Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nimue, Niniane or Nineve

The Lady of the Lake from The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights


Nimue (NEE-mu-ay, NEEM-way, NIHM-oo-ay) is an Arthurian baby name and just one name given to the Lady of the Lake, also known as Niniane, Vivian (multiple spellings), Evienne, or Nivien. Some have claimed she is, or represents, a triple goddess, due to the fact that her names could come from the goddesses Coventina, Nemain, and Mnemosyne (and the Celtic love of triple personifications is well known).

Nimue may be a corrupted form of Nineve, which may have been taken from Nineveh, a city in Syria, which is an Assyrian name that ultimately means "a habitation of rebels." If not, it may be taken from Mnemosyne (meaning "memory") a water nymph from Greek mythology whose story was a bit similar. As Nimue could be a spelling error, along with Nynyve, Nynyue and Ninive, there is no set-in-stone pronunciation. In Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur there are three different spellings used: Nimue, Ninive and Nineve/Nyneve (perhaps on purpose because all good things come in threes). In Tennyson's Idylls of the King she is Vivien. Vivien(ne)/Vivian(e), although its own name, may have been inspired for this character by the Celtic water goddess Coventina and have no relation to Vivian of Latin origin, which was originally a unisex and/or masculine name meaning "alive." Her name as Niniane most likely comes from the Celtic word nino, meaning "ash" but it is so close in sound to Viviane that one must wonder which came first.

The Lady of the Lake is world famous for giving King Arthur the sword Excalibur, but her story is deeper than that. She was foster mother to Sir Lancelot, raising him underwater. Before that, Merlin met her and fell so in love that he agreed to teach her all of his magic. She was, for a time, his scribe, student and lover, but when she grew more powerful than Merlin she imprisoned him and may have taken over his duties to King Arthur, which may have led to Arthur's downfall. Yet, she was one of the three queens that escorted Arthur to Avalon. Every author shares his unique version of the story.

Nimue has always been a rare baby name, only given about 30 times in the U.S. Ninive has only recently had some use in the U.S. starting approximately 2004 just a handful of times a year. Niniane, Nyneve and Nineve seem to be the most elusive spelling choices. Vivian has always been popular, given to 2629 girls in 2013 which gives it a rank of #119 (Viviana is #445, and the French spelling Vivienne is #280). With the e at the end, however, Viviane and Viviene are much less popular options, with only 12 girls given the name Viviane and 7 given Viviene in 2013. Vivianne is somewhere between the two, not ranking but given to 75 girls in 2013

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dario, Darius, Daria

Dario, pronounced DAHR-ee-oh, is the masculine Italian form of the Latin Darius and Greek Dareios. Ultimately it comes from Persian name Dārayavahush, simplified to Dariush, meaning "he who holds firm the good," or "to possess good, to possess well" but is sometimes taken to mean "preserving good,"  "upholding good," or "protector." The English name Darien (#1000 in 2013) can be either from the Latin or Greek form, or from the questionable Irish Gaelic name Darren, meaning "great."

Three ancient Persian kings had this name - Darius I, Darius II, and Darius III, the first of which was Darius the Great. Rulers Darius I and Darius II of Media Atropatene also shared the name. Prince Darius the son of King Mithridates VI of Pontus is another, and his father claimed he was a descendant of Darius the Great and/or Cyrus the Great, and Mithridates also had a grandson named Darius of Pontus, though he was a child of Mithridates's son Pharnaces. Dara Shikoh (sometimes Dara  Shukoh) was an almost-Emperor of the Mughal Empire. Darius the Mede comes from the Book of Daniel and was said to have been king over the Chaldeans. Lastly, there was a Darius who was a politician in the Eastern Roman Empire.

Saint Darius (Saint Dario) was martyred in Nicaea, Turkey in the 4th century with Zosimus, Paul and Secundus.

For the spelling Dario, namesakes include Nobel Prize winner for literature Dario Fo, film makers Dario Marianelli and Dario Argento (father of actress Asia Argento), Italian poet Dario Belleza, soccer athletes Dario Šimić and Dario Vidošić, and Olympic gold medalist Dario Cologna all share the given name, but there are many more.

For the spelling Darius, namesakes include several athletes, musician Darius Rucker, cinematographer Darius Khondji, French composer Darius Milhaud and others less known. It has been used very little in fiction, and mostly recent.

Darien has the fewest namesakes and fictional characters - there are two actors, a journalist and obscure TV, game and books appearances.

In the mid-20th century this name was used more commonly. Today it ranks at #986 in the U.S. while Darius ranks at #412. Dario currently ranks in Croatia and Spain, and has been used well in Galicia and the Netherlands.

The international female version is Daria. "Daria" was a hit animated TV show from the 90's with a lead character of the same name. Saint Daria was martyred with her husband Chrysanthus in the 3rd century. Alternate spellings for Daria include Dariya, Darija, Dareia, Darya, and the lesser known international options Tarja, Darina, Darinka, Darushka, Derya, Daryna and Odarka. Daria currently ranks in Poland, England and Wales, and was last ranked in the U.S. in the late 90's. Dasha/Dasia are Russian, Ukranian and Polish nicknames. Daryā also means "sea" in modern Persian. Daria has more namesakes than all of the masculine versions of this name, most of which are atheletes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mahina

hulaaloha
Hula Mahina (source)

Mahina is a Hawaiian name meaning "moon." In Hawaiian mythology Mahina was a moon deity. In some versions Mahina has a son, Hema, but in other accounts he and his brother Puna had a mother named Hina (which means "girl") who was upset by her children and fled to the moon. Hina was also the name of several goddesses in Polynesian mythology, but in Hawaii she was strongly connected to the moon. By fleeing to the moon she becomes its goddess. A different woman, Hina of Hilo, was known as the Hawaiian Helen and kidnapped by Prince Kaupeepee of Molokai. The goddess Mahina or Hina may also be the same as Hawaiian goddess Lona, who fell in love with the mortal man Aikanaka, and their story ends with both dying peacefully of old age. All three of these goddesses, regardless if they are one in the same, may have been based on the Roman goddess Luna, who is essentially the same as Greek goddess Selene, Greek goddess Artemis, Roman goddess Diana and Greek goddess Hecate, although each is just different enough to be their own deity.

Mahina is also a place in French Polynesia and a small town in Mali, which is also a  French colony, which is in Africa.

Models Mahina Alexander and Mahina Garcia, and pro surfer Mahina Maeda are examples of this name. There is a band called Mahina Movement.

In 2013 Mahina was used 24 times for girls in the U.S., which is the most popular it has been. On the U.S. top 1000 it popped up in 1974. In 2013 it ranked #63 for names used in Hawaii with 15 births - meaning 9 girls named Mahina were born elsewhere last year. Surprisingly, not too many traditional Hawaiian girls names were on that list. In company with Mahina were Leilani, Kiana, Kira, Kalea, Kiara, Kalia, Anela, Kalena, Kaia and Kaila.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Koa

Koa is a unisex Hawaiian baby name and the name of a tree that grows on the islands. The tree itself - acacia koa, is more closely related to peas than trees and is the biggest tree on the Hawaiian islands. The wood is used for all sorts of things and is absolutely beautiful on a finished product, and one of the most traditional uses was for canoes. Koa, pronounced KO-ah, means "strong, brave."

Koa Thomas is a son of Tom Dumont from the band 'No Doubt.' Irish pop star Kian Egan also has a son named KoaKoa Smith is a competitive surfer in Hawaii.

Sometimes Koa is part of a longer Hawaiian name, such as Kekoa or Nakoa. Koa had been used in the U.S. since at least 1978 but probably much longer in Hawaii. At first it was hardly used, but after 2000 it really jumped in usage for boys - from 17 boys and 10 girls in 2000 to 107 boys and 11 girls in 2013.  It is still considered rare.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rohan/a

Rohan (for boys) and Rohana (for girls) mean "to ascend" in Sanskrit. It is pronounced ROW-han in Sanskrit, however, some say this is an alternate or a French spelling of the Anglicized Irish name Rowan, meaning "red-haired," and the pronunciation for that would be closer to RO-an. Currently #601 in the U.S., Rohan was given to 419 boys in 2013. It is used less since the mid-2000's and not at all before 1969. Rohana, on the other hand, is strictly a Hindi name and only started being used around 2006 and was only given to 5 girls in 2013 - a dramatic difference. As a boys name it is also doing well in England and Wales.

Rohan Kanhai, a cricket player, made this a household name in the Caribbean (and there are four more cricket players named Rohan). Film maker Rohan Fernando, Bob Marley's son Rohan Marley, and actor Rohan Chand all share the name.

Rohan is also a place name used in The Lord of the Rings, a real French place name, a role-play game "Rohan: Blood Fued," a newborn in Avatar: Legend of Korra, and a tree with the scientific name Mallotus Phillipenesis, also known as Kamala.

The House of Rohan is a French family of nobility from Rohan, Brittany. They claim ancestry from the noble Breton family of Porhoët and the legendary Celtic leader Conan Meriadoc who is said to have founded Brittany. It is commonly thought that Alain le Noir was the first to adopt Rohan as part of his name, and he built a chateau bearing the name. Vicomte Josselin de Porhoet, whose father built Josselin Castle in the 11th century (which is still owned by relatives to this day), had sons who bore the surname Rohan.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Osa

osa


Osa is a rare name, likely the Anglicized spelling of Aase, a variant of Åse, an Old Norse feminine name (and name element) meaning "god." Surprisingly, it also means "godlike" in African Bini. There is an Osa in The Dictionary of African Mythology

Unfortunately, Osa in all capital letters - OSA, stands for 'obstructive sleep apnea.' Osa is also Russian and Polish for "wasp" and the Spanish equivalent of ursa, "bear." I don't find any of these too negative to remove Osa from being seriously considered as a name today, and in fact I find the nature meanings a plus.

Osa Johnson and husband Martin were explorers focused on the wild habitats of exotic countries who made documentary films.

Danish actress Osa Massen, a stunning beauty, was born in 1914. She was born Aase Iverson Madsen and started her career as a newspaper photographer.

Osa was not unheard of between 1880 and 1920. The most it was given, however, was to 21 girls in 1892 and 21 girls in 1918. After 1930 it was used on and off until 1964, until dropping out of the name race for a few decades only to reappear once in 2011, when it was used on 6 girls.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Quade

Quade is a boy's name that sounds like Quinn and Wade. Only 34 boys were given this name in 2013 - no girls. That number hasn't varied much since the 1980's when it started being used regularly, and I can't help but wonder if part of its usage was inspired by actor Dennis Quaid, who started acting in the 70's, or maybe his brother Randy Quaid. Quade started life as McQuade, a Scottish clan name.

Rugby player Quade Cooper is the most well-known namesake with Quade as a first name, while baseball coach Mike Quade might be the most well-known namesake with that surname. Quade Hermann is a female radio host for CBC.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lilikoi

Passionfruit


Lilikoi, sometimes written liliko'i, is what the Hawaiians call passion fruit, although passiflora edulis is native to Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Passiflora literally means "suffering flower," given the name by Catholic missionaries who wanted the name to reflect the Passion of Christ. Either yellow or dark purple, the passion fruit smells and tastes sweet and tart, and is found in many commercial products from shampoo to juice. In Hawaii, lilikoi-flavored syrup is very popular, as well as jams, jellies and butters. The purple and yellow varieties are special in that these are the only two varieties grown commercially - the majority produced in Hawaii.

Lilikoi is pronounced LEE-lee-ko-ee, and said speedily it sounds like LIL-ih-koy. Where did the Hawaiian name for passion fruit come from? When seeds of the plant came from Australia to Hawaii in 1880 they were planted in the Lilikoi Gulch of East Maui (Lilikoi District in Makawao or Haiku, Maui). With Lilikoi being the name of a place, it is unclear what the etymology is. Most assume the meaning of lilikoi is literally "passionfruit." Lilikoi is quite unheard of as a baby name, although there is a pleasant song titled "Boy Lilikoi" by Jonsi.

Read about Plumeria, another baby name inspired by Hawaii here.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Shalimar

Shalimar_gardens srinagar
Shalimar Gardens of Srinagar


The Shalimar Gardens were built between 1619 and 1653, while the Renaissance period was happening in European countries, Portugal and Russia, by the Mughal Emperors of the Indian Subcontinent. Collectively the gardens are known as the Mughal gardens, because there are four total with the name Shalimar, located in Lahore, Ghaziabad, Delhi, and Srinagar. However, this style of garden was nothing new, and could be traced back to Persia, probably around 600 BC.

Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar came first. It originated as a cottage for the ruler Pravasena II, who founded the city of Srinagar and ruled in Kashmir. Over time the cottage deteriorated, but Emperor Jahangir found it again in 1619 and decided to make it bigger and more beautiful to please his wife. It became the imperial summer residence of Jahangir and his wife, Nur Jahan, and their entire court. In 1630 it was extended by his son, Shah Jahan, who is also famous for the Taj Mahal. Shalimar Bagh of Delhi was built by Shah Jahan as well.

The Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, Pakistan are perhaps the most well known. This location had only been called Shalimar starting at the beginning of the 18th century, and the other locations that are today called Shalimar were also known by other names. Those of Lahore were built in 1641 during the rule of Shah Jahan. The Shalimar Gardens of Delhi were built in 1653. The Shalimar Garden of Ghaziabad may just be a city.

It was commonly believed that the word shalimar means "abode of love," or "abode of light/moonlight." However, the Russian scholar Anna Suvorova deduced the origin of the word must be Arabic-Persian, and its likely meaning is from the Arabic expression shah al-'imarat, "master of buildings." Since 'buildings' generally meant [institutional] gardens, one could say shalimar means "masterful garden."

As a baby name, Shalimar would work as well as other place and word names such as Forest, River or India, even though it is as unusual as Topanga, Aragon and Quillan. Due to its pleasing sound, it could even be categorized alongside Lorelei - a German place name/legend which is not actually used in Germany. Those with heritage that makes the Shalimar Gardens meaningful might like to use this in the first or middle spot.

In 2015 there were 5 baby girls named Shalimar.