Tuesday, October 29, 2013


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 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, a masculine Germanic name meaning "elf warrior," and this is where we get the name Oliver. Maybe it's a form of 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 century literature), Alvera or Alfreda, or even Alfie as a nickname for Alfreda, which were all being used at the time. There's even a possibility it comes from Olaf (from Aleifr), though much less likely. And there's a chance it came about from a surname, as is the case with a good deal of names, and it is today found as a surname. All of the names were so rare, though, that it is hard to say. The -fair spelling seems to indicate English origin.

Good old White Pages has linked the name to Alfreda and Alvaro (confirming about 15 Alifair, 40 Alafair, 2 Allifair in the U.S.). As of 2016 this name and none of the spelling variations have been used more than 5 times in any given year, leaving us no Social Security data. *As of 2016 White Pages has gotten rid of their baby names / name popularity area, leaving us listings only, so the link no longer leads to its original page.

*Upon closer inspection, I have found records of women named Alifair or Elvira and using both names. Alvira is an alternate form of Elvira, so this could be the connection. Alivera has also been used, but there's no way to tell if it comes from Alvira, Olivera or Allovera.

Mystery writer Alafair Burke was born in 1969. Alifair Skebe is a current writer. Also, here 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...


Saturday, October 26, 2013


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 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 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 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 - 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


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 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



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.


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


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.