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Showing posts from November, 2012

Fenella

As I often find myself saying on this blog, here's a name you don't hear every day. The lovely Fenella is an acquired taste, but enchanting once you consider it. Fenella is the (Scottish) Anglicized version of the Gaelic name Fionnuala, meaning "fair shoulder/white shoulder," which has ties to Fiona. I could only find a few namesakes - British actresses Fenella Fielding and Fenella Woolgar, and  radio presenters Fenella Fudge and Fenella Kernebone. Fenella Paton was a British radical who "emphasized with working mothers" and helped push along the birth control movement. In history, Fenella (Finnguala) was the daughter of Cuncar of Angus in the 10th century, and legend has it she was responsible for killing the King of Scots after he killed her son. In mythology she was the daughter of Lir, who was turned into a swan by her step-mother, and wandered for 900 years until the spell was broken. This became the subject of Thomas Moore's "The Song of Fion…

Kellan (Kellen)

Kellan has been getting some attention as a baby name in the past few years due to the "Twilight" character Emmett Cullen, played by Kellan Lutz, pictured above. (This and Twyla will probably be the only times you'll ever hear me mention anything Twilight related on this blog - or anywhere else for that matter, so I figured I'd better put them close together.) He's had some other good roles other than "Twilight," in the movies "Arena" and "Immortals." There are also 5 American football players named Kellen.

Kellan is a variant of the Gaelic name Kellen, meaning "slender." It currently ranks at #363, and rose quickly over the past few years from it's starting point at #882 in 2007.

Is Twyla the baby name for you?

Forget Renesme, forget Bella, and consider Twila or Twyla. Twila is the more obvious spelling when "honoring" Twilight, Twyla less obvious and more Twyla Tharp (American dancer and choreographer). Both are English, meaning (obviously) "twilight." The Twyla can also be from Old English, meaning "twill," or "two ply, double thread." The name Twyla was used as a character in Zenna Henderson's novel Pilgrimage, and more recently on a character in the TV show "Schitt's Creek." It was most popular in 1964 at #751, and only ranked between 1925 and 1965, so consider this a vintage name. Twyla was used 28 times in 2011, and Twila was used 27 times, so each spelling is equal in usage, legitimacy and popularity.

Parents with a sense of humor

A few things have inspired this post. 1) The STFU Parents blog, and some other no longer running blogs dedicated to bad baby names. 2) Reading through the weird names at the bottom of the SSA extended list. 3) Going over odd names in my head. Or rather, names with not-so-great meanings, such as Claudia and Perdita.

Here are some names, how many babies were given the name in 2011, and my commentary. This list could go on for days, so I'll just stick with boys names for now.

Gowtham, 6 - not sure what to make of this, but it seems definitely related to Gotham city
Nation, 11 - skip the fictional city name and go with Nation...after all, your kid IS their own nation
Granite, 6 - they loved their granite counter so much they named their son after it
Cable, 8 - like Granite, they loved their cable TV so much...
Thang, 31 - that thang you do...
Gohan, 17 - this one may not be obvious to some, so look up "Dragon Ball Z"
Gambit, 5 - similar to Gohan, you might need to know about the X-M…

Unusual Middle Names for Girls Pt. II

Ever since posting the first list of unusual middle names / unusual combos for girls, I've been getting ideas every day, building up this second list. Once again, these are combinations I love but can't use, so I'm tossing them out into the blogosphere for someone else to snatch up.

Ysela Valentine
Isabella Canary
Aerith Keeley
Benicia Celestina
Emeraude Christa
Ellery Kristen
Ismay Jasmina
Isannah Noelle
Rosella Betony
Gwyneira Weaver
Elspeth Rafaela
Sonia Ondine
Willa Silversnow
Xyla Valkyrie
Polina Eponine
Bellamy Emmanuelle
Andrina Rhiannon
Eowyn Clary
Netanella Tegan
Rosalind Salome
Amoret Freya
Letitia Anchoret
Lionella Felicienne
Arianwen Elena
Raffaela Fifer
Belphoebe Fay

Ways to get Callie as a nickname

Calandra
Calantha
Calista
Calixta
Calixtine
Calypso
Caleida
Calida
Calendula (botanical name for the English marigold)
Caledonia
Calvina
Calliandra (a beautiful flower)
Calpurnia (the wife of Julius Caesar)
Calligena (an epithet of Demeter and Gaia)
Calliope (the muse of Epic Poetry, mother of Orpheus)
Caliadne (a nymph who live in the Nile)
Calico
Callianassa (a Greek Nereid)
Callidora
Callula
Calais
Calla
Calamanda
Calatea
Calathea
Calatia
Calfuray
Calumina

Thanksgiving Name: Isannah

Isannah (eye-SANN-uh) is my "Thanksgiving name" this year because this Colonial appellation was the name given to one of Paul Revere's daughters, who unfortunately only lived a year. But Paul Revere, who warned the residents of Concord, Massachusetts of the coming British military, was a key part in the American Revolutionary War. His famous alert was recorded in (slightly non-factual) poetic legend by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in "Paul Revere's Ride." Isannah's name was later found in a book by Esther Forbes called Johnny Tremain in 1943, about the American Revolution. Her fictional character meets the historical Paul Revere, and the character Isannah Lapham may have been inspired by Revere's real daughter's name. At least in my mind, Isannah is a patriotic name because of the legacy of her father.

Isannah was not a very uncommon name at the time, as there is record of an Isannah born in 1690 and several more around the birth of Revere's da…

Yvonne & Yvette

Yvonne (ee-VON) and Yvette (ee-VET) are the medieval French feminine forms of Yvon and Yves, from Germanic Ivo, meaning "yew." The meaning is not "archer," it is what archery bows are made of: yew. Both can have the nicknames Yvie (EE-vee) or Yva (EE-vah) which you could choose to make easier to spell by using Evie or Eva. Yew is coniferous, like pine trees, and is known as the tree of mourning and the "tree of resurrection and eternity," symbolizing the Tree of Life. For more information on the tree in legend, please visit The Goddess Tree.

Yvonne is one of many names to travel to England after the Norman Invasion. After a while it was no longer popular, but saw a revival in the 20th century, and it was big with the French Creole community in the south (as evidenced by the Hank Williams song). At first glance Yvonne appears vintage, along with twin Yvette, but it is still used sparingly today and may see more use thanks to the vintage trend, the V trend…

Humphrey

Yes, not a name you hear every day, and not a name most parents think to use. In fact, Humphrey (HUM-free) was only given to 6 baby boys in 2011, decreasing to 5 in 2013. It wasn't much better in the U.K., where it was only used 13 times in 2011. Rare indeed, yet so familiar. Not to mention intriguing nicknames: Hum, or Free. Many can still recall the charming actor Humphrey Bogart, who was in over 50 movies between 1928 and 1956, a year before he died. (I was shocked to learn my husband had no idea who he was, considering the American Film Institute ranked him the greatest male star in the history of American film.) He is most famous for "Casablanca" (1942) and "Sabrina" (1954). He starred alongside some gorgeous leading ladies, such as Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall (whom he married), Audrey Hepburn and Katherine Hepburn. This cultural icon known for playing hard, yet noble characters would be a great namesake for a baby of film or Broadway buffs, and what…

Gwyneth

I must admit, Gwyneth Paltrow makes this name seem very usable (although her daughter Apple's name is a different story) and accessible to parents with no Welsh background. Since she's been an A-list celebrity for so long, it's surprising to see that Gwyneth was only given to 259 girls in 2011, ranking low at #978 for the first time back on the charts since the first time it ranked in 2004, when it was also low ranking  - not popular, yet a very familiar rare name. A happy medium. The spelling Gweneth was given to 41 girls in 2011, Gwynneth 10 times, and Gwenneth 9 times.

Gwyneth means "white, fair, happy" in Welsh. A namesake of the 19th century, author Annie Harriet Hughes, who went by the pen name Gwyneth Vaughan, contributed to parents choosing this name. Gwyneth is strongly connected to the Kingdom of Gwynedd, not to be confused with modern Gwynedd in Wales. In the 5th century, early Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Gwynedd formed and the seat of power was in Dega…

Dempsey

Dempsey is an Anglicized Irish surname meaning "proud," from "son of Ó Diomasaigh.The family with this name originated in the Kingdom of Uí Failghe. On occassion, this name was simply given as "Proudman" in English. This is not a unisex name.

The title Viscount Clanmalier was created for Terrance O'Dempsey by King James I, and after him there were only two others to hold the title before it was no longer used - Lewis O'Dempsey and Maximilian O'Dempsey. The O'Dempsey family was strong and powerful until the 17th century, or, until the Williamite wars. Several prominent people have bared this surname, including feminist activist Rosemary Dempsey, but two namesakes spring to mind immediately - the actor Patrick Dempsey, proud father of Sullivan and Darby, and Jack Dempsey, the 20th century boxing champ. There are dozens more, however, listed all over the web. Only a small handful feature Dempsey as a given name. In my opinion, Dempsey would make a …

Ismay

I've seen Ismay (iz-may) getting a lot of love online lately, so I thought I'd give you the history. There might be no coincidence that Ismay sounds so close to Esme, meaning "esteemed," although a lot of people like to debate where it came from and how it was used. Some say it's a variant of Ismene, meaning "knowledgeable," or Ismenia, whose origins are equally debatable, but could come from Yasmin. Some say it's a Germanic compound name from iron and strength, some say it has Celtic origins, and some say it is a variant (possibly Anglicized) spelling of Esme, which is French. This is evidenced by variant spellings like Esmay. However, the first record of Ismay could be one in Lancashire, England, and the name could predate the Norman conquest in some form. I've also seen it argued that Ismay comes from Ishmael.

Ismay can be found as a surname, as is the case with famous British businessman Bruce Ismay, associated with the Titanic, but also as …

Palmer

The Palm Leaf by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Palmer is an Old English name meaning "palm-bearing pilgrim," which is perfect for babies born around Thanksgiving. Originally a medieval surname, it referred to a Christian pilgrim carrying a palm branch when traveling to a holy shrine, or one who returned with a palm leaf. People still use palm leafs in pilgrimages today. It can still be found as a surname (and city names) today. The meaning has nothing to do with male or female, therefore this can be a unisex name, although Palma, Palmira and Palmina do sound more suitable for girls. Palmer has made appearances in Sense and Sensibility, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and recent movies.

While Parker is currently the #1 P name for boys and Porter has a modest middle-of-the-charts ranking, Palmer was last seen on the top 1000 in 1955, disappearing after 1949 for 6 years, but it did rank every year since 1880 until then. In 2011 there were 93 boys given this name, and 63 girls. Though t…

Ombeline

It seems to me that modern parents in the U.S. only fawn over a select few French names. Noelle, Madeline (Madeleine), Isabelle, Natalie, Sophie, Charlotte, Elle, Claire and Caroline can all be found high on the top 1000, but where are the unique and uncommon French names? Where's Jessamine, Felicienne, Marcheline and Emmanuelle? Where are Corisande, Melusine and Chantal? Where's Ombeline?

Ombeline (ohm-bell-een, om-bell-een) saw no U.S. births in 2011, and remains unheard of here. In France in 2000 the name ranked at #375. Similar sounding and sea-sweet Ondine fared only a bit better with 7 births. Ombeline is also connected to water, as Greek philosopher Pliny claimed it was one of the stones that fell from heaven during rain and thunderstorms. Known then as Ombria, the "rain stone," Notia, meaning "south wind," and occasionally the Scirocco-stone, and Brontia, meaning "thunder-stone," even the gemstone is hard to find information on. Ombria wa…

Winston

If you're like me, the first person to come to mind when you see this name is Winston Churchill, and the first place is Winston-Salem. However, there's a lot more to this name than meets the eye. In fact, it was recorded as far back as 1086 AD in the Domesday Book. Winston is of Old English origin, meaning "joy stone, friend stone" from Wynnstan. (source) Wynn was often used solely in female names. Many baby name blogs and websites confuse the meaning of Winston, claiming it means "wine town," which would only be accurate in Suffolk and Durham, England. (source) Wine meant friend in Old English, (which you can find evidence of in The Wife's Lament, one of the first pieces of literature ever) winn meant joy, and stan meant stone, but in Durham and Suffolk, Wine was a personal name. Such is the case with the Isle of Wight, where the personal name was Wynsige, and Glouchestershire, where it was Wynna. To be clear, Wynnstan came first, and Winston was deriv…

Philippa

Is it any coincidence Phillipa and filly have the same sounds? Maybe (since filly comes from Old Norse), but Phillipa does mean "lover of horses" in Greek, composed of philos (friendly love) and hippos (horse). It is the feminine version of Phillip/Philip, brought back to life in the 19th century. However, it seems Phillipa has never charted in the U.S. The strange thing is, everyone around the world was introduced to Pippa Middleton during the royal wedding coverage, and Philippa has been ever fashionable in England, but Phillipa was only used 10 times in 2011 in the U.S., the spelling Philippa used 53 times, Pippa used 69 times, and Felipa 8 times. That's pretty rare for a name everyone was raving about. But chances are these names will be used more in 2012, since the numbers did rise from 2010, when there were only 25 Phillipa's and 16 Pippa's born.

As for pronunciation, fil-LEE-pah is the most common, fil-IPP-ah the second most common, although it seems to m…

Topher

Topher is a short form of Christopher, Greek, meaning "bearing Christ," which not many people in the U.S. realized could be used as a given name until "That 70's Show" star Topher Grace came along. It is said he didn't like Chris as a nickname and insisted on Topher. There was also a Joss Whedon character named Topher. It is popular to call Christopher's Topher in Denmark. In 2011 only 7 parents chose to name their boys Topher instead of the full name Christopher. As of now, Topher is just beginning to be recognized as a formal given name, but perhaps he'll have a bright future ahead of him.

Ellery

Ellery fashion label
Ellery is unisex due to being a non-occupational surname, from the Latin name Hilary (and Hilary was masculine in medieval times), meaning "cheerful," though there is a slight chance it could mean "alder tree" from Old English (the only credible info to back this up is the Old English word for alder, aler). One of the only well known namesakes is Ellery Queen, the fictional 1930's detective. In fact, this was one of the first times Ellery was ever used as a first name. Back in the day you could find Ellery as a corrupted variant of Eulalie in England, as well as Elaria, often confused with Hilaria. Ellery was a blip on the top 1000 only five times - 1882, 1897, 1904, 1908, and 1959. In 2011 it ranked just outside the top 1000 with only 196 girls born with the name, and 10 boys. (Safe to say the girls have taken over this one, too.) The above picture is from a fashion label named Ellery. Also check out Ellery Sprayberry, a child actress.

Bevan

Bevan, pronounced BEH-vehn and/or BEH-vahn, is a Welsh name meaning "son of Evan." It can be found as a surname, as in British politician Aneurin Bevan, but also as a first name, as in Ameican musician Bevan Davies. It is not to be confused with the Anglicized Irish girl's name Bevin. While it's probably a little tacky to have a father named Evan and son named Bevan in the same family, it would be lovely to honor a grandpa, uncle or special friend named Evan, especially for those that don't want to deal with the popularity of Evan, which was #40, while Bevan was only used 6 times in 2011. Other than being a type font and foundation, I'm sorry to report there isn't much more on the name.

Verona

Verona is the romantic city in northern Italy, quite possibly best known as being the source of inspiration for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew (if in a small way) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. And while Romeo and Juliet are constantly in use as baby names in America, Verona was used only 29 times in 2011. It ranked from 1880 to 1934, most popular in 1905 and 1906 (when many names containing the letter V were popular), falling off the charts every so often. The meaning of Verona is contested. It could be from the Greek name Veronica, meaning "victory bringer," which would make it just a little bit place name-y. One legend has it that Verona was named for King Theodoric's castle. There are many tales of battle and power connected to Verona since it was an intersection of many cities - when Verona was just forming as a city, several leaders fought on the land and it exchanged hands quite a bit.

Today Verona is a nice tourist attraction, where …

Gerard

Gerard is a name you don't hear every day. I'm not entirely sure which category it fits in - vintage? This Old English name has an interesting meaning, "spear brave," partly sharing in the definitely vintage boy's name Gerald, meaning "spear ruler," which was also a 19th century revival name. Both come from Old German origin, but in the late Middle Ages, Gerard was more popular. The Normans introduced the name Gerard to England in the 11th century. "Spear brave" may seem a little obscure, but the meaning can be translated to "brave with the spear." It's common to hear this name in France, where actor Gerard Depardieu is from. The name can also be found on poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and painter Gerardo Richter, although I think most Americans are more familiar with the [very hot] Scottish actor from Hollywood, Gerard Butler (pictured above). There were also a few St. Gerard's, though the most well known, Gerard Majella, is th…

Barbara Cartland Baby Names

Searching for a particular name which I can't mention, I came across this wonderful blog dedicated to the works of Barbara Cartland's books and cover art. I didn't know who Barbara Cartland was, but I found out she used some awesome and unusual names for her books! Go check it out.

A small sampling:
Una
Marina
Verena
Elvina
Novella
Bettina
Simona

A New Generation of Mom Names

Taking names from the top of the SSA charts between 1975 and 1985, here are my nominations for today's "mom names."

Beth
Christina
Jennifer
Sarah
Heather
Tiffany
Michelle
Megan
Rachel
Rebecca
Laura
Danielle
Angela
Lisa
Monica
Patricia
Stacy
Dana
Tracy
Amy
Melissa
Kimberly
Nicole
Kelly
Amanda
Tammy
Susan
Carrie
Denise
Brenda
Tanya
Amber
Renee

Do you have a "mom name?" Which of these do you think are timeless classics and not mom names?

Popular & Dated vs Popular & Timeless

We're all familiar with names that are dated. For some, it might be Tammy, Donna and Lynn. For others, Tiffany, Kim or Tracy. But how popular were those names, are how did they become "dated?" My theory is that the names with the least amount of historical background, meaning and legitimacy, which rushed to the top of the charts, were the ones now considered dated. (Although sometimes pop culture ruins a popular name, and some just fall out of favor because they're tired.) On the other hand, those which are deemed traditional, with a long history of use and a rich background, might have been at the top of the charts for a long time without ever being considered dated - the "timeless classics." Here's five of each...

Timeless Classics
Catherine & Katherine - This Greek name is backed by saints, queens, royalty and literary figures up the wazoo and has been popular since the Dark Ages. The spelling with a C is currently resting at #161 and has never fal…

Interview with Brian

Brian Boru comic by Damien Goodfellow
What is your name?Brian Do you have any nicknames? Gav, Gavino, and Bri-guy from gaming and from friends What is your ethnic background? Caucasian
What decade were you born in? 70's
How did you get your name? No idea
How did you feel about your name growing up? Loved it
How do you feel about your name now? I still like it, for the most part What are some names of your family members? Dennis, Jan, Grace, Philip, Angeline
If you have any kids, what are their name(s)? Daughter Katlynn, name chosen by wife, and the name fits her perfectly. I would name a boy Gavin.
What is the name of your best friend? Joe
What are some common names for your age group? Toby, Greg, Dennis, Gavin, Malakai
If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be? McLovin' or Sir Lancelot Are there any personal stories about your name? Not that I can think of Are people ever confused about your name? No, but sometimes it comes out "brain." Would you suggest someo…

Unusual Middle Names for Baby Girls

The following are first and middle name combos that I've had on my list titled "name combos I love but can't use." I figure, if I put them on here then they might have the chance to get used. Enjoy.

Sophie Claret
Elena Zanzibel
Eliska Starling
Lavinia Nightingale
Alannah Dragonfly
Fiona Tabby
Matilda Plum
Dacia Linden
Marion Blackbird
Rosamund Winter
Amber Mandolin
Coralia Willow
Verona Calico
Sable Valentine
Ambrosia Maple
Fay Lavender
Pomelina Snow
Wilhelmina Snow
Willa Belle
Ophelia Sapphire
Leocadia Pearl
Tamsin Quill
Oriana Maiden
Betony Oriole
Meredith Tatum
Lluvia Savvy
Umbrielle Swan
Gwendolen Fable
Marina Pearl
Porsha Lillith
Portia Tanith

These baby names aren't so bad

I was reading a post I did last October, Intentionally or Creatively Misspelling Names, but I had some recent insight into this topic again and decided to do a sort of update. What I'm about to say goes against my usual beliefs and advice. I do not usually recommend invented names, invented spellings or smushing two names together. However, as I said in last year's post, in the case of smushing for the sake of family, I say "do what you have to do." Just keep in mind, you can put one family name in the first spot and one in the middle.

Mom is Jennifer, mother in law is Vanessa? Jenessa! Grandma Mary and dear friend Elizabeth? Mariella! Grandpa Adrian and father Harvey? Hadrian!
However, please note that sometimes you may think you're creating a new name and it is actually a legit old name (Hadrian, for example, is an ancient legit name Adrian came from) and sometimes a smush is not a good idea. For example Jeff and Mark... Jemarco? Not so nice.
My advice is to keep it…