Saturday, January 24, 2015

Zivanka

This Slavic name meaning "full of life" can be pronounce sh-VAWN-ka or, less often zee-VAHN-ka. It is also sometimes a variant of Ziva, a Hebrew name meaning "radiant" or "splendor." There are only a small handful of people in the U.S. named Zivanka, and it is mainly used in Czechoslovakia. Zivan is her male counterpart.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dover

Dover is a place name from an ancient Celtic word dubra, meaning "water," or another older word meaning "separated beach." and applies to the British seaport of the English Channel. Dover the town came from the river named Dour flowing through it, from the same root word. Dover saw many different spelling options, such as Douer and Dower, before its current spelling stuck. It is otherwise a popular place name and business name, but as a given name in the U.S. it has never been popular - only given every few years between 1914 and 1973 and never to more than 13 babies a year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Orabel

Orabel is a medieval Scottish variant of Arabella, from the Latin orabilis, meaning "prayerful; invokeable." Other variants include Orabilis, Orabilia, Orabella, Arabelle, Orbella and Arbelle, but it has seen a handful of other spelling options. Some of those spellings, such as Orbel, became surnames. Ora is another form, simply from oro, meaning "to pray." As Orabel, an Anglicized form of Orabilia, the name was used more commonly in the 13th century and on. Arabella, also Scottish in origin, didn't become as well known until the 16th century.

Ora could easily be a nickname, but as a full name it has some namesakes: Ora Alexander, a blues singer; Ora Carew, a silent film actress; Ora Washington, a tennis player; and most recently Rita Ora, a British singer. This name was used in the early 1900's in America and last ranked in 1962. Ora was also a Balto-Slavic (Albanian) goddess or spiritual guardian.

One of the earliest/only uses of Orabel was in the 12th century Chanson de Guillaume, in which the name is spelled Orable and used for a princess of Saracen. (I suspect her name might be more about the river Orbieu than the Scottish name Orabel.) In the story the main character Guillaume marries her. Most recently, Orabelle has been given to a Belgian-style ale.

Orabel, any way you spell it, is an exceedingly rare name today with no babies given the name in recent years. Arabelle, however, is up to 111 births in 2013, and Arabella at 1,512 births in 2013, ranking at #210.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Soren

Kierkegaard
A sketch of Søren Kierkegaard by his cousin

Soren (American prn SOR-en) is a Danish and Norwegian boy's name that currently ranks at #656 in the U.S., #279 in France, but not high in Denmark or Norway (and may in fact be considered dated there). It is a variant of Severus, meaning "stern." The correct Danish/Norwegian spelling is Søren and pronounced SUU-ren, while Sören is the German and Swedish spelling and pronounced SIR-in. Severin is another variant found in France, Germany and Sweden - and is also the name of Saint Severin of Cologne. The female forms are Severina and Severa.

The most famous namesake is 19th century philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Søren Kierkegaard who is thought to be linked to existentialism. More recently there is an American fencer named Soren Thompson, former Danish footballer Soren Andersen, American inventor Soren Sorensen Adams and several others. New Zealand singer Anika Moa recently welcomed baby Soren Huia with partner Natasha.

In fiction the name can be found on characters in The Matrix Reloaded film, Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child, The Guardians of Ga'Hoole by Kathryn Lasky, and the Underworld film series.

There is also the Søren Gyldendal prize, which is a Danish literary award named for a bookstore owner born in 1742 who founded Denmark's largest publishing house.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kelda

Kelda


Derived from the Old Norse word kildr, meaning "a spring [of water]," Kelda is a name that sounds like you've probably heard it somewhere before - but haven't. Pronounced KEL-duh, like Zelda with a K. However, it is not a name regularly used in any Nordic countries. There is a chance that any usage of the name is more closely tied to -lda ending names in general, like the trend of -n or -ella ending names today (Braeden, Lexibella, etc), which would mean someone took a name like Kelsey and combined it with the ending of names like Zelda. It is more likely it comes from the Northern English word keld, also meaning "a spring," which would explain where and how often it has been used. Upon first glance it also seems like a Germanic name, along the lines of Hilda, and the Norse kildr is cognate with German quell of the same meaning. However, its usage could have started from a surname referencing where that person was from, just like Winston or Colton. This would also make sense if it came from the English keld. That doesn't mean it isn't usable - many names originated as place names or surnames and are popular given names today. Kelsey and Chelsea are two examples. I can't speculate any further than this, but Kelda does seem easily accessible in multiple languages.

Kelda Roys is an American politician, and there is a Kelda in the Thor comic series (pictured above).