Friday, March 31, 2017

Coral

coral


Coral is one of those names that everyone knows, yet no one really uses. When is the last time you actually met one? While Coral saw 199 births in 2015, it is not in the top 1000 - even though it has so much to offer.

Your first introduction may have been to coral reefs (marine invertebrates) or the precious coral gems made out of the underwater living "bushes." There's also the color coral, given in reference to the polished material. Coral jewelry has been used as far back as the ancient Egyptians and then some. It had great popularity in Victorian times, which may have been when the name started being used in modern times. The U.S. records specifically for names started in 1880, and we know Coral was being used at that time, which was just before the end of the Victorian period.

Coral comes from Greek korallion, given to mean a shade of red. It could mean "small stone" in Semitic. Elaborate versions of Coral include Coraline, Coralie, and Coralia. Coraline was made famous by the Neil Gaiman animated film and the opera La toreador, Coralie is the French version of the name, and Coralia was a 19th century mermaid ballet. Coralie's popularity as a French name was brought over to Quebec, where it ranked at #8 in 2007. Coralie seems to have the most namesakes as well. Actress Coral Browne was born Coralie. Other than Coraline, which got a recent pop culture boost and was virtually unheard of beforehand, these variants have never been as popular as Coral, which has also been used on boys. Other options have sprung up here and there, like Coralina and Coralyn.

Stats for 2015: 199 Coral, 73 Coralee, 6 Coralia, 104 Coralie, 5 Coralina, 524 Coraline. Coralie ranked twice on the SSA - once in 1880 and once in 1929.

A difference in the total number of babies born every year means Coral may have been more popular overall back in the 60's and then the 80's, even though it was given to about half the number it is given now. And if you're looking for a name that can't be misspelled, I don't think you can do that with this one. It also offers an alternative to a-ending girls names or otherwise 'frilly' names. If you're looking to complete a sibling set, Coral, Carlo and Carol are anagrams.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Meliora

Melior is a Cornish and Devon girls name, sometimes spelled Meliora. This was the name of a fairy in medieval legend, sister to the illusive Melusine, except all we really know about her is that she lived on the Isle of Avalon. Her story can be found in Jean d'Arras's Le Roman de Melusine, where Melior and her sisters take revenge upon their father for breaking their mother's marriage terms, but their mother punishes them for the act. Melior's fate was to be imprisoned in an Armenian castle. In The Romans of Partenay, the king of Armenia completes a challenge and asks for Melior's hand in marriage, but Melior knows that he is a descendant of her sister Melusine. He doesn't really care, but they still don't get married. Their sister Palatine has no better luck, as she was punished to guard a treasure that no man can win.

There's another namesake, however - Saint Melior, whose gender is undetermined. If someone wanted Melior for a boy and Meliora for a girl, or Melior for a girl, I don't think it would cause any fuss. The name likely comes from Meleri, a form of the Welsh name Eleri, probably meaning "earth, soil." A different chain could make Meliora come from Latin melior, meaning "better." Meleri and Eleri have their own historical namesakes: Eleri, daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog, and Meleri, wife of the legendary Cunedda. However, there is a chance this name is actually connected to the male name Meilyr from Old Welsh, which means "May sea." This was the name of a 12th century poet, and variations on the name include Mylor and Meilir. Melora is a variant of Meliora.

For a rare name from a small country, there are still a couple namesakes. In literature, Melliora is a character in Eliza Haywood's novel Love in Excess, and in Victoria Holt's novel The Legend of the Seventh Virgin, although it is spelled Mellyora there.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2015 Belgium, Hungary Top 10

Belgium

1. Louis & Emma
2. Arthur & Louise
3. Noah & Olivia
4. Lucas & Elise
5. Liam & Alice
6. Adam & Juliette
7. Victor & Mila
8. Jules & Lucie
9. Mohamed & Marie
10. Nathan & Camille

Other lovelies in the top 100 include Lina (f), Rayan (m), Noor (f), Nina (f), Sacha (m), Lotte (f), Seppe (m), Fien (f), Lore (f), Inaya (f), Anaïs (f), Tuur (m), Axelle (f), Aya (f), Clement (m), Daan (m), Imran (m), Eline (f), Fleur (f), Lowie (m), Amina (f), Senne (m), Pauline (f), Enora (f), Ferre (m), Romain (m), Roos (f), Ilyas (m), Elif (f), Jana (f), Fenna (f), Loïc (m), Kato (f), Leonie (f), and the 5-way tie between #100's Febe, Lena, Lise, Noa and Rosalie.

Hungary

1. Bence & Hanna
2. Máté & Anna
3. Levente & Jázmin
4. Adam & Luca
5. Marcell & Lili
6. Dominik & Nora
7. Dávid & Zoé
8. Daniel & Zsófia
9. Milan & Emma
10. Áron & Boglárka

I think it's a bit odd seeing Luca as a female name in a top 10 list, but that'll require some investigation later. I adore Lili here. Some lovely names further on the top 100 include girls names Dorina, Fanni, Mira, Eszter, Zselyke, Amira, Panna, Blanka, Fruzsina, Kinga, Emese, Timea, Zita, Kata, Kitti, Kira, Katalin, Kincső, and Dalma. You can see there's no shortage of K names here. For boys, the following are very striking and also very foreign to most Americans: Bálint, Zoltán, Gábor, István, Zsolt, Zétény, Csaba, Szabolcs, Ferenc, Mihaly, Tibor, Soma, Gellért, Florian, and Vencel.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2015 Slovenia Top 10

1. Luka (m) & Ema (f)
2. Filip (m) & Eva (f)
3. Nik (m) & Zala (f)
4. Mark (m) & Sara (f)
5. Žan (m) & Lara (f)
6. Jakob (m) & Nika (f)
7. Jaka (m) & Julija (f)
8. Žiga (m) & Ana (f)
9. David (m) & Lana (f)
10. Anže (m) & Mia

The funny looking Z is usually pronounced "sh." Here is a Slovene name site to hear certain pronunciations, but not all Slovene names in use are listed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Gunther

Gunther seems like he should be more popular, especially since Gunner and Gunnar are in the top 1000. However, in 2015 the name Gunther was only given to 26 boys, and that is only a slight increase from the handful of years before. It has been in use since at least 1924 in the U.S., but in native Germany (where he's pronounced GOON-thur) this name is very well known, usually spelled Günther. Guenter, Guenther, Gunder and Gunter have also been used.

There are several namesakes for the spelling Gunther, including fictional namesakes. The 5th century king of Burgundy was a bit of a legend, his story told in the Germanic saga Nibelungenlied. Another interesting story is that of Gunther of Bohemia, a Catholic hermit and saint from the 11th century. One more famous namesake was Gunther of Cologne, an archbishop who died in 873. He was from Frankish nobility, but for a long time was not very popular.

Simplified, Gunther means "warrior" in Germanic from the elements gund or gunþiz, meaning "battle," and hari, meaning "warrior, army." (No, it doesn't mean "bold warrior," but maybe it could be taken to mean "battling armies.") It comes from the Old Norse name Gunnar, meaning "strife." So the original form is the one currently in the top 1000, but they are cognate.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Juniper

Juniper


Juniper (JOO-nih-pur) comes from Latin juniperus and iuniperus, meaning "juniper tree." Its older form, gynypre, was tweaked to conform better to the Latin language, but from this spelling you can better see the connection to French genevre, later genievre. Ginevra and Geneva also share this root. It is possible Juniper ultimately comes from combining the words junio, meaning "young," and parpare, meaning "to produce," although it could come from PIE yoini-paros, meaning "bearing juniper berries." Likely this is a case of 'which came first?'

Back in the day, Juniper was unisex - still is, but Juniper entered the U.S. top 1000 in 2011 for girls and has always been a more popular gender for the name. It would be unusual to see a female Juniper in, say, Renaissance times, but Ginevra would be well received. A celebrity example as a boy name includes Tess Holiday's son Bowie Juniper. In 2011 when the name entered the charts it was unused for boys. It started being used the next year, but by 2015 it was only given to 13 boys. iN 2015 Juniper ranked at #429 for girls.

Juniper is used to flavor alcoholic gin, although the industry term is jeniver/jenever. The name "gin" came about as the French name genièvre got shortened bit by bit. It was not unheard of for gin to be called Geneva (as in the place name) in Europe or Genevieve in certain French dialects. But while Geneva is related to Juniper, Genevieve derives from Genoveva. It is also important to note that while Juniper and Jennifer sound familiar, Jennifer's original form Guinevere has a different meaning: "white phantom/magical being."

There's a handful of things you might know the name Juniper from. Perhaps the song "Jennifer Juniper" by Donovan, Pamela Dean's novel Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary, the cartoon series The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, or the movie Benny & Joon. A classic tale by the Grimm Brothers is called The Juniper Tree. There are many other fictional namesakes.

There is also a Saint Juniper, or Junipero Serra, called one of the "founding fathers of the United States" by Pope Francis, who canonized him. Junipera Serra took his name in honor of Brother Juniper, a friar known as the "jester of the Lord" who died in 1258. Juniper trees have also been believed to be sacred - in ancient Wales they thought a woodcutter who chopped down a juniper tree would die the next year, while in Renaissance times the juniper tree represented chastity in art, which can be seen in the Ginevra de'Benci painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Juniper berries are still used in cooking today.

Nicknames range from Jenny to Jinny, Jip or Jipsy, to June and Juno.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Carrick

Carrick is an Anglicised spelling of creag (sometimes spelled carraig), the Gaelic word for "rock." As a surname it is not that uncommon, but as a place name it is very common - over fifteen places in Ireland bear the name in some form. There's even a city named Carrick in both Cornwall and Scotland, and a couple in the U.S. and Australia.

It can also be seen as a title: Earl of Carrick, from Scotland. Donnchadh (Duncan), Earl of Carrick was a prince and magnate who died in 1250. After being held prisoner by King Henry II of England for some ten years, he returned home with permission to rule over Carrick, but not all of Galloway. Marjorie of Carrick, who was likely Donnchadh's granddaughter, was born just three years after his death, and she was the mother of Robert the Bruce.

In 2015 Carrick was given to 26 U.S. boys, which is a slight decrease from the past few years, but still a good rise in popularity from when it was just starting out in the 1970's. Carey would make an easy nickname.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Amapola & Poppy

poppy amapola


For being such a pretty flower, Amapola, which is Spanish and Filipino for "poppy," has seen no statistical usage in the U.S. It has never made the Spanish popularity charts either. To my knowledge there is only one namesake - Maria Amapola Cabase, a Filipino singer/actress, but there is a song titled "Amapola" by Joseph Lacalle, a 2014 flim titled "Amapola" from Argentina, cargo airline Amapola Flyg, and La Amapola was the ring name of Mexican pro-wrestler Guadalupe Ramona Olvera.

The name Poppy is a bit more popular and has a bit of a cult following (or it might be more accurate to say it is a hipster name or some other trendy label) as it is currently lurking just beyond the top 1000 with 257 girls given the name in 2015. That's a dramatic rise from a decade before, when only 57 girls were given the name in 2005. It's also increasing in popularity overseas, ranking pretty well in Australia (#73), New Zealand (#45), Northern Ireland (#32), England &Wales (#10) and Scotland (#28). What caused such a bump up, considering it's been used since at least 1919? There was also a slight spike in the early 1970's.

Poppy comes from papaver, an older name for the flower. It is Latin, likely meaning "to swell." One species of poppy are what opium, codeine, morphine and heroin are made from, but long before its modern drug usage the same properties were used for other natural purposes, such as cooking oil, seeds for baking, paint and makeup, and its qualities were revered like any other flower or herb. We also know the poppy as the flower of remembrance, thanks to the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae. The California poppy is the state flower of California.

Celebrites that chose this name for their kids include Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Edwards, and Jessica Capshaw. Celebrities wearing the name include Poppy Montgomery, Poppy Delevigne and Poppy Drayton, though there are several namesakes in other professions. In fiction we see quite a bit more, including children's TV show and book characters as well as some books for grown-ups. Most recently Poppy was the main character in the animated Trolls movie.