big fan of Mir/Mur names. Unfortunately my husband is not. Muriel is a great example. It reminds me of the words mural and miracle, both positive associations. Muriel has not been in the top 1000 since 1964. It is of Irish origin and means sparkling sea.

Judith - Another name, like Douglas, that has been declining since the 40s (when it got as high as 4th), but has since been steadily declining. The adorable nickname Judy is something to consider.

Jean - Simple and sweet, this is a variant on Jane or John and means God is gracious.

The Indians
Sonny - Despite being the first of the "Indian" names, Sonny is actually of English origin, perfectly reflecting how entwined India and Britain are. Sonny could be a short form of names like Santino and might be worth a "How to get your nickname" post.

Sunaina - Sanskrit for Beautiful Eyes, what a lovely meeting! Pronounced Suh-nen-uh.This could have nicknames like Sunny or Nena.

Anokhi - Sanskrit for Unique, pronounced uh-no-kee. Unfortunately to me this sounds a bit too much like Nokia, the brand, but it is pretty.

Gaurika - Sanskrit for pretty girl, pronounced gah-ree-ka.This feels like a play on Erica or Enrique.

Manoj - Sanskrit for "born of mind", pronounced muh-no-j.

So what do you think? Will Madge make a comeback? Would you consider an Indian name?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Harry Potter Alphabet: F is for Filius

Sorry for my absenteeism. I have no excuse. I have lots of post ideas boiling, hopefully I will be able to get more out to you soon. Now onto the F names in Harry Potter!

Fleur - French for "flower", a nice option for a nature name. (Fleur Delacour)

Frederick - With the adorable nickname Fred or Freddie, this old German name meaning peaceful ruler might be due for a resurgence. It is right on trend with other names coming back now like Charles (Charlie) and Henry (Hank). (Fred Weasley)

Firenze - This is the Italian and German word for the city of Florence. It is pronounced Fur-en-zee. Florence means flowering or in bloom, but I would view Firenze as a place name. In the movie this is a male character, but I think it could work quite well for a girl.

Filius - I cannot find a history of this being a name, it appears to be the Latin word for son. If you like the sound of Philip but want something more unique, this might fit the bill. (Filius Flitwick)

Frank - A shortening of Francis meaning french man or Franklin meaning free land owner, this has been used as a stand alone name for centuries. Frankie is an adorable nickname and matches things like (Frank Bryce)

Florean- The more traditional spelling is Florian, and its Latin and Slavic for flower, a masculine version of Flora. (Florean Flortescue)

Fabian - An old Roman name referring to a tribe. Pronounced Fay-bee-en, with other Roman names coming back (like Magnus and Octavian), this could be a good option. (Fabian Prewett)

Fawkes - To me, Fawkes sounds like a last name first sort of deal. It could also be seen as a variant of the "real" baby name Fawke, which is a variant on Fulke, which is Old English for people (think Folk).

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Birthday Party

My husband and I spent this afternoon at a party for a 3 year old girl and 5 year old boy. I found myself fascinated by the collection of names at the party. The kids ranged from 13m (my son) to maybe 15? Most of the kids were related in someway, though not all and I cannot tell you what the sibsets are. It was pretty confusing with all the kids running around!

Chase - This sleek one syllable name has been in the top 100 since 1995 but never made the top 50. It is popular but not over the top popular, and it has a fresh sound. It is Old English/French and means Huntsman. Or, I guess it can be a "word as name" if you prefer.

Sullivan - Last name as first name, with the adorable nickname Sully (ala Monster's Inc), Sullivan has been a very slow rise since the late 90s, and is currently in the five-hundreds in popularity. It means "dark eyes" in Gaelic.

Benjamin - With the rest of the names on this list, its no surprise that one of the grandparents of most of the other children commented "Oh, his name is Benjamin? Such a nice old name!". She meant it entirely as a complement. Benjamin is Hebrew (first appearing in the bible), meaning "Son of the south" or "son of my right hand". Despite Grandma's surprise, there are plenty of little Benjamin's running around. It ranked 19th in 2011 and has been on a slow rise.

A.J. - Clearly not a name, but a nickname. I think initial nicknames don't get nearly the attention they deserve. They can solve a lot of naming dilemmas, such as wanting to give the child an honor name but either not loving the sound of it or not being practical to use it. I wonder what this A.J. stands for? Andrew Jacob? Allen Joseph? Alister Jude?

Kairi - I was shocked to find this actually IS in the top 1000! Just crept in their at 962 in 2010 (the year this little girl was born). It comes from a video game "Kingdom of Hearts" and means ocean princess (a more direct Japanese translation would be ocean village, but I think the video game meaning is probably where the name is coming from).

Kenley - Another name that only recently made the top 1000, but unlike Kairi is rapidly climbing - from 994 in 2008 to 491 in 2011. Kenley is Old English and "last name as first name" and means "King's meadow".

Meghan - Originally a nickname or form of Margaret, it has long stood as its own name. It is a name on the decline, dropping from 134 in 2000 to 739 in 2011.

Kendra - This name has many possible derivations. One is Welsh and meaning "greatest champion". Kendra has been slowly dropping in popularity and is currently at 293 (in 2011).

Rowa - What a unique name! A slightly more feminized version of Rowan perhaps? Or perhaps this was just her nickname? I am not sure. One source says Rowa means "beautiful vision", but I am not sure if its reliable. Rowa could be short for Rowena or, well basically any of the girls names discussed as source names for nickname Ro! It does not appear in the top 1000 in any year.

Opal - A nature name, the birthstone for October is iridescent. The name is of Hindi and sanskrit origins. I grew up with an Opal and always thought it was a beautiful name with a great meaning, so I was charmed to find it on another little beauty. It dropped out of the top 1000 in 1961, but with other gemstone names like Ruby on the rise, I would not be shocked to see it make a reappearance soon!

Nora - I have seen a lot of this name on Swistle's blog, she loves to recommend it, and she is right on trend as it has been steadily rising for the past 15 or so years and is currently 137th (in 2011) . It can be derived in several ways, most commonly as a shortened form of Eleanor.

What do you think? Would you use any of these names?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Get Your Nickname: Ettie

With Emma having been in the top 5 for ten years now, I think she has run her course. Ella, meanwhile, has been on her climb to the top. "Ev" names are also quite popular and rising (with Eva and Evelyn both in the top 100, and Evie, Eve farther back but all four climbing). It is unsurprising that people are finding the option of "Ettie" as a nickname as charming. I have particularly been hearing a lot of buzz around the name "Henrietta" as a source for Ettie, though it has not been in the top 1000 since 1968. It and its derivative Harriet may soon be making comebacks!

I think Ettie is an adorable nickname, but by no means are you limited to Henrietta as the source. Since posting about my unused girls name from when my son was born, Cosette, I have been intending to post about "names ending in ette". And here it is. "Ette' is a diminutive ending in French. That means that it makes a word become smaller, cuter, more feminine (in German "chen" serves the same purpose". It is kind of like adding an "ie" or "y" to something in English, though much more clear and more common than that.

Because of this role of "ette" in French, there are MANY names with it as an ending, and it can be added to almost any root name to get a feminine alternative. I cannot possible touch on all "ette" names here. If you would like to see more, check out this list, which claims to have 204th, though I am sure there are duplicates based on how they count. (The list of names ending in Etta is 172 long and is largely overlap.)

My favorite options for getting the nickname Ettie:


Do you like the nickname Ettie? What long name would you pick to get there? Obviously, I am a fan of Cosette, but I also love many of the other options.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Harry Potter Alphabet - E is for Everard

OK. I think I found a more comprehensive Harry Potter character list, so back to the alphabet! Credit to John Denker for compiling it. I may have to go back and update the earlier posts at some point, but for now lets keep moving forward!! Also, from now on I have decided to make the lists as comprehensive as possible, but only discussing the a interesting names! So, here are the "E"s!

Elphias and Elfric I cannot find a source or meaning of these specific name. They are rather whimsical with the  "elf" sound. I searched for similar names and could not find a boys name that starts with Elph. There is Elfred which means elf and Elford which is old English and means "old place. While Elfric sounds like it came out of a fantasy novel, I think Elphias is quite usable. (Elphias Doge) (Elfric the Evil).

Emeric - I went to High School with an Emeric and always thought it was a very unique name. Emeric is old German and means home ruler. It turns out I was quite right, as Emeric has not been in the top 1000 names in the past 100 years (or likely ever). With "Emma" number one for  girls for quite sometime, why not "Em" names for boys?  (Emeric Switch)

Everard - I really like this name. I have been seeing Everett around a lot lately (seems to pop up on Swistle's blog a lot!) , and I think Everard is the rarer brother. Everard is old English and means "brave, strong boar". There is also a German version, Eberhard. (Headmaster Everard)

Ernie - In the U.S. Ernie is strongly associated with Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert. Ernie is short of Ernest, which means "serious, battle to the death". For me, Ernest is associated with stupid comedic movies featuring a character Ernest P Worrell. Because of these associations, iw ould not consider the name, but there are also more classic references like Ernest Hemingway and Archduke Ernest of Austria  (Ernie McMillan) (Ernie Prang)

Errol - This is a version or Earl and means "nobleman" (as in the title Earl - Earl of Sandwich etc). Since Earl has take on a "white trash" connotation in the U.S. (solidified by sitcom My Name is Earl), Errol offers a nice alternative (Errol the Owl)

Euan -  This is a classic Scottish name meaning "born of the yew tree". Alternate spelling Ewan, like actor Ewan McGregor might be more pronounceable for the American public. (Euan Abercrombie)
Edgar (Edgar Bones)

Elfrida -  Remember the discussion above about "elf" names? Well unlike Elphias and Elfric, Elfrida is a "real" name of OLD English origin, which means elf, or "magical being". (Elfrida Cragg)

Emmaline - Emma too popular for you but you like the sound? Or perhaps you like Emma as a nickname but want something longer or more formal. If so, here is your girl. Emmaline has not been in the top 1000 names since 1915, and back then it was at 994! There are many possible meanings depending on how you derive the name. Alternate spelling Emeline is German for "peaceful home".   (Emmaline Vance)

Enid - For me, Enid is a Barenaked Ladies song of the same title. However, to other ears it might be an old name that is ripe for a comeback. It is Welsh and means soul or life (Great Aunt Enid)

The more mainstream names: Eleanor (Eleanor Branstone), Emma (Emma Dobbs), Eloise (Eloise Midgeon), Eric (Eric Munch)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Name Rainbow - Red

 I have stumbled upon a couple of new-to-me names recently that happen to have a color meaning. Color names are in a whole category of their own and can be quite wonderful. I know one family IRL that has four daughters, all of whom have color names! There is just something wonderful, bright, and playful about color names. So of course, I need to explore them more! I will start off by going in rainbow order- ROY. G. BIV, and then tack some additional colors on the end (black and white for sure! We will see what else gets left out...)

So, first up is red!

Let me first admit that the sex identification of these are totally of my making...

Shades of red: 

Other names that have red in the meaning: Clancy, Harkin, Jasper, Radcliff, Leroux, Phoenix Redley, Rogan, Rowan, Roy, Rufus, Ruston, Shani, Sorrell

My favorite name on this list is Vermillion. I love that it has elements of other masculine names like Vernon and Maximilian, but is unique. I also love Rufous, so close to Rufus but just a tad different.

Shades of red: 

Other names that have red in the meaning: Begonia, Cinnabar,  Phoenix, Rowan, Rufina, Suri, Ula]

So many great options! Carmine is a "real" name with meaning of "garden orchard", but I might like this meaning more. Cerise is soft and flowing, and is again a "real" name, it is the French word for Cherry (and really that is the color it is as well). Claret is a different take on the "real" name "Clarette", it is a French version of Clare.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Junior

Today in the US is Martin Luther King Jr day. It is a day to commemorate not just one great leader, but all those who struggled and struggle for civil rights. A worthy set of namesakes for sure!

The most obvious names to honor this day of course come directly from the name - naming a boy Martin, or Luther, or even King. 

Luther is the most obvious honor choice, it will probably lead to the question "like Martin Luther?" Yes. Exactly. Luther means "Soldier of the people", very fitting. 

Martin is the more subtle option, there are many Martin's in this world and someone would have to tell their naming story for the connection to be made. Martin is Latin and means "servant of Mars" - the war god.

King as a first name is of course the most aggressive and edgy, it would not fly everywhere as some countries do not allow titles as first names, but here in the U.S. it would strike us as odd, but not over the top, especially if the reference was brought up.

The two other names directly related to Martin Luther King that I discovered would be Dexter, after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where MLKjr lead, or the word as a name option Dream after the famous "I have a Dream" speach.

A speech, which by the way, got most of its bulk when fellow activist Mahalia Jackson shouted out "tell them about the dream," (at least in legend if not fact), causing MLK depart from his script. Mahalia is Hebrew and means "tender one".

After MLK was assassinated, his wife Coretta Scott King carried on the work. Coretta is a version of Cora, which means maiden. Scott means "from Scotland" or "Scotsman".

While MLK was the most famous civil rights activist here in America, there are plenty of other options to choose from. Some options:

Howard Thurman - MLKs mentor and fellow activist, speaker of the inspiring/famous but often mis-credited quote ""Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is pe"ople who have come alive."

Bayard Rustin - A follower of Gandhi who taught MLK about nonviolence, helped to organize the March on Washington.

Ralph Abernathy - Founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which MLK lead and was used to organize most of the big nonviolent protests.

Roy Wilkins , Whitney Young, Philip Randolph, John Lewis, and James Farmer Jr - The other main organizers of the March on Washington, and representatives of the "Big Six" civil rights organizations of the day.

Of course we can't leave out the other women!

 Famously, Rosa Parks  would not give up her spot on the bus, but it was actually Claudette Colvin, a fifteen year old, who first refused to obey the bus segregation. And it was Aurelia Browder whose case of sitting on the wrong part of a bus was taken to the supreme court to help overturn the Jim Crow laws.

Enough history, back to these names. I would am particularly interested in Claudette, which is a feminine version of "Claude" and it manes lame. Aurelia, what a beauty, is Latin and means "Golden." Bayard is French and means "Auburn Hair". I think Rustin could also make a lovely first name for a boy. It means "Rust's Estate" and is a last-name-as-first-name.


Of course, while the civil rights movement is history, there is still many groups fighting for equal rights, most notably, those with different sexual preferences. If you are looking for a more modern inspiration for a civil rights activist, try something from the following list: 

Harvey Bernard Milk
Frank Kameny
Stephen Donaldson
Barbara Gittings
Craig Rodwell

I can picture a little Harvey or Bernard running around, can you?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Harry Potter Alphabet: D is for Draco

Dennis - Dennis is of Greek origin and means follower of Dionysus. It peeked in popularity in America in 1949 at #16 and has slowly fallen since then, currently sitting at 413. I think it could be due for a comeback, with a great nickname like Denny, and the "s" ending that seems to be on its way up  (Dennis Creevey)

Dobby - So Dobby is not a "real" name. But I like it. Especially as a nickname - a slight twist on Toby or Robby.  "Real" names that could lead to it are limited. Dobbs is pretty much the only option I have found - not many names begin with Dob it turns out!  (Dobby the Houseelf)

Dirk - This is a Danish variant of Derek, which means "the peoples ruler" in Old German. It fits with a trend that I had heard called "surfer" names, or those my sister refers to as "Cowboy" names -  Grant, Keith, Troy, etc. In fact, Dirk is ON that list of surfer names! (Dirk Cresswell)

Dudley - Old English, meaning people's field, this name makes me think of my brother's stuffed dog from when we were little. (Dudley Dursley)

Draco - I actually like the name Draco quite a bit! For that reason I am almost sad it is used in Harry Potter because this is a bad guy. It is a version of Drake and means Dragon in middle English. It features that popular "o" ending! (Draco Malfoy)
Dean (Dean Thomas)

Dolores - This name has appeared on the blog once before as an example of a name you might not want to honor directly. The meaning "sorrows", does not add charm either. But it has a lot of nice nicknames, like Lori and Dori (Dolores Umbridge)

Dilys - This is a Welsh name meaning "perfect" or "truth". It is the most unique name on this list, and with that lovely meaning perhaps deserves more attention. (Dilys Derwent)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Duggar Challenge

The Duggars are a family made famous by reality television. They had a number of TLC specials, and then eventually a TLC show, following the (very planned) "adventures" of their "Quiverfull" family. "Quiverfull" is a religious philosophy of reproduction in which no birth control is used (with few exceptions). The idea is to accept any children as gifts from god. Not everyone's cup of tea, but what it does mean is that they choose A LOT of baby names. In the case of the Duggars, they also chose to stick with a letter them. All J names. They currently have 19 living children and one deceased child (stillborn at 20 weeks). Their eldest son has also started a family already and appears to be going with an "M" theme.

Thus, the Duggar challenge is to choose 20 baby names that start with the same letter, and do not get confusing or sound bad together. Oh, and you have to like them! After all, these are your kids names.

Here are the names of the real Duggar children.

Jackson, Jana
Jason, James
Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jessa, Jennifer
Jill, Jinger
Joshua, John, Jordyn (f),
Joseph, Josiah, Johanna, Josie

Did you figure out how they are sorted? It's not age.

What this "challenge" really got me focusing on was phonetics - how the same first letter can fit together with others to make very different sounds. Thus the above list is sorted by vowel sound - short A, long A, short E (long E is absent), short I (long I is absent), Short O, Long O, Short U, Long U, Diphthongs (oi/oy, au/ow). These various vowels mean that for almost any consonant, you have at least 12 different "sound" options. Any consonants that can be paired offer additional options - (ex:  Bl, Pr, Ch, St, etc). Some consonants make multiple sounds - C can sound like K or S,and here J can take on a Y sound (Johanna).

The above sibset is relatively varied, but has a lot of repetition around the long o, I mean Joseph, and Josie are variants of the same name and Josiah is not far off. Joy-Anna and Johanna are also a bit too close for my comfort. I would like to see a Jane, Jade, Jewel, Jean, or June instead.

But could I do any better?

I started playing around with some letters. I started with B, since I already had a Benjamin, and found that while I easily could get ten boy's names I like that start with B, I could get almost no where with girls. So, onto some other letters. The first letter I was successful at turned out to be "L"

So here is my answer to the Duggar Challenge:

Lazlo, Landon, Laurel
Lane (g)
Learner, Lester, Lexi,
Lief, Leander, Liesl
Lily, Lydia, Lisbeth, Lincoln
Lola, Logan
Lucian, Louisa

I think this list is pretty good - no repeated root names (no Lucy to match my Lucian), no sound alike names (no Lorah and Laurel), and they are pretty spread out in terms of vowel sounds. My biggest remaining concern about it is that Lexi is more of a nickname than I would normally prefer. There are a few names in here that I LOVE (Lazlo has been a favorite since I read The Alienist), but most of them are just names I like, not love. And that is really the problem with a naming theme like this, you are locked in to finding the best of names you like instead of that one name you love.

This post has mostly been for my amusement. What do you think, could you name 20 kids with the same letter? Can you even imagine having that many kids? I am not sure I can....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Get Your Nickname: Ro

A few weeks ago, when I posted about names meaning peace, I mentioned the name Ro. It is a word that means piece in a Micronesian language. For some reason, it really stuck with me, but I don't think I could ever use a two-letter name, and single syllable names really do not sound well with my one syllable last name. However, I think Ro could be an adorable nickname for either sex. So today we have our first double gender how to get your nickname post!

Spelling Options
Ro is the simplest and would give the meaning I described above.
Rho is kind of edgy and is a letter in the Greek alphabet.
Row is a little substantive, but is a word of course, and not a particularly interesting one. 
Roe has the surname feel. Unfortunately, Roe is also associated with the controversial abortion decision Roe vs Wade, and its the spelling that means "fish eggs" in terms of sushi.

This list is by no means complete. You could really use Ro for a lot of names that do not have the sound in them, for example, Robert. Also, there are some single syllable names that could be shortened even more to Ro, but if a name is already that short, does it really need to be shorter (Example: Rhodes). I am going to focus on names that actually have the sound Ro in them for the most part, or some options that might be a little less obvious.

Rowan - I feel like this is one of the most obvious choices, mainly because its trendy right now (for both boy and girl). It is Gaelic in origin and means "little red head" and is also a plant name.

Rohan - Similar to Rowan but with a little twist, this is actually from Lord of the Rings. It is a place name, the kingdom of horses.

Roland - This is of old German origin and means "renowned land". It is actually related to Orlando.

Rodolfo - An Italian take on the Old German "Rudolph", meaning famous wolf.

Rogan - This is gaelic, and like Rowan, also means red head. It could also be viewed as "last name as first name" and is currently associated with comedic actor Seth Rogan

Roman - Forget Roman style names, just use Roman. This is latin and means citizen of Rome.

Romeo - And Juliet? Of course this will forever have the strong Shakspearian reference, but it does have the popular "o" ending. It is an Italian version of Roman.

Rover - This is a name that may have become too strongly associated as a pet name to be taken seriously, but with many other similar "pet" names making comebacks (Bailey, Milo, Shep), why not Rover? It is middle English in origin and means traveller.

Roosevelt - Last name as first name, presidential style. This is Danish in origin and also a place name it means rose field. I think this is probably my favorite source for the nickname on this list because it feels long and classic, and there is not another obvious nickname for it, yet Ro is somehow still unexpected from it.

Arrow - A word name, this would be unique and edgy.

Eros - Eros is the Greek god of love. With other Greek and Roman names on the rise, why not this one?

Charro - This name is Spanish/South American in origin and means cowboy.

Darrow - Old English in origin, also a last name as first name, means spear.

Tyrone - This name is surprisingly Gaelic in origin and means Owen's country. Another possibe variant is Kyrone.

Jerome - Greek in origin, meaning "sacred name", also a saint name.

The long "o" sound appears less in girls names as a rule than it does in boys names, perhaps indicating the sound has a more masculine feel to it for English speakers. That is not to say there are no options, just fewer.

Rowan - As mentioned above, this is a gender neutral name these days, meaning little red head in Gaelic.

Rowena - An old German name meaning fame and happiness. A literary reference to Ivanhoe, or Harry Potter, also historically an Anglo-Saxon princess.

Roanne - A variant form of Rowan.

Romaine  - French in origin, this means "Citizen of Rome", is also a last name as first name.

Romy - Romy already has a nickname feel so I am not sure it needs shortening, and it reminds those of us born in the 80s of "Romy any Michelle's High School Reunion". It is a sh. ortened form of Rosemary  .

Aurora - This is Latin and origin and means dawn, also the Roman goddess of sunrise, also part of the name of the northern lights (Aurora Borealis).

Verona - Depending on who you ask, this is either a variation of Veronica (Latin, meaning "true image"), or a place name after Verona Italy - the setting of three of Shakespeare's plays, including Romeo and Juliet.

I also wanted to add a note about Rose. Pretty much any "rose" based name could also shorten to Ro, but there are so many of them I did not feature them here. Perhaps a "rose" post is in my future!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Literary Inspiration: Girl with a Pearl Earring

I recently finished reading Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. It is set in 17th Century Holland and is historical fiction about the girl who is the subject of the painting that shares its title with the book. I was fascinated by the main characters name, and pleased by some of the minor characters, so I thought I would feature it on the blog. It became even more fascinating when I realized that over half the names in the book are real people, and that I was dealing with part of a real-life massive sibling set! Ready for this? It could get long....

Fictional Characters
The main character is named Griet, pronounced "greet". The name seemed very unique and I was curious where it came from. Some googling revealed its a nickname for Margriet, the dutch version of Margaret. The meaning is pearl.  I think Margriet is charming spin on the popular English name . and Griet could be a unique nickname.

Griet's sister in the book is named Agnes. I most closely associate the name Agnes with a folk song called "Lovely Agnes", which is a very positive association for me. Agnes is Greek in origin and means "pure and holy". The most obvious nickname, Aggie, is a common nickname for the beautiful stones called agates in my neck of the woods. I feel like Agnes fits in well with a lot of other rising old-school names like Ester, Ethel, Harriet, and Stella.

Griet and Agnes also have a brother named Frans. Frans is a variant of Francis, which is Latin and means "frenchman" or "free man". There are a number of other similar variants of the name Francis like Frantz, Franzen, and Franchesco. Frans seems a bit foreign and mysterious, but still familiar like Hans. I think this could have a lot of appeal.

Griet is courted by a butcher's son, Pieter. This is a Dutch/German spelling of the name Peter (same pronunciation). With parents loving unique spellings its a nice option. Peter is a Greek name meaning rock.

Griet works with another made named Tanneka. I have been unable to track any history or origin to this. It feels like a variation on Anneka or perhaps Danica. I am going to go with Danica because its Danish in origin. It means "morning star'.

Historical Figures
The book includes many members of Johannes Vermeer's family. Johannes (pronounced yo-hon-es) is a variation of John, and means "god is gracious". It is a slightly longer and softer version than Johann (like Johann Sebarstian Bach). The Germanic J (sounding like Y), might cause some pronunciation issues, but not so many its unusable. The last name,. Vermeer, could also make an interesting boy's name, particularly if you are fond of Vermeer's work.

Johannes is married to Catharina, which is derived from the very similar Catherine. Origins are Greek and these names mean "pure". I have heard Katerina and Catherine, but I have not seen the in-between option of Catherina, which has both the soft "th" sound and the soft a ending. It is very beautiful. Nickname options could be Cathy, Ari, or Rina (along with the less obvious options like Cat, Kitty).

Now here is the crazy part. Catharina and Johannes had 10 children! Not all of them are featured in the book, but the real life sibset was:  Maria, Elisabeth, Cornelia, Aleydis, Beatrix, Johannes, Gertruyd, Franciscus, Catharina, and Ignatius. What a mix of "common" names (Maria, Elisabeth), old fashioned (but possibly new again?) names (Cornelia, Beatrix, Gertruyd, Franciscus) and unique names (Aleydis and Ignatius).

I feel like Beatrice and Beatrix are ripe for a rise. They have that classic feel to them like other names growing in popularity- Harriet, Eleanor, Mathilda, and the adorable nickname options of Bea for the reserved or Trixie for the playful (to match the nicknames Hattie, Ellie, and Tilly for example). Beatrix means "voyageur through life" and is Latin in origin.

I also have been growing fond of Cornelia, since it featured in my Thanksgiving post. It means horn. I like then nickname Neila.

With a discussion of Francis up above, I don't think Franciscus needs more discussion.

Gertruyd, a variation on Gertrude, is probably the least likely to rise from this bunch IMO, but still possible. Trudy is another nickname and a more modern variant. Gertruyd means "good spear" in old German.

Ignatius is actually a Harry Potter name, so I would have gotten to it eventually. It is most likely derived from Latin and means burning fire (like "to ignite"). Possible nicknames or variations are Iggy, Ignace, or Inigo (Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, prepare to die!)

Aleydis is more mysterious. There is a saint Aleydis, patron saint of the blind and paralyzed. I am unsure of the pronunciation of this name, but it is a variation of Adelaide, another old gorgeous name ripe for rise. Adelaide means "noble and kind".

Author's Variation
Then there are the "common" names. Maria and Elisabeth. I have a feeling that the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring is a nameaholic, because these names were just too ordinary for her! In the book, she named these two girls Maertga and Lisbeth. Perhaps she just meant Lisbeth as a nickname for the true Elisabeth (a beautiful nickname or alternate name!), but Maertga is not just a nickname for Maria. Actually, Maertga does appear in Vermeer's family tree- it is his aunt! I cannot find any record on what this name means or its derivation.

What do you think? If you made it through the post, do any of the names from this book strike your fancy? I know a couple of the will stick with me!