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Desdemona

desdemona-theodore-chasseriau
Desdemona by Theodore Chasseriau


Desdemona (dez-deh-MOH-nah) is an English literary name meaning "ill-fated." William Shakespeare used the name in Othello, but the play was based on the story Un Capitano Moro which was in Giovanni Battista Giraldi's Gli Hecatommithi, where the name was spelled Disdemona, from the Greek word dysdaimonia. It has never been a terribly popular name because of the character, who is murdered by her husband, and the name's meaning. However, Desdemona has been a character name in several other works of fiction since, including the Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and Jimmy Buffet's Where is Joe Merchant? Desdemona also features in two other plays - Toni Morrison's Desdemona, and Paula Vogel's Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief. It's also been used for four songs, is a moon of Uranus, and an asteroid demonically named 666 Desdemona. Desdemona Mazza was an Italian silent film actress, and the Desdemona Underwing Catocala Desdemona) is a beautiful butterfly found in Utah and Arizona. So, Desdemona really has a lot in her favor. Plus, nicknames! Choose from Dez, Dezzie, Dessie, Dessa, Desda, Demi, Demo, Mona and more.

Desdemona has been listed in Social Security Administration name charts in 1904, 1919, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1994, and last year in 2017 when it was given to 8 girls. I'm sure there may have been instances of Othello pop-ups that contributed to the name being used in these specific years. For example, there was a 1993 Otello performance by Luciano Pavarotti.

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Allifair

Alifair Hatfield
The baby name Allifair, alternatively spelled Alifair, Alafair, or Alafare, has a very interesting history. This girl's name suddenly popped into existence in the U.S. around the mid 1800's, with no mention why or how.

Some history buffs may be familiar with the Hatfield-McCoy "New Year's Day" Massacre, in which a long-time hatred between families (including Union vs Confederacy differences) finally escalated into an all-out violent battle. Alifair was the name of Randolph McCoy's daughter, born in 1858, who suffered from Polio as a child but remained productive. During an attack on the McCoy home, Alifair was shot and killed. There was later a legal trial for her murder. Ironically, there was an Alifair Hatfield born in 1873 in Kentucky.

So how did she get her name? There are records of others in 1809, 1815, 1819, 1831, 1870, 1883, 1920 and 1923. 1767 or 1787 seems to be the earliest it was recorded. It could come from Alfher/Alvar/Aelfhere…