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Showing posts from December, 2013

Imber

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.

Dorigen

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 retur…

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 ma…

Canacee

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 husban…

Bradamante

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 Chris…

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

Miuccia and Personal Ramblings

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…

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.

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 a…

Minka

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…