Sunday, December 29, 2013

Imber

ImberStGiles 
St. Giles in Imber, Wiltshire (England)

If Amber was once very popular and Ember is catching on like wildfire, could Imber have a chance? This mysterious name from the Latin word imber, meaning "heavy rain," was used for a town called Imber in Wiltshire, England. The entire populace was evicted in 1943 during World War II so that American troops had a place to prepare for the war. In Yiddish and Polish, it means "ginger," with the variant spelling Imbera.

Although Imber (as well as Imberre and Imbersky) can be found here and there as a surname, it is not used as a first name. This would make a good choice for those interested in history. White Pages claims there are currently 37 people named Imber, as well as 3 named Imbera.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dorigen

04Goble_DorigenPledgingAurelius_100 
Dorigen Pledging Aurelius by Warwick Goble

Listen up, those of you with a Doris in the family tree. If Imogen is gaining interest, Dorigen is the familiar sounding black swan, just as unique but much more rare. Featured in the Franklin's Tale by Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, Dorigen's husband loves her so much that he agrees to an equal-status marriage with her (unheard of!) but he had to leave to go make money. She misses him quite a bit and worries about his safety. While he's gone she gets an unwanted suitor, and whether she was timid or polite, Dorigen let him down a little too gently by saying she would run away with him if he could get rid of every single rock on the coast of Brittany - something she thought was absolutely impossible, something he should have instantly given up on her for. However, her suitor did accomplish her bizarre task, with the help of a magician. By the time her suitor comes back to tell Dorigen he succeeded, her husband has returned. A promise is a promise, and so she and her husband were very upset. Being honorable and good-hearted people, Dorigen claims the only way out of her deal might be to commit suicide, but her husband says to just do what she promised. In the end, seeing how noble the couple is, Dorigen's suitor lets her out of the deal, no harm caused. The morals important to the story are generosity, truth and patience.

Similar to Dorian and Dorchen, Dorigen could be perfect for the right person. Dory, Dora or Gen work as nicknames. A with a familiar first syllable, you could just find a way to honor the Doris in your family tree after all. According to White Pages, there could be as many as 15 people named Dorigen in the U.S. Dorigen could mean "gift at birth/birth gift" or something of the like, coming from the Greek dor, meaning "gift," and the French suffix -gene, meaning "born/birth." (As the Dorigen in Chaucer's story lived in France, this could be possible.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Marvel

Marvel, which means marvel literally and "wonderful," doesn't seem like it would have been a popular baby name, yet it ranked from 1889 until 1941 for girls, highest at #487 in 1899. First appearing long before Marvel Comics, this female name is considered a variant of the Latin name Maravilla. Other spellings include Marivel and Marvella. It also ranked for boys between 1896 and 1910, the highest ranking being #769 in 1899 and a short reappearance in 1929. These rankings, however, come from a time when fewer babies were being born, so altogether it wasn't an extremely common name. Today it is given to as few as 8 girls and 13 boys, and for the most part it has been unused for girls after the late 1970's.

Marvel has a few namesakes. First is Marvel Crosson, the pioneer "aviatrix" of 1929 who set a new altitude record for female pilots. Second, the character Marvel from the Hunger Games series. Third, Marvel Turlock from the book White Oleander. There may be others but it is increasingly hard to find any namesakes when every kind of search results in Marvel Comics. But, let that be a strong reminder that if you bestow this name upon your child, every person's first thought will be "like the comics." I suggest using it as a middle name - especially for the comic book fan.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Canacee

03Goble_Canacee&TheFalcon_100


Canacee and the Falcon by Warwick Goble

Canacee (KAN-uh-see) is a beautiful princess in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and in the Squire's Tale in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. She is the daughter of King Cambyuskan and Queen Elpheta of Sarai in Tartary, and Chaucer leaves her story unfinished. Apparently the squire wants to tell that her own brother has been fighting in tournaments to win his sister's hand, possibly a nod to Heroides XI by Ovid. Some critics suggest it is not in fact her brother, but a knight with the same name as her brother, and that this would have been mentioned had Chaucer finished the story, and that the shock and confusion was intentional. In her story, Canacee is given gifts by an Arabian king's messenger - a magical mirror, magical ring, and the gift of herbal wisdom. In The Faerie Queene, Canacee is one of four characters that represent friendship, the other three being her brother, sister in law and husband. Canacee's husband here is not her brother, yet his name, Cambell, has been borrowed from Chaucer's character Cambalo. The two stories have a lot of similarities, and in both there is a play on names.

Although it is not certain, Canacee's name may derive from or be influenced by Cauda Ceti, a star in Chaucer's time in the constellation Pisces. Cauda is Latin meaning "tail," while Ceti refers to any large ocean animal, such as a whale or dolphin. An adaptation of the meaning is "whale's tail," although it originally meant the tail star of the whale constellation, since the constellation Cetus is known as "The Whale." Another possibility is a Greek name, Canace, presumably pronounced the same way, which means "child of the wind" according to an entry in Baby Name Encyclopedia: The Perfect Baby Name Adviser by Sylvie Nicole. Canacee is pronounced KAN-uh-see. It is not, and has not to my knowledge, been used as a baby name. A potential nickname is Cacee (Casey).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bradamante

bradamante hearts and armour
Barbara di Rossi as Bradamante

Bradamante (bra-da-MAHN-teh) is one of the greatest female knights ever portrayed in English literature. She is one of the first examples of the reverse damsel-in-distress - saving her husband instead. She can be found in Charlemagne legends Orlando Innamorato by Matteo Boiardo, Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto, The Nonexistant Knight (Il Cavaliere Inesistente) by Italo Calvino, and Handel's Alcina. Later on, Andrew Lang wrote about her in The Red Romance Book. Robert Garnier also wrote a tragicomedy with her name as the title. She is equivalent to Britomart from The Faerie Queene. Lastly, Barbara di Rossi depicted Bradamante in the 1983 film "Hearts and Armour."

Bradamante means "wild love/loving wildly" in Italian, from the words brado and amante. She is also sometimes spelled Bradamate or Bradamant. Her lover Roger is Ruggiero, or Ruggero in Italian. He is also sometimes spelled Rogero. She is a valiant, white-armored Christian knight (of France) with a magical weapon, who is in love with a Saracen knight. Her nickname (alias?) was "the Maid," a nod to Joan of Arc.

Bradamante is said to be the ancestor of the d'Este (or just Este, the House of Este) family, 17th century Italian cello patrons.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Literary Baby Names: Spenser's "The Faerie Queene"

Here are a few underused names that might be to your liking, although I suggest you do your research as some of these characters are not very nice. The Faerie Queene was written in 1596 by Sir Edmund Spenser and is one of the longest poems in the English language. The allegorical work is all about love, virtues, politics, religion and Queen Elizabeth I.

Female:

Claribel
Belphoebe
Amoret(ta)
Una
Alma
Acrasia
Gloriana
Duessa (Fidessa)
Britomart
Ate
Glauce
Cambina
Canacee
Florimell
Malecasta
Pastorella
Hellenore
Mirabella
Tanaquill
Speranza
Caelia
Fidelia
Charissa
Elissa
Perissa

Male:

Archimago
Artegal
Redcross (Knight)
Blandamour
Talus
Phaon
Paridell
Radigund
Colin
Merlin
Busirane
Scudamor
Arthur
Malbecco
Timias
Braggadocchio
Guyon
Calepine
Calidor
Cambell
Marinell
Triamond
Trompart

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Miuccia and Personal Ramblings

miuccia-prada
Italian luxury clothing designer Miuccia Prada

Long before my love of names, my decision to start a blog, and the hunt for perfect names for friends and family, was a little girl growing up surrounded by Italians. I was always meeting another Anna, Maria, Silvana, Lena, Rose, etc. Occasionally, I'd meet someone with a name I hadn't heard before, such as Domenica, Claudia or Antonella, but they were likely named after a grandparent. But I would think to myself, there has to be a break in tradition at some point. A daughter named Mariana, named after her grandmother, shouldn't be expected to name her daughter Mariana as well, right? But then, that's not how Italians do things. Not the ones I know, at least. And then, the way I was raised, I can't help but want to reuse a name, because of the memories. It's a constant battle of family names, good memories, and the image of a chic little Italian baby eating chocolate gelato as she walks down the beach of Chiaia di Luna, vs the name that I found on my own, that sparkles the way a diamond would if you found it in your own backyard, that gives me the same feeling as each of my own childhood memories from the old neighborhood. Isolated memories of a specific person vs the ideal of a child being completely unique and owning the name that so few (if any) bear. That is my personal dilemma. The solution often seems to put tradition in the middle spot.

Which brings me to Miuccia (mee-uu-cha). Many will recognize the first name of fashion house Prada's owner. Many would steer clear of such a well known name. Many would think it's trendy, or pretentious. But there are others, like me, who see the name and see Italy. I don't see the most well known namesake, I see a gorgeous, underused Italian name. I see an opportunity to both break tradition and keep tradition. Without being name-specific, nor honoring a single person, Miuccia can be a "culture honor" name. It can be the name that gives you instant imagery, an instant feeling that you hope others see. But Miuccia isn't a proper Italian name - instead, it is a nickname for Maria, "star of the sea," one of the most well known names in the world. Mariuccia and Marianina have been traditional nicknames as well, and pet forms of Maria. Miuccia remains practically unheard of in the U.S, with no recorded people given this name.

I suppose the reason why I broke away from my usual styling of posts today is because this name and the way Miuccia Prada looks reminds me of a ton of memories from my childhood. Some of the clothes I've spotted her in strongly resemble things my grandmother wore, her physical appearance reminds me of someone who was very special to me, and the magical vibe of her name somehow reminds me of my mother.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Archina

This feminine variant of Archibald can also have the nickname Archie, unless you care for a female Archer, or want to get a little crazy with Chi. Archina is pronounced ar-CHEE-nah.

The usual feminine form of Archibald; although it is a German name in origin, it took strongest root in Scotland. Nowadays, its pet-form Archie is more common, and used across Britain. Archina (a contracted form of the original Archibaldina), however remains uncommon.
- Nook of Names

Archina means "genuine, precious, bold," the same as Archibald. While Archita, Archisa and Archelle have been used (very rarely) in the U.S., Archina remains unseen. There isn't much to say about it - making it a great opportunity for a little girl to make it her own.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kit

As a boy's name, Kit arrived as a nickname for Christopher, before Chris was so popular. Christopher Columbus named the island of St. Kitts after himself, and a little for Saint Christopher. The frontiersman Kit Carson is another example, while Kit Marlowe was an Elizabethan playwright, and Kit Harington plays Jon Snow on "Game of Thrones." As a girl's name, it has been used as a nickname for Katherine. In 1944 Bette Davis played a Kit in the movie "Old Acquaintance," and the name got a slight surge in popularity. It is also the name of an American Girl doll, and it has been used in a few books as well. Americans are also used to hearing 'kit' in reference to a baby animal - namely the fox, although it has a few other meanings in the English language.

Kit has recently been more popular for boys than it has for girls, but not by much - in 2012 there were 14 girls born named Kit and 16 boys. In 2015 there were 40 boys and 28 girls. The boys also had an advantage in the early years - while it was used on boys between 1880 and 1924, it wasn't used on girls. The height of its popularity for both genders was between 1940 and 1960, but it continued being more popular for boys after 1962. Some years it is not used as a first name at all, and it has always been quite rare.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Minka

minka kelly 
The actress Minka Kelly

Minka is a variation on Minna, the traditional nickname for Wilhelmina, meaning "will; helmet; protection." In Old Germanic, minna meant "love" or "memory." Minka is used in a few different countries,  It first appeared in the U.S. around 1966, with only 5 girls given the name that year. It remained under 13 births per year (and only 12 years between '66 and 2011) until suddenly 35 girls were given the name Minka in 2011 and 43 in 2012. Many credit Minka Kelly for the name's sudden usage. She is an actress and daughter of former Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay and exotic dancer Maureen Kelly. Her grandfather was married to classic Hollywood actress Greer Garson. Although Minka is typically a Polish name, Minka Kelly is of Irish and French descent.

There's not very much at all on Minka as a name, other than Ms. Kelly. Overall it is a rare, unique, and spunky name, unusual enough for a little Minka to be whoever she wants (and cute as a button). Call her Mink or Minx for short.

Minka, or Minkah, is also seen as a boy's name - Minkah Fitzpatrick is one. Minka House is also a Japanese farmhouse but I don't know how significant it is.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rare Butterfly Baby Names

male mazarine blue
Male "Mazarine" Blue

Aegeria
Aeria
Amata
Ariadne
Atala
Athalia
Aurinia
Baltia
Belladonna
Berania
Berinda
Berylla
Brigitta
Briseis
Callicore
Calyce
Caria
Carilla
Castalia
Chrysea
Cleopatra
Corinna
Danae
Elara
Emerantia
Etrida
Eulalia
Evelina
Fausta
Galathea
Harina
Harmonia
Hecabe
Hesperia
Ilithyia
Indra
Jezebel
Junonia
Leonina
Libythea
Lucilla
Lybissa
Lycorea
Marpesia
Mazarine
Miyana
Megera
Nadina
Nerissa
Niobe
Olena
Oleria
Olferna
Pandita
Peloria
Perdita
Peria
Phisadia
Polyxena
Pomona
Pontia
Riodinella (possibly a prehistoric butterfly)
Rohana
Rumina
Sasakia
Sevenia
Teuta
Tullia
Valeria
Vila

* These are only the names that resemble existing female names, were previously existing female names, or share etymological roots with existing names, leaving out names you'd find in other major categories (like Aphrodite, which would be filed under the major goddess category). And of course, only the most beautiful; nothing like Daplydice. This list is not comprehensive (there's seriously a trillion different butterfly names).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Loredana

Loredana (lor-eh-dah-nah) is a sweet Italian girl's name meaning "laurel grove." Have you ever seen a laurel grove? They're pretty.

This literary baby name may have been invented by Italian novelist Luciano Zuccioli for "L'Amore de Loredana" (1908) as a spin on the Italian surname Loredan, though a few Laur- and Lor- names already existed, so it would be similar to "inventing" Mirabeau or Gwendolena. Others say George Sand invented it for her 1833 novel "Mattea." Similar in sound is the Madonna di Loreto's title, Loretana, "woods of the laurel." And because of Madonna di Loreto the name Loredana is considered a saint name. Her name day is December 10th.

There are a few pop culture references from Romania and Italy - multiple several actresses and pop stars, and a noblewoman named Loredana Marcello, the Dogaressa (Italian duchess) of Venice born in 1572, who was a writer and botanist, and she was regarded a scholar, which was exceptional for the time.

Loredana has been used in the U.S. since at least 1959, starting with only 5 births per year and rising to no more than 12. The last recorded year of use was 2001, making it a very rare name. Besides Italy, the name is also used in Romania.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

French Top 10 of the 80's and 90's

1980's
Boys                      Girls
1. Nicolas              1. Aurelie
2. Julien                 2. Emilie
3. Sebastien           3. Elodie
4. Guillaume           4. Celine
5. Alexandre          5. Julie
6. David                6. Marie
7. Romain              7. Stephanie
8. Thomas             8. Audrey
9. Anthony            9. Laetitia
10. Cedric            10. Virginie


1990's
Boys                       Girls
1. Thomas            1. Marie
2. Kevin               2. Laura
3. Alexandre        3. Camille
4. Nicolas            4. Marine
5. Maxime           5. Manon
6. Julien               6. Julie
7. Quentin           7. Pauline
8. Romain           8. Lea
9. Anthony          9. Anais
10. Florian         10. Marion

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Italian Top 30 Baby Names 2011

Boys                              Girls
1. Francesco                  1. Sofia
2. Alessandro                 2. Giulia
3. Andrea                       3. Martina
4. Lorenzo                      4. Giorgia
5. Matteo                       5. Sara
6. Gabriele                     6. Emma
7. Mattia                        7. Aurora
8. Leonardo                   8. Chiara
9. Davide                       9. Alice
10. Riccardo                 10. Alessia
11. Federico                  11. Gaia
12. Luca                        12. Anna
13. Giuseppe                 13. Francesca
14. Marco                     14. Noemi
15. Tommaso                 15. Viola
16. Antonio                    16. Greta
17. Simone                    17. Elisa
18. Samuele                   18. Matilde
19. Giovanni                   19. Giada
20. Pietro                       20. Elena
21. Christian                   21. Ginevra
22. Nicolo                      22. Beatrice
23. Alessio                     23. Vittoria
24. Edoardo                   24. Nicole
25. Diego                       25. Arianna
26. Filippo                     26. Rebecca
27. Emanuele                 27. Marta
28. Daniele                    28. Angelica
29. Michele                    29. Asia
30. Christian                   30. Ludovica

Names that appeared in the 2010 top 30 but not 2011: Federica, Ilaria.
2008 & 2007 but not 2010/11: Valentina, Giacomo
2006 included Alessandra, Maria and Manuel

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quirky, Fun, Unusual Middle Name Ideas

Girls:
Canary
Velvet
Vivendel
Whisper
Allifair
Aleydis
Tempest
Temple
Posy
Polly
Charm
Coral
Coralie
Heather
Indigo
Iselin
Bluebell
Nightingale
Fern
Tempany
Ivory
Ivelisse
Jade
Jessamyn
Jessamine
Belphoebe
Caspienne
Coraline
Jewel
Bijou
Tigerlily
Tigris
Bellamy
Ellery
Valentine
Juniper
Iris
Kestrel
Lavender
Lilac
Maiden
Mandolin
Charis
Cherith
Cherish
Clover
Blossom
Petal
Briar
Briony
Burgundy
Snow
Rosaline
Calypso
Cascade
Thistle
Seawillow
Amethyst
Amoret
Ember
Ceridwen
Gwenyth
Hallow
Lilikoi
Cerys
Cherry
Cheryth
Artemis
Avalon
Swan
Solace
Sonnet
Avis
Feather
Vesper
Bardot
Meadow
Romilly
Reverie
Saffron
Dove
Starling
Emerald
Eris
Wintress
Lyonesse
Strawberry
Plum
Poppy
Primrose
Fable
Frostine
Raven
Waterlily
Glow
Guinevere
Maeve
Mahogany
Maple
Savvy
Sable
Wendy
Windy
Circe


Boys:
Orchard
Oleander
Cove
Bay
Oriole
Knight
Cobalt
Robin
Theron
Tanner
Rousseau
Garneau
Monroe
Auburn
Clove
Reeve
Heath
Stellan
Indiana
Orion
Davey
Finch
Milan
Midnight
Equinox
Rio
Caradoc
Maverick
Cirrus
Copper
Orpheus
Caspian
Harvey
Samoset
Samhain
Venture
Hale
Alasdair
Dashiell
Cyprian
Loxley
Falcon
Hawk
Hawthorn
Malachite
Cloud
Rainier
Baylor
Dodge
Merlin
Marduc
Rune
Vega
Pegasus
Dante
Django
Escher
Calcedon
Forest


Unisex:
Shadow
Bayou
Ash
Rowan
Garnet
Crimson
Seven
Silver
Fifer
Linden
March
Sparrow
Quill
Ramsey
Cameo
Weaver
Rain
River
Sage
Caraway
Tatum
Marvel
Kit
Quenby
Crescent

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Allifair

322b1a26-4778-4cbf-8e6e-48631dee9d7b 
Alifair Hatfield

Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair or Alafair, has a very interesting history. This baby girl name suddenly popped into existence around the mid 1800's, with no mention why.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield/McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Allifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Allifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

Allifair McCoy was born in 1858, so how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767/1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere, a masculine Germanic name meaning "elf warrior," or Allovera, which is possibly an Old Germanic variant of Elvira, meaning "all true." There's also Allfry. But then, how did it jump from ancient Germanic times to early America, and continue into [rare] use today? Maybe it formed out of Elvira (popular in 17th/18th cen. lit), Alvera or Alfreda, or even Alfie as a nickname for Alfreda, which were all being used. There's even a possibility it comes from Olaf (from Aleifr) or Alastair, though less likely. And there's a chance it came about from a surname. All of the names were so rare, though, that it is hard to say. The -fair spelling seems to indicate English. Good old White Pages has linked the name to Alfreda and Alvaro as I suspected (confirming about 15 Alifair, 40 Alafair, 2 Allifair). It can also be found as a surname.

*Upon closer inspection, I have found records of women named Alifair or Elvira and using both names.

Mystery writer Alafair Burke was born in 1969. Alifair Skebe is a current writer.
There is a French band (duo?) called Alifair.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Q Name Round-up for Girls

In no particular order, and with multiple spellings avoided...

Queniva
Quenilda
Quenella
Quenilla
Quarralia
Quaralia
Quella
Queralt
Questa
Quillana
Quintessa
Quintana
Quintina
Quenby
Querta
Quartz
Queranta
Quartilla
Qi
Quinn
Quinta
Quintessence
Quirina
Qadira
Qiu
Quintella
Qiturah
Quincy
Quilla
Querida
Quorra


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ourania

apollo urania 
Apollo and His Muses (single with Apollo & Urania) by Charles Meynier

 Ourania is a Greek baby name meaning "heavenly," pronounced OOR-an-ya / Awr-AN-ee-ah. It is a variant of Urania, great-granddaughter of the god Uranus, and in Greek mythology Urania (yur-AHN-ee-ah) was one of the muses, known  for inspiring arts and sciences. She was also a deity of astronomy and astrology. The Athenians sometimes used this name for Aphrodite, and thought she was one of the Fates. She has been associated with Universal Love, the Holy Spirit, poets and music. She is said to wear a cloak embroidered with stars, carries a celestial globe, and can foretell the future. Ouranos, from which we get Uranus, means "sky, heavens."

Ourania was a novel written by French Laureate J. M. G. Le Clezio, in which the title is the name of a country.

Catholic.org lists Saint Urania with no more information than "Kemet martyrs with Archelaus, Nov 7."

Ourania was last seen in the U.S. in 2004 when it was given to 7 baby girls, used sporadically from 1963. Urania was last seen in 2002 when given to 5 baby girls, used a little less sparingly since 1891. The spelling Eurania was also used once in 1921 on only 5 girls.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ian

Ian is the Scottish name equivalent to John, meaning "God is gracious." Not really used until the late 19th century, it is pronounced EE-an and has a slew of real life and fictional namesakes such as Ian Somerhalder, Ian Harding and the character Ian O'Shea from the recent movie "The Host." Ian Flemming created James Bond. Iain is the typical Scottish Gaelic spelling, and Eoin is another form of John (although it leads to Owen).

Ian currently ranks at #78 in the U.S. top 1000. It is still very popular in its native country, and easily pronounced world-wide.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nella

Nella is a baby name that can be found in Giambattista Basile's Il Pentamerone collection of fairy tales, in the story called "Verde Prato," or "Green Lawn." Nella can be short for many names, such as Antonella, Serenella and Marianella, most of them being long and frilly Italian names, but Nella can stand on its own, just as Elle does.

To summarize the story, which is very similar to the Cinderella story we know today, Nella is in love with a prince and her two sisters are very jealous of everything that Nella does and all of her good fortune. In order to see Nella in secret, because her mother is so stern, the prince gives Nella a magic powder that creates a crystal viaduct he can travel in from his palace to her bedroom. The jealous sisters break the crystal passageway while the prince is traveling through it, and he is mortally wounded. Nella happens to find the magical remedy to the prince's wounds on her way to see him, and when she heals her lover the king marries them and the sisters are punished.

In 1981 the name Nella was used in John Godey's suspence novel "Nella."

Nella Walker was a Hollywood Golden Age actress. Nella Martinetti was a Swiss singer called "Bella Nella." Nella Last wrote diaries during World War II.

Nella ranked in the U.S. from 1880 at #570 until 1941 at #990, excluding six years in between. Today it does not rank. The "-nella" add on for names generally means "little, youngest." As a stand-alone name it comes from both Helen and Eleanor. It has been used as a nickname for many names, including Cornelia and Fenella. Nella itself can have nicknames: Nell, or Nellie.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fenicia

Fenicia is a kind of place name that means both "phoenix" and "Phoenicia," as in the ancient kingdom. Phoenicia was a Semitic culture in the major Canaanite port towns (Syria, Lebanon, Israel specifically), and from them we developed most modern alphabets. Phoenicia's meaning was not strict - it meant "[land of] purple (dye)," "blood red," "red-dyed wool," or possibly "phoenix." If Fenicia is equivalent to Phoenicia, then Fenicia means purple or red dye as well. Being such and old name, it's hard to tell how relevant the word phoenix is here. The word purple may have the same origins as Phoenicia. Feniccia (fen-EE-chee-uh/fen-EE-cha) is an Italian surname, and Fenica (fen-EET-sa) is an alternate spelling. There are supposedly about 56 people in the U.S. named Fenicia. Fenicia can also be found as an Italian place name.

This name was used by Giambattista Basile in Il Pentamerone, his collection of fairy tales. The story in particular is The Enchanted Doe, in which a king who wants children tries to persuade the gods to grant his wish by giving all he has (money, room and board) to any beggar who asks. Realizing after a while that he is going broke and still has no child, King Giannone shuts his doors and stops being charitable. One day another beggar comes to him and says he can grant Giannone's wish, and Giannone says if he's telling the truth he will give over half his kingdom. Soon twin sons are born, Canneloro and Fonzo, and they are extremely close to each other. The queen grows jealous and tries to kill Canneloro, the son she doesn't favor, but doesn't succeed. Taking it as a sign he is no longer welcome, that son leaves, giving his brother and fountain and myrtle tree by which he can watch his brother's life - if the fountain is running clear and steady, Canneloro is healthy, and if the myrtle tree withers, Fonzo will know his twin has died. Canneloro travels, has adventures, and wins a tournament in the Kingdom of Clearwater, where he is given the Princess Fenicia as a reward. Months later, a shape-shifting ogre in the form of a doe lures Canneloro into the heart of the forest and brings on a fierce snowstorm. He takes cover in a cave, and the doe requests to take shelter with him. He promises not to hurt her (him, in fact) and when Canneloro is completely defenseless the ogre turns back to his real self and locks Canneloro up in a pit to eat later. Meanwhile, Fonzo is watching the fountain and myrtle tree, realizes his brother is in trouble, and goes to find him. He comes to Clearwater, and Princess Fenicia, thinking her husband had died, is shocked to see her husband (they are twins, she is mistaken). Fonzo goes the next day to rescue Canneloro, succeeds, and all ends well.

Fenicia, like Felicia, has no obvious nickname. Fen is pretty androgynous, Fenna very fern-like, Feni is cutesy, and Fee/Fi very short. However, it's possible for Fei/Fey to be a nickname.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Zezolla, the Italian Cinderella

Thomas_Sully_XX__Cinderella_at_the_Kitchen_Fire_1843 
Thomas Sully - Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire

Continuing with Giambattista Basile's Il Pentamerone fairy tale collection, I present to you the Italian Cinderella, "The Cat Cinderella," whose main character is named Zezolla. Zezolla is not a name that has been used in the U.S. (and pretty much everywhere else). This Cinderella story, one of the first - if not the first recorded on paper, is about a child who is miserable and abused by her stepmother. Zezolla's governess, who is kind and nurturing, urges her to kill her spiteful and mean stepmother, which Zezolla does, and then the governess marries Zezolla's father (an unnamed prince), bringing along her six cruel daughters. (In the story, it is more to the discredit of the governess, and she is mainly considered "tempted by Satan," rather than the murder being Zezolla's fault.) Her father is made to believe these new daughters are gracious girls and begins focusing so much on them that Zezolla is made to work like a servant, and her new mother's treatment becomes neglectful and superior. They all begin calling Zezolla the "Cat Cinderella." There are many differences between Basile's story and the Cinderella story we know today - Zezolla's father does not die, and the fairy who dresses Zezolla for the ball actually lives in a date tree her father brought back from Sardinia. At the ball, the one who falls in love with her is actually a king, and although she escapes him twice, he finally finds out who she is on their third meeting, when her fairy-given slipper jumps from his hand back to her foot, where it belonged. The king declares her his queen, the governess and her daughters and Zezolla's father are shamed. Happily ever after.

FYI: the other daughters are named Mperia (from the name Imperia), Calamita (which could be from the word calamity or the plant Calamint, but Calamita is Italian for magnet), Sciorella, Diamante (meaning "indomitable" and given as a name meaning diamond, Colommina (probably from Columba), and Pascarella (from Pascal). All of these names are similar to Italian word/location names as well - the Sciora di Dentro mountain, the provence of Imperia, a hill called the Calamita, Diamante in Calabria and Diamante citron is a type of fruit in Italy, and possibly the province of Pescare. There might be something I'm missing, but I'm sure in the time Basile was compiling these stories it was probably not a coincidence the sisters were given these names. I cannot find the meaning of Zezolla. In other/later versions Cinderella is equivalent to Cenerentola in Italian, meaning "little ashes/cinders."

There was a TV movie called Cinderella in 2000 in which the main character was named Zezolla, undoubtedly due to the Zezolla from Basile's story.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Menechiella

This name was used by Giambattista Basile in The Pentameron (Pentamerone, Tale of Tales), written in the 17th century. Basile was a Neapolitan poet, soldier and courtier, his sister Adriana was a composer and singer, and her daughter Leanora inspired John Milton when he heard her sing in Rome. His sister helped him compile the folk tales and fairy tales, which is what he is now best remembered for. He recorded and modified the tales in his local dialect, putting them into two volumes. The Brothers Grimm in fact used some of his work, including Basile's versions of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Puss in Boots, and Sleeping Beauty. The title Pentameron was given because Basile's writing was arranged in the same manner as Boccacio's Decameron.

*Spoiler alert: if you haven't read The Merchant and would like to, revisit this page later*

In The Merchant, Menechiella is a princess living in a kingdom where a seven-headed monster has taken over, demanding one human for dinner every day. When it comes time for Princess Menechiella to be eaten, the kingdom is very sad, and yet no one has any solutions. A passerby, Cienzo, a merchant's son who has a kind heart but had an unfortunate accident, bravely slays the monster and returns Menechiella to her father. Instead of sticking around to claim a reward, he goes to the tavern to wallow in self-thought. The king wants to reward the person who saved his daughter, but, not knowing exactly who it was, sends a messenger to find him. Then, a local man takes the opportunity to claim the reward (since Cienzo hadn't yet). The king is overjoyed and gives the man his crown. Cienzo, hearing the news, informs the king and his daughter that they've been wronged. He is married to Menechiella, and all should end happily, yet the next morning he sees a beautiful woman in another house and goes to see her (by sneaking behind Menechiella's back). This beautiful woman happens to be a sorceress and keeps him there, while Cienzo's brother Meo travels to figure out what happened to his sibling. Thinking that Meo is her husband, since the brothers look so alike, Menechiella spends the day with Meo and they go to bed together (platonic), and the next morning Meo finds out his brother is being held captive by the sorceress. He kills the sorceress and begins to tell Cienzo about the previous night, in bed with Cienzo's wife, and without listening to the full explanation Cienzo cuts off his brother's head. However, once his wife explains in detail, Meo is pretty much magically reanimated, and they all live happily ever after.

It should be noted that, as an adult-only story, it is very humorous (in my edition, at least).

Menechiella is not a baby name that has been used, although Menechella and Menechiella can be found as surnames. There is no recorded meaning.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Turkish Baby Girl Name Roundup

Lots of baby names that mean moon here. You'll find that most Turkish names are accessible and have a beautiful meaning, and many fit right in with America's "y" trend.

Note: -ay endings pronounced "EYE" and i's are the same as in the name TINA, therefore e's make an "EH" sound, and a's are as in ALTO.

Ayla "moonlight"
Dilay "beautiful moon"
Esmeray "dark moon"
Feray "radiant moon"
Nuray "bright moon"
Adalet "justice"
Ede "well mannered"
Asli "genuine"
Damla "water drop"
Banu "lady"
Ziynet "ornament"
Su "water"
Elmas "diamond"
Tulay "tulle moon"
Sidika "truth"
Sevda "love"
Leyla "night"
Esen "the wind"
Aysel "moon stream"
Feriha "merry woman"
Sabah "morning"
Bahar "spring"
Beyza "very white"
Pembe "pink"
Fidan "sapling"
Canan "beloved"
Ceren "young gazelle"
Deniz "sea"
Funda "heather"
Seda "voice"
Hande "to smile"
Derya "ocean"
Pinar "spring"
Semiha "generous"
Sahnaz "pride of the king"
Ebru "paper marbelling"
Ece "queen"
Evren "cosmos, universe"
Esra "night travel"
Havva (Eve)
Kiraz "cherry"
Nur "light"
Nazli "delicate"
Sabriye "patient"
Sila "reunion"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sidonia

sidonia von bork 1860
Sidonia von Bork (1860) Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

The more elegant, rarer version of Sidony and Sidonie, is the mysterious and strong Sidonia. Pronounced sih-DOH-nee-ah and sid-OHN-ya, the name means "of Sidon," the ancient Phoenician city. From the masculine Sidonius, and sounding so close to Sydney, this name does ooze a mystical place-name vibe. Today, the city would be equivalent to Saida in Lebanon.

The 5th century Saint Sidonius Apollinaris was a bishop of Clermont, but there was later a 7th century Saint Sidonius. For women, there was a legend of Saint Sidonia clutching the robe of Jesus, and another Saint Sidonia who was the former's descendant.

Sidonia the Sorceress was a well known tale that inspired Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, as in the image above. One of the versions of this story was translated by Oscar Wilde's mother Francesca Speranza Lady Wilde. Sidonia in the story, and portrayed in the painting, is a wicked and beautiful woman who hurt men with enchantments. Sidonia von Bork/Borcke, born 1548, was a real life Pomeranian noblewoman executed for witchcraft, the inspiration for Sidonia the Sorceress. Although the noblewoman was living in a convent, she was accused of witchcraft because people needed someone to blame for the deaths of a few noblemen and the public had superstitions about the Duchy of Pomerania.

Sidonie of Saxony, born 1518, was another woman accused of witchcraft. She was a princess of the House of Wettin. She had a very unhappy marriage, and even though her husband presented "evidence," she was acquitted of all charges.

In fiction, the Knights of Sidonia is a Japanese comic, and Farewell Sidonia was a novel written by Erich Hackl in 1989. In real life the Order of Sidonia was a chivalric order for women put in place by the Kingdom of Saxony. Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann was a German poet Laureate at age 24. Medina-Sidonia is an ancient Andalusian city (first Phoenician) in Spain.

White Pages claims there are currently about 406 people in the U.S. named Sidonia. Unlike Sydney, which ranked at #78 in 2012, and Sidney at #831, Sidonia was most popular in 1923 with only 13 births for the year. She was last used in 2007 with only 6 births for the year. Sidonie is also very rare - in 2012 it was only used 7 times, and it does not have as long of a history in the U.S. as Sidonia.

Nickname options include (but are not limited to) Sid, Sidney/Sidnie, and Sonia.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lupin

lupin 

Some will recognize this as a Harry Potter baby name (although a surname) and some will recognize this as an anime name - Lupin III. The main character Arsène Lupin from the animated Ghibli movies was first created by French writer Maurice Leblanc. Others know it as a plant name, also called lupine, which means "wolf," from Latin lupinus.

Suzuki-Swift-Lupin-III

For those who haven't seen the animated show and movies or read the original story, it is the adventure of a "gentleman thief" that was popular in literature and resembled Sherlock Holmes. The animated version, originally from Japan, was also a great success in Italy - so much so that Suzuki made a model of their car called "Swift" that was a special Lupin the 3rd edition.

Lupin (and Lupine) is so rare that there are no records of births with the SSA in America, although it is a rare surname. White Pages claims there are 21 people named Lupin, as of 2011.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Richenza

richenza 
Blessed Richenza

When first digging into this baby name, I was surprised I had never heard it before, since there are several namesakes. The name is traditionally regarded as Polish, although it came from the Old Norse and Icelandic name Rikissa, meaning "wealthy; power." However, other sources suggest it might come from Ricarda, meaning "great ruler." The name has been written as Ryksa, Rixa, Richenza, and Richeza. The name Richenda evolved from Richenza. There are similar, partly related names such as Richmay and Richemaya, Richmal, and Richilda.

Starting with the earliest known namesake, Richeza of Lotharingia, we find that this name is given to royalty more than once. This woman was born about 995 or 1000 to German nobility and married the King of Poland. Although her husband didn't stay king for long, Richeza became a nun and is now known as Blessed Richeza of Lotharingia. She had three children: Casimir I the Restorer, Ryksa, Queen of Hungary, and Gertruda, Grand Princess of Kiev. Her noble descendants went on to rule powerful dynasties, and four of her descendants became saints. They are Irene of Hungary, Princess Margaret of Hungary, Kinga the Duchess of Krakow, and Elisabeth, Landgravine of Thuringia.

Moving on to the next oldest namesake, Richenza of Northeim, who was Duchess of Saxony, Queen of Germany and Holy Roman Empress, it is apparent that this name carries a great deal of historical weight. This noblewoman was born about 1087 and proved to be a great ruler, fighting for the rights of her daughter and grandson.

Richenza of Berg was born about 1095, was Duchess of Bohemia and both of her sisters married nobility.

In 1116 Richeza of Poland was born, the Polish Princess of the House of Piast. She married three times, becoming Princess of Minsk as well. Like Richenza of Lotharingia, this woman also had exceptional ancestors - one of whom was Ingeborg of France. Richeza's grand daughter Richeza of Denmark, born 1180, was the medieval Queen consort of Sweden, married to King Eric X, and her name was in honor of her grandmother. Historical records show that for the six short years Eric was alive in their marriage Richeza only gave birth to girls, and when he died while Richeza was pregnant with their last baby, it turned out to be a boy and the future King of Sweden.

Born 1140 was Ryksa of Castile and Leon, Countess of Provence and Countess Richenza of Everstein, also known as Richeza of Poland. In Castile she was known as Regina Riquilda.

We now come to Richeza of Sweden, wife of Przemysl II of Poland, known as Ryksa Waldemarowna. She most likely had a happy marriage, as her husband demanded he be buried next to her.

Last, there was Elizabeth Richenza of Poland, also known as Eliska Rejcka or Ryksa Elzbieta, yet her name at birth was Richeza. She was the daughter of Richeza of Sweden and Przemysl II, and she became queen consort of Bohemia. When she became Queen of Bohemia she adopted the name Elizabeth because Richeza was seen as a strange name in Bohemia. In her later years she focused on culture, religion and building churches.

In literature I can find only one: Richenda Rayma Anisa of Rheljan, a character in the Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Petra

petra city 
Petra City

Petra is the [strong, grounded, forgotten classic] female form of Peter, meaning "rock" from Greek petros and Latin petrus, and unlike the pairs Henry and Henrietta, or Julian and Julia, Peter and Petra are not as obvious as counterparts. Today's baby name has also had a wealth of variants over the years, such as Perrin, Perrine, Peta, Petronilla, Peronelle, Petrina, Petronia (used by Anne Rice), Pierina, Pernilla, Pella, Petroula, Petruna, Pernille, Peterina, Peternella, Pierette, Petria, Petrova and Petronella. Pier has sometimes been used for girls due to the 1950's actress Pier Angeli.

Famous namesakes: Perenelle Flamel, the wife of alchemist Nicholas Flamel; Perina, the character in the fairy tale of the girl sold with the pears by Italo Calvino; the supposed daughter of St. Peter, named Petronilla, who was made the patron saint of dolphins even though nothing was known about her; Petronella de Meath, the first woman executed for witchcraft in Ireland. Literary: The Weight of Silence, The ChrysalidsChasing VermeerEnder's Game, Posuer. Current namesakes: Petra Nemcova, Petra Haden, Petra Kelly, Petra Ecclestone, Petra Markham, Petra Pau, Petra Yared and Petra de Steur. Film: The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant, When Night is FallingSmiles of a Summer Night. Also the old band Petra, which was Christian rock.

There was also an ancient redstone city in Jordan called Petra. It was rediscovered in 1812 and written about by the poet John William Burgon, who said it was "half as old as time." It is currently considered one of the new "Seven Wonders of the World," along with other marvels like the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. The city's discovery may have contributed to the use of Petra as a given name in the 1800's. Because of this city the name can be seen as less of a feminine variation and more of a place name.

In 2012 there were 118 girls named Petra, on a slight decline from the mid-2000's. It was given to more babies per year in the 1920's, and has been used since at least 1881. The spelling Pernella was given to no more than 9 baby girls between 1904 and 1964, not including some years between those dates. Perina was given to no more than 20 girls between 1911 and 1925, not including several years between those dates. Pierina was given between 1907 and 1948 to no more than 17 baby girls. Other than 1968, the Italian variant Pietra has only been used since 2002, not given to more than 11 baby girls. Petria was only used in 1941 on 5 or more girls (as I've said before, the SSA doesn't release the information unless the name was used on 5 or more kids per name). Perrine was only used in 1919 and 1980. Petronella has been used since at least 1884 on no more than 19 girls a year. Petronia was only used between 1919 and 1984 for a total of 7 years, on no more than 10 girls in a year. Petronilla was used between 1907 and 1935 for a total of 10 years, no more than 7 times in a year. Similar international spelling Petronila was used 29 times total. Petrina was used between 1900 and 2011, and 1971 marked the height of its popularity with 99 births that year, making it the 2nd most popular variant.

Despite the low numbers above, Petra did rank in the U.S. every year between 1880 and 1951. It does not rank now. Very few alternate spellings and other variants have been used in the U.S. Petra is the 2nd most popular name in Croatia and very popular in Hungary. It is also common in Germany and the Czech Republic, among other European places, making Petra a very translatable name.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zephyr

Waterhouse Flora and the Zephyrs
John William Waterhouse - Flora and the Zephyrs

Zephyr (ZEFF-er) is one of those intriguing names that sounds very catchy. It is familiar, yet rare, and very spunky. Most will recognize Zephyr, or Zephyros, as being the gentle wind from the West, a personified Greek deity. The name Zephyr means "west wind." In ancient Greek myth, Zephyrus/Zephyros was accompanied by the other Anemoi, or winds: Boreas, the god of the north wind, Notus, the god of the south wind, and Eurus of the east wind. Zephyr was known as the messenger of spring. He may have been married to Flora (Chloris) or Iris, both his sisters, or possibly Podarge, and he had a thing for Apollo's boy lover Hyacinth. These kinds of marriages were entertaining and fairly common for Greek mythology.

zephyranthes
Zephyranthes flower

Zephyra (pronunciations range from ZEFF-rah to zef-FY-rah) and Zephyrine (zeff-er-EEN) are the female variants of the name. Cefirino is a male international variant, and there are many other alternatives, including Zephirin, Zephiros, Zayfeer, Zephirina and Cefirina. The name Zephyr has also been given to a plant, the Zephyranthes, pictured above, also known as the Zephyr Lily. The name has also appeared in literature, such as the Babar books and children's book Silverwing.

Worth noting is the story of President Lyndon B. Johnson's personal chef, Zephyr Wright, who influenced him greatly in civil rights matters. It's an inspirational story worth looking into if you're considering this name.

Zephyr and its variants remain quite rare as baby names. In 2012, Zephyr was given to 20 girls and 60 boys - the number is now higher for girls (6 in 2011) and boys (126 in 2015). From 1905 to 1984 Zephyr was mainly only used on girls. Since 1919 the variant Zeferino has only been used for boys, and was given to 5 boys in 2010. The variant Zephyrus was only used in 2011 for 5 boys.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ksenia

Ksenia Solo of Lost Girl, pronouncing her name

Ksenia, which can also be spelled Kseniya and Ksenija, is a Russian and Ukrainian variant of the Greek name Xenia (ZEEN-ya) meaning "hospitality." Other variants of Xenia include Oksana/Oxsana, Aksana, Xena, Xeniya, and Senja.

Above is a video of one of today's most well known namesakes, Ksenia Solo, the Latvian-born Canadian actress from the TV series "Lost Girl." Russian actress Kseniya Rappoport is another well known actress. Ksenia Afanasyeva is a Russian gymnast who competed in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Ksenia Sukhinova is Miss Russia 2007 and Miss World 2008. There are many more namesakes.

Of note is Tsarevna Xenia Borisovna of Russia, who was a beautiful and educated daughter of Tsar Boris Godunov. Tragedy befell her, but she ended up making her way as a nun, and her fictionalized character appeared in a film called "1612." There are two other princesses named Xenia.

In 2012 there were only 19 baby girls born in the U.S. named Ksenia, and none with the spelling Kseniya, although in 2011 there were 25 spelled Ksenia and 8 spelled Kseniya. The name in America can be traced to at least 1955.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reagan

Ronald_Reagan_in_Cowboy_From_Brooklyn_trailer 

Reagan, the Anglicized form of the Irish surname meaning "descendant of Ríagán," can be used for both boys and girls. The related name may mean "impulsive," or "like a king." Most people may still associate this name with Ronald Reagan, the 40th U.S. president, and therefore consider it boys-only. Regan is another common Western spelling. Although the more traditional pronunciation is REE-gan, most modern Americans say RAY-gen.

This Gaelic name was first used for girls thanks to William Shakespeare, for his character in "King Lear," who was an untrustworthy princess. However, the name didn't become widely used for girls until the late 20th century. The name could have been propelled by a few different things, one of which was Linda Blair's character Regan McNeil in the 1971 film Exorcist. Reagan Gomez-Preston is an American actress.

In 2012 Reagan ranked at #97 on the U.S. top 1000, taking only a decade to jump up more than 800 spots on the charts. It was #893 for boys. The most obvious nickname is Ray (Rae).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ferelith

ferelith young
Ferelith Young

Ferelith is an intriguing name that seemingly did not survive the medieval period, although a quick search online will reveal it is still used today, albeit rarely, thanks to a revival in the 19th century. Ferelith Ramsay is a prime example of that revival, as is the novel Ferelith written by Victor Hay, who named his own daughter Ferelith (Rosemary Constance Ferelith) a year later. Ferelith Young, the actress pictured above, seems to be the most well known contemporary namesake, while Anne Ferelith Fenella Bowes-Lyon aka Princess Anne of Denmark is another widely known namesake, yet Ferelith is her first middle name. Ferelith can also be spelled Forbhlaith, the Gaelic way, and in which case Ferelith the Countess of Atholl is another namesake. Not much is written about this Ferelith, nor her sister Isabella, nor Ferelith's daughter Ada. While Ferelith married a knight, her sister married an important man of Scotland for the times, which was sometime around 1211 AD. There was also an abbess named Ferelith from the Middle Ages. The name dates back to at least 8th century Ireland, and this abbess may be the source.

Ferelith (FEHR-el-ith, fEH-reh-leeth) means "true sovereignty" in Gaelic, a truly spectacular name for a baby girl when the name was at its most popular. For example, when the Countess of Atholl was living, the author Marie de France was presumably writing her lais, which focused on the female character's point of view (thus making her work stand out) and the main subject of one of Marie's lais was that women desired sovereignty over their own lives, rather than let the husband control their affairs. At a time when Arthurian romances prevailed, this was not a far-fetched idea, but still defied traditional patriarchy standards.

Forflissa and Forveleth are other variants. Ferelith is a character in White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. Ferelith Hamilton is behind the World Encyclopedia of Dogs. Ferelith Eccles Williams is a book illustrator. Sculptor Ferelyth Wills. Ferelith Lean, performing arts. Supposedly in the Hamilton and Ramsay families, both mentioned above, the second element of Ferelith is taken to mean "princess," from the Gaelic word flaith, therefore the name means "true princess." Worth noting is that the name may not have originally been pronounced the way it is today, and that it probably sounded more like Furla or Forvla. The name in fact may have been a scholarly revival.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Magical Names

A random list of magic related baby names...

Mystica
Magic
Moon
Crescent
Crescentia
Luna
Altalune
Charm
Spell
Card
Midnight
Coracesia
Giubiana
Grimoire
Befana
Hecate
Alchemy
Alchemilla
Aradia
Bensozie
Samhain
Tarot
Medea
Merlin
Morgana
Morgause
Orcades
Nimue
Niniane
Circe
Circaea
Brisen
Azima
Cat
Coven
Orthanach
Keleteira
Laya
Mago, Maga
Malduc
Marduk
Panthia
Peller
Sorgin
Ruqayya
Rusalka
Sagana
Satia
Nereida
Niamh
Pentagram
Perimaktria
Pucelle
Raven
Vivien
Veia
Rune, Runa
Robien
Taika
Triskelion
Triquetra

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ivelisse

Ivelisse (ee-vel-eess) is a name you'll find in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and very rarely in the U.S. There's a handful of namesakes from the Latin community to represent this name, such as Ivelisse Echevarria, Puerto Rico's greatest softball pitcher, and Ivelisse Blanco, who competed in the Olympics for rhythmic gymnastics. The name Ivelisse is said to mean "life," from some obscure Spanish or French origin. The likely explanation is that Ivelisse comes from Eve, meaning "life," and had the -lis/-lisse ending tacked on to sound more feminine, like Elise. However, it could also come from Ivette, the Spanish form of the French name Yvette, meaning "yew," (possibly combined with Elise) or the names Evelyn and Evelina, which have debated meaning.

You can find it spelled several ways: Iveliz, Ivaneliz, Ivalisse, Iveliss, Ivelice, Ivelys, Evelisse, Evaliz, and Yvelisse. In Bulgaria, Ivelina and it's masculine form Ivelin can be found. One of my favorite explanations can be found on www.babynamewizard.com:
Hello, my name is Ivelisse and I am from Puerto Rico. Ivelisse is a French origin name, from the island of Corsica in the south of France. The Corsicans who immigrate to the island settle in the south of Puerto Rico: Yauco. The French influence greatly our food, names, music, the needlework, and a lot more...Ivelisse is a name to a flower that grows in the south of France and this plant is related to the jasmine flowers.
While it is impossible to check the accuracy of claims online, people from Corsica did immigrate to Puerto Rico and Cuba in the 19th century, which would explain why the name Ivelisse came about around the 60's. From that point, Corsicans did heavily influence Puerto Rican and Cuban culture. There is a plaque in Yauco which remembers the Corsicans - Yauco is known as "Corsican Town." Corsican settlers to Yauco cultivated crops of coffee beans, tobacco and sugar cane. Today, Corsican surnames such as Paoli, Santoni, Negroni and Fraticelli are still common, so it is possible given names from Corsica found stability as well, and that Ivelisse could be one of them.

Though rare, the spelling Yvelisse has been used in France since about 1950. Even in the U.S. the name only dates to 1950. There is a book called "Yvelisse to Love." From this link there is also the possibility of a flower called Yvelisse or Yvelise.

In 2011, there were 31 baby girls given the name Ivelisse in the U.S. along with 5 spelled Ivelise and 6 spelled Iveliz. In 2012 there were 25 girls named Ivelisse. In previous years there were 5 spelled Ivelis and 5 spelled Yvelisse and 6 girls named Yveline. In 2015 there were only 20 Ivelisse and less than 5 spelled Ivelise.

Memorial Day Baby Names

Cathay - Better known as William Cathay in order to fight as a soldier, the woman named Cathay Williams was the first African American woman to enlist in the military. Her name sounds a bit like Kathy, making it familiar, yet Marco Polo used it to refer to China.

Belle - Sojourner Truth, defender of women's rights, was born Isabella Baumfree and called Belle. Belle is not in the top 1000. Sojourner helped recruit African American troops for the Union during the Civil War.

Poppy - Not only do we wear poppies on Remembrance Day thanks to the poem "In  Flanders Fields," but a poet named Moina Michael also wrote a poem in which poppies symbolized the blood of heroes.

Araminta - Harriet Tubman was born Araminta and known as Minty (and while Minty may not make the best nickname today, Minna, Minta, or even Ana might). The Underground Railroad is one of the most famous parts of the Civil War.

Hattie and Harriet, for the same reasons above.

Jeb - Jeb Stuart, aka James Ewell Brown. His most famous campaign was Gettysburg.

Birkett - Birkett Davenport Fry was a Confederate general in the Civil War, and was also an adventurer, lawyer and cotton manufacturer.

Fentress - An intriguing name, Fentress is a surname that means "adventurous." I have a love of most -tress names, although this one was found on Civil War general Thomas Fentress Toon. I think it would be lovely, feminine and unexpected on a girl.

Remember - as a middle name or a combo (such as Remember Joey, if that was the name of the person you wanted to remember) could work as a unisex name. On that note, Memory could also work.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Additions to the 2012 Top 1000

There were 45 new additions to last year's top 1000. Here are highlights and thoughts.

Azalea - A great flower name addition.

Coraline - Making a giant leap to #823, I'm surprised this Neil Gaiman favorite didn't make it on the list when the movie Coraline came out.

Titan - An intriguing choice.

Foster - Foster the People, or surname chic?

Denzel - I'm also surprised this name didn't make it on the list a long time ago (Denzel Washington).

Thiago - A very spunky and classy choice.

Mack - I love this name. It reminds me of the 1920's for some reason.

Katrina - Another name I love.

Winter - I knew it wouldn't be long before this one shot up the charts.

Elissa - A very pretty, feminine name.

Aubrielle - This one definitely fits in with a lot of other popular names, and also with Aubriana, which also charted for the first time

Katalina - Another elegant, feminine choice.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The New Top 10 Baby Names for 2012

2012 Top 10

     1. Sophia (22,158)                                       1. Jacob (18,899)
     2. Emma (20,791)                                        2. Mason (18,856)
     3. Isabella (18,931)                                      3. Ethan (17,547)
     4. Olivia (17,147)                                         4. Noah (17,201)
     5. Ava (15,418)                                           5. William (16,726)
     6. Emily (13,550)                                         6. Liam (16,687)
     7. Abigail (12,583)                                       7. Jayden (16,013)
     8. Mia (11,940)                                            8. Michael (15,996)
     9. Madison (11,319)                                     9. Alexander (15,105)
    10. Elizabeth (9,596)                                    10. Aiden (14,779)



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A new way to honor your mother Donna

....Donatella, with or without the nickname Donna (because you could also go with Tella, Ella, or the tomboy Donnie)

...Belladonna, the mysterious plant

...Domina, which has the same meaning as Donna

...Donelle, a French twist

...Donia

...Doncia, meaning "sweet"

...Donya

...Donnalina

...Donina, with the possibility of Doe as a nickname

...Dontia

Or, Donahue, Donovan or Donnelly for a boy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cedric

ivanhoe cedric name 

 Cedric (SED-rik) is an Old English boy's name meaning "bounty, loved." The name was invented by Sir Walter Scott for his 1819 novel Ivanhoe. He may have been inspired by or misunderstood Cerdic, the Old English name of the Saxon king that founded the kingdom of Wessex, although this name could be Germanic or Welsh (from Cedrych, meaning "pattern of bounty or from Caradoc, meaning "love") in origin. Cedric was later used by Frances Hodgson Burnett in the 1886 children's novel Little Lord Fauntleroy. Most recently Cedric was used in the Harry Potter series for the character Cedric Diggory.

Cedric comes with the nicknames Ced and Ric. In 2011 Cedric ranked at #751, a decrease in popularity with the name given to 299 boys. It has been accounted for since 1890, but other spellings have been used as well, such as Cedrick, Cederick, Cedrik and Ceddrick.

Cedric the Entertainer, the painter Sir Cedric Morris, and Cedric Bixler-Zavala are three well known namesakes. There have also been four American football players with the name. Dozens more have appeared from France to Jamaica to the Congo. You can also find Cedric as the name of a Franco-Belgian comic series.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Isabeau

isabeau 

Isabeau (IZ-ah-bow, EE-sah-bow) is a French variant of Isabel, derived from the Hebrew name Elizabeth (Elisheba/Elisheva), meaning "God's promise, my god is a vow/oath." There are more alternate forms of the name, including Ysabeau, Esabeau, Isabetta, Ishbel, Isabelle and Isobel. Beau in French is the masculine form of beautiful, or should I say handsome. One possible explanation for this masculine ending could be the way the Spanish translated Elizabeth, and the Occitan (or medieval Gascon language) version: Eisabèu.

While Isabelle was the name of several Spanish queens, Isabeau has its own namesakes. Isabeau of Bavaria, who may have been born "Elizabeth," was Queen Consort of France, wife of King Charles VI. She had quite an amount of power for a medieval queen as regent. There was a different Isabeau that was convicted of being a witch. Another well known Isabeau was the short-lived Isabeau of Brittany.

More recently than historical queens, Isabeau was an opera by Pietro Mascagni, a retelling of the Lady Godiva legend, and Lady Isabeau was a heroine found in the movie "Ladyhawke." She can also be seen in the form of heroic succubus Bo/Isabeau in the TV series "Lost Girl." A quick search on Youtube will reveal "La Belle Isabeau" by Berlioz, which I believe was based on a troubadour song from the 1100's AD. You'll even find a pretty model named Isabeau Hitijahubessy.

Never charting in the U.S., the baby name Isabeau remains rare, even in its native country. In 2011 there were just 13 girls given the name Isabeau, and there have never been more than 18 born in a year. It was, however, popular in the Middle Ages, and the name did make it to several countries.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tabrett

baby name tabrett 

Tabrett is the first name of Australian actress (former model and cheerleader) Tabrett Bethell, famous for roles in "Legend of the Seeker" and "Cops LAC." Tabrett's parents were disagreeing on names for her, torn between Siobhan and Murray, and when her father was out driving through Sydney he came across Tabrett Street.

In the U.S., Tabrett is such a rare name that it has not charted or been noted in any way. Tabrett is a French surname from the word tabour, meaning "drum, tambourine." This name was likely given as an occupational surname for those who made or played tambourines or small drums, which had value in the military. In one spelling or another, this name can probably be traced back to about 1066 and the Norman Invasion when French was the main language of England. Taboret seems to be a later variant of the surname, and Tabrett the most modern.

Tabrett can have the nicknames Tab, Tabby, Rett or even Etta if so desired. Being an occupational surname, this baby name can be used on both boys and girls.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tobin

saint-aubin-sur-mer tobin 

Tobin (TOH-bihn) is a Hebrew name meaning "God is good" as a variation of Tobias, but it is also an English surname derived from Tobias, and an Irish surname, brought over by the Norman surname St. Aubyn (Latinized as de St. Albino), from the town of Aubyn in France. It also comes with the desired nickname Toby, but can also have the nickname Binx. Both Toby and Tobias were used in Medieval times, but Toby was used more often until the Reformation. Tobia/h and Tobit are alternate forms.

Saint Aubin d'Angers (Aubyn, Albinus) was Bishop of Angers in 529 and was known for his generosity and caring for those who would otherwise be looked down upon, such as slaves, orphans, and widows. His feast day is March 1st. There have been many places named after him, including dozens in France. The names Albinus, Aubin and Aubyn are from the Latin alba, meaning "white."

There have been a range of namesakes over the years, including Tobin Dax from Star Trek DS9, 1950's NFL quarterback Tobin Rote, actor Tobin Bell, Nobel Prize winner James Tobin, and musician Tobin Sprout. Tobin was recently chosen by Karolina Kurkova, the supermodel, for her son.

In 2011 the baby name Tobin was given to 134 baby boys, and by 2015 it decreased slightly to 127. It ranked from 1958 to 1978 on the U.S. top 1000, but low on the charts. Tobias currently ranks at #316 in 2015.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Giordana

Giordana Otero
Giordana Otero

Giordana (jee-or-dah-na) is the Italian feminine form of Jordana, originally from the name of the Jordan River. Jordan is Hebrew meaning "flowing down," a very suitable name for a river, but popular in Italian because it was where Jesus was baptized. Giordana's saint day is September 5th in memory of Saint Jordan of Saxony, who was one of the first leaders of the Dominican Order. Zordana, Yordana, Giardina, Jardena, Jordi, Jorda, Jardina, and Jordain are other international variants. All versions of the name were commonly given to children baptized in holy water from the Jordan River, even since the Middle Ages.

Giordana has never ranked in the U.S. top 1000 and was given to only 9 baby girls in 2011. Even the more American version, Jordana, was only given to 85 baby girls in 2011, still considered quite rare. The unisex name Jordan ranked at #196 in 2011 for girls, on its way down from #50 in 2000, and for boys it ranked at #46 in 2011, still just about as popular as it was a decade ago. The male version of this name is Giordano, which is Italian for Jordan, and this has not ranked. However, in Italy both Giordana and Giordano are more common.

There are two namesakes for Giordana - one is "Gypsy" Giordana Otero, an actress who stared alongside the Jonas Brothers in the Disney Channel's "Jonas L.A." and the other is lighting designer Giordana Arcesilai. As for boys, there have been several namesakes from composer Umberto Giordano to 16th century philosopher Giordano Bruno. Giordano is also a common surname.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rhydian

rhydian vaughan baby name 

Alternatively spelled Rhidian from the 20th century, Rhydian (RID-ee-an) is a Welsh boy's name meaning "red," from the element rhudd (rudd), sharing some similarities with Rowan. An early Welsh saint may have had this name. There is a church established by the saint in the 6th century

Namesakes include British-Taiwanese actor Rhydian Vaughan (pictured above), Welsh singer Rhydian Roberts, novelist Rhidian Brook (who coincidentally wrote The Testimony of Taliesin Jones - I just wrote about Taliesin), and bass player Rhydian Dafydd for the band The Joy Formidable.

As a name in the U.S., Rhydian has not been used more than four times in a year, and is therefore not recorded by the SSA. White Pages tells me that only one exists.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Erisabel

I passed by a beauty salon with this name in the title, and it immediately struck me as a name I had to write about. However, when I looked for information, none was found. So like many -bel names, I assumed it was simply Erisa + bel. Truthfully, people can find a way to add -bel or -belle to just about anything, from Annabel to Corabelle.

Erisa is known as a Japanese name that I cannot find an accurate meaning for (most Japanese name meanings vary by how they're written). Eris, meaning "strife," was a Greek goddess of discord, which charted in 1923 and 1924, and is a recently named dwarf planet. If Eris is the main component, Erisabel would essentially mean "beautiful chaos." Erisa in English could come from Iris by way of Irisa, or even from Eliza. Unfortunately, the letters are also an acronym for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, so adding -bel makes all the difference. While Eris is commonly pronounced ee-riss, many insist on air-iss, and even though Erisa in Japanese would be ay-ree-sah, in the U.S. people would likely say air-ee-sah.

While Erisa itself is a rare baby name, only given to five girls in 2011, none were given the name Erisabel. Even so, pulling up ancestry records reveals many women named Erisa from all over the world, and a search on White Pages tells me Erisa has been used enough to be considered a "real" name, or an ancestral name.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taliesin

taliesin 

Taliesin (tahl-YES-in / tahl-ee-ESS-in) is a seldom heard Welsh boy's name meaning "shining forehead, radiant brow." A 6th century Welsh bard with this name was mentioned in Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King, the classic Arthurian romance. This Taliesin was a beloved and respected poet celebrated into the 12th century, and written about in other works such as Bran the Blessed. However, the name Taliesin is more well known in America as the name of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's homes located in Arizona and Wisconsin. The icing on the cake is that Taliesin was the son (sort of) of the goddess Ceridwen from Celtic mythology - she ate someone and he was reborn as the poet and wizard Taliesin.

Many have found TAHL-ess-in and tahl-EYE-ess-in to be acceptable pronunciations, as well as Tall, Tali, and Lee to be acceptable nicknames. In 2011 this name was given to just six boys, never more than ten since 1993. In 2013 it was only given to 5. In Wales, Taliesin has been ranking around #1480.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Campbell

There's Campbell's Soup, Campbell University, Campbell in California, and then... 273 baby girls and 147 boys named Campbell in 2011. That does not include variant spellings Cambell for boys, which was given to 6 boys in 2011, and female variant spellings Campbelle (6), Cambell (9), Cambelle (9), and Cambel (5). Campbell is the only spelling to rank, at #936, which is actually down from years before. It has only ranked since 2003.

Campbell started as a nickname-turned-surname (cam beul) of a Scottish clan. The leaders of the Campbell clan were respected Dukes of Argyll. In Scotland, it remains a masculine name and common surname. For being so popular as a given name now, it has a funny meaning - "crooked mouth," originally referring to a facial characteristic (not a smile). One very feminine plus to this name is the nickname Cammy.

Cambell was a heroic Knight of Friendship in Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene. His wife in this tale was Cambina, which may have been the feminization of the name.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Macsen

macsen maximus 

With the potential for nicknames Mac or Max, and alternatively spelled Maxen, this Welsh boy's name means "greatest." Macsen (MAK-sen) is from the Latin boy's name Maximus and/or Maxentius, where we get the variants Maksim, Maxim, Massimo, Maximo and Maximilian.

How did the Welsh get Macsen out of Maximus? Magnus Maximus (ca. 335 to 388) was a Roman soldier, a Christian, and made Emperor of Britannia and Gaul (thanks to his soldier buddys and a lucky agreement), controlling Britain, Africa, Spain and Gaul. He lived in Trier, the oldest city in Germany, founded around 16 B.C. His official title was Western Roman Emperor. Although Magnus Maximus was a good soldier turned pretty bad ruler whose ambition got him killed, parts of Wales can trace their heritage to him. In Wales, he was known as Macsen Wledig. An early medieval stone called the Pillar of Eliseg, on which is inscribed the name Sevira and which notes her marriage to King Vortigern, King of the Britons, could be the legacy of Magnus Maximus. There is a possibility Sevira was his daughter, as the inscription said "daughter of Maximus the king of Briton, who killed the king of the Romans," although so little has been recorded. Welsh legend claims that after Maximus married a British woman, Princess Elen, he gave her father sovereignty of the kingdom. He is often cited as founding father of the dynasties of the medieval Welsh  kingdoms. In the tale The Dream of Macsen Wledig, Maximus rewards the British with the portion of Gaul to be known as Brittany.

Let's put it this way: Macsen was such an important guy that people tried their hardest not to forget about him. Unfortunately, his name remains rare in the U.S., where it has never ranked, and was given to only twelve boys in 2011, and has only been used here since 2002. The spelling Maxen was given to just fourteen boys in 2011. The spelling Maxsen was given to 5 boys in 2013.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Betony

betony baby name 

Betony is a botanical baby name, and a rare baby name, that deserves more attention. It is similar to Bethany and Brittany, and can have the nickname Betty or Tony (maybe even Betsy).

The herb betony was called betonica (vetonnica) by Pliny, who either named it after the people who discovered it, the Celtiberian Vettones tribe, or Pliny knew the Gauls had named it this. Highly regarded from ancient times, it was used by almost everyone until the 20th century. It has been used for a wide variety of ailments, and lately has been used for headaches, indigestion and anxiety. However, betony was also believed to protect against evil, therefore many people planted betony near churches and homes. It is a member of the mint family.

When researching betony, one may find the meaning listed as "good for the head," despite having come from the name of the Celtiberian tribe. The alternate etymology supposedly came from a lost word in ancient Brithonic, or from the Celtic elements of bew, meaning "head," and ton, meaning "good." Though the alternate meaning is logical, it is likely an imposed meaning. Betony is also known as "bishop's wort" and "wound-wort."

There is at least one well known namesake, and that is Betony Vernon, a jewelry designer and metalsmith of Milan and Paris. Also, the surname Bettany comes from the plant name betony.

The baby name Betony was not given more than four times in a year to any boys or girls since 1978, when it was used eight times. Since the Social Security Administration only releases the data if a name was used on five or more children in a year (of the same sex), 1978 was the only recorded year after 1880. That is not to say it hasn't been used at all - White Pages tells us there are 41 people with the first name Betony in the U.S. It was also used by the Victorians during the flower name obsession, but it had a hard time catching on and staying in use the way Rose did.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lorcan

st laurence lorcan o toole baby name 

Lorcan is an Irish Gaelic name meaning "little fierce one" or just "fierce," that comes with an equally rare, and very magical, nickname - Lore. Depending on your accent or what region or country you're from, Lorcan may be pronounced LOR-kan, the second syllable as in "can do," or LOR-kuhn, the second syllable as in "country." There is a possibility the name originated as a nickname for people who were brave warriors.

Lorcan mac Lachtna was the grandfather of Brian Boru, the last high king of Ireland. Brian was a national hero, while Lorcan was the first of his tribe to become king of Dál Cais. Lorcan's son Cineadh of Munster was known for improving the geneology of the kings of Munster. 

Saint Lorcan (Anglicized as Saint Laurence) O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin during the time of the Norman Invasion. He is patron saint of Dublin. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Irish born actor Peter O'Toole named his son Lorcan.

A few Irish kings also had this name. Two were kings of Leinster, one of Uí Fhiachrach Aidhne (Hy Fiachrach), a kingdom in what is now south Galway.

In 2011, six boys were given this name, which is about average. It has only appeared in government records in the U.S. since 1997, and the most it was given was twelve times in a year.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Clarabel

I would love to know, why isn't this beautiful baby name more popular? It's gorgeous, and Claire (#50), Clare (#679) and Clara (#151) are in the top 1000, as well as most Bella variations. Belle itself is just outside the top 1000.

Clarabel has two negative associations weighing it down: Clarabell the Clown, and Disney's Clarabelle Cow. However, it has been a long time since these two characters appeared in modern media, and the majority of the population has no idea they ever existed. In twenty years when your baby Clarabel is full grown, the following two associations will be a distant memory in the mind of grandma and grandpa.

Clarabell the Clown was actually a man, played by three different actors during the lifespan of "The Howdy Doody Show," which aired  between 1947 and 1960. The clown was loved by the audience, and didn't speak until the end of the last episode. I could not find the reason behind naming a male clown a female name.

Clarabelle Cow was mainly seen in the 1930's in black and white animated features, but appeared in later works such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "The Prince and the Pauper," which the current generation will hardly be exposed to.

On to the good stuff! The following associations will boost the name of Clarabel or Claribel. Silent film actress Clara Bow was made famous in the 1920's and well-loved, known as the "it girl." Saint Claire was born Chiara, the Italian form of the name. The spelling Claribel was used by Edmund Spenser in "The Faerie Queene," where Lady Claribel is "The fairest Lady then of all that living were." Shakespeare had a character named Claribel, Princess of Naples, in "The Tempest." To top things off, "Claribel" was a poem written by the great Alfred Lord Tennyson.

In 2011, only the spellings Clarabelle and Claribel were used. Clarabelle was given to nineteen baby girls (21 in 2010) and Claribel was given to nineteen as well (11 in 2010). Clarabel and its alternate spellings mean "clear, bright, famous" in Latin and English.

Clariandra is another gorgeous elaboration of Claire, this time with the -andra root, which is Greek for "man." The shifted meaning would then be "clear, bright woman," or "famous woman." Clariandra was a variant used in the Middle Ages alongside other fanciful, frilly names such as Diamanda and Splendora - perhaps the "cutesy" names of their time. Possibly the only mention of her was in the year 1248.

Claren is a rare male variant of Clarus.