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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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Lavinia

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Lavinia (lah-VIN-ee-ah) is a Latin name possibly meaning "purity," but the name is so old that no specific meaning can be given. It could simply mean "woman from Lavinium," which was an ancient town in Rome/more ancient than Rome/Etruscan. Lavinia was known as the "Mother of Rome." In Virgil's Aeneid, Lavinia was betrothed to a man named Turnus, King of the Rutuli, but when the hero Aeneas came to town her father, King of the Latins, changed his mind and wanted Lavinia to marry Aeneas. The two men then fought for her hand, but Aeneas won. Aeneas then built the town of Lavinium for her. Shakespeare had Lavinia as a character in Titus Andronicus, but her story is an unfortunate one not worthy of repeating and not true to Virgil's Lavinia. Ursula le Guin later wrote more in depth about their relationship in her 2008 novel Lavinia. And she's been a character in many more stories, including The Hunger Games. In all l…