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 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 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.