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Showing posts from January, 2012


Edison, an Old English surname meaning "son of Edward," or "Edie's son," might make a cute modern day option if it were literally for a son of a man name Edward. In has an air of intelligence and can share the nickname Eddie with Edward and Edgar. Your first thought was probably Thomas Edison, and is that really such a bad thing? After all,  he was responsible for the phonograph, motion picture camera, and the light bulb, which were among his 1,093 US patents.

In 2010 Edison ranked at #897 and there were 226 baby boys named Edison and 21 spelled Eddison, along with 501 baby boys named Eddie, 164 Eddy, 7 Edi, and 10 Eddi. There were also 7 baby girls named Edison, as well as 7 named Edi and 73 named Edie.


Cressida was the name Shakespeare chose to use in his play Troilus and Cressida, although she was also known by Criseyde, Cresseid, Criseida and Briseida, all derived from Chryseis and Briseis, whose names appear in the Iliad but have no real connection to Cressida or Briseida. In fact Cressida's real first form was Briseida, whose story was invented by French poet Benoit de Sainte-Maure for his Roman de Troie. As Briseida, the daughter of Calchas, her story is told numerous times in medieval and Renaissance literature as part of the Trojan War. She falls in love with Troilus, son of King Priam, but there is a love triangle with a Greek man named Diomedes. Some authors chose to use names similar to Briseida, and others, such as Boccacio, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, chose to use names beginning with a C. To this day there is still no definite spelling, although Cressida is the most recognizable.

Benoit Sainte-Maure - Briseida
Azalais d'Altier - Brizeida
Guido delle C…

Lamia & Lamya

Lamia and the Soldier by John William Waterhouse (1905)
Although Lamia (LAH-mee-uh) means "glitter," or "glisten" in Swahili, she is a lesser known part of Greek mythology. Lamia was a queen and descendant of Poseidon, and had children with Zeus, but Hera kept killing all of them. Eventually Lamia went crazy over it and started eating as many children as she could. This turned her into a demon, some say half serpent, half woman, most likely because of her grief. The meaning of Lamia supposedly means "gullet," which is a bird's throat, but the more appropriate and logical meaning is "to devour," from the Phoenician word lahama. Her story differs depending on who is telling it.

The city of Lamia, Greece may have been named for the mythological character. There was a courtesan named Lamia of Athens, and John Keats wrote a poem about her in 1820. In modern times, people see her mythological history as an excuse to use her name for vampire ficti…


Unfortunately for this rare and attractive name, Dungeons and Dragons seems to have a monopoly on it. Try to take it back, shall we? This French word-name referring to a heroic or knightly champion, you may recognize "the Paladins" from Charlemagne's court (they even appear in the Song of Roland, for you literary scholars out there) or as the name of the sports team of the Royal Canadian Military. Paladin (PAL-uh-din) means "of the palace." A paladin also represents chivalry. There has been a TV show featuring this name. It is extremely rare and no baby boys were born with this name in 2010.


Seraphina is Hebrew, meaning "burning ones" or "fiery ones." It is the Latin and feminine form of the word seraphim, which are the six-winged highest ranking angels of God. The meaning is intended to describe these powerful fiery-winged angels, not the feathery-winged ones we typically think of. These angels were warriors.

Despite the fact that Jennifer Garner and Ben Afleck used this name for one of their daughters, the name is still quite rare, even though it is one of the most looked-up baby names. It was also the name of a 13th century saint (technically four, I believe, but the other woman was born named Sveva and two were male - Serafino and Serafim), being very popular in medieval Italy.

There are a few different ways to use this name: Seraphina, Serafina, Saraphina, Sarafina, Seraphine, Saraphine, and Serafine. In 2010 there were 12 baby girls named Sarafina, 9 Saraphina, 6 Seraphim, 5 Serafima, 79 Serafina, 107 Seraphina, and 17 Seraphine.

Seraphina has a…

Year of the Dragon - Drake, Draco

There are two very recognizable names that easily celebrate 2012, the year of the dragon according to the Chinese zodiac. However, these names are not Chinese. Draco, Latin for "dragon," is the name of a constellation (and a popular Harry Potter character), and Drake, Middle English for "dragon," is still widely used today. Drake was originally an occupational name and a surname meant to identify those who were innkeepers of inns with a dragon crest. One very famous namesake was English explorer Sir Francis Drake, and another is a currently famous rapper who goes solely by Drake.

In 2010 there were 30 baby boys named Draco, 7 named Drako, 6 named Drago (the Italian version), 1,850 Drake, 5 Draike, 10 Drayk, and 31 Drayke. But, I can't think of a better name for a 2012 dragon baby.

If Draco and Drake don't appeal to you, perhaps Tarragon would be more to your liking. This herb name  comes from drakontion, meaning "dragonwort." It's botanical name…

Baby Names That Mean "Wolf"

January is known as the month of the wolf, therefore I present my list of names that mean "wolf." Wolves were a very important part of many cultures, including Native American, medieval Germany and historic Mexico. Considering how dangerous times are for wolves lately (everyone loves werewolves in the media but ignores the ongoing aerial hunts), I think they could use a little boost.


Guadalupe, part of Spanish origin and myth, meaning "wolf valley"

Ulva, Old German, "wolf"

Ralphina, Old English, "wolf counsel"

Rudolpha, Old German, "famous wolf"

Ulrica, Old German, "power of the wolf"

Daciana, Romanian, "wolf"

Ylva, Scandinavian, "she-wolf"

Otsana & Otsanda, Basque, "she-wolf"

Lupita, Spanish, "little wolf"

Velvela, Yiddish, "wolf"


Lyall, Old Norse, "wolf"

Channing, English and Old French, "young wolf; official of the church"

Faolan, Irish and Gaelic, &q…


Ancient Therasia

Some sources suggest Theria comes from the girl's name Eleutheria, meaning "free" in Greek, but other sources suggest it comes from Theresa, from the Greek word theros, meaning "late summer," and that people with this name may have come from the island of Therasia. It could also be the feminine form of Theron, meaning "hunter." The most famous bearer of that name is Mother Theresa, although there were two saints with the name.

There was also an ancient island called Thera, on which there was a Bronze Age volcanic eruption, said to have caused the end of the Minoan Civilization (from which we get the Atlantis myths).

There were no baby girls born in 2010 with the name Theria. Theria is pronounced THER-ee-ya or TAYR-ee-ah if you like the Theresa root. Enjoy this rare, beautiful name.


Ezra might sound like a female name, but it is actually a Hebrew boy's name meaning "helper." I believe it initially came from the name Azariah. Besides Ezra Pound, the famous poet, and Ezra Jack Keats, the children's lit author, the most well known Ezra is from the 5th century b.c. and wrote the Book of Ezra and two chronicles. He was a Jewish priest, copyist, scholar and historian who began compiling and cataloguing the Old Testament. He led a group of Israelites out of exile in Babylon. A little lesser known are Ezra Cornell and Ezra Taft Benson. I believe it has been getting more recent attention due to the character named Ezra on the TV show "Pretty Little Liars." This character, Ezra Fitz, bears a strong resemblance to Abercrombie & Fitch's Ezra Fitch. There is also the 90's band Better Than Ezra, and you might not remember them until you search for their song "Good" on YouTube.

There were 1,416 baby boys born in 2010 with the nam…


Little is known about this alluring female baby name, but I believe it is an Esperanto name meaning "proud," at least according to, although it means "fair" in Italian (fair as in exhibition, not pretty) but also "proud" as an adjective and "wild animal" as a noun. As a feminine noun in Spanish it can mean "wild animal," as a masculine noun "demon" or "fiend," and as an adjective "fierce." There were no baby girls born in 2010 with this name. But that's all I know about Fiera, other than how pretty it is.

Vincenza & Vincenzo

Yes, Vincent is a stunning name, and Vinny makes a cute nickname, but some may be wary of its ranking on the Social Security Administration's list of the top 1000 baby names: #109 in 2010. Even Vicente ranks at #711. Therefore, I present you with Vincenzo and its female version, Vincenza (vin-CHEN-zo, vin-CHEN-za). There were 235 baby boys named Vincenzo born in 2010, ranking at #881, and 20 baby girls named Vincenza, which means Vincenza is extremely rare. There were also 158 baby boys named Vince and 41 baby boys named Vincente.

Vincenzo and Vincenza, as well as Vicente, Vincente, and Vincenty, are variants of the Latin name Vincent, meaning "to conquer," "to win," and "prevailing." It is from the Latin word vincere, and the first form of the name was Vincentius. Vincenza is mainly an Italian name.

There were many famous people named Vincent and its variants. Saint Vincent de Paul, Vin Diesel, Vincent Van Gogh, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, and…


Olympia (oh-LIM-pee-uh), which can also be spelled Olimpia or Olympe, is an old European classic that the world should be familiar with, given the title of the Olympic Games. (The actual site of the ancient Olympic games is named Olympia, Greece.) Both the games and the name Olympia are in reference to the Olympian gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus. In fact, it is Greek, meaning "from Mount Olympus."

There are a few well known Olympia's out there. Alexander the Great's mother, actress Olympia Dukakis, Senator Olympia Snowe, French playwright and political activist (feminist and abolitionist writing) Olympe de Gouges, and Princess Maria-Olympia of Greece and Denmark (born in 1967). Not to mention several ships, buildings, songs, art, and even an oyster.

Olympia was last seen on the SSA's charts in 1925 at #984. In 2010 there were only 28 baby girls named Olympia (and none with the Olimpia spelling). Talk about an underused classic. It even comes with cute nickn…


Marco Polo, anyone? It's not a bad association, to be honest. Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler, and like Christopher Columbus, Polo was interested in the Orient. In fact, his stories of traveling through Asia (and he was probably the first Westerner to do so) inspired Columbus, although Columbus made a mistake and ended up being famous for a completely new reason (America). Two great adventurers, and they'd probably make a good sibling set. In 2010 there were 1,297 baby boys named Marco, ranking at #264, and 109 spelled Marko. It is ever popular in Italy and Spain, and ever subject to double names like Gianmarco or Marco Antonio.

Marco is Latin, meaning "from the god Mars" or "dedicated to the god Mars." Mars, as you know, was the Roman god of war (and spring), but he was said to have a gentle side. All of this makes Marco a strong, historical, handsome and classic choice.

For those of you with a crush on Ian Somerhalder check out pictures of him i…


Today's name, Amarantha, is from the Greek word amaranthos. (Wouldn't Amarantha and Thalassa make a cute pair?) An ancient name, this one might be a little more familiar to you. Like Ambrosia, the flower equivalent to the fountain of youth, Amarantha is Zeus's flower, and her meaning is "unfading." While ambrosia gave eternal life to people, the amaranth plant is eternal itself. Not only is Amarantha a mythical plant, it is the name of a real plant, and you may recognize the amaranth grain as a healthy whole grain.

If Amarantha is not to your liking, try Amantha, Amaranta or Amaranthe (am-ar-ANN-thee). For nicknames, try Amy, Ama, Ammie, Amara, Antha, Mara, Mandy, Randie, Rantha, or Rana. As far as culture goes, references to Amarantha are not often, although there is "Queen Amarantha," the story of a fictional queen, a book, and a few not-so-well-known namesakes.

In 2010 there were no baby girls born named Amarantha.

Thalassa (tha LAHS sah) is one of the oldest names I can think of. It is Greek, meaning "sea, ocean." Thalassa was the primordial spirit of the sea, daughter of Aether and Hemera, thought to be the mother of Aphrodite. She was married to Pontus and mother of the Telkhines, sea creatures with webbed hands but the heads of dogs. (Leave it to the ancient Greek imagination.) She was not really a goddess, but the personification of the sea, the creator of all sea life, thus the Mother of the Sea, and people around the Mediterranean believed she was the sea itself.

You can see a recent installation of her likeness in the New Orleans Museum of Art, which is the most recent tribute to her, despite how ancient the goddess is. A moon of Neptune was named Thalassa, as well as a fictional planet, a genus of ladybug, a poem, a band, a TV series, a book, a restaurant, and a ship. The mercantile sea kingdom Thalassocracy was also named for her. I also wonder if she is th…


Garnet is January's traditional birthstone and the stone of Aquarius, and there is nothing to say it is definitely feminine or masculine. In fact, in 2010 there were 5 baby girls named Garnet and 7 baby boys named Garnett (with two t's, so I'm not sure what the parents intended, although this spelling was used as a surname). In 2011 there were 5 baby boys named Garnett, but no Garnet. There were 11 baby girls named Garnet in 2011, and no Garnett. In my mind, Garnett (like Garnette) looks better on girls and Garnet seems more masculine, thus it would look better on boys. However, for the past two years Garnett has been strictly for boys and Garnet strictly for girls. Maybe it's a surname vs gemstone thing. It last ranked on the popularity chart in 1944 at #956, after having ranked for at least a decade. It was most popular in 1904 at #593 for boys, and 1911 at #376 for girls.

Garnet was used along with other gemstone names in the late Victorian era. Garnet is Middle En…


Today's name: January

January is an English month name which comes from the old god Janus, god of gateways and transitions. It last ranked in popularity in 1979 at #749, and in 2010 there were 23 baby girls named January. January can be shortened to Jan, Jannie, Jana, JJ, or Ary/Arie. The most popular namesake at the moment is January Jones, who named her son Zander Dane. Although January is seen as a feminine choice, all of the international variants are decidedly masculine. Like December (nn Ember!), January is more refreshing and unique than other month name choices like April and May, yet not as "out there" as October and July.

Keep watch for my post on Garnet, January's birthstone.