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.