Sunday, December 29, 2013

Imber

ImberStGiles 
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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dorigen

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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 returned. A promise is a promise, and so she and her husband were very upset. Being honorable and good-hearted people, Dorigen claims the only way out of her deal might be to commit suicide, but her husband says to just do what she promised. In the end, seeing how noble the couple is, Dorigen's suitor lets her out of the deal, no harm caused. The morals important to the story are generosity, truth and patience.

Similar to Dorian and Dorchen, Dorigen could be perfect for the right person. Dory, Dora or Gen work as nicknames. A with a familiar first syllable, you could just find a way to honor the Doris in your family tree after all. According to White Pages, there could be as many as 15 people named Dorigen in the U.S. Dorigen could mean "gift at birth/birth gift" or something of the like, coming from the Greek dor, meaning "gift," and the French suffix -gene, meaning "born/birth." (As the Dorigen in Chaucer's story lived in France, this could be possible.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

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 may be others but it is increasingly hard to find any namesakes when every kind of search results in Marvel Comics. But, let that be a strong reminder that if you bestow this name upon your child, every person's first thought will be "like the comics." I suggest using it as a middle name - especially for the comic book fan.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Canacee

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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 husband here is not her brother, yet his name, Cambell, has been borrowed from Chaucer's character Cambalo. The two stories have a lot of similarities, and in both there is a play on names.

Although it is not certain, Canacee's name may derive from or be influenced by Cauda Ceti, a star in Chaucer's time in the constellation Pisces. Cauda is Latin meaning "tail," while Ceti refers to any large ocean animal, such as a whale or dolphin. An adaptation of the meaning is "whale's tail," although it originally meant the tail star of the whale constellation, since the constellation Cetus is known as "The Whale." Another possibility is a Greek name, Canace, presumably pronounced the same way, which means "child of the wind" according to an entry in Baby Name Encyclopedia: The Perfect Baby Name Adviser by Sylvie Nicole. Canacee is pronounced KAN-uh-see. It is not, and has not to my knowledge, been used as a baby name. A potential nickname is Cacee (Casey).

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bradamante

bradamante hearts and armour
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 Christian knight (of France) with a magical weapon, who is in love with a Saracen knight. Her nickname (alias?) was "the Maid," a nod to Joan of Arc.

Bradamante is said to be the ancestor of the d'Este (or just Este, the House of Este) family, 17th century Italian cello patrons.

Monday, December 23, 2013

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Miuccia and Personal Ramblings

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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 Luna, vs the name that I found on my own, that sparkles the way a diamond would if you found it in your own backyard, that gives me the same feeling as each of my own childhood memories from the old neighborhood. Isolated memories of a specific person vs the ideal of a child being completely unique and owning the name that so few (if any) bear. That is my personal dilemma. The solution often seems to put tradition in the middle spot.

Which brings me to Miuccia (mee-uu-cha). Many will recognize the first name of fashion house Prada's owner. Many would steer clear of such a well known name. Many would think it's trendy, or pretentious. But there are others, like me, who see the name and see Italy. I don't see the most well known namesake, I see a gorgeous, underused Italian name. I see an opportunity to both break tradition and keep tradition. Without being name-specific, nor honoring a single person, Miuccia can be a "culture honor" name. It can be the name that gives you instant imagery, an instant feeling that you hope others see. But Miuccia isn't a proper Italian name - instead, it is a nickname for Maria, "star of the sea," one of the most well known names in the world. Mariuccia and Marianina have been traditional nicknames as well, and pet forms of Maria. Miuccia remains practically unheard of in the U.S, with no recorded people given this name.

I suppose the reason why I broke away from my usual styling of posts today is because this name and the way Miuccia Prada looks reminds me of a ton of memories from my childhood. Some of the clothes I've spotted her in strongly resemble things my grandmother wore, her physical appearance reminds me of someone who was very special to me, and the magical vibe of her name somehow reminds me of my mother.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

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.

Friday, December 13, 2013

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 an advantage in the early years - while it was used on boys between 1880 and 1924, it wasn't used on girls. The height of its popularity for both genders was between 1940 and 1960, but it continued being more popular for boys after 1962. Some years it is not used as a first name at all, and it has always been quite rare.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Minka

minka kelly 
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 (and cute as a button). Call her Mink or Minx for short.

Minka, or Minkah, is also seen as a boy's name - Minkah Fitzpatrick is one. Minka House is also a Japanese farmhouse but I don't know how significant it is.