Monday, December 31, 2012

Cordelia

princess cordelia baby name abidaoud 
Princess Cordelia Abidaoud and Hilary Clinton

Today's headline: "Grab it while it's hot!" If the amount of labels under this post are any indication, Cordelia's a modestly rising, historically rich, beautiful trend-setter. The first time I saw Cordelia (kor-DEEL-ya, kor-DELL-ee-uh) was in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and I'm sure most people in my age bracket can say the same. However, these days I'm seeing the name everywhere online. It's become a very popular option for new parents, and has a long list of namesakes, both in real life, literature and media. From the comic book character Cordelia Swan to the real life Phoenician princess Cordelia Abidaoud, it should be a lot of fun looking through all the various Cordelia's out there, past and present. Nameberry reports that two "Babyberries" named Cordelia were born just recently.

Cordelia is a Latin name most likely meaning "heart," from the names Cordula (as in Saint Cordula) and/or Creiddylad, although Creiddlad supposedly has a meaning that relates to the sea according to this source. Cordelia last ranked in 1950. Our records start in 1880, when it ranked at #204, which was it's highest recorded placing and suggests that she once ranked even higher. The short name Delia comes from Cordelia, as do the longer names Cordelle, Cordella, Cordellia and Cordia. In 2011 the name was given to 177 baby girls, the largest amount ever given. Nicknames do not have to be limited to Cordy - Cora, Corda, Delia, Della, Coco, Lia and Cory can be nicknames as well.

Cordelia dates back to about 1100 AD. From King Lear she was the sympathetic daughter, the youngest, and her father's favorite. The two other daughters have less desirable names - Goneril and Regan, and are also dishonest and greedy. Cordelia is killed at the end of the original play, but has reconciled with her father. Cordelia of Britain was a legendary and brave queen often confused with the character from the play because her father's name is Leir, and although there are bold similarities, the story line is much different, and is the original story Shakespeare and Spencer based their versions of King Lear on. She supposedly ruled around the late 8th century. Early Welsh mythology has their own Cordelia, spelled Creiddylad. In these stories she is a lady in King Arthur's court, and said to be the most beautiful girl in the British isles. Two of Arthur's knights fight for her for eternity. Creiddylad has been compared to Persephone and her story compared to the Holly King myth. I mention Creiddylad also because some scholars believe Geoffrey of Monmouth based his Queen Cordeilla on Creiddylad, and Shakespeare on Monmouth's queen. Other scholars believe he took the name from Hollished's Chronicles, where the name originally came from Monmouth anyway. Supposedly, Cordelia was not used as a given name until Shakespeare's play.

Cordelia also features in Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and Cordelia by Winston Graham. In real life, the town of Cordele, Georgia was named for Cordelia Hawkins, daughter of the president of SAM railroads, and there was an American suffragist, philanthropist and physician named Cordelia Agnes Greene in the 19th century. In 2005, a woman named Cordelia Scaife May was recognized as "the single most generous person in the United States." One last mention is that Anne of Green Gables wanted to be called Cordelia.

Other than Saint Cordelia, this is also a moon of the planet Uranus, the name of an asteroid, and a genus of butterfly.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mercade

Mercade (murr-KAYD) is quite the interesting boy's name. It was used by Shakespeare in "Love's Labour's Lost." The character Mercade is a lord who attends the princess of France, and he has a total of four lines (I believe), but Shakespeare chose his character's names well, so Mercade is not just any afterthought. There is a book called Shakespeare's Comic Commonwealths that tells us his name is no coincidence: "Several critics have noted connections between Mercade and Mercury," the author says, "as the messenger of the gods and the god of oratory, but they have not commented on Mercury as the divine messenger recalling people to their social responsibilities." The similarities between the character Mercade's messenger duties, the importance of his message, and the affect of his message, even being only four lines total, is not a coincidence - Shakespeare most definitely intended him to be a Mercury-like character.

From Latin mercatus, meaning "trade," then Latin mercado, meaning "marketplace," and finally mercader, meaning "merchant," it could have been an ancient occupational name, as I said, used in Shakespeare, that unfortunately never got picked up. It is so rare, and no babies were given this name in 2011 or in recent years.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ingela

Ingela is a variant of Angela in some countries, like German (from engel), but means "Ing's protection" or "guarded by Ing" in Scandinavian/Old Norse. Ing, the Norse goddess, was also the foundation for Ingrid, meaning "Ing's beauty." Ingela dates back to at least 1692 in Northern Europe, but world wide may date as far back as any record of Angela. There were no babies named Ingela in 2011 or 2010, and my guess is you won't find more than a small handful of Ingela's in U.S. records of birth, and even White Pages tells us there are only 118 in the U.S.

Ingela Olsson was a Swedish actress from the 90's, Ingela Forsman a popular lyricist, and Ingela Klemetz was responsible for an art gallery exhibit on Northern Women in Chanel. There was also Ingela Gathenhielm, known as the "Shipping Queen," a Swedish privateer and pirate during the 1700's with her husband Lars. There actions were sanctioned by King Charles XII of Sweden.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Interview with Shawn

I decided to do a quick name interview with my husband. Although his name, Shawn, is not as popular as it once was - #27 in 1973, people still might want to consider it. Other variants are still popular, such as Sean and Shaun. All three spellings are Irish variants of John, meaning "God is gracious." Sean is the Irish version, while Shawn and Shaun are the Anglicized versions from Irish. In 2011 Shawn ranked at #248, Shaun at #588 and Sean at #125.

What is your name? (Include middle if you’d like) Shawn Anthony
Do you have any nicknames? As a child, Shawnie
What is your ethnic background? Polish
What decade were you born in? mid 80's
How did you feel about your name growing up? I liked it
How do you feel about your name now? It's alright

How often do you run into other people with your name? Not too often, but it happens
What are some names of your family members? Mitch, Eddie (not Edward, just Eddie), Cynthia, Brian, Rochelle
If you have any kids, what are their name(s)? If no kids, do you have any names you know you’d like to give to future children? Whatever my wife wants
What is the name of your best friend? Tony
What are some common names for your age group? Mike, Adam, Anthony, John, Luke, Ryan, Brian
If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be? I can't think of anything
Are people ever confused about your name? Spelling - Sean, Shaun
Would you suggest someone give your name to a new baby? Yes, I'd say go for it
What do you think of my baby name hobby? I think it's great to have a hobby, but sometimes you drive me nuts.
(My reply: Your Xbox drives me nuts.)

If any of you have questions for him regarding his name, please feel free to comment and he will respond.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Baby Names Roundup

December remains rare as a baby name, but parents do sometimes use it --33 times in 2011. It probably helps that Ember, a top 1000 name, can be its nickname. The same can be said of November, but Nova would probably be the go-to nickname for that one.

Season is another word name turned rare baby name, used only 6 times in 2011, but it would make a great alternative to overused Christmas names, while still being appropriate all year long.

Angela is being heard less these days, but also consider Angelia, Ingela, Angelus and Argelia. You might want to avoid Angel for a few reasons.

Rudolpha at first seems to scream "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but it actually seems very sweet and wholesome. It's also good for parents looking for frilly, feminine names with masculine nicknames: Rudy.

Emmanuelle could make a great alternative for Noelle this time of year, and it has a religious meaning fitting for Christmas.

Natale is much less heard than Natalie, Natalia and Natasha, which all share meanings.

Balthazar was one of the three wise men, along with Melchior and Caspar

Shepherd is a nice name loosely connected to Christmas, but Shepherdess is a great female spin on the occupation baby name, brought to my attention recently.

Poinsettia is the Christmas plant, and while names like Rose and Lily remain eternally popular, rare plant names never get used. 

Cardinal is the poinsettia of the bird world. The Christmas bird, since its bright red stands out dramatically in the snow.

Garland is one part Judy Garland, one part Christmas garland, and one part surname.

Carol hasn't ranked in a while, yet remains very Christmas appropriate. Caroline seems to be more in favor.

Tuquoise and Fairuza may seem like summer stones, but they're December's birth stones.

Evangeline (and Evangelia, Evangelista and Evangela) are the classy and gorgeous girls of the season.

Winter is doing very well and getting more popular than ever, but Snow is picking up attention as a middle name, and North is becoming a little more popular for boys in the first and middle spot.

Eirawen and Gwyneira are not to be missed if the meaning "snow white" is perfect for you.

Aspen is popular for girls, but not for boys. 

Bellamy could make for a nice "Christmas Bell" name, or the simple beauty Belle.

Nicolai is the rare variant of Nicholas, perfect for honoring none other than St. Nick himself.

Vesper has been in the news lately, but the "evening star/evening prayer" meaning is perfect for this time of year.

Eve, Gioia, and Felicity/Felice/Felicienne/Feliciana are other options.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Other names that end in -ilda

Yes, Matilda. We're all aware of her popularity. But what other names end in -ilda? The list is fairly long.

Quenilda
Casilda
Hilda
Clotilda
Gilda
Marilda
Otthilda
Romilda
Serilda
Swanhilda
Somerilda
Estrilda
Sunilda
Thorilda
Reinhilda
Gunilda
Farilda
Lovilda
Merilda
Tilda

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best Rare Baby Names of 2012

Goodbye, 2012. You've brought the world some amazing baby names, and some amazingly bad baby names. Let's take a look at some rare names that made the headlines this year...

Severine - the name of the latest Bond girl gets more use in France, as well as the name of the actress that plays her - Bérénice Marlohe, but I'm just a tiny bit surprised that hardcore Harry Potter fans didn't show interest in it as an alternative for Severus, as they both mean...

Matilda - for the simple reason that this name is everywhere, but also the new magazine.

Malala - this poor girl was shot by the Taliban for wanting girls to have equal education rights, but unfortunately her name means "grief stricken."

Blake - Lively. Debuted at #815 in 2011 for girls.

Grey - first name, middle name, boys name, girls name, mothers are going nuts for Grey ever since 50 Shades of Grey came out and took over the world. In 2011 Greysen made the top 1000 at #940. Christian has also been seeing some new popularity, for reasons just stated, plus Christian Bale and the "Dark Knight."

Gatsby - the new movie will soon be here, and parents are pondering the name Gatsby.

Sandy - despite the hurricane, Sandy isn't all that bad, for a name. As a nickname for Sandrina or Sandrine (but maybe not Sandra) Sandy could have a revamped future.

Maple - celebrity baby Maple Sylvie was refreshing, and made parents consider more unusual nature names. Snow seems to be all the rage right now for middle names.

Aria/Arya, Sansa, Theon - obsession over Game of Thrones led to name lovers entertaining the idea of these three names. Aria is the only one that won't get immediately connected to the series, and it was also used in Pretty Little Liars, but Theon is also a legit name.

Adele - the world seems to be fascinated by not only Adele, but her name as well - and the name of her newborn. What is the baby's name, anyway? I was more fascinated by Clary, the name of the baby's father's ex. Clary should be getting more attention when the movie version of Mortal Instruments comes out.

Nova - worth a mention, it appeared on the charts in 2011 at #884 and has been the talk of the town. Well, some towns.

Rosalind - the first name of Uma Thurman's newborn, who has a ridiculous amount of middle names. Rosalind is unfortunately very ignored as a first name, sitting quietly at the bottom of the SSA extended list.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Uncommon and Rare Baby Names

What is the difference between "uncommon" and "rare?" Is there a difference? And are rare names still acceptable/nice? Yes. Uncommon names are those we are familiar with, but don't hear often. However, uncommon names, unlike rare names, can be popular enough to sometimes rank, or may not be common where you live. Examples include names from the bottom of the Social Security Administration's annual top 1000. In 2011, some of those names were Nova, Willa, Stacy, Esme, Gwyneth, Blair, Jewel, and Dorothy for girls, and Miller, Reuben, Flynn, Maksim, Hendrix, Corban and Pierre for boys. Rare names, on the other hand, are generally unheard of (but not all the time, as familiar names like Rosalind are considered rare because they are not being used, most times because parents favor names that sound and look like what is currently popular). Some rare names given to less than 20 babies in 2011 include Alva, Astoria, Merrick, Quorra, Palmira, Rowena, Temple, Tanith, Xanthe and Zephyra for girls, and Aragon, Gable, Breccan, Matlock, Oberon, Lorcan and Davey for boys. Both uncommon names and rare names can come from any ethnic background, decade, or spelling. A name can be both uncommon and rare. Unusual spellings can only make the spelling itself rare, not the name. And rare names can definitely be cool or beautiful. Take for example Palmer, which was given to 93 boys and 63 girls in 2011. Rare, familiar, and in style.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5 syllable girls names (Complete list)

Alysiana
Feliciana
Sebastiana
Abyssinia
Tiodoria
Alianora
Eleonora (as el-ay-oh-nor-uh)
Iphigenia
Victoriana
Vittoriana
Anastasia (as an-ah-stah-see-uh)
Cassiopeia
Alexandria
Alexandrina
Apollonia
Elisabetta
Elizaveta
Agraciana
Evangelica
Evangelina
Evangelia
Feodosia
Alessandria
Illuminata
Viridiana
Emmanuella
Basiliana
Desideria
Moschatellina
Stelliferina
Cyparisia
Fiorentina
Imogenia
Januaria
Louisiana
Philadelphia
Octaviana
Aureliana
Lazariana
Artemisia
Serendipity
Valeriana
Emiliana
Theodosia
Catharinella
Catarinella
Giovanina
Dionysia
Leocadia
Ekaterina
Estephania
Silveriana
Callianeira
Fernandina
Anatolia
Elizabella
Altagracia
Altalunette
Caledonia
Annunciata
Annunziata
Candelaria
Emerentia
Emerenzia
Innocentia
Bartolomea
Aloysiana, Aloysia
Isabellina
Isabellita
Isabettina
Iosefina (as ee-oh-sef-ee-na)
Capitolia
Capitolina
Columbiana
Kaligenia, Caligenia
Amarinthia
Amazonia
Amphelisia
Oliviera
Olimpiana, Olympiana
Panagiota
Theofania, Theophania
Valenciana
Angeliana
Marianella
Honoriana
Cardinalia
Alexiroe
Diogenia
Lysianassa
Domitilia

Monday, December 17, 2012

Vesper, Vespera, or Vespertine?

vesper-fairchild baby name 

Vesper is Latin, meaning "evening star," and shares part of its meaning with the religious term evening vespers, meaning "evening prayers." The name's been around a long, long time, but started picking up more interest in 2006 because of Casino Royale, and the Bond girl called Vesper Lynd. Vesper Vivianne Ruck is the daughter of Alan Ruck and Mirielle Enos, there was a character in a Lloyd Alexander adventure series named Vesper, and she also featured in the Batman comic series as a TV and radio newscaster named Vesper Fairchild (pictured above), who had a romantic relationship with Bruce Wayne.

There are about 160 people named Vesper in the U.S. according to White Pages, 33 of which were born in 2011, and 24 in 2010. To be more accurate, Vesper is the unisex and Vespera the feminine, and the religious term came after. (See here.) Vespertine is a lesser known variant meaning "of the evening." Vespertine is more French-chic, similar in looks to Valentine, and further removed from the common "Vespa" comments. Hespera also shares the same meaning.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bellamy

You might first recall Matt Bellamy, who just welcomed a child with Kate Hudson, when seeing this name. Or maybe actor Ralph Bellamy, the Bellamy Mansion, or The Bellamy Brothers, or Francis Bellamy, who created the Pledge of Allegiance. And it did start as a surname. Bellamy means "beautiful friend" from belle ami in Old French, and originally pronounced BAY-lah-mee in French, but most people in America are more inclined to pronounce it BELL-uh-mee. As a first name it's been picking up a bit of attention as both a substitute for Isabella and as a surname-name, but also for its trendy "ee" ending sound. On the show "9 By Design," one of the children is named Bellamy, chosen for a connection to France, and there is a lesser-known American actress named Bellamy Young. As a surname not defined by either gender in its meaning, the name is unisex, but no boys were given the name in 2011. On the girl's side, the name was given 53 times, and in 2010 just 46 girls were given the name. So for those of you who can't give up Bella, here's a rare option for you.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jessamine

jessamine plant baby name 

Jessamine (JESS-ah-meen, JESS-uh-min, JESS-uh-myne - take your pick, though the first is most accurate), thankfully, has been getting attention in recent years. I credit that to baby naming websites that have message boards, but who knows. Jessamine is the archaic French, medieval English, and Persian for "jasmine." Variants included Jessamy and Jessamyn. Jessamyn West was an American Quaker and writer best known for The Friendly Persuasion in 1945. Another namesake, Jessamyn West, is a librarian and blogger. Like Clary, she's also a character in a Cassandra Clare series which is rapidly gaining popularity. Nicknames can range from Jessica's "Jessie" or "Jess," to Jasmine's "Minnie," or "Jessa," or "Mina." The plant has a remarkably nice fragrance and cute star-shaped flowers.

In 2011 there were only 8 girls named Jessamine, 7 named Jessamyn, and none named Jessamy. In 2010 there were only 6 girls named Jessamine. Please, someone, snatch this up and use it!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nicolai

susan-seals st nicholas baby name 
Art by Susan Seals

Nicolai is the Scandinavian and Slavic form of the Russian boys name Nikolai, said the same, with only the c and k changed. This baby name means "people of victory," a very symbolic name, but can also be roughly translated as "victorious people" or "victor of the people." The origin is the Greek name Nicholas (Nikolaus), but Nicolai puts a fresh spin on an old favorite, updating it with a new nickname: Nico. Niklaus/Niclaus and Nikolaus/Nicolaus are two other rare variants, and Niccolai is an alternate spelling. The spelling Nikolai currently ranks at #641, Nicholas at #42, Nickolas at #551, Nicolas at #168, and Nikolas at #473. This spelling, Nicolai, remains unranked, and a total of 47 boys were given the name in 2011, which is down by 13 boys from 2010 and down 12 from 2009, but up quite a bit overall.

Good old St. Nick, who's favorite holiday is just over a week away, is still the most famous namesake. He was a 4th century Greek bishop of Myra, patron saint of Russia and Greece, and a handful of various cities. He was also patron saint of children, merchants, archers, thieves, pawnbrokers, students, wolves and sailors, depending on what country. His reputation for secretly giving gifts made him the inspiration for Santa. We just missed his feast day, which was December 6th, but we all know he's celebrated at Christmas time anyway. Maybe my memory is a little fuzzy of my childhood, but I remember at one point telling my mom I knew Santa wasn't real and that it was actually Saint Nicholas, but he died a long time ago, and that she was the one putting gifts under the tree.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lucania

Lucania map baby name 

Lucania is a fun way to get Luca as a nickname for a girl, without having to use Luca alone, since Luca is an Italian boys name. Like Atticus, Lucania is a place name, the ancient district in southern Italy, which spread from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Gulf of Taranto. Today the modern region is known as Basilicata. Since changing the region's name, Lucania can be found as a surname as well. There are only a handful of place names that are no longer places, such as Abyssinia and Anatolia, and if we're talking rare (which we're always talking about on this blog) these names have you covered - rarity, history, and beauty.

Lucania is derived from one of two sources: either the Greek leukos, meaning "white," from lux, or the more likely source of the Latin word lucus, meaning "Sacred Wood," but also from the root of lux, meaning "light." The meaning "chaste light" or "sacred light" can also be given. It does not mean "mother of Rome," as other sites would have you believe. It is important to note that the boys names Loukas, Lukas, Luke, and Lucan come from the same origin, so if you'd rather see Luca on a girl, Lucania is the way to go. Lucasta is the more widely known English female name with the same meaning.

There have been no babies named Lucania in the U.S. in quite some time, but approximately 4 women have this as a first name, and 189 people have it as a surname.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atticus

Atticus (AT-ik-uss) has been gaining popularity recently, thanks to Atticus Finch, the well-named main character of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. (My theory is that some parents searching for a literary name thought of this first, as almost all high schools require reading this.) Mr. Finch was a strong enough character to change the law community as a fictional role model for lawyers. His character in the 1962 film adaptation was voted the "greatest hero in American film."

However, there are other notable people named Atticus, dating all the way back to 112 BC. Titus Pomponius Atticus may have been the first namesake, an ancient Roman philosopher/author, one of two ancient philosophers with the name. Around the same time, Herodes Atticus was a rhetorician, and later namesakes include Archbishop Atticus of Constantinople, Saint Atticus (5th century, Armenia), musician Atticus Ross, and actor Atticus Shaffer.

In the literary world, authors Greg Rucka, Ron Hansen, Cicero and Kevin Hearne have used Atticus for characters. Some may even recall a rock band called Atticus. In recent years, two celebrity couples have used Atticus for their child - Casey Affleck & Summer Phoenix, and Daniel Baldwin & Isabella Hoffman.

Atticus simply means "man from Attica" in Latin, a place in ancient Greece which contains Athens. (Note: Athens is the capital, so name sites that list Atticus as meaning "from Athens" are incorrect.) However, it has long been associated with intellect and intelligence. Atticus broke back into the U.S. top 1000 in 2004 and now ranks at #462. The last time it ranked was in 1881, at #875.

Other high school English class names coming into fashion include Gatsby, Harper and Darcy.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Babies named a strange thing

This list of strange baby names is exactly why I don't advocate the popular advice to use any name you love. It's good advice, for sensible people. Call me harsh, call me too opinionated, I don't care. I'm pretty sure all of the names listed have indeed been used on real babies, as scanning through this list was like going through the SSA's extended list a second time. If not, it's just a gentle reminder of what's really out there, kind of like a warning - "think twice before you use Shadiamondd." Not all the names here are bad, but you can definitely point out those that make you do a double-take.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Clary

ClarySage1 

There's a lot of fuss over Clare/Claire and Clara/Claira, but Clary (KLAIR-ee) first caught my eye when news came that Adele had a baby, and Clary was the name of the father's ex. I'm still not sure what Adele named her baby, but Clary remains a fascinating name. It is a variant of Claire, meaning "bright, clear, famous" and is the name of the clary sage plant, a member of the mint family known for thriving in adverse conditions. Clary has also been used as a surname, some from the Irish surname McClary, others from being herb-sellers or living near places where clary sage grew. One such namesake was Desiree Clary, the ex-fiancee of Napoleon. She became queen of Sweden and Norway as the consort of King Charles XIV John.

Claire has a good deal of variants that some are not familiar with. Claritza, Claribel, Clarice, and Clarette stand out, as well as Clary, which may have started as a nickname. There is also a possibility Clary was its own name, used since medieval times like other y-ending names, or from the Old English word sclarea. There were no girls named Clary born in the U.S. recently.

Get ready to spot Clary in the near future - it's the name of the heroine in Mortal Instruments, the book series-turned-new movie (February).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Aspen

aspen tree baby name 

Aspen is a name we're all familiar with, whether from Aspen, Colorado, the name of the tree, or as a baby name. Aspen trees are known for shaking, quivering or fluttering in the breeze. As such, the bark has been used to treat palsy. They are also known for their heart-shaped leaves and rich fall color. The Colorado ski resort, on the other hand, is known for being very high class. Spell it Aspyn or Aspin and the name goes from seeming high class or nature-y to low class and trendy. The general public has continued to use Aspen as a female baby name, currently #519 after an up/down period on the top 1000, but it has not ranked for boys. There were 57 boys named Aspen in 2011, compared to 558 girls. If you can look past the unfortunate first syllable, this name might be for you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Eirawen & Gwyneira

snow1 

These two Welsh beauties both mean "snow white," from the elements eir, "snow," and wen, "white." Neither was used in the U.S. in 2011 (or ever, I'm certain). White Pages tells me there are no living people in the U.S. named Eirawen and only 4 named Gwyneira. Eirawen is pronounced EYE-rah-wen, Gwyneira is pronounced gwin-EYE-rah. The South Wales pronunciation for Gwyneira is gwin-AY-rah, and a lesser used spelling is Gweneira. The girl's name Eirwen also means "snow white" in Welsh. Eirwen is AYR-wen in South Wales, and IYR-wen in North Wales. The Old Norse female name Eir belonged to the goddess of healing, and the name meant "mercy, healing." Eira is also used in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Eirawen was given to a character in the video game Mabinogi, and except for this, both names remain extremely rare.