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Showing posts from March, 2013

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 …

Lorcan

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 king…

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 m…

Beircheart

Beircheart (bar-hart, bear-hart, and bear-kart) is an Old English and Irish baby name most people have forgotten about. It looks a bit like bear + heart or birch + heart, especially when you say it out loud phonetically (BEAR-chart). It means "[of the] intelligent army; bright army" and has roots in Anglo-Saxon, also commonly used in Irish. In a few sources, a Latin name is given: Berichertus.

Benjamin has been used as an Anglicized form of Beircheart. However, Benjamin is Hebrew, meaning "son of the right hand." The two names are unrelated, from different origins. It is most likely the two sounded similar, therefore Benjamin was the easiest available Anglicization. There was a Saint Beircheart of Tullylease in Ireland, who was a disciple of Saint Patrick, and in some works Saint Patrick's right hand man is known as Benen. Benen is thought to be Irish for Benjamin. I can't say for sure that Beircheart and Benen from the stories are the same person.

Saint Be…