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Showing posts from 2014

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 wo…

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,…

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 …

Tannen

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…

Olivine (Peridot)

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 …

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 - …

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.

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, Ni…

Catkin

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 Cat…

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 …

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 spel…

Viola

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…

Ursula

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…

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 g…

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…

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…

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…

Pulcherie

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 wordpulcher, 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 …

Orpheus

Orphéeby 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…

Dido

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 D…

Odin

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, be…

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, howev…

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."

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

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

Belva

This Latin name meaning "beautiful view/lovely vista" is one rare baby girl name that fits right in today, alongside Elva, Bella, 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.

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 Bul…

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…

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
Francis…

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. However, it is unused in the U.S. and exceedingly rare.

Romaric

Romaric (Eng. ROH-mar-ik, Fr. roh-mar-EEK) 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. He is sometimes referred to as Romaricus, and Romary seems to be a modern French variant.

Currently there are at least three other well known people named Romaric: a professional footballer from the Ivory Coast, born Koffi Chr…

Ramona

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 had not been in the top 1000 since 1988, peaking just after 1920 and just before 1960. In 2012 there were 197 girls named Ramona, and by 2016 it ranked at #951.

Lorelei

[source]
 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.&quo…

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 - &quo…

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 or short form 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 2016 Celia ranked at #837, with 339 girls given the name that year. That is much lower than its 2001 rank of #594, but it has always been used, and always been mildly popular, since 1880. It is very popular in France and Spain, but the French form Celie has ranked twice as well - once in 1880 and once in 1887.

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 singe…

Thea

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, Ann…

Mirabella

[source]
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 S…

Giovanna

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 beca…

Charlotte

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 rul…

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, meaning "bright alan," from the medieval kingdom Alania (by the way, Alania would make an excellent name option). 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, but I believe the first option is correct. 

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 con…

Ottilie

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…

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 Dionysu…

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 nam…

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 (alt…

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.

Galatea

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 Na…