Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gus

While Gus can be a nickname for Gustav(e), Angus, and August, and variants of those names, Gus itself ranked #999 in 2016. It hadn't been in the top 1000 since 1978. Mingus, Argus/Argos, Fergus or Ferguson work just as well, and a rarely considered option is the Norman name Guiscard, which is cognate with the word "wizard."

Real-life namesakes for Gus include NCAA basketball announcer Gus Johnson, poker pro Gus Hansen, astronaut Gus (Virgil) Grissom, American skiier Gus Kenworthy, and film maker Gus Van Sant. A few different celebrities have chosen this (some as a nickname for either August or Augustus) for their sons.

In media, Gus-Gus was the name of a mouse in Cinderella, a character in T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, and a character in the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. In TV world, Gus has been a character in "Psych," Netflix's "Love," Disney's "Recess," "Breaking Bad," "Road to Avonlea," "Queer as Folk," and "Mighty Med."

Should you prefer Augustus as a full name with Gus as the nickname, Augustus is Latin meaning "venerable," and was originally used as a title for religious leaders in ancient Rome who acted similarly to prophets or oracles. The transfer out of religious-only use was made when Caius Octavius won a battle and the name Augustus was given to him as an honor, and future emperors thought they would use it as well. It may have taken all the way until the 1500's until the name was used as a chosen (and only) given name. Augustine was much more common. This name is not popular in England, Wales, or Scotland, and has not been since the 1940's.

Gustav is German and either means "guest of glory," as a Germanization of Old Slavic Gostislav, or Old German "God staff," (though there is debate that it means "Goth staff"). Gustave and Gustav haven't ranked since 1934, but Gustavo is at #533. The list of namesakes is quite long, including Nobel prize winners, artists, musicians, writers, Olympic medalists, a king of Belgium, a Belgian Prime Minister, and a French president.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Melisande, Melisende

Melisande
The cover of E. Nesbit's Melisande


Melisande (MELL-iss-ahnd, may-lee-SAHND) is the French variant of Amalswintha, and the inspiration for the English name Millicent, meaning "strong worker." There has been some confusion on the name's connection to Melissa, meaning "honey bee." There's a possibility that each spelling variation has a different origin - Melisande from Melissa and perhaps Melisande as cognate with Millicent, but that is speculation, and there could be absolutely no connection to Melissa at all. Melisende was a popular name in France in the Middle Ages. This name has quite the list of credentials, including a play, opera, and fairy tale.

Besides the play Pelléas and Mélisande by Maeterlinck, the opera by Debussy, and the fairy tale mentioned above, Melisande was the alias of a character in the Broadway show Bells are Ringing, a handmaid in the book Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm, a character in The Golden Basket by Ludwig Bemelmans, a noblewoman in the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey, a character in Enid Blyton's Adventures of the Six Cousins, the title of a short story by E. Nesbit, and there was a princess character in the Rankin and Bass animated film called The Flight of Dragons. Currently hanging on a museum wall in Germany is the Melisande painting by Austrian painter Marianne Stokes. Comic book readers may recognize the name as Ra's al Ghul's wife in the Batman storyline.

Melisandre, the character from Game of Thrones, is not quite the same name. Although this spelling has been seen historically, author Martin typically uses names that are unique to his created world but slightly similar to historical names in the real world.

In real life, historical namesakes spelled their names Melisende. Melisende of Jerusalem was Queen of Jerusalem from 1131 to 1153, then acted as regent until 1161. Her parents, King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and the intriguingly named Morphia of Melitene, had quite a love story. When Baldwin was elected king, he was urged to divorce his wife and find someone more politically favorable for the time. He refused, and in a show of love he postponed his coronation day until she could be crowned queen alongside him. Melisende's marriage to Fulk was the opposite, as there was a continuous battle for her right to rule alongside him as an equal, although they did eventually settle their differences. It is said she was a very good mother. Melisende was named after her countess grandmother, Melisende of Montlhéry, a daughter of Guy I of Montlhéry. (Melisende de Coucy may be a descendent. This link has notes on a Melisende de Cantilupe as well.) Melisende's sister gave the name to her daughter, Melisende of Tripoli. She was written about in the verse drama La Princesse Lointaine by Edmond Rostand.

Melisende of Arsuf was Lady of Arsuf around the same time as Melisende of Tripoli, and both came from Crusader states. Not a lot is known about her life.

Melisende of Lusignan, Princess of Antioch's direct line died out when her daughter died with no heir. She came from Jerusalem as well.

Melisende de Picquigny was born between 1060 and 1090 in Saint Omer, France. Her son may have been the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem who convened the Council of Nablus with Baldwin II, Melisende of Jersusalem's father.

None of the spelling options mentioned were used in the U.S. in 2016. Melisande registered a total of four times - 5 in 1947, 5 in 1960, 6 in 1972, and 5 in 2005. It is almost as rare in France today. I suspect it won't take long for Melisandre to get some use because of America's current love of Game of Thrones names.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Corbeau

Corbeau (kor-BOW) is French for raven, from Old French corbel, and ultimately Latin corvus. While Corbeau can be found as a surname, this word has given us other surnames, such as Corbus, Corvo, Corvino, Corbinien, Corbin, Corby, and Corbelin. Of those, Corbin gained use as a given name in the U.S. with actor Corbin Bernsen and it now ranks at #239. Change the spelling to Korban or Corban and it is an unrelated name found in the Bible. Saint Corbinian was a Frankish bishop who lived between 670 and 730. The name Corbeau is not used in the U.S. as a given name.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dulcibella

Dulcibella is one of the later forms of the Middle English feminine name Douce, from the word dulcis, meaning "sweet" in Latin. The name went through many spelling options between the 13th and 16th centuries, including Douse, Dowse, Dulcia, Dowsabel and Dousabel. Later variants include Dulcea, Dulcina and Dulciana. Dulcinea was the form used by Cervantes for Don Quixote. Although Dulcibel is pronounced DULL-sih-bell or DOOL-sih-bell depending on your native language, the spoken form of the name for centuries was Dowsabel, pronounced DOW-suh-bell. Like some other medieval names, the form Douce was also used for boys, and the name has given us surnames like Dowson and Dowse.

At some point in the mid to late-1600's, Shakespeare picked up the name and turned it into a term meaning "sweetheart" in The Comedy of Errors, a little bit like how Doll is a nickname but also a similar term. The only other place I see Dulcibella pop up is in the children's novel The Riddle of the Sands, in which Dulcibella is a boat named after the author, Robert Erskine Childers' sister.

While the name is, and has always been uncommon, both in the U.S. and England, it has increased in popularity over time and still used sparingly in England, but has not been used in the U.S.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Catriana

Say it isn't so! This drop-dead gorgeous name is so rare it was only given to 6 girls in 1998, and that's it. And yes, she's legit. As is the case with Katherine/Catherine, Katriana is another option, both a variant spelling of Catriona. Catriona is the Irish and Scottish way to spell Catrina, from Katherine, meaning "pure." Catriona is pronounced kuh-TREE-nah. Caitria is another version of the name used in Ireland.

Catriana can be found at least once in a published work - The Celtic Monthly.

What isn't so clear is the intended pronunciation of Catriana. Did someone see Catriona in Ireland and mistake the pronunciation for kah-tree-ON-uh, then take the name elsewhere as Catriana (kah-tree-AH-nah)? Is it just a case of name typo? Or down another path, did someone first intend it as a different spelling for Catrina, independently of Catriona? Similar events led to the family of Caterina/Catarina, Catherina/Catharina, Cathryn/Kathryn etc. If you take a look at the multitude of names related to Katherine, especially the Sardinian version Caderina, it's a wonder Catriana hasn't been noticed by anyone. The absence of clarity on this name's spelling origin, undoubtedly because it is so rare, is actually a bonus. You can choose how you want to pronounce it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Boys Names as Rare as Diamonds

Here's a list of boy names that were not used in 2016 in the U.S., many of which have not been used for decades - or ever.

Acis
Acteon (and Actaeon)
Aether
Alcide
Alderic
Amadis
Ardal
Ariodante
Auberon
Balint
Bard
Bas
Baudelaire
Belisario
Bramwell
Cadmael
Cadman
Cadmar
Cadmus
Cadwallon
Caliban
Cassio
Cathal
Cicero
Claren
Clasien
Cobalt
Corentin
Cyrano
Daan
Dalibor
Dardanus
Drystan
Elderic
Eleazer
Eltanin
Endymion
Ernani
Faust
Ferre
Florent
Gabin
Gabor
Galt
Ganymede
Gawain
Geo
Glastian
Gower
Guiscard
Gulliver
Heliodor
Humphrey
Hyperion
Iridian
Janus
Jaromir
Jessop
Kassian
Kermit
Kitterick
Levente
Lothar
Lowie
Ludo
Ludovic
Melchior
Melior
Mingus
Moe
Nat
Night
Odalric
Orfeo
Orpheus
Osgood
Paladin
Pascale
Pastor
Pelleas
Peregrino
Pherrick
Pieran
Pim
Piran
Placido
Priamus
Puck
Radovan
Raoul
Rastaban
Reynard
Rinaldo
Roald
Romaric
Rudyard
Ruggiero
Runyon
Salazar
Scipio
Septimus
Seraphim
Sheratan
Sim
Sixten
Sorrel
Spike
Squall
Sulien
Taddeo
Tancred
Tancredi
Tempest
Thersander
Thibault
Thoreau
Tiber
Tibor
Troilus
Tuur
Tygo
Umberto
Umbriel
Vandan
Vanth
Vencel
Zan
Zivan

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Girls Names as Rare as Diamonds

Below are the names that were not used on any baby girls in 2016, and most have never been recorded in the U.S. at all. These are all legit, many with historical, mythological or literary backgrounds.

Abigaia
Acantha
Accalia
Acrasia
Adamina
Aegina
Aeronwen
Aetheria
Alastrina/Alastriona
Aleydis
Alienor
Alifair
Allegria
Alsatia
Altamira
Aludra
Alula
Amabilia
Amapola
Amarantha
Ambroselle, Ambrosine
Amelina
Aminta
Amoret
Anatolia
Anaxandra
Angerona
Angiola
Angiolina
Antalia
Antalya
Aphra
Aquamarine
Aquilina
Aradia
Araminta
Archina
Ardith
Argenta
Arianell
Arianella
Arianwen
Aristea
Aristella
Armandine, Armandina
Arolilja
Artemesia
Ashera
Aspasia
Atalanta
Atira
Aveza
Awilda
Azzurra

Basia
Belisama
Bellona
Belphoebe
Belva
Berania
Bernardine
Betony
Betsan
Bevan
Bluebell
Boglarka
Boudicca
Bradamante
Branwen
Brianza
Brigantia
Britomart
Brunelle
Brunissende
Bunny

Cadwen
Caelia
Calcia
Calico
Calluna
Calpurnia
Calvina
Cambina
Canella & Canela
Capella
Capitola, Capitolia, Capitolina
Capucine
Cardea
Carelia
Carissima
Carmenta
Carnella
Carola
Casilda
Caspia
Caspienne
Cassiane
Castalia
Catkin
Catriana
Celandine & Celandina
Cenawen
Chandra
Charlotta
Chesten
Chestine, Chestina
Chrysanthe
Circe
Clarabel
Claria
Clarimonde
Clarissent
Claudie
Clelia
Clorinda
Collina
Concordia
Coralia
Coralina
Corisande
Cosima
Coventina
Crescentia
Crisanta
Cura
Cybele
Cypriana

Dagmar
Dalma
Decima
Deianira
Desdemona
Deverra
Dido
Dianora
Diantha
Divinia
Domitille, Domitilla
Doronina
Doveva
Duessa
Dulcibella

Easter
Egeria
Elska
Eluned
Elysiana
Emerant
Emerence, Emerentia, Emerencia, Emerentina
Empanda
Endrina
Epona
Eruca
Esmerina
Espiridiana
Eudoxia
Eulalie
Evelisse

Faina
Fairuza
Falena
Farzana
Fauna, Faunella
Fenella
Fenicia
Fennia
Ferelith
Feronia
Ffion
Fiamma & Fiammetta
Fidelia
Fien
Fifer
Finola
Fiorenza
Florizella
Forestyne
Fortuna
Fortunata
Franzia
Freesia
Frostine
Fruzsina
Furrina

Galatea
Galene
Galila
Garance
Gavia
Gayla
Ghislaine
Glausia
Glynis
Godiva
Grania
Gratia
Gunila
Gwyneira

Heliabel
Hester

Ingela
Isannah
Iselin
Ismay 
Imene
Imriska
Ismenia
Isola
Isolda
Isolina
Izola

Jacquetta
Jennet
Jocasta
Juturna

Kasienka
Kasimira
Katalin
Katinka
Kelda
Kerensa
Kilmeny
Kinga
Kolfinna
Kollina

Lamia
Laureline
Leocadia
Lettice
Lilium
Lillias
Lionella
Lise
Lithia, Lithiya
Lore
Loredana
Loria
Lorian
Lucasta
Ludovica
Lunaria

Mafalda
Magnilda
Maibritt
Malvina
Marcellina
Marcheline
Maristella
Marzanna
Marzena
Maudeline
Maximiliana
Mazarine
Megaera
Meissa
Melisande
Mellonia
Melusine
Micheline
Milda
Miuccia
Morwenna
Musa
Myfanwy

Nausicaa
Nelleke
Nephele
Nerine
Nicandra
Nimue
Nineve
Niniane
Niobe
Nortia

Odile
Oenone
Oliviera
Ombeline
Orabel
Orfea
Oriane
Orlena
Osa
Ottoline
Ourania

Paget
Palatine
Palatua
Pamina
Panna
Pascaline
Patelana
Patria
Pax
Pelagia
Pellonia
Perdita
Peregrina
Peronelle
Perrine
Persinette
Petrina
Petronella & Petronilla
Petunia
Pietra
Placida
Plumeria
Polaris
Pomeline
Pomona
Porrima
Proserpine
Prunella

Questa
Quilla
Quillana
Quitterie

Radomira
Raziela
Rhonwen
Rhoswen
Rixende
Rohana
Romilda
Romola
Ronia
Roos
Rosmerta
Roswitha
Roxelana
Rudolpha & Rudolfa
Rudolphine
Rumina
Runcina
Rurina
Ruscella

Sabeline
Sagitta
Salacia
Satia
Satyana
Season
Seia
Serenella
Severina
Shalimar
Shera
Siasmin
Sidonia
Signy
Silena
Silveria
Sirene
Strenia
Suadela
Sylvestine
Syrene

Tamarisk & Tamarix
Tanaquil
Tanith
Thaddea
Thaisa
Thalassa
Thana
Thebe
Tiarella
Tigris
Timea
Tirion
Titania
Tomyris
Tristana
Tristania
Trystine
Tutelina

Ulla
Umbrielle
Undine
Ursa

Valentia
Valina
Vanadis
Venelia
Venetia
Venla
Verina
Verulia
Vibia
Volutina

Willadeen, Willadine, Willardine
Willodean, Willodeen, Willowdean

Xanthippe

Zabel
Zephyrine

*Update: also, none of these Gascon language girl's names were used except for Adelaida, Alaria, Belina, Celina, and Clarie. Most of these unusual French girl's names weren't used either (data in post).

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Osric

If Osric (OZ-rik) looks at all familiar, you've probably read Shakespeare's Hamlet, in which Osric is a courtier. Osric is also a prince in the fantasy series The Chronicles of Amber, a king in the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian, and there is actor Osric Chau.

From history we have a handful of namesakes. Osric of Deira was a king in the kingdom of Deira in the mid-600's, Northern England, but he did not leave much of a legacy. Osric of Northumbria ruled from 718 until 729, and he may be a descendant of Osric of Deira. Osric of Sussex probably ruled at the same time as Osric of Northumbria, but in Sussex alongside another ruler. Osric of the Hwicce was an Anglo-Saxon ruler in the kingdom of Hwicce and might've ruled jointly with his brother. His mother came from Northumbria, so there is a possible relation to the first two Osric's. This last king left a bit more of a legacy, founding two monasteries - Bath Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral. The legendary chronicler Bede wrote about all of these men.

Osric is an Anglo-Saxon name with Germanic elements (it is dithematic and ultimately Proto-Germanic), composed of os, meaning "a god," and ric, meaning "powerful." In other words, "divine ruler." Other ric- ending names have begun to take off or are already popular, such as Alaric (which became noticed in The Vampire Diaries), Maverick (which was #139 in 2016), Dominic/Dominick/Domenic, and eternally-popular Patrick and Eric (Erick was #237 in 2016). Osric really isn't that different, and there are names higher in popularity that are harder to spell or pronounce or just don't make any sense. Osric was given to a mere 5 boys in 2016.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Timea

This baby name was invented by the Hungarian author Mór Jókai for a character in his novel The Golden Man (Az Arany Ember), which was published in 1873. Timea (TEE-may-uh) was taken from the Old Greek name Euthymia, meaning "sweet-natured," and is not to be confused with Timaeus, meaning "honor" in Greek, because the feminine there would be Timaea (or Timaia, Timmia, or Timmea depending on what time period and namer). Most real-life namesakes are famous in sports, like Swiss pro tennis player Timea Bacsinszky. The U.S. only has records to show for this name starting in 1996, when Timea was given to 6 girls. Since then it had not been given to more than 12 girls in a year, and by 2016 it was down to only 5 girls.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Baby Names from Opera Titles

Female:

Adelaide
Adelia
Adriana
Agrippina
Aida
Alceste
Alcina
Alexandra
Alzira
Amelia
Angelica
Anna
Antigone
Ariadne
Ariane
Armida
Beatrice
Beatrix
Bertha
Bess
Carmen
Céphise
Charlotte
Dafne
Dalila
Daphne
Dido
Djamileh
Dolores
Elektra
Esclarmonde
Euridice
Evangeline
Fedora
Fifi
Florencia
Francesca
Galatea
Genevieve
Genoveva
Giaconda
Giovanna
Gloriana
Gretel
Helena
Helene
Iphigenie
Iolanta
Iris
Isolde
Jenůfa
Judith
Julie
Juliet
Káťa (Katerina)
Kate
Lakmé
Loreley
Louise
Lucia
Lucretia
Lucrezia
Luisa
Lulu
Lyudmila
Manon
Margaret
Maria
Marilyn
Martha
Mavra
Médée
Mélisande
Mignon
Mlada
Nina
Norma
Oresteia
Patience
Polixène (Polyxene, Polyxena)
Polyphème
Poppea (Poppaea)
Rodelinda
Rogneda
Salammbô
Salome
Šárka
Semele
Semiramide
Susannah
Szibill (Cybil)
Thaïs
Tirésias (Therese)
Tosca (this is a surname in the opera but I couldn't resist)
Treemonisha
Turandot (Turan-Dokht)
Vanessa
Venus
Vera
Violet
Yerma
Zaide

Male:

Abu Hassan
Achille
Acis
Acteon
Admeto
Adonis
Aeneas
Akhnaten
Alahor
Albert
Alessandro
Alessio
Alexander
Amadis
Amahl
Andrea
Angelo
Apollo
Ariodante
Aroldo
Ascanio
Attila
Atys
Bellerofonte
Belisario
Billy
Boris
Byron
Candide
Carlos
Charles
Cyrano
Dalibor
Dardanus
Edgar
Ernani
Ero
Eugene
Faust
Fritz
Galileo
Gianni
Giovanni
Giulio
Guillaume
Hansel
Háry
Hugh
Idomeneo
Ivan
Juha
Koanga
Leo
Lohengrin
Louis
Mateo
Mathis
Mefistofele
Motezuma
Nabucco
Nicholas
Oberto
Oedipus
Orfeo
Orpheus
Orlando
Oscar
Otello
Owen
Parsifal
Pasquale
Pedro
Pelléas
Peter
Radamisto
Rinaldo
Roberto
Rodrigo
Roger
Romeo
Ruggiero
Ruslan
Sadko
Salvatore
Samson
Scipio
Serse
Siegfried
Simon
Stiffelio
Sun
Švanda
Tancredi
Tito
Tristan
Ulisse
Wally
William

Sunday, July 9, 2017

2016 Top 50 Alternatives for Girls

Love Emily, but wish it wasn't so popular? Or do you have a grandma Sophia you'd like to name your baby after, but you wish you could make it a little more her own? Read on, as this is a list of familial variants to the top 50 most popular baby names from 2016 - legit alternatives to the most popular girl's names last year.

1. Emma - relations include Emmy, Ima, Erma/Irma, Irmuska
2. Olivia - Scandinavian Vivi, French Olivie, Croatian Olivera, literary Olivette, and Italian Oliviera
3. Ava - ancient Germanic Avila and Aveza are ripe for the picking, classy Evelina/Avelina and Eveline/Aveline are uncommon, and medieval Avis is short and spunky
4. Sophia - try European Sonia, or one of the two Polish versions: Zofia and Zosia
5. Isabella - short and sweet Isa, Disney beauty Belle, older English form Sabella, Basque Elixabete, Armenian Zabel, Biblical Elisheba, the Welsh version Bethan, international Elisaveta/Elizaveta or Elizabeta/Elisabeta, Scottish Elspeth, or the classy Elisa
6. Mia - a form of Mary, but also an Italian word meaning "mine," so in that light Carissima could be a substitute (and she's historically legit). If Maria or Miriam aren't your style, perhaps consider vintage Mara, Moira, or Maura, Polish Marzena or Marika, cute little Mimi, Italian Mariella, Hungarian Mariska, Hawaiian Malia, or Robin Hood maiden Marion
7. Charlotte - replacing that last letter for an 'a' will get you Charlotta, the gorgeous international beauty not given to any U.S. girls in 2016. Also consider Charlize, Karolina and Carlotta
8. Abigail - Biblical Abigaia has the nickname Gaia built right in if you wish to avoid competition over the nickname Abby, but there's also dated Gayle, who still sounds stately and dignified
9. Emily - the ancient Roman name Aemilia (ay-MEEL-yah) from which we get Emily is just begging for some use, unlike Millie who is seeing some popularity.
10. Harper - Harper is a surname with no feminine given name variations

11. Amelia - change that middle letter and you have the romantic international name Amalia, but there's also ancient Germanic Amelina
12. Evelyn - Evelyn comes from the striking Aveline, but there's sophisticated Evelina as well
13. Elizabeth - see #5 for relations, but I'll add Scottish Lillias, Isobel and Ishbel, Romanian Liana, Slovakian Eliska, and Norwegian Lisbet,
14. Sofia - see #4
15. Madison - Madison means "son of Maud," so Maud and her variants apply here - Maudeline is my favorite, Matilda is usually everyone else's favorite, and Mafalda is Italy's favorite
16. Avery - variations on this surname-turned-boys-name-turned-girls-name include Alvery, Auvery Every, and possibly Arey
17. Ella - being a diminutive the possibilities of variants are seemingly endless, but some good alternatives in the family include Elladine, Elea, Elaine, Eleni, and Elina
18. Scarlett - old French Escarlate wasn't a name but could be now
19. Grace - Gratia, Grazia, Graziella/Graciela, and Gracia
20. Chloe - this one only has spelling variants, so I'll suggest similar sounding Cloelia, Clelia, Clorinda and Chloris

21. Victoria - Victory, Victoriana
22. Riley - original spelling Reilly
23. Aria - a word name with no variants, but Arianella and Arietta are very close
24. Lily - Lilia/Lillia, Lilliana, Lili, Liliane, Liana, and Lilias
25. Aubrey - Aubrina
26. Zoey - spelling variants include Zoie, Zowie and Zoe (#35), while an international version is Zoya, and a modern version is Zoelle
27. Penelope - no variants, but Persephone is extremely similar in multiple ways, just very rare
28. Lillian - see #24
29. Addison - meaning "son of Adam," variants on that include Adamina and Adamma
30. Layla - this Arabic name has multiple spelling variants: Leila, Leyla, Lela, Laila, Lila

31. Natalie - German Nathalie, international Natalia, Russian Natasha, and spunky Natalka
32. Camila - Camille, Camilla, and Milla
33. Hannah - Chanah, Anna, Annick, Anka, Aina, Anais, Anita, Anja/Anya, Jana, Hania, Anushka, Anniken, Ona and Hannele are all related
34. Brooklyn - shorter form Brooke (an aside - Ruscella means "brooke" in Italian, is pronounced roo-SHAY-lah, would make for a lovely alternative)
35. Zoe - see # 26
36. Nora - try Eleonora, Alienor, Noor, Lenore, Leonor, Leonora, or Norina
37. Leah - Leia, Lia, or Lea
38. Savannah - Zabana, the word Savannah was based on, would be an interesting choice
39. Audrey - Audrina, Audra, Audrea
40. Claire - the old and rare Clarissent or Clarimonde, literary Claribel, vintage Clara or Clarabel, Italian Claretta, rare Claria

41. Eleanor - see #17 and #36
42. Skylar - can also be spelled Skyler, a variant of Schuyler
43. Ellie - see #17
44.  Samantha - Spanish and Italian variant Samanta
45. Stella - Estelle, Estella, Esther, Estrella, Maristella, Estera
46. Paisley - none
47. Violet - Viola, Violette, Violetta, Yolanda
48. Mila - French Mylene, international Milena, or Slovene Milka
49. Allison - Alice, Alix, Adelais, Alicia, Alise, Alisa, Adelaide, Aileas, Aliz, Adela
50. Alexa - other than Alexandra there is Alexandria, Alexina, Sandra, Sandrine, Sasha, Xandra, Saundra, Sanya, Alessa, Alessia, Alessandra and Alastriona

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Cicely & Cecily

sweetcicely
Sweet Cicely


Cecily (SESS-ih-lee) is the female variant of the Latin name Cecil, meaning "blind." This name can be found as early as 1246 with that spelling, and as early as 1210 as Cecilie. Going back further, Sisley is recorded in 1154. Cicely (SISS-eh-lee), however, is the later version of Cecilia (from Cecil, originally spelled Caecilia). Both of these sweet names can have the nickname Cece, although some might prefer the unusual nickname Celly. Or maybe you can borrow the Slavic name for Cecilia, Cilka.

Cicely ranked twice 1973 & 1974 but was only given to 16 girls in 2016, and Cicily to 5 girls. Cecily is much more popular - given to 194 girls in 2016, just below the top 1000 (but still far enough removed from it to classify as uncommon, perhaps even unusual).

Most notably there is King Richard III and Edward IV's mother Cecily Neville aka the "Rose of Raby." Cecily of York, the Viscountess Welles, was King Edward IV's daughter. There's also Saint Cecilia, who founded a church in the Trastevere part of Rome. She is the patron saint of musicians.

Other namesakes for Cecily include the creator of the Gossip Girl books Cecily von Ziegesar, actresses Cecily Strong, Cecily Polson and Cecily Adams, and painter Cecily Brown.

You might recall that Cecily Parsley is the cute Beatrix Potter rabbit, and Cecily Cardew is a character in The Importance of Being Earnest. The name Cecily has been used in other fiction, including Cassandra Clare's The Infernal Devices series.

For Cicely, real namesakes include actresses Cicely Tyson and Cicely Courtneidge, author Cicely Mary Barker (do a Google search and you're sure to recognize the work), and Cicely Mary Saunders - the nurse who founded the hospice movement. Don't forget English suffragette Cicely Hamilton, or maritime historian Cicely Fox Smith. In fiction, Lady Cicely Waynflete is a character in G. Bernard Shaw's Captain Brassbound's Conversion, and other Cicely's can be found in Sir Walter Scott's Kenilworth and the Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer.

Also, Sweet Cicely is a plant native to Europe. It is also known as garden myrrh and sweet chervil, and the leaves are medicinal and edible.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Onyx

onyx
The Gemma Augustea

Onyx (ON-iks) is a tricky name. People often think it's a name they can't use, but for what reason?

Raw onyx is anywhere from a golden-beige to smoky black. Polished onyx is usually shiny black and can be made into a wide variety of jewelry pieces. A banded variety of the mineral chalcedony, it's sibling is the agate stone and the only difference between them is which way their bands run. Sardonyx is the beautiful red variety of onyx, which was used by Roman warriors to represent Mars, the god of war, but you can find yellow, blue and green shades too.

While onyx is Latin, it ultimately comes from Greek word meaning "nail" or "claw." Historically it has been used since ancient times for ornamental carvings, cameos, bowls, and other works of art. It's also mentioned in the Bible.

Elsewhere, Onyx was used as the name of a planet in the novel Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, as a comic book character from the DC Universe, is the name of a pro-wrestler, and is also a strategy game.

Alanis Morissette's daughter born in 2016 is named Onyx Solace. She said she chose Onyx because the stone is commonly found in her home country of Canada, but it is also stong and does not break easily.

There were 38 girls in 2015 and 56 girls in 2016 given this name. There were also 118 boys in 2015 and 172 boys in 2016.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Cloelia

15th c. Illuminated manuscript, Cloelia crossing the Tiber

Cloelia (clo-AY-lee-uh modern, CLAY-lee-uh original) is the perfect rare alternative for parents who love Claudia (which used to be #200 in 2000 and fell to #761 in 2016) or Chloe (#20 in 2016 and the spelling Khloe #125), but can't come to terms with how popular both of those names have been. If Cloelia isn't quite what you're looking for, Clelia (CLAY-lee-uh) is her twin sister, which in sound is a little bit like Claudia or Kaylee (#70) and a little like Leila (#230 and the spelling Laila #164).

Internationally the name Cloelia is not really used, but 19th century Clelia still has a place. Clelia was #187 in Italy in 2015, and was not on the list a few years beforehand, so it seems it's having a bit of a resurgence. In France it was #378 in 2015 and has been on their list of top names since 1982. The height of Clelia's popularity in the U.S. was in 1920 when it was given to a mere 20 girls, and 2013 was the last year it was listed. Cloelia has not been used in the U.S.

Cloelia has always been considered a special Italian name connected to Latin Cloelius or Cluilius, and Cluilia may have been her original form. According to W. M. Lindsay in The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems, and Flexicons, Cluilius derives from Cluvius, meaning "famous," from Greek kleu- and equivalent to cluvior/nobilior.

The historical namesake is a Roman girl given as part of a peace treaty with the Clusians to be used as a hostage. She escaped by swimming across the Tiber river but was caught returning to Rome and sent back to the Etruscans. Lars Porsena, who was king and in charge of the hostages, was so impressed that he either released her with a few other hostages of her choosing or promised her and the others no harm would come to them upon their return. She has been written about and painted ever since.

Additionally, Saint Clelia Barbieri is the 19th century Roman Catholic patron saint of those mocked for their religious belief. She founded the Little Sisters of the Mother of Sorrows and was the youngest founder of a religious community in catholic history. She was born in 1847 in Bologna, Italy.

A few other important women named Clelia include Clelia Grimaldi, an Italian botanist and marchesa born in 1760, Clelia Borromeo, an Italian mathematician-scientist and countess, American women's health advocate and hygienist Clelia Duel Mosher, who researched sex before Kinsey and warned that Victorian beliefs were dangerous for women's health, Italian actresses Clelia Bernacchi, Clelia Rondinella, and Clelia Matania, and operatic soprano Clelia Strepponi, who was married to Giuseppe Verdi.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Tygo

Dutch boy's name Tygo has a little bit of tiger in him, short and spunky. An added benefit is America's love of Ty- names and its current crush on -o ending names, ensuring a familiar-yet-rare and likeable vibe. Only downside - Tygo is typically pronounced TEE-go in its homeland, and Americans will certainly want to pronounce it TY-go.

Tygo is the Dutch form of Tycho, an ancient Greek name meaning "hitting the mark," which is a pretty accurate meaning for this name. Scandinavian Tyko and Russian Tikhon are other forms. As of 2011 Tygo ranked #33 in the Netherlands. In the U.S. Tycho was given to 18 boys in 2016 but no Tygo.

A few important namesakes include Dutch actor Tygo Gernandt, born in 1974, 5th century Saint Tychon (an early Greek spelling of the name), who opposed worship of Aphrodite on the island of Cyprus, and Danish astronomer Tyge Ottesen Brahe, born in 1546

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brianda

Brianda is a Spanish feminization of the Gaelic boy's name Brian. Brian, and possibly Briana, made his way to Spain during Christian religious wars, where he may have been "Briandus," which was found as early as 1282 if not earlier. It has also seen some use in Italy. Briana, used in 1590 by Edmund Spenser for The Faerie Queene, is a more common variant of Brian today, which means "high, noble." Brianda has been found in real use as early as 1487 in Spain, and 1250 in France (where Briande de Septeme was noted as the wife of Guillaume de Beauvoir) in the Regesta comitum sabaudiae. Brianda became much more common in the 1500's.

Similar-sounding Brianza is an Italian place name that could work well for place-name lovers.

Two namesakes for Brianda include Azorean (Portugal) Brianda Pereira, who became a popular heroine figure in the late 19th century and may be a mostly mythical figure associated with the Battle of Salga, and Brianda Domecq, a Spanish-Mexican writer born in 1942.

There were a mere 26 girls named Brianda in 2016 in the U.S., with no girls named Brianza.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Floyd

In medieval Wales the descriptive word llwyd, meaning "grey," was corrupted to Lloyd, and since the double "ll" sound in Welsh is so hard to make if you don't have a handle on the language, it came out Floyd for English speakers.

The namesake that comes to mind first is boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, who is a junior. The story on his name isn't clear, but because we know he is Floyd Jr., we can assume his father was named Floyd because it was a moderately popular name in the year he was born, 1952. It ranked in the top 100 in 1886, 1889, and 1893. In 2015 it was given to 107 boys, a far cry from the 1,864 boys given the name in 1952. However, there is a chance Floyd Sr. was named after boxer Floyd Patterson, who won the Olympic gold medal in the middleweight division the year 1952.

There has been a hurricane Floyd, tropical storm Floyd, and two songs with the name. Over a dozen places in the U.S. are named Floyd. Pink Floyd is an English progressive rock band. There are dozens of namesakes for Floyd, including bronze Olympic medalist Floyd Simmons for the decathalon, football player Floyd Little, country musician Floyd Tillman, blues singer Floyd Jones, another boxer named Floyd Favors, and "Mickey Mouse" comic strip cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson.

In fiction there is Floyd Lawton, or Deadshot, from DC Comics, similarly named Floyd Lawson from the "Andy Griffith" TV show, and Floyd Pepper from "The Muppet Show."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fiamma & Fiammetta

fiammetta emma sandys
Fiammetta by Emma Sandys


Fiamma (fee-AH-mah, FYAH-mah) and Fiammetta (fee-ah-MAY-tah, fya-MAY-tah) are medieval Italian girl's names meaning "flame," and "little flame, little fiery one." Fiamma is the actual word for flame, Latin flamma, in medieval Italian. In the U.S. it is not used at all. In Italy the name is sometimes used to express the flame of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and it is a very uncommon name there - not even in the top 200.

One namesake is the late fashion designer Fiamma Ferragamo, who was a member of the Ferragamo fashion house with other extremely well named women - Ginevra, Vittoria, Fulvia, and Vivia to name a few. There's also comic author Fiamma Luzzati, model Fiammetta Cicogna, journalist Fiammetta Fadda, Italian actress Fiammetta Baralla, Swiss actress Fiamma Camesi. Most recently "La Fiamma" was used as a character's nickname in the show Mozart in the Jungle. There is also an Italian singer who goes by Fiammetta.

Further back in time we have Fiammetta Frescobaldi, an Italian writer who died in 1586. She was born Brigida, but coming from a wealthy family who wanted to preserve their fortune for their son, she went to the Dominican convent and took the religious name of Sister Fiammetta. Her translations and writings covered a wide variety of topics. On the other side of the spectrum, Fiammetta Michaelis was a courtesan who died in 1512, who was tied to Cesare Borgia.

Fiamma was also the pseudonym of a love interest of 14th century writer Giovanni Boccacio, and for her he wrote Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta. Because of this, the well-read Italians gave the name some popularity, then again in the 19th century (much like the Victorians gave new life to ancient Greek, Roman and literary names). The name was also used for a narrator in Filocolo and the Decameron. In other literature, Fiamma was a character in The Evil Eye by Edgar Ravelston.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Denzel

DenzellArms
The Denzell family armorial


Denzel is a Cornish name that originated as a surname meaning "from Denzell manor (which is in Cornwall)." Denzil may have been an original spelling. Denzel was given to 186 boys in 2015. It is worn by famous actor Denzell Washington, who is actually Denzel Jr. His father was named Denzel after the doctor who delivered him - presumably Denzel was his surname, and (also presumably, the doctor was Caucasian). He has said that his father's name is pronounced DEN-zell, while the actor's name is commonly pronounced den-ZELL.

Denzel can be traced back to a John Denzel of Cornwall who died in 1535. He was Attorney General to Elizabeth of York, the Queen Consort, and his regal home was the "manor of Denzell," otherwise known as Lanherne, in St. Mawgan Parish. This historic site once belonged to the noble Arundell family.

Denzel Whitaker is another actor who was named after Denzel Washington, Denzel White and Denzel Curry are rappers, Denzel Bowles is a basketball player who has played in Lebanon, and Denzel Valentine is an NBA professional basketball player. Denzel Devall is a linebacker who has been on the coaching staff for the Alabama Crimson Tide team, Denzelle Good, Denzel Perryman and Denzel Rice are NFL players.

Denzel Washington was born in 1954 and the other namesakes mentioned were all born after that date, most in the 1990's. One has to wonder if, as in the case of Denzel Whitaker, they were named after Mr. Washington.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tomyris

tomyris castagno
Tomyris painting by Castagno


Tomyris (pronounced TOM-ir-iss or toh-MY-riss) is the name of an ancient Massagetean queen known for having Cyrus the Great beheaded. Although he had built the largest empire then known and defeated Tomyris's army in one battle, she challenged him to a second and won. Cyrus did try proposing marriage to her in order to gain control over the Massagetae, but she laughed and this probably made him more eager for battle. Tomyris's son, the army general, was captured in the first battle, and he committed suicide to escape being a prisoner. Tomyris sent a message to Cyrus warning him to release her son, but he ignored her and her son died, resulting in the final battle.

Her name - originally in the form of Tahm-Rayiš is Iranian (Persian) in origin, as she ruled in Central Asia and the Scythian language was a branch of Iranian. This article makes an educated guess that her name either means "iron" or "brave glory." Her name recently became a common given name in Turkey and Central Asia. She was written about by many ancient writers, painted by several influential painters, and added to a list of the "Nine Worthies," which was originally a group of nine men from different time periods who represented the ideals of chivalry. A list of women was added in the late 14th century, but the list varied. Now you can find her name as a species of Central Asian butterflies and a minor planet (asteroid).

Tomyris is not present in U.S. naming records. Today it would be a bit of a daring choice, considering how graphic her legend is, but many see her as a powerful warrior queen and a fine example of a woman in charge. For a namesake that has been remembered through the ages, she deserves a bit of love in the naming world.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

6 Syllable Girl's Names

With names this long, usability is questionable, but it truly depends on how long your last name is and how easy the name will be to read in the country you live in. Be sure to check out my list of 5 syllable girl's names as well.

Feminizations:

Maximiliana
Victorianina
Apolinaria
Alexanderina
Alexanderia

Spanish:

Espiridiana
Emerenciana
Purificacion

Hawaiian:

Kaleoaloha
Hokuleialani
Kaponianani
Kakielekea
Hoalohalani

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Baby Names from Outer Space

We all know the planets, and some are brave enough to use Venus, Mercury, Mars, and even Jupiter or Neptune on their bundle of joy. Some get creative and use names from other languages, such as Sol or Soleil. Some parents use different names associated with the moon - Selene, Luna, Phoebe. Let's look at the other starry baby name options; names used for the moons of other planets, dwarf planets, stars or constellations can be just as celestially appealing.

Many things in space were named after characters in Shakespeare, Pope, Spencer and other literature, named after real people (especially those that discovered the object in space), and Greek and Roman mythology (sometimes other, older mythology as well).

Stars with proper names that have been or could be used as baby names: Alcyone, Capella, Altair, Aludra, Alula, Ascella, Alya, Atlas, Bellatrix, Castor, Chara, Electra, Eltanin, Izar, Fafnir, Lesath, Maia, Meissa, Merope, Mimosa, Mintaka, Mira, Mizar, Nashira, Pleione, Polaris, Pollux, Porrima, Proxima, Ran, Rastaban, Rigel, Sarin, Shaula, Sirius, Sheratan, Situla, Spica, Talitha, Tania, Vega and Zosma

Dwarf planets: Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, Eris, Salacia, Varuna, Orcus (who has his own moon named Vanth), Sedna

The moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto (which are the Galilean moons), Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea, Thebe (a different group called Amalthea group), Themisto and Carpo (two stand-alones), Leda, Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Dia (of the Himalia group), but there are 67 total

The moons of Uranus: Miranda, Perdita, Margaret, Rosalind, Portia, Juliet, Mab, Desdemona, Cressida, Bianca, Ophelia, Cordelia, Titania, Oberon, Puck, Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Trinculo, Francisco, Ferdinand, Ariel, Umbriel, Belinda

The moons of Neptune: Triton, Proteus, Larissa, Galatea, Despina, Thalassa, Halimede, Sao, Laomedeia, Psamanthe and Neso, all the names of water deities, plus Naiad and Nereid, which are terms for water deities

The moons of Pluto: Hydra, Charon, Nix, Styx, and Kerberos

The moons of Mars: Phobos and Deimos (I wouldn't recommend these, as they mean "fear" and "dread")

The moons of Saturn: (62 total, 53 with formal names, not including hundreds of moonlets) The usable names include Titan, Rhea, Dione, Pan, Atlas, Pandora, Phoebe, Hyperion, Helene, Calypso, Albiorix, Thethys, Anthe, Pallene, Aegaeon (Aegean/Aegeon would work better, I think), Janus, Telesto, Kari, Fenrir, Aegir, Hati

Constellations: Andromeda, Antlia, Aries, Auriga, Caelum, Carina, Cassiopeia, Columba, Corvus, Cygnus, Draco, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Lynx, Lyra, Norma, Orion, Perseus, Phoenix, Pyxis, Sagitta and Vela, but see the full list here.

Asteroids
Called minor planets, there are way too many to list (488,449 and about 20k of them are named) so this will not be a complete list - instead, I'll only show the names that are rare and could arguably be used today. As you'll see, what is left is a pretty fascinating list. You can find a full list of asteroids here. Did you know asteroids can have their own moons?

Female: Leda, Polyxena, Svea, Libera, Wilhelmina, Maximiliana, Agnes, Briseis, Ilse, Pelagia, Ilona, Egeria, Lenka, Beryl, Caecilia, Cordelia, Desiderata, Alauda, Enid, Okyroe, Hermione, Hebe, Ida, Acacia, Guinevere, Gunila, Coralina, Adelinda, Vesta, Dulcinea, Pamina, Pandora, Adrastea, Adria, Belisana, Lucina, Pomona, Lucretia, Tigerlily, Kallisto, Cornelia, Anahita, Beatrix, Ianthe, Ekaterina, Galilea, Galina, Embla, Bettina, Antonella, Wanda, Elba, Eliane, Cybele, Oenone, Pallas, Juno, Iris, Fortuna, Thisbe, Ursula, Frostia, Gallia, Calpurnia, Thais, Calvinia, Camilla, Eugenia, Ismene, Davida, Honoria, Xanthe, Xanthippe, Xenia, Helga, Carelia, Albina, Hesperia, Sabine, Leocadia, Una, Undina, Roswitha, Hestia, Bellona, Helmi, Alisary, Cosette, Odessa, Flavia, Cosima, Gladys, Tigris, Nicandra, Niobe, Phaedra, Allegra, Altamira, Amalthea, Castalia & Kastalia, Petrina, Sandrine, Eugenia, Mera, Rhiannon, Nenetta, Ambrosia, Mahalia, Aemilia, Verenia, Alsatia, Lilium, Helina, Saskia, Amalia, Ginevra, Genoveva, Octavia, Nerina, Amadora, Persephone, Brixia, Tanith, Sirona, Mimosa, Ghislaine, Ida, Salix, Imelda, Valina, Laetita, Ashpatra, Oriola, Ludmilla, Lobelia, Ampella, Iva, Titania, Nephele, Aspasia, Aegina, Melusina, Atira, Aralia, Arcadia, Ulla, Alisary, Kalina, Leukothea, Kalliope, Avila, Azzurra, Brianza, Pippa, Imogene, Solene, Iphigenia, Hermia, Bondia, Raimonda, Illyria, Toscana, Sybil, Olga, Brunsia, Peregrina, Blythe, Tirion, Vanadis, Eulalia, Kira, Caia, Calandra, Zelima, Olympia, Tirza, Raphaela, Chryseis, Gismonda, Mimi, Sequoia, Mira, Tove, Zita, Winifred, Coppelia, Maeva, Magdalena, Celestia, Cesarina, Feronia, Misa, Frieda, Cloelia, Lyka, Crescentia, Salome, Ursa, Ursina, Larissa, Lilith, Priska, Prisma, Chandra, Tomyris, Lunaria, Chantal, Malva, Malvina, Signe, Charis, Marceline, Ostara, Cybele, Cyrene, Saga, Deidre, Minerva, Romilda, Thora, Thyra, Petunia, Concordia, Lorcia, Dagmar, Davida, Tamsin, Millarca, Fabiola, Moira, Phryne, Doronina, Thisbe, Delphine, Demitra, Edda, Eudora, Fennia (Latin for Finland), Salvia, Galatea, Galene, Marcelle, Otila, Ottilia, Lagia, Wendeline, Fey & Fay, Klio, Sigrid, Franzia, Isolda, Jetta, Zenobia, Katja, Palatia, Kalypso, Lioba, Luce, Proserpina, Leonora, Stana, Musa, Polina, Lysistrata, Oceana, Marion, Malala, Tarsila, Nausikaa, Nortia, Ophelia, Praxedis, Raissa, Rosalinde, Zibeline, Rosamunde, Scheherezade, Zelia, Sebastiana, Valeska, Yvette, Yvonne

Male: Osiris, Salazar, Duncan, Zephyr, Xanthus, Wilbur, Rubin, Valentine, Seneca, Jurgen, Iskander, Alcide, Leonidas, Mingus, Eros, Jarvis, Hektor, Ixion, Escher, Troilus, Ulysses, Sylvester, Irvine, Carlisle, Skip, Fitzroy, Merlin, Anubis, Ninian, Cadmus, Midas, Davy, Eos, Kendrick, Dante, Sanford, Aramis, Rufus, Selwyn, Ajax, Sheldon, Bede, Odysseus, Bardwell, Varuna, Moa, Orcus, Thersander, Ignatius, Nestor, Siegfried, Sigmund, Cicero, Milton, Icarus, Slade, Acer, Mikko, Stetson, Girard, Lothar, Silvain, Eros, Lazzaro, Icarus, Wallace, Roderick, Pyramus, Kieffer, Fabian, Seeley, Morvan, Tremaine, Joris, Amos, Morris, Endymion, Preston, Bowen, Melchior, Bastian, Caspar, Miller, Castander, Callander, Miro, Romero, Gawain, Lucidor, Merrick, Joëloïc, Pascal, Kent, Fletcher, Chesley, Grover, Clasien, Fauvel, Miller, Cyrus, Cyrano, Drago, Ferris, Priamus, Luderic, Howard, Heath, Jessop, Kato, Warren, Lowry, Laertes, Maynard, Nigel, Nikko, Orpheus, Pan, Picander, Quincy

Last, but not least, here are some famous astronomers:
Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, Edwin Hubble, Tycho Brahe, Isaac Newton, Carl Sagan, Claudius Ptolemy, Azophi, Christiaan Huygens, Giovanni Cassini, Edmond Halley, Charles Messier, William and Caroline Herschel, Harlow Shapley, Henrietta Swann Leavitt, Frank Drake, William Hartmann, Lyudmila Karachkina, and Jocelyn Bell

Friday, May 19, 2017

Girls Nicknames So Dated They're Cute

Some nicknames from times passed were used as given names on formal records, such as Lucie instead of Lucille or Lucinda, or Evie instead of Eve, just as is done today. There are other nicknames that are undeniably vintage, like Hattie or Icy. Some of them have already made a comeback, and some have yet to be rediscovered. Let's delve into the so-dated-they're-adorable nicknames, with possible full formal names that could go on the birth record.

Nan - traditionally used for Nancy, but also sometimes Anna. Nanetta also works, but there's a wealth of other names containing the element 'nan' that might be good for Nan as a nickname. Nancy was given to 306 girls in 2016, a rank of #900
Etty - sometimes used for Harriet or Henrietta, sometimes for Etta, and sometimes for Esther, but today you could use Etty as a nickname for anything starting with Et- including Eternity. Etty was given to 23 girls in 2016
Effy/Effie - typically used for Euphemia, you could reasonably use this for anything beginning in Ef-
Roz - for Rozlyn/Roslyn. Rozlyn was given to 74 girls in 2016, Roslynn to 28, and Roslyn to 215. Roz could work for any Roz- or Ros- name, such as Rozanna or Rosalyn
Mimi - a pet form of Miriam, but it could arguably be used for anything beginning with Mi- especially anything with another m in the middle, or starting and ending with m
Peggy - comes from Margaret, but could be used as a standalone name. Peggy was given to 19 girls in 2016
Mindy - also could be used as a standalone name, but she's short for Melinda, which was only given to 138 girls in 2016. She was brought back to attention thanks to a character in the movie "Kickass," and given to 88 girls in 2016
Dottie - used for Dorothy, she has a retro vibe. Dorothy ranked at #652 but Dottie was given to 36 girls in 2016
Elfie - a nickname for Elfreda/Elfrida, neither spelling used in 2016, nor was Elfie. I would say Elfie could also be used as a nickname for Delphine/Delfina, thought vintage nickname Della could also work for those two. Delphine was given to 45 girls in 2016 and Delfina to 27
Kitty - Kitty is just a bit more vintage of a nickname than Kathy or Katie for Katherine. Kitty was given to 7 girls in 2016
Ginny - used for both Virginia and Ginevra (as seen on the Harry Potter character). Ginny was given to 23 girls in 2016, while Ginevra was given to only 15, and Virginia to 599 with a rank of #517
Mitzi - comes from Mary/Maria through German, and Miriam. Mitzi was given to 16 girls in 2016
Madge - for Margaret, because I don't think Marge is quite ready
Bess - Bessie was given to 8 girls in 2016, Bess to 6
Maidie, Maida - some say Maida is an American name meaning "maiden," while others say it's a nickname for Magdalena. Maidah was given to 5 girls in 2016, Maida to 43, and Maidie to none
Mackie - a rarity used as a nickname for Macaria, which was given to 5 girls in 2016, Mackie to none
Dolly - made famous by Dolly Parton and the movie "Hello, Dolly." This one also comes from Dorothy, but Dolly has been used as a given name since the 17th century. Dolly was given to 41 girls in 2016
Nell - while Nell could be used for a multitude of names containing the same letters in that sequence, it came from Helen, Ellen and Eleanor. Nelle was a spelling given to 17 girls in 2016, Nellie to 200, Nelly to 104, and Nell to 69 (I'll also mention Nella, given to 58)
Tillie - traditionally used for Matilda
Millie - used for Millicent and other names with 'mill' in them, such as Camilla
Mamie - if you aren't familiar with Mamie, pronounced similarly to Ma'am, you'd never guess it was a nickname for Mary
Edie - pronounced EE-dee, this is short for Edith, which was given to 631 girls in 2016
Fanny - while I think Fannie Fern, others might still think about butts. Still, Fanny was given to 28 girls in 2016
Flory/Florrie & Flossie - traditionally used as nicknames for Florence, which was given to 246 girls in 2016
Minnie - this is usually Minerva's nickname, but it's been used on its own - Minnie Driver, Minnie Mouse. Minnie was given to 65 girls in 2016, Minerva to 65 as well
Dilly - has been used as a nickname for Daffodil. There might be some hesitation with these names, as is always the case. Neither was used in 2016
Franny - a nickname for Frances that has fallen out of favor. Frances was given to 716 girls in 2016, a rank of #446
Bridie - this wasn't used in the U.S. so much as Ireland, where it comes from Brighid. Still, Bridie was given to 5 girls in 2016
Bab, or Babs - for Barbara, which still ranks after all this time at #856
Cressa and Cressie - used for Cressida, more well known in England, but these could also work well for Crescentia. Cressida was given to 10 girls in 2016, Crescentia none, and neither nickname was used
Trudy - from Gertrude, which was given to 36 girls in 2016, Trudy to 24
Gussie - traditionally used for Augusta, which was given to a mere 25 girls in 2016, despite masculine August ranking on the boy's side at #193
Hetty - for Henrietta, which was given to 65 girls in 2016. Hetty was not used as a given name
Kizzie - Keziah/Kesiah
Lollie - Charlotte, but I think this would do well as a nickname for Lollia, Eulalia or Lolita. Lollie wasn't used last year, but Lolly was given to 7 girls.
Connie - not sure how "vintage" Connie really is, but it's uncommon enough that it could see a boost. Connie was given to 73 girls in 2016, full form Constance to 150
Mina - is a name in its own right and definitely works on its own, but it has been used as a nickname for Wilhelmina. It was given to 380 girls in 2016, a rank of #744. Wilhelmina was given to 114 girls
Vinnie - used as a nickname for Lavinia, but today it could be used on more international names like Vincenza or Vilhelmina. Vinnie and Vinny were not used in 2016, but Lavinia was given to 75 girls

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Idris

This name is currently worn by actor Idris Elba, whose birth name was Idrissa. He was born in the U.K. and his birth name name is of Krio African origin, chosen by his parents who came from countries in Africa. Guinean professional footballer Idrissa Sylla is an example of the African name as well.

Idris, as he shortens it, happens to be an ancient Welsh name meaning "ardent lord," pronounced IDD-riss. In legend, Idris Gawr was a leader of giants, and a mountain in Snowdonia was given his name - Cadair Idris, or "Idris's Chair." As a name it can be found as far back as the 6th century, but it was not really used in Britain until the 19th century.

Alternately, Idris is also an Arabic name meaning "lengthy learning," although some say it means "interpreter." It is most commonly pronounced idd-REES. This form of the name is worn by one the second prophet of Islam. He is sometimes identified as Enoch, from the Bible, because of his character description: "trustworthy," "patient," and "exalted."

Many people have had this name in real life, from all over the world. Idris of Libya was a Libyan politican, religious leader, and King of Libya from 1951 to 1969. General Idriss Déby Itno is a Chadian politician who is currently President of Chad. Two other politicians include Idris Waziri of Nigeria, and Idris Naim Sahin of Turkey. Idris Seabright was used as a pseudonym for author Margaret St. Clair. Idrees Sulieman was a trumpet player who was born Leonard Graham, and he changed his name upon converting to Islam. Idris Muhammad was a jazz drummer who did the same, changing his name from Leo Morris. The poet Idris Davies and the activist Idris Cox are two examples of namesakes from Wales.

There was also a royal line in Morocco, where Idris I and Idris II ruled the Idrisid Dynasty from 788 to 791, 791 to 828. Idris I, great-grandson of the prophet Muhammad, is credited with bringing Islam to Morocco. Idris II was born a couple months after the death of his father, so his Berber mother Kenza raised him among the Berbers, where he became very accomplished. As sultan, he refounded the city of Fez, unified Morocco through Islam, and left behind a legacy of monarchy that was continued for over a thousand years.

Used since at least 1914 in the U.S., the spelling Idris was given to 138 boys in 2015 and 175 in 2016. The spelling Idriss was only given to 11 boys in 2015, 13 in 2016, and the name Idrissa was given to 8 boys in 2015, 7 in 2016.

Idris has also been used in Mary Shelley's The Last Man, but as the name of a woman. The character is described as very loving. There are other delightful names in this book as well, such as Perdita, Merrival and Evadne.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Rarest Names of 2016



The U.S. top 1000 baby names and extended list is here (thank you Social Security Administration!), and my priority is picking out the gems from the very bottom of that list. While Emma and Noah are the current rulers of popularity, names like Cassiana, Euphemia and Faustine were only given to 5 baby girls into 2016, and Pippin and Lonan only given to 5 boys in 2016. In this post I'll talk about names that really stood out, and legitimate names at the very bottom of the barrel.

One thing I noticed right away was a large amount of boy names ending in -iel at the bottom of the list (5 boys in 2016). The letter Y had four - Yaciel, Yassiel, Yekusiel, and Yatniel. There was also Remiel, Raniel, Lexiel, Keriel, Joxiel, Joriel, Jazziel, Jaydiel, Ithiel, Eddiel, Doniel, Deriel, Azariel, Audiel, Andiel, Alexiel and Avriel.

For girls, I noticed the Brazilian (and Venezuelan?) -y ending on popular girl's names: Gabrielly, Isabelly, and so on. I also noticed a decline in Renesmee and alternate spellings of that name, and also a possible increase in names not ending in the traditional -a.

Boys

Maui - this name has been used for girls (7 in 2014 and 7 in 2015) since 2003, but for boys since 1996. In 2014 it disappeared, but with the recent film "Moana" it is back - 5 boys in 2015 and 5 in 2016. In mythology and in the movie, Maui is a male god, but today we are most familiar with the Hawaiian island. Other Hawaiian names given to 5 boys in 2016: Moa, Kameo, Kamau, Kamahao, Kaikea.

Zerin - a Persian name meaning "golden," I wonder why this isn't used more. It is still used in Turkey and Bosnia, and it can also be spelled Zerrin or Zarin. Zerin is a minor planet/asteroid name. Spelled Zarin, this is the name of a comic book character. Zarin and Zarrin are very common Iran place names.

Rennick - a family surname that seems like it should be right up there with Finnick or Kendrick in terms of popularity.

Aragorn - this Lord of the Rings character name is so similar to Aragon, the place in Spain. It was given to 5 boys in 2016.

Varin - this boy's name from India is Sanskrit for "rich in gifts." According to the Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier Williams, Varin is a deity.

Areion (ah-RAY-on) - more commonly spelled Arion, this is an immortal horse in Greek myth. He has wings and the gifts of speed and speech.

Adagio (ah-DAH-jee-oh) - the musicial term is Italian for "slowly," but it seems like any other boy's gio name, such as Gianni or Giorgio.

Pippin - Pippin is a fun-to-say, fun-to-look-at short form of a name that can be shortened even further to "Pip." It is found as a hobbit name in the Lord of the Rings books, and was the name of a few Frankish kings. The hobbit's full name was Peregrine, while the Frankish king's name was also spelled Pepin and may have been related to an Old French word meaning "bib." There is also a Broadway musical based of the son of Charlemagne, who himself was a son of one of these Frankish Pepin's, called "Pippin."

Seanix - Seanix Zenobia, a carpenter from the TV show "Treehouse Masters," truly has one of the most unusual names I've seen. Zenobia is not usual, really - I've written about the name before, but Seanix is a whole new ballgame. It seems to be made up? He pronounces it SHAW-nyx.

Other names given to 5 boys in 2016 that probably deserve their own post: Theodoro, Thaddius, Virgilio, Vasily, Thurmond, Tiberias, Tayo & Taye, Tag, Taggert, Stelios, Sumir, Sulieman, Sidarth, Serafim, Salinger, Osric, Orland, Romain, Ringo, Rennen, Mowgli, Olek, Norbert, Moa, Montague, Kitson, Kincade, Maxence, Matthis, Marx, Arcadio, Mercury, Mobin, Gioele, Hux, Heathcliff, Gordy, Guillaume, Gunnison, Isauro, Isandro, Isadoro, Ives, Isra, Jem, Jetsen, Joyce, Abbot, Gradin, Garvin, Joris, Algernon, Alistaire, Alvan, Andress, Aniceto, Antonello, Chaplin, Chanson, Celio, Caldwell, Eldric & Eldrick, Bromley, Beasley, Barclay, Caffrey, Bevan, Chrisander, Enver, Erasto, Bart, Basile, Attilio, Aubin, Desmund, Christobal, Crusoe, Dannon, Dionysus, Dorsey, Ebon, Errion, Esher, Fraser, Franck, Frances, Forrester.

And as always, some fun words-as-names on boys: Mayhem,Trance, Tracker, Temple, Solo (undoubtedly a few of these were because of Han Solo), Satchel (a celebrity baby name), Savant, Quince, Pier, Nexus, Jester, Hawkeye, Galaxy, Frost, Fortune, Fennec (as in Fennec fox), Emperor, Coven, Coast, Choice, Carbon, Camper, Butch, Brand, Brace, and Armor.

Girls

Thierry (tee-AIR-ee) - this French boy's name and variant of Theodoric, meaning "people's ruler," was given to 5 girls in 2016, and I do believe it's the first time I've ever loved a name gender swap. Not sure how I feel about the 5 girls named Troy, but there were also 5 named Troian, which is the name of an actress on the TV show "Pretty Little Liars."

Wilmary - a Latin name seen often in Venezuela, which at first sight looks like a smush of Will and Mary; it is in fact a feminization of Wilmer.

Velia (VAY-lee-uh) - from the Roman family name Velius, it likely means "concealed." It sounds so close to Vienna and other names like Aurelia that it has potential to rise in popularity (albeit slowly).

Tisa - a very old Slavic shortm form of the name Tihoslava meaning "quiet and calm." It has also been used as a nickname for Theresa, as an alternate spelling for the Serbian name Tisza, and is a name in African-Swahili meaning "ninth-born."

Tryphena (trih-FEE-nah) - Tryphena of Rome was mentioned in the Bible, who may be the same person as Antonia Tryphaena, a "Client Queen" of Thrace. The name is Greek, meaning "delicate." According to Wikipedia the name was revived thanks to the English Puritans.

Yolandi - a South African variant of Yolanda, from medieval French Yolande, quite possibly a variant of Violante, meaning "violet." (Yolanda also sounds similar to Iolanthe, the Greek name for "violet."

Sussie - a Scandinavian pet form of Susanna, more commonly spelled Sussi.

Sofina & Sofiana - these legit variants of Sofia could make a great option for parents who detest the popularity of Sofia/Sophia.

Ski - I'm not sure where this comes from but for some reason Ski just seems so cute, like "ski bunny."

Shannara - this one comes from the Shannara Chronicles, which was on TV a year or two ago and currently waiting on season two.

Legit names that deserve their own individual posts (later, of course) that were also given to 5 girls in 2016: Stellina, Soteria, Timea, Ysa, Willamena, Veruca, Uliana, Belicia, Catherina & Catharina, Cherith, Ceridwen, Tulia, Trillium, Tabea, Sulamita, Starling, Stana, Sheba, Honoria, Idaliz & Idalis, Elisiana, Idania, Ilyse, Feodora & Fedora, Frederica, Euphemia, Aquinnah, Karenza,Francia, Edelina, Jera, Alfonsina, Alvira, Bridie, Bernadine, Corinthia, Demitra, Destina, Sabela, Rumor, Rozelle & Rozella, Priscella, Rosamond, Prisma, Liadan, Leonella, Lazuli, Lucretia, Lovisa, Rowdy, Nohelia, Orpha, Padma, Pace, Zizi, Aelia, Akiva, Anneth, Antionette, Aureliana, Iria, Iseult, Isidra, Jazira & Jazeera, Macaria, Manon, Mrytle, Mythili, and Molina.

Less words-as-names for girls, but I couldn't end this post without mentioning Blessence. No, that's all. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew Blessence was a name now. Also spotted 5 Pocahontas.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Perdita

Perdita charles robert leslie
Perdita by Charles Robert Leslie 

Perdita (per-DEET-uh) may sound familiar to you for one of two references: either the mother Dalmation from "101 Dalmatians," the Disney movie (or the Dodie Smith novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians), or the Shakespeare character from The Winter's Tale. Despite her familiarity, she's exceedingly rare - given to only about 30 girls in the U.S. between 1950 and 1980. In fact, the Social Security Administration shows no record for her after 1970. She was not given to any girls (at least not more than four) in 2016. Which is mind-boggling given her literary credentials and upbeat, classy sound. The name is even rare in its home country, where only 7 girls were named Perdita in the U.K. and Wales as of 2013.

They say Shakespeare invented the name. Meaning "lost," from Latin perditus, it suited the character. In Perdita's story, she is left as an infant to die. Her mother, Queen Hermione, is imprisoned because Perdita's father, King of Sicily, believes his wife was unfaithful. The story is predictable because it has been done time and again: peasants find her and raise her, then a prince comes across her and, because she's just so beautiful, he decides he must marry her. Florizel is his name, and they run away together because she is not a princess and his father will not let him marry anyone below his station. However, all is revealed in the end for a happily-ever-after.

Perdita was used as a psuedonym for poet and actress Mary Robinson in her correspondence with King George IV (at the time just Prince of Wales), who went by Florizel in their letters. They took their names from the Shakespeare play because Robinson became famous after playing Perdita on stage.

More recently, namesakes include actress Perdita Weeks, actress Perdita Avery, Canadian track athlete Perdita Felicien, women's rights activist Perdita Huston, and author Perdita Buchan.

In fiction, Perdita was used in the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, as a character in Mary Shelley's The Last Man, and the novel Stardust by Neil Gaiman, and as a title and main character in a novel by Hillary Cunningham Scharper. In the 2008 movie "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," this is a character's stage name.

Lastly, Perdita is a genus of North American bees, and a moon of the planet Uranus.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Florizel

florizel perdita
Florizel and Perdita by Mary F Raphael


Florizel is a rare boy's name seen in many literary works, and sometimes on influential men both past and present.

Florizel's name undoubtedly comes from the Latin flor, meaning "flower," while the zel element might be a rare medieval Germanic ending (as in Etzel and Wenzel). However, it could just be a medieval spin on an otherwise Latin name. It's also recorded as Florisel, as seen in Florisel of Nicea (1532), Book X from the Amadis of Gaul tales. Florisando may be another variant of the name, as seen in a novel that was possibly titled Florisando by Ruiz Paez de Ribera, which was a sixth book in the Amadis of Gaul romances. The books were published starting in 1508. It looks like this was a chivalric name based on a play on flore-sindo, Sindo being a nickname for Latin names such as Gumersindo.

Florizel was later used in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (1623), and it was the name King George IV assumed when writing to Mary Robinson, who went by Perdita in the letters.

Later the name appeared in Benjamin Disraeli's novel Endymion (1880), Henry Beston's Firelight Fairy Book (1919), Sir Arthur Somervell's operetta Princess Zara, and the last book in a cycle of four by Robert Louis Stevenson titled The Adventure of Prince Florizel and a Detective. Florismart and Florival are also seen in literature; Florival in George Colman's The Deuce is in Him, Florismart in Song of Roland.  Florimel (Florimell) is a similar name, used for a female character by Edmund Spencer in The Faerie Queene. The etymology for this name is more clear: flor, "flower," and mel, "honey."

In real life the name Florizel was worn by Sir Florizel Glasspole, a Governor-General of Jamaica, and also Florizel von Reuter, a violinist and composer. Elaborate female forms of Flora, or perhaps feminizations of Florizel, include Florizella and Florizelle. Fun fact: supposedly the original name of TV series "Coronation Street" was "Florizel Street."

There may be some concern over Florizel sounding too "feminine" for a modern boy's name. In case the literary and historical namesakes haven't won you over, the potential nickname Zell isn't enough, and you have no Flora to honor, perhaps consider Florian, which is similar to other popular boy's names such as Adrian, Julian, Cillian, Dorian, Finnian and Damian.

Source for list of names above

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Loria

You're probably thinking, "Take Lauren, create the nickname Laurie, change the spelling to Lori, then make a full name out of that nickname and you get Loria." Really, though, it is the elaborate Latin version of Lora, which came as a pet name for Eleanor in Italian, and also a short form of Dolores in Spanish. Whichever you prefer, Eleanor means "sun, bright," and Dolores "pain, sorrow." In modern times, however, Loria came about in English as a frilly version of Laura, which means "laurel" in Latin.

Although this is a rare name, it has been used since at least 1907 and it ranked in 1961 and 1962, the height of its popularity overall. However, it should be noted that it was only given to 132 girls in 1961 - the population was smaller so it took less to make it on the top 1000. In 2009 it was given to a mere 5 girls, and we haven't seen it since. Loriana, however, was given to 17 girls in 2016, and Lorianna to 7. It might be brought off the endangered list due to recent pop-culture use: this is a kingdom name in the fictional world of Fillory, which comes from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. His 2009 book was recently made into a TV series of the same name.

Loria is a place name as well, located in Veneto, Italy. The name most likely derives from the ancient Roman city Laurentum. There are also a few birds with Loria in their species name - these were named after ethnographer Lamberto Loria.

As a bonus, Loria can have the nickname Lore instead of Lori/Lorie. The definition of Lore is "a particular body of knowledge or tradition" according to Merriam-Webster. Mostly people associate the word lore with legends and oral tales. If Laurel (365 girls in 2015 and #772), Laura (1003 girls in 2015 and #322), Lorelei (700 girls in 2015 and #448 with the spelling Lorelai #651) or Lauren (2677 girls in 2015 and #119) are names that appeal to you, but you dread their eternal popularity, consider Loria. The spelling Lauria started being used around 1915, but it stopped being used in 1992. There are plenty of other variants and spellings of these names, including Laure, Loriana, Lauralei, Lorelie, Laureline, and Loralea.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Oslo

Oslo is a place name, the capital of Norway since about 1300 AD, but place names on kids are nothing new for American parents. Oslo is on-trend with other names that end in O, such as Otto and Arlo. In Norway this name is not used, but in the U.S. it has been used since about 2006, and was given to 16 boys in 2015.

Founded in 1049 by Harald Hardrada, the city Oslo had burned down in a fire in 1624, so the people moved it close to Akershus Fortress to rebuild. This was during the reign of Christian IV of Denmark, and then the city was renamed Christiania in honor of him. After 1925 the original Norwegian name was restored. It is currently a "global city" with a population estimated at 658,390.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Venla

Here's a look at Venla, which is currently (2017) Finland's #4 most popular girls name. This #1 pick is a form of the boy's name Wendel, meaning "vandal." An older form is Vendla, and an alternate Swedish form is Vendela. Wendelin is the ancient Germanic male form, Vendelin the Czech form. Wendela and Wendelina pop up for girls from time to time, giving the option for Wendy as a nickname. Venla is used in Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well, just not as much. It has not been used in the U.S.

The first novel written in Finnish, Seven Brothers, features a character named Venla of Männistö. This may have brought attention to the name when it was published in 1870, bringing it from zero to at least five births in 1920. The Venla relay is the women's version of the more commonly known Jukola relay, an orienteering relay race that started in 1949 because of the Seven Brothers novel.

Since 1982 the Venla has been a Finnish television award. Venla Hovi is a Finnish ice hockey player, and Venla Niemi is a Finnish orienteering competitor,

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Suvi

suvikoponen

Suvi (SOO-vee) is a Finnish poetic word name meaning "summer." The word used in general for summer is kesä, so this is a bit like the American use of "fall" in reference to the season and Autumn as a baby name, although autumn is used in context of the season almost as much as fall (it could be a regional difference). The name is used in other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway, though not as much. It is not unheard of for Suvi to be combined with another name, such as Suvi-Tuuli or Suvi-Marja, for the double-barreled effect. This site claims the name was used as early as 1150 or before. Finnish supermodel Suvi Koponen and Finnish taekwondo master Suvi Mikkonen are two native namesakes. In the U.S. the name is rare, given to only 14 girls in 2015, 11 in 2016, and only used since about 2007. Here is Finland's data for the name Suvi, which tells us about 440 girls were given the name between 2010 and 2017, and it has been used as a name there since at least 1920.