Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Island Names - North America

Hello, readers!

Today, part three of Island Names! This time, we'll be looking at the continent I call home, North America. I've been to a few of its islands, but I still have many to explore. Share any island experiences of your own in the comments - or even better, name-related island experiences.

Also - because there are so many, I'll be covering Caribbean island names in a separate post!

Catalina, by Justin "jmarty" on

Let's begin!

Catalina - United States of America
This island has a special significance for me - it's where my parents lived for the first few years of their marriage, shortly before I graced their lives with my birth ;) After already having a few distinct names, Catalina was named in honor of Saint Catherine by Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno, a name that stuck. Today, Catalina is growing in popularity as an alternative to Caitlin or Catherine, with the bonus nickname Lina. Another option - the only city of the island is Avalon, a gorgeous choice. 

Madeline - United States of America
Named for Madeleine Cadotte, the daughter of a Native American chief and the wife of a French fur trader, Madeline Island can be found in Lake Superior. The English spelling of the name - as opposed to French Madeleine or modern Madelyn - tops out at #90 on the US top 1000, a beloved pick! It's feminine, literary, and historical, with dozens of fabulous namesakes. 

Elizabeth - United States of America
Off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the Elizabeth Islands were named for QEI in the early seventeenth century. Elizabeth needs no introduction - it's a classic girls' name that has maintained usage without ever feeling trendy or dated. Its multitude of nicknames - old Bess, mature Liz, and young Ellie, for example - offer more opportunities for individualizing it. Elizabeth won't surprise anyone, but it will absolutely stand the test of time and place. 

Alexander - United States of America
Another classic, but this time on the boys' side, Alexander currently ranks at #8. Nicknames Alex and Xander are in the top 300 as well, with a bevy of variations on the girls' list too. The Alexander archipelago is in southern Alaska, named for Tsar Alexander II of Russia. This name will also work for any age or background, with real timelessness. 

Teresa - United States of America
While looking up its name origins, I found out that Teresa Island has the highest elevation of any freshwater island - but I couldn't find out who the original Teresa was. Tessa is the most popular name in this family as of 2015, but Teresa ranks on the list at #665. It peaked in 1962 and has been on a gradual decline, but it's a beautiful, mature option that will stand on its own. 

Shannon - Greenland (Denmark)
Named for a ship that explored the island in 1823, Shannon Island is the home of all kinds of Arctic wildlife. The name Shannon has gotten the cold shoulder in recent years - despite relative popularity in the 1970's and 1980's, it's now totally gone from the top 1000. But with Welsh and Irish names popping up the charts, it may make a comeback!

Victoria - Canada
A third island named for a monarch, Victoria Island also has the distinction of being the eighth largest island in the world (and actually contains another island within its borders). While I shy away from using the word "classic" too much, Victoria really has very few peers - except those listed earlier. It might be time to generate new nicknames, though - Nameberry recommends Plum, and I think Via or Ria are viable options. 

Devon - Canada
The largest uninhabited island worldwide, Devon Island was named for the region of Devon in England. The name Devon reached its height in the mid-1990's, riding the coattails of similar-sounding Dylan, Logan, and Kevin. However, Devon is more than a trend - it's now an established, friendly name for boys and girls alike. 

Guadalupe - Mexico
Found off the coast of Baja California, Guadalupe Island hosts a few fishing camps and military outposts today. It's a religious name with a lot of history, originally translating to "river of the wolf" in Spanish but now mostly referring to the Virgin Mary, "Our Lady of Guadalupe". Nicknames Lupe and Lupita add a bit of feminine frill to this serene choice. 

Carmen - Mexico
A city with an exciting history - it was named in celebration of the eviction of pirates from its borders! (After the Virgin Mary of Carmen, of course). It loosely translates to "garden", and has maintained consistent usage since name recordings began. It's a great name to cross English and Spanish-speaking cultures, and will continue as a lovely choice for awhile

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

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