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Beryl & friends


Beryl (BEHR-ill) is a girl's baby name that is also a mineral gemstone, and it has been used since the 19th century. The etymology of Beryl can be traced from 12th century Old French beryl, from Latin beryllus / Greek beryllos, to Prakrit veruliya and Sanskrit vaidurya. It may ultimately come from the city Velur in India. The Greek meaning was considered "precious blue-green, color-of-seawater stone."

There are seven varieties of Beryl that often get overlooked, especially as baby name potential: morganite, emerald, aquamarine, maxixe, goshenite, and heliodor or golden beryl, and red beryl (formerly known as bixbite). While Morgan and Morgana are still used as baby names, Emerald is unusual but familiar, and Heliodor, Heliodoro, and even Heliodorus had their day in the sun, Aquamarine is usually reserved for fantasy characters and movie titles, and Maxixe is unheard of. Goshenite comes from the name of Goshen, Massachusetts.

Beryl last ranked for girls in the U.S. in 1957, dropping to the depths. In 2016 it was only given to 9 girls, a far cry from its heyday in 1920, when it ranked #372. It seems to be the general consensus that Beryl is an old lady, which is why Prakrit veruliya/verulia may work as a fresh, frilly update. Verulia fits right in with Valeria and Vienna. Otherwise, Emerald is still climbing the charts, given to 219 girls in 2016, working her way up again since her disappearance off the chart in the 90's.

As far as namesakes go, perhaps the earliest was Beryl Drusilla de Zoete, a London native ballet dancer born in 1879. Actress Beryl Mercer was born in 1882, but also note the amazing British-born Kenyan aviator, racehorse trainer and author Beryl Markham, born 1902, and feminist Dame Beryl Beaurepaire, born in Australia in 1923.

Beryl was also not too uncommon for boys to be named, as was the case with three politicians - Beryl Anthony Jr., Beryl F. Carroll, and Beryl D. Roberts. There were a handful of other male namesakes, including Beryl Wayne Sprinkel, a member of the U.S. Executive Office.

In fiction, most of the namesakes come from Britain, with one exception being Queen Beryl of Sailor Moon. Perhaps the most well-known literary namesake is Beryl Stapleton from The Hound of the Baskervilles.


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