Friday, August 31, 2012

Susannah

Susannah York


Possibly best known for the song "Oh Susannah," which most of us knew as kids, Susannah's got a lot of history besides that. The original Hebrew version of the name was Shoshana, meaning "lily." This and the Persian version may have roots with the Egyptian word for lotus. This Biblical name was not widely popular until after the 17th century, but was used regularly enough since at least the Middle Ages. The song "Oh, Susannah" was written by Stephen Foster in 1848 and widely associated with the gold rush. (By the way, you can hear one variant form, Shushana, in the movie Inglorious Basterds.)

The spelling including an "h," as opposed to Susanna, was the form used in the Old Testament, the story of a woman was was falsely accused of adultery by two old perverts, found in the book of Daniel and omitted from some texts. On the other hand, the spelling without the "h" is more European. Susan, popularized shortly afterwards, is a vintage-sounding literary gem possibly best known from The Chronicles of Narnia. This variant was in the top 10 for over two decades, Suzanne ranked in and around the top 100 for about three decades, and it might be good to know that Susanna has only been off the charts since 1997, but Susannah has not been in the top 1000 since 1978 and hasn't ranked above #800 since 1880.

Oddly enough, one late namesake is Susannah York, a British actress, which you might remember from the 1978 movie Superman. Also the name of an opera, a Saint Susanna, and the name of one of William Shakespeare's daughters. Other than that, there haven't exactly been any stand-out namesakes. Susannah of the Alamo and some famous daughters, but that's about it.

Potential nicknames: Sue, Susie, Sosie, Sookie, Sukie, Sukey, Sunny, Susa, Sun, Sana, Hanna/h, Anna, Anne, Nana, Nan, Zuzu, Zsu Zsu, Zsa Zsa (and Susie Q if it floats your boat)

Variants: There is a slight possibility that Isannah is a variant (see here) but for sure, variants include Susanna, Susan, Suzanne, Suzannah, Suzette, Susette, Sanne, Zanne, Shoshannah, Shoshana, Zsuzana, Zsuzannah, Shanna, Sosana, Susanka, Sosannah, Sousana (and Azucena is of similar origin, can have most of the same nicknames, and also means "lily"). Chochana is a spelling variant used in France.

Here are all the variants and number of births per name for the different versions used in 2011.
Susannah 78
Susana 197
Susanne 17
Susanna 167
Shoshana 111
Shoshanna 22
Susan 346
Suzanna 78
Suzanne 68
Suzette 37
Susette 5
Suzannah 19
Suzana 12
Suzan 9
Sanna 8
Susie 80
Suzie 25
Suzy 17
Susy 5
Sue 19
Sookie 6
Sosie 6
Sukie 6

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Name Interview with Jennifer


A close-up of Lancelot and Guinevere by Herbert James Draper

What is your name? (Include middle if you like) Jennifer Lynn 
What decade were you born in? 70's 
How did you get your name? After actress Jennifer O'Neil  
How did you feel about your name growing up? I wanted to be named Diana 
How do you feel about your name now? Don't mind it at all 
If you have any kids, how did you choose their name(s)? Gabriel (Gabe) after his dad (not my choice) & Alena after my grandma but with an "a" in front 
What is the name of your best friend? I have 3 - Lisa, Michelle & Cristina 
What are some common names for your age group? Laura, Michelle, Lisa 
If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be? Idk when I was a kid I wanted it to be Diana? Now I don't really care 
Of the kids you've met most recently, which are your favorites and least favorites? Idk I don't like names spelled completely different than they sound

I thought it would be fun to start my interviews with someone named Jennifer because I heard this name was so popular at one time that some Jennifer's "lost their identity" and joined "Jennifer Support Groups." I, personally, only know three Jen's, so I can't say how true that is, as they all like their name and haven't had any issues with it.

Jennifer is the Cornish variant of Guinevere, Queen of Arthurian legend. Her name means "white phantom," from a Norman French take on Gwynhwyfar, meaning a magical being of fair coloring. The name can be found as far back as the 12th century. Another actress to popularize the name (as she mentioned Jennifer O'Neil above) was Jennifer Jones. Currently, there are at least four A-list celebrities named Jennifer - surnames, Lopez, Garner, Anniston and Connelly. An early literary usage of the name was in Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma in 1905. Guinevere is now on the rise, with 99 births last year (2011).



Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Rare Fairy Tales



Prunella - Prunella & Bensiabel, whom she marries.

Melisande - Malevola (who is in this story is supposed to also be Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and cursed the grandmother of Melisande), Fortuna, Florizel (the Prince)

The Beautiful Catharinella

The White Cat (my favorite) - Blanchette

The Fair Angiola - Angiola

Persinette

Petrosinella

All stories mentioned can be found here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Shenoa, Shenoah, Chenoa

A Shenoa Diamond

Shenoa is a bit hard to dig up info on regarding the meaning and origin. Variants include Shenoah and Chenoa, and multiple pronunciations including SHEN-oh-ah, CHAY-no-uh and CHEE-no-ah, so take your pick, as no one is going to fight you on the right version. Most baby name websites have it listed as a Native American name meaning "dove," from the word chenowa, "dove of peace" or "white dove," which is inaccurate according to various Native Americans, but is backed up by the state of Illinois in this bio, where there is a city called Chenoa, supposedly pronounced CHEE-no-uh. The more likely possibility is that it was once a Native American place name, and Wikipedia claims it is based on one of the Native American words for the Kentucky River here. Some sites even claim it means "a radiating presence of love," which has nothing backing it up. Considering the listed meanings, there is only evidence to support it as a unisex name. A possibility for nicknames is Shea or Noah for boys, Shay or Noa for girls, although Shen is an option as well.

The name is usually as common in Australia as it is in America. There is a jeweler called Shenoa Diamonds, a famous Spanish pop singer named Chenoa, and a rock band called Shenoah. There were no babies named Shenoa in 2011, but there were 23 baby girls spelled Chenoa. I believe this name would be a great way to honor realtives or ancestors in the Kentucky area or those with a Native American background. It would be a good idea to get the insights of your relatives, and they might have something to contribute to the meaning of this name that I couldn't find online. If anyone has any new information, I'd love to hear it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Elowen


Elowen is a recent Cornish baby name meaning "elm." It may not take off in America like the last Cornish hit, Jennifer, but it's certainly pretty. She's part of a "linguistic revival," as Appellation Mountain puts it here. Her nickname could be Ellie, Elle or Ella, or a more unusual choice, Wendy. The pronunciation of Elowen is "ell-LOH-en," though most Americans will probably stick with "ELL-oh-wen." Please note that it is not spelled Elowyn. There is a similar name, Eowyn, but if you spell it Elowyn it will no longer be the Cornish name meaning elm tree, just some creative name.

Other great Cornish names include Penrose, Chesten (the Cornish form of Christine), Demelza, Denzel, Hammitt, Kerensa/Kerenza, Meraud (very similar to French gem name Emeraude, both meaning emerald, but Meraud is pronounced "meh-row"), Merryn, Morwenna, Tremain, Emblyn, Jory, Massen, Treeve and Cotton. Here's's a link to a post on Cornish names that includes Cornish saints and word names.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some beautiful trees

Name inspiration is everywhere - street signs, exotic cities, brand name shoes (I just purchased some shoes called Hans, Elyse and Gita), and trees.

Birch

Cedar

Juniper

Lilac

Magnolia

Maple

Olive

Acacia

Senna

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alternatives to some top 100 names

Ariana - Anatolia, Abyssinia, Antonia, Anastasia, Amalia, Audriana, Aviana
Grace - Graciela, Graziella, Greer, Griselda, Geneva, Ginevra
Sophia - Sephora, Sophira, Sophronia, Ophira, Sapphira, Phillipa, Philomena, Seraphina
Julia - Julina, Julissa, Julita, Junia, Juna, Ulya, Juniper
Chloe - Cleo, Clio, Clover, Clodagh, Clementine, Claudette, Clothilde
Emma - Fiamma, Amabel, Emmeline, Emmanuelle, Emilia, Ember, Emerald
Lucy - Lucinda, Lucille, Lucania, Lumina, Lavinia, Lucretia, Letitia

Friday, August 17, 2012

Theresa


Today's name is Theresa, which comes with the cute nicknames Tess, Tessa, Terra, or Reese/Reesa. There's Terry and Tracy, but they've fallen out of favor and seem dated. Theresa is Greek, meaning "late summer, to harvest (which is synonymous with to reap/gather)." It's most famous namesake is Mother Teresa, and what a great person to share a name with, although there were two other saints with this name. Theresa is teh-REE-sah, but you could also opt for Terese/Therese, said teh-REESE.

The first known namesake was the Spanish wife of Roman nobleman Paulinus from the 5th century. Apparently she was a writer who other women were fond of, thus giving her name to their children.
Here is a lovely list of international variants: wikipedia

Looking for something a little more unusual? Try Theria, which may have been a variant at some point, as both Theria and Theresa may come from the name of the Greek island Therasia. Theresa reached it's height around 1960 and is no longer on the top 1000 as of 2010 when it ranked at #928, a slow decline over the decade. Still, it is just below #1000, having 211 births in 2011. That being said, I don't see it coming back into the top 1000 any time soon, as Tess and Tessa have taken over with their similar, yet more modern sound. Tess in 2011 was #925, on its way up, and Tessa was #229, sort of hovering around that spot since 2000.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Leland


There are a lot of cities named Leland, and surprisingly, a lot of people, young and old. My state happens to have three major places of the name. It's also used as a surname. It is Old English, meaning "one who lives by unseeded land." It refers to a clearing, or low land. Kind of poetic and pastoral, though Leland feels a bit city-meets-countryside. There's also Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University, and it is what Bredan Fraser named his son. Nickname would be Lee. In 2011 it ranked at #329. It has risen very fast - in 2009 it rose from #408 to #349. There were also 8 girls named Leland in 2011, along with various other spellings for boys: 14 Leelynd, 11 Lelend, 5 Leilynd, 5 Leelend, 7 Leighland, 8 Lelynd and 10 Lealand.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

SSA Reappearances


Nameberry recently did a post on names that had once been on the SSA charts, dissappeared for a while, then reemerged in 2011. You can find the post here, but I wanted to share some of the names I felt were quite special.

Girls:

Amalia, gone since 1932 (76 years) now ranks at #922. This Latinized Germanic name means "work, laborious," and comes from the same root as Amelia (a blend of Emilia and Amalia, which ranks at #30), and Ameline/Amelina. It is also related to Emma, Emilia, Emmeline and Emily - call them cousins. In Spanish, Maya is a short form of Amalia.

Nova - this celestial name caught on quickly. Meaning "new," nova refers to a star that releases a huge burst of energy in bright color for a short time. Other celestial names are beginning to gain interest, such as Nebula and Orion. Nova now ranks at #884. Quite the jump.

Renata - this Italian beauty means "to be reborn," meaning reborn by baptism in most cases. There was a Saint Renatus, from which come Renato and Renata. A cute nickname is Ren.

Galilea - Yes, like Galileo. It is Italian and Hebrew meaning "a rolled sheet." Boring meaning aside, Galilea is quite pretty. It is also Spanish for the place Galilee.

Yuliana - an international variant of Julia, which can also be spelled Ulyana. This could be due to an influx of nationalities.

Boys:

Miller - I saw this one coming. I had a friend whose last name was Miller, and it was such an attractive option that he went solely by his surname. However, this one is being used by girls now.

Harvey - this one could be due to Harvey Dent the Batman character.

The "I Lost My Kid" Test


Upon considering a name for a future kid, I said it out loud a few times and something felt off. I proceeded to do the "I lost my kid" test - practice for a time when you might be in the mall or at a playground and suddenly you turn around and your kid isn't there. (It happens. I've also done the "I lost my cat" screaming in my backyard and my neighbors look at me like I'm crazy. Of course, the cat doesn't come when you call so you end up repeating the name about ten times. I'll give you a hint, my cats name is somewhere in this article.) I'll give some examples: Say you want to name your kid something considered normal by most. James, for instance. Scream it outside in front of people and no one will cringe, you included. Something like Sunshine or Canyon and they might think you're calling for a dog. Something like Petrova (beautiful as it is) and you might get interested glances and wish you came up with a less unusual nickname. Something like Sloanna might definitely keep you from naming your kid that. Keep in mind I don't actually go around the neighborhood calling for a kid I don't have, although I plan on doing a couple different tests I mentioned here and here. I may have mentioned in one of these my other idea to introduce yourself to strangers you'll likely never meet again (like a store employee) as the name you are considering for your child. If you feel weird introducing yourself to a perfect stranger as "Starling" or "Orpheus" then chances are it's not right for your kid.

Aside from verbal name-shouting, there's the written test. Here's how to do it: imagine you're a teacher. You're very skilled with language and writing, and you deal with 20+ new names each year. At first it was names like Jessica, Cody and Bridget, which are easy to say and spell, then it moved towards Kaitlyn, Dallas and Jordyn, which are pretty straight forward, and now it's getting more "creative" with MacKenzee, Kaylani, Aidin and Shadiamond (yes, several people have named their kid Shadiamond) and it takes you three times longer to memorize how to say and spell each name. Where does the name you're considering rank? Is Coralia is the first group, Skylin in the second group, and Mylisent in the third group?

So, if the name is fairly easy to spell/wouldn't give their teacher an awful headache, doesn't make you embarrassed when you shout it in a crowd of people,  would look good on a resume (remember, you're naming a future adult), and is something that looks equally good on a baby and a middle aged person, then go for it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cyprine


Usually I try to post a name that could be a sibling to the last name I wrote about, but I just came across an old love of mine and had to share. Cyprine (sip-reen/sigh-preen) is a name you'll likely only see once in your life. Reading it now may be that single time. Cyprine is another name for/variety of the gem Vesuvianite that ranges from light/exotic blue to light smoky purple. Vesuvianite comes from Mount Vesuvius, known for destroying Pompeii, which had cypress trees, and Cyprine itself means "of the cypress." So there is a nice little connection, and an alternative for those who like (or dislike) Cypress, Cyprian and Cypriana. Two other forms are Cypria and Cyprina (sip-ree-na/sigh-pree-na) since Cyprine is the French form. Nerdy fact: Cyprine was a minor Sailor Moon character. Naoko Takeuchi was very fond of gem and mineral names, as well as mythology and the planets. She really loved to research to find the perfect names for her characters.


Update: Ok, so I guess the name Cyprina is not as rare as I thought. Apparently it is the name of a beach in Florida. On the plus side, it's a beautiful beach on the ocean, which lends the name a mermaid-like aura.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Penna


Penna, which is Latin meaning "feather," is rare pretty much anywhere, except as a surname (especially in Italy). Sometimes heard in Europe, rarely in America, and probably more common as a nickname (Penelope or Penina). It is also the name of a river in India, sometimes used as an Indian surname as well. There were no baby girls named Penna in 2010 or 2011. It is unusual but familiar sounding, and right there with other rare P names such as Plum, Pennylane, Pasha, Palmira, and Padme, all with only 5 births in 2011.