Friday, May 19, 2017

Girls Nicknames So Dated They're Cute

Some nicknames from times passed were used as given names on formal records, such as Lucie instead of Lucille or Lucinda, or Evie instead of Eve, just as is done today. There are other nicknames that are undeniably vintage, like Hattie or Icy. Some of them have already made a comeback, and some have yet to be rediscovered. Let's delve into the so-dated-they're-adorable nicknames, with possible full formal names that could go on the birth record.

Nan - traditionally used for Nancy, but also sometimes Anna. Nanetta also works, but there's a wealth of other names containing the element 'nan' that might be good for Nan as a nickname. Nancy was given to 306 girls in 2016, a rank of #900
Etty - sometimes used for Harriet or Henrietta, sometimes for Etta, and sometimes for Esther, but today you could use Etty as a nickname for anything starting with Et- including Eternity. Etty was given to 23 girls in 2016
Effy/Effie - typically used for Euphemia, you could reasonably use this for anything beginning in Ef-
Roz - for Rozlyn/Roslyn. Rozlyn was given to 74 girls in 2016, Roslynn to 28, and Roslyn to 215. Roz could work for any Roz- or Ros- name, such as Rozanna or Rosalyn
Mimi - a pet form of Miriam, but it could arguably be used for anything beginning with Mi- especially anything with another m in the middle, or starting and ending with m
Peggy - comes from Margaret, but could be used as a standalone name. Peggy was given to 19 girls in 2016
Mindy - also could be used as a standalone name, but she's short for Melinda, which was only given to 138 girls in 2016. She was brought back to attention thanks to a character in the movie "Kickass," and given to 88 girls in 2016
Dottie - used for Dorothy, she has a retro vibe. Dorothy ranked at #652 but Dottie was given to 36 girls in 2016
Elfie - a nickname for Elfreda/Elfrida, neither spelling used in 2016, nor was Elfie. I would say Elfie could also be used as a nickname for Delphine/Delfina, thought vintage nickname Della could also work for those two. Delphine was given to 45 girls in 2016 and Delfina to 27
Kitty - Kitty is just a bit more vintage of a nickname than Kathy or Katie for Katherine. Kitty was given to 7 girls in 2016
Ginny - used for both Virginia and Ginevra (as seen on the Harry Potter character). Ginny was given to 23 girls in 2016, while Ginevra was given to only 15, and Virginia to 599 with a rank of #517
Mitzi - comes from Mary/Maria through German, and Miriam. Mitzi was given to 16 girls in 2016
Madge - for Margaret, because I don't think Marge is quite ready
Bess - Bessie was given to 8 girls in 2016, Bess to 6
Maidie, Maida - some say Maida is an American name meaning "maiden," while others say it's a nickname for Magdalena. Maidah was given to 5 girls in 2016, Maida to 43, and Maidie to none
Mackie - a rarity used as a nickname for Macaria, which was given to 5 girls in 2016, Mackie to none
Dolly - made famous by Dolly Parton and the movie "Hello, Dolly." This one also comes from Dorothy, but Dolly has been used as a given name since the 17th century. Dolly was given to 41 girls in 2016
Nell - while Nell could be used for a multitude of names containing the same letters in that sequence, it came from Helen, Ellen and Eleanor. Nelle was a spelling given to 17 girls in 2016, Nellie to 200, Nelly to 104, and Nell to 69 (I'll also mention Nella, given to 58)
Tillie - traditionally used for Matilda
Millie - used for Millicent and other names with 'mill' in them, such as Camilla
Mamie - if you aren't familiar with Mamie, pronounced similarly to Ma'am, you'd never guess it was a nickname for Mary
Edie - pronounced EE-dee, this is short for Edith, which was given to 631 girls in 2016
Fanny - while I think Fannie Fern, others might still think about butts. Still, Fanny was given to 28 girls in 2016
Flory/Florrie & Flossie - traditionally used as nicknames for Florence, which was given to 246 girls in 2016
Minnie - this is usually Minerva's nickname, but it's been used on its own - Minnie Driver, Minnie Mouse. Minnie was given to 65 girls in 2016, Minerva to 65 as well
Dilly - has been used as a nickname for Daffodil. There might be some hesitation with these names, as is always the case. Neither was used in 2016
Franny - a nickname for Frances that has fallen out of favor. Frances was given to 716 girls in 2016, a rank of #446
Bridie - this wasn't used in the U.S. so much as Ireland, where it comes from Brighid. Still, Bridie was given to 5 girls in 2016
Bab, or Babs - for Barbara, which still ranks after all this time at #856
Cressa and Cressie - used for Cressida, more well known in England, but these could also work well for Crescentia. Cressida was given to 10 girls in 2016, Crescentia none, and neither nickname was used
Trudy - from Gertrude, which was given to 36 girls in 2016, Trudy to 24
Gussie - traditionally used for Augusta, which was given to a mere 25 girls in 2016, despite masculine August ranking on the boy's side at #193
Hetty - for Henrietta, which was given to 65 girls in 2016. Hetty was not used as a given name
Kizzie - Keziah/Kesiah
Lollie - Charlotte, but I think this would do well as a nickname for Lollia, Eulalia or Lolita. Lollie wasn't used last year, but Lolly was given to 7 girls.
Connie - not sure how "vintage" Connie really is, but it's uncommon enough that it could see a boost. Connie was given to 73 girls in 2016, full form Constance to 150
Mina - is a name in its own right and definitely works on its own, but it has been used as a nickname for Wilhelmina. It was given to 380 girls in 2016, a rank of #744. Wilhelmina was given to 114 girls
Vinnie - used as a nickname for Lavinia, but today it could be used on more international names like Vincenza or Vilhelmina. Vinnie and Vinny were not used in 2016, but Lavinia was given to 75 girls

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


This name is currently worn by actor Idris Elba, whose birth name was Idrissa. He was born in the U.K. and his birth name name is of Krio African origin, chosen by his parents who came from countries in Africa. Guinean professional footballer Idrissa Sylla is an example of the African name as well.

Idris, as he shortens it, happens to be an ancient Welsh name meaning "ardent lord," pronounced IDD-riss. In legend, Idris Gawr was a leader of giants, and a mountain in Snowdonia was given his name - Cadair Idris, or "Idris's Chair." As a name it can be found as far back as the 6th century, but it was not really used in Britain until the 19th century.

Alternately, Idris is also an Arabic name meaning "lengthy learning," although some say it means "interpreter." It is most commonly pronounced idd-REES. This form of the name is worn by one the second prophet of Islam. He is sometimes identified as Enoch, from the Bible, because of his character description: "trustworthy," "patient," and "exalted."

Many people have had this name in real life, from all over the world. Idris of Libya was a Libyan politican, religious leader, and King of Libya from 1951 to 1969. General Idriss Déby Itno is a Chadian politician who is currently President of Chad. Two other politicians include Idris Waziri of Nigeria, and Idris Naim Sahin of Turkey. Idris Seabright was used as a pseudonym for author Margaret St. Clair. Idrees Sulieman was a trumpet player who was born Leonard Graham, and he changed his name upon converting to Islam. Idris Muhammad was a jazz drummer who did the same, changing his name from Leo Morris. The poet Idris Davies and the activist Idris Cox are two examples of namesakes from Wales.

There was also a royal line in Morocco, where Idris I and Idris II ruled the Idrisid Dynasty from 788 to 791, 791 to 828. Idris I, great-grandson of the prophet Muhammad, is credited with bringing Islam to Morocco. Idris II was born a couple months after the death of his father, so his Berber mother Kenza raised him among the Berbers, where he became very accomplished. As sultan, he refounded the city of Fez, unified Morocco through Islam, and left behind a legacy of monarchy that was continued for over a thousand years.

Used since at least 1914 in the U.S., the spelling Idris was given to 138 boys in 2015 and 175 in 2016. The spelling Idriss was only given to 11 boys in 2015, 13 in 2016, and the name Idrissa was given to 8 boys in 2015, 7 in 2016.

Idris has also been used in Mary Shelley's The Last Man, but as the name of a woman. The character is described as very loving. There are other delightful names in this book as well, such as Perdita, Merrival and Evadne.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Rarest Names of 2016

The U.S. top 1000 baby names and extended list is here (thank you Social Security Administration!), and my priority is picking out the gems from the very bottom of that list. While Emma and Noah are the current rulers of popularity, names like Cassiana, Euphemia and Faustine were only given to 5 baby girls into 2016, and Pippin and Lonan only given to 5 boys in 2016. In this post I'll talk about names that really stood out, and legitimate names at the very bottom of the barrel.

One thing I noticed right away was a large amount of boy names ending in -iel at the bottom of the list (5 boys in 2016). The letter Y had four - Yaciel, Yassiel, Yekusiel, and Yatniel. There was also Remiel, Raniel, Lexiel, Keriel, Joxiel, Joriel, Jazziel, Jaydiel, Ithiel, Eddiel, Doniel, Deriel, Azariel, Audiel, Andiel, Alexiel and Avriel.

For girls, I noticed the Brazilian (and Venezuelan?) -y ending on popular girl's names: Gabrielly, Isabelly, and so on. I also noticed a decline in Renesmee and alternate spellings of that name, and also a possible increase in names not ending in the traditional -a.


Maui - this name has been used for girls (7 in 2014 and 7 in 2015) since 2003, but for boys since 1996. In 2014 it disappeared, but with the recent film "Moana" it is back - 5 boys in 2015 and 5 in 2016. In mythology and in the movie, Maui is a male god, but today we are most familiar with the Hawaiian island. Other Hawaiian names given to 5 boys in 2016: Moa, Kameo, Kamau, Kamahao, Kaikea.

Zerin - a Persian name meaning "golden," I wonder why this isn't used more. It is still used in Turkey and Bosnia, and it can also be spelled Zerrin or Zarin. Zerin is a minor planet/asteroid name. Spelled Zarin, this is the name of a comic book character. Zarin and Zarrin are very common Iran place names.

Rennick - a family surname that seems like it should be right up there with Finnick or Kendrick in terms of popularity.

Aragorn - this Lord of the Rings character name is so similar to Aragon, the place in Spain. It was given to 5 boys in 2016.

Varin - this boy's name from India is Sanskrit for "rich in gifts." According to the Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Williams, Varin is a deity.

Areion (ah-RAY-on) - more commonly spelled Arion, this is an immortal horse in Greek myth. He has wings and the gifts of speed and speech.

Adagio (ah-DAH-jee-oh) - the musicial term is Italian for "slowly," but it seems like any other boy's gio name, such as Gianni or Giorgio.

Pippin - Pippin is a fun-to-say, fun-to-look-at short form of a name that can be shortened even further to "Pip." It is found as a hobbit name in the Lord of the Rings books, and was the name of a few Frankish kings. The hobbit's full name was Peregrine, while the Frankish king's name was also spelled Pepin and may have been related to an Old French word meaning "bib." There is also a Broadway musical based of the son of Charlemagne, who himself was a son of one of these Frankish Pepin's, called "Pippin."

Seanix - Seanix Zenobia, a carpenter from the TV show "Treehouse Masters," truly has one of the most unusual names I've seen. Zenobia is not usual, really - I've written about the name before, but Seanix is a whole new ballgame. It seems to be made up? He pronounces it SHAW-nyx.

Other names given to 5 boys in 2016 that probably deserve their own post: Theodoro, Thaddius, Virgilio, Vasily, Thurmond, Tiberias, Tayo & Taye, Tag, Taggert, Stelios, Sumir, Sulieman, Sidarth, Serafim, Salinger, Osric, Orland, Romain, Ringo, Rennen, Mowgli, Olek, Norbert, Moa, Montague, Kitson, Kincade, Maxence, Matthis, Marx, Arcadio, Mercury, Mobin, Gioele, Hux, Heathcliff, Gordy, Guillaume, Gunnison, Isauro, Isandro, Isadoro, Ives, Isra, Jem, Jetsen, Joyce, Abbot, Gradin, Garvin, Joris, Algernon, Alistaire, Alvan, Andress, Aniceto, Antonello, Chaplin, Chanson, Celio, Caldwell, Eldric & Eldrick, Bromley, Beasley, Barclay, Caffrey, Bevan, Chrisander, Enver, Erasto, Bart, Basile, Attilio, Aubin, Desmund, Christobal, Crusoe, Dannon, Dionysus, Dorsey, Ebon, Errion, Esher, Fraser, Franck, Frances, Forrester.

And as always, some fun words-as-names on boys: Mayhem,Trance, Tracker, Temple, Solo (undoubtedly a few of these were because of Han Solo), Satchel (a celebrity baby name), Savant, Quince, Pier, Nexus, Jester, Hawkeye, Galaxy, Frost, Fortune, Fennec (as in Fennec fox), Emperor, Coven, Coast, Choice, Carbon, Camper, Butch, Brand, Brace, and Armor.


Thierry (tee-AIR-ee) - this French boy's name and variant of Theodoric, meaning "people's ruler," was given to 5 girls in 2016, and I do believe it's the first time I've ever loved a name gender swap. Not sure how I feel about the 5 girls named Troy, but there were also 5 named Troian, which is the name of an actress on the TV show "Pretty Little Liars."

Wilmary - a Latin name seen often in Venezuela, which at first sight looks like a smush of Will and Mary; it is in fact a feminization of Wilmer.

Velia (VAY-lee-uh) - from the Roman family name Velius, it likely means "concealed." It sounds so close to Vienna and other names like Aurelia that it has potential to rise in popularity (albeit slowly).

Tisa - a very old Slavic shortm form of the name Tihoslava meaning "quiet and calm." It has also been used as a nickname for Theresa, as an alternate spelling for the Serbian name Tisza, and is a name in African-Swahili meaning "ninth-born."

Tryphena (trih-FEE-nah) - Tryphena of Rome was mentioned in the Bible, who may be the same person as Antonia Tryphaena, a "Client Queen" of Thrace. The name is Greek, meaning "delicate." According to Wikipedia the name was revived thanks to the English Puritans.

Yolandi - a South African variant of Yolanda, from medieval French Yolande, quite possibly a variant of Violante, meaning "violet." (Yolanda also sounds similar to Iolanthe, the Greek name for "violet."

Sussie - a Scandinavian pet form of Susanna, more commonly spelled Sussi.

Sofina & Sofiana - these legit variants of Sofia could make a great option for parents who detest the popularity of Sofia/Sophia.

Ski - I'm not sure where this comes from but for some reason Ski just seems so cute, like "ski bunny."

Shannara - this one comes from the Shannara Chronicles, which was on TV a year or two ago and currently waiting on season two.

Legit names that deserve their own individual posts (later, of course) that were also given to 5 girls in 2016: Stellina, Soteria, Timea, Ysa, Willamena, Veruca, Uliana, Belicia, Catherina & Catharina, Cherith, Ceridwen, Tulia, Trillium, Tabea, Sulamita, Starling, Stana, Sheba, Honoria, Idaliz & Idalis, Elisiana, Idania, Ilyse, Feodora & Fedora, Frederica, Euphemia, Aquinnah, Karenza,Francia, Edelina, Jera, Alfonsina, Alvira, Bridie, Bernadine, Corinthia, Demitra, Destina, Sabela, Rumor, Rozelle & Rozella, Priscella, Rosamond, Prisma, Liadan, Leonella, Lazuli, Lucretia, Lovisa, Rowdy, Nohelia, Orpha, Padma, Pace, Zizi, Aelia, Akiva, Anneth, Antionette, Aureliana, Iria, Iseult, Isidra, Jazira & Jazeera, Macaria, Manon, Mrytle, Mythili, and Molina.

Less words-as-names for girls, but I couldn't end this post without mentioning Blessence. No, that's all. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew Blessence was a name now. Also spotted 5 Pocahontas.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Perdita charles robert leslie
Perdita by Charles Robert Leslie 

Perdita (per-DEET-uh) may sound familiar to you for one of two references: either the mother Dalmation from "101 Dalmatians," the Disney movie (or the Dodie Smith novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians), or the Shakespeare character from The Winter's Tale. Despite her familiarity, she's exceedingly rare - given to only about 30 girls in the U.S. between 1950 and 1980. In fact, the Social Security Administration shows no record for her after 1970. She was not given to any girls (at least not more than four) in 2016. Which is mind-boggling given her literary credentials and upbeat, classy sound. The name is even rare in its home country, where only 7 girls were named Perdita in the U.K. and Wales as of 2013.

They say Shakespeare invented the name. Meaning "lost," from Latin perditus, it suited the character. In Perdita's story, she is left as an infant to die. Her mother, Queen Hermione, is imprisoned because Perdita's father, King of Sicily, believes his wife was unfaithful. The story is predictable because it has been done time and again: peasants find her and raise her, then a prince comes across her and, because she's just so beautiful, he decides he must marry her. Florizel is his name, and they run away together because she is not a princess and his father will not let him marry anyone below his station. However, all is revealed in the end for a happily-ever-after.

Perdita was used as a psuedonym for poet and actress Mary Robinson in her correspondence with King George IV (at the time just Prince of Wales), who went by Florizel in their letters. They took their names from the Shakespeare play because Robinson became famous after playing Perdita on stage.

More recently, namesakes include actress Perdita Weeks, actress Perdita Avery, Canadian track athlete Perdita Felicien, women's rights activist Perdita Huston, and author Perdita Buchan.

In fiction, Perdita was used in the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, as a character in Mary Shelley's The Last Man, and the novel Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and as a title and main character in a novel by Hillary Cunningham Scharper. In the 2008 movie "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," this is a character's stage name.

Lastly, Perdita is a genus of North American bees, and a moon of the planet Uranus.

Friday, May 12, 2017


florizel perdita
Florizel and Perdita by Mary F Raphael

Florizel is a rare boy's name seen in many literary works, and sometimes on influential men both past and present.

Florizel's name undoubtedly comes from the Latin flor, meaning "flower," while the zel element might be a rare medieval Germanic ending (as in Etzel and Wenzel). However, it could just be a medieval spin on an otherwise Latin name. It's also recorded as Florisel, as seen in Florisel of Nicea (1532), Book X from the Amadis of Gaul tales. Florisando may be another variant of the name, as seen in a novel that was possibly titled Florisando by Ruiz Paez de Ribera, which was a sixth book in the Amadis of Gaul romances. The books were published starting in 1508. It looks like this was a chivalric name based on a play on flore-sindo, Sindo being a nickname for Latin names such as Gumersindo.

Florizel was later used in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (1623), and it was the name King George IV assumed when writing to Mary Robinson, who went by Perdita in the letters.

Later the name appeared in Benjamin Disraeli's novel Endymion (1880), Henry Beston's Firelight Fairy Book (1919), Sir Arthur Somervell's operetta Princess Zara, and the last book in a cycle of four by Robert Louis Stevenson titled The Adventure of Prince Florizel and a Detective. Florismart and Florival are also seen in literature; Florival in George Colman's The Deuce is in Him, Florismart in Song of Roland.  Florimel (Florimell) is a similar name, used for a female character by Edmund Spencer in The Faerie Queene. The etymology for this name is more clear: flor, "flower," and mel, "honey."

In real life the name Florizel was worn by Sir Florizel Glasspole, a Governor-General of Jamaica, and also Florizel von Reuter, a violinist and composer. Elaborate female forms of Flora, or perhaps feminizations of Florizel, include Florizella and Florizelle. Fun fact: supposedly the original name of TV series "Coronation Street" was "Florizel Street."

There may be some concern over Florizel sounding too "feminine" for a modern boy's name. In case the literary and historical namesakes haven't won you over, the potential nickname Zell isn't enough, and you have no Flora to honor, perhaps consider Florian, which is similar to other popular boy's names such as Adrian, Julian, Cillian, Dorian, Finnian and Damian.

Source for list of names above

Thursday, May 11, 2017


You're probably thinking, "Take Lauren, create the nickname Laurie, change the spelling to Lori, then make a full name out of that nickname and you get Loria." Really, though, it is the elaborate Latin version of Lora, which came as a pet name for Eleanor in Italian, and also a short form of Dolores in Spanish. Whichever you prefer, Eleanor means "sun, bright," and Dolores "pain, sorrow." In modern times, however, Loria came about in English as a frilly version of Laura, which means "laurel" in Latin.

Although this is a rare name, it has been used since at least 1907 and it ranked in 1961 and 1962, the height of its popularity overall. However, it should be noted that it was only given to 132 girls in 1961 - the population was smaller so it took less to make it on the top 1000. In 2009 it was given to a mere 5 girls, and we haven't seen it since. Loriana, however, was given to 17 girls in 2016, and Lorianna to 7. It might be brought off the endangered list due to recent pop-culture use: this is a kingdom name in the fictional world of Fillory, which comes from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. His 2009 book was recently made into a TV series of the same name.

Loria is a place name as well, located in Veneto, Italy. The name most likely derives from the ancient Roman city Laurentum. There are also a few birds with Loria in their species name - these were named after ethnographer Lamberto Loria.

As a bonus, Loria can have the nickname Lore instead of Lori/Lorie. The definition of Lore is "a particular body of knowledge or tradition" according to Merriam-Webster. Mostly people associate the word lore with legends and oral tales. If Laurel (365 girls in 2015 and #772), Laura (1003 girls in 2015 and #322), Lorelei (700 girls in 2015 and #448 with the spelling Lorelai #651) or Lauren (2677 girls in 2015 and #119) are names that appeal to you, but you dread their eternal popularity, consider Loria. The spelling Lauria started being used around 1915, but it stopped being used in 1992. There are plenty of other variants and spellings of these names, including Laure, Loriana, Lauralei, Lorelie, Laureline, and Loralea.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Oslo is a place name, the capital of Norway since about 1300 AD, but place names on kids are nothing new for American parents. Oslo is on-trend with other names that end in O, such as Otto and Arlo. In Norway this name is not used, but in the U.S. it has been used since about 2006, and was given to 16 boys in 2015.

Founded in 1049 by Harald Hardrada, the city Oslo had burned down in a fire in 1624, so the people moved it close to Akershus Fortress to rebuild. This was during the reign of Christian IV of Denmark, and then the city was renamed Christiania in honor of him. After 1925 the original Norwegian name was restored. It is currently a "global city" with a population estimated at 658,390.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Here's a look at Venla, which is currently (2017) Finland's most popular girls name. This #1 pick is a form of the boy's name Wendel, meaning "vandal." An older form is Vendla, and an alternate Swedish form is Vendela. Wendelin is the ancient Germanic male form, Vendelin the Czech form. Wendela and Wendelina pop up for girls from time to time, giving the option for Wendy as a nickname. Venla is used in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well, just not as much. It has not been used in the U.S.

The first novel written in Finnish, Seven Brothers, features a character named Venla of Männistö. This may have brought attention to the name when it was published in 1870, bringing it from zero to at least five births in 1920. The Venla relay is the women's version of the more commonly known Jukola relay, an orienteering relay race that started in 1949 because of the Seven Brothers novel.

Since 1982 the Venla has been a Finnish television award. Venla Hovi is a Finnish ice hockey player, and Venla Niemi is a Finnish orienteering competitor,