Monday, August 8, 2016


Caria castalia

Castalia (Κασταλια) is pronounced kah-STAH-lia, KASS-tah-lee-uh, kuh-STAY-lee-uh. She was a nymph, daughter of the river Acheloos (Achelous), who gave her name to the Castalian Spring near Delphi, Greece -home of the prophetic Oracle of Delphi. According to some legends she married the King of Delphi (possibly King Delphus who gave his name to the city) and had a son with him, who was named Castalius. According to other legends, she became the Castalian Spring by diving into the fountain at the foot of Mount Parnassos after being pursued by Apollo. Now she is a muse who inspires poetic genius to those who touch her waters, and the muses are sometimes called Castalides, or it is used as their surname or collective name, because they are associated with this spring. 'Castalian' is now a word, meaning "pertaining to Castalia, fountain of Parnassus."

German writer Heman Hesse used this name as a utopian location in his series The Glass Bead. Castalia House is a Finnish publisher. Caria castalia, also known as the Green Mantle, is a species of butterfly. Castalius is also a butterfly genus with four species. Castalia odorata is one of the names of the American white water lily aka white pond lily aka Nymphaea odorata. 4769 Castalia is a near-earth asteroid. There are a few U.S. towns named Castalia. Castalia Blue Hole, located in Castalia, Ohio, is a deep fresh water pond with a vibrant blue color. The Castalian Band is the name of a group of late 1500s court poets that were Scottish Jacobean in the court of James VI. They took the name from the idea that the Castalian Spring gave the gift of poetic inspiration.

Castalia's likely meaning is "to sew [together]," from Greek kassuo. Kassotis is another name she may have gone by, which makes this meaning more understandable. Some would have you believe the etymology of the name is "sacred fountain of the muses," which is careless and lazy. Many have suggested Castalia is from Latin castus, meaning "chaste, but this is a Greek origin name - not Latin.  At least one source suggests the meaning is "spring; source," with reference to a mountain spring, from Old European but not PIE. The SSA does not have record of this name.

Friday, August 5, 2016



Rhodri (HRO-dree) is a Welsh boy's name meaning "circle; disk; crown" and "ruler." 'Crown of royalty' could be what this is hinting at. Consider the following three historical namesakes and you'll agree that this is certainly a name for a circle of rulers.

Rhodri Molwynog, also known as Rhodri the Bald and Grey, was an 8th century king of Gwynedd. Little is known about him, but he is called King of the Britons in the Annals of Wales, and he probably died in 754 A.D. Rhodri the Great (820-878) was also a Welsh king, named Rhodri ap Merfyn and also known as Rhodri Mawr, and he was from either the Isle of Mann or Manau. His father, Merfyn Frych, was King of Gwynedd until 844, who took the throne after the previous line (Cunedda) ran out of male heirs. In the Annals of Ulster he is called King of the Britons. Fun fact: it may be possible that rap superstar Eminem (Marshall Mathers) is descended from him. Then we have Rhodri ap Gruffudd (1230 - 1315), a Welsh prince third or fourth in line to inherit the throne. His uncle sent his father to London as a prisoner, where he died, in order to ensure his position as king, since Rhodri's father was Llywelyn the Great's oldest son, although illegitimate. When Rhodri's uncle died, his brothers fought for the throne, but Rhodri managed to stay out of it. Later, when all his brothers had passed, he would've been the only one with a legitimate claim to the throne of Gwynedd and the title Prince of Wales, but unfortunately he had sold his rights to his older brother. His son made no claim to the throne either.

There are a handful of other British and Welsh namesakes that are more modern. Rhodri Morgan may be the most important modern namesake. A Welsh politician, he was the First Minister of Wales.

In the U.S. this name is rare and unusual, with no record.

Thursday, August 4, 2016



Angelica (ann-JEL-ik-uh) is a Latin origin girl's name meaning "angelic," from the word angelicus. It has a faint hint of being dated, but not so much as Angel, and without the scream of "celebrity" that Angelina carries. Angelica is also a plant name - a Northern Hemisphere herb that grows tall with white flowers. It has been used to flavor things from cake toppings to gin, it's been used as medicine, and it's been made into the musical instrument called the fadno.

Some of you will instantly remember Angelica Pickles from the animated series Rugrats. Others will think of actress Anjelica Houston. There are other actresses with the name, including Angelica Panganiban, Angelica Domrose, and Anjelica Bridges. There's Austrian Neoclassical painter Angelica Kauffman, a founding member of the Royal Academy in London. Angelica Schuyler Church was a socialite with a village and a town named after her in New York. Angelica Rylin is a Swedish musician, and Angelica Rivera is a Mexican singer and actress. Princess Martha Louise of Norway has a daughter named Maud Angelica Behn. There are seemingly endless namesakes for the spelling Angelika as well, including actresses, politicians and writers.

Angelica is also a literary name: both the poet Boiardo and the poet Ariosto used it in the Orlando poems as the hero's love interest. Boiardo wrote Orlando Innamorato, while Ariosto wrote Orlando Furioso as a continuation of Boiardo's work. We also see Tolkien character Angelica Baggins, and an Angelica makes an appearance in Romeo and Juliet. Angelica Schuyler is a character in the musical Hamilton. Penelope Cruz plays Angelica Teach in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Used since the 18th century, Angelica currently ranks at #425 and was given to 746 girls in 2015. While it is not considered rare, it is not common. Angel, Angela and Angelina still rank above it, but Angeline is only at #951. 1996 was Angelica's most popular year in recent times. Aniela, Anielka, Aniella, Angiolina, Angelita, Anzhela and Angeli are all much more unusual. Angel, which is unisex, is currently more popular for boys.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


William Wallace window glass
Sir William Wallace stained glass in Edinburgh Castle

Wallace (WAHL-iss) is an unusual baby name, since it means "Welshman," but it's of Old French origin, from the word waleis that translates to "Celtic foreigner." Before this, Wallace came from the cognate of an Old English word (Wylisc, Welisc) of the same meaning: "Welshman; foreigner." It originated as a surname. Most of the namesakes bearing Wallace as a surname were from the 1800's and 1900's, and there are many namesakes representing the armed forces, law, media, sports, religion, and sciences. If this name interests you, be sure to look up Alfred Russel Wallace, who was the first to create the theory of evolution in regard to natural selection, and who inspired Charles Darwin. In fiction there are characters in Final Fantasy VII, Pulp Fiction, Stargate, EastEnders, The Office and more with Wallace as their last name. The surname Walsh is connected to Wallace.

Wallace may have first been used as a given name to honor Sir William Wallace, a Scottish hero who helped defeat the English from invading in the 13th century. You might know this if you've ever watched Braveheart with Mel Gibson. Fun fact: the movie's screenwriter is named Randall Wallace. Or you might remember the animated series Wallace and Gromit. Wallace last ranked on the U.S. top 1000 in 1993, but the highest it ranked was #69 in 1923. It is possible, howver, that the name was most popular in 2015 given the rise in the overall number of births. Wally is generally accepted as the traditional nickname. Wallace Beery and Wallas Eaton are two actors who wore the name, Wallace Stegner won a Pulitzer Prize, and there are three Olympic medalists.

Wallis is another form of the name, but for this the most famous namesake was female. Bessie Wallis Simpson was the woman who Edward, Prince of Wales stepped down as the King of England for. He famously wanted to marry "the woman I love," becoming Duke of Windsor, while Wallis (as she was known) became Duchess of Windsor. As one can assume, this was highly controversial, not only because she was not royal or was American, but because she had two living ex-husbands. Wallis was named in honor of her father, William, who was called Wallis.

Duchess of Windsor

Wallis was not used as a girl's name before this event. In 1936 it was used for the first time on 6 girls, up to 33 girls the next year, but then down to 14 in 1938. By 1961 it was unheard of again. Wallis popped back up in 1980, never really climbing in number. In 2015 she was only given to 14 girls, despite the movie W.E. being made in 2011 (by Madonna!) of the royal affair.

Wallis and Futuna are a few French islands in the South Pacific which is inhabited by Polynesians.

Wallis Bird is an Irish musician.

Friday, July 29, 2016


While Elena (el-AY-nah) is having a moment in the sun, her sister Elina (el-EE-nah) is just outside of ranking. In 2015 Elina was given to 248 girls, a triumph considering she was only given to 5 girls in 1900 and no more than 13 until 1976. It wasn't until 2005 that she jumped past 100 births, so by all means Elina is still quite a rare gem. Elena, on the other hand, was given to 2,877 girls in 2015, ranking at #106. Similar-sounding Eliana (el-ee-AH-nah) currently ranks #103, given to 2,956 girls in 2015. If the baby name Eliana or Elena is perfect for you but you're afraid it's too common, give Elina a chance. She's streamlined and sophisticated, and truly sparkles.

Elena is the Latin cognate of Helen, from Greek mythology. The name most likely means "torch," with attention to the flame. Helen (Helene) was the daughter of Zeus and Leda, and her kidnapping by Paris ended up causing the famous Trojan War. Throughout history she's been known as the beauty that "launched a thousand ships." Elina is the Finnish and Swedish form of the name. Eliana, though only one letter off, is not related, but it is almost identical in imagery. Eliana is the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese modern version of Aeliana (Aelia is an alternate form; they are pronounced AY-lee-uh and AY-lee-ah-nah), from the Roman family name Aelius, from the word helios, meaning "sun." So, all bright flames of names. I'd also like to mention that in Greek mythology Helios was the personification of the sun. (And in Sailor Moon he was a Pegasus, but let's not go there! ;p)

If you want something even more rare, try the Old Provencal form of Eleanor, which is Elladine (ELL-uh-deen). (Also, Elatine, an aquatic plant, has a lovely sound.) Elladine saw 5 births in 1924 which may have been a creative combination of Ella and Dean, or the rare French version. Something rare and very similar in sound to Elina - Elisena (ell-ee-SAY-nuh). which is a plant and also a princess character from Amadis de Gaula. It is likely a variant of Alison, meaning "noble character." Neither Elladine nor Elisena were given in U.S. record, or at least less than 5 were born in any given year.