Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heidi

Today's name: Heidi


Pronunciation: HY-dee

Potential nicknames: Dee/Di, DiDi, Heid...

Origin: Surprisingly, Heidi is the short form of the Old German name Adelaide, meaning "exhalted nature," although Adelaide means "noble kind." Kind of the same thing. Simply put, they both mean "noble person." Heidi can also be a nickname for Hildegard and Heidrun.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 1,059 baby girls named Heidi, ranking at #303 on the U.S. top 1000. There were also 9 baby girls spelled Heide and 334 spelled Heidy. In 2011 it ranked at #331, a slight fall, with 943 births.

Fun fact: (1) You might recognize this name from Johanna Sprydi's novel "Heidi," in which there is a main character from the Swiss Alps with the same name, although her full name was Adalheid (Adalaide). This has been made into a 1937 movie. (2) Heidi Montag, a famous actress. (3) Adelaide was popular due to Queen Adelaide, the German princess who married Prince William IV. Adelaide has 57 variant forms, but I'll save that for a different post. (4) Supermodel Heidi Klum. (5) Heidi Fleiss, and several other famous Heidi's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Franklin

Today's name: Franklin


Pronunciation: FRANK-lyn

Potential nicknames: Frank, Franky/Frankie, Lin

Origin: Middle English, meaning "free landholder," referring to a free man who owned land in the feudal system and was not of noble birth. The name was derived from franc, the French word for "free." Franklin is not related to Frank and Franco.

Popularity: In 2011 there were 513 baby boys named Franklin, ranking at #504, and in 2010 there were 508 baby boys named Franklin, its ranking moved to #503. In comparison, there were 45 baby boys named Franklyn, 1,062 named Frank, 252 named Franco, 5 named Frankey, 271 named Frankie, 15 named Franko, and 58 Franky in 2010.

Fun fact: (1) Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Franklin Pierce. (2) Inventor/philosopher/scientist Benjamin Franklin. (3) Singer Aretha Franklin. (4) Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale, part of The Canterbury Tales, in which the name Franklin is actually the literal word for "free landowner." (5) The Franklin tree, franklinia alatamaha, was named for Benjamin Franklin.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tamsin or Thomasina?

the astrological twins


Pronunciation: TAM-sin, tom-ah-SEE-nah

Potential nicknames: Tam, Tams, Tammy, Tommie, Sina, Tina, Tansy

Alternate spellings: Tamzin, Tamasin, Tomasin, Thomasin, Tamsen

Origin: Tamsin is the English short form of the name Thomasina, which is the Aramaic feminine variant of Thomas. Tamsin, Thomasina, and Thomas mean "twin." It is really up to you if you want to name a non-twin Tamsin or Thomasina, since people name non-twin boys Thomas regularly.

Popularity: There were only 9 baby girls named Tamsin in 2010, which means it did not rank on the top 1000. In 2011 there were only 8 baby girls named Tamsin and 6 named Thomasina. Thomasina only ranked once - in 1932 at #970.

Fun facts for Tamsin: (1) Tamsin was used as a given name about a century after the Victorian Era. (2) Tamsin has been traditionally used in Cornwall. (3) Tamsin was a 1999 novel by Peter S. Beagle - the same guy that wrote The Last Unicorn. (4) Actresses Tamsin Egerton, Tamsin Heatley, Tamsin Olivier, Tamzin Merchant, Tamasin Ramsay, Tamzin Outhwaite and Tamsin Grieg. (4) Thomasin Yeobright was a character in The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. (5) Tamsen is another alternate spelling - Tamsen Fadal is a TV personality and Tamsen Donner was a member of the ill-fated Donner Party. Of the alternate spelling Tamasin, Tamasin Day-Lewis was a chef and sister of Daniel Day-Lewis, and Tamasin Berry-Hart is an author.

Fun facts for Thomasina: (1) The Three Lives of Thomasina was a 1963 Disney film about a cat and her family. (2) Thomasina Coverly was a character in "Arcadia," a play by Tom Stoppard. (3) Thomasina Tittlemouse was a character used by Beatrix Potter. (4) Through the name Didymos, the name Thomasina is linked to the twelve disciples of Jesus.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unusual First Name, Common Middle Name

People do this all the time - unusual first name, common middle, vice versa. I think it’s great, but I personally prefer the first name to be the uncommon one, because I like the fact that a name can provide a sense of individuality. Personally, being know as both my first and last name (not even initials, because there was another Christina S.) from 1st grade to college, I definitely craved a more uncommon name.

Obviously I love names, so when considering naming my own future children, I always check the popularity of a name I'm interested in. My limit tends to hang around 200 births per year, which means about 4 babies with that name per state, but not necessarily every state. (Although I would go higher for the right name.) Once you get to about 250 births per year, the name pops up on the top 1000.

Of course, in the end, all that will matter is your baby and not anyone else with the name, unless you are intentionally naming after someone. I just find it hard to believe that someone could give their baby a name they know over 21,000 other babies were born with in that year (Isabella, Jacob). So if I ever give advice, I will always say "Uncommon first name, common middle name." The child can always go by their middle name if they choose to, but they will have a unique (legitimate) first name.

On this blog I try to only cover uncommon names, although I have done some that are very common, and will in the future. I feel like the uncommon names deserve more attention, and there are some beautiful gems out there that a lot of people don't know about that I hope to spotlight.

I do wonder why people are afraid of rare names, or names from the past that haven't been heard in a while. We are all too quick to make up invented names and misspell traditional names, but if there's a legit name that hasn't been used for a long time, we're scared off. Rowena, Cyprian, Titania, Calandra, and Fiamma are all examples. Some would much rather use familiar names like Aidan and Isabella, even if they're crazy popular, and others would rather use an invented name like Katrisha or Renesme. There are pronunciation issues with rare names - unfamiliarity makes people hesitate pronouncing it right, unlike popular names that everyone has heard, but with the rate of diversity today, especially in names, there are more rare or foreign names coming up than we would imagine.

Take a chance on a rare name!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Severa (Severine, Severina)

Severus is definitely too associated with Snape, and Severine can sound a bit like “severing,” despite its popularity from the Bond movie. But what about Severa, as in Saint Severa, which sounds a little bit like Vera, a little like the number 7, and a little like the rising-in-popularity baby name Seven (as in Harlow Seven Beckham)? It should even be easier for Americans to pronounce correctly than Severine.

Severa, along with Severine, Severana, Severina, Severea, and Severia, comes from the Latin masculine name Severus, meaning "severe," or "stern." Severa is a Spanish and Italian variant. St. Severus was male.

You can pronounce Severa say-VEH-rah, seh-VAYR-uh, or SEV-er-uh.

There were no baby girls named Severa in 2010 or 2011, and I highly doubt it was given in previous years. However, there were 37 baby girls named Seven in 2010 and 31 in 2011.

Before you dismiss this name, Severa and its variants come with the cute nicknames Sevvie, Vera, Verie, Sera, Era, Ever, and Seven.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Abel

Today's name: Abel

Pronunciation: AY-bel

Potential nicknames: Abe, Bello

Origin: Hebrew, meaning "breath." It is said this name comes from the Hebrew name Hevel and implies vanity, but it could also come from an Assyrian word meaning "meadow."

Popularity: Used since the 6th century, Abel has a long history of use. In 2011 there were 1,497 baby boys named Abel, which means it ranked at #237 on the U.S. top 1000, a slow rise from a decade ago, and also from 1880. In 2010 there were 1,119 baby boys named Abel, #292. It is even more popular in Hungary.

Fun fact: (1) In the Bible, Abel was the second son of Adam and Eve. He was murdered out of jealously by his brother Cain because Abel had pleased God more than Cain. He was also said to be the first shepherd. The Christian Church claims he is a pre-Christian martyr, thus a saint. There is also a Saint Abel of Reims from the 8th century. (2) Tasmania was named in honor of explorer Abel Tasman. (3) The Abel Prize is an international mathematics award named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel. (4) Amy Pohler and Will Arnett chose this name for their baby. (5) There are two movie directors with this name: Abel Fererra and Abel Gance. (6) Abel is a Dickens character and a Trollope character.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Odette

Today's name: Odette (the only other variant being Odetta)


Pronunciation: oh-DET

Potential nicknames: Odie, Oda, Detta, Dottie, Etta, Ettie

Origin: French and Old Germanic, meaning "wealth."

Popularity: In 2015 there were 86 girls named Odette, in 2011 there were 48, and in 2010 there were 19 (compare to 48 Odessa and 23 Odelia in 2010). She does not rank on the U.S. top 1000. It ranked #967 in 1899 and #843 in 1905. Perfect for your little ballerina or graceful swan.

Fun fact: (1) Odette was the name of the white (good) swan character in the famous ballet "Swan Lake," which recently inspired a movie. Odile was the name of the black swan. (2) You might be more or less familiar with Princess Odette from the animated movie "The Swan Princess." (3) Folk singer Odetta. (4) Actress Odette Justman. (5) Actor Mark Ruffalo's daughter. (6) Odette de Crecy was the wife of Charles Swann in Proust's "A la Recherche du Temps Perdu."

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Matteo

Today's name: Matteo

Pronunciation: mah-TAY-oh

Potential nicknames: Matt, Matty, Teo

Origin: This is the Italian variant of the Hebrew name Matthew, meaning "gift of God."

Popularity: In 2010 there were 639 baby boys named Matteo, ranking at #428 on the U.S. popularity chart, jumping up from #555 in 2009. In 2011 it went up again to #385 (747 births). More people are leaning towards this name instead of common Matthew, and -o endings are getting more popular. There were also 6 baby boys named Mattheo, 29 Matheo, 694 Mathew, 13,954 Matthew, and 51 named just Matt. Mateo, spelled with just one T, has been more popular. In 2011 it was #171 (2,182 births), in 2010 it was #222.

Fun fact: (1) Colin Firth's son. Not really anything else to mention.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cosima

Today's name: Cosima

Cosima Wagner
Pronunciation: KO-see-mah, also KO-zee-mah

Potential nicknames: Cosi, Coco, Sima, Cosma, Sisi

Origin: Italian, via the Greek word kosmos, meaning "cosmos," "beauty," and also "order." The name is in reference to the order and beauty of the cosmos, the universe. The male counterpart is Cosimo, and different cultures use Cosmo and Cosma. This name is often heard in Germany, Greece, and upper-class Britain as well. The name is Cosmina in Romanian, which is equally lovely, and possibly more rare.

Popularity: Cosima is a rare name. In 2010 there were 10 baby girls named Cosima, none named Cosmina, and none spelled Kosima or Kosmina. In 2011 there were only 6 girls named Cosima.

Fun fact: (1) Cosima Wagner, wife of composer Richard Wagner, daughter of Franz Liszt. (2) There are four known celebrity babies with this name. The first is chef Nigella Lawson's daughter, Cosima Thomasina, and the second is supermodel Claudia Schiffer's daughter Cosima Violet. Cosima Voilet has siblings named Clementine and Caspar. Next is Sofia Coppola's daughter. Lastly, Beck and Marissa Ribisi's son Cosimo. (3) Lady Cosima Windsor, daughter of Earl and Countess of Ulster, who were formerly known as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. This Cosima was born in 2010. (4) Cosima von Buelow, daughter of Claus von Buelow. (5) Saint Cosmo of the 4th century was martyred with his brother Damian, and they are now the patron saints of medical doctors. (6) 644 Cosima is an asteroid. (7) Cosima De Vito is an Australian singer-songwriter. (8) There is a novel titled "Cosima" by Grazia Deledda, an Italian writer who won the nobel prize for literature in 1926.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Massimo

Today's name: Massimo (male)

Pronunciation: MAH-see-moh

Potential nicknames: Masi, Simo, Max

Origin: Along with Massimiliano, Massimo is the Italian variant of the Latin name Maximilian (which was the name of three Roman emperors and a few saints), meaning "greatest."

Popularity: Massimo did not rank on the top 1000 baby names in 2010, but there were 148 baby boys born named Massimo and 5 named Massimiliano. In 2011 there were 107 named Massimo.

Fun fact: (1) The name Maksim is also a variant of Maximilian. (2) Massimo has been the surname of many powerful Roman families. (3) Saint Massimo, a 5th century bishop. (4) Massimo D'Alema, Italian Prime Minister. (5) Massimo Capra, Canadian celebrity chef.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lionella & Lionel

Una and the Lion - Briton Riviere



Today's names: Lionel & Lionella


For most Lio/Leo names the "i" or "e" is interchangeable. Lionel, Leo, Leonard, Leopold, etc. Lionella, Leona, etc.

Pronunciation: LY-on-ell, LEE-oh-nell-uh

Potential nicknames: Lio, Lion; Lio, Liona, Nella, Ella, Ellie

Origin: English variant form of Latin name Leo, meaning "lion," but the -el ending makes it mean "little lion." Lionella is the female Italian variant.

Popularity: For boys in 2011, Leo ranked #167 (2,226 births), Leon #405 (690 births), Leonel #459 (578 births), Lionel #786 (282 births), Leonard #705 (322 births), Leonardo#149 (2,631 births), Leandro #835 (257 births), and Leonidas #888 (232 births).
Non-ranking variants of Leo included 5 Liandro, 5 Leondro, 6 Lyonel, 6 Leonte, 7 Lionardo, 7 Lion, 8 Leovardo, 8 Leonitus, 8 Leonidus, 9 Lionell, 9 Leonides, 9 Leonell, 9 Leone, 9 Leodan, 10 Leeon, 15 Lenard, 18 Leonid, 24 Lyon, 27 Leondre, 34 Leandre, 38 Leopoldo, 48 Leander, 51 Leopold,and  61 Leobardos.
For girls, Leona was #929 with 276 births, but no other female variants ranked. There were 5 girls named Liona, 6 Leonella, 8 Leonela, 32 Leonie, and 81 Leandra.
In 2010 there were 9 baby boys named Lio, 10 Lion, 225 Lionel, 6 Lionell. Lionel ranked at #904, a slight decrease in popularity in the past decade. Leo, on the other hand, ranked in at #193 in 2010. There were also 7 baby girls named Liona, 11 Leonela, 9 Leonella, but 0 spelled Lionella.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Lionello, and different Popes named Leo. (2) Actor Lionel Barrymore. (3) Lionel Richie. (4) Sir Lionel, a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, cousin to Lancelot and son of the King of Gaul. (5) One of the sons of King Edward III of the 1300s. (6) Lionel Boyle, Earl of Orrery, member of Parliament from Ireland. (7) Lionel Cartwright. (8) Lionel model trains, founded by Joshua Lionel Cowen.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arthur

Today's name: Arthur
Is Arthur too popular for you? Try Arturo, the classy Italian and Spanish form of the name. Do you have Finnish roots? Try the Finnish forms, Arto and Arrturi. For Scottish flair try Artair.

A 19th c. painting by Frank Dicksee


Pronunciation: AR-ther, AR-thur

Potential nicknames: Art, Artie, Bear

Origin: Celtic, meaning "bear," "bear-like," or "bear king," from the Celtic word for bear, artos, and the Latin name Artorius. In Welsh it could mean "bear man." Arthur was first found in the Latin form Artorius, of unknown meaning. A similar and possibly connected name, Arnthor, is Old German meaning "Thor, the eagle." The Irish Gaelic meaning suggests "stone." (Sword in the stone, anyone?)

Popularity: This name was definitely used in the Middle Ages, although it dates back to pre-Roman times in Britan. It slowed in popularity, then had a resurgence in the 19th century.One reason for this is because the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, defeated Napoleon. Another reason for Arthur gaining popularity was a surge in interest in the medieval stories, as it became popular to create new literature and art around ancient tales. For example, Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King in the 19th century. Arthur was a top 20 name from about 1880 to 1926. In 2010 there were 721 baby boys named Arthur, ranking at #389, with not very much change in the past decade. There were also 28 baby boys named Artur, and 652 Arturo. In 2011 it ranked at #338 with 888 births.

Fun fact: (1) King Arthur of legendary Arthurian fame, leader of the Knights of the Round Table, leader of the Britons, married to Guinevere, mentor was Merlin, weird situations with Morgan fe Fay, surname Pendragon. (2) There was a recent TV show called "Camelot," and a less-recent movie with Keira Knightley called "King Arthur." (3) A famous namesake is Arthur Miller, a playwright. (4) Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." (5) Arthur (the Aardvark) is the name of an animated PBS children's TV show that was more popular about a decade ago. (6) Surname of 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur. (7) Actress Bea Arthur. (8) Arthur, Prince of Wales. (9) Arthur Weasley, a Harry Potter character. (10) Arthur Curry, better known as DC Comic's Aquaman. (11) Arthur Radley, from "To Kill a Mockingbird." (12) Arthur C. Clark, a British author. I find it impossible to say "Arthur is an author," repeatedly. (13) Athur Balfour, a previous British Prime Minister. (14) Arthur Conan Doyle. (15) Queen Victoria's 7th child was named Prince Arthur. (16) Arthur Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rowena

Today's name: Rowena

Artwork of the beautiful Rowena and King Vortigern.

Pronunciation: row-EEN-ah, row-ENN-ah, ROW-enn-ah, row-AY-na

Potential nicknames: Row, Rowie, Rowen, Rona, Rena, Wendy

Origin: (1) Old English from Old German, meaning "fame and happiness." (2) Possibly Welsh, meaning "slender and fair" or, less likely, the Saxon form of Celtic Rhonwen, meaning "white skirt," "bright spear," or "fair lance."

Popularity: Rowena is a very rare name, although it did rank toward the bottom of the SSA list until 1963. There were only 7 baby girls named Rowena in 2010, slightly increasing to 15 births in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) One of two heroines in Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" from 1819. In the movie her name is pronounced the traditional way, row-EE-nah. (2) Geoffrey of Monmouth claims Rowena was the daughter of Saxon chief Hengist, therefore making her a princess. This was supposedly the first mention of the name Rowena. She was also married to King Vortigern, therefore making her a queen. (3) Rowena Jackson, a prima ballerina from New Zealand. (4) Rowena is a character in Edgar Allen Poe's "Ligeia." (5) Rowena Ravenclaw is one of the four founders of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

A still of Rowena from the 1982 "Ivanhoe" movie, played by Lysette Anthony.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Emrys

Today's name: Emrys (male)

Vortigern and the dragons http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/


Pronunciation: EM-riss

Potential nicknames: Em, Rys

Origin: Welsh, meaning "immortal." Variant of Greek boy's name Ambrose, both coming from Ambrosios.

Popularity: Emrys is a very rare name in America, as there were only 9 baby boys born in 2010 with this name. It decreased by two in 2011 to only 7 boys born named Emrys.

Fun fact: (1) Emrys James, a Welsh Shakespearean actor born in 1928. (2) Part of Arthurian legend's Merlin, his full name being Myrddin Emrys Ambrosius. Geoffrey of Monmouth combined 5th century military leader Emrys Wledig's name with Myrddin Wyllt, a slightly famous prophet, to get Merlin's name. In Latin form his name is Merlinus Ambrosius. (3) Saint Ambrose of the 300s. (4) The historic castle of Dinas Emrys is now in ruins. Legend has it that Merlin was involved in freeing two battling dragons living under the castle of King Vortigern (see Rowena) before it was built, and once freed the red dragon finally won the battle, which is where the red dragon on the Welsh flag comes from. That's the castle of Dinas Emrys in the picture above.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lavender

Today's name: Lavender

Pronunciation: LAV-en-der

Potential nicknames: Lavie, Andie, Enna

Origin: From the Latin lavandula/lavendula, a flowering plant in the mint family that blooms in shades of blue and lilac. The ancient Greeks called lavender nardus after the Syrian city of Naarda. The late Latin name meant "to wash," presumably because lavender was used to dye and scent fabric.

Popularity: Lavender joined other popular flower names of the 18th century and was used on both boys and girls, although it has never been as popular as Lily, Rose and Violet, especially in recent years. It is worth noting that during the flower-name-rage in the 18th century, every flower had a meaning, and lavender symbolized distrust. In 2010 there were only 23 baby girls named Lavender. In 2011 there were 34.

Fun fact: (1) During Roman times lavender was an occupational name for a washer-woman, presumably because lavendula meant "to wash." (2) The genus of lavender includes annuals, herbs, and small shrubs. It blooms in shades of lilac and periwinkle blue. The color lavender comes from the color of these plants. (3) Lavender is often found to have a relaxing scent, and is therefore used in aromatherapy, essential oils, and mineral baths, among other things. This goes back to Roman times when lavender was extremely expensive, used in bathwater to improve and scent the skin. (4) Culinary enthusiasts might recognize lavender being used in herbs de Provence. (5) Lavender was used as a holy herb in the biblical Temple and mentioned in the Song of Solomon along with other herbs. (6) Lavender Brown is a character in the Harry Potter series, and also a character in "Matilda" by Roald Dahl. (7) Lavender has also been used as an English surname.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Atreyu

Today's name: Atreyu


Pronunciation: ah-TRAY-yu

Potential nicknames: Atreyu can be nicknamed Trey or Tru.

Origin: German, through the use of the fictional native language in the novel it came from, meaning "son of all." The meaning came to be so because Atreyu's parents were killed by a buffalo soon after he was born and his village raised him.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 130 baby boys named Atreyu (about 2.6 per state) which does not rank on the Social Security Administration's top 1000 baby names in the U.S. In 2011 there were 5 spelled Atreu, 8 Atrayu, and 125 Atreyu. If you think it's weird, keep in mind there were 91 Anakin's in 2011. Atreyu is currently the most searched for name leading readers to this blog.

Fun fact: You will probably remember "The NeverEnding Story," Michael Ende's German novel and the 1980s movie series, in which one of the main characters is named Atreyu. If the book or movie does not instantly come to mind, you might be more familiar with the rock band Atreyu, formed in 1998, named after Atreyu from "The NeverEnding Story." These are the only two well known associations. Chances are no one born after 1995 will know where this name came from unless their parents intentionally introduce it to them. It will work well with other rare literary (but still legitimate,) name options coming about lately, such as Aramis and Merrick.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Topaz

Today's name: Topaz, November's birthstone


Pronunciation: TOW-paz

Potential nicknames: Topa, Paz (like Paz Vega)
Topaz could potentially be a nickname for Topanga

Origin: Topaz is the Latin name (Latin Topazus from Greek Topazios) of this golden jewel. It does not have a formal meaning. It has been used in England, sparingly, since the 13th century.

Popularity: Never in the top 1000, with zero births in 2010 and 2011. Just in case you were wondering, there were 15 baby girls named Topanga in 2010 and 18 Topanga's in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) Topazios, the original form of the name Topaz, came from the ancient St. John's Island in the Red Sea, where a yellowish gem could be mined. (Today it is believed that gem was actually chrysolite, not topaz.) (2) Topaz comes in an array of colors. Only the golden/orange colored version is November's birthstone, which symbolizes friendship. (3) Topaz is the state gem of Utah. There is also a Topaz Mountain in Utah. (4) Topaz is mentioned in Exodus 28:17 although, like the island, they were probably refering to chrysolite. Back in the day, all golden gemstones were refered to as topaz with no distinction. (5) Leon Uris’ novel Topaz inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s 1969 movie of the same name, although Topaz did not refer to a person, but a spy ring. (6) Topaz War Relocation Center, which was America's vengeful way of detaining Japanese-Americans because of Pearl Harbor. Strangely enough, this camp was located in Utah.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lewis

Today's name: Lewis

Pronunciation: LU-iss (not to be confused with LU-ee)

Potential nicknames: Although strong on its own, Lewis could be a Lew/Lou or Lewie.

Origin: Germanic, meaning "fame and war," equivalent to "renowned fighter." It is the English spelling of French Louis. Both names come from the Old German name Aloysius, although some sources say it is from the Old High German name Hluodowig.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 319 baby boys named Lewis (along with 124 named Louie and 901 named Louis), ranking at #717. It was in the tp 100 from 1880 to 1930, but its ranking has not changed much in the past decade. In 2003 it ranked #2 in Scotland (and for the past 3 years), #16 in England, #17 in Wales, and #19 in Northern Ireland. In 2011 it went up to #633 with 366 births. Other variants also ranked - Luis, Louis and Luis.

Fun fact: (1) Author Lewis Caroll, born Charles Dodgson, of Alice in Wonderland fame. (2) The Isle of Lewis, also known as the Hebrides, is an island off of Scotland. (3) Also a surname, one of the surname's most famous bearers being C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Others include Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis, Daniel Day Lewis and Sinclair Lewis. (4) The name Louis, which Lewis comes from, was used by 18 French kings, multiple saints, and various famous people. (5) Saint David Lewis. (6) Famous explorers Lewis and Clark.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Millicent

Today's name: Millicent

Pronunciation: MIL-ih-sent

Potential nicknames: Mil, Millie, Milla, Milcie, Missy, Min, Minnie

Origin: Used since the Middle Ages, Millicent is Old French and was brought to England by the Normans in the French form of Melisent and Old Germanic form of Melisende, meaning "strong at work." Melisent and Melisende/Melisande came from the Old Germanic name Amalasuintha, which become Malasintha, and then Melisenda.

Popularity: Not in the top 1000 for at least 45 years, there were 67 baby girls named Millicent in 2010 and 64 in 2011.

Fun facts: (1) Dame Millicent Fawcet was an early British suffragist and feminist. Coincidentally, Millicent Preston-Stanley is an Australian feminist and politician, and another politician is Millicent Fenwick. (2) A double Harry Potter name: Millicent Bagnold, former Minister of Magic (another politician position, although fictional), and Millicent Bulstrode, a Hogwart's student. (3) A character in Sylvia Plath's "Initiation," a short story. (4) Barbie, the iconic doll's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. (5) Princess Amalasuintha, daughter of Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostrogoths. (6) Crown princess Melisande, later Queen of Jerusalem. Married to Fulk V le Jeune who reigned from 1109 to 1129.

I also happen to think Millicent would pair spectacularly with Winifred and Cyprian.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ellis

Today's name: Ellis (male)

Pronunciation: EL-iss

Potential nicknames: El, Eli

Origin: (1) Anglicized variant of Elias, from Elijah, meaning "the Lord is my God," often transfered from surname use. Eli and Elliot are related. (2) A Welsh Anglicized variant of Elisud, from the word elus, meaning "kind, benevolent."

Popularity: In 2010 Ellis ranked #732, a very slow rise from 2000. (Elias, on the other hand, ranked at # 141, and Elijah at # 18.) It is seldom seen as a girl's name. In 2010 there were 311 baby boys named Ellis, 7 named Elis, 13,735 named Elijah, and 2,799 named Elias. In 2011 it went up to #724 with 311 births again.

Fun fact: (1) Ellis Bell was the psuedonym Emily Bronte chose when she first began publishing her work, making it seem as if she were male. (2) Ellis Island, the gateway for immigrants, named after the last private owner of the island named Samuel Ellis.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Titania


Arthur Rackham - The Meeting of Oberon and Titania

Pronunciation: ty-TAY-nee-ah

Potential nicknames: Ti/Ty, Tita, Tani, Tania, Tani, Tay, Nia

Origin: Greek, meaning "giant," from the word titan.

Popularity: In 2010 there were only 6 baby girls named Titania, and in 2011 it went back down to 0.

Fun fact: (1) Most widely known as Shakespeare's Queen of the Faeries in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her husband (the King of the Faeries) name was Oberon. Titania and Oberon are also moons of Uranus. (2) Before Shakespeare gave this name to the faerie queen, "Titania" was a general name for daughters of titans. In Greek mythology the titans were a race of giants. They were the "older" gods, the ones the Olympian gods overthrew, and their myths go back further in time. Their leader was Chronos, a god of time (among other things), who was overthrown by his son Zeus. However, everything started with Gaia/Gaea, whose worship may have began before any other god, as an "earth mother." (3) Titania Hotel in Athens, Greece. (4) Titania aka Mary MacPherran is a character in Marvel Comics, specifically known as the villain fighting She-Hulk. There was another Titania in the Marvel Universe who was a wrestler.

Frank Cadogan Cowper - Titania Sleeps in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"


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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alastair, Alistair, Alasdair

Today's names: Alastair, Alistair and Alasdair

Pronunciation: AL-ah-stayr, AL-uh-stayr, AL-us-dare

Potential nicknames: Al, Alic, Alix, Dair

Origin: From the Greek name Alexandros (Alexander), meaning "man's defender." Alastair and Alistair are anglicised forms of Alasdair, the Scottish Gaelic form of Alexander. Other variants include: Alasdhair, Alasteir, Alastar, Alaster, Alastor, Alaisdair, Alaistair, Alaister, Aleister, Alester, Alistair, Alistar, Alister, Allaistar, Allaster, Allastir, Allistair, Allister, Allistir, Allysdair, Allystair, Allyster, Alysdair, Alysdare, Alystair, Alyster, Allastair, and Aldair.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 15 baby boys named Alasdair, 25 Alastair, 6 Alaster, 81 Alistair, 5 Alistar, 28 Allister, and 29 Alister. In 2011 there were 108 Alistair, 57 Alister, 33 Allister, 27 Alastair and 23 Alasdair. Jump to 2015 and 194 boys were given the spelling Alistair, 36 named Alasdair, 47 Alastair, 28 Aleister, 81 Alister, 46 Allister, and 8 Allistair. The spelling Alastar was only used 5 times in 2011 and 5 times in 2013. The spelling Alaster seems to have ceased usage since 2013, while Alastor has just begun being used since 2011.

Fun fact: (1) There are several famous/well-known people with this name, one of which being Rod Stewart's son, and several fictional characters. (2) Three medieval Scottish kings were named Alasdair. (3) The surname McAllister/Macallister means "son of Alistair."

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Viridiana

Today's Name: Viridiana
Or try Verdis, Verdiana, Viridia, Viridian, Viridianne, or Viridis



Pronunciation: ver-id-ee-AHN-uh

Potential nicknames: Viri, Vivi, Vira, Vana, Diana, Dia, Ana

Origin: From the Latin word veridis, meaning "green," which also means "young; fresh."

Popularity: A rare name, Viridiana first appeared on the SSA charts in 1991 at #981, then disappeared after ranking #934 in 1998. In 2011 there were 62 girls named Viridiana.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Viridiana, born in 1182, whose feast day is February 1. (2) Viridiana is a Spanish film. (3) Spanish actress Viridiana Alatriste. (4) Related is the color (pigment) viridian, a shade of spring green, and just so happens to be the name of a city in Pokemon. Also related (by name) is the Viridian Design Movement, and composer Giuseppe Verdi.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Merrick

Today's name: Merrick (male)

Pronunciation: MEHR-ick

Potential nicknames: Merr, Merri, Rick, Ricky/Ricki, Eric, Mick, Micky

Origin: The Anglicized version of Meurig, the Welsh variant of Maurice and ultimately the Latin maurus, meaning "dark skin." I have to say, Merrick beats Maurice any day of the week. Merrick means "moor." It is also possible the name came from an Old French personal name meaning "famous ruler," or a different French name, both with Germanic influences.

Popularity: Merrick is used more as a surname than a given name, but as a boys first name we see it as early as 1905 in the U.S. In 2010 there were 125 baby boys named Merrick, 11 named Merric, and 16 named Merrik. There were also 13 baby girls named Merrick. In 2011 there were 11 girls given the name, which has not been too unusual since the 1980's, and 7 boys named Meric, 7 Merric, 10 Merick, 12 Merik, 13 Merrik, 15 Merek, and 116 Merrick. It jumped to 190 boys named Merrick in 2015.

Fun fact: (1) Beautiful (female) witch/vampire Merrick Mayfair from Anne Rice's novel Merrick. (2) A character in Michael Crichton's novel "Timeline," played by Gerard Butler in the movie adaptation. (3) Merrick, New York. (4) There are two bands named Merrick.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baby Girls With "-wyn" or "-son" Ending Names

A note on male suffixes thoroughly ignored: For goodness sake, please don’t add “-wyn” or “-son” to any girl’s names, because both “-wyn” and “-son” suffixes are for males. The "-son" suffix literally means "son," as in "son of [insert male name here]" and you typically see "-son" in traditional surnames. It is the difference between a Julia and a Julian, a Naoki and a Naoko, a Carole and a Caroll. Most of us can’t help but fall in love with some Welsh and English names, such as Bronwyn and Madison (and Madison has been completely taken over by Team Pink) but understanding and researching a name you’re interested in makes all the difference in the world. You should have an interest beyond “what sounds good,” and delve deeper into meaning, suffix/gender, associations good or bad, namesakes and origin. And yes, even Gwyn is masculine, used for boys in Wales, where the suffixes "-wyn" and "-wen" come from.


In my personal opinion, the only way using a "-son" name is justified is by naming a baby girl after a beloved male relative, better in the middle spot (and NOT when there are feminine variants of that male name available - in other words, don't name her Jamison instead of Jamie, the female variant of James).


Check out this post for more details: http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2011/7/the-name-that-launched-a-thousand-female-sons

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Side Note: 7 Billion People

Hi, everyone. Yesterday morning I was checking my email and I saw that Yahoo posted an article that there are now 7 billion people in the world. Check out the article: http://news.yahoo.com/various-7-billionth-babies-celebrated-worldwide-064439018.html There are deeper issues in the article, ones that should be taken very seriously, (like, do all of these new babies have food, water, families, etc?), but I will leave that to you and your free time.

So how does this tie into a baby name blog? Because that means there are 7 billion people with their own unique name (or not-so-unique). I just wanted to say that, with 7 billion people in this world, names are bound to be used multiple times, as they have been used repeatedly countless times through history, and most likely the exact same combination of first and middle names will be repeated as well. There might be two Isabella Marie's born on the same day, or the one born in 2011 might share her name with one born in 1990. There are probably (just a guess) something like 100 Isabella Marie's born each year. In fact, there were 22,731 baby girls named Isabella in 2010 alone. Combine that with 2009's 22,222 and that equals 44,953. This does not even guarantee her surname will distinguish her between the other Isabella Marie's, taking into acount the fact that there are several families with each surname. For example, there are approximately 2,751,783 people with the last name Smith. This surname alone leaves a lot of possibilities for repeated names, beyond naming after family members. When I found out there was another woman with my first and last name I was angry. If I found out there were hundreds of others...well. That is why I whole-heartedly agree with giving a baby either a rare first name and common middle name, or a common first name and rare middle name, or even both rare names.

I guess my point is that, while popular names are generally well-liked, having fewer issues, and each name is special in its own right, expectant parents should be more cautious on what to name their child. With so many people in this world, I find it hard to believe a parent would willingly give their baby a name that so many others have. And really, there is no reason to, considering that throughout the world there are almost as many name options as there are people (when you include variants and word-names and other possibilities). A lot of great names can't even be found in the recent Social Security Administration's data, and I have listed several at the bottom of my page 2010 U.S. Girls Names With Less Than 100 Births. (By the way, it is nearly complete. Digging through the SSA list is no small task.)