Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Name News - 9/30/15

Why Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling chose their 'Disney' baby name - Jessica Gibb, Made For Mums
Would you choose a name based on an animated film? With the rise of Pixar and Disney over the last few decades, this trend might become more established.

The Hipster Baby Name Generator Perfectly Curates a Name for Your Kid - Annie Black, Design
As a name nerd, this made me giggle. What's wrong with Hattie Prudence Lotus?! It only goes to show that creativity is the cool new trend - and I'm fine with that!

22 Outlawed Baby Names From Around the World - Michele Debczak, mental_floss
The US is fairly lax with name rules, for better or for worse. Check out some of the outlawed names, including @ and Linda.

Spring Baby Names: 24 Unique Monikers Inspired By The Season - Isabelle Khoo, Huffington Post
Though we're still only just beginning autumn, these names might be nice to keep in mind if you're expecting a spring baby! (Or just love happy nature names)

Are Women More Likely to Use Just Their First Names When They Introduce Themselves? - Alice Robb, Elle
When meeting a new person, at work or with friends, do you use both names or just your first?

Fewer Women Run Big Companies Than Men Named John - Justin Wolfers, New York Times
Not a new article, but one I find myself referring back to often. Just a reminder that name statistics can tell you a lot about the world you live in.

What happened to kids addressing adults by their last names? - Danielle Larkins, Washington Post
A few articles about this phenomenon have come out in recent news, what's your opinion? Is respect only shown by address, or by behavior?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Film Names #2: Film Noir

This is part two of my semester-long series profiling names in film. Check out last week's post: Film Names #1 - Early Cinema. As for this week....

Film Noir!

Since there are dozens of films to choose from, I'll only be focusing on names that aren't heard as often today. But who's to say Fred and Barbara can't make a comeback?

Femme Fatales

Marlene Dietrich - Blonde Venus (1932), Desire (1936)

Joan Crawford - Mildred Pierce (1945), Sudden Fear (1952)

Gene Tierney - Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Ingrid Bergman - The Big Sleep (1946), Casablanca (1942)

Ida Lupino - High Sierra (1941), Road House (1948)

More common names: Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Veronica Lake

Private Dicks

Humphrey Bogart - The Big Sleep (1946), The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Sterling Hayden - The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Killing (1956)

Elisha Cook - Phantom Lady (1944), The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Orson Welles - The Stranger (1946), The Third Man (1949)

Dana Andrews - Laura (1944), Fallen Angel (1945)

More common names: James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Mitchum, Raymond Burr, Fred MacMurray

Monday, September 28, 2015

Top Baby Names in Russia

After chatting with a friend who's based in Siberia, I wanted to make a post on Russian names. In an increasingly global world, why not take advantage of the variety and find a name that speaks to your interests, heritage or one that's just plain превосходный? ("Excellent" in Russian)

The only data I could find is from 2013, so it's a couple years behind. Check out this awesome site that shows name lists from around the globe: Essential Baby!


Here are some names from the top ten lists that don't show up in the US! I've included any more popular versions, which I think will help show connections. 

Female Names

Arina - Irene
A beautiful name that means "peace", Arina is a great way to subvert the Alina-Ariana-Marina trends while still choosing something easy to pronounce. With Irene decreasing in popularity, why not honor an aunt or grandma with an exotic nod?

While the origins of the name are a little conflicted - I've seen the meaning as "protector", "to possess", "pearl of wisdom", and "the sea" - this is a pretty, bright name with a nice sound. Spelling variation Daria was on the list for a short period in the 90's, but is now a more unique choice!

Varvara - Barbara
English variation Barbara might be outdated and over-used, but Varvara is lively and almost new! Varvara is a character in Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, for any literary fans. And it's not too far off from Valeria, Victoria or Valentina.

Polina - Pauline
This is the name of my dear Russian friend, and would fit well into any American playground. It comes from Paul, meaning "small", and lends itself to the cute nicknames Polly or Lina. Actor Vin Diesel recently welcomed a Pauline with his wife, so why not try the Russian variation?

Elizaveta - Elizabeth
I'll admit, this iteration might get confusing to explain over and over again. But I love the central "v" sound and the endless nickname possibilities - Ellie, Liza, and Veta to name a few. The meaning "pledged to God" is also very elegant. 

Male Names

Artem - Artemis
Also found on the Russian lists as Artyom, this is a rare male name derived from a female Greek goddess, associated with the hunt and the moon. It's more unique than Arthur and easy to spell and pronounce. The bell-tone sound also makes Artem more accessible to today's kids. 

Another name from Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of agriculture. This is a personal name crush, and any readers who watched the Anastasia cartoon growing up will understand why. It's not unheard of in the US, but Dmitry can be read as a "stereotypical" Russian name. 

Kirill - Cyril
I reviewed Cyril in last week's Oscar Wilde post, and it's come up again! Modern favorites Kellen and Kieran fit in with Kirill, so it's not too out-there. The meaning is "lordly" and the sound is unusual without being difficult. 

While the sound is close to Nicholas, the name actually comes from the goddess Nike. There have been a few Nikita's in Catholic history as well - popes and saints. While the name has been claimed by the female gender via La Femme Nikita, I think this name is a great way to honor Slavic heritage and get the accessible Nick nickname. 

Yegor - Igor
The minion of Dr. Frankenstein is what keeps most away from choosing Igor, but brother Yegor is different enough to merit a glance. Pronounced "yeh-GOR", like Gregor, it has a Scandinavian origin meaning "warrior". Definitely unique, but the strong sound and meaning might be a draw.

What are your favorites?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Jams #6: Heeerrrreee's JOHNNY!

For all those John's, Jonathan's and Johnny's in your life, be they relatives, friends or celebrity crushes (looking at you, John Mayer).

"Johnny B. Goode", Chuck Berry, 1958

"New Kid in Town", The Eagles, 1976

"Johnny Magic", Neil Young, 2009

"Frankie and Johnny", Johnny Cash, 1958

"Johnny Feelgood", Liz Phair, 1998

"Slow Graffiti", Belle & Sebastian, 1998

"Gravity", John Mayer, 2006

Friday, September 25, 2015

Literary Names #5: The Stravaganza series

As a lifelong reader, I get very excited when other people reference my favorite books, especially the ones that are relatively obscure. Imagine my enthusiasm when I saw the Stravaganza shout out in Appellation Mountain's Sunday Summary!

This excellent series by Mary Hoffman takes place in an alternate version of Renaissance Italy, called Talia. The series is written for pre-teens and teens, but the story is fun for readers of any age. Check out the official site here!

Instead of my usual format of mixing up character names, I'll just be focusing on the cool names already found in the series. Let's begin!

Female Names

Silvia - "from the forest"
This original spelling of Sylvia dropped off the top 1000 in 2006, but its sister spelling seems to be rising up the charts again. To me, the sound is more "silvery" and Italian than the popular version. It's also a great nature-name choice for anyone near the woods! In Stravaganza, Silvia's character is powerful and positive, protecting daughter Arianna and pursuing her own passions.

Leonora - "the other Aenor"
This Italian variation of Eleanor might be ideal for anyone who loves the English version but is turned off by its popularity - Eleanor is at #78, while Leonora hasn't made the list since the 1940's. Feminine and strong, Leonora has the cute nickname options of Leo or Nora. It could also be a great way to honor a familial Leonard.

Giuditta - "woman from Judea"
In the age of Gia, Giselle, and Giovanna, why not Giuditta? It's the Italian form of Judith, but much prettier and more exotic. In the series, the character is a talented artist and sculptor - and with a name like Giuditta, your child could be the next Michelangelo!

Raffaella - "God has healed"
The feminine form of Raphael, this spelling definitely has more ruffles. But it's so friendly and beautiful, who would want to be friends with a Raffaella? It also lends itself to the Ella nickname (or even Raffi if you're a children's music fan). The angelic connotations are also positive, but the character associations in Stravaganza keep this name down to earth.

Male Names

Lucien/Luciano - "light"
Without giving too much away, I'll say that this character uses both names at different points in the series. And with such lovely iterations, why not? This updates popular Luke and lightens Leonardo at the same time. The meaning is great, and the sound of each name is pleasing. As for the character? Lucien/Luciano is the hero we love to root for!

Aurelio - "golden"
I'm sure Aurelio/Aurelia/Aurelius has come up in my posts before, and it will continue - such a great sound and meaning for a name! Nicknames Ari or Leo are among the possibilities. As for a guilty pleasure set, why not Aurelio and Argento ("silvery")?

Gaetano - "man from Gaeta"
While you may be familiar with the English name Guy, this version makes it less of an identity and more of a name. Pronounced "guy-TAN-o", has both the trend "ae" combo in the name next to the also-trendy "o" ending - but it's highly doubtful you'll see this name anywhere else in the US. Nickname Tano is a cute possibility.

Sky/Celestino - "heavenly"
Nevaeh, Skylar and Celeste have gotten popular - why not Sky or Celestino? The character in the series is a shy but talented artist, and a nature-name like Sky is perfect for any free spirit. While Sky/Skye is currently charting on the girls' lists, this name is definitely great for a little boy with stars in his eyes.

To learn more about the series, check out the above links and the Wikipedia page!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday #5: Ancient Rome

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

With names like Kingston, Duke, and Royal getting popular, why not look to the past for some imperial names? They can connote power, prestige and timelessness when used correctly.

What contenders can we find in the archives of Ancient Rome?

Male Names

Augustus - "great, venerable"
This name is already climbing up the charts, currently weighing in at #544. Originally a title given to emperor Octavian (another cool moniker), it was quickly taken as a name. Anyone looking to make August less fusty and keep the cute nickname Auggie should check it out. But it will definitely take a lot of confidence to pull Augustus off!

Hadrian - "dark one"
With an edgy, mysterious meaning and a sound similar to darlings Hayden or Adrian, why not consider Hadrian? The original namesake was one of the "five good emperors" of Ancient Rome, and credited with rebuilding the Pantheon and building, of course, Hadrian's Wall. While the name might get confused with Adrian, it assuredly has a personality all its own!

Florian - "flowery"
On the girl's side, Flora and Florence are gaining popularity, but why should they have all the fun? This name is perfect for any nature boy, and probably won't be in the top 1000 for awhile (it last made an appearance in 1941). Florian was an emperor, but was also the name of the patron saint of firefighters - a cool way to honor any in the family.

Maximian - "greatest"
If you want to keep the nickname Max but don't love Maxwell or Maximilian, this name is for you! Emperor Maximian was a military leader and co-emperor of the political Diocletian. This name is unusual enough to not have ever made an appearance in the top 1000, but not so unusual to halt pronunciation or comprehension. One odd note: the "simian" sound at the end is the name of the order of primates that humans belong to.

Jovian - from the Roman God Jove, or Jupiter
This name could honor an astronomy aficionado or a fan of ancient religions. Emperor Jovian only ruled for eight months, but this name could work from babyhood to old age. The "jovial" sound is upbeat and friendly, and the nickname Jove is too cute.

Female Names

Livia - "envious"
Only one letter off from top ten contender Olivia, but more than complete on its own. The nickname Liv is elegant and mature (think Liv Tyler), and the -via ending is vivacious. The original Livia was the wife of Augustus and the mother of the ensuing political line - she was even deified in AD 14!

Aelia - from the Greek for "sun"
While Aelia and Aelius became family names for the imperial line, Aelia isn't so bad by itself. The recent popularity with Aaliyah and Lilia will help it with recognition, but the name is totally unique. The trendy "ae" beginning adds class, and the name will be perfect for any sunny little girl.

Decima - "tenth"
It goes without saying that Decima doesn't have to be saved for a tenth daughter - any personal connection with the number ten will add meaning, but the name is independently beautiful. Nickname Deci or Dezi will tone down the femininity to make it more friendly. The connotations of elegance and grace seem to go right along with this name.

Quintina - "fifth"
Another number name, but the whole name makes up for the simple meaning. Quintina is perfect for those who like Quinn but want something softer, those who like the cool Q initial, or those who want to honor a Quentin. This name is both cool and pretty - it will fit any personality well!

Hilaria - "cheerful"
While Hilary is currently in the spotlight, Hilaria makes it more foreign and feminine. The nickname Ria is super cute, and the name could honor a relative while keeping its own style. The hilaria in Ancient Rome referred to festivals honoring the goddess Cybele - another positive and exciting connotation for this name.

While researching, I cam across this similar post by Linda Rosencrantz at Nameberry - check it out!

Did I miss any great names that came out of Ancient Rome? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

All You Need Are Beatles Names, Part Three

The last of my Beatles name review, you can check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here!

Hey Jude
A personal favorite name since I became acquainted with the song, the only drawback will be the giggles that succeed "Hey, Jude!" While it seems to have flattened out at #162 on the US charts, I wouldn't be surprised to see it move higher up the list in the next few years. Actor Jude Law is a famous namesake, and the name is in the title of an 1895 Thomas Hardy novel. If you're looking for something Biblical, classic and known but not too trendy, Jude is perfect.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer
While just plain Max has made it all the way up to #112 for boys, lengthening it by using Maxwell adds a classy touch - and some popularity (it's at #107). The name is Scottish for "great stream", and could be a subtle way to honor a local water environment. In recent years, Maxwell has become gender neutral, so don't be deterred from giving the name to a spunky little girl as well!

The Ballad of John and Yoko
There are two names in this title, but at opposite ends of the popularity spectrum - while John won't raise any eyebrows, Yoko is sure to elicit a Yoko Ono reference. John is a classic, simple and versatile, and Yoko is much louder - at least in the US. In Japanese, it comes from "child of the sun", and is much more common across the Pacific.

Doctor Robert
Oh, the perils of popularity. Robert is currently at the lowest it's ever been on the top 1000 - #62. It's now more of a family name than a classic - give it another hundred years and it might be ready again. To honor a familial Robert, check out some related names: Robin, Rupert, or even Bertie.

Teddy Boy
Though the phrase "teddy boy" refers to a style of dress in 1950's Liverpool, the name Teddy might have shed its fussiness to be a great modern option. It's the short form of Theodore - "gift of God" - which itself is rising up the charts. Across the Atlantic, Theo has surpassed Theodore and Teddy as the favorite short form. So why not choose something more "American", and honor a great name and a great namesake - the bold Teddy Roosevelt?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Name of Thrones: Belgium

To expand my knowledge of names from around the world, I'll be periodically focusing on modern monarchies and the names of royal family members. I'm going to try to focus on names that aren't heard much in the US, rather than hash out whats popular across cultures.

Feel free to suggest countries in the comments!

This week, to Belgium!

Mathilde - Queen of Belgium
While German cognate Matilda has been sweeping the English-speaking countries lately, Mathilde hasn't been on the US charts since 1911. Pronounced "ma-TEEL", it's arguably more delicate than the German version, but keeps the strong meaning: "battle-mighty". If you're looking for something French but think Michelle, Elaine and Danielle are too popular, Mathilde might be for you!

Astrid - Princess of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Very strong and very Scandinavian, this would be perfect for a headstrong little girl. It means "divinely beautiful", and was recently the name of a character in the children's favorite How to Train Your Dragon, voiced by America Ferrera.

Amedeo - Prince of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este
While this name is most familiar to English speakers as Amadeus, Mozart's middle name, I think this Italian form would fit right in today. It means "lover of God", and is also the first name of painter Modigliani. Next to Giovanni, Alessandro or Leonardo, why not Amedeo?

Aymeric - Prince of Belgium
A distant French relative of Emery, I hadn't heard of this name until starting my research. But ultimately, I don't think this name is too foreign. The Ay-beginning sounds like Abraham or Aidan, and the -ric ending ties it to Frederick or Eric (a total name nerd like myself could point out that spelling it Aimeric would translate literally to "lover of Eric" - not a bad way to honor a father or grandpa). The meaning is "brave" or "industrious", and I can picture an Aymeric as a force to be reckoned with.

Joachim - Prince of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este
Actor Joaquin Phoenix uses the Spanish spelling, but Joachim makes the sound softer and more Biblical. The name would follow the Jacob-Joshua-Joseph pattern, but individualize it while keeping the nickname Joe. An excellent option!

Laetitia - Princess of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este
Very light and happy, Laetitia means "gladness". The tia-ending keeps it feminine, while the ae-combination in the beginning makes it more exotic than Letitia. A little Laetitia would stand out in a crowd of Lily's, Layla's and Lucy's!

Are these names too foreign? Or are they usable here in the US?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oscar Wilde Names

As an Oscar Wilde fan, I'm continuing my posts dedicated to my favorite names in his books and plays (as well as those of his two sons). You can check out my post about The Importance of Being Earnest here!

Dorian - The Picture of Dorian Gray
The twisted antihero of Oscar Wilde's only novel would make an interesting namesake for a child of readers: Dorian isn't much to aspire to. But his name is fantastic! The name comes from an ancient Greek tribe, and may have been first used as a name by Wilde himself. With its similarities to Damian, I think Dorian could be a great option.

Basil - The Picture of Dorian Gray
A personal name crush, but definitely has its cons: how many pesto jokes could one child handle? Older generations might also associate with early Sherlock star Basil Rathbone, though that reference is definitely decreasing. As for the pros: it means "regal", has quite a few saintly namesakes, and has the cute nickname Baz. And with other nature names moving up the charts - River, Forest, and Phoenix - it won't be too out of place.

Sibyl - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Another name with conflicts, but rising out of the negative shadows. While the multiple personality Sybil came out as a fake, fictional namesakes Sybil Trelawney of Harry Potter and Sybil Crawley of Downton Abbey make this name more desirable. It's also aurally close to Sydney, and has the excellent meaning of "seer" from ancient Greek mythology.

Rosalie - Lady Windermere's Fan
This name is trending up the charts quickly! And why not? It's got the popular -lee ending, three syllables, and a floral first part. Characters in Twilight and Grimm complete its trendiness. Yet Rosalie is an undeniable classic that won't result in eye-rolls. Wilde was more than ahead of his time!

Vera - Vera; or, The Nihilists
Another personal name crush, based on a dear friend. But my own bias aside, I think Vera is ready to come back in style. It's from the Russian for "faith", and has the same sound as Lena or Nora. Some great women working today are named Vera, including designer Wang and actress Farmiga. It also works well across cultures - Vera is currently trending in Sweden!

Salomé - Salomé
While it's a beautiful name that means "peace", the connotation with the seductress who was part of the death of John the Baptist might be a little much. If you can get past it, though, why not? Other similar alternatives include Simone, Selma, or Esme.

Cyril (Holland) Wilde - Oscar's older son
Not too far off from Cyrus or Silas, this name means "lordly". It's definitely got a pretentious air, but the right child could make it more friendly. Cyril was the favorite son of Oscar and his wife, Constance, who died in battle in World War I.

Vyvyan Oscar Beresford (Holland) Wilde - Oscar's younger son
While this name is definitely decadent, it's unusable quality stems more from Vivian's takeover by the female gender. Vyvyan's son Merlin would go on to be a major Wilde biographer, and Vyvyan himself published some memoirs on life with his notorious father.

Any names I missed, or mischaracterized? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Jams #5: Queen ELIZABETH

Songs about Elizabeth for your weekend!

"High School Lover", Cayucas, 2012

"Elizabeth", The Statler Brothers, 1983

"Elizabeth, I Love You", Michael Jackson, 1997

"I Wish I Was a Girl", Counting Crows, 1999

Friday, September 18, 2015

Name News - 9/18/15

Some recent name articles from around the web!

'Growing Up With My Name' Hashtag Reveals Subtle and Surprising Racism - Julie Zeilinger, Mic
Names can influence a lot about a person's opportunities, especially when they're read as "non-white" or another sort of "other"...

Why Do So Many Girls' Names End in "A"? - Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic
Musings on the Latin roots of today's most popular names for baby girls - linguists, this is your time to shine!

Why 'Denali?' Explaining Mount McKinley's New (Old) Name - Elizabeth Palermo, Live Science
Super informative article on the history of the mountain's name and what it means for the US to officially embrace native Alaskan culture. Both Denali and McKinley are trending upward in both boys and girls' names, too!

The Unexpected Advantage of Giving Your Child a Unique Name - Randee Dawn, Today
(Warning: autoplay video) Recent studies show a correlation between unique baby names and creativity levels in kids - excellent piece to show any family members who raise their eyebrows at little Epic!

This Pig (Name) Won't Fly - Laura Wattenberg, Baby Name Wizard
A new Muppet Show is premiering soon, and the name of Miss Piggy's new rival is... Denise???

The Least Popular American Baby Names According to Early Records - Arika Okrent, Mental_Floss
Not exactly a recent article - it was originally published in 2013 - but a great selection of unusual names with historic precedent (though I can't picture Okey coming back...)

Cincinnati Zoo Announces Name of Newest Baby Gorilla - WLWT Cincinnati
A cute backstory and a pretty sound, let's give it up for new baby Elle!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday #4: Unusual (but Established) Baby Names from 1885

130 years ago, the first skyscraper was built in the USA. Dr. Pepper was served for the first time. The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City. And these names were at the bottom of the top 1000!

I've selected a few of my favorites from the 1885 list that I think could work 130 years later. The Statue of Liberty is still standing, right?

The number next to the name refers to its popularity in 1885 - none of these names are currently on the 2015 top 1000!


Leda - #992
A lovely name for those who like Lily or Jada, but want something less popular. In Greek myth, Leda was the mother of Helen of Troy, after a tryst with Zeus. Leda means "happy" in Greek. This name hasn't been on the top 1000 since 1920, so it's recognizable but definitely unique.

Euphemia - #965
Another name of Greek origin, Euphemia is the source for the nickname-turned-name Effie. It means "to use words of good omen", and has a feminine, melodic sound. Popular Mia could also work as a nickname, but any of the three monikers would be beautiful on a little girl.

Delta - #948
This name burst into the celeb-baby spotlight in 2014, when Kristen Bell and Dax Shepherd named their baby Delta Bell. Delta can either refer to the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet or a triangular piece of land at the mouth of a river. It's bright, spunky and sweet - a definite win.

Avie - #931
With Ava, Eve and Evelyn getting popular, why not Avie? Another form of Avi, the extra E at the end gives it a bit more femininity. It comes from the Hebrew origin word meaning "my father", but aurally connects to Aves, like the bird genus. Another odd connection - Dolly Parton's mother was named Avie.

Zadie - #920
A lively alternative to Sadie, Zadie keeps the pretty meaning - "princess" - but adds more personality and a great first initial. Zadie Smith is a British novelist, and Zadié (with the accent) refers to a river in western Africa.


Domingo - #976
A haunting name with a pleasant meaning - "born on a Sunday". It's the Spanish version of Dominic, and a nice option next to Diego or Damian. I'd especially suggest it for those looking for an unique religious name.

Bernie - #950
Continuing the growing trend of "so out that it's in", Bernie is a cute way to honor a grandfather Bernard while avoiding the St Bernard jokes. It's meaning is "strong as a bear", but the ie-ending makes it more wearable. And progressive politician Bernie Sanders isn't a bad namesake!

Albion - #937
Mythological and way too cool, Albion was historically inspired by the White Cliffs of Dover. Albion is also the oldest known name for the island of Great Britain, which could make it a great heritage choice. For you Harry Potter fans, it's related to the name Albus.

Zenas - #934
A short form of Zenodoros (which would be a bit much for a child), Zenas means "gift of Zeus". It's got the trendy as-ending, like Lucas or Jonas, and the cool Z-beginning, like Zac or Zane. Powerful, but also edgy and unusual - perhaps Zee or ZZ as a nickname?

Nim - #904
Simple and complete, Nim could be a cool alternative to Sam or Ben. It comes from the Hebrew word for "hunter". It was originally short for Nimrod, which is a definite drawback, but gained popularity on the female side with the release of the book and film, Nim's Island.

Looking back on this list, I'm seeing a lot of Greek roots and Zeus connections. Any comments on how you think these names would fly on the playground?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

All You Need Are Beatles Names, Part Two

Happy Wednesday, readers!

This post is a continuation of my last Beatles post, and there'll be another one before I'm through!

In more Beatles trivia, here's a list of what the Fab Four named their own children: John - Julian and Sean; Paul - Stella, Heather, Beatrice, Mary, and James; George - Dhani; and Ringo - Zak, Lee and Jason.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Lucy has jumped in the past ten years to the top 100, currently charting at #62. And why not? It's sweet, feminine and works for any age. I would suggest making it a nickname, though, and picking a longer name to provide options for little Lucy later on: Lucienne, Lucia and Lucetta are all viable. Also, bear in mind that the song reference might prompt some giggles!

Martha My Dear
Even a few months ago, I would have recommended against Martha - the age factor is clear. But now, with Harvey, Alice and Dorothy in the spotlight, Martha may be more usable than I thought. Martha means "lady" in Aramaic, has a reference in the Bible, and has quite a few namesakes - modern choreographer Martha Graham for one. I'd give it more than a glance!

One of my personal favorite Beatles' songs, since many of the lyrics are in French. And it would be so cute to call a daughter "Michelle, my belle". But its extreme popularity with women born in the 1960s and 1970s makes it a little hard to imagine on a child. Variations on Michaela are the norm today, and I'd look at Micheline or Misha.

Penny Lane
While the song isn't about a woman, but a street, Penny might be a cute nickname for a Penelope or could stand on its own. Keep in mind, Penny dropped off the list in 1987 and recently return in 2013, with a steep rise. It could be the next Lily! I'd also check out similar sounding names like Penna, Penn, or Penrose.

Polythene Pam
Pam, and long form Pamela, ruled the US from the 1940s to the 1980s. It means "all honey", and has the nice three-syllable-ends-in-a sound that so many popular girls' names have. But I think it's been done, and will be dated for at least a while longer. Mela is a great alternate nickname.

What's the New Mary Jane?
Mary Jane has quite a few connotations, and until the main one is legalized, I'd stay away.

Any of these jump out at you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Names from the Writing of Kate Chopin

Kate Chopin, a nineteenth and twentieth century American writer, is most famous for The Awakening, an early feminist novel. Her writing speaks to a lot of women even today, as she explored the issues of marriage, love, and independence at a time when most women weren't allowed to be public. I'm very much a fan of her short stories and essays as well as the novel, and I'll admit, her mastery of names is what initially drew me in!

Chopin lived for a time in both St Louis, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana, and was exposed to all sorts of people and languages. The names in her stories speak to this experience: French, English, Creole, Spanish and more are represented.

You can find my original list on Nameberry - Literary Names by Kate Chopin - but I'll also paste them below.

What are your favorites?

Ti Nomme

Monday, September 14, 2015

Literary Names #4: Harry Potter

When my Literary Names #1: The Secret Garden made it to Nameberry, I got a couple of requests to give the same treatment to Harry Potter characters. Now, since the series is enormous, I've decided to try it out with just a select subset - the Defense Against the Dark Arts professors.

This group is unique in that each character is unique - this is a job given to quite a wide range of teachers. Each of them significantly influence their respective book plots, more so than the other professors, and every Harry Potter fan has a favorite. So remember, this is just a personal homage, and I'd be excited to hear how you would change up the names!

Also - I'll be using the names the characters went by so as not to spoil anything!

Quirinus Quirrell..... Gehry Wiley
This name is much less fanciful, but I've tried to stay true to the sound and meaning. While researching Quirinus, I found that it means "spear". The sharpness of Quirrell's character at the end justifies it a bit, so I kept the meaning and found Gehry. Quirrell is a made-up name by Rowling, but I was struck by how much it sounds like "squirrel" so I picked a squirrelly-sounding middle name - Wiley. I can also picture a middle-aged frantic Muggle named Gehry Wiley pretty easily, so I think Quirrell has been well-served.

Gilderoy Lockhart..... Aurelius Baldwin
In my mind, Gilderoy Lockhart picked his own name, one that would measure up to the greatness he hoped to achieve. I chose a "gilded" name that belonged to an emperor, one that I think he'd enjoy: Aurelius, "the golden one". I wanted a brave but pompous middle name, so I picked Baldwin, meaning "brave friend". The connotation with the acting brothers lifts it a bit, though. Both names have the same aural rhythm, to cement the connection.

Remus Lupin..... Zev Dakota
There are many analyses of Lupin's name floating around online, most having to do with how much of the "wolf" meaning is imbued in his name. I decided to tone down the connection with a short but unusual first name - Zev means "wolf" in Hebrew. I wanted a more natural middle name, so I picked Dakota. It's underused for boys, I think, and also has the fortune of meaning "friend" - the only DADA professor to whom Harry was close.

Alastor Moody..... Vidar Quaronne
Dramatic and dark is how I think about Moody's character. His name means "avenger" and "ill-humored", so again, I followed the meaning - Quaronne is old English for "one who is haughty". Vidar I stumbled across while looking for names related to vengeance. In Norse mythology, Vidar is the one who will avenge the death of his father, Odin, at the end of the world. And I couldn't resist a father-son reference for Moody's new name!

Dolores Umbridge..... Bronagh Atgas
Bronagh is Irish and Atgas is Welsh, so at least the UK is well-represented. Dolores means "sorrow", as does Bronagh - with this character, it was important to me to underscore the sadness and evil attached to her. Atgas is Welsh for "hate", which I thought pertinent given her intolerance and racism of so many characters in the book. The sound of the name, to me, is like a snarl.

Severus Snape..... Severus Snape
Perhaps I'm too much of a fan, but it's impossible for me to come with a similar name for this very important character. Tell me how you'd do it in the comments!

Amycus Carrow..... Dexter Sharar
It was always frustrating to me that his first name was Amycus, like the Latin word for "friend", when this teacher was anything but friendly. I chose Sharar, a name of Hebrew origin meaning "enemy" to set things right. Carrow comes from old Irish for "dexterous", so I picked Dexter - also because it has the related connotation to HBO's serial killer.

What do you think? How would you change these names? Or is Harry Potter too sacred to edit?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday Jams #4: Get JACK

Some songs about Jack for your weekend...

"Hit the Road, Jack", Ray Charles, 1960

"Jack and Diane", John Mellencamp, 1982

"Happy Jack," The Who, 1966

"Wolfman Jack", Todd Rundgren, 1972

"Dear Jack", Jack's Mannequin, 2009

"Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts", Bob Dylan, 1975

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Throwback Thursday #3: 100 Years of Names

How have first names changed over 100 years? The above charts only show us around 80 names out of the thousands that have been used for children in the US since the Social Security Administration began recording births in 1879. The two charts can't show us direct trends, popular names in between, or the context surrounding the shift. But I think, looking closely, we can make our own inferences, find parallels, and think about how names might change in the future. 

Let's start with the names found on both lists. For boys, William, James and Joseph feature on both; for girls, Elizabeth and Evelyn. Three of the five names are Hebrew in origin, the other two are Germanic. We can easily infer that Hebrew names are popular in the US because of the prevalence of Christianity - over 70% of Americans identify as Christian. William, Elizabeth, James and Joseph each have never dipped below the top 30, and have not trended one way or another. Evelyn, on the other hand, has plunged all the way down to #289, and is only recently trending upwards again. So, while the five names listed appear on both lists, only four are consistent - Evelyn is an outlier. 

On the boys' side, types of names have changed less - 5/20 names in 1914 were Biblical derivations, and 13/20 names in 2014 were Biblical derivations. Does this mean that Christianity is rising? That promoting the appearance of Christianity is increasing? Or, that as names become more secular and less attached to their original meanings, parents care less about origin and care more about sound? All but one of the names on the 1914 boys' list were Germanic or Hebrew - George is Greek. The 2014 list, on the other hand, includes more modern English names and even invented names - Jayden. Originality is definitely becoming more desirable. 

Now to the girls! Both sets of names show a higher variety of origins - Old English, Germanic, Hebrew, Latin, Roman and Greek names are represented in both lists. The girls' names include variants of one another as well: Mia, Mary and Marie; Elizabeth, Lillian and Isabella; Helen and Ella; Sofia and Sophia. The most popular first letters for both lists include E, M and A. So while, the origins may be more diverse, the ultimate names haven't changed too much. 

This post is much more academic than previous ones, so I'll stop while I'm ahead. What trends do you see? Based on this knowledge, can you predict what names we'll see rising up the charts? I think Maya and Lucy might be on their way. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Film Names #1 - Early Cinema

I grew up watching tons and tons of old black-and-white movies with my dad. The memories have stayed, and so has the film addiction! I consider myself a huge movie and television buff, but I lack a formal education in film. So I'm taking an Intro to Film class for fun at my local community college!

I'll be collecting names throughout the semester and posting them, along with their related movies. Maybe you'll find a new favorite flick or a new favorite name! Keep checking in :)


Nicéphore Niépce - credited inventor of photography
Nicéphore means "carrying victory".

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre - inventor of the daguerrotype

Eadweard Muybridge - pioneer in the study of recorded motion
He was born Edward, but believed Eadweard to be the Anglo-Saxon spelling. 

Amasa Leland Stanford - American industrialist
Though he went by Leland, his given name Amasa means "burden" in Hebrew. 

Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas Lumière - one of the first filmmakers in history

Georges Méliès - A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Impossible Voyage (1904)

Edwin Porter - The Great Train Robbery (1903), The Prisoner of Zenda (1913)
Zenda is a Persian name meaning "sacred". 

Oscar Devereaux Micheaux - first major African-American filmmaker, Body and Soul (1925)
Devereaux means "riverbank". 

Sergei Eisentstein - Battleship Potemkin (1925)

More common names: Thomas Edison, Samuel Morse, William Dickson, George Eastman, Louis Lumière, Robert Wiene


Charlotte "Lotte" Reiniger - The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
Lotte pioneered animation over a decade prior to Walt Disney. 

More common names: Alice Guy-Blanche

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

All You Need Are Beatles Names, Part One

As a Beatles fan, I am only too aware of the four-name recitation "John, Paul, George, Ringo". While they aren't all immediately recognized by their first names (Ringo excluded), these four men are instantly known when put together.

With over 200 original songs and over 300 recorded songs, they managed to slip in a few names over the band's career. For this post series, I'll be focusing on only their original compositions and only songs with names in the title. Perhaps a name homage to the greatest band ever can be found in their lyrics?

For more cool Beatles name lists, check out Appellation Mountain and Nameberry.

Eleanor Rigby
Eleanor has always been a favorite name, and this is one of my favorite Beatles tunes! While the namesake in the song comes to an untimely end, there are a few real-life Eleanor's that were much stronger - Eleanor Roosevelt and Eleanor of Aquitaine, for example. It also allows for two cute (albeit popular nicknames) - Ellie and Nora. The only drawback is that the meaning isn't great - it translates to "the other Aenor", which isn't exactly inspirational.

Lovely Rita
A diminutive of Margarita, which means "pearl", Rita is an excellent cross-cultural choice - it's found in dozens of languages. Rita sank from its height of #42 in 1930 all the way to #919 in 2002 before dropping off the list. But with other 1930s names getting popular - Frances, EvelynRuby - perhaps it's time for a comeback?

Sexy Sadie
Sadie has jumped over the past few years into the top 50. It's got a great sound and a great meaning - "princess" - that any little girl would love. The only drawback is probably its popularity; I for one can see this name continuing to rise up the charts. But don't let the song fool you - Sadie isn't just "sexy", it's also sweet and spunky.

Another name that's been rising up the charts, Julia's enduring popularity might mean that it's time for a break. But since it has a feminine sound and pretty meaning - "youthful" - why not try other related names? Juliet is more romantic; Juliette is more romantic and French; Julianne is elegant; Juliana/Giuliana is flowery and exotic; July is unique. And then there are the male versions - Julius, Julian, Jules and Julio, to name a few.

Dear Prudence
I'm rather conflicted on Prudence - I love the song and the strong meaning, but the sound is a little crotchety. It doesn't lend itself to nickname either - Pru sounds too much like "prune" to me! I would focus more on other, more modern, virtue names - Amity, Honor, Prosper, Felicity, Serenity.

What are your favorite Beatles-related names? Be on the lookout for two more posts in the near future!

Beatles Names - Part 2

Beatles Names - Part 3

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Saturday Jams #3: ANNIE Song Will Do

Some songs about Annie for your Labor Day weekend!

"Annie", Mat Kearney, 2009

"Annie, I Owe You a Dance", Tim McGraw, 2013

"Annie's Song", John Denver, 1974

"Annie Use Your Telescope", Jack's Mannequin, 2008

"Annie", Vanessa Carlton, 2004

"Dreamboat Annie", Heart, 1976

"Sweet Annie", Zac Brown Band, 2012

Friday, September 4, 2015

Literary Names #3: The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde, one of my favorite authors, was well known in his day for biting one-liners and quick takedowns of the pretentious London nobility. There is no play that illustrates his wit better than The Importance of Being Earnest. And with a pun on names central to the plot, how could I miss the chance to make it my newest installment of Literary Names?

Let's begin!

Jack "Ernest" Worthing..... Erno Terach
Since Jack has no problems with its popularity, I decided that deriving from Ernest would be more of a challenge. Erno is the Finnish version of the name, with the trendy trait of ending-in-O. Erno is also the first name of Erno Rubik, of the Rubik's Cube, and I thought a play with so many twists and turns would find it a nice homage. Terach means "silly old fool", which describes Jack's character perfectly. I also like the sound of a closed-end middle name with an open first.

Algernon Moncrieff..... Zephaniah Winslow
This is very much a stretch, but it was hard to find names related to Algernon - "mustachioed man" - and Moncrieff - "hill covered by trees". I decided that since both names related to something hidden (a face and a hill), I'd choose a name that meant hidden - Zephaniah, "God has hidden". Winslow means "friend's hill", which relates to both the original last name and the friendship between the two main characters.

Gwendolen Fairfax..... Gwynna Finley
With alternative spelling Gwendolyn rising up the charts (currently at #420), finding a unique version of this name wasn't too hard - I like the very Welsh version, Gwynna. Fairfax means "blond", as does Finley. The double "in" sound of the name is a bit silly, but so is Gwendolen's character - ditzy, romantic and funny.

Cecily Cardew..... Cecilia Darcy
While Cecily is very cute, I though going back to the long feminine version might be more fun for the naive young woman in Wilde's play. Both names mean "blind", another reference to the obliviousness of the character. Cardew and Darcy both mean "dark fortress", and the peppy Darcy livens up the classic Cecilia. I think this name could actually be found on a birth certificate!

Lady Bracknell..... Fernanda Grady
Lady Bracknell is a rather rich, pompous character, so I wanted a name that would fit both her age and relate to the original name. Bracknell means "where the ferns grow", so I decided on Fernanda. The name also means "bold voyager", and "bold" is spot-on. Grady means "noble", and I like the "gray" sound in it to match her old age.

Miss Prism..... Iris Rin
Immediately upon hearing the word prism, I think of rainbows. While Rainbow isn't an unheard-of name, I wanted something a little more mature and conservative, but still feminine. Iris fits the bill - it means "rainbow" and is currently at #245. I wanted a middle name that defined more about her character, and I found Rin, a Japanese name that means "dignified, severe or cold".

Rev. Canon Chasuble..... Prescott Churchill
For a many whose name refers to the religious clothes he wears, I thought going full-religious might be fun. Prescott means "priest's cottage", and Churchill means - you guessed it - "hill of the church". I think the two names together are also a little stuffy, like the reverend himself.

Tell me what you think in the comments! And be on the lookout for more Wilde posts in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday #2: Counting Z's

Z names have gotten a bit stuck in the mud these days - how many alternate spellings of Zachary and Zoey will rise through the charts? Zane and Zayden have provided a much-needed break, but are there Z names in history that are ready for a comeback?

I'll only be focusing on girls' names, since there weren't too many boys' names listed (the above graph that shows Zayn in the 1880's is actually in error!)

Zainab - "beautiful"
This attractive Arabic name has popularity in Islamic culture due to its connection to relatives of the prophet Mohammed. An unusual b-ending rounds out this feminine name - other than Jacob, nothing is jumping to mind that's similar. I'd recommend this highly, especially those looking for something religious, unique, or meaning-oriented.

Zahra - "flower"
An excellent alternative to Sarah, this lovely name might have a few drawbacks - spelling will always be an issue, and the connection to celeb-baby Zahara Jolie-Pitt might raise some eyebrows. But in the right place, it could work wonders.

Zella - "lacking nothing, one who knows the way"
This name comes from the central African language Bobangi, and could be a great way to honor connections to the area. Zella isn't too far off from popular Bella or Ella, either, and won't be out of place on a playground.

Zelda - "gray fighting maid"
Zippy and bold, Zelda is a great choice for a confident, daring little girl. The connection to both the eponymous video game and writer Zelda Fitzgerald of the Jazz Age will let the name age gracefully with its carrier.

Zelma - "God helmet"
Doesn't have quite the pizazz of Zelda or Zella, but could be a great way to honor an Anselm. The auditory connection to Selma might also be a plus.

Zora - "dawn"
Fantastic sound, fantastic meaning, fantastic namesake - Zora Neale Hurston, the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God. This Z-name deserves an emphatic comeback.

Zula - derived from Zulu, a South African tribe
In the lower 300's as of 1880, this name dropped off the charts entirely in 1936. Strong and memorable, it's definitely worth looking over.

What are your favorite Z-names?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Name News - 9/2/15

Now that this "hobby" of name interest has become more of an active activity, my friends, family and coworkers have been tagging me in all sorts of name-related news articles. Some of these are just fun to read, while others spark debate - what does it mean when the popularity of Mohammed (and it's alternate spellings) aren't advertised in name news?

I'd love to hear your views on these articles in the comments, please reach out!

Game of Thrones Baby Names Are All the Rage - Megan Friedman, Esquire
Pop culture baby names are on the rise in the UK - is Khaleesi a one-hit wonder, or the beginning of a popular, acceptable name trend?

Mohammed, not Oliver, is UK's Most Popular Baby Name for Boys - Archbishop Cranmer
A very opinionated article - let's quit name-shaming, shall we? - on the rise of Islamic names in Western countries, as we enter into a multicultural world.

Jenna Bush Hager welcomes second daughter - named after George HW - Eun Kyung Kim, Today
(Autoplay video warning) Now that Poppy has crossed the Atlantic in a very public way, will we be seeing trends similar to those in the UK?

Benedict Cumberbatch And Wife Sophie Hunter Reportedly Name Baby Son Christopher Carlton - Minyvonne Burke, International Business Times
Another celebrity baby name in the news, but this time more traditional. Could tradition be the next trend?

Teenager lives up to a science-inspired name - Carrie Seidman, Herald-Tribune
We've heard of life imitating art, but rarely life imitating... names?

This man’s name means 'God,' and he’s being asked to change it - Herb Scribner, Deseret News
What are your thoughts on "name laws" in various nations? Gender, politics and religion often enter into the rules a country lays down, but when is it protecting the child and when is it censorship?

That's it for today!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Medieval French Names

As a recovering French Lit student, I've come across quite a few French names that send me rushing to the Internet - "Guillaume is related to William? Of course!" Some names seem to defy modern or Anglicized translations, though, and many of those I've found in medieval French texts.

Chrétien de Troyes, Marie de France, Jean Bodel and Christine de Pisan are just some of the authors I've drawn from to make this list. Some names are not uncommon, while others seem totally unique. And quite a few can be found in the Tales of King Arthur!





What are some of your favorite French names, old and new?

Online sources: Old French Literature, Medieval French Literature, History of French Literature