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Showing posts from October, 2013


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...



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

Ourania was last seen in the U.S. in…


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 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 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…


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 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 …


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.


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…