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Showing posts from December, 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…