Friday, December 19, 2014

Kelda

Kelda


Derived from the Old Norse word kildr, meaning "a spring [of water]," Kelda is a name that sounds like you've probably heard it somewhere before - but haven't. Pronounced KEL-duh, like Zelda with a K. However, it is not a name regularly used in any Nordic countries. There is a chance that any usage of the name is more closely tied to -lda ending names in general, like the trend of -n or -ella ending names today (Braeden, Lexibella, etc), which would mean someone took a name like Kelsey and combined it with the ending of names like Zelda. It is more likely it comes from the Northern English word keld, also meaning "a spring," which would explain where and how often it has been used. Upon first glance it also seems like a Germanic name, along the lines of Hilda, and the Norse kildr is cognate with German quell of the same meaning. However, its usage could have started from a surname referencing where that person was from, just like Winston or Colton. This would also make sense if it came from the English keld. That doesn't mean it isn't usable - many names originated as place names or surnames and are popular given names today. Kelsey and Chelsea are two examples. I can't speculate any further than this, but Kelda does seem easily accessible in multiple languages.

Kelda Roys is an American politician, and there is a Kelda in the Thor comic series (pictured above).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oren

Like Tannen, Oren is a very subtle winter or Christmas name. From Hebrew, Oren means "pine tree," and it is the word for orange in Welsh. Oren is also very close to the names Orin and Oran (Odhran) - Gaelic, meaning "pale green." Spelled Orrin it is both a place name and a Scottish name meaning "pale-skinned," but also in Scottish the spelling Oran means "song." Ören is a Turkish word meaning "ruins" and is used as a surname and place name. Oren has been used in the Old Testament and on several modern, not very well known namesakes, both as a first and last name. The Hebrew version is regularly used in Israel.

In 2013 there were 108 boys given the name Oren in the U.S., and it hasn't been used so much since the 1920's but it has been used steadily since 1880. Orin was given a bit less in 2013 with only 64 boys, while Orrin was an equally popular spelling with 62 boys. Oran was only given to 20 boys the same year.

Being so rare, yet sounding so familiar, Oren no matter how you choose to spell it would make an excellent name today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nelleke (Cornelia)

Nelleke is the female Dutch version of the Latin girl's name Cornelia, meaning "horn; war horn." It is a pet form just like Nell. Pronounced NELL-eh-keh, this name also shares a fun resemblance to the name Nellary which was used by Frank L. Baum in the Wizard of Oz book "The Lost Princess of Oz," in which Princess Ozma cannot be found.

Nelleke is so rare to English speakers that I cannot say for sure it has ever been used in the U.S. There are not any very well known namesakes, but a quick Google search reveals that the name is in steady use. Nelleke Noordervliet, for example, is a Dutch writer, and Nelleke Penninx is an Olympic medalist (rowing) from the Netherlands.

Cornelia, a familiar but unused name, was once very popular. In last ranked in 1965 but had been in the top 200 when the SSA started keeping name records. In English she became more widely used in the 17th century, possibly thanks to the Dutch. We get the word cornucopia from the same root as her name.

There was also a high society Roman family with the gens Cornelius, of which the well-loved Cornelia Africana was born. She was considered at the time to be the perfect Roman woman and matriarch. Another Roman Cornelia was Cornelia Cinna (minor), a wife of Julius Caesar. When Caesar was confronted with the demand for divorce, he refused and chose to be proscribed and without her inheritance instead. They stayed happily married.

Several other well known namesakes emerged throughout history - one of Vanderbilt fame, one a suffragette, and one an aviatrix during World War II. Most recently, Cornelia Funke is the author behind the young adult Inkworld trilogy of novels, and there was a movie made not too long ago for this series. Cornelia is also a literary name, having been used in Anne of Green Gables.

Connie, Celia, Cora or  Corie and Nell, Neely or Nellie could all make nice nicknames. She still ranks on popularity charts in the Netherlands and Sweden. In 2013 Cornelia was given to 36 girls, the most it has been used since the 1990's, but it hadn't been used more than 100 times in a year since the late 1960's.

Kornoelje, from the same root word, is the dogwood plant in Dutch (botanical name Cornus). It can be found as a surname.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tannen

FraserFirTree


Surely "O, Tannenbaum" sounds familiar around this time of year, and Tannen makes an excellent and unexpected choice for a boy's Christmas themed baby name. Tannenbaum means "fir tree" from tanne and baum, therefore Tannen as a baby name refers to that tree as the plural of tanne. Tannen in Old English can refer to the occupation of tanning hides and is sometimes seen as a variant of Tanner.

In the song, tannenbaum refers specifically to the Christmas tree, but this is a modern change to the original, non-Christmas themed song. The German "O Tannenbaum" was originally a long song in which the fir tree is thought of as a faithful tree, but when the author changed a few lines as the idea of a Christmas tree got more popular, it wasn't hard for listeners to change the meaning of the song altogether. Later the German title was changed to "O Christmas Tree" in America.

There are many different kinds of fir trees, many of which are still used as Christmas trees today. The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen is a fairy tale about a fir tree who wants to grow up too fast (and in winter fashion was published with The Snow Queen). It would make a great story to read a little boy whose name means "fir tree."

There were only 10 boys named Tannen in 2013. Spell it Tannin and the meaning changes, as tannins are found in green tea once it turns bitter and in tree bark. Tannen can be found as a surname. While boys names ending in the letter N are extremely popular right now, and the name Tanner has had major success, Tannen combines the best of those for a very on-trend name.

Fun fact: Tannen's Magic Shop is New York's oldest operating magic shop, Louis Tannen being the original owner from 1925.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Olivine (Peridot)

olivine dreamstime


Olivine (French prn. oh-liv-EEN, American/English prn. OLL-iv-ine), named for its light olive green color, is a mineral formation found under the earth's surface. When this mineral becomes gem quality we call it "peridot," pronounced PER-ih-doe, which is the French word for olivine (thus the French "-doe" ending and not PER-ih-dot). This name is also sometimes taken as a variant of Olivia, which didn't actually mean "olive" in the beginning.

Some types of olivine have been discovered on meteors, the moon, Mars, and further into the depths of the universe. It can also be found naturally all over the world, including a beach in Hawaii.

Peridot is the birthstone for August, and was a loved stone of the ancient Egyptians - it may have even been Cleopatra's favorite. Peridot is one of many similar names the gem has gone by, but most sound very close, such as peridon and peritot.

Olivine is an exceedingly rare baby name for girls in the U.S., with an average of 5 or less girls given the name each year. For most years there is no evidence it has been used, as the SSA guards the info for less than five births.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The U.S. top 10 in other languages

Girls

1. Sophia - Sofia (which also ranks), Sonya/Sonia/Sonja, Sophie/Sofie/Sophy, Zofia, Zosia, Sohvi, Zsofika, and Zsofia
2. Emma - Ima, Imma, Ema, Ermintrude, Trudy, Irma, & connected to Emily which is #7
3. Olivia - Oliviera, Olivera, Olivette, Olivie
4. Isabella - Isa, Sabella, Belle, Babette, Elisa, Elisavet, Elizabeth (#10) and her variants
5. Ava - Eve, Eva, Hava/Havva, Chava, Evelia, and Evita
6. Mia - as a variant of Maria this one has too many to list, but examples include Moira, Mariska, Mariella, Miriam, Marika, Mirja, Maureen, Mimi, Marietta, Maiken and Mya
7.  Emily - see Emma which is #2, also Aemilia, Amalia, Amelia, Amma/Ama, Emelina, Emmeline, Emilia, Emilita and Emmy
8. Abigail - other than the Biblical Greek variant Abigaia, Abigail really only has spelling variations such as Abigayle and Avigail
9. Madison - meaning "son of Maud," there are no other versions and in other languages Madison is not used on girls as it is a surname only
10. Elizabeth - an exceptional amount of alternate versions to this name, including Elizaveta, Bethan, Elsa, Elise, Isabella (see #4), Zabel, Eliska, Bettina, Betty, Ishbel and Elixabete

Boys

1. Noah - Noe, Noach
2. Liam - see William, #5
3. Jacob - Iago/Yago/Jago, Jamie, James, Yakov, Kuba, Giacomo, Giacobbe, Seamus, Akiba, Akiva, Jacques, Jaumet, and Koppel
4. Mason - a word and occupational surname, so no others
5. William - Wilhelm, Guillermo, Vilko, Wilkin, Liam, Villem, Pim and Wim
6. Ethan - an Old Testament name, no variations in other languages
7. Michael - Miguel, Mikhail,  Misha, Mykolas, Miska, Miksa, Mikko and Mikkel
8. Alexander - Alec, Sander, Olek, Oleksandr, Iskender, Alistair/Alasdair, Sasha, Sawney, Sandro, Ace, Sikandar, and Eskandar
9. Jayden - as an invented name, there are only spelling variants and no international versions
10. Daniel - Danko, Danilo, Taneli, Danut, Daniil, and Deiniol

See behindthename.com for all variants and where they come from

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 ways to get Sadie as a nickname

Sadie, meaning "princess," comes as a nickname from Sarah. Here are five ways you can use Sadie without Sarah.


Sandra, a short form of Alexandra, meaning "man's defender."

Saranda, an Old Greek word meaning "forty."

Sadira, a Persian name meaning "lotus."

Sadia/Sadiya, meaning "lucky" in Arabic.

Saida, pronounced SAY-duh, a variant of Zaida meaning "lucky, fortunate" in Arabic.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Names that can't be spelled wrong

Unless you try really, really hard. It seems like it would take too much effort to turn Nancy into Nansie or Alexander into Alyxzandurr. But these are the kinds of names that most everyone is familiar with and knows how to spell correctly.


Well known Biblical names such as Ruth, Paul, Daniel, Jacob, Hannah, Rachel and Rebecca.

One-syllable names such as Kay, Ace, Belle, Jean, May, Lee, Flynn, Jack and Rue.

Word names such as Peace, Arrow, Fable, Charisma, Hope and Faith.

Plant/natural world names such as Fern, Ruby, Clover, Snow, Pearl, River, and Willow.

Traditional nicknames such as Beth, Sue, Joe, Bob, Tom, Mike, and Ben.

American staples such as Nancy, Carol, Ronald, Gregory, Rose, Marie, Mary and Alexander.

Hollywood classics such as Ava, Audrey, Humphrey, Clark (and Gable), and Shirley.

Top ten names such as Emma, Isabella, Mason, Noah, William, Emily and Elizabeth.

Pop culture names such as Casper, Isis, Leia, Neo, Gatsby and Ziggy.

International favorites such as Gabriella, Nina, Stefan, Maria, Adriana, Elsa, and Marco.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Catkin

catkin barber


Catkin (KAHT-ken, CAT-kin) is a name that, at first, might seem entirely made up for the sole purpose of its cute two-syllable combination. It has a fun and pleasing sound, yet it is a botanical word name (much like Katniss) used to define the flower clusters on some types of trees, including oak, birch, hazel and willow. It came about from the late 16th century Dutch word katteken, meaning "kitten," and probably in reference to the kitten's poofy tail.

Catkin is also a literary name, as seen in Antonia Barber's children's book Catkin, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, and Where is Catkin by Janet Lord. There's another in Cloud Atlas, the book and movie, and a character in The Heir of Mistmantle by Margaret McAllister.

If you are into flower fairy art, it is worth checking out Cicely Mary Barker's illustration from 1923 entitled "Hazel Catkin Fairy" from the book Flower Fairies of the Winter. (Hazel Catkin would be a cute combination, as would Willow Catkin or Birch Catkin - any of the tree names on which catkins cluster.)

Catkin is also a Kilcher name, of "Alaska: The Last Frontier" fame. Yule and Ruth are her parents, and she was a Marine. Her daughter is Ecatrina, sons are Anthony and Edwin. Stellavera is another unique name in her family, and recent movie star Q'orianka is also in the family tree.

Catkin remains so rare and hardly ever given that there are no statistics for its usage, although White Pages claims there are at least two - one likely Catkin Kilcher. However, this name is not a one-person name, and, like its botanical flower seeds, needs to be spread!

Cenawen is the Welsh word name for catkins, pronounced KEN-ah-wehn.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Polaris

polaris
Polaris from the X-Men comics

Polaris (po-LAR-iss or po-LAIR-iss - to each his own) is known as the North Star in the night sky, the Lodestar, traditionally also known as the "guiding star" or "pole star." The name means "of the [north] pole" in Latin, while the Greek name for it meant "dog's tail" in mistaken reference to the constellation Ursa Minor in which Polaris resides. Many believe it is the brightest star in the sky, but it is actually the 45th brightest. It does, however, play an important role in navigation because it remains nearly motionless.

Polaris has been used in some fiction, although nothing very recognizable. It was used three times in the DC Comics universe for the fictional Polaris star system or Polaris Galaxy, on a Super Mario Galaxy character, in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and for three computer games. Polaris aka Lorna Dane was an X-Men character with the power of magnetism (fun fact: Magneto is her dad, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver are her siblings).

Because this name has only been used for the star and not typically on people, it can be considered unisex. Nicknames on a girl might include Pola, Polly or Priss, while boys could be Poe or Polo.

Polaris was recorded just once - in 2010 on 5 baby girls. That's it, although nothing is recorded under 5 births so there are likely more, and that's exactly what White Pages says when listing 30 in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A selection of names given to 5 boys in 2013

Anchor - word name
Anthem - word name
Bayard - French meaning "auburn-haired" - lots of history here
Beric - English meaning "grain farm"
Brandell - Old Norse meaning "sword"
Briscoe - Old Norse meaning "birch wood"
Chaplin - English occupational name for a clergyman
Connery - Irish meaning "dog-keeper/keeper of the hound"
Gent - word name
Gracian - prn. GRAY-shen, a variant on Graciano, "grace/gracious"
Gresham - English, "village surrounded by pasture/grazing homestead"
Helix - word name
Hyram - phonetic spelling of Phoenician/Hebrew name Hiram, "exalted brother"
Kline - variant spelling, German, "small"
Lucan - historical, Roman poet
Moxon - English surname, "son of Margaret"
Murdoc - Celtic meaning "sea, seaman"
Oaken - literal spelling of what Aiken means
Obsidian - cooled lava/volcanic glass, "stone of Opsius," possibly "power"
Phillipe - variant spelling of Greek Philip, meaning "lover of horses"
Pollux - star name and mythology name, Roman meaning "very sweet"
Quill - word name
Quintan - rare spelling of Quentin, meaning "fifth"
Roble - Spanish word name meaning "oak"
Ruffin - transferred use between personal name and surname, from Rufus
Seaver - variant of Severus, Latin, meaning "stern"
Sherwood - English place name meaning "bright forest/luminous woods," of Robin Hood fame

Friday, September 5, 2014

Viola

Violaandviolin


Viola: a baby name, a flower, a color, a butterfly, and a musical instrument. While the viola instrument, which is slightly bigger than a traditional violin, is pretty much called the same thing worldwide, viola the plant is called a violet in English speaking countries. And just in case you needed an extra motive to use this name, check out Lago Viola, a beautiful lake located in Italy.

As a name, Viola is a bit vintage - much more so than Violet, which currently ranks at #69. Viola literally means "violet" in Latin, and is a word name in European countries. The simple difference between Viola in America and Viola elsewhere is that Americans tend to pronounce it VY-ol-uh, whereas other countries stay true to the Latin vee-OH-lah. Violette/Violeta/Violetta is the only other used variant.

There have been countless namesakes over the years, including British children's writer Viola Bayley, Queen of Bohemia and Poland Viola Elizabeth of Cielszyn, poet Viola Garvin, aviator Viola Gentry, model Viola Haqi, and two silent film actresses. The only major literary Viola is from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Later the name was used in the movie "Shakespeare in Love." One of the earliest uses of Viola as a surname can be seen on the Baroque period Italian painter Giovanni Battista Viola (1576-1622) and even earlier on Alfonso dalla Viola, and Italian Renaissance composer. Both attest to the age of the name. Viola can definitely be considered a "classic."

Viola peaked in 1908 at #42. It has not ranked since running off the chart in 1972 at #958. Today it remains rare, but is not so far outside the top 1000 that it couldn't make an easy comeback. It was given to 174 girls in 2013, and that number more than doubled in the past decade. It seems the 90's just weren't kind to Viola.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ursula

Ursa_Major2


Disney kind of did it wrong. When picking a name for a sea-witch, a name that means "little she-bear" seems a bit ridiculous for a character that lives underwater.

Like the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, which mean "she-bear," these are the feminine Latin diminutives of Ursus, "bear." Both Ursa Major and Ursa minor have unique stories from several different cultures. Ursula (Ursa too) is a girl's name most do not consider using today, but one that is rich with history and culture.

Saint Ursula of the 4th century was a virgin princess of Britain whose popularity during the Middle Ages may have increased the name's usage. Her [now accepted as fictional] tale says that she sailed with 11,000 virgin handmaidens to meet her future husband, but when a storm brought them to their destination in just a day she decided to on a pilgrimage around Europe with the pope and bishop. They soon arrived in Cologne, all 11,003 of them, where the town was being raided by Huns. I. The end all of the virgins were killed, Ursula specifically being shot with an arrow. It is unclear what happened to the pope and bishop. Saint Ursula has been a very popular subject of paintings throughout history. A little known fact is that Christopher Columbus named the Virgin Islands after Saint Ursula and her handmaidens, and later Ferdinand Magellan named Cape Vigenes after the virgins.

Saint Ursula Ledochowska came later. Born in Austria to a Count and Countess, her birth name was Julia Maria. She founded the Congregation of the Ursulines of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. Two of her other accomplishments were starting an orphanage, and starting a home for female university students.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin is known for her fantasy novels, one of which - Tales From Earthsea, was made into an animated film by Studio Ghibli.

Actress Ursula Andress was a gorgeous Swiss-American 60's movie star known for her roles in "Dr. No," "Casino Royale," and later in 1981 she was in "Clash of the Titans." A few other actresses have been named Ursula.

Ursa was also one of the bad guys in Superman II, but in the newer versions her name is Faora. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing there was a character named Ursula. Ursula has also been a name used by Honore de Balzac, J. K. Rowling, Sheila Lavelle, and a few TV shows and other stories.

Ursula has several variant forms, including Orsola, Orsolya, Orsina, Orsa, Ursa, Ursulina, Ursuline, Ursola, Ursella, Urselina, Usulie, Ursie, Urska, Urszola and Urszuli. Ursula is related to the even more rare Ursinia, which includes Ursina, and is the botanical name of the "solar fire" plant, Ursinia anthemoides, which looks like an orange daisy. Ursinia is a variant of Ursula, created by botanist Joseph Gaertner in honor of Johann Heinrich Ursinus who lived in the 1600's. The boy's name Orson also means "bear."

I would immediately blame Ursula's decline in popularity on Disney's "The Little Mermaid," except that movie came out in 1989 and Ursula was already on a downward slope. In 1983 Ursula ranked at #984 and has not been back on the SSA list since. Before her disappearance Ursula had been given since at least the 1880's in the U.S., with high points in the early 1900's and the late 60's/early 70's. Currently Ursula is given to less than 30 baby girls a year, at its lowest point since the 1880's.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Branwen vs Bronwen vs Bronwyn & Branwyn

First things first: a -wyn ending to a name in Welsh means it is a boy name, while a -wen ending means it is a girl name. So if you're looking for a name for your baby girl, whether it be Branwen or Ceridwen or Tanwen, make sure you take this into consideration. Very few people outside of Wales and the surrounding area will know the difference, but now you do.

Secondly, Branwen is pronounced BRAHN-wen (not BRANN-wen) and Bronwen is pronounced BROHN-wen depending on your accent.

Third, both Branwen and Bronwen have their own respective meanings. Branwen means "white, blessed raven," while Bronwen means "fair, blessed breast (breast not necessarily meaning boobs - chest works as well, or, alternatively, the heart which lay beneath the breast)."

They also have their own respective histories. Branwen in legend was the daughter of Llyr in the "Mabinogi," tales from Welsh mythology. She is known as the most beautiful girl in the land and turns out to be a great ruler. Branwen also features as a character in Madeleine L'Engle books. Bronwen, on the other hand, is not a mythology name. Instead it has been used on a few Canadian, Irish and English namesakes, and has been a given name for quite some time.

Branwen happens to be more rare than Bronwen. As it has only really been around (in the US) for the last decade, Branwen has only been used a handful of times, but Bronwen has been used since at least the 1940's, never used more than 25 times in a year, not being used some years at all. Obviously the difference in how rare isn't much, but if you're torn between both spellings then this might help out.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kyria, Kyrie, and Kyrian

Kyria, the unisex Kyrie and the boy's name Kyrian are variants of the Greek girl's name Kyra, which currently ranks at #401 (in decline). They each mean "lord" in Greek but have a connection to ancient Persian and Egyptian in which they referred to the sun god Ra. The Greeks connected their word for lord to the Persian name for king, Kourosh (equivalent to Cyrus and possibly Cyril), which meant "throne." Several Persian kings were named Cyrus. In Egyptian, Ki-Ra meant "like Ra," or like the sun. There is no ancient connection to the word valkyrie, although if you were to name a daughter Valkyrie there is no sound reason to not nickname her Kyrie.

Kyria (KEER-ee-uh, and less often KY-ree-uh) is a variant of the popular girl's name Kyra. The spelling Kyria specifically means "noblewoman, respectable lady" and has been a Greek title of respect for women, much like "madam" or "miss." Kyrios was the male version of this title. It is a very rare name, with less than 40 girls given the name annually. The "Electa Kyria" was the second epistle of John in the Bible, and the woman to whom it is adressed is thought to be a noble woman from Syria who John cared for, I believe as a friend. She was considered humble and intelligent.

Kyrie (KEER-ee-ay, less often KUR-ee-ay or KY-ree) means "lord," and it has only ranked in the US top 1000 for two years now on the boy's side, rising quickly from #868 in 2012 to #590 in 2013. It does not currently rank for girls, but there are over a hundred born each year. During mass "kyrie eleison" are the only Greek words spoken, and they mean "Lord have mercy."

The boy's name Kyrian (KEER-ee-an, less often KY-ree-an) is the male variant of these names, and a more modern-boy look to the title "kyrios." There is a character named Kyrian that was created by author Sherrilyn Kenyon. As mentioned above, Cyrus (Ciro, too) is another Greek boys name meaning "lord," from the same origin.

Kira is also taken to be a variant of Kyra, although Kyra is sometimes said "KY-rah," not "KEER-uh." Kira in Russian is taken from the masculine Kir, and means "mistress, ruler." Kira is also a Japanese name.

There are towns named Kyra in both Cyrus, Greece and Zabaykalsky, Russia.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wendy as a nickname?

Sure! If Wendelina (wen-dell-EE-nah) is your style. Its similarity to Gwendolen and Wilhelmina make it approachable. If the female variants are too much for you, perhaps Wendel would be better. But since Wendy, a name invented by J.M. Barrie for Peter Pan, currently ranks at #703, the idea of using it as a nickname might appeal to those who don't want something so common. And although Wendy is sometimes used as a nickname for Gwendolyn, Wend- names get straight to the point.

Wendelina is the super rare feminine counterpart to Wendel. She is a German and Swedish name meaning "wanderer" in Old High German. Wendela, Wendeliena, Wendelin and Wendeline are other female Scandinavian variants of the name, although Wendelin is used as a boys name as well, as in the case of Saint Wendelin.

Saint Wendelin of Trier was a hermit and abbot, the son of a Scottish king, who made a pilgrimage to Rome. He founded the Benedictine Abbey of Tholey in Saarland, Germany. When he died a chapel was built over his grave and soon after the town of Sankt Wendel formed around it. He is now patron saint of herdsmen and country folk, and is still venerated in that part of Germany as well as the countryside of Austria and Switzerland.

Wendelin has also been used as a surname, as in the case of Flemish astronomer Godefroy Wendelin, though it is rare. Wendelin Weissheimer is another namesake - he was a 19th century German composer.

Wendell (WEHN-del, WIN-del)  is much more common, seen as a surname and given name in America, Sweden and Germany. Perhaps the most well known namesakes are Wendell Berry, an American novelist known for writing Hannah Coulter as well as nonfiction and poetry, and Wendell Meredith Stanley, a Nobel prize winning biochemist. This name has not been popular since about the time Wendell Wilkie ran for president in 1940. Windell, Wyndell and Wendel are alternate spellings.

The only Wendelina I can dig up with my limited resources is the wife of Sir Mark Collet, a 1st Baronet, merchant and Governor of the Bank of England in the 1880's. However, there were several notable women named Wendela. Vendela (Wendela) Skytte was a Swedish noblewomen who some use as an example of a well educated woman from history; Wendela Gustafva Sparre was a Swedish textile artist and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts; Wendela Hebbe was considered the first professional female journalist in Sweden.

All of the female variants are too rare to rank, and not commonly used. Wendella does not seem to be a used spelling, but two L's would make the pronunciation different from Wendela, where the stress is on the first syllable.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ermintrude, Irma, or Trudy?

The Old Germanic girl's name Ermintrude has a meaning that can be interpreted a few different ways. This ancient and archaic name comes from irm/erm, meaning "entire," and either traut, meaning "beloved," or thruth, meaning "strength." From this the total meaning could be "entirely loved," or "entire strength." However, it is possible the name refers to Ermen, the Germanic god of war, and thus her meaning would be "Ermen's maiden." Her name can also be spelled a handful of other ways, including Ermentrude, Ermyntrude, Ermentraude, and other variants with an I replacing the first E. Ermengard (Irmingard) is another variant meaning "whole enclosure." Ermintrude was used occasionally until the 19th century.

There are two Ermintrudes you should know about. The first is Ermentrude of Orleans, Queen of the Franks and wife to Holy Roman Emperor / King of West Francia. (Interestingly, her mother was named Engeltrude.) She and her husband Charles had ten children. The second Ermintrude is actually Erminethrudis, a nun from Merovingian aristocracy, who it seems is most known for leaving us with a will that gives an example of the times. There is also an Ermintrude in Terry Pratchet's novel Nation.

The name Irma, which follows today's 100 year rule since it was most popular in 1911, is simply the first element of Ermintrude (Irmintrude) meaning "entire, universal." It is related to the super popular Emma, being that Emma originally came about as a short form of names like Ermintrude, although Emma didn't really become stable until the Norman conquest. About the time Emma was increasing in use in the 18th century, Ermintrude was dying out. Some may recall Irma was the name of April's best friend in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and there is an Irma Pince in Harry Potter. Irma is also a character in The Adventures of Tintin. In the 40's Irma gained a little popularity thanks to the radio show, and later television and movie version, "My Friend Irma." Irma featured in a few other places in the 50's and 60's, including the film Irma la Douce. Irma is traditionally pronounced EER-mah in other countries, URR-mah in English speaking countries. Irma last ranked in 1995. Imma and Irmina are two rare variants of Irma.

For those looking for something more modern, Trudy has often been used as a nickname for Ermintrude and Gertrude. It means "strong spear" and could easily work as a vintage revamp today. Trudy is a name most are familiar with, yet it hasn't been in the top 1000 for over a decade. It had an incredible rise and fall - from about 5 girls per year in the late 1800's/early 1900's to almost a thousand per year in the 1940's and 1950's, then back down to less than 20 in 2013. To further make Trudy accessible today, you could further reduce the name to Tru. There have also been several namesakes, including Australian fantasy writer Trudy Canavan, British women's rights activist "'Trudie" Gertrude Denman (a Baroness), and three actresses. In fiction, Trudy appears in many places from Disney Comics to the TV show "Mad Men."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pulcherie

Caesalpinia_pulcherrima
Pulcherrima


The girl's name Pulcherie (POOL-sher-ee) is rare worldwide. See this link for recent French statistics. In ancient times the name was known due to Saint Pulcheria (this spelling pronounced pool-KAY-ree-uh), also known as Roman Empress Aelia Pulcheria. Her name means "beautiful," from the Latin word pulcher, pulchra. From the same root word we get the name of the Caesalpinia pulcherrima, seen above, which is a flower in the family of pea plants and is native to the American tropics such as the West Indies.

Aelia Pulcheria ruled the Roman Empire during the Byzantine Era as regent over her brother, Emperor Theodosius II. She became Augusta and took a vow of chastity but when her brother died Pulcheria married and became Empress. She died three years later, becoming a saint. During her reign she held a great deal of power, including religious influence and patronage/commissions.

While Pulcherie is rare in France it is even more rare in America, with no more than 20 people nationwide named Pulcherie, likewise for Pulcheria.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Orpheus

Jean-Baptiste-Camille_Corot_-_Orphée 
Orphée by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

Orpheus (or-FEE-us), from Greek mythology, has a sad but beautiful story. His name means "darkness," which is befitting for his tragic story, yet I see him as a role model. The legendary musician, poet and prophet was the founder of Orphism, a religious belief revering those who went to Hades and lived to tell the tale - Persephone was one such person. But Orpheus is most known for going into the underworld with the goal of returning his beloved wife to the land of the living. With his music he was able to convince Hades to let his wife, Eurydice, come back to the land of the living with him. Hades agreed as long as Orpheus led her out without looking back to see her - and Orpheus was able to do so until he reached the last part of their journey, Eurydice still partially in the underworld. Because she was not completely out of the underworld, Orpheus was not able to save her. Orpheus was also well known for being one of the Argonauts, and he helped saved the ship with Jason on it by playing music to combat the songs of the sirens trying to lure the crew to their death. The Classical Age Greeks knew him as the greatest of all poets, and it was said he could charm all living things with his music. A collection of Orphic Hymns (orphic is taken to mean "mystic") still exists, to which he is credited for creating.

Orpheus was used a handful of times throughout the years, never rising past obscurity, and today there could be a few hundred at most. Orfea is the Italian feminine variant, while Orfeo is masculine, both equally rare.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dido

Dido_Elizabeth_Belle
Dido Elizabeth Belle

Dido is a name with deep historical roots. 

The Queen of Carthage who Virgil wrote about in the Aeneid was also known as Elissa, meaning "queen." She was written about by other Roman historians as well but their works have been lost. Elissa/Dido of Carthage may have originated as a goddess, however, if her brother Pygmalion (not to be confused with the one in the story with Galatea) was a real person as some evidence claims, then she may have been as well. In Virgil's story, Dido commits suicide when she can no longer be with Aeneas whom she loves. She later appears in several operas and dramas.

The most recently talked about Dido is Dido Elizabeth Belle, daughter of John Lindsay and a slave woman from the West Indies. Dido was later taken by her father from the West Indies where she was born to live with the Earl of Mansfield, Lindsay's uncle, and she lived there for 30 years until marrying John Davinier. It is perhaps because of his love for Dido that her uncle, who was Lord Chief Justice, ruled in two slavery cases that resulted in the end of slavery in England. There is a recent (2013) movie about her so I will not spoil any other details.

Dido may also refer to a stunning butterfly called Philaethria dido, an asteroid, and a British singer.

There are extremely few women in the US named Dido - probably under a hundred.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Odin

Odin_(Manual_of_Mythology)


Because most of the world is familiar with the Norse/ancient Germanic god Odin, father of the uber-famous Thor (thanks to the new movies), this could be an easily wearable baby name for a boy today. His name means "fury," and he is known as "The Furious One," father of the gods in the Norse pantheon. His name means many other things, when also taken from Old English, such as "mind," and "poetry."

As ruler of Asgard, a place many are familiar with because of modern media such as Marvel comics and even "The Witches of  East End" (book and TV), Odin was responsible or attributed to many things, such as war, victory, death, wisdom, magic and poetry. He was written about by Adam of Bremen, the Sagas of Icelanders, Gesta Danorum, and in the Poetic Edda. He has three familiars (magical animals tied to him) - Sleipnir the eight-legged horse, and the pair of ravens named Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory). Some of Odin's traditions, beliefs and folklore still exist.

Wednesday is named after Odin from his Western name, Woden, as an early Germanic translation of Mercury's Day - an effort to combine or compare Roman gods to the gods of other cultures.

Odin has ranked on the US popularity charts since 2008 when it ranked very low at #984. In 2013 it rose to #573, and one can assume it will continue becoming more popular.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quitterie

This French saint name, pronouned KEY-tehr-ee (said very fast in native tongue), is lively and upbeat. Unsurprisingly, this girl's name means "quiet," from Latin quietus. This French spelling is a variant of Quiteria (key-TAY-ree-uh), known as the 5th century virgin martyr who had her own cult. She is known as Quiteira (key-TERR-uh) in Occitan. It is possible the true origin of her name is from Kythere, meaning "the red one," which was another title of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, or it could be from Cytherea, another name of Aphrodite, which is associated with the island Kythira.

Legend has it Quitterie was the daughter of a Galician prince who disobeyed her father, refusing to marry. She suffered the same fate as her sister Liberate - both were captured and beheaded for refusing to renounce Christianity. There is a church in Aire-sur-l'Adour, France devoted to her. Santa Quiteria in Brazil is also named for her.

In Portuguese religious tradition, however, Quiteria was the leader of the "Nine Nonuplet Sisters," Eumelia (Euphemia), Genebra (Ginevra), Vitoria (Victoria), Liberata (Virgeforte), Marica, Basilissa (Vasilisa), Germana, and Gema (Margarida). The tale is very similar to that of Saint Marina from Galicia. I am uncertain why it was such a bad thing, but the mother of these girls was so disgusted that she had nine children at one time that she ordered a maid to drown them in a nearby river. The maid did not follow orders and eventually the girls met their father as adults, but when they refused to marry who he wanted them to he locked them up in a tower. They were able to free themselves as well as all the other prisoners, and then a guerilla war started. In the end, Quitterie was caught and beheaded, while her sister Euphemia ran off a cliff away from soldiers.

Quitterie and her variant spellings remain rare worldwide (see here for French information). White Pages tells us there are about 4 women in the US named Quitterie, and 44 named Quiteria.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wycliff

Alternatively spelled Wycliffe, the Old English boy's name Wycliff (WY-clif) means "white cliff." Originating as a place name and surname, one of the first recorded spellings of the name was Witclive, and the title belonged to an old village that dates back to at least 1086. Other spellings over time include Wyclif, Wiclef, Wicliffe, Wickliffe and Wyclef.

One of the most famous namesakes was John Wycliffe (1320 - 1384), a Protestant reformer known for translating the Bible into English (which is now known as the Wycliffe Bible). He had his own group of followers called Lollards, while Lollardy was a political and religious movement that started in the middle of the 14th century and continued into the English Reformation. Wycliffe was a very well educated man associated with more than one college/university.

Wyclef Jean is a rap singer born in Haiti.
Wycliff Gordon is an American jazz musician and music educator.
Wycliffe Well is the "UFO Capital of Australia."
Wycliff Palu is an Australian rugby footballer.

There are approximately 85 people in the U.S. with their first name spelled Wycliff, 239 spelled Wycliffe, 12 Wyclif, 3 Wyclife, and 6 Wyclef.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ailova

Ailova (EYE-low-vah, alternately AY-low-vah) is a stunning Old English name meaning "noble love" from Aðellufu. The components are the common Old English Ædel, meaning "noble," and Old English lufu, meaning "love." Spellings (sounds) such as Ailofa or Ailufa could be found as well, since not all names had an accepted spelling or were written down at all. It is not to be confused with Elgiva, meaning "noble gift" or "elf gift." It is possible Ailova can be found in the Domesday Book, although it might be under a variant spelling. Ailova is too rare of a girl's baby name to rank, and there are no people with this name in current records, although a Google search reveals there might be some world-wide.

Source A

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Discoveries from the bottom of the SSA list

Here are some nice names given to only 5 girls in 2013.

Abyssinia
Afra
Alexina
Amadea
Amandine
Aquinnah
Argelia
Aricella
Arusha
Ash
Asherah
Atira
Aurore
Averil
Behati
Benicia
Briony
Caelia
Calandra
Calixta
Carmine
Cassiopeia
Catharina
Clarita
Clary
Claudine
Clementina
Coretta
Cristabella
Daciana
Dinara
Dinora
Dionysia
Doria
Drucilla
Ebba
Edina
Elidia
Elisabel
Elmira
Elodia
Elsabeth
Eugenia
Eulalie
Evania
Farzana
Fiamma
Florina
Frederica
Gavrielle
Gem
Ghita
Gianina
Gracielle
Graziana
Gwendoline
Hilaria
Hyacinth
Idania
Illythia
Ivona
Izora
Jessamy
Jovia
Ketura
Kinneret
Kismet
Lealani
Letitia
Liadan
Linna
Lisbet
Liva
Lunabelle
Macrina
Magenta
Marchelle
Mariane
Mariposa
Mirren
Nanette
Nazarene
Nicolena
Ninette
Odilia
Olimpia
Olinda
Olivine
Onora
Oriane
Ourania
Piera
Pierina
Quintessa
Rohana
Romelia
Rosalva
Soteria
Sunniva
Tallia
Talulla
Thessaly
Thisbe
Tulia
Verina
Viveka
Zoraida
Zuleikha

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Belva

This Latin name meaning "beautiful view/lovely vista" is one rare name that fits right in today, alongside Elsa, Belle, and Ava. It stemmed from place name usage, likely bella vista, and remained uncommon throughout history. In the U.S. the most it was used was 185 times in 1927, slimming its way down to 5 births in 2007 - the same amount it started out with in 1882. Belvia, an elaboration of Belva, stopped being used in 1969, never used more than 21 times in a year.


Below are four historical namesakes.

Belva Lockwood, women's rights activist who ran for president in 1884 and 1888 - the first woman on official ballots.
American author Belva Plain.
Belva Gaertner, the inspiration behind character Velma Kelly in "Chicago." Not to be confused with Beulah Annan.
American journalist Belva Davis, now age 81.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nicander

To some, Nicander (nih-CAN-dur) might seem like a made-up smoosh name - Nick + Andrew or something like that. However, I assure you this saint name is legit, although it remains so rare that there are no statistics in the U.S. for it. From the name Nicandros this name means "man of victory." And the fact that it sounds so close to Nick, Andrew, Alexander, Leander, etc makes it that much more wearable. Hearing it once also packs a punch.

Nicander of Colophon was a Greek poet, physician and grammarian, but only two of his works survive. Many other "greats" were inspired by him, such as Ovid and Pliny.

Nicander of Sparta was a Greek king who reigned between c.750 and c.725, but not too much is known about him.

There are only a few other namesakes throughout history, some of which go by the international spelling Nicandro. Nicknames for both could be Nick, Nico, or Andy. There are also a few saints of the name, including Nicander the Egyptian physician, Nicander of Bulgaria, Nicander the bishop, and the patron saint of Venfro, Italy.

Nicandra is the super rare feminine variant.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Expecting! And welcome Giovanna

Congratulations to my sister and best friend Jennifer who recently named her newborn Giovanna!

Speaking of real babies, my husband and I are expecting our first baby in early December, gender unknown. I would love to hear suggestions from readers and visitors to the blog - my mind is just static right now! When we make our final decision I'll post a list of the runners-up, both male and female. While my husband and I have loved the same three or four boy names for 5+ years, picking a girl's name has been way harder than I imagined! I am limiting myself too much (nothing that starts with a soft G or a B, nothing in the top 1000, etc) but other parts have been very fun, such as finding a middle name that honors my mother without using her exact name. Not sure why middle names are so much easier for me, but they are! As for first names, I've been drawn to very rare names with cute nicknames that also look good with our very Polish last name. In the past I've thought about names such as Lorelei, Melusina, Sabina, Saskia, Elska, Ottilie, Rumina, Zenobia, Esmerina and Aurielle, but the list is getting shorter and shorter.

So, if you're up for a bit of fun, help me find a name for an ethereal star gazer, enchanting and charming, who is wild, whimsical, magical, brave and bewitching!

UPDATE: It's a boy! But feel free to suggest names just for fun!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Galician Baby Names

I grew up on a street that was named an Italian variant of Roger. When I got married and we bought our first house, it turned out to be on Roger Street. Once noting that coincidence, I started searching for other variants of the name. However, female variants turned out to be pretty nonexistent. Save for Roxeria, which I later discovered was the Galician female form, possibly pronounced rohz-AIR-ee-uh. That led me to a few lists of female Galician names, ranging from common to rare. Here is a sampling of names not often heard here in the states...

Albina
Alda
Alma
Alodia
Aloia
Amada
Amadora
Amalia
Amparo
Anisia
Antia
Araceli
Aranzazu
Artemisa
Avelina
Azucena

Baia
Balbina
Baltasara
Beatriz
Benvida
Berenice
Bieita
Branca
Braulia

Caetana
Carola
Casilda
Casimira
Ceferina
Celsa
Cipriana
Cira
Clorinda
Coralia
Cornelia
Cosima

Davinia
Delfina
Desideria
Dionisia
Dominga
Dorinda
Dorotea
Dositea

Edelmira
Edenia
Elba
Elvira
Emiliana
Etelvina
Eufemia

Fabia
Faustina
Felicita
Filipa
Filomena
Francisca
Frida
Froila

Gliceria
Graciela
Gregoria
Griselda
Guendolina

Hadriana
Heladia
Helia
Hilaria
Honorina

Ida
Imelda
Ines
Iola
Iria
Irimia
Isadora
Isaura
Isidra
Isolda
Isolina

Landelina
Leda
Ledicia
Liboria
Lidia
Liduvina
Lilia
Liria
Lua
Lucila
Luz

Madalena
Mafalda
Mara
Marcelina
Margarida
Maxima
Maxina
Melania
Melba
Melchora
Minia
Mirta

Nelida
Nereida
Nicanora
Nicasia
Nicolasa
Nidia
Noela
Noelia
Noemia

Octavia
Odelia
Ofelia
Olalla
Olegaria
Olimpia
Onda
Oriana
Orosia
Otilia
Ovidia

Palmira
Panfila
Pascuala
Paz
Pelaxia
Peregrina
Pilar
Pomba
Porfiria
Prisca
Prospera

Quiteria

Rafaela
Rexina
Roca
Rosamunda

Sabina
Salome
Salvia
Sebastiana
Serafina
Severa
Sibilina
Silvana
Silvina
Simona
Sira
Socorro

Tarsila
Teodora
Teofila
Tita
Tomasa

Urraca

Venancia
Verisima
Vicenta
Violante
Violeta
Viridiana
Vitoria

Xela
Xema
Xenara
Xenia
Xenxa

Zenobia
Zoraida
Zulena
Zulima

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dianora

Dianora (DEE-ah-NOR-ah) is an Italian name found in the opera La Spinalba. The author of the libretto is unknown, but the music was written by Francisco Antonio de Almeida. The character named Dianora is not the main character, she is instead the step mother who is confused by her step-daughter's actions. While her step daughter Spinalba and niece Elisa are trying to fall in love and avoid certain suitors, Dianora's husband goes mad that his daughter (Spinalba) is running around town dressed as a man to thwart Elisa's potential love-match with Spinalba's betrothed. Throw in a few more suitors and the whole thing becomes even more comedic, but eventually Dianora figures out what's going on and decides on a plan of action, setting everyone straight.

As a variant of Diana, Dianora means "divine." Many Italians currently have this name, and it can be traced back to the mid-1400s.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Can I get the nickname Addie without using Addison?

Why yes, you can! Here is a sampling of options:

Adele
Adela
Adelaide
Adelania
Adelina
Adamina
Adea
Adelia
Adelise
Adeliska
Adeliz
Adeliza
Adelora
Adiala
Adiana
Admira
Adora
Ada
Adia
Adriana
Adair
Adina
Adira


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Romaric

Romaric was a boy of noble birth living in a Frankish kingdom, specifically Austrasia in the 6th and 7th centuries, under the rule of Queen Brunhilda. After Brunhilda killed his parents he wandered about the country, until she was overthrown and killed. Later the Irish Saint Columbanus became Romaric's role model/teacher, and Romaric participated in the court of King Theodebert II. With the approval of Saint Eustace and the help of Romaric's friend Saint Amatus, he built a dual monastery/convent for men and women called Remiremont on the land he owned from being part of the Count Palatine lineage. He lived out his days helping friends and family there until his death in 653. Saint Romaric's feast day is December 10. Currently there is only one other well known Romaric, a professional footballer from the Ivory Coast, born Koffi Christian N'dri. It is unclear what the name Romaric means, although it could have something to do with most other Rom- names, usually meaning "from Rome." However, there were many French and German names ending in -ric such as Frederic ("peaceful ruler") and Alaric ("noble ruler") so this should be taken into account. As some similar names, such as Romilly, are too modern, it is harder to say. It is very close to Roderic and Roric ("famous ruler," "famous power").

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ramona

ramona davies 
Ramona Davies

Ramona (rah-MOH-nah) is a Spanish and German name meaning "protecting hands, wise protector" and the feminine version of Ramon and Raymond. Most people in the U.S. are familiar with the name due to the Ramona Quimby novels by Beverly Cleary and a 19th century novel by Helen Hunt Jackson titled Ramona about a girl of Native American and Scottish descent, which the town of Ramona, California was named from. Later Bob Dylan wrote a song called "To Ramona." Other namesakes include author Ramona Lofton, 1930's singer and pianist Ramona Davies, and Ramona Fradon, a comic book artist.

Romy and Mona are the most prominent nicknames. Ramona has not been in the top 1000 since 1988, and it peaked just after 1920 and just before 1960. In 2012 there were 197 girls named Ramona.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lorelei

Lorelei Post Card 

 There are two different accepted meanings for Lorelei (LOHR-eh-lie), the German place name (Loreley) which, legend has it, the siren Lorelei gave her name to. All three use the Celtic ley, meaning "rock." One meaning is "murmuring rock," from lureln and ley, and the second is "luring rock," from x and ley, and "lurking rock," from lauern and ley. From 1843 the etymology was Middle High German lüren,  "to lie in wait." One of the first to use Lorelei was German author Clemens Brentano in Zu Bacharach am Rheine in 1801. Heinrich Heine then used this to write Die Lorelei (German) in 1824. Mark Twain later used the name for An Ancient Legend of the Rhine in 1880. There have been operas, poems, songs, sculptures and paintings in her name ever since. Marilyn Monroe popularized the name in the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," based on Anita Loos's novel, and then the name saw a revamp with "The Gilmore Girls." Lurline, as a variant, has its own opera, poem, ships and was used in L. Frank Baum's Oz books (the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz). Most recently, Lorelei is a Marvel Universe character and can currently be seen on the TV show "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

The Lorelei is located on the Rhine River between Switzerland and the North Sea. Like most sirens, Lorelei sat on top the rock singing, which distracted or lured sailors to crash into the rock. This legend came about due to this specific rock marking the shallowest and narrowest point in the Rhine, with a strong current that is hard to navigate. Some say her legend originates with being lovelorn and falling from the cliff into the Rhine, the the Greek myth of Echo. That is also where most of her literary inspirations began.

There are many alternate spellings, including Loreley, Lorelie, Lorelai, Lorely and Lorelay. Lurline, Lurlina and Lurleen are other variants. Lorelei remains a relatively rare name even though it currently ranks in the top 1000 at #533, with about 6,900 or so in the U.S. and 566 girls given the name in 2012. It is increasing in popularity slowly after just coming onto the charts in 2004. Alternate spelling Lorelai ranked at #736 in 2012, appearing in 2006.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Alluring A Names

These are A names I think have an intriguing appeal to them, whether they are rare or just pretty.

Avoca - a mysterious Irish place name, (ah-VOH-kah)
Avalon - from the King Arthur legends
Arya - thank you Game of Thrones
Amaryllis - the gorgeous flower
Amalea - "hard working"
Araminta - "defender"
Amelia - Amelia Earhart would be one inspiring namesake
Alanis - "precious"
Aniela - (ahn-YELL-ah) means angel
Antalya - former kingdom, so close to Natalya
Athena - goddess of wisdom
Azalea - (ah-ZAYL-yah) another gorgeous flower
Ayla - trendy sounds, spunky appeal
Amara - "eternal"
Amabel - "lovable"
Amata - "beloved"
Ambrosia - the eternal flower of the gods
Allura - literally alluring
Alison - classic for a reason
Annika - spunky update on Anne, "God has favored me"
Ashera - the Queen of Heaven
Aurora - think Aurora Borealis and the Disney princess
Audrey - "noble strength," like Audrey Hepburn
Aubrey - "fair ruler / elven power"
Anoushka - (ah-NOOSH-kah)
Alice - "noble"
Amala - "hope"

Friday, March 7, 2014

Celia

Celia (SEEL-yah) is from Latin caelum, meaning "heaven," from the name Caelia, a feminine form of the Roman family name Caelius. It is not to be mistaken for Cecelia/Cecilia, although it is used as a nickname for both. Shakespeare introduced Celia to the world via As You Like It in 1599. In the 1940's actress Celia Johnson popularized it once more. In 2012 Celia ranked at #742, with 371 girls given the name that year. It has always been used, and always been mildly popular, since 1880. It is very popular in France and Spain.

Since Shakespeare's use of Celia there have been many more appearances in literature, including works by Ben Johnson, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot, Lionel Shriver, and more recently as the heroine of "The Night Circus." Many real life Celia's have made their way through history as well, including singer Celia Cruz, and actresses Celia Weston, Celia Adler, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Celia Imrie. Celia appears in many TV shows and movies as well. Celia Hammond was a 60's model and animal rights activist.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thea

amalthea last unicorn 
Amalthea, The Last Unicorn

Thea (THEE-uh) is a Greek origin name meaning "goddess." In mythology she was a titan, daughter of heaven and earth, mother of gods. Exotic pronunciations include TAY-uh and THAY-uh. Thea has not ranked on the popularity charts since 1965, and she always ranked low. However, there were 184 girls given the name in 2012, and that's not too far outside the top 1000. Thea alone has appeared in many pieces of literature, including one by Willa Cather and one by Laurell K. Hamilton. Many names begin and end in Thea.

Dorothea, "gift of God." Dorothy.
Amalthea, from greek mythology, meaning "tender goddess." It is a very regal and mystical name that was also used in the classic animation "The Last Unicorn." Also, the third moon of Jupiter.
Theodora, "gift of God."
Althea, "healing."
Alithea, "verity, truth." (ah-LITH-ee-uh)
Anthea, "flower." Nickname possibilities include Anthy, Annie, Thea and Anna.
Galathea, "milk white."
Calanthea, "beautiful flower."
Elthea, "healer."
Melanthea, "black flower."
Erithea, "red."
Orithea, "motherly."
Panthea, "of all gods."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mirabella

Mirabelle Plums 

Mirabella, along with Mirabelle, Mirabel, and Mirabeau, comes from the Latin root word mirabilis. The meaning of these names is "wonderful." Mira is the standard version, and with -bella at the end it creates the meaning "wonderful beauty." Used as far back as the Crusades and medieval times, Mirabel & co. fit rit in with today's feminissima names, such as Miranda, Arabella, and Annabella. Mirabeau, unlike the others, is a surname and title, and that of a few famous Frenchmen - marquis de Mirabeau, comte de Mirabeau and vicomte de Mirabeau. It is also a French place name. Sometimes Mirabel- names can be linked or confused with similar names, such as Maribella and Miabella.

Mirabella was a women's magazine in the 1990's, taken from the last name of it's creator, Grace. In the fruit world, the Mirabelle plum grows gorgeous blossoms. The Baroque-style Mirabell Palace in Austria, built around 1606 by a prince, was a site used for "The Sound of Music." Mira was an ancient Hittite kingdom. Princess Mira (Meera) lived in the 16th century. The star Mira is in the constellation Cetus.

Nicknames can include Mia, Mira, Miri, Belle, Bella, Mellie, Mabel, Milla, Millie, Mireille, and Mimi. In 2012 there were 49 girls named Mirabella (far removed from the top 1000), and 74 girls named Mirabelle, both having only been used since the 1990's. Mirabel goes back to the 80's, and there were 44 in 2012. Mirabeau is not used. Mira ranked at #665 in 2012.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Giovanna

giovanna tsaritsa 
Tsaritsa Giovanna

Giovanna (jee-oh-VAH-nah, joh-VAH-nah) is an Italian baby name meaning "God is gracious," and a feminine form of John. Giovanni is the masculine counterpart in Italian. In 2012 Giovanna ranked at #878 in the U.S. with 300 girls given the name that year. Those numbers are down from 407 births in 2005 and a ranking of #681. If you compare Giovanna to her sister name Gianna she is less popular, with Gianna ranking at #73 in 2012 and the alternate spelling Giana at #606. In the early 1900's Giovanna was given to 5 girls if at all, slowly increasing to 20 a decade later.

Giovanna of Italy was born in 1907 and the last Tsaritsa of Bulgaria (equivalent to a queen). She was born to King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena, former Princess of Montenegro, and Giovanna's brother Umberto became the future King of Italy. Benito Mussolini attended Giovanna's wedding to the Tsar of Bulgaria, and she knew the future Pope John XXIII. After her marriage she became involved in charities, and she and her husband helped Jews around the time of World War II. Giovanna lived in Portugal during the last years of her life, eventually being burried in Assisi.

Blessed Giovanna Maria Bonomo (1622) was a Benedictine nun in Bassano, Italy, who was harassed by members of her own community for being so dedicated and having mystical experiences. Blessed Anna Giovanna Francesca Michelotti (1843) was from a very poor family who focused on helping others. Because of this she was able to study with the Institute of Sisters of St. Carlo and then Small Serve in Lyon. There are at least four more Blessed Giovanna's, including Signa, Soderini, Orvieto, Scopelli, and possibly Irrizaldi.

Several other famous people have had the name Giovanna. Giovanna Garzoni was an Italian painter from the Baroque era with many famous patrons. Giovanna Amati is a former professional race car driver from Italy during the 80's and 90's. Giovanna Melandri is a current Italian politician. Four time Olympic champion Giovanna Trillini is an Italian foil fencer. Giovanna Bassi was a ballerina born in 1762. Giovanna Fratelli was an artist from Florence during the Baroque period. Most recently, "Snooki" of TV reality show fame named her daughter Giovanna in 2014.

She has been featured many times in art and drama, including Giovanna d'Arco, Guiseppe Verdi's opera about Joan of Arc.

Supposedly in ancient times this name was given to babies born to late-in-life parents.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Charlotte

NPG D9089; Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 
Queen Charlotte (UK)

Charlotte ranked at #19 in 2012 (7418 girls given the name in 2012) with an expected rise for 2013. It has risen dramatically in recent years - for example, it was #289 in 2000. As the French feminine take on Charles, meaning "free man," Charlotte has been used in literature and media for years. Charlotte's Web will bring memories to mind, while many women today look to the character Charlotte from Sex in the City. There are nearly 100 variants and alternate spellings of this name, from Carla to Cheryl. Charlotta is a more rare and romance-language take on the name - it's been pretty much ignored since 2000 and was never given more than 22 times a year since records started being kept. Charleta, an even rarer variant, was only given to about 30 girls ever (in the U.S.).

Charlotte has been used since at least the 17th century. In the 19th century, Queen Charlotte made the name even more well known. She was the wife of King George III and they ruled over Great Britain and Ireland until the United Kingdom formed. They had fifteen children together, and one of her sons became Prince Regent. She was a patroness of the arts and had a green thumb, but she also founded orphanages and a hospital. She lived during the French Revolution and knew Marie Antionette, sharing a love of music and art.

There have been other Queen Charlotte's, including Charlotte of Cyprus, Charlotte of Spain, Charlotte of Savoy and Charlotte of Tona. Many princesses have had this name, as well as duchesses and archduchesses.

Charlotte Bronte is another well known namesake, writing classics (along with her sisters) such as Jane Eyre.

Nicknames can be Charlie, Lottie or Char. However, other variants can have different nicknames, such as Letty for Carletta, Leta for Charleta, Carly for Carla, etc.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Roxelana

roxelana 
Roxelana

Hürrem Sultan ("the cheerful one"), from Ottoman Turkish, was known as Roxelana in European languages, as well as Roxolana, Roxolena, Roxelane, Rossa, and Ružica. Roxelana could be a nickname that plays on her Ukranian heritage, from the ancient Roxolani ("bright alan," from the medieval kingdom Alania), and in that case Roxelana would mean "the Ruthenian one," essentially "Ukranian." In Arabic she was known as Karima, "the noble one." It is possible her true name was either Aleksandra or Anastasia by way of Nastia. Roxelana has two known pronunciations: ROH-zell-ah-nah, and ROX-el-ah-nah.

In the 1520's Roxelana was captured by Crimean Tatars, and brought to the palace of Suleiman the Magnificent. It wasn't long before she was promoted from servant to consort of the Turkish Emperor. She was then freed from being a concubine, which broke from a 300 year tradition and probably shocked a few people, and became the Sultan's wife. Later her eldest living son become the next Sultan. We now regard her as one of the most powerful women in Ottoman Empire history. Another tradition was broken when her husband allowed her to sit in court with him, and she had a lot of say in politics. From a letter preserved by her husband it is evident he truly loved her, claiming she was his "most sincere friend, ...confidant, ...very existence, ...one and only love."

So, although there isn't much to the name Roxelana itself, we do have a meaning for it and a legendary figure to give it historical substance. Many have chosen to paint her, write music in her name, write plays or operas about her, and some novels.

A look at White Pages tells us there could be about 7 people in the U.S. named Roxelana, making this a very rare name that can remind its bearer how powerful women are. As far as baby girl names go, Roxelana fits right in today, especially with the nickname Roxy.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ottilie

tilly-losch-2-sized 
Actress Ottilie "Tilly" Losch, Countess of Carnavon

Ottilie (oht-ee-lee, oht-il-ee) is a Germanic name with some French flair, from medieval Germanic Odila. There are several other forms of the name, such as Ottilia, Ottilina, Odilia, Odalys, Otylia, Odile, Odette, Oda, and Odelia. From the late German Otto, Ottilie could mean "wealth."

There are several namesakes in various forms, from German opera singers to Romanian actresses. Saint Odilia was an 8th century nun, who was supposedly born blind and began to see once she was baptized. Ottilie Godefroy, aka Tilla Durieux, was an Austrian actress at the beginning of the 20th century. Ottilia Adelborg was a children's book illustrator and artist in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Selma Ottilia Lagerlöf won the 1909 Nobel Prize for literature. Ottilie Losch, Countess of Carnavon, was an Austrian dancer, actress and painter who worked in the U.S. and appeared in films in the 30's and 40's. Ottilie of Katzenelnbogen, born in 1453, daughter of Countess Ottilie of Nassau, had fifteen children. Her first child was also named Ottilie.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem called "To Ottilie." She has also been a character in stories by John Wyndham, Truman Capote and Goethe.

Ottilie last ranked in 1904 at #930, the bottom of the charts. #416 was the highest it got, and that was in 1882, but there were only 20 girls given the name that year. Last recorded in 2009, there were 6 girls named Ottilie, but a drastic difference in what it takes to make the top 1000 (a name has to be given about 230 - 300 times a year to be at the very bottom of the list). Ottilia and Ottilina have not been used since the 20's and 30's.

Nicknames can vary from Ollie to Tillie to Otter.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Arianell

Arianell (ar-ee-ah-nell) is the name of a 6th century Welsh saint, a member of a royal family who became possessed by an evil spirit. Saint Dyfrig exorcised her and she then became a nun and followed him as a student. From the name Arianrhod of Welsh literature, meaning "silver, blessed," Arianell or Ariannell (formerly Arganhell) meaning "shining silver," is a little-used variant. Also connected to these two names is Arianwen, the daughter of a legendary 5th century Welsh chieftan, meaning "silver, blessed." A folk etymology of Arianrhod is "silver circle," referring to the moon. None of these were used on children until modern times. [source] Please note that the double L in Welsh has a unique sound, much like a hissing breath, or pronouncing "eth."

Add an A to the end to make Arianella, from Arianna and in turn from Ariadne, which is Greek, meaning "most holy." Ariadne was a character in Greek mythology who married Dionysus.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Connelly

Connelly is a name you will find much more often as a last name (Jennifer Connelly, for instance) rather than a baby name, but lately it has been used for both boys and girls, likely because it fits in with such names as Connor, Colin, Cassidy, Kennedy, Delaney and Ainsley. For girls specifically, it can be seen as a modern update to Colleen.

Since it originated as a surname, Ó Conghalaigh, it is considered unisex. Some experts claim Connelly (KON-ell-ee) is an Irish Gaelic name meaning "valiant hound/wolf," from con and gal, while others say it means "love," from the word conal. I believe neither of these translations are modern. If we take a look at Connor, which means "dog/wolf lover" from Conchobhar, and Conall, which means "strong wolf," and Conley, which means "chaste fire," then the likely meaning of Connelly is "valiant wolf."

As a last name, there are just under 30,000 people in the U.S. with this name. As a first name, there are only about 180, and it seems to be split fairly between boys and girls, only being used from about 1991. Since then there have been about 74 girls and 74 boys, making it a very rare baby name.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sailor Moon Baby Names

As a long-time fan girl of Sailor Moon, I was thrilled to hear about a potential reboot of the series, which was supposed to be in 2013 and has now been pushed to 2014. It's been over 20 years since Sailor Moon first aired, but many still get a warm fuzzy feeling when they think of the show. What is not often mentioned is how well researched Takeuchi's name choices were. She covered gems, minerals, astrology, mythology and creative word choices. Today I'll talk about Sailor Moon names.

Usagi Tsukino- Bunny - Serena - Princess Serenity - Sailor Moon
Usagi means "rabbit" in Japanese, referring to the Japanese legend of the rabbit on the moon, and Tsukino means "moon." In the translation of the comics, Usagi was renamed Bunny appropriately. Keeping with the mythological aspects of the moon and both Greek and Roman moon goddesses, Usagi's character was given the concept of "serene," which gave her the name Serena in the American TV series (although there was much less thought in the translation of the others). Going a bit further, Takeuchi made it so that Usagi's astrological sign was Cancer (June 30) with the ruling planet being the moon. And of course, Usagi loves Mamoru aka Prince Endymion, the mythological human that was first to observe the movements of the moon in the night sky.

Serena was already on the rise in the U.S. when Sailor Moon came out, and it currently ranks at #443.
Darien, Mamoru's English counterpart, ranks at #959.

Mercury, Ami (Amy, #144) Mizuno - "beauty of water" with water power
Mars, Rei (Raye, this spelling not ranked) Hino - "ray of fire / spirit of fire"
Jupiter, Makoto (Lita, not ranked) Kino - a tomboy/unisex name, "sincerity," and "wood, tree, spirit"
Venus, Minako (Mina, #834) Aino - "beautiful child of love"

Takeuchi continued the character/astrological sign connected for every scout - Mercury being a Virgo, Mars and Aries and so on. She also kept the mythological aspect. For example, Luna is a moon goddess. Even the scores of villians were theme-named, the first round being entirely gems/minerals. She truly did her research, and if there is one thing I'd like to point out today it's that if an artist can do all this for her myriad characters, the average expectant parents can research names for their child.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How can I get Molly as a nickname?

One option is Molniya, the Russian word for "lightning." The Molniya orbit may share the same origin.

Mollitia (mo-LEE-sha) is another option, which is Latin for "tenderness."

Magnolia is a much more common name with Molly/Mollie as a nickname.

On the surname side there is Mollineau (moll-in-oh).

On the nature side you can find Moschatel (mos-sha-tell) or Moschatella.

And if you don't like these but want the nickname to sound similar, try Amalia with the nickname Mali.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Galatea


JeanLeonGeromePygmalionandGalatea
 
Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean Leon Gerome

In tribute to the pure white color of snow, Galatea (gah-lah-TEE-uh) will be the first post of 2014. Meaning "milky white (she who is milk-white)" in Greek, this name is famous for being used in mythology as the statue of ivory Pygmalion carved that came to life. Yet the statue Pygmalion loved did not have a name until well after the story came to life. Galatea was supposedly first recognized as her name when used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Pygmalion from 1762, and he could have been inspired by another mythological Galatea found in the story of Acis and Galatea, in which she was a sea-nymph, or from Honore d'Urfe's L'Astree. It can later be found in "Galatea of the Spheres," a painting by Salvador Dali, depicting Gala Dali, his wife. Be sure to check out the painting by Gustave Moreau entitled "Galatea."

Galatea is also a moon of Neptune, Mount Galatea is in the Canadian Rockies, and Galathea National Park is in India. You can find a few literary Galatea's in novels such as Ian Flemming's Moonraker, Jack Kerouac's On The Road, and Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. And she has also been the title of several novels, by such authors Phillip Pullman, Miguel de Cervantes, James M. Cain, and Richard Powers. Adding to her credentials, John Lyly wrote a 16th century play titled Gallathea, Victor Masse wrote the opera GalathéeDie schöne Galathée (The Beautiful Galatea) is an operetta by Franz von Suppe, there is an 1883 musical comedy titled Galatea, or Pygmalion Reversed, and the 2009 play Galatea by Lawrence Aronovitch. In film, there is a Galatea in Bicentennial Man, and a film called Galatea by Georges Denonla from 1911.

She certainly has a lot of historical richness, yet the name is very rarely used. In the U.S. it was used about 11 times in the past decade, or 16 if you add in the spelling Galatia. There are probably no more than a hundred living if you add in the spellings Galathea and Gallathea.