Thursday, February 28, 2013

Baby Name Gems from 1902 (5 births)


Having trouble sifting through modern names? Take the time machine back to 1902 and have a peak at the bottom of the SSA list. Can I just say - the parents in 1902 had mighty fine taste.

Allegra,F,5
Araminta,F,5
Athena,F,5
Calista,F,5
Camelia,F,5
Cassandra,F,5
Clarabel,F,5
Clio,F,5
Clover,F,5
Corina,F,5
Delphina,F,5
Elinore,F,5
Elodie,F,5
Eufemia,F,5
Euphemia,F,5
Fanchon,F,5
Frida,F,5
Gabrielle,F,5
Garland,F,5
Genevia,F,5
Honor,F,5
Isadore,F,5
Isola,F,5 (means island in Italian)
Lidia,F,5
Lindy,F,5
Lotus,F,5
Malvena,F,5
Marcelina,F,5
Melrose,F,5
Oneida,F,5
Penelope,F,5
Pheba,F,5
Rafaela,F,5
Romana,F,5
Rosemond,F,5
Roxana,F,5
Roxy,F,5
Seferina,F,5
Valera,F,5
Vesper,F,5
Vietta,F,5
Vivia,F,5
Willow,F,5


Adrien,M,5
Ansel,M,5
Archer,M,5
Artis,M,5
Author,M,5
Ballard,M,5
Beecher,M,5
Benedict,M,5
Berkley,M,5
Blanchard,M,5
Calvert,M,5
Carlo,M,5
Cas,M,5
Colin,M,5
Cruz,M,5
Domenick,M,5
Essex,M,5
Estes,M,5
Fenton,M,5
Fidel,M,5
Fleetwood,M,5
Fredric,M,5
Garnett,M,5
Gilmore,M,5
Hayden,M,5
Hershell,M,5
Hillard,M,5
Holden,M,5
Isador,M,5
Josiah,M,5
Landon,M,5
Larkin,M,5
Luciano,M,5
Marshal,M,5
Newman,M,5
Odin,M,5
Orrin,M,5
Parley,M,5
Pascal,M,5
Prentice,M,5
Prentiss,M,5
Price,M,5
Prosper,M,5
Remus,M,5
Rich,M,5
Rosco,M,5
Sebastian,M,5
Sinclair,M,5
Spence,M,5
Starling,M,5
Sumner,M,5
Terrell,M,5
Tobias,M,5
Vinson,M,5
Weaver,M,5
Whit,M,5
Winford,M,5
Woodrow,M,5
Wright,M,5

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baby Name Gems from 1902 (Outside the top 1000)


Minta,F,13
Selina,F,13
Stephanie,F,13
Tennessee,F,13
Beverly,F,12
Dinah,F,12
Maebelle,F,12
Sabra,F,12
Silvia,F,12
Sofia,F,12
Talitha,F,12
Chessie,F,11
Mozella,F,11
Osa,F,11
Alexandra,F,10
Clarabelle,F,10
Gracia,F,10
Isobel,F,10
Izetta,F,10
Maida,F,10
Margaretta,F,10
Melinda,F,10
Ottilia,F,10
Portia,F,10
Rosabelle,F,10
Amber,F,9
Gabriella,F,9
Isla,F,9
Jessica,F,9
Odette,F,9
Parthenia,F,9
Sonia,F,9
Stephania,F,9
Texie,F,9
Violetta,F,9
Beatriz,F,8
Genevra,F,8
Gregoria,F,8
Honora,F,8
Ingrid,F,8
Lana,F,8
Lunette,F,8
Marina,F,8
Meredith,F,8
Olivette,F,8
Roselle,F,8
Trixie,F,8
Arabella,F,7
Azalea,F,7
Capitola,F,7
Cleopatra,F,7
Corinna,F,7
Isadora,F,7
Jetta,F,7
Louisiana,F,7
Madonna,F,7
Maebell,F,7
Marilla,F,7
Natalia,F,7
Orlena,F,7
Snow,F,7
Tabitha,F,7
Valentine,F,7
Vivienne,F,7
Adriana,F,6
Alexandria,F,6
Assunta,F,6
Blossom,F,6
Delfina,F,6
Dove,F,6
Eulalie,F,6
Georgette,F,6
Gustavia,F,6
Gwendoline,F,6
Indiana,F,6
Izola,F,6
Jemima,F,6
Juliana,F,6
Lake,F,6
Nanette,F,6
Quilla,F,6
Romaine,F,6
Rosebud,F,6
Roxanna,F,6
Sidonia,F,6
Svea,F,6
Texanna,F,6
Thalia,F,6
Thirza,F,6




Reece,M,7
Alcide,M,6
Cameron,M,6
Chalmer,M,6
Collier,M,6
Doc,M,6
Elliot,M,6
Griffin,M,6
Jonah,M,6
Jordan,M,6
Kent,M,6
Lucas,M,6
Magnus,M,6
Sheridan,M,6
Wyatt,M,6

Monday, February 25, 2013

Baby Names from 1902 (The Boys Top 1000)

Interesting boy's names from the 1902 top 1000. Some of these sound right at home in 2012, over hundred years later, but were used much less back then.

Glenn,M,185
Oliver,M,181
Morris,M,150
Warren,M,149
Jerry,M,148
Vincent,M,148
Mack,M,147
Wesley,M,145
Isaac,M,143
Nathan,M,143
Sylvester,M,135
Max,M,132
Calvin,M,130
Glen,M,123
Roland,M,116
Felix,M,114
Johnie,M,113
Dave,M,112
Ellis,M,112
Nicholas,M,112
Gordon,M,109
August,M,108
Irving,M,104
Mark,M,104
Matthew,M,104
Jake,M,102
Adam,M,99
Mike,M,99
Emmett,M,98
Franklin,M,97
Marshall,M,94
Forrest,M,91
Roscoe,M,90
Ross,M,90
Nathaniel,M,88
Phillip,M,87
Gus,M,85
Reuben,M,82
Aaron,M,78
Tony,M,74
Roger,M,73
Grady,M,70
Johnny,M,70
Noah,M,69
Elijah,M,66
Bob,M,64
Dale,M,63
Owen,M,63
Timothy,M,62
Bruce,M,60
Forest,M,59
Monroe,M,59
Troy,M,59
Emory,M,58
Leland,M,58
Wiley,M,57
Silas,M,55
Grant,M,54
Harrison,M,53
Carroll,M,52
Christopher,M,48
Grover,M,45
Miles,M,45
Boyd,M,42
Ike,M,41
Luke,M,41
Dean,M,40
Wade,M,40
Emery,M,39
Garland,M,39
Murray,M,38
Fletcher,M,37
Riley,M,37
Angelo,M,36
Scott,M,36
Christian,M,33
Herschel,M,33
Porter,M,33
Basil,M,32
Spencer,M,32
Tommy,M,32
Clark,M,31
Sterling,M,30
Elliott,M,29
Emerson,M,28
Sanford,M,28
Stewart,M,28
Alan,M,27
Hollis,M,27
Salvatore,M,27
Ambrose,M,26
Eric,M,26
Garfield,M,26
Maxwell,M,26
Hal,M,25
Isaiah,M,25
Maynard,M,25
Bud,M,24
Dominic,M,24
Isadore,M,24
Israel,M,24
Mason,M,24
Milo,M,24
Gabriel,M,23
Irwin,M,23
Roman,M,23
Billy,M,22
Enoch,M,22
Jonathan,M,22
Noble,M,22
Stuart,M,22
Aloysius,M,21
Asa,M,21
Dudley,M,21
Elias,M,21
Jules,M,21
Lemuel,M,21
Reed,M,21
Ulysses,M,21
Armand,M,20
Evan,M,20
Webster,M,20
Lionel,M,19
Avery,M,18
Joshua,M,17
Casper,M,16
Cicero,M,16
Hunter,M,15
Nolan,M,15
Golden,M,14
Merritt,M,14
Ransom,M,14
Ford,M,13
Leander,M,13
Logan,M,13
Lucian,M,13
Romeo,M,13
Urban,M,13
Garrett,M,12
Hayes,M,12
Hoyt,M,12
Judson,M,12
Miller,M,12
Reese,M,12
Theron,M,12
West,M,12
Bennett,M,11
Bryant,M,11
Caleb,M,11
Carter,M,11
Palmer,M,11
Rocco,M,11
Salvador,M,11
Talmadge,M,11
Winston,M,11
Blair,M,10
Ferris,M,10
Gregory,M,10
Hudson,M,10
Orlando,M,10
Rudy,M,10
Seth,M,10
Sheldon,M,10
Warner,M,10
Wylie,M,10
Alec,M,9
Allison,M,9
Baxter,M,9
Bradley,M,9
Dexter,M,9
Giles,M,9
Haskell,M,9
Howell,M,9
Hurley,M,9
Isidore,M,9
Jennings,M,9
Justin,M,9
Lindsay,M,9
Meredith,M,9
Newt,M,9
Quincy,M,9
Santiago,M,9
Seymour,M,9
Sid,M,9
Vicente,M,9
Ashton,M,8
Axel,M,8
Bart,M,8
Cal,M,8
Casimir,M,8
Gerard,M,8
Graham,M,8
Lance,M,8
Mac,M,8
Malachi,M,8
Parker,M,8
Roderick,M,8
Westley,M,8
Zeb,M,8
Arden,M,7
Bartholomew,M,7
Carmine,M,7
Duke,M,7
Esau,M,7
Jarvis,M,7
Kyle,M,7
Madison,M,7
Mickey,M,7
Mortimer,M,7
Murphy,M,7

Baby Names from 1902 (The Girls Top 1000)

Here are some selected names from the top 1000 in 1902. This is not the complete list (you'll have to see the Social Security Administration for that). These are just names which are very interesting. There is one big difference between today's SSA extended list and that of 1902 - the pool of names in much larger today. #1000 on the charts in 1902 was given in 13 girls, while today, Damaris at #1000 was given to 250 girls.

Are you shocked to see any of these names in the top 1000 of 1902?


Betty,F,580
Lola,F,565
May,F,560
Lottie,F,537
Charlotte,F,524
Opal,F,498
Mable,F,478
Goldie,F,473
Estelle,F,472
Eula,F,466
Caroline,F,452
Iva,F,438
Henrietta,F,437
Vivian,F,425
Sylvia,F,411
Genevieve,F,410
Etta,F,400
Amelia,F,355
Madeline,F,355
Marian,F,338
Naomi,F,327
Olga,F,321
Geneva,F,308
Barbara,F,306
Amanda,F,301
Matilda,F,290
Estella,F,283
Frieda,F,282

Sophie,F,279
Hannah,F,271
Sally,F,266
Luella,F,262
Isabel,F,256
Sophia,F,256
Elva,F,253
Cecelia,F,243
Lila,F,239
Fern,F,238
Winifred,F,226
Veronica,F,217
Belle,F,212
Isabelle,F,204
Regina,F,198
Augusta,F,195
Cecilia,F,195
Bonnie,F,183
Faye,F,183
Fay,F,181
Birdie,F,173
Adele,F,172
Roxie,F,170
Anita,F,163
Lulu,F,161
Jewel,F,153
Rhoda,F,152
Adelaide,F,151
Marcella,F,145
Elvira,F,137
Nola,F,131
Olivia,F,130
Dorothea,F,124
Eloise,F,124
Neva,F,124
Corinne,F,119
Annette,F,115
Wilhelmina,F,112
Dolores,F,108
Lura,F,107
Wanda,F,106
Bess,F,104
Mathilda,F,104
Shirley,F,104
Lily,F,99
Rosetta,F,99
Claudia,F,97
Ophelia,F,95
Elsa,F,91
Lucinda,F,91
Odessa,F,90
Eugenia,F,89
Minerva,F,88
Nona,F,88
Phoebe,F,87
Dolly,F,85
Isabella,F,84
Yvonne,F,84
Peggy,F,82
Orpha,F,80
Pansy,F,80
Priscilla,F,79
Ivy,F,76
Maybelle,F,75
Ione,F,74
Evie,F,73
Mina,F,73
Rosella,F,72
Billie,F,70
Fanny,F,68
Annabelle,F,65
Willa,F,64
Iona,F,62
Maxine,F,62
Polly,F,62
Avis,F,61
Beryl,F,59
Evangeline,F,58
Gwendolyn,F,57
Molly,F,54
Bella,F,53
Bernadette,F,53
Savannah,F,53
Iris,F,52
Melvina,F,52
Veda,F,52
Agatha,F,51
Mandy,F,51
Aurelia,F,50
Clementine,F,49
Cordelia,F,49
Hortense,F,49
Magnolia,F,48
Marietta,F,47
Madeleine,F,44
Mercedes,F,44
Ramona,F,44
Antonia,F,43
Chloe,F,42
Lucia,F,41
Ava,F,40
Delphia,F,40
Melissa,F,40

Octavia,F,40
Kitty,F,39
Lina,F,39
Natalie,F,39
Camille,F,38
Eleanora,F,38
Zelda,F,38
Elena,F,37
Garnet,F,37
Rowena,F,37
Mozelle,F,36
Ursula,F,35
Lavinia,F,34
Marvel,F,34
Zoe,F,34
Eve,F,33
Rilla,F,32
Bridget,F,31
Gretchen,F,30
Icie,F,30
Berenice,F,29
Winona,F,29
Crystal,F,28
Edwina,F,28
Emilia,F,28
Letitia,F,28
Lucretia,F,28
Valeria,F,28
Easter,F,26
Gail,F,26
Kay,F,26
Lolita,F,26
Greta,F,25
Minna,F,25
Anastasia,F,24
Eulalia,F,24
Rosamond,F,24
Theodora,F,24
Tilda,F,24
Camilla,F,23
Icy,F,23
Mavis,F,23
Millicent,F,23
Amalia,F,22
Cordia,F,22
Delilah,F,22
Delores,F,22
Martina,F,22
Andrea,F,21
Betsy,F,21
Tressa,F,21
Violette,F,21
Vashti,F,20
Aurora,F,19
Malvina,F,19
Valerie,F,19
Abigail,F,18
Nova,F,18
Rosalind,F,18
Thora,F,18
Ottilie,F,17
Ozella,F,17
Zenobia,F,17
Coral,F,16
Daphne,F,16
India,F,16
Salome,F,16
Izora,F,15
Samantha,F,15
Claribel,F,14
Drusilla,F,14
Eudora,F,14
Maple,F,14
Margarette,F,14
Sophronia,F,14
Twila,F,14
Lilia,F,13

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baby Names from 1902 (The Top 100)

After the girl's top ten, the list is as follows. Some of these names are very popular at the moment, like Violet and Grace, while others may be left behind (Bertha, I'm looking at you).


Lillian,F,3063
Gladys,F,2809
Edna,F,2754
Mildred,F,2750
Dorothy,F,2707
Annie,F,2664
Grace,F,2642
Emma,F,2514
Bessie,F,2448
Rose,F,2444
Clara,F,2432
Bertha,F,2372
Frances,F,2326
Mabel,F,2280
Hazel,F,2238
Irene,F,2210
Gertrude,F,2207
Pearl,F,2100
Minnie,F,2055
Martha,F,2030
Catherine,F,1896
Myrtle,F,1884
Edith,F,1853
Ida,F,1836
Esther,F,1833
Louise,F,1832
Eva,F,1727
Elsie,F,1720
Sarah,F,1710
Agnes,F,1676
Josephine,F,1566
Nellie,F,1566

Laura,F,1559
Lillie,F,1533
Ella,F,1525
Julia,F,1501
Ruby,F,1458
Viola,F,1447
Beatrice,F,1429
Carrie,F,1376
Mattie,F,1353
Thelma,F,1310
Mae,F,1261
Jessie,F,1240
Alma,F,1229
Lena,F,1225
Hattie,F,1163
Blanche,F,1159
Evelyn,F,1151
Mamie,F,1127
Lucille,F,1087
Cora,F,1081
Stella,F,1075
Willie,F,1071
Lucy,F,1065
Marion,F,1033
Virginia,F,1008
Katherine,F,1004
Jennie,F,985
Pauline,F,985
Lula,F,976
Fannie,F,971
Vera,F,947
Ada,F,921
Rosa,F,909
Leona,F,875
Beulah,F,873
Maggie,F,853
Eleanor,F,837
Maude,F,834

Bernice,F,794
Dora,F,780
Ann,F,753
Ellen,F,753
Daisy,F,748
Nora,F,724
Kathryn,F,717
Susie,F,717
Sadie,F,716
Marguerite,F,695
Georgia,F,664
Effie,F,658
Doris,F,656
Hilda,F,649
Violet,F,649
Della,F,609
Emily,F,606
Lois,F,594
Olive,F,593
Flora,F,587
Betty,F,580
Katie,F,572
Nancy,F,571
Nettie,F,569
Lola,F,565
Anne,F,564
May,F,560
Sallie,F,556
Theresa,F,549
Marjorie,F,543
Lottie,F,537

After the boy's top ten, the list is as follows. You can see perennial favorites like Andrew, and those left in the dust, like Herbert.


Thomas,M,2134
Walter,M,1858
Harry,M,1750
Willie,M,1565
Arthur,M,1486
Albert,M,1375
Clarence,M,1292
Fred,M,1286
Harold,M,1077
Paul,M,1067
Raymond,M,1065
Roy,M,1002
Joe,M,955
Carl,M,952
Louis,M,912
Richard,M,908
Earl,M,877
Ralph,M,867
Ernest,M,790
David,M,761
Charlie,M,760
Jack,M,743
Samuel,M,702

Theodore,M,642
Howard,M,632
Herbert,M,615
Lawrence,M,598
Francis,M,597
Alfred,M,590
Elmer,M,574
Sam,M,559
Andrew,M,558
Leo,M,551
Eugene,M,524
Daniel,M,501
Lee,M,475
Floyd,M,471
Michael,M,461
Herman,M,457
Jesse,M,437
Peter,M,433
Leonard,M,426
Russell,M,422
Anthony,M,420
Oscar,M,397
Edwin,M,393
Ray,M,391
Lester,M,385
Lewis,M,385
Clyde,M,382

Benjamin,M,374
Leroy,M,370
Donald,M,366
Will,M,359
Cecil,M,354
Eddie,M,353
Lloyd,M,344
Claude,M,336
Stanley,M,334
Frederick,M,330
Clifford,M,326
Martin,M,325
Jessie,M,323
Chester,M,321
Tom,M,312
Edgar,M,307
Jim,M,300
Kenneth,M,275
Ben,M,273
Homer,M,269
Luther,M,266
Harvey,M,264
Bernard,M,259
Norman,M,256
Leslie,M,251
Leon,M,248
Melvin,M,248
Everett,M,238
Allen,M,227

Philip,M,226
Johnnie,M,221
Hugh,M,217
Alexander,M,216
Stephen,M,210
Jacob,M,207
Milton,M,207
Victor,M,205
Patrick,M,203
Alvin,M,201
Horace,M,199

Friday, February 22, 2013

Baby Names from 1902 (The Top 10)

If the hundred year rule is any accurate, interest in these names should be rising or already in place. Browse the internet and you'll find many mammas-to-be seeking advice on these names, though I'm not sure about Frank and Robert.

Girls:

Mary,F,14485
Helen,F,5967
Anna,F,5288
Margaret,F,5011
Ruth,F,4384
Elizabeth,F,3694
Florence,F,3509
Marie,F,3423
Ethel,F,3295
Alice,F,3135

The next two are Lillian and Gladys. Gladys still has a long way to go.

Boys:

John,M,7908
William,M,6616
James,M,5592
George,M,4223
Charles,M,3361
Robert,M,3180
Joseph,M,3098
Frank,M,2756
Edward,M,2294
Henry,M,2153

The next two are Thomas and Walter.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tiana

I am disappointed that Disney chose this name for their "The Princess and the Frog" character. Why? Because it's not Creole, French, or African (thus having little to do with the Disney princess's heritage). It likely comes from Tatiana, a Russian name from a Latin family name with no known meaning, as a short form. And the chances of it being used in 1920's New Orleans are slim to none, especially compared to popular names of the day like Fannie and Ruth. Disney was supposed to have named her Maddy (which would have been more accurate if it was a nickname for Madeleine), but it's similarity to a derogatory term, "mammy," made it less desirable, and I guess the public wanted something more in-step with our modern created nature, not caring about accuracy, so Disney found this gem that is one letter different from "tiara." Coincidence? And while Tiana's similarity to "tiara" is creative, it would not have been hard to find a different French-Creole name for the character, something the people of New Orleans in 1920 (or 1900-ish when she was born) would use.

Why else am I disappointed? It sets the bar low. Copy-cat parents and fans will use this name without looking into its origins. They will never ponder the meaning of Tiana (past "Disney princess") and will never consider the history of French-Creole or African-American names. They will just use it, and that will be that. And people should research names before choosing one. To be clear, Tiana, like Tatiana, has no meaning. If you want one, it means "from the house of Tatius." There is a chance it could be related to Titania, who was the queen of the faeries in literature, but Titania means "titan." Unfortunately, many sites list Tiana as a Slavic name meaning "fairy queen," which is not the case, and probably comes from Titania as a mis-translation. Others suggest it means "princess" from the Greek name Tia, but there isn't even enough evidence to say Tia means princess, much less Tiana. Even if it were true, I'd still be unhappy about this name for Disney's princess.

A lot of the positive response for "The Princess and the Frog" was because it was Disney's first African-American (Creole?) princess. They had a lot of responsibility to make her credible. The name Tiana ranked since 1975 and is now at #387, but had been used since at least 1950.  Even though the name has been popular since 1975, it was not a good choice for a girl from New Orleans in 1920. Something recently popular is not authentic for this character. Acadia, Alexandrine, Fleur, Delphine or Sidonie - authentic.

All the other princesses have some kind of meaning or authenticity to their name. Think about how Snow White, Cinderella and and Jasmine had names that lent credibility to their overall character. Tiana does not enhance the character of this movie the same way, and only enhances the "shine" of being a princess created this decade.

P.S. For those of you named Tiana, I am not criticizing your name, I am criticizing Disney for using it as a character name.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hermione

The_Meeting_of_Orestes_and_Hermione 
The Meeting of Orestes and Hermione

Will Hermione forever be linked to the Harry Potter character? Will anyone search for her history before the wild success of Ms. Granger & Co.? Will people think you're crazy?

Let's start with how often Hermione is used. 55 girls were given the name in 2011, but the all time high was 74 in 2006. The name was used between 1898 and 1975, no more than 17 times in a year. So, very rare, but not unheard of. As the female variant of Hermes, Hermione means "messenger," and is pronounced her-MY-oh-nee.

Long before Hermione Granger was born, Hermione was a figure in Greek mythology. Her mother was "fairest of them all" Helen, who launched a thousand ships and ran off with/was abducted by Paris, the prince of Troy. Paris was promised the most beautiful woman in the world if he would name Aphrodite the most beautiful goddess. Hermione was nine when her mother left. Hermione's father was Menelaus, king of Mycenaean Sparta, who led the Spartans during the Trojan War. He was enraged when he discovered his wife was missing, and made all her previous suitors go after her. Since both of Hermione's parents were gone during the war, she lived with her aunt Clytemnestra.

Hermione was promised to marry two different men. First, her grandfather promised her to her cousin Orestes. Then, during the war, her father promised her to Neoptolemus (aka Pyrrhus) the son of Achilles. Neoptolemus married Hermione first, but conflict came about when his concubine won during the war, Andromache, could not bear children. Andromache was the widow of Hector, first prince of Troy, who Helen was very fond of. Now, I'm not too familiar with Greek customs regarding concubines, but the fact that Hermione wanted her dead seems rational to me. Except, the reason she wanted her dead was because Andromache could not have Hermione's husband's children, or that she was the reason Hermione could not bear children. So Hermione asked her dad to kill this concubine, but he couldn't go through with it (or Hermione failed to kill Andromache). Hermione decided to leave with her cousin Orestes (who was concubine free), who she was promised to first, and they finally got married and had a son.

So, if the name Hermione is eternally tied to Ms. Granger from now on, is it really such a bad thing? The Greek Hermione has a kind of disturbing tale (not anything that could compete with the tragedy of other mythological figures, but still) and Hermione Granger's story is much more pleasant. The Harry Potter character is also a much better role model for young girls. However, there's an age gap that needs to be noted -- only people of a certain age will know about Harry Potter. In general, no one above, say, 30, will think the parents of a Hermione were huge Harry Potter fans, and any of those over 30 people will likely recall the mythological character instead, but just barely, if at all. She isn't one of the major characters, like Helen is, and not many people know her story. Pretty much only Harry Potter fans (or siblings of Harry Potter fans) will point it out. Years from now the next generation of baby name addicts will be enlightening their contemporaries as to why people our age named kids Hermione (like we're finding out how people named Wendy came about). Our kids will have no idea (unless told) that they were named after Hermione Granger, or the myth, or just because. In fifteen years,  Harry Potter might not be a household name anymore, especially now that the series has ended and the hype has died down.

But wait! There's more. Hermione was also a character in A Winter's Tale by Shakespeare, where she is a queen falsely accused of infidelity with the king of Bohemia. When her baby is born, her husband, King Leontes, doesn't believe it's his and orders a servant to take it away and abandon it. The king's heir dies and Hermione goes missing. The baby is named Perdita, and she is raised by a shepherd. When she grows up, the king of Bohemia's son, Prince Florizel (the same name used in the fairy tale of Melisande) falls in love with Perdita. The prince's father is not happy and goes on a rampage, forcing them to flee to Leontes's kingdom, where he recognizes his daughter and makes right of everything. As a conclusion to the happy ending, Hermione comes back to life from a statue of herself.

Saint Hermione of Ephesus was martyred in the 2nd century, and in the Acts of the Apostles, this Hermione is listed as a prophetess.

Hermione has been used in a number of other works as well, from the novel Atonement to David Bowie's song "Letter to Hermione." There is also a short list of real life Hermione's --  five British actresses and the Baroness Hermione Cobbold, who died in 2004 at 99 years old.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is this name too over the top?

How do you know if a name is outrageous, or you're just over-thinking? Let's use Andromeda as an example. While everyone's opinions will vary - one person will tell you to use it, the next will say not to, Andromeda carries some well known associations, like the mythological princess, TV show, and the galaxy, that could help or hurt it being used today. Is it too long and dramatic or does it have the perfect amount of wow-factor? It's really a matter of taste and perception.

General guidelines if you're having a hard time deciding:

Don't use it if...
- it is hard for the majority of people you know to say
- it is hard to remember how to spell
- it was used in an extremely negative light (like Adolph)
- it is the name of something like a well known brand, company, product, or food (examples include Nivea, Siri, Apple and Kale)
- it is a one-person name, like Oprah or Lucifer
- it is overly sweet, like something you'd see on a child's fairy doll (Pixie, Fairydust, Honey)
- it is excessive or made-up without regard to phonetics
- it is too theme-y with the middle name (like Liberty Justice)
- the overall name sounds like a pompous fictional character (Leocadius Bartolomeo) and/or reaches a ridiculous amount of syllables

Use it if...
- you really love it
- you're alright with its history and associations
- it is not offensive
- you don't plan on making it any longer than it has to be (Aaliiyaah instead of Aaliyah)
- if it is in the top 1000 (which is a good indicator that other people definitely like it enough to use)

Examples of names that could be thought of as "over the top" and outrageous: Frostine, Princess, Ptolemy, Sugar, Alucard, Marcantony, Buttercup, Chrysanthemum, and certain double-barrelled names like Dixie-Belle, Altagracia-Lisette or Lulu-Lexie. Certain smush names could also fit the description, such as Sadiebelle or Izabeth.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Are Alexandra and Andrea Offensive to Women?

The potential problem I'm talking about is the Greek -andro element, which means "man." It can be seen in people names, medical terms and plant terms. Andrea and Alexandra are two popular baby names used that fit this description. (I would include Andromeda and Andromache in this, but they are extremely rare.)

I don't know if Americans were once highly interested in the meaning and origins of names and then became disinterested over time, or if only a small percentage were and still are interested. Early in our recording of name statistics, parents were naming their children largely based on tradition, religious beliefs and honoring family, so I don't think the meanings of Alexandra and Andrea were deal-breakers. How is it possible to find the logic behind every female ever named Alexandra, for example? It is nearly impossible to say with any certainty that X percent of people named Alexandra, or Andrea, had parents that knew -andra meant "man" and how that knowledge affected their ultimate decision.

Not to mention, what does this information mean to anyone now? Does anyone care that Alexandra means "defender of man/defending men?" Or that Andrea means "manly?" Since I've seen Andrea's meaning discussed on occasion, and noted that some find her meaning displeasing, even a deal-breaker, I believe meaning is important in today's culture, and someone out there cares. When faced with a decision between Andrea or Cassandra, which means "shining upon man," which would most parents today choose?

I know that Andrea meaning "manly" would be a turnoff for me when choosing a name, no matter what my reasoning or beliefs were, just as a name meaning "sickly," "mean," or "ugly" would be a turnoff. But personally, I could take Alexandra to not mean one single man, but mankind. Maybe if someone I dearly loved was named Andre or Alexander, the meaning of the feminine variants would be much less noteworthy to me. I wonder if Alexandra's past and present popularity (historical namesakes and a current rank at #76) negate the meaning. She is considered a timeless classic. Andrea, which is not far behind at #81, is not exactly considered a timeless classic, but she has been quite popular. And Cassandra, which has a more pleasant meaning, ranks much lower at #411.

So I ask, are the names Alexandra and Andrea offensive to women, and would the meanings of Alexandra and Andrea deter you from using them?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Monroe

What kind of name can compete with Eponine? Any literary name can work, for girls and boys, but Monroe has the right contemporary feel for a boy, just as a random suggestion. While a lot of parents consider Monroe for a girl, most likely with Marilyn Monroe in mind, Monroe's vibe is very masculine. It falls into a few different categories: "modern hero" names (both for the 5th American president and Marilyn), surnames, and nature names. It even falls under the comic book category - Ororo Monroe was Storm's real name in the X-Men. Most recently, Monroe can be seen as a male character in the TV show Grimm, and was used by Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon for the female twin of their son Moroccan.

This Gaelic name is composed of the elements moine (marsh) and ruadh (red), translating to "[from the] red marsh" and once applied to people living near the mouth of a river, with the meaning "[from the] mouth of the Roe River." Alternate spellings have been used all over, from Munroe to Munrow. Historically, most Monroe's have been male, regardless of whether Monroe was their first or last name. But today, Monroe is settling in with the surnames-as-girls-first-names trend. The statistics of late say Monroe is mainly female, with 142 girls given the name in 2011, but that is a dramatic rise from 2000, when only 7 girls were given the name. On the boys side its been more steady - from 30 boys in 2000 to 42 in 2011. It only ever ranked for boys, too. From 1880 to 1971, Monroe was all male. Either way, it is rare enough to work on either gender.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Eponine

eponine baby name les miserables
Eponine in the latest movie

A little while ago there was this debate on Nameberry about the name Eponine (ay-po-neen), now in the spotlight because the movie Les Misérables is taking American fans by storm. Actually, there are several threads on the internet about this name, and it is a much-searched baby name. People will inevitably be curious about Eponine as a name for their daughter, and opinions most definitely vary on whether it should be used. Some say it is too much the character's name to be used on another face, some say the name goes back further than the play and can be a real choice. I'll give you the facts, and you can decide for yourself if Eponine should be used on today's babies.

Eponine, French variant of Epona from the Latin name Eponina (sometimes spelled Epponnina), all meaning "mare," which is "female horse," and/or "great mare." The exception is Eponina's -ina ending, making it "little horse/mare."

Eponina and Epona go back further than Hugo's Éponine Thénardier, whose story is tragic, yet interesting. The character in the 1862 novel grew up pampered and beautiful, a reversal of the typical rags-to-riches stories. Don't misunderstand - Eponine's parents ran an inn, so they were not poor, but later they went bankrupt and turned into thieves. The novel focuses on characters living in France during a desperate and horrible time of disease, political turmoil and other suffering. (I won't give too much away, as in order to actually consider using this name, you really need to read the novel and be familiar with the character.) Eponine's parents are pretty much scumbags, and eventually Eponine makes money with her father begging, but after falling in love she becomes a better person. Her redemption is the essence and importance of her character. She's not the greatest literary character ever, but there's nothing especially bad about her. Let's just say she's human. She loves a man named Marius, who loves a woman named Cosette. Eponine dies protecting Marius, although he may have been in that position due to Eponine's manipulation. Regardless, the audience sympathizes with her.

Now, it is assumed that Hugo invented Eponine. It is unlikely, as all he would have to do is take a legit Latin name and add a typical French -ine ending. Some say the name was supposed to convey a feeling of being made-up, as Eponine's mother took it from a "tacky" romance novel, but if you've ever read a romance novel the names sound pretty classy...although I'm not sure about old French ones. Even after the novel came out, not many parents chose to use the name. But one commonly overlooked fact is that Charles Baudelaire dedicated a poem to Hugo in Les Fleurs du Mal, titled Le Petit Vieilles, and that its subject of eroticism and decadence most likely directly influenced Hugo's naming of the Thenardier sisters. There are other uses of the name before this, and proof that the name was used in real life. As you will read below, the name was used in direct connection to the goddess Epona.

epona baby name
Epona carving

Epona, on the other hand, was the goddess in Gaulish and Roman tradition, protector of horses, mules and donkeys, as well as fertility, and later armies. You won't find many Gaulish, Pre-Celtic or Celtic dieties in Roman mythology, but Epona was apparently just that influential and/or lovable. It could have been due to a similarity to Demeter, known to be a great mare herself. She even had a proper cult, like Minerva, Juno and Jupiter. To this day, Epona has some influence. I happen to live in Michigan, where there is the Epona Celebration on Mackinac Island in June (high tourist season). Mackinac Island does not allow cars, only bikes and horses. It's an amazing place that seems to be stuck in a previous decade (like maybe the Victorian period).

epona celebration mackinac island 
A personal photo from my honeymoon to Mackinac Island

Now we come to Eponina. Eponina, also known as Saint Eponine and Holy Eponina, was the wife of a Roman man named Julius Sabinus, who rebelled against the Roman Empire. She was a virtuous woman who symbolized patriotism, and she chose to die with her husband once he was captured. As Eponina was a common name from ancient times to post-Revolutionary France, I believe Eponine, which Hugo supposedly made up, would have been today's Porscha to the historical Portia, Bentlee to Bentley, Graycin to Grayson. You get the idea. Trendy, made-up variant, that is intended to make the child seem richer or more fabulous. But now, Eponine has literary credibility. It is also worth noting that Azelma, Eponine's sister in the story, has a name derived from another loyal wife in historical times. In fact, I think Hugo just didn't like names that weren't proper and traditional, as he commented on an "anarchy of baptismal names."

Important note: Empona, a variant of these, means "heroine." (As in female hero, not the drug.)

As a name, Eponine, Epona and Eponina have never ranked in the U.S. top 1000. As none or less than five babies were given the name Eponine in 2011, I turned to White Pages to tell me how many people named Eponine were living in the U.S., and the grand total is 7. White Pages may not be able to accurately track all people, names, etc, but this seems fairly accurate. While I was at it, White Pages says there are four people named Epona and one Eponina. Eponine is much more popular in France than it is in the U.S., yet it is still extremely rare there.

If Eponine is too reminiscent of the character for you, but you love the history and imagery, I'd suggest Epona or Eponina.