Monday, October 31, 2011

Zelda

Today's name: Zelda (which I thought would be perfect to post today since it is a little witchy, and Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D came out just a few months ago)

Pronunciation: ZEHL-dah

Potential nicknames: Zell, Zellie, Ellie, or maybe even Zsa-Zsa or ZiZi

Origin: (1) The German diminutive of Griselda/Grizelda, meaning "dark battle" or "grey battle maiden," but can also come from a word for stone or gravel. (2) Yiddish cognate of German name Salida, meaning "joy" or "luck." (3) Old English variant of Selda, meaning "companion."

Popularity: Zelda first appeared on the SSA charts in 1880 when records of names first started being kept by the Social Security Administration, and it ranked at #834. It worked its way up to #379 in 1911, then worked its way back down to #997 in 1967, where it was last seen. When the first Zelda video game came out there were a handful of babies each year between 1985 and 1991 presumably named for her, but no more than 22 baby girls in one year. Read more about it here. In 2010 there were 69 baby girls named Zelda, zero or less than five babies named Selda, 7 girls named Gricelda, 15 Grisel, 59 Griselda, 5 Griselle, 5 Grissel and zero or less than five Grizelda. In 2011 there were 80 baby girls named Zelda.

Fun fact: (1) Robin Williams and his daughter were featured in the latest Zelda video game commercial because he named his daughter Zelda, after the video game princess. (2) The Zelda in the video game, however, got her name from F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, a Jazz Age/Roaring 20's icon and celebrity "flapper," who was a sophisticated and beautiful artist/writer, but was said to have mental issues. (3) "The Patient Griselda" is a well-known folkloric story about a patient and obedient woman, who endures emotionally painful incidents at the whim of her husband or fiancee, depending on which version you're reading. She has been written about by Boccaccio, Chaucer, Marie de France and others. It is interesting to note that while Zelda Fitzgerald became a feminist icon after her death, Griselda was the true "Angel of the Household," a Victorian term meaning "an obedient wife who knows her place." (4) This person is not as well-known but I thought it was interesting enough to mention: Griselda Blanco was a female drug lord for the Medellin Cartel. (5) Due to the video game association, and the connection to Zelda Spellman from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the name Selda may be more to your liking. Zelda is actually the variant of Selda, not the other way around. And doesn't Zelda seem like the perfect twin or sibling name for Stella, or maybe Phoebe? I think so.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Baby Names

Here is my October list of relevant Halloween baby names! Enjoy

Girls:
Persephone (means "to bring death")
Beatrix ("tricks")
Arista (can mean "harvest")
Hallow (All Hallow's Eve)
Elphaba (The Wicked Witch)
Morrigan (meaning "great queen, nightmare queen")
Nerissa (meaning "black-haired")
Zelda & Hilda (Sabrina's witch aunts, also "Broom Hilda")
Sabrina (the Teenage Witch)
Elvira (Mistress of the Dark)
Morticia (The Munsters)
Carrie (Steven King)
Piper, Pru, Phoebe & Paige
(All Hallow's) Eve
Tituba (Salem witch)
Wednesday (Adams)
Wendy (Casper's witch friend)
Rosemary (Rosemary's baby)
Buffy (the Vampire Slayer)
Drusilla (a vampire from Buffy)
Tabitha & Endora (from Bewitched)
Ligeia, Lenore & Rowena (Poe characters)
Jacquelyn (for Jack-o-lantern)
Lilith (meaning "of the night," a she-demon)
Autumn
Stormy
Amber (an orange color)
Jetta (meaning "black)
Lamia (a snake-woman or phantom or witch, who knows, every source says something different)
Sable (meaning "black")
Felina (meaning "cat-like")
Circe (a Greek woman thought of as a witch)
Hecate (Greek goddess of witchcraft, demons, graves and the underworld)
Lilura (Basque, meaning "enchantment")
Medea/Medeia (means "cunning")
Mohana & Mohini (means "bewitching")
Calypso (meaning "she who conceals")
Runa (meaning "secret lore")
Leta (meaning "the hidden one")
Taika (Finnish, meaning "magic")
Lupe, Lupa & Lupita (meaning "wolf")
Ylva (Scandinavian, meaning "she-wolf")
Velvela (Yiddish, meaning "wolf")
Otsana (Basque, meaning "she-wolf")
Ulrica (meaning "wolf power")
Senka (meaning "shadow")
Zilla/Zillah (meaning "shadow")
Twyla/Twila (meaning "twilight")
Cora (from Kore, another name for Persephone)
Elysia (from Elysion, the "good" underworld)
Hazel (seasonal color, also Witch Hazel from Looney Toons)
Desdemona (meaning "wretchedness" or "ill-starred)
Diantha (a character in the Sookie Stackhouse novels)
Theria (possibly meaning "harvest")
Strega Nona (Grandma Witch)
Ursula (the underwater witch in The Little Mermaid)
Scarlet (like the color of blood)
Cruella (De Vil, from 101 Dalmations)
Malificent/Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty, but with non-Disney meaning as well)
Rasputina
Belladonna (the poisonous plant)
Amarantha (means "unfading," an immortal plant)
Candelaria (plant used to shoo evil spirits)
Branwen (meaning "white, blessed raven")
Ember (dying coals, part of a fire)
Medusa (well-known snake-haired woman of Greek myth)
Melanie, Melania, Melaina, Melina (meaning "black")
Melanthe (meaning "black flower")
Nimue (an Arthurian sorceress)
Nightingale
Opal (October's birthstone)
Alcina (a mythological sorceress)
Tempest (a storm)
Sally (from The Mightmare Before Christmas, and Fiona Apple sings "Sally's Song")
Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter in The Corpse Bride)

Boys:
Bram (Stoker)
Salem
Phantom
Obsidian, Onyx (black stones)
Rasputin
(The Brothers) Grimm
Lestat (Vampire from Anne Rice
Casper (the Friendly Ghost)
Freddie/Freddy (Kruger)
Samhain
Boris (Karloff)
Jack (o-lantern)
Edgar Allen Poe
Roderick Usher (a Poe character)
Crow
Wolf
Damon & Damien
Herman (Munster)
Frank (Frankenstein)
Griffin (a cat-beast with wings, watch Harry Potter to see him)
Alchemy
Talon
Blake (meaning "black")
Hades (god of the Underworld)
Maksim (meaning "enchanting")
Mohan (meaning "bewitching")
Merlin
Rune (meaning "secret lore")
Ralph, Randolph, Randall & Rolf (meaning "wolf counsel" or "wise wolf")
Rudy (meaning "famous wolf")
Kenyon (meaning "little wolf")
Lowell (meaning "little wolf")
Phelan/Faolan (meaning "little wolf")
Wolfgang (meaning "wolf pack")
Anubis (Egyptian god of the underworld)
Devlin (sounds like devil)
Diablo (meaning "devil")
Orpheus (meaning "deprived" or "darkness")
Ichabod (Crane)
Constantine
Wes (Craven)
Igor (from Frankenstein)
Jinx
Binx/Binks (Thackery Binx, or maybe it's Binks, from Hocus Pocus, which I frickin' MISSED tonight on TV...(lol) But thankfully I own it.)
Edward (Scissorhands)
Night

Unisex:
Raven
October
Raz (means "secret")
Blair (Witch Project)
Crimson (like the color of blood)
Midnight (the witching hour)
Grimoire (a witch's book of knowledge)
Nocturne (musical, night)
Oleander (which can be fatal)
Requiem (a mass for the dead)
Charm

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Genoveva, Geneva

Today's name: Genoveva, from Geneva
There are also the variants Genovefa, Genevra/Ginevra, Genever, Genevia, Geneve, Jeniver.

Pronunciation: jehn-oh-VEE-vah, HEN-oh-VEH-vah, jehn-oh-VAY-fah

Potential nicknames: Gen, Gena, Genna, Genny, Neva, Nova, Veva, Viva, Eve, Ever, Eva, Evie

Origin: Genoveva is the Spanish variant of either Old French Geneva. Geneva means "juniper," from French, and the old Dutch word for juniper, "genever, jeniver."

Popularity: Genoveva only ranked in the U.S. in 1885, 1894 and 1895. Geneva last ranked every year between 1880 (when the SSA first started keeping track) and 1995. In 2010 there were only 5 baby girls named Genoveva, and 15 in 2011, while there were 149 named Geneva, 6 Geneve, In 2011 there were 7 girls named Genavie, 15 Genoveva, 28 Genevie, and 156 Geneva.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Genoveva Torres Morales of Spain, lived from 1870 to 1956. Her feast day is January 5. (2) Genoveva Edroza-Matute was a Filipino author. (3) Lake Geneva, which touches both Switzerland and France. It was first called Geneva in the English language. There is also a Lake Geneva in Michigan and one in Wisconsin, possibly more elsewhere. (4) Geneva, Switzerland (and Illinois, and New York, with possibly more). (5) Fictional country of Genovia in "The Princess Diaries." (6) A good way to honor a special man in your life named Gene. (7) The Geneva Conventions. (8) The baby of Benicio del Toro and Kimberly Stewart is named Delilah Genoveva.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Intentionally or Creatively Misspelling Names

A note on intentional or creative misspellings of names:

Sometimes made-up names are great because they combine two names from your family tree, such as combining something like Jasmine and Mira – Jasmira, or sometimes the name at least sounds like it could be a legitimate name, such as Kivora, and sometimes the legitimate names sound made-up, such as Doveva (but usually because they’ve been unheard of for so long). But I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of creating a new baby name, I’ll just say this: research any possible associations, and don’t misplace vowels. Say you want to go for Aliyah/Aaliyah and its variants, something new, so you try Alyia. If anything, that letter I should have been placed before the Y. This is beside the fact that both the I and the Y do not need to be there if the Y comes first, only one does. These are the language laws, which dictate that misplacing vowels (and certain other letters) make for a nonsense word or name. Scrolling through the SSA list these past couple of months I have seen Izsabella and Iszabella, Nathalye and Natalye, and many more names where the misspelling does not benefit the name at all. And I think this is why so many of us are against creative, intentional misspellings – because the misspelling turns the name into something confusing and usually adds unnecessary letters or takes away necessary letters. Most of us get a feeling of disgust when we see something like“Honestiy,” “Lushious” or “Catariyna.” My advice is to be respectful of the original version of the name if you are using something familiar. Variations like Christel or Cristal from the name Crystal make sense. Trying to make people pronounce Alyzeebith the same as Elizabeth does not. Most importantly, familiarize yourself with recent studies that prove children with oddly misspelled names have a much harder time learning to read and write, especially if their name defies phonics.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oberon

Today's name: Oberon

Pronunciation: oh-bur-on

Potential nicknames: Obie, Ober, Ron, Ronnie (a great way to honor a Ronald or Obie in your family tree) Bear, Bearie

Origin: Old German, meaning "royal bear," or "noble, bear-like," coming from the name Auberon (which is equally attractive) an Old French name from Frankish German origins. It is possible that Auberon and Oberon are related to the Germanic name Alberich. If indeed they are related to Alberich, then they are also related to the name Aubrey.

Popularity: I was shocked to learn that there were zero (five or less, as the SSA won't tell you when there is less than five) baby boys named Oberon and Auberon in 2010 and 2011. What a pity.

Fun fact: (1) Oberon was King of the Faeries in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and he graces the pages of other medieval and Renaissance literature. Since then, a moon of Uranus was named Oberon, as well as Queen of the Faeries, Titania, and those were the first two moons of Uranus discovered. All of Uranus's moons were named after the characters of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. (2) Author Auberon Waugh. (3) Bell's Oberon Ale (beer).

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Persephone

Today's name: Persephone

Pronunciation: per-SEPH-oh-nee

Potential nicknames: Perri, Persie, Seph, Sephie, Steph, Stephie, Penny

Origin: Greek, possibly with a pre-Greek origin as there were so many ways the Greeks said Persephone's name, including Kore, Persephassa, Persephoneia, and Phersephassa, meaning it could  have been brought to the Greeks by a Proto-Indo-European language. She was brought over to Roman mythology as Prosperina. While Kore, from which Cora comes from, means "girl, maiden," Persephone, in its most literal form from Proto-Indo-European, means "to bring death." Because of this, Persephone is associated with death, destruction, and rebirth, although death and rebirth were not always considered negative things, as we think of death today. Death was a new beginning. I would also like to point out, however, that "phone" in Greek means "sound, voice." Persephone's name is not purely negative, as a commenter pointed out. However, the first part of the name does not come from "perse," (which would mean "dark grayish-blue), it comes from "pertho," which means "to destroy."

Popularity: In 2010 there were 110 baby girls named Persephone, 8 named Persephonie and 9 named Persephanie in the U.S. In 2011 there were 134 girls named Persephone, along with 8 Persephanie, 6 Persephany and 5 Persephonie.

Fun fact: Persephone is often regarded as the personification of spring, nature and rebirth. Once Hades took her to the Underworld, she had to stay there for about four to six months per year, and she could go home for the other months, which symbolizes the rebirth of nature, or spring. They have said that when Persephone returns to the Underworld, winter begins. Persephone was worshipped with her mother, Demeter, as "the maidens" in the Eleusinian Mysteries and by cults. As the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, she is a diety in her own right, and was called a goddess of vegetation and nature, and the seasonal cycle of the death and rebirth of nature. She was captured by Hades and brought to the Underworld, therefore being known as "Queen of the Underworld." (Hades was not a king, nor was Persephone a queen, but being that the God Hades ruled the Underworld, this title from centuries ago fits her image.) Demeter, Persephone, and Zeus were sometimes called "the two mistresses and the king."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bram

Today's name: Bram

Pronunciation: brahm

Potential nicknames: While Bram seems more like a nickname itself, it produces feminine nicknames such as Brammie. However, Bram is the short form of Abraham and can be a great nickname for Bertram.

Origin: (1) Scottish, Irish and Gaelic, meaning "bramble," "a thicket of wild gorse," or "raven." (2) As the short form of Abraham, meaning "father of a multitude of nations."

Popularity: In 2010 there were 38 baby boys named Bram, and 5 of the variant Bran. In 2011 there were 5 Bron, 7 Bran, 17 Brahm and 37 Bram.

Fun fact: (1) Legendary Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Hallow

Today's name: Hallow

Pronunciation: HAL-low

Potential nicknames: Hal, Halo, Hallie, Allie

Origin: Old English, meaning "to make holy," "to consecrate," and "to believe sacred." It is important to know that hallowed means "sacred," or "holy."

Popularity: In 2010 and 2011 there were no babies named Hallow, and it has always been a very rare name, if ever given at all.

Fun fact: (1) See my last post about Samhain for info on All Hallow's Eve and All Hallow's Day. It is a time to remember loved ones who have passed on, therefore naming your baby Hallow could make a connection to honoring someone who is no longer with you. (2) Joining other more popular names like Harlow, Halle, and Haley, Hallow will fit right in. If you're worried about the meaning being too pretentious, keep in mind all the babies named Angel, Honor, Princess and the like. (3) This name might be immediately associated with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which could be good or bad for you, but J.K. Rowling did not invent the word and it has stronger ties to All Saint's Day. This name might also be confused with "hollow," and even moreso with the movie "Sleepy Hollow," but the two words are not related.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Samhain

A little bit about Samhain:

Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held between October 31st and November 1st and has connections with other Celtic cultures. Traditionally Samhain was meant to be a celebration of the end of the harvest season and a time to give thanks for a good crop, also marking the end of the lighter days and the beginning of darker days. Historically, those who participated in Samhain were those who dealt in agriculture, and they would light bonfires as a means of purification.

It is now widely regarded as a Pagan celebration and associated with witches, and although Neo-Pagans do celebrate this as a sort of holiday, there are many negative presumptions by the general public. When Christianity was beginning to blossom, one of the ways in which its followers thought it would be easier to make the transition between Paganism and Christianity was to just blend the holidays and beliefs a little bit, somewhat to make the new religion feel more familiar. Because the Catholic All Saint's Day, now called All Hallows' Day, was held on November 1st, Samhain and All Saint's Day were closely associated with each other since the 8th century. Both Samhain and All Saint's Day have influenced modern Halloween customs.

Old Irish literature suggests Samhain was being celebrated in the 10th century. Not only did Samhain mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter, it also marked the end of the season for trade and warfare. Many tribes in Old Ireland would gather on this date. Today, certains parts of the Samhain festival have survived. Many now participate in the "festival of the dead," a religious celebration. Many of the agricultural traditions still hold.

The meaning of Samhain:
Samhain is the Irish word for November, and the Modern Irish word Samhain was derived from refers to the 1st of November, the festival, and the royal assembly all held on November 1st in medieval times. Samhain can mean "summer's  end," or "season's end." Samhain is also known as the "Celtic New Year."

Samhain and Halloween:
It was Gaelic custom to wear costumes or masks, and some would blacken their faces and wear white. This was in order to look like evil spirits and the dead, so that the dead, if they walked beside the living, would not harm anyone. It was believed that the veil between the living and the dead was weakened during Samhain, and because of this, table settings were often reserved for ghosts of ancestors. Turnips were also carved out to make candles and some turnips had faces and were placed in the windows to keep evil spirits away. Children would go door-to-door in costumes, the turnip lanterns lighting their way, sometimes pulling pranks, mainly perfoming entertainment, in exchange for food or money. Also, many still attend bonfires during this time of year. These traditions were brought to America when the Irish and Scottish immigrated.

When the Catholic All Saint's Day became known as All Hallow's Day, and then All Soul's Day was known to be November 2nd, the 31st of October became known as All Hallow's Eve. It later became known as Halloween, a secular holiday. Halloween comes from the Scottish words for All Hallow's Eve.

Samhain as a baby name:
I know what you're thinking. "There's no way!" Right? But how can you ignore the cute nickname Sam, or the link to Irish or Scottish heritage, or the sense of holiday? Like naming your baby Christmas when they are born of Christmas Eve or Day, naming your baby Samhain might make seasonal sense if they are born between October 31st and November 2nd. Just saying, it's worth thinking about. I think it is a beautiful, historically rich baby name option. There were no babies named Samhain in 2010 or 2011.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creative Baby Names to Honor Family

A lot of expectant parents decide they would like to honor a family member by using their name in the first or middle spot because their baby's name takes on a special new meaning. But what do you do when the family names are not to your liking? They might be dated or ugly to you, despite that special connection. Or maybe you just want to elaborate on the name.

I suggest thinking outside the box.

1. Elaborate on the name: Have a Rhoda or Rhonda in your family you’d like to honor, but don’t like the name? Try Rhodanthe, from the Greek words for “rose” and “flower,” which is a word that can be used to refer to the color of flowers. Or try Rhodora (with the cute nickname Dora) which is a flowering shrub. The name comes from the Greek word for rose. Even simpler, you could change Emma to Emmeline or Rose to Roseline.

2. Try international variants: Anthony, for example, is very popular, so you might want to go with the less-popular Antony or Antonio. Or Katherine, for example, might be the name of your grandmother that another relative has already honored, so you might choose Katarina.

3. Use a surname: This idea isn't new, and in fact it is how the name Dashiell came to be used as a given name. I can think of a handful of surnames that have been used as first or middle names, such as Black, Wolf, and Sullivan. Your family's surname might work as a first or middle name as well.

4. Get creative with meaning: Paloma, for example, means "dove." So does Callum, Culver, Jemima, Columba and Dove itself.

5. Go with the nickname: Maybe you want to honor your mother, whose name was Cassandra, but she was always called Cassie. There are plenty of other names you can get the nickname Cassie from, such as Cassara, Cassidy, Cassiopeia, Cassia, Cascada, Casilda and Castalia.

6. Use the same letters: Say you have a Lena in your family, but that name doesn't work with the first name you've picked out. Use the letters in Lena to get a different name, such as Magdalena, Orlena, Carolena, Galena, Marlena, Elena or Alena.

7. Switch genders: Your dad's name might be Frank, but that doesn't mean you like the name. Francesca might be better for you. Ernest can become Ernestina, William can become Wilhelmina, Maria can become Mario, Martin can become Martina, Raphael can become Raphaela, and Phyllis can become Phillip or Phillip can become Phillipa. The options are virtually endless.

8. Take the name from the place your family comes from: Seville, Carolina, Milana, Cali, Ireland, or whatever it may be.

9. Smush two names together: This one is much tricker, because you don't want to end up with a name that sounds made-up or ridiculous, and you can't be too picky about the "new" name's meaning, because it may not be at all related to the two you started with. Let's say the two names you like are Caroline and Charlotte. You could get Carlotta out of those two.  Maybe you want to mix Eve and Linda, you could come up with Evelyn. Maybe George and Sergio - Georgio.

10. Use an anagram. Dylan/Lynda, Adeline/Daniela, Adrien/Darien, Melanie/Emelina, Teresa/Easter, Aidan/Diana/Nadia, Angela/Galena, Claire/Carlie, Alice/Celia/Lacie.


Any suggestions? I'd love to hear them.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Basil (m) & Basilia (f)

Today's name: Basil (male) and Basilia (female)
Pronunciation: Basil: BAY-zil or BAZ-ill, Basilia: bah-ZIL-ee-ah or bah-ZEEL-ya

Potential nicknames: Bay, Bas/Baz, Basie, Zilla

Origin: (1) Basil is Greek, from the name Basileios, meaning "royal, kingly." Basil first appeared during the Hellenistic period. The words basilica and basilisk derive from the same word. Basilia is the female form of Basil, meaning the same thing. Basilia was common in the Middle Ages. Basil was common in the eastern Mediterranean before it was brought to England by the Crusaders. (2) In Arabic, Basil means "brave."

The male name Basil has several variant forms, some more common than others: Breasal, Basek, Bazel, Basle, Basul, Basile, Basilic, Basilides, Basileios, Basilie, Basilio, Basilius, Bazeel, Bazeelius, Bazil, Bazyli, Vasil, Vazul, Vasile, Vasileos, Vasili, Vasilije, Vasilios, Vasilis, Vasilius, Vasilus, Vasily, Vassilij, Vassily, and Wassily.

The girl's name Basilia also has a handful of variant forms: Baseele, Baseelia, Baseelle, Bazeele, Bazeelia, Bazeelle, Basile, Basilie, Basille, Bazile, Bazille, and Bazilla.

Popularity: In 2010 there were only 46 baby boys named Basil and 11 baby girls named Basil, while there were no baby girls named Basilia. Basil was very popular between 1880 and 1910. In 2011 there were 7 baby girls named Basil even though nature names continued to rise in popularity. Again, there were no babies named Basilia in 2011, but there were 44 boys named Basil.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Basil from the fourth century was from Caesarea, also known as Basil the Great, shares his name with several early saints that were martyred in the east. There were also a handful of Byzantine rulers with the name Basil, as well as some Italian generals. There were also a few Saint Basilla's, female, from varied times. (2) Basil is the name of an herb, which when dried becomes a spice. (3) Early Sherlock Holmes star Basil Rathbone. (4) There is a book titled "Basil" by Wilke Collins. (5) Basil is the name of "The Great Mouse Detective," an animated movie.

A wonderful tale of Saint Basil, from http://www.20000-names.com
"One day, in 620, when Attila, count of Champagne, was out hunting, he came to Verzy, where stood the monastery of St. Basil.. A wild boar, chased by the dogs, ran for refuge to the saint, who was sitting in the sun outside his cell; and Basil covered the terrified beast with his cloak. The dogs came up, but were at a standstill, not knowing what to do. Presently the count came to the spot, and recognizing in this incident the finger of God, gave St. Basil a large part of the forest, a part of Bouzy, and the town of Sept-Saulx."—Mgr. Guérin, Vies des Saints, vol. xiii. p. 603. (E.C. Brewer)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sabrina

Today's name: Sabrina


Pronunciation: sa-BREE-nah

Potential nicknames: Bri, Brin, Bria, Brina, Brini, Sassy, Sabbie, Rina

Origin: Of uncertain etymology, of Celtic origin. In Celtic mythology, recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sabrina was an illegitimate daughter of a king, and gave her name to the River Severn in England, as it is still called today, because she was drowned in that river as a baby (for being illegitimate). Habren or Hafren, the Welsh name for the Severn, could have been the name of the river before it was called Severn. Others believe Sabrina was the goddess of the Severn, for which there is no legitimate source for this information, and others believe she was a nymph that drowned in the river.

Popularity: In 2010 Sabrina ranked at #219 and has been in the top 1000 since 1950. There were 1,421 baby girls named Sabrina in 2010. In 2011 it was #261, with 1,215 births.

Fun fact: (1) English poet Edmund Spenser first brought Sabrina to attention in literary form by way of his epic poem The Faerie Queene, then John Milton's song in Comus, about a nymph who saves children, inspired and is quoted in the play "Sabrina Fair," which a 1954 movie and a 1995 remake, both titled "Sabrina," were based on. The play and movies are about a chauffeur's daughter who falls in love with a rich man. (2) Sabrina the Teenage Witch,  a comic published by Archie Comics that debuted in 1962, a TV show, animated show, and books. Like yesterday's name, Casper, Sabrina has this negative 90s association that will be easier to get over now that the Teenage Witch isn't on TV anymore.

Sabrina Fair:
Sabrina fair
Listen where thou art living
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave
In twisted braids of lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honour’s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.



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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Casper

Today's name: Casper


Pronunciation: KASS-pur, CAHS-pehr

Potential nicknames: Cass, Caspie, Casey, Cap, Case

Origin: Dutch form of Persian name Jasper, meaning "treasurer" or "treasure holder." Kasper, Jaspar, Gaspard and Gaspar are variants.

Popularity: Casper ranked on the U.S. top 1000 from 1911 to 1933, but has not been seen since. In 2010 there were 51 baby boys named Casper and 11 named Caspar, 5 Kaspar and 26 Kasper. In 2011 there were 7 boys spelled Caspar and 54 Casper.

Fun fact: (1) Part of Casper's lack of popularity is due to "Casper the Friendly Ghost," which first appeared in a 1939 children's book and later an animated cartoon and comics, finishing with a movie in 1995. (2) Saint Gaspar del Bufalo. (3) Along with Balthazar and Melchior, Casper was one of the three Magi, or Wise Men, who brought gifts from afar to the infant Jesus. These three names cannot be found in the Bible and are thought to have been assigned in the 11th century. (4) The name of Claudia Schiffer's son, Casper Matthew. Her daughters are Clementine and Cosima. (5) Chosen by actor Jason Lee and his wife for their daughter Casper Alice. (Her middle name has not been officially verified.) (6) Actor Casper Van Dien.

I did a poll recently, asking if Casper was ready to make a comeback.
The first time, out of 36 people, 17 said they still thought of Casper the Ghost, 6 said the next generation won't make the same connection, and 13 said Casper is great anyway.
The second time, out of 38 people, 17 still said they still think of the friendly ghost, 6 still said the next generation won't care, and 15 said they love it anyway.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Falena

Today's names: Falena

A drawing of the widely known Luna Moth, image via http://prittimoth.blogspot.com

Pronunciation: fah-LAY-nah

Potential nicknames: Fay, Fallie, Lena, Lala

Origin: Latin, used in Spanish and Italian, meaning "moth." Falena is also a rare variant of the name Felina, which is Latin, meaning "catlike."

Popularity: Falena has not ranked in the top 1000, and in 2010 and 2011 there were no baby girls named Falena in the U.S.

Fun fact: Moths can be just as beautiful and colorful, and sometimes more so, than butterflies. What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly, anyway? One of the easiest ways to tell the difference is that moths usually have feathery, fluffy antennae, while butterflies have thin, straight antennae. Some of them can even look like tiny, lighter, feathery bats, and some look like they have bunny ears. A second way to distinguish between the two is that moths fold their wings down behind them, and butterflies keep their wings up and out. One last difference is that moths mainly fly at night, butterflies during the day, and this is where the phrase "Like a moth drawn to flame" comes from, for they really are drawn to light. One theory of this behavior is that moths use celestial navigation, which means they use the light of a star or the moon to guide them so that they can fly straight. (2) "La Falena" is a famous opera. (3) Movie, "The Mothman Prophecies."

The Madagascan Sunset Moth, thought to be the most beautiful moth.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Aragon

Today's name: Aragon

Pronunciation: AYR-uh-gahn, AIR-ah-gonn

Potential nicknames: Ar, Ary, Ara, Gon

Origin: Spanish and Aragonese, the medieval Kingdom of Aragon in the northeastern Iberian peninsula of Spain, it is now an autonomous community as of 1982 and its own nationality and its own provinces. Aragon has a rich history dating back to pre-Roman days. Aragon became a self-proclaimed kingdom in 1035 AD.

Popularity: In 2010 there were no babies named Aragon, nor has it ever ranked. In 2011 there were only 5 boys given this name.

Fun fact: (1) Not to be confused with the book and movie titled "Eragon." (2) Catherine of Aragon was the wife of Arthur Tudor, the Prince of Wales, but he died five months after their marriage in 1501. She then married his brother, Henry VIII, the future King of England, in 1509. Henry was not satisfied that she gave him no surviving male heirs, so he annulled their marriage, partly due to his infatuation with his mistress, Anne Boleyn. Henry went on with beheading and remarrying wives (he had 6 wives total), but Catherine, who was also the first female ambassador in European history, lived out her life peacefully. Catherine's daughter Mary went on to become Queen. (3) Petronila, Queen of Aragon.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Electra / Elektra

Today's name: Electra
Is Electra too electric for you? Try  Elettra, Elektra, Alectra, Ellectra, Ellektra or Ilectra.
Pronunciation: el-EK-trah, ee-LEK-trah

Potential nicknames: Elle, Ellie, Ella, Lectra, Lex, Lexie

Origin: Greek, meaning "amber." Derived from the Greek word for amber, elektron. Although other sources claim it means "shining," "bright," and "radiant," there is no proof for these meanings.

Popularity: Electra has not ranked in the top 1000. In 2010 there were 18 baby girls named Electra and 36 baby girls spelled Elektra. In 2011 there were 14 Electra, 25 Elektra and no Elettra.

Fun fact: (1) Electra was the daughter of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra of Mycenae. Agamemnon killed Electra's sister Iphigenia to please the goddess Artemis in hopes that Artemis would let his ships safely sail to Troy during the Trojan war. His wife was angered by this and swore to never forgive him, but when he came back from Troy with a new mistress (Cassandra) Clytemnestra killed both of them with the help of her lover. In turn, this made Electra angry, so she and her brother Orestes exacted revenge upon their mother and her lover Aegisthus. This is where the term "Electra complex" comes from. Electra's story is part of the Greek Tragedies by Sophocles and Euridipes and she has been the inspiration for other literary works. (2) Electra or Elektra Natchios is well known for being a Marvel comic book heroine. Jennifer Garner played this character in a movie of the same title.

Possible siblings for Electra might include:
Oceana, Apollo, Orpheus, Hermes, Aura, Echo, Leander, Athena, Chrysanthe, Rhea, Atlas, Althea, Atalanta, Minerva, Eudora, Hestia, Desdemona, or really any Greek mythology name (excluding the names of her parents, siblings, Cassandra and Artemis). If you really want to get creative, try other names with both color and gemstone meanings, such as Amethyst or Fairuza, which both refer to colors and stones.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Felix

Today's name: Felix (Felixa and Felixia for girls)
Depending on where you live, Feliciano, Felicio, Felike, Feliks or Felizio may be more familiar variants.

You know I had to add a picture of Felix the Cat

Pronunciation: FEE-licks

Potential nicknames: Fee, Flick, Lixy, Lixer, Felly/Fellie

Origin: Latin, meaning "happy, fortunate."

Popularity: In 2010 Felix ranked #331 for boys, and the ranking has stayed in the 300s for the past decade. There were a total of 940 baby boys born in 2010 named Felix, 7 spelled Feliks, and 20 named Feliciano. Felix ranked #8 in Quebec and Germany, #11 in Austria, #36 in Sweden, #81 in Norway, and #221 in Scotland, all in 2010. In 2011 it moved up to #311 with 1,023 births. For girls, Felixa and Felixia are too have to rank or statistically summarize.

Fun fact: (1) You may recognize this name from the animated "Felix the Cat," one of the first cartoons of the silent film era, and by far the most popular. Although you can still find Felix around today, his heyday was the 1920s, and connections between Felix the Cat and Felix the baby name are dying down. (2) Less instantly recognizable is Felix Unger from "The Odd Couple." (3) This is the name of more than one saint (67, I believe), and also the name of four different popes. There was also a Felix in the Bible. (4) You can find many more famous Felix namesakes, but most are not instantly recognizable.

Alternate feminine form: Felicity & Felicia

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Opal

Today's name: Opal, the birthstone of October
Try Opalina or Opaline if you don't like Opal. There have even been a few Opalinska's.



Pronunciation: OH-pull, OH-pall

Potential nicknames: Opie, Palla, Ollie

Origin: Hindi and Sanskrit (from the word upala), meaning "gem, precious stone." From Sanskrit upala came the Greek word opallios, and then Latin opalus. Some say the name Opal came from the wife of the god Saturn, who was named Ops. The term/festival Opalia refers to her, just as Saturnalia refers to Saturn. Opaline and Opalina are longer versions of the female name.

Popularity: Opal was last on the Social Security Administration's top 1000 list in 1960, at #920, after a very successful run from the early 1900's. It made it to #81 in 1911. In 2010 there were only 80 baby girls named Opal. In 2011 there were 92 girls named Opal. There were no baby girls named Opaline or Opalina.

Fun Fact: (1) The opal gemstone comes in a wide variety of iridescent colors, mainly with a milky white background. Most Opals come from the Australian outback, and there is a legend there that claims "The Creator" came down to Earth upon a rainbow to send a message of peace, and where his foot touched ground, the stones became opals. (2) Pliny the Elder, from Roman times, said the opal contained the best qualities of all other gemstone colors.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Croix

Today's name: Croix

Pronunciation: CROY, or KWAH

Potential nicknames: Suggestions welcome, all I can think of is Crow.

Origin: French, meaning "cross." You might recognize this name from Saint Croix, the island in the Bahamas. Saint Croix does not refer to a saint, it simply means "holy cross."

Popularity: Croix does not rank on the Social Security Administration's top 1000 baby names, but there were 28 baby boys named Croix in 2010. As for Croix's meaning, there were 35 baby boys named Cross born in 2010. In 2011 there were 18 boys named Croix.

Fun fact: Cedric Kyles, aka Cedric the Entertainer chose this name for his son.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lyra

Sapho Lyra lyre baby names music 
"Sappho Kissing Her Lyre" by Jules-Elie Delaunay

Today's name: Lyra

Pronunciation: LYE-rah (ly-rah)

Origin: Greek, meaning "lyre." A lyre is a small harp, and it was a favorite instrument among the ancient Greeks. Lyra is a feminine variant of Lyris. The words lyricist and lyric come from the same root.

Popularity: Lyra is not, and has not been, in the U.S. top 1000. There were 216 baby girls named Lyra in 2010, along with 8 spelled Lyrah. In 2011 there were 13 Lyrah and 240 Lyra, just outside of being ranked.

Fun fact: (1) Lyra is the name of a small constellation. According to Greek mythology this constellation resembled the lyre that belonged to the poet Orpheus. Vega is its brightest star. (2) Lyra is the main character in the His Dark Materials novel series by Phillip Pullman, and the first book is now a movie titled "The Golden Compass." (3) Lyra was the chosen baby name by Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum. (4) As seen in the picture above, the lyre was used by the Greek female poet Sappho over two thousand years ago (about 630 BC), where she lived on the Isle of Lesbos. She was one of the only women in her time period to do something as professional as write poetry, and she was extremely famous among her contemporaries. Her contribution to music remains today in sapphic meter.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dylan

Today's name: Dylan
Variant spellings: Dillan, Dillon, Dyllan, Dyllon, Dylon, Dylonn

Pronunciation: DIL-an

Potential nicknames: Dyl, "D"

Origin: Welsh, meaning "son of the sea," although there is a possibility the names comes from the word dylanwad, meaning "influence." The spelling Dillon derives from a surname.

Popularity: In 2010 Dylan ranked at #31 for boys in the U.S. with 10,455 boys born with that spelling, and, surprisingly, #571 for girls. The spelling Dillon ranked at #293 for boys in 2010 with 1,037 boys born with that spelling. These rankings have not changed much in the past decade, but have been very slowly moving down for both genders. In 2010 the name was ranking at #2 in Wales, #9 in Northern Ireland, #12 in Ireland, #13 in Scotland, #18 in Sascatchewan, #19 in England, #24 in New Zealand, #25 in British Columbia and in Ontario, and #30 in Australia's New South Wales. In 2011 in the U.S. it ranked at #33.

Fun fact: In Welsh mythology, specifically the myths known as Mabinogion, Dylan was a revered hero, god of the sea, son of Gwyddion and Arianhrod. (2) Poet Dylan Thomas. (3) The son of Catherin Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. (4) Singer Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman, who took this surname in tribute to the poet Dylan Thomas. (5) Actor Dylan McDermott. (6) A 90210 TV series character played by Luke Perry. (7) Designer Ralph Lauren has a daughter named Dylan.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Isla

Today's name: Isla

Pronunciation: EYE-lah

Potential nicknames: Issie, Lala, Isle, Isles, Islie (pronounced eye-lee)

Origin: (1) Scottish and English, meaning "Scottish island," derived from Islay, the real name of a Scottish island. It is also the name of two Scottish rivers. It became a popular given name in the 1800s.(2) Old French, from the name Ila, meaning "island."

Popularity: In 1886 Isla ranked at #938 on the SSA's top 1000 list, climbing to #713 the next year, sinking a little in the following years, and then it fell off the chart after 1908. Then in 2008, possibly due to actress Isla Fisher, the name jumped back on the chart, landing at #619, and increasing ever since. In 2010 it was at #297 and in 2011 it reached its highest ranking at #268. In the UK she has already made it in the top 100, and she's popular in many countries.

Fun fact: Isla Fisher, actress, married to Sasha Baron Cohen, who named her baby girls Elula Lottie Miriam Cohen and Olive (middle name unknown).

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seamus

Today's name: Seamus
Alternate spellings that have been used: Sheamus, Seumus, Shaymus, Seamas, Shamus

Pronunciation: SHAY-muss

Potential nicknames: Shea/Shay, Shy, Sean, Shem
(who can resist a nickname like Shea?)

Origin: Irish Gaelic variant of James (which is the English variant of Jacob), meaning "supplanter," or "he who grabs at the heel." A supplanter is someone who takes someone else's place. Jacob was born grabbing at his twin brother Esau's heel, later tricking this brother into trading the place of first born son, then tricking his father into giving him the title of first born son, and he is now the famous Biblical supplanter. Despite his trickery, God favored him.

Popularity: Seamus first made it on the Social Security Administration's top 1000 list for boys in 1995, making it to #733 in 2003, and in 2010 he ranked at #878. There were 236 baby boys  named Seamus in 2010 in the U.S., 7 Shaymus, 38 Shamus, 14 Sheamus, 118 Shea and 68 Shay. There were also only two baby Seamus's born in Scotland in 2010. Then in 2011 there were 33 boys named Sheamus, 34 Shamus, and Seamus ranked at #840.

Fun fact: (1) Poet Seamus Heaney. (2) Seamus Finnigan was a Harry Potter character.

I'll ask my readers: would you put Seamus into the "spunky" category, the "vintage" category, or something else?

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Notable Boy Names from the 2009 Michigan SSA List

I thought this would make for a fun post, since I have some readers in Michigan.
Here are some interesting names of baby boys born in Michigan in 2009. These names vary from weird to rare to common.

5 Delorean
5 Carmine
5 Vicente
5 Andreas
5 Anakin
6 Winston
6 Titan
6 Milan
6 Merrick
7 Sheldon
7 Thaddeus
7 Salvador
7 Lachlan
7 Arturo
9 Salvador
9 Orlando
9 Byron
10 Romeo
11 Soren
11 Roland
11 Lewis
11 Franklin
12 Cedric
14 Archer
15 Ronan
17 Arthur
18 August
19 Sergio
19 Maverick
19 Dorian
31 Rocco
32 Dean
32 Quentin
35 Rowan
39 Gregory
47 Tory
47 Peter
49 Mario
54 Jace
64 Devon

Desperately Seeking... Endrina

Hi, all. Usually it isn't too hard for me to find info on some of the most rare names, but I'm having a really hard time finding anything on Endrina. I have a feeling that, like the name Andrina, it is a variant of Andrea, but I can't prove that (yet). If you have any info, please let me know! Thanks.

*update 2/14/12...I found out Endrina is a grape-like fruit! Never heard of it before, and I guess it can be called endrina or endrin...and I've mostly seen it in Spanish, not Albanian as I'd thought...*

Friday, October 7, 2011

Orion

Today's name: Orion

Pronunciation: or-RY-on

Potential nicknames: Ri/Ry, Rion, Ory/Orrie

Origin: Greek, meaning unknown, but possibly related to the Greek word horion, meaning "boundary," or "limit." Some claim it means "son of fire," or "son of light," others say "dweller on the mountain." Orion was the hunter son of Poseidon, the Greek god. In some myths, Orion loved the goddess Diana but she accidentally killed him, so he was turned into a constellation. In other myths, he was accidentally killed by Artemis, and Zeus placed him in the sky as a constellation. Either way, you can now see his constellation at night. People sometimes simply refer to Orion as "The Hunter." Information is sometimes contested about Orion because there are several different versions of his story.

Popularity: Surprisingly, there were 555 baby boys named Orion in 2010 in the U.S., ranking at #466. There were also 13 boys named Orian, 7 named Orien, 51 named Oryan, and 5 named Oryon. In 2011 there were 8 boys named Orien, 17 Orian and 566 Orion, ranking at #472.

Fun fact: (1) If you are looking for the constellation Orion tonight, start by looking for "Orion's belt," three stars in a row that make a distinct line, as you can see in the picture above. Four bright stars make his body's outline. In the Northern Hemisphere he is easily seen between late fall to late winter.(2) Mark Twain had an older brother named Orion. (3) Orion is a popular named for many artists and writers, gracing the pages of novels and their titles, music soundtracks, and even an alien race in Star Trek. Even the Royal Navy has named ships for Orion.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crisanta & Chrysanthe

Today's name: Crisanta & Chrysanthe
Chrysanthe can also be spelled Chrysanthea (kris-SAN-thee-uh) and Chrysantha.
Crisanta's alternate is Crisantha (kriss-ANN-tha)

Pronunciation: kriss-AHN-tah

Potential nicknames: Cris, Crissa, Crissy, Cristie, Santa, Thea

Origin: Crisanta is the Spanish variant of the Old Greek, meaning "golden flower," which probably referenced the chrysanthemum, which most people associate it with today. The traditional Old Greek spelling is Khrysanthe, pronounced kris-ANN-thee, from the words chrysos and anthos. It is the feminine form of Chrysanthos, which all of the variants come from.

Popularity: There were no babies named Crisanta or Chrysanthe in 2010 or 2011.

Fun fact: (1) Chrysanthos (male) was a third century Egyptian saint, who was not very well known.

Middle name ideas: Crisanta and Chrysanthe may sound too exotic for most American parents, so a more modern-sounding, simple, traditional middle name might make it perfect, although these rare names are not for everyone.

Crisanta Marie/Mary
Crisanta Lilith
Crisanta Marilyn
Crisanta Jane
Crisanta Nicole
Crisanta Eloise
Crisanta Sophie

Chrysanthe Eve
Chrysanthe Maeve
Chrysanthe Sonnet
Chrysanthe Jewel

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Harvey

Today's name: Harvey

Pronunciation: HAR-vee

Potential nicknames: Harv, Harry

Origin: Old English, meaning "eager for battle; strong and worthy," derived from the Old Breton Aeruiu or Haerviu. It is the French variant of Herve, and a Norman name revived in the 19th century.

Popularity: Harvey last ranked on the SSA chart in 1997, when it was #922. There were 184 baby boys named Harvey in 2010 in the U.S., and then in 2011 it came back at #862, which I have a feeling is all because of the new Batman movies.

Fun fact: (1) Harvey Dent was a character also known as Two Face in the Batman comics, and although he is know as a villain, his great personality before his "change" is showcased in the new movies. The Harvey award is given for achievement in comic books. (2) Harvey was also a character from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." (3) "The Harvey Girls" was a musical film staring Judy Garland, written by Samuel Hopkins. (4) "Harvey" was a Pulitzer Prize winning play by Mary Chase.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Aurelia

Today's name: Aurelia

Pronunciation: OR-ell-ee-ah, AWE-rell-ee-ah

Variants: Aurelie, Aranka, Arela, Areli, Arelie, Arella, Arely, Auralia, Aurea, Aurel, Aureliana, Aurelina, Aurellia, Aurene, Auriel, Auriella, Aurielle, Aurita, Ora, Oriana, Oriane, Oralia, Ouralia, Oralie, Orel, and Orelia.

Potential nicknames: Aura, Aurie, Rellie, Lia

Origin: Latin, meaning "golden." It is the feminine variant of Aurelio, which comes from Aurelius. Aurelius was taken from the Sabine Ausel, meaning "splendid" or "dazzling." This was a very popular name in the days of the Roman Empire, and it started to bloom again in the 17th century. It is being considered again, possibly thanks to its mixture of an ancient Latin vibe and the imagery of golden sunsets.

Popularity: Aurelia last ranked on the Social Security Administration's list of the top 1000 baby names in 1950, when it was at #917. In 2010, there were 209 baby girls born named Aurelia and 15 named Aurelie, and in 2011 there were 239 girls named Aurelia, just beyond ranking in the top 1000.

Fun fact: (1) The name of several early saints, none of which are well known. It's "name day," or "onomastico," is September 25th, in honor of Saint Aurelia, who was martyred at Anagni with Saint Neomisia (another saint who is not well known). (2) Emperor Marcus Aurelius. (3) Aurelia Cotta, Julius Caesar's mother. She is connected to the Via Aurelia, an ancient road that runs through Rome.

Middle name ideas: Some middle names will give Aurelia new meaning (see below). If you think Aurelia might be too fancy, too long, or too old for your baby girl, try pairing it with a younger, shorter middle name with modern appeal...

Aurelia Kate/Cait (Golden and pure)
Aurelia Blair (Golden field/golden plain)
Aurelia Cecily (Golden, sixth)
Aurelia Winter (Golden winter)
Aurelia Willow (Golden willow)
Aurelia Raine (Golden queen)
Aurelia Dawn (Golden dawn)
Aurelia Ivy (Golden ivy)

Extra sources for this info, other than the usual, which has many "name days" listed: http://italian.about.com/library/name/blname_aurelia.htm

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Coriander

Today's name: Coriander (unisex)


Pronunciation: KOR-ee-AN-der

Potential nicknames: Cor, Cori, Corie, Cory, Andie, Andy, Ander, Anders, Corian, Corin

Origin: From the Old French word coriandre, from the Latin coriandrum, from the Greek koriannon, this word has been around for a long time. According to Wikipedia, the earliest attested use was the Mycenaean Greek word ko-ri-ja-da-na, reconstructed as koriadnon, similar to the name Ariadne. (Ariadne was Mino's daughter.) That said, coriander has a long, rich history of use. Coriander is an annual herb native to southern Europe, North Africa and southwestern Asia. The leaves are known as cilantro and the seeds as coriander. Both cilantro leaves and coriander seeds are used as spices. Coriander seeds are traditionally used internationally for medicinal properties such as settling anxiety and ridding insomnia.

Popularity: There were no baby boys or girls named Coriander in 2010 or 2011 and it has not been in the top 1000 in at least 11 years, but probably not ever. However, there were also a lot of Cori/Cory/Corie's as stand-alone names.

Fun fact: (1) I find no hard evidence to suggest coriander means "romance" like some sites suggest. (2) Coriander seeds, as a spice, may be familiar to some, but still quite rare to others. If you're concerned about someone calling you out on naming your baby after a spice, names like Sage and Saffron are rising steadily in popularity. Babies have been named much weirder, and this name/spice has a long, long history, with the ultra-cute nickname of Cori. Not to mention it sounds like Alexander. I think that justifies it.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dahlia

Today's name: Dahlia



Pronunciation: DAHL-ya, DAHL-ee-ah

Potential nicknames: Doll/Dahl, Dolly/Dahllie, Lia, Dala

Origin: (1) Swedish and Scandinavian, meaning "valley," or "valley dweller." (2) A flower named for the 18th century botanist Anders Dahl.

Popularity: There were 447 baby girls named Dahlia in 2010 in the U.S., ranking in at #650. In 2011 it went up to #538, with 536 births.

Fun fact: (1) Dahlias come in an array of colors. (2) "The Black Dahlia" was a movie based on a real American woman named Elizabeth Short whose 1947 murder case was never solved. It is disputed whether newspaper reporters gave her this nickname, or friends of hers gave her the nickname based on the recent movie "The Blue Dahlia." The movie is probably the real reason. For those of you who don't want this negative association, consider the fact that the dahlia flower has been around for a lot longer, and Dahlia was not this woman's real name.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Critiquing Popular Baby Name Blogs & Sites

My perfect baby name website would have polls, the option to make a list of first and middle name combos that people can vote on, the option to save names I like to a separate list, forums where I can talk about names, popularity charts with information from every year since 1880 (or whenever, it's really time-consuming to make these) even if that name has never been in the top 1000, and the number of births for every name, even if there were only 5, and the widest variety of names with accurate meanings and pronunciations. I'm sure others would add famous namesakes to this list, but I'd just like to know of any bad associations.

Also, the very first site you go to when trying to pick a name should be the Social Security Administration to check if that name ranks in popularity. The second should be Whitepages.com, as they will give you a total number for how many people with that name are listed (White Pages isn't always entirely accurate, but it will give you an idea of how many people share the name and what the common last name is). You could also check HowManyofMe.com You'll find other credible sources on the right side of this site. It is best to check multiple sites for the meaning of a name because sometimes the first thing that pops up in an online search is a "fake" site looking for money through ads. Many other so-called baby name sites don't pay much attention to etymology and just grab the first random meaning they see.

This "critique" does not apply to any portion of a website that does not pertain to baby names.

1. Nameberry
http://www.nameberry.com/
A great place to talk with other name-nerds and expectant moms on the Nameberry message boards, but the website itself doesn't usually tell you how to pronounce names. Some names don't have meanings or origins either. That said, getting advice from the multitude of helpful users is priceless. They will give you ideas, critique your lists, and help you with any naming problems. They also have great blog posts.

2. Think Baby Names
http://www.thinkbabynames.com/
When writing a post, this is usually where I start. Their information is always accurate, they have a large selection of names to browse through, rarely don't have a name I'm looking for (unlike other sites), and they have a popularity chart for top 1000 names. However, there are no polls, message boards or other name related stuff.

3. Nancy's Baby Names
http://www.nancy.cc/
This site is written much like a newspaper, with articles and snippets of information and stories from history both past and present that you will not find elsewhere. However, I like to visit Nancy's A-Z list of how many babies were born in each year with each specific name, as it is a quick and easy way to get that info without going to the SSA's site and downloading their extended lists. Baby naming advice is now offered.

4. Appellation Mountain
http://appellationmountain.net/
This site has unique information about baby names and very detailed, accurate individual posts on names. Offered here are names from all categories, stories, and articles in a name-per-day format, and they are typically reader-requested.

5. Bewitching Names
http://bewitchingnames.blogspot.com/
One of my favorite blogs, Bewitching Names is a combination of baby names and Pagan/Neo-Pagan/Wiccan naming info. She offers a lot of rare names and personal insight, with a few themes here and there, such as Harry Potter names and Astrological sign-specific names.

6. BabyNames.com
http://www.babynames.com/
I used to love this site. I thought it had so many names I never encountered before, and if anyone chooses to put a picture of their baby on the website, everyone can see that child under the specific name. However, I soon found that some of the name meanings were inaccurate and they don't have all of the information I'd like to know. So I began to only use it for the option to create a list of first and middle names (together, unlike Behind the Name where you can only list individual names) that other people can vote on. IF you give them the link directly. Otherwise, you have to pay for a membership, and I'm sorry but it's really not worth it. You also have to subscribe (pay for a membership) in order to use most of the features on their message boards. I know they have a lot of other stuff on their site, though, like a due date calculator and celebrity baby name announcements. My favorite feature is their list of the top 50 most popular cat names. But seriously, $28 a year for the same service I can get on Nameberry? Please.

7. Behind the Name
http://www.behindthename.com/
I was drawn to this site for their polls. You can only make up to 5 polls per 24 hour period, so make them count. But it is so much fun! Besides voting and getting votes, this site is also known for their excellent name etymologies (the meaning and origin of a name). Yes, there are a few legit names missing from their database, but they have quite a selection of names to browse through with accurate meanings. However, their message boards are much harder to deal with than the Nameberry forums. And you can compile a list of names for other people to vote on, but you can't pair first and middle names you're interested in. Worth noting is the country specific popularity charts, and the fact that this site probably has more foreign names than any other (or at least the easiest to browse).

8. Baby Name Genie
http://www.babynamegenie.com/
Visit this site for a little humor and to vote on names other people are considering. There is a baby name generator that will give you ideas based on your last name and the baby's gender, then there is another generator for middle names, and another for first names. I love that it lists the full name with middle initial and all three initials. And a feature original to this website is the "Baby Name Test Drive" which shows you how the name you are considering will look in the real world. I must say this one is awesome. Then there is a community with message boards that I haven't tried out yet.

9. Parent's Connect
http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/
Here you will find accurate meanings and interesting information from people who took surveys about their own name in order to help people thinking about using that name. Includes a popularity chart if the name has ever been in the top 1000, and name nerds will appreciate that it goes all the way back to 1880 when applicable. However, the video advertisements that play can be very annoying. Go ahead - advertise on your site. I do. But for goodness sake please don't let the ads have volume.

10. Baby Name Wizard
http://www.babynamewizard.com/
http://www.babynamewizard.com/blog
This site focuses primarily on American trends. Explore popularity changes and potential sibling names, although I really never like their suggestions for sibling names. Unfortunately, one of the worst aspects of this site is that anyone with an account can add information, kind of like Wikipedia, so you don't know how accurate some information is. It's insightful when reading about how someone chose their baby's name, but not when they can add whatever meaning they invent. The "name finder" tool is particularly useful. Some of you probably own Laura Wattenberg's book, The Baby Name Wizard, and it is a very good book, but alas misses quite a few names. As for her blog, there is some interesting stuff there, with lots of celebrity baby names. I believe you can also pay for the popularity chart exploration.

11. Waltzing More Than Matilda
http://waltzingmorethanmatilda.com/
This blog features celebrity baby news (which is always useful because even if you don't care about celebrities and their naming trends, you may want to know what they're up to so you can avoid copying a celebrity baby name). There is other news/articles and baby name related information as well. Keep in mind this blog is Australian.

12. Nook of Names
http://nookofnames.com/
The author of this blog now has a book out: Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names, and it is a great read. The book and blog are geared towards Pagans and those of alternative religions, and, as she puts it "independent thinkers of all sorts." Both book and blog are so well researched and informative. If you are not yet overwhelmed by the trillions of names to search for online, or have exhausted all your online possibilities, buy the book. I own it and have picked it up over a hundred times. It covers tame choices like Robin, moderately adventurous choices like Charm, very bold choices like Gossamer, and forgotten historical choices like Nicander or Petrosinella. *Update: unfortunately the author has passed away. Her blog is still available to read for now, and in the future there should be an archived version.

13. Names From the Dustbin (abandoned?)
http://namesfromthedustbin.blogspot.com/
Another site with no-so-wearable names from times past, but there is great advice here and there and some interesting articles. I expect to see some gems on here at some point. There is already one: Euphemia.

14. Mer de Noms
http://merdenomsnames.wordpress.com/
Click on the "Data" link for great popularity tables, that I believe no one else has. (It's always great when a website or blog features something you can only get there.) Click on the link "Get Started" to see some posts original to the blog. There are also articles on pop culture, naming and sibsets. Keep in mind the writer is not in the U.S. and she covers naming popularity from England and Wales. That said, there is even useful info for those in the U.S.

15. Marginamia
http://marginamia.blogspot.com/
This blog features names picked from unexpected places, such as websites, blogs, designers and shops. There are also random "name consultation" posts.

16. For Real Names
http://names4real.wordpress.com/
I love that by browsing this blog you can see if anyone has used the first and middle name pairing that you're considering for your own baby. This blog only posts the names of actual babies born, and will tell you where those names are coming from.

17. Nymbler
http://www.nymbler.com/
This is where you can go if you're starting at the beginning, have a few names you like, and would like to find more that are similar in order to build a longer list of names to choose from. It gives you a lot more options for similar names (to build your list or for potential siblings) than The Baby Name Wizard.

18. Baby Namer
http://www.babynamer.com/
And here's one I stay away from because it's a little bit like Wikipedia, you never know if the information is accurate. It is not up-to-date information (a 1990 census isn't cutting it for 2011),  and you have to hunt down any interesting facts, if there are any. For more popular names, the meanings are often sloppy versions. For example, for Joan they have "God's grace" instead of "God is gracious" and they list Ivanka as a variant, even though Ivanka is a direct variant of Jane, and they neglect to inform you that Joan is the female variant of John. They also miss quite a few names.

20. Baby Zone
http://babyzone.com
Don't expect too much here when it comes to names, as there isn't any in-depth information, unless you really hunt down the good stuff, like the Nameberry posts (that you could just get on Nameberry). Some name info is lumped together (like Bettina with the nickname Liz). Some origins and most meanings fail to appear. Sloppy.

21. Baby Center
http://babycenter.com
Stick with Whitepages.com, since most of this website is confusing, and the pop-up ads are annoying. There are options for polls and name lists, but Behind the Name and Babynames.com already have you covered. No pronunciation help.

22. Swistle Baby Names
http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/
This blog is mainly for name consultations - people asking advice on what to name their baby. There is a wait list, but check it out anyways if you're in desperate need of naming advice...maybe someone else already asked the same question.

23. Babynology
Advertisement hell. Go here if you're hunting down categories like Kenyan, Gothic and Zoroastrian, and don't expect meanings. Also, PLEASE STOP LEAVING AD-COMMENTS ON MY BLOG.

24. 20,000 Names
www.20000-names.com
One of the oldest sites for baby names, this one has so many you'll need a few days. They have great lists like "rain" names, names that mean "light," etc. They also have a multitude of countries to browse for names and categories you won't find elsewhere, such as "dragon names" and "shadow names." When applicable there is a quote from any literary reference.

Want to remain anonymous when asking for name advice? Try Yahoo Answers.
Need pronunciations? Check Forvo.
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If there are any country-specific blogs or websites you think people should know about, please leave it in the comments and it will be much appreciated. If you have your own baby name blog, you can leave that link in the comments too for people to visit.

Peregrine



Today's name: Peregrine (male)
The female variant is Peregrina, although never heard, with no documented history of use

Pronunciation: PARE-uh-green, PARE-uh-grinn, and occasionally PARE-uh-gryne (as in grind)
The variations Peregryn and Peregrin are pronounced PARE-uh-grinn
The variation Peregrino is pronounced pare-eh-GREEN-oh

Potential nicknames: Per, Perry, Perrin, Pippin, Grine (Green), Grey
For a girl, a potential nickname is Birdie, Pera, Perrie or Pippa.

Origin: (1) Latin, meaning "traveller, wanderer, foreigner" from the word peregrinus. (2) Peregrine falcon.

Popularity: Peregrine has never ranked in the U.S. top 1000. There were 12 baby boys named Peregrine in 2010 and 15 in 2015. There were 128 Perry (and 40 Perrin if you were curious) in 2010. As for baby girls, there were no Peregrine, 32 Perry, 31 Perri (and 8 Perrin). In 2011 there were 5 Peregrin and 9 Peregrine. In 2013 there were 5 boys named Peregrin.

Fun fact: (1) The peregrine falcon is used in the ancient sport of falconry. It is said to be the fastest animal on the planet. (2) Saint Peregrine Laziosi is the patron saint of cancer. There is more than one Saint Peregrine, from the late 100s to the 6th century. I believe there are four total. (3) The first child born in the New World, America, was named Peregrine White. He was born on the Mayflower. (4) 1st century philosopher Peregrinus Proteus. (5) A name commonly used by English aristocrats starting in the 16th century and even to this day.


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