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Imber

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.

Dorigen

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 retur…

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 ma…

Canacee

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 husban…

Bradamante

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 Chris…

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

Miuccia and Personal Ramblings

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…

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.

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 a…

Minka

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…

Rare Butterfly Baby Names

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'…

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, whic…

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

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. Edo…

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

Allifair

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

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. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere…

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


Ourania

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…

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.

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 th…

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-cha) is an Italian surname, and fenice (fen-EE-chay) is the Italian word for phoenix. Fenica (fen-EET-sa) might be the same name found in other languages, not to be confused with the word fennica. There are supposedly about 56 people in the U.S. named Fenicia. Fenicia can also be found as an Italian place na…

Zezolla, the Italian Cinderella

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 m…

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…

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&q…

Sidonia

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 …

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 Lupinfrom 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.



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.

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 Gertru…

Petra

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 Irelan…

Zephyr

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 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 alternat…

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 onl…

Reagan

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…

Ferelith

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.…

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

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 favori…

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. Hi…

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.

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)


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.

Cedric

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," (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. By 2016 the name fell a bit in popularity, at #914.

Cedric the Entertainer, t…

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 o…

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…

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 NF…

Giordana

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 …

Rhydian

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.

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. I also came across Onabelle recently.

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 in kanji). Eris, meaning "strife," was a Greek goddess of discord, the equivalent of the Roman goddess Discordia. Eris 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. Unfortunately, the letters of Erisa are also an acronym for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, so adding -bel makes all the differ…

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 …

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 be…

Macsen

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…

Betony

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

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 …