Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Edison


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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cressida


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.

Breakdown:
Benoit Sainte-Maure - Briseida
Azalais d'Altier - Brizeida
Guido delle Colonne - Briseida
Giovanni Bocaccio - Criseida
Robert Henryson - Cresseid
Geoffrey Chaucer - Criseyde
William Shakespeare - Cressida

Cressida, English, from the original (as close as it can get) spelling, Chryseis/Khryseis, is Greek, meaning "gold/golden." Shakespeare anglicized it. She gets a bad rap because she started out with Troilus and ended up with Diomedes. Back then it was a big no-no, but today I think most people would roll their eyes. In fact, I think it had to do more with Diomedes being Greek and Troilus being the prince of Troy. And, you know, tragedies were always popular.



In 2010 and 2011 there were no baby girls named Cressida (or Cresseid, Criseyde, Chryseis, etc). However, there were 20 named Briceida, 8 Briceyda, 98 Briseida, 5 Briseidy, 71 Briseis, and 57 Briseyda. Weird, huh? It might be because of the Toyota Cressida, a car which hasn't been made since 1992. But, Cressida was used in 11 different years between 1969 and 1990, in each year no more than 8 times. It seems to have been forgotten, but jump to 2014 and Cressida comes back on the U.S. records, probably because of Cressida Bonas, who was publicly dating Prince Harry at the time. Ms. Bonas is of lesser nobility and is involved in acting, dancing and modeling. Cressida has been used as a baby name since the 17th century in Britain but has always been a true rarity, usually given to less than ten babies a year in the U.K.

Feel free to come up with your own nicknames for this beauty, since the majority chooses Cressy. Cressa is a more elegant option, Kid plays on the sound, and Goldie plays to meaning.

Cressida is also a moon of Uranus, a swallowtail butterfly genus, a species of rose, and other well known namesakes are Cressida Cowell, author of How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Bell, a British artist/designer, Canadian philosopher Cressida Heyes and Australian artist Cressida Campbell. A younger generation will recognize the name from The Hunger Games as a positive, minor character who appears late in the story. The great actress Dame Judi Dench chose the name Tara Cressida Frances for her daughter, who goes by "Finty" Williams.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

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 fiction, even though she was never connected to vampire myths, and the connection actually comes from the Greek word lamiae. In Basque mythology a lamia was a charming woman who helped those who gave her food.

The most common Lamia is as an Arabic name, meaning "shining," "radiant," "brilliant." It is very close to another Arabic name, Lamya, meaning "she who possesses brown lips." Then there's Princess Lamia Solh, daughter of former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Riad as-Solh.

In 2010 there were 26 baby girls named Lamia, 108 Lamya, 46 Lamiya, 19 Lamyah, and 8 Lamyia.
In France in 2000 Lamia ranked at #474.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paladin

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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Seraphina


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 range of nicknames, from Phina to Fifi, Sera to Nina, depending on how the full name is spelled.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

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 is Artemisia dracunculus, meaning "little dragon."

For girls, try Dracaena (druh-KAY-nuh), which is from Greek drakaina, meaning "female dragon." It is a plant name, and a very beautiful and interesting plant at that.

Friday, January 20, 2012

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.

Female:

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"



Male:

Lyall, Old Norse, "wolf"

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

Faolan, Irish and Gaelic, "little wolf"

Phelan, Irish and Gaelic, "like a wolf"

Conan, English, Irish and Gaelic, "hound, wolf; high"

Randall & Randolph, Old German, "wolf shield"

Ralph, Old English, "wolf counsel"

Raoul, French, "wolf counsel"

Rolf, Rollo & Rudolph, Old German, "famous wolf"

Odolph, Old German, "prosperous wolf"

Conall, Irish, Scottish, Gaelic, Celtic, "strong wolf"

Arno, Old German, "eagle-wolf"

Gonzalo, Spanish, Latin, "battle; wolf"

Fenris, from Scandinavian mythology

Rafe, Old German, "counsel of the wolf"

Lowell, Old French, "young wolf"

Ulric, English, Old German, "power of the wolf; power of the home"

Wolfgang, Old German, "traveling wolf"

And then there's always the Old German Wolfe or modern day Wolf.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theria

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.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ezra

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 name Ezra, ranking at #243, and 55 born spelled Ezrah. There were also 88 baby girls named Ezra in 2010, and 16 spelled Ezrah. Although Ezra comes with a masculine nickname of Ez, many people see or hear the "a" ending and assume Ezra is a female name.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fiera

Little is known about this alluring female baby name, but I believe it is an Esperanto name meaning "proud," at least according to behindthename.com, 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.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

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 more. His name day, or onomastico, is January 22 in honor of Saint Vincent Levita, martyred in 305.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Olympia

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 nicknames like Pia, Ollie, and Olympie. More of a stretch but definitely possible: Lily, Lia, or Polly. Also try variations such as Olympiana, Olimpiada, and Olympienne.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Marco


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 in his role as Marco Polo.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Amarantha


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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thalassa

the-goldenrule.name

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 the mother of the main character in Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the recent Studio Ghibli animated film.

Thalassa was around a short time before the other gods and goddesses we know more about, like Athena and Apollo. It makes me upset that other baby name sites don't provide this information about her, and often they will say the meaning of Thalassa is "sea goddess." Nonetheless, Thalassa is simply a gorgeous, deep, mysterious, alluring name. If you wanted, you could nickname her Tally, Thallie, Thalia, Lassa, or Lassie. There were zero or less than five baby girls with the name Thalassa born in 2010.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Garnet


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 English, an adjective, meaning "of dark red color," a gemstone that is from pinkish red to blood red. It was named after the color and shape of pomegranate seeds, although some say it was named after grain and red dye. As a surname, Garnet could refer to someone who sold pomegranates, as it means "red like a pomegranate." There have been several well known namesakes with Garnet as a given name or Garnet/Garnett as a surname, such as the Victorian soldier Sir Garnet Wolseley, adding his namesake to the list of reasons it was given in the Victorian era. Other namesakes include Henry Highland Garnet, and African-American Abolitionist, and Garnet Clark, and American jazz pianist.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

January

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.