Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby Names Unheard Of, Uncommon, Unique, Unusual

Well, heard of, maybe, just not used....

Valley
Thistle
Ravine
Tinsel
Seawillow
Imperia
Beria
Lupin
Hart
Destry
Bardot
Homily
Cherry
Arjuna
Argent
Calendula
Cordula
Aviana
Ariska
Eliska
Annanova
Novavie
Aruna
Thessaly
Helios
Clelia
Yvaine
Theria
Lilikoi
Lilika
Cantara
Melusine
Aquilina
Acantha
Aeronwen
Orlena
Burgundy
Susilva
Anchoret
Astoria

The right first name for your baby's last name

I've wanted to write some more advice posts, and lately I've been thinking about how first and last names are paired together. I know that sometimes absolutely no thought whatsoever is put into choosing the right first name for your baby that pairs well with your surname, (and these names tend to be comical, whether intended or not), but I dare say most parents, even if subconsciously, choose a given name that doesn't seem insanely out of place with their surname. There will always be John Wu, Angel Black, Kimantha Stanislav, and the like, where the two really don't seem to fit, but there are ever more names that just seem right together, such as Bill Clinton, Colin Firth, January Jones or Jennifer Anniston, as far as celebrity examples go.

My advice is to take your surname into heavy consideration before choosing a given name. Think about what it means, what the name conveys, what culture it honors, what kind of image it brings to mind.

However, my question, as I've seen asked dozens of times, is can you pair a given name that is obviously from a particular culture or country, with a surname that is obviously from a very different culture or country? I imagine something like Siobhan Smith or James Takeuchi. It might be easier to say "Of course you can" when the names sound excellent together, as Siobhan Smith does, or if you have a connection to both cultures/countries (for example, your surname is French, you come from France, but your significant other is from Japan, and you'd like to honor both). And of course, just because a name originated in Greece or Italy or wherever, doesn't mean it's destined to only be thought of as Greek, Italian or whatever. A lot of those names are now simply thought of as "American." Jessica comes to mind.

In my personal opinion, I think it is a lovely idea, and no one ever said you can't do it, as long as you consider everything seriously. No matter what your surname, no matter what given name you're thinking about using, it's always a good idea to ask yourself (and others) whether the names sound good together, what impression the child's name might make, if the meanings or assumed cultures conflict, etc. It might just be a little bit weird to be named Parvati Jameson or Guadalupe Chan, but a little Fionnuala Fischer or Anastasia Sanderson might be cute.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Belina

Saint Belina, whose feast day is February 19, was a peasant girl from France who died protecting her virginity. I don't think she was a Patron Saint. Other than this, not much is known about her, but her name is beautiful enough to feature a post on. She is not to be confused with Bellona, the Roman goddess of battle. Belina and Bellina, primarily used in Spanish and Italian, mean "beautiful" and are typical variants of Bella. The male variant, Bellino, also means "beautiful," and honors St. Bellino, whose feast day is November 26.

In 2010 there were 13 baby girls named Belina and 9 Bellina. Both Belina and Bellina have desirable nicknames, including Bee, Bell/Belle, Bella, and Lina. In 2011 there were 8 girls named Belina and 12 Bellina.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Amethyst

Well, I lost my list of planned February posts, so I'm a little behind and frustrated. Believe it or not, a little effort goes into lining up the names I post, as I want each pair to fit well together. In my opinion, anyway. But, until I've covered each month's birth stone, you can at least expect me to have a post on a birth stone every month until August, since the first one I covered was this past September, sapphire.

Amethyst is February's birth stone, a beautiful purple gem, as you can see. I have long loved Amethyst as a baby name since, although it is a little quirky, it offers options for those of us who love names like Amber, Angelina, Amy, Violet, or any other names we are drawn to but would not use.

Like Violet, which is ever popular, Amethyst immediately conjures up the image of a distinct purple color, and like Ruby, also ever popular, it gives us thoughts of pretty gemstones. However, Amethyst has never graced the top 1000. In 2010 there were only 62 baby girls born named Amethyst.

Amethyst, a semi-precious form of quartz, is Greek, meaning "not intoxicated." The Greeks took this literally and wore amethyst as a form of protection against the effects of wine, sometimes even placing the amethyst in the wine itself. Tibetan Buddhists believe the stone is sacred to Buddha. Today people still believe in amethyst's calming properties, its ability to promote serenity, provide peace, and help with addictions.

With amethyst being such a common jewelry store find, and with accessable nicknames like Amy or Ama, it certainly won't be your fault if people have difficulty with this name. It should be just as easy for people to understand and pronounce as Amber, yet your child will probably never meet another in her lifetime.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Keep in mind...

Here's something I never thought of before. We're all aware of the possibility of kids being called by their first name and last initial (Isabella M., for example) when there are more than one in a class, or anywhere else for that matter. However, there is another possibility I didn't think of before - they could turn into "the ugly Isabella," or "the weird Isabella," etc. Granted, they could be known as "the pretty Isabella," or "the Isabella that saved fish from being eaten by the science teacher's octopus that climbed out of its tank," but I'm just letting everyone know that it could happen. Just one more reason to advocate rare names. This happens most often in school, where there are a bunch of kids from the same generation packed together, but I did mention that it happens other places as well. In school I was Cristina S., while as an adult people have to find other ways to refer to me, given that I am competing with other Christina's and Krystyna's from my generation. This might not bug most people, and I don't mind too much myself, but I don't want it for my child. I'd like them to have a rare name, not having to compete with kids with names in the top 10, 100, or even 1000.

Also, just found this book - The Everything Baby Names Book (2nd edition) by June Rifkin, 2006. I really enjoyed it and recommend it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine Names

Cute Valentine's Day name ideas...

There are plenty of lists out there, so I'll keep mine short but sweet.

Amora
Primrose
Valentine
Valentina
Lacey
Caramia
Carina
Cherie
Carys
Caradoc
Kerensa
Kalila
Graziana
Romeo
Juliet
Suki
Aphrodite
Astrid
Scarlett

As well as any variation on Rose - Rosaria, Rosabelle, Rosalie, Rosie, etc. Unless you typically get your favorite flower on Valentine's Day, be it Calla Lillies, Tulips, whatever. I myself got red roses, and I know that's traditional.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Favorite Rare Baby Name Finds (Girls)

I thought it might be nice to share a list of some of my favorite rare names. They're not names I'm planning on using for any future kids, although I thought about it, so feel free to take them. I will also do individual posts on these at some point if I haven't already.

Seraphina
Ekaterina
Lionella
Bellina
Persephone
Doveva
Verbena
Calandra
Andromeda
Flora
Calypso
Zenobia
Camellia
Deirdre
Millicent
Fiamma
Xanthe
Fable
Wisteria
Yelena
Pomeline
Acantha
Freesia
Zarina
Celestina
Viridiana
Galina
Indigo
Arcadia
Aquinnah
Nikita
Ceridwen
Rowena
Ostara
Lura
Chantal
Avelina
Cosima
Aviva
Indira
Jemima
Nimue
Octavia
Elva
Alyona
Maple
Coral
Clover
Oceana
Emmanuelle
Opal
Bryony
Andra
Charm
Melora
Pandora
Sequoia
Odessa
Oksana
Diantha
Sirena
Lilac
Jessamine
Saskia
Lilika
Phaedra
Thora
Alvina
Cordelia
Genoveva
Avalon
Guadalupe
Galatea
Ambretta
Elowen
Timea
Amarantha
Azura
Runa
Plumeria
Siobhan
Tira
Graciella
Halina
Penina
Twila
Havana
Sephora
Lamia
Hermione
Portia
Quintessa
Wilhelima
Winifred
Sakura
Ursula
Ravenna
Ginevra

Friday, February 10, 2012

Columba



Since the last post featured a bird of prey, today's name is Columba, Latin, meaning "dove," the symbol of peace. It is the name of a constellation, three saints, and a term lovingly used for the United States. It is not to be confused with Columbia, the country in South America, although the two names do share a connection.

Columba and its variants have become a symbol of peace beyond the name's meaning. America was the name of the continent, Columbia was the female personification, the name based on the surname of Christopher Columbus, who discovered it. This is also how the country of Columbia got its name. As we all know, the New World was intended to be the "Land of the Free," where everyone could come to be rid of religious persecution. Columbia was intended to mean "Land of Columbus," but Columbus means "dove" just as Columba does. As Columbia represented a sentiment of the Americas, Columba now symbolizes peace in all forms (not simply religious).

6th century St. Columba that converted Scotland to Christianity, and although he was male, there were two other saints of the same name that were female. If you're having a boy and still want to use a peaceful name such as Columba, try Colm, Culver or Callum. Other female names meaning "dove" include Paloma, Aloma, Colombe, Columbia, Columbana, Jemima and Yonina. Also, see this post for names that are peaceful.

In 2010 there were 6 baby girls named Columbia, but none named Columba. There were also 8 boys named Colum.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Falcon


The falcon is one of the most beautiful and respected birds in the world.

From the Latin surname Falco and the genus name Falco, meaning "falcon." Falconry is the hunting of prey using a trained falcon (which can also be done with hawks and owls). Falconry is still widely practised today. It was a widely used topic, motif, metaphor and hobby written about in medieval and Renaissance literature, although it has survived as a small part of literature to this day. It was also regarded as the hobby/practice of nobility, and the name Peregrine (of the Peregrine falcon) was and still is often used by the English upper-crust.

Many do not know this, but the current meanings of the phrases "fed up," "wrapped around his/her little finger" and to "have someone under your thumb" were all derived from falconry terms.

Falco is also an acceptable baby name, as is Peregrine. In 2010 there were 16 baby boys named Falcon, none named Falco. Variants of Falcon include Falk, Falke, Falconer, Falken, Falkner, Faulconer, Faulkner and Fowler, all common surnames, of which William Faulkner is the most famous namesake.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seneca


Question of the day:
Do you have to be of Native American ancestry to name your child Seneca, or any other Native American baby name? Personally, I don't think so. In my opinion, since we live in the United States, which was originally just Native American land, it honors our country.

Seneca, unisex, is the name of a Native American tribe that is part of the Iroquois Confederacy, and today's Iroquois League was also known as the Five Nations or the Six Nations. The Seneca tribe lived furthest west. Their name is Onöndowága, meaning "People of the Great Hill."

It is only by coincidence, but Seneca was also the name of a Roman philosopher and statesman, tutor and advisor of the emperor Nero, who lived B.C. and wrote Oedipus. In Latin, Seneca means "old." Those named Seneca could be in reference to either the statesman or tribe.

Heavyweight boxing champ Floyd Patterson named his daughter Seneca after the name of the street he was on while trying to think of a good name.

And then there is Seneca Falls, New York, the place of the Seneca Falls Convention for women's rights.

In 2010 there were 26 baby boys named Seneca and 30 baby girls. In 2011 there were 16 boys and 29 girls named Seneca.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Breccan

Breccan is an Irish name that was the name of a saint from the Isle of Aran, and the name has made appearances in old myths. Many have opted to spell it Breckin and other various ways, but Breccan remains the most handsome and less trendy. The name means "freckled" or "speckled." The original spelling, as close as it can get, is like Breacain/Breacan, and would be pronounced BREK-awn instead of BREK-an, but the latter is accepted in the US.

Breccan was a popular medieval first name, however, there were no baby boys with this spelling born in 2010. There were 5 named Brec, 71 Breck, 11 Breckan, 189 Brecken, 76 Breckin, 8 Breckon, 16 Breckyn, 9 Brek, 13 Breken, 6 Brekin, 20 Brekken, 6 Brekkin, and 5 Brekyn. In 2011 there were 7 boys named Breccan, 7 Breckyn, and 7 Breckan.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Emmeline

emmeline pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline is all the rage right now online, popular with pretty much everyone, and it is easy to see why. It is familiar like Emma and Emily, currently two of the most popular names, and Emmeline is a little unique, mysterious and alluring, and rare enough that you think you've heard it before, but haven't. In fact, in 2010 there were 140 baby girls named Emmeline. It was also popular in medieval times.

Other variants and names that are very similar are as follows: 13 Emalina, 40 Emaline, 117 Emalyn, 6 Emalyne, 40 Emalynn, 36 Emelin, 35 Emelina, 75 Emeline, 98 Emelyn, 5 Emelyne, 9 Emelynn, 11 Emilene, 10 Emilina, 10 Emiline, 73 Emilyn, 5 Emmalena, 15 Emmalene, 75 Emmalin, 76 Emmalina, 203 Emmaline, 370 Emmalyn, 14 Emmalyne, 215 Emmalynn, 19 Emmalynne, 6 Emmelin, 13 Emmelina, 140 Emmeline, 21 Emmelyn.

It is hard to tell if the names listed above are true variants of Emmeline or if they are variations of Emma or Emily. All of these versions considered, I would not call Emmeline "rare" anymore.

Emmeline is Old French from Old German, Ameline from Amal, meaning "(to) work," "industrious," or "hard worker." It is from the same root as Amelia. However, as a variant of Emma it means "whole, entire, universal." Both the em-eh-leen and em-eh-line pronunciations are correct, although the em-eh-leen version is more prevalent and also more accurate. Variant spellings include Emeline, Emelina, Emmelina, Emmelyn, Emmalyn, Emmaline and Emaline. Nicknames can include Em, Emmy, Emma, Mellie, Millie, Lina, Linny, Elle, Ellie, and Ella.

The most famous namesakes are Christian Bale's daughter and Emmeline Pankhurst, women's suffrage activist (whose daughter Christabel was also into women's rights). The name is also featured in a couple of songs, "Huckleberry Finn," a character in the Harry Potter series, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the name of the girl in The Blue Lagoon, an opera, ballad of "The Child of Elle," Emmeline B. Wells, and a poem called "Before Tea" by A.A. Milne, the movie Anne of Avonlea, and more. It is more popular than you think!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baby #1: Considering Potential Future Siblings

It is a relatively new concept, I think, to be concerned with how well sibling's names go together. "Sibsets," as they are called, are more frequently being talked about on online baby name message boards, and online polls are being created with the goal of seeing what other people think of sibling names going well together. I often see people respond something like this: "I think August and Rowan go great together!" or "I'm not sure Heliodora and Alyssa make good sibling names."

Granted, I'm sure expectant mothers of the past thought about this as well, I just don't think they were terribly concerned, enough to go around asking family and friends if Homer would make a good sibling name for Julie. I also don't think they thought about popularity they way we do now. It used to mean a popular name was one of the most well liked names, and now some future parents cringe at the idea of their child being known as "the other Jack" or "Jack B." (Not that I blame them, I'm in that camp too.) Thanks to technology, a healthy supply of books and blogs and websites, baby namers are very well informed. We are enlightened, educated namers. With lots more to worry about.

I'm sure many other blogs and websites have already written about this topic. This post, namely: http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2011/08/baby-naming-advice-for-first-time.html and this post: http://nameberry.com/blog/how-to-choose-sibling-names. Many sites, such as Nameberry, will even help you figure out what name "style" you are drawn to. They often come up with new styles never talked about before. Maybe you like aristocratic names, or cowboy names, or nature names, or maybe several different styles appeal to you. No one ever said you couldn't have a boy named Wyatt and a girl named Willow. But you can't have a Willow and a Willoughby. (Why? Because they're too similar in sound and they can't have the same nickname.) Therefore, I won't even try to give advice on the subject, I'll just give you my two cents and a roundup of all the links I can find related to sibling naming.

Remember that these are just ideas to conisder, not rules. Ultimately, the way sibling names work with each other is completely up to you, based on what you think sounds good. After my advice I will include links to other pages that discuss the same idea.

My two cents:

Create a short list of names before you choose baby #1's name, and try to plan ahead for what you might name baby #2 and #3 and so on. By doing this you will be able to figure out your "style" and potential future names, assessing how well each name goes with the next. If you have a list of names that you can't imagine deciding between, that's good, because you'll have names in reserve for next time.

Get annonymous advice. Take advantage of Nameberry's message boards or Behind the Name's polls to see if other people think name A and name B go well together.

Don't name one baby after a meaningful (to you) place or person and neglect to name the next baby after something meaningful as well. This has the potential to lead to hurt feelings.


Here are some informative related links:

Nameberry's sibling naming advice:
http://nameberry.com/blog/category/name-advice/naming-multiples-name-advice

Nameberry's naming rules:
http://nameberry.com/blog/category/name-advice/dos-donts

Nameberry's general naming advice:
http://nameberry.com/blog/category/name-advice/page/3