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Melisande, Melisende

The cover of E. Nesbit's Melisande

Melisande (MELL-iss-ahnd, may-lee-SAHND) is the French variant of Amalswintha, and the inspiration for the English name Millicent, meaning "strong worker." There has been some confusion on the name's connection to Melissa, meaning "honey bee." There's a possibility that each spelling variation has a different origin - Melisande from Melissa and perhaps Melisande as cognate with Millicent, but that is speculation, and there could be absolutely no connection to Melissa at all. Melisende was a popular name in France in the Middle Ages. This name has quite the list of credentials, including a play, opera, and fairy tale.

Besides the play Pelléas and Mélisande by Maeterlinck, the opera by Debussy, and the fairy tale mentioned above, Melisande was the alias of a character in the Broadway show Bells are Ringing, a handmaid in the book Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm, a character in The Golden Basket by Ludwig Bemelmans, a nobl…
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From Germanic rodinus, composed of hrod, meaning "glory." It was transfered to use as a surname in France and is now several French place names. Since 1990 only 7 or so boys were given Rodin as a first name in France.

World-renowned sculptor Auguste Rodin was perhaps the most well known namesake for Rodin as a surname. Rodel and Rodon are other forms from the same root that are found in France, as well as the diminutives Rodilon/Rodillon and Rodineau, each suffix in the last two denoting the region it comes from. They are not related to the similar names Roudic, Roudel, Roudet et al, which comes from Latin rota, meaning "wheel," nor are they related to the French names Rodde and Rodiere, which come from Occitan roda, meaning "bush." But they are all great surnames which would make nice modern given names.

Rodina, however, is not a feminine form - it is a Russian political party.


MorganleFay by Frederik Sandys
Morgana is one of those names a good majority of people have heard of, yet rarely, if ever, see on a real person. It might really be the perfect “beautiful-dark” name, as it conjures the same imagery of sorcery, a dark haired maiden, and ancient magic in almost everyone’s mind, seeing how the most well known namesake was the legendary Morgan le Fay of Arthurian tales. She’s seen many variants over time, including Morganna, Morgen, Morgaine, Argante, Feimurgen, and her sister is similar-sounding Morgause. Morgana, half-sister of King Arthur, is a sorceress who shows signs of being both good and evil (here’s a nod to feminine duality in literature) and she undeniably has healing abilities along with several other magical abilities. In early versions of Arthurian legend, Morgana was called Queen of Avalon.

Morgana is an Old Welsh name meaning “sea-born,” the earliest form being Morgen. The male version is Morien in Old Welsh. The name Morgen is cognate with…

Alphabet Week: W-Z

Windy: a name that has occasionally been a variant of Wendy, but most often a word name in the English language. It is considered a 70’s name because it peaked in 1975, dropping down to just 7 girls in 2017.
Warrick: this name comes from the place name Warwick, or Warwickshire, meaning “dam settlement.” There are several namesakes for Warrick both as a given name and a surname.

Xanthippe: a name that hasn’t been used in the U.S., Xanthippe means “yellow horse” in Greek. Most people will not be aware that she was the wife of Socrates.
Xenon: this is a chemical element that would make an edgy baby name and fit right in with other X names and boy names ending in -n. It is a noble gas found in our atmosphere and is atomic number 54.

Yanella: this is the Hispanic form of Janella, which ultimately comes from Jane, meaning “god is gracious.” This spelling hasn’t been used in the U.S. but Yanela, Yaneli, Yanelis, Yaneliz, Yanelle, Yanellie and Yanelly have been.
York: a town since ancient Roman ti…

Alphabet Week: T-V

Tacita: this Latin name means “silent, secret,” and was given to the nymph Lara after Jupiter was cruel and cut out her tongue. Tacitus is the masculine, used as a Roman cognomen, and found on the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus. The names are pronounced TASS-ih-tuh and TASS-it-uss. The names Tacy and Tace derive from the root word taceo as well, and could make fitting nicknames.

Talarican (tah-LAR-ih-kan), Tarkin (TAR-kin), and Tarquin (TAR-kwin): while Talarican stands out as the name of a Pictish bishop and saint, Tarquin is the English variant of Latin masculine name Tarquinius, which was a famous Roman gens used by the kings of Rome. The etymology is unknown.  Tarquin is the only spelling that has been used in the U.S., since 1987, and only rarely. 
Uriana: this may be a female form of Urian, meaning “privileged birth,” from Welsh masculine name Urien.  Urien was a legendary Welsh figure who featured in Arthurian Romances. Uriana has only been used a handful of times in the U.S. …

Alphabet Week: Q-S

Quill, unisex, or Quilla if you prefer to add an a at the end for a girl, comes from Middle High German, meaning “hollow stem.” As a bird feather a quill was used for writing with ink. Be aware that Quilla was also the Hispanic spelling of Mama Killa, the Incan goddess, but it was pronounced KEE-lah, whereas Quill is KWILL. Quilla was used between 1902 and 1964, rarely, while Quill has not been used for either gender.

Rada: a short form of the Czech girl name Radoslava (and in Slovak, and Polish Radoslawa), Rada, pronounced RAH-dah, means “good glory, eager glory” from rad “glad, eager” and mil “glory.” As a word, rada means “advice.” Radoslav is the masculine form. Rada has been used since 1893 in the U.S. but rarely, only given to 5 girls in 2017. Radoslav, on the other hand, was only given to 5 boys in 1976. Radoslav was a 9th century Serbian ruler as well as several after him. Radič is a diminutive mainly used in Serbian and Bosnian. 

Sabelina: coming from the word sable of Slavic o…

Alphabet Week: M-P

Magali: this girl name is probably a Provence diminutive of Margaret, meaning “pearl,” or according to French sites it derives from Magdalene, meaning “tower.” Magaly and Magalie have been seen as alternate spelling options. Magali has been used in the U.S. since 1950 and was given to 53 girls in 2017. (Mah-gah-LEE and MAH-gah-lee seem to be both accurate pronunciations.)
Marduk: a god of healing in ancient Babylon whose name means “bull calf of the sun god Utu.” A simpler meaning is “solar calf.” He could use magic and was given some of his power by an older god, Ea. Marduk has not been used in the U.S.

Nigella: usually said to be the female variant of Nigel, Nigella actually comes from the Late Latin word nigellus, meaning “blackish.” And although most of the world is familiar with chef Nigella Lawson, the name still is not used in the U.S.
Nicander: from Greek Nikandros, meaning “victorious man.” One of the first people with this name was a 2nd century BCE scholar. Being so similar to…

Alphabet Week: I-L

Iskra: a Croatian, Russian and Polish girl name meaning “spark,” it is seeing the light of day in the U.S. thanks to body-positive model Iskra Lawrence. It was also the name of a newspaper founded by Lenin in 1900. The name is still not listed in U.S. statistics.
Ingram: this name came to England from the Normans, and it likely means “Ing’s raven” or comes from the ancient Germanic tribe known as the Angles, combined with hraben, meaning “raven.” Listed in the U.S. starting in 1883, it has always been extremely rare, and was only given to 10 boys in 2017. Gram could make an easy nickname.

Jacoba: everyone seems to love Jacob, but not as much love is given to Jacoba and Jacobina. Jacoba, always rare in the U.S., was used since 1900 and given to 5 girls in 2017. Jacobia was used only in 1991 and 1992, 5 times each, and Jacobina seems to have not been used at all.
Jackdaw: this is a bird name, and one not usually seen among other bird name lists. It is one of few birds able to imitate human…

Alphabet Week: E-H

Elbereth: this name has not been used in the U.S. it is a Lord of the Rings name meaning “star-queen.”
Elynas: this name has not been used in the U.S. you may remember this as the name of the King of Albany (Scotland) from the story of Melusine. Traditional searches for this name’s meaning turned up nothing until I found his supposed real name - Gille Sidhean, which might mean “steward of the fey,” or Elinas d’Albha. He is connected to the Vere and Anjou lines and said to be born circa 704, but with names this old sometimes there is more speculation than fact, although it becomes very interesting when the lines blur (like, some would say, King Arthur). At the end of this speculation there is a bit more of his ancestry connecting him to the Ulsters. Unfortunately I have yet to find the name’s meaning, but Helinus looks promising.

Fruzsina: the Hungarian form of Euphrosyne, meaning “mirth.” It is pronounced fruuz-EE-nah. Eufrozina and Frosina are other variants. The variant Frozine was th…

Alphabet Week: A-D

This week I will cover 26 boys and 26 girls that are considered rare.

Ashwin: a Sanskrit name meaning “light,” and possibly Anglo-Saxon meaning “spear.” As a given name it has been used since 1977 in the U.S. always rare, it was given to 56 boys in 2017.
Amellina: a Spanish and Italian variant of Amelia meaning “rival.” This name is very rare, with no statistics.

Brynja: a Norse name meaning “armor.” Pronounced BRIN-yah, this name has been used since 1993 in the U.S. but is very rare, given to only 7 girls in 2017.
Bedivere: a Knight of the Round Table, his name means “birch man.” This name has not been used in the U.S. despite its chivalrous vibe, along with the possible unusual nicknames Bev, Bear, or Biv.

Csilla: a Hungarian name meaning “morning star.” It was created by the Hungarian author Andras Dugonics in 1803. Pronounced tCHEE-luh. This name was only used 5 times, in 1961.
Cain: a Bible name with a negative story, this Hebrew name meaning “acquired” was liked enough to be in the to…

Norway 2017 Top 10

1. Sophie/Sofie
2. Nora/Norah
3. Emma
4. Sara/Sarah/Sahra/Zara
5. Ella
6. Olivia
7. Maia/Maya/Maja (I am wondering why Mya isn’t here)
8. Emilie
9. Sophia/Sofia
10. Ingrid/Ingerid/Ingri

1. Jacob/Jakob
2. Lukas/Lucas
3. Emil
4. Oscar/Oskar
5. Oliver
6. William
7. Filip/Fillip/Philip/Phillip
8. Noa/Noah
9. Elias
10. Isac/Isaac/Isak

Check out this list from 2015.


Lecelina is the medieval variant of Letitia, a Roman name meaning "happiness." Specifically, it is a double diminutive of Lece, taken from Lettice. Leceline and Lescelina are other spelling variants. Lasceline de Turqueville was an illegitimate daughter of Richard I of Normandy. Letitia, today’s most common variant, was the Roman goddess and personification of happiness. The name has been used since the 12th century, most commonly as Lettice. Lecia is another rare variant. Leta may be a cousin name, meaning "happy" from the Latin root laeta. Queen Letizia is the current queen in Spain. There are no SSA statistics for Lecelina or Leceline, but Lecia is used five or six times a year, usually two to five years apart.


Locryn (LOK-rin) is the masculine Cornish variant of Locrinus, a Welsh name meaning “England.” Locrinus may seem familiar because it was the name of a legendary king of Britain whom Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote about, and in his writing, the place Locrinus was from in southeastern Britain was called Loegria. Locrinus was a descendant of Brutus and Aeneas, and his two brothers were named Albanactus, meaning “Scotland,” and Kamber, meaning “Wales.” The name may also seem familiar because Locrinus married Gwendolen, the daughter of the supposed founder of Cornwall, but Locrinus kept a lover - Estrildis, who gave birth to a daughter named Habren. this is where the story behind the name Sabrina comes from. Gwendolen drowned her in the river Severn, which was Latinized in the 2nd century as Sabrina.

Locryn ranks mid-level in Cornwall as far as anyone can tell, but the data is from a few years ago and it’s not a top 100 name there. It is exceedingly rare in the U.S. with no data so far. There …