Skip to main content


Featured Post


Adopt a snowy owl

Here's another could-be name - one that exists as a word, but not as a name in the U.S. Sova (SO-vah) means "owl" in Czech, Slovenian, Slovakian, Bosnian and Croatian. This feminine noun comes from Proto-Slavic sova.
"Little owl" is cute as a nickname, but short and elegant Sova really brings something special to the table as a given name. In the U.S. this has not been used as a name more than 4 times in any given year, leaving us no SSA data. It does not appear on recent popularity charts in the countries in which it means "owl."
Recent posts

Herb Baby Names

I often wonder what makes Rose a more popular choice for a baby girl than Hyacinth, or River more chosen than Ocean, and in the case of herbs, why Sage is taking off but Sorrel is still quite rare. Here is a list of herbs and spices that have baby name potential with how many times they were used in 2016.

Tarragon, 0
Chervil, 0
Calamint, 0
Belladonna, 22 girls
Lavender, 82 girls
Celandine, 0
Chicory, 0
Anise, 13 girls
Verbena, 0
Dittany, 0
Damiana, 22 girls
Thistle, 0
Centaury, 0
Chamomile, 0
Pandan, 0
Bay, 33 girls, 8 boys
Clover, 172 girls
Basil, 22 girls, 60 boys
Marjoram, 0
Parsley, 0
Artemisia, 12 girls
Caraway, 0
Betony, 0
Vervain, 0
Vetiver, 0
Galingale, 0
Coriander, 0
Hyssop (which reminds me of Aesop), 0
Korarima, 0
Koseret, 0
Cicely, 16 girls
Gentian, 0 (the nickname Gent would be adorable)
Orris, 0
Valerian, 0 Valeriana, 6
Perilla, 0
Cayenne, 8 girls
Rue, 35 girls
Nigella, 0
Hawthorn, 0, but 36 spelled Hawthorne
Paprika, 0
Ginger, 56 girls
Saffron, 30 girls
Cassia, 62 girl…


Sibylla Palmifera by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Sibyl, from Greek sibylla, meaning "prophetess," was originally a word referring to one of the ten female oracles, and they were so mystically respected that even in early Christian theology their gifts were highly regarded, or at least intriguing, and Sibyl began being used as a given name in the Middle Ages.

Sibyl also comes with a delightful list of variants, each quite beautiful. The spelling Cybil/Cybill has been used, as well as English Sybella and sometimes versions starting with a Z, such as Zibylla. Both Sibylle and Sybille have been used in France, Sibylla in Sweden, Sybille and Sibylle in German, Sibylla in Greek, Sibilla in Italian, Sybilla in Late Roman, Sébirein Norman, and my favorite - Sibyllina, as in Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi (although she may have been known as Sibila, Sibilina or Sybil).

This name has not ranked in the U.S. since 1929. In 2016 it was only given to 19 baby girls. Sybella was given to 11 girls, wh…

Beryl & friends

Beryl (BEHR-ill) is a girl's baby name that is also a mineral gemstone, and it has been used since the 19th century. The etymology of Beryl can be traced from 12th century Old French beryl, from Latin beryllus / Greek beryllos, to Prakrit veruliya and Sanskrit vaidurya. It may ultimately come from the city Velur in India. The Greek meaning was considered "precious blue-green, color-of-seawater stone."

There are seven varieties of Beryl that often get overlooked, especially as baby name potential: morganite, emerald, aquamarine, maxixe, goshenite, and heliodor or golden beryl, and red beryl (formerly known as bixbite). While Morgan and Morgana are still used as baby names, Emerald is unusual but familiar, and Heliodor, Heliodoro, and even Heliodorus had their day in the sun, Aquamarine is usually reserved for fantasy characters and movie titles, and Maxixe is unheard of. Goshenite comes from the name of Goshen, Massachusetts.

Beryl last ranked for girls in the U.S. in 19…


Greek, meaning "lover of flowers." This is also a moth in the genus Cosmopterigidae family, and the name was used in a novel by Eilis O'Neal titled The False Princess. As a given name it has been used every now and then. Philanthea is an alternate option. Nicknames for Philantha could include Fanny/Phanny, Filly/Philly, Fanna/Phanna, Lanthy or Anthy.


Gennadius II

Gennady has a striking similarity to Kennedy, which is a popular unisex name in the U.S. Gennady, alternatively spelled Gennadiy, Gennadi, and Genndy, and Геннадий in Russian. This Russian boy's name comes from Gennadius, the name from Greek gennados, meaning "noble, generous." In Bulgarian and Georgian the name is spelled Genadi, while it is Ghenadie in Romanian. None of these are used in the U.S.

Saint Gennadius was a martyr from Constantinople, the 21st Ecumenical Patriarch of that ancient city. He was born around the same time as Gennadius of Marseilles, the 5th century priest and historian who was called Gennadius Scholasticus. Perhaps ironically, there was later a man known as Gennadius Scholarius who was a Byzantine theologian and philosopher. There was also 7th century Gennadius II, a Byzantine general. In the 400's there was politician Gennadius Avienus. In the 9th century there was a Bishop named Gennadius of Astorga.

Genndy Tartacovsky was th…


Tana River, Kenya (source)

Tana can be pronounced TAH-nah or TAN-uh, whichever you prefer. It can be a short form of Tanya or Tatiana in Russian, which comes from the Roman cognomen Tatius and is assumed to mean "from the house of Tatius," however could mean "I arrange" or "founder." It is also an Anglicized spelling of Arabic Thana, meaning "praise." It can even be a nickname for Tiziana, from Titus, Latin meaning "honored."

In the arts Tana is a character in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, a reporter in the Superboy comics, and a video game character in Fire Emblem. In real life there is Cayetana "Tana" Ramsey, wife of Gordon Ramsey, Czech actress Tana Ficherova, Thai footballers Tana Sripandum and Tana Chanabut, children's book author Tana Hoban, and Irish novelist Tana French. There's also a Gujarati (Indian) legend about twins Tana and Riri, born around 1564, who commited suicide in refusing to sing…

Alvis & Elvis

Some might expect that the popularity of Elvis would've died down decades after 'The King' made it a household name, but it's still ranking on the top 1000 (although it will only be a year or two before it falls off). That means some parents are still looking for something similar but not as common, and that's where Alvis (AL-viss) comes in. This Scandinavian boy's name meaning "all wise" from the word alwiss is a truer form of Elvis, both likely coming from the same origin.

Alviss was the dwarf who courted Thor's daughter, but Thor was not happy with the arrangement and put a sad end to it. Alvis Darby was an American football player. Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. was the birth name of musician Buck Owens. Hayes Alvis was a jazz musician. Max Alvis was a Major League baseball player. It's also been used in two video games and an anime.

Alvis is really only used in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, where it is not common. While the spelling Alviss has not …


Damiana herb

Damiana (dah-mee-AH-nah) is a girl's baby name meaning "to tame" in Greek, making it the female version of Damian. It was given to 22 girls in 2016, and although it has been used since 1915, the most it was ever given was 33 times in a year, making it very rare. This is a little hard to believe considering the popularity of Damian, which currently sits pretty at #123, with Damien at #279. Damia (DAH-mee-uh) is another girl's option, except she was a Greek nature goddess - a "Hora," which meant a season personified. Damia is used a little bit more, given to 40 girls in 2016, but she's only been used since 1971. In Greek, Damia comes from da, "earth," and maia, "nursing mother." Damia was another name for the goddess Demeter.

Damia is a place in Jordan, the stage name of Marie-Louise Damien, and a 1992 novel by Anne McCaffrey.

Damiana is a plant, Turnera diffusa, with pretty yellow blooms. It is native to Texas, Mexico, C…


Knights of the Round Table

Lucan (LUU-kahn) is a boy's baby name from Arthurian legend. Sir Lucan was a Knight of the Round Table, son of Duke Corneus, brother of Sir Bedivere and cousin of Sir Griflet. He was in charge of the royal court as part of his duties in Camelot. In these stories, Lucan stays by Arthur's side until the very end of their lives, and he was consider endlessly loyal and reliable. Ironically, Arthur Lucan was an English actor (1885 - 1954).

Another namesake was known as Lucan in English, but his full name was Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, grandson of Seneca the Elder. In Latin, Lucan is simply a version of Luke and Lucas, from the Roman cognomen Lucanus. Lucanus means "from Lucania," an ancient Roman city, the name of which derived from Greek loukas, meaning "white," cognate with the Latin word lux, meaning "light." Lucania itself has been used a few times as a girl's baby name, as have the personal names Lucano and Lucana. The…

Chariton & Charis

Charis anius

Chariton (KAR-ih-ton), male, and Charis (KAR-iss), female, both mean "grace" in Greek. It is from these that we get the names Carissa and Charisma, and Haris (not to be confused with Harris).

Chariton of Aphrodisias was a 1st century Greek novelist. Saint Chariton the Confessor was a Christian saint native to Iconium.

Charis is a fictional nation in the Safehold series by David Weber. Charis is a metalmark butterfly genus in the species Riodinini. In Greek mythology, a Charis is one of the Charites - goddesses of grace, beauty, charm and feminine warmth. Charis was given to 70 girls in 2016, slowing down a bit in use since its high of 127 girls in 2006. It has been used in the U.S. since 1924.

Charissa and Carissa are much more well known than Charis, and yet they're still pretty uncommon. If you look at the statistics for Carissa, she shoots straight up from 8 girls in 1053 to 1157 girls given the name in 1992, then straight back down to a mere 126 in 2016.…


Embla and Ask were the first humans created by Odin, Vili, and Ve, three gods in the Old Norse pantheon. Embla was carved from an alder tree and Ask was carved from an ash tree. Their story is found in the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Embla (EM-bluh) sounds a bit like the word emblem, giving it a shiny nobility sort of feel. Contrary to popular belief, there is no "blah" sound in it. The last three lettters are like you're going to say "blush." It is used in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland (where it last ranked #7 in 2015). However, there are no U.S. statistics. Most believe her meaning is "elm tree," from Old Norse almr, but no one is quite certain. Another suggested meaning is "vine," and with that meaning the name has been connected to the Persian version of the Adam and Eve story, who were also made from trees. It is very possible that because this mythology is so old, something got lost in translation or throughout the yea…