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Showing posts from August, 2012


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,…

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 sta…

From Rare Fairy Tales

Prunella - Prunella & Bensiabel, whom she marries. Prunella means "little plum" in Italian. Lately, Prune has been a hip name in France. In the U.S. the name Prunella has not and is not used. Prunella is also a plant genus for self-heals/heal-alls. English actresses Prunella Gee, Prunella Ransome, and Prunella Scales are namesakes, as is English artist Prunella Clough. In other works of fiction there is the children's book Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, a play titled Prunella, or, Love in a Dutch Garden, and a minor Harry Potter character. Bensiabel is Italian, from the elements ben, "well," and bel, "nice." It likely means something like "well-meaning."

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). While Florizel's name comes from the Latin flor, meaning "flower," the zel element seems to b…

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…


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…

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.


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


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 …


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.

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.


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 …

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. Somet…


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…


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.