Friday, May 26, 2017

Famous Fictional Bookworms - Sara, Matilda, Belle

Hello, readers!

One thing I've noticed from my time in the name community is how many name nerds discovered their passion through reading. It makes sense - if you're exposed to dozens of different character names, you're likely to find their names interesting and/or meaningful. I'm definitely a part of this group, and one of my favorite character types was that of the Female Bookworm.

Bookish and nerdy but headstrong and opinionated, these ladies were inspirations in my youth - and now inspire some fantastic name ideas! Why not name a child/pet/character after someone with smarts and personality?

Full disclosure - I've never read Matilda, by Roald Dahl. A brief clip of the film version frightened me at a young age, and I never got the courage to try the book. Still, Matilda (Wormwood) Honey is frequently cited as one of the most influential bookworms, and for good reason - her devotion to books despite constant derision is moving. Her sweet name also has the courageous meaning of "battle-mighty," making it a lovely choice that balances strength and style.

Who doesn't love a character whose catchphrase is "My glasses, my glasses!"? Velma from Scooby-Doo frequently got the gang out of trouble with her intelligence and cunning. Being that this sassy name last peaked in 1912, Velma could gain popularity along the same lines as Alma and Zelda.

Though her name literally means "beautiful," Belle is definitely the most bookish out of all the Disney princesses. Then again, were any of the others given access to a gigantic castle library, they'd probably follow suit! Belle returned to the top 1000 this year - its vintage sound and bright spirit matches its kindness.

The heroine of the Harry Potter series, Hermione has practically become an identity for fans of the books. Her early preoccupation with exams turns into a passion for knowledge over time, and she's an excellent example for young nerds. Unfortunately, her name is so unique that it's hard to bestow upon a child - perhaps in a decade or two, Hermione will soar.

Friendly yet formidable, Connie is Steven's well-read best friend in Cartoon Network's Steven Universe. Though the audience discovers that Connie's strict parents are the reason for her fixation on school, she certainly enjoys learning for learning's sake. Connie is a diminutive of Constance, and neither appealing name currently ranks in the top 1000.

I devoured the Anastasia Krupnik books in elementary school - precocious and blunt, Anastasia appealed to me on a personal level. She frequently mentions books, from Gone With the Wind to The Interpretation of Dreams, and uses her intelligence to help solve the problems in her dramatic twelve-year-old life. Once frilly, Anastasia has become a popular, elegant name in today's world.

Josephine (Jo)
The oldest American bookworm on this list, Jo March was based on the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Of the book's four sisters, Jo is the best read and the most bold, and (spoiler alert) ends up writing a few books of her own. While Josephine and Josie rank in the top 300, nickname Jo is perfect for tenacious and boisterous girls.

For fans of the Disney cartoon Recess, Gretchen was the smartest (and arguably most mature) of the crew. In fact, one episode shows Gretchen besting her teachers in a battle of knowledge. While the name Gretchen has never been very popular, it did have a brief peak in the early 1970's. It's originally a short form of Margaret, and it has an amicable and adorable sound.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess introduced many readers to Sara Crewe, a formerly rich little girl left penniless and forced to find her own way in the world (with the help of a few friends). Sara's cleverness and warmth towards others ultimately helps her more than money - an excellent lesson for young readers. The simpler version of the Biblical classic, Sara is especially great as a cross-cultural pick.

The titular heroine of The Book Thief, Liesel Meminger is a bright young girl enamored with books in the midst of WWII Germany. Many have heard this charming name via The Sound of Music, but Liesel is actually a diminutive of the perennially popular Elizabeth. Liesel is unusual but accessible, the kind of name that will fit all kinds of personalities.

In Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Suzy Bishop runs away from home with just a suitcase full of books - we've all been there, haven't we? Though Susan is taking a well-deserved break, cute Suzy fits in with current retro names like Sadie or Sylvie. Might this nickname become a possibility in our modern age of diverse names?

The original fictional female bookworm (correct me in the comments), Jane Eyre turns to books when her family and boarding school prove subpar. This ends up empowering her, allowing her to leave a sheltered life behind and get working #girlboss A classic feminine choice, Jane has begun creeping up the popularity charts again, proving that it's anything but plain.

Shy but intelligent, Phoebe from Hey Arnold! is also memorable as one of the few early Asian-American characters on Nickelodeon. She's the smartest kid in class, but also shows an emotional side in a few episodes. This Greek name is a friendly and beautiful choice, made popular by the character in Friends, too.

I'm sure I missed a few - tell me your favorites in the comments!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Terms of Endearment - Terrific or Tacky?

Hello, readers!

As name tastes continue to widen and diversify, all sorts of monikers that would never have been considered a decade ago are suddenly available. Celebrities have been given free reign, and this type of freedom is starting to extend to everyone - from nicknames to three middle names, birth certificates are more exciting than ever! But are there pet names too saccharine for even the quirkiest parent to use?

"Honey" (2003) theatrical poster, Wikipedia

In 2003, Jessica Alba starred in a film called Honey, playing a music video choreographer named Honey Daniels. Though the film received negative reviews, the effect of this character on name records was undeniably positive: while only twenty-five babies were named Honey in 2003, seventy-seven were given the name in 2004 and 109 in 2005. The name plateaued and declined, but the impact of this rather minor film is worth noting. Not even "Honey Boo Boo" (Alana Thompson) had this much name influence when she rose to fame after 2008. 

Did Honey get popular because of Jessica Alba's star power? Or, since this name was already a familiar pet name, were parents just more open to it? Let's look at some other terms of endearment that have made it into official records: 

Sweetie - Recorded regularly between 1889 and 1948 (and, surprisingly, in 2001), Sweetie had an adorable retro sound - think Hattie or Sadie - but not much substance to back it up. 

Darling - First debuted in 1920, but this stylish pick had its highest number of babies born in 2014, with twenty-nine girls given the name. 

Dearie - Only showed up in 2010! Less than ten girls per year have been given the name since, but it continues to show up as a first name. This pet name is admittedly a bit dated, and Dearie could have gotten its boost from such vintage vibes. 

Babe - Now associated with the cinematic pig, Babe was used for both boys and girls between 1880 and 1980. It could have some of the same pitfalls as Baby (see below), but the Babe Ruth influence is too important not to mention. 

Baby - Many times, this was written in birth records because the parents hadn't decided on a name, or didn't feel it was important to report - check out Laura Wattenberg's interesting article on "no name" babies before 9/11. But in 1987, Dirty Dancing introduced American audiences to Baby Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey, and by 1989, Baby was in the top 1000. It remained there until the early 2000's, helped in no small part by Baby Spice of the Spice Girls. But this name has spent its pop culture credibility, and was given to less than fifteen babies last year. 

Lovey - Honestly, I've heard this name applied to cats more than humans, but it was recorded for over 120 years! Today, Love is more likely to make it onto birth certificates, along with the other modern virtue choices sweeping the charts - Serenity and Genesis among them. 

Sugar - The definition of sweetness, Sugar has the cheerful benefit of featuring in a lot of popular music, from Sugar Sugar by the Archies to Sugar by Maroon 5. But it's a bit too glucose-heavy for many tastes.

Bae - Conflicting origin stories aside, Bae has entered the lexicon of terms of endearment used by millennials. It's arisen around the same time Bailey and Baylor have become popular - coincidence, or co-evolution? It's also been given as a first name to a couple dozen babies in the past five years.

Are more parents destined to bestow names in the same way that Jamie and Jools Oliver do? Or are these names just flukes, and unlikely to catch on the way "traditional names" do? Tell me your opinions in the comments!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Names for Adventurers

Hello, readers!

As spring turns to summer, daydreams of vacations are beginning to materialize in itineraries and tickets - seeing more of the world (or even just the world around your neighborhood) is a wonderfully invigorating activity. If you've caught the travel bug, check out these names inspired by adventuring!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

One of the more modern virtue names, Journey is a beautiful word name that seems to fit right into the world of names - it's not too far off from classic Julie or millennial Jordan. While two spellings of Journey rank for girls, it's been given a boost in the boys' column too (thanks to Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green's son). 

At face value, this name calls to mind the powerful and widespread peregrine falcon, a perfect symbol of wanderlust. However, Peregrine also means "traveler" or "pilgrim", giving it more background substance. There's also a few excellent namesakes, from the first English baby born in the United States to Pippin Took of Lord of the Rings

While Saylor is rising up the top 1000, the original spelling feels less trendy and more intrepid. Both Christie Brinkley and Bristol Palin have daughters named Sailor, and it fits in well with the occupational name trend. Pop culture aficionados will love the Sailor Moon connection, too!

The first European to cross the Pacific, Ferdinand Magellan isn't the only travel link for this name - it comes from the German for "bold journey." Both Fernando and Fernanda rank on the popularity charts, but this original version has an eccentric and exciting vibe. If the long form feels too clunky, try out nicknames Freddie or Andy

Already in the top 500, this handsome name was worn by the Titan who held up the sky in Greek mythology. Today, Atlas is more likely to conjure up images of colorful maps than marble statues, but the strength of its origin story remains. 

Bold and determined, Quest is a quirky alternative to other Q names like Quinn or Quentin. Modern audiences are likely to connect it to Johnny Quest or Galaxy Quest, but this word has a historical air that helps it balance between the old and the new. It also works well in the middle name spot. 

A recent addition to the top 1000, Wilder is another occupational name that seems ideally primed for the first name position. It's warm and friendly, cool and free. Book lovers will enjoy the connection to writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, and comedy fans will pick up on the Gene Wilder connection. It's also a viable alternative to masculine standard William

An ancient Roman name meaning "voyager", Viatrix was altered into Beatrix, then Beatrice over time (though Beatrice has a separate origin). This sophisticated choice could be revived today, thanks to its unique sound and high Scrabble value - both a V and an X?! Nicknames range from feminine Via to retro Trixie, and the name is included in the word "aviatrix".

Spelled with a second P, it's another Palin choice, but this short-and-sweet name is more than a fad. Trip emerged as a nickname for "thirds" - John Smith III, for example - but the word name is an energetic and contemporary choice. One drawback - Trip may be associated with drug use in some groups. 

What travel-related names have I left out? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Colorful Names Inspired by Clue

Hello, readers!

One of my favorite board games growing up was the murder mystery Clue. I always fought to play as Miss Scarlett, but was occasionally delegated to being Mrs. White or Mrs. Peacock #notbitteratall

Let's take a look at some colorful names inspired by these classic game characters!

Image by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr

Miss Scarlett

Scarlet/t - The obvious choice, but this lovely feminine name is still vivid and vibrant. Scarlett is elegant yet daring, whether it's worn by an O'Hara or a Johansson. It currently ranks at #22 on the top 100, so those looking for uniqueness may want to check out the following options. 

Ruby - A sweet and vintage name, Ruby has Scarlett's red color with a rosy blush. It last peaked in popularity in 1911, when it hit #22, but it's always been an all-American favorite. Other crimson stone names include Opal, Coral, and Garnet

Poppy - While pretty Poppy has taken the UK by storm, the US hasn't responded quite as dramatically - it hasn't even broken the top 1000. Still, Poppy's rarity here could be a selling point for parents with an eye towards the familiar but unique. 

Flannery - This energetic Irish surname has literary credibility via its connection with Flannery O'Connor, the twentieth-century American writer. It comes from the old Irish Flannghal, meaning "red valor" - a strong substance inside a flowery form. 

Rowan - Attractive and unassuming, Rowan is a handsome pick for any child. It's also a very modern pick, as the name has only been popular in the United States for the past two decades. Rowan comes from the Scottish for "red-head", but it would work beautifully on all kinds of kids. 

Professor Plum

Violet - Another retro choice with flair, Violet rose from a quirky celebrity pick to a national darling. It's a gorgeous balance between nature connections, vintage vibes, and colorful imagery. While Violet is bound to soar higher, it's certainly earned its acclaim. 

Lilac - A botanical alternative to Lily, Lilac is an uncommon floral choice that would fit in well with names like Rosemary, Juniper, and Hazel. The origin of this word name is Persian, though the flower is endemic to Europe. Lilac is pretty and recognizable, but unexpected. 

Mauve - With darlings Maeve and Maya on the rise, similar-sounding Mauve may appeal to fans of the romantic. It's soft and old-fashioned, yet incredibly rare - it's never been recorded in US name records. One notable namesake is Anton Mauve, an artist and cousin of Vincent van Gogh. 

Indigo - Dynamic and edgy, Indigo is one color name that works especially well for boys - it's got a cool O ending and a built-in cinematic nickname, Indy. The name has some great musical connections, from Duke Ellington to the Indigo Girls, and would work well for an artistic family. 

Plum - While Apple is still routinely cited as a "wacky" celebrity baby name, today's parents have begun to embrace Clementine, Kale, and Pepper - why not Plum? It's an accessible and sweet nature name worn with pride by writer Victoria "Plum" Sykes, whose moniker comes from the Victoria plum. 

Mrs. Peacock

Sky/e - Once a unisex pick, both spellings have been claimed by the girls, as far as popularity goes. But Sky is much bigger than one defined gender or generation - it's inspiring, expansive, and independent, perfect for an adventurous little one. 

Cyan - It looks like a modern mash-up of Cyrus and Ryan, but Cyan comes from the Greek kyanos, for "dark blue." It's been used periodically since the mid-1980's, yet it feels especially timely in our CMYK world. Cyan was used for 22 girls and 24 boys last year - let's see if it continues to grow!

Blue - The celebrity baby name (and middle name) du jour, Blue is bound to permeate the popularity charts in the next decade. But is this primary color just a flash in the pan, or does it have more substance under its vibrant surface? Literary and musical connections help Blue stay in the latter category, from "Little Boy Blue" to the blues genre to Island of the Blue Dolphins

Livia - Though it sounds like a relative of Olivia, Livia actually comes from a Roman family name meaning "blue" or "envious." It has a plethora of positive traits: a melody that fits with modern trends, an origin grounded in ancient history, and a popularity rank below the top 700. 

Feather - I first came across this name in Angela Johnson's The First Part Last, a teen-lit book in which the main character names his baby daughter Feather. It's definitely unique and bohemian, but its style is similar to other modern word choices like River and Phoenix

Reverend (Mr.) Green

Chloe - A popular pick in a number of nations, Chloe is a Greek choice that's become a standard feminine name worldwide. It's simple yet sophisticated, youthful yet timeless. Chloe comes from the meaning of "green shoot," and would be lovely on a spring baby. 

Ivy - It's fun and friendly, a name sure to fit all kinds of personalities and preferences. Ivy is also virtually nickname-proof, for fans of the formal. It was fairly popular at the end of the nineteenth century, adding some retro flair to this natural pick. 

Moss - While many have used Moss as a short form of Maurice, it deserves some consideration on its own merits - Moss has a history related to the Biblical name Moses, and may work well for multi-cultural families. It's a gentler alternative to Max or Mason, with an organic spin. 

Forest - Forrest with two R's has long been a masculine surname-turned-first, but adventurous Forest may appeal to fans of the contemporary - it's an excellent word name that could honor an important place or family tradition, and avoid raising too many eyebrows at the playground. 

Sage - Beloved for both boys and girls, Sage is an attractive and intelligent name with a strong sound. It's also a pop culture pick, with dozens of namesakes in television, film, and literature. Both wise and winsome, Sage is a highly recommended choice. 

Colonel Mustard

Saffron - Spicy and colorful, Saffron is fairly well-known thanks to Absolutely Fabulous and Firefly, but still underused. Nickname Saffy is thoroughly adorable, but the long form will wear well over time. The saffron spice is one of the most valuable in the world, as well. 

Xanthe - Meaning "golden" or "yellow," this dramatic Greek choice will appeal to those who love unusual initials or uncommon sounds. While nickname Xan is another plus, the full name is a wonderful feminine equivalent to Xander, and a worthy successor to Zoe

Colonel - Alright, so this name might not fit in with King or Prince, exactly, but it's worth noting that Colonel was recorded as a name for boys for over 100 years in the US. If mighty and eccentric is your style, perhaps try a nickname like Cole or Cory?

Topaz - Luxurious and glittering, Topaz is an elegant and mature alternative to pretty Ruby and vintage Pearl. As a gemstone, it's regarded as lucky and healing - not a bad connection - and it's also the birthstone for November. This bright pick is definitely deserving of more use. 

Flavia - An ancient name meaning "yellow" worn by members of the Roman imperial family, Flavia has recently risen up the popularity ranks in Italy. Now that Freya, Fiona, and Faith are in the US top 500, perhaps Flavia may appeal to those with a taste for the international. 

Mrs. White

Bianca - Before Isabella and Sofia reigned supreme, this Italian pick was loved for its Shakespearean links and connection to Mrs. Bianca Jagger. It made the top 100 in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but this name still feels ageless and alluring. Bianca comes from a medieval French name meaning "white."

Albin - A Swedish favorite for boys, Albin would fit in seamlessly with names like Aidan and Abel. It comes from Latin, meaning "white" or "bright," and maintains a masculine sound without feeling overly macho. Cute nickname Albie is just icing on the cake!

Finn - Soaring high and aiming higher, Finn and its many long forms have become cherished standards for boys and girls alike. This handsome Irish name means "fair" or "white," but its long since transcended its original roots - today, Finn is beloved across the globe. 

Gwendolyn - A lovely Welsh choice with the feminine -lyn ending, Gwendolyn is an ideal pick for those who like both modern and classic sounds. Nickname Gwen is friendly and familiar - still, the long form is poetic, tenacious, and enchanting. 

Snow - Fresh and cool, Snow is a stylish follow-up to warm Summer and brisk Winter - with the bonus connection to a Disney princess. Though it's genderless, Snow has been used primarily for girls, and was bestowed upon fifty-nine baby girls last year. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peaceful Names for Spring

Hello, readers!

In the springtime, we tend to hear a lot of lovely botanical names that celebrate the natural world - Daisy, Violet, and Lily included. Let's look at some less-obvious seasonal choices that relate to the beautiful concept of peace.

Image via Flickr

Some of these names mean "peace," and some are related indirectly. Let me know if I missed any in the comments!

Absalom - "father of peace"
Abel and Abraham are beloved today - why not Absalom? It can shorten to Abi or Sal, both excellent unexpected nickname for boys. Absalom, Absalom is a famous novel by William Faulkner, giving this name both Biblical and literary credibility. 

Callum - "dove"
Simple and handsome, Callum is an attractive Scottish choice relating to a major symbol of peace. It's an intriguing alternative to Caleb or Colin, but it's familiar enough to be on American playgrounds. 

Concordia - "peace, harmony"
If elegant and feminine is your style, Concordia hits all the right notes - it's unusual but not unheard-of; it has a wide range of nickname opportunities - Connie, Cora, or Cori; and it's formally similar to Cordelia, Victoria, and Georgia

Frida - "peaceful"
With Freya gaining traction, artistic Frida could find an audience. There's the fabulous Kahlo reference, but dozens of famous Fridas line the history books. This would also be a quirky way to honor a familial Frederick

Giotto - "pledge of peace"
Dapper Italian choices like Leonardo and Giovanni have become popular recently, and Giotto would fit right in. It's got an edgy O-ending and an art historical connection too: Giotto di Bondone was an early contributor to Renaissance painting. 

Humphrey - "peaceful warrior"
The phrase "so clunky it's cool" is used more and more these days in name articles - retro classics are being dusted off and revisited. Humphrey is definitely part of this trend, with its old Hollywood connections and eccentric sound. (Can't think of a good nickname... tell me your ideas in the comments!)

Iria - mythological name
Just one letter off from darling Aria, Iria is the Portuguese form of Irene. It may take a bit of explaining, but this gorgeous choice has a more ethereal and heavenly vibe. Irene is the goddess of peace in Greek mythology. 

Kazumi - "beautiful peace"
This sweet name is popular in Japan for both boys and girls. Americans may be more familiar with Kazumi via various anime/manga series, but it was also recorded periodically between 1915 and 1930. 

Mirela - "peace, world"
Something between Mira and Mila, Mirela is a pretty euphonic name used in Slavic countries. Mirela is also the name of a famous singer in Spain, a connection that's helped its popularity over the years. 

Paloma - "dove"
Both sophisticated and unembellished, Paloma is a wonderful middle ground between the feminine and the friendly. Nicknames Polly or Loma could spice it up, but it's not necessary - Paloma is positive and strong all on its own. 

Pax - "peaceful"
Though Paxton is in the top 300, Pax has yet to hit the top 1000. Yet the shorter form is far less faddish (-ton ending) and more historically grounded. Pax's Latin influence is mitigated by its aural closeness to Max or Paul, and its purity shines through. 

Poppy - botanical name
Well, it is spring, and flower choices abound. The white poppy is a symbol of peace and pacifism, hence its inclusion here. Poppy has become a huge success across the pond, but Americans have yet to follow suit. Still, this bright and beautiful name deserves some attention. 

Sadako - "child of integrity"
Sadako Sasaki is famous for her quest to fold 1000 paper cranes after being diagnosed with cancer from the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 - books and stories have been told about this little girl, and her desire to find peace in a war-torn world. Sadako's name is worth considering as a lovely honorific. 

Salem - "peace"
Place names like Brooklyn and Madison have found new homes on birth certificates, with Salem an uncommon new option. There are a few Salems in the US - including the site of the witch trials - but this name is independently amiable and appealing. 

Winifred - "friend of peace"
Nickname-name Winnie has been a celebrity fave recently, but long form Winifred still seems stuck in the mud. Could its meaning lend it some allure? It's got strength and substance, with an adorable vintage nickname, so Winifred may win eventually. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy National Beer Day!

Hello, readers!

On this day in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing the sale of beer in the United States. Since then, beer aficionados have celebrated their freedom to imbibe on April 7th! Let's join in the excitement and look at some sudsy names, inspired by beer brands.

For more substance-related names, check out Names Up in Smoke and Names on the Rocks!

Though it ranked on the top 1000 from 1880-1965, Bud hasn't retained too many fans. Granted, it's a rather short word name that's almost too familiar. Still, I have a special place in my heart for Bud, since it was my grandfather's name - he wore an altered Budweiser hat, too.

Another well-known choice, but for surnames - Miller is the seventh most common last name in the United States. That hasn't kept parents from choosing this handsome, friendly name. Miller has joined Carter and Parker in the surname trend, but it's still fresh enough to stand out.

The best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland, Guinness has more than a few supporters in the US, too. Guinness has actually been recorded as a first name a few times since 2000. Perhaps Nessie or Guy work as nicknames? Either way, this eccentric choice was assuredly inspired by beer.

It's Spanish for "crown," but many Americans know this brand as the top-selling imported beer in the United States. Corona was recorded a handful of times between 1912 and 1980 - could it work as an alternative to Cora or Corinne? It's still "miles away from ordinary," to be sure.

Stella (Artois)
This Belgian beer was named for the Christmas star, since it debuted in winter 1926. Stella is even more popular today than it was then, currently ranking in the top 100. It's pretty and feminine, yet maintains a vintage sound and sassy vibe.

Samuel (Adams)
Though the real Samuel Adams focused his work in politics and government, he dallied a bit in beer production. The beer sold under his name today was named in honor of this! Samuel is a Biblical classic, having never left the top 100. It's simple and attractive, as well as a great cross-cultural pick.

Sierra (Nevada)
A nature name that calls to mind adventure and exploration, Sierra has begun to decline since its peak in the late 1990's. It's a beautiful and resolute choice, with a feminine bend. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was established in 1979, and has become the seventh-largest in the US.

Despite its reputation as the quintessential Australian beer, Foster's Lager is most enjoyed in the United Kingdom. Foster, like abovementioned Miller, is a very popular surname that's recently been discovered by baby namers - it's numbers are on the rise!

The fourth largest brewery in Germany, Beck's Brewery has been in American news recently - drinkers report disappointment at the varieties made in the US. As a name, Beck is a great, boyish option, perfect for fans of Jack and Ben. The eponymous musician adds an edge to this name as well.

This Japanese name has a gorgeous meaning: "morning sun." It's also the name of one of the most popular Japanese breweries. If Asa isn't your taste, why not Asahi? It's been used a few times since 2005, with ten boys last year given the name.

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Name News - 3-20-17

There’s a name for it — racism - Vanessa Hua - San Francisco Chronicle

"When I got married, it would have been the perfect opportunity to change my last name to my husband’s Serbian one. But I’d spent years building my byline, and I didn’t want to give up the name or the heritage my father had passed down to me."

An excellent look at name bias in the US. Sidenote: the middle names Huajin and Huaren for her twins are so beautiful and meaningful!

Dear Prudence - What's in a name? - Mallory Ortberg, Slate

"Some people love getting nicknamed, but it would give me more than a little pause if someone I had just started seeing told me, “I don’t like your name. Let me call you something else,” no matter how they tried to soften it or dress it up."

Despite the fact that I have very strong opinions about names, I don't think I've ever disliked someone's name so much I asked to call them something else. Anyone else familiar with this issue? Conversely, if you dislike your own name, do you tell other people to call you a nickname?

How Scarlett Got Its Groove Back - Ben Blatt, Slate

"The Social Security Administration has never, since its starting history in 1880, recorded a baby Frodo. It’s not the same for female characters in fantasy series. Though the name suffered an 80-year drought between 1923 and 2002, in 2003 the United States welcomed five baby Hermoines."

Though there are a LOT of unsubstantiated claims in this article, I like the idea of looking at name spikes based on pop culture trends. Perhaps we'll one day see if movies or books influence namers more?

What's Your Starbucks Name? - Svati Kirsten Narula, The Atlantic

"I'm not ashamed of my name, but I prefer to reserve conversations about it for less hurried, less public interactions. A back-and-forth about the spelling, pronunciation, origin, and meaning of "Svati" can be fun, even necessary—at a cocktail party, during an interview, on a date. While ordering coffee? Not so much."

I find it interesting that those with "Starbucks' Names" in this article tend towards either end of the popularity spectrum - John vs. Svati, for example. My name has yet to be so common, but as more Emily's grow up and head to coffee shops, perhaps I'll need to find an alter ego...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Welsh Names from Hinterland

Hello, readers!

As an avid Netflix fan and self-taught television critic, I tend to find myself binge-watching programs I hadn't heard of the week before. My current addiction? The Welsh crime drama Hinterland (Y Gwyll). According to its Wikipedia page, the show is part of a movement to show more Welsh language and culture on the BBC. Thanks to this diversity push, Netflix audiences (myself included) get to hear more awesome Welsh names!

Though the show has both English and Welsh versions (I've been watching the English), the names of characters, towns, and regions are primarily Welsh. Below I've compiled a list of Welsh names featured on the series, with a few notes on their origins and popularity. 

***Note - Any tips on finding accurate name etymologies is appreciated! I have a feeling a few of my sources aren't entirely trustworthy.***

Awn ni!

Awen - Means "muse," a pretty mix between Owen and Arwen

Sian - Pronounced "shahn," this variation of Jane is so sophisticated

Dafydd - Variant of David, a popular choice

Hywel - Means "eminent," used for royalty

Catrin - Variant of Catherine, simple and sweet

Mared - My personal favorite, a unique version of Margaret

Idris - Thanks to Elba, Americans already recognize this rugged choice

Caradog - Derived from the Celtic for "love"

Ffion - Almost too popular in Wales, but perfect for import - pronounced "FEE-on"

Ceri - A unisex pick that sounds like Kerry

Enid - Fits the "so clunky it's cool" trend, and means "spirit" or "life"

Nia - A short form of Niamh, very popular in the UK

Gwilym - Variant of William, unusual in the States

Dic - Nickname for Richard, but wouldn't work in many English-speaking communities

Lowri - This variant of Laurel could make a great honor name

Wyn - Meaning "fair," this concise choice is one to watch

Gwyneth - Not just for Paltrow anymore!

Iwan - Classic Welsh choice, similar to Ian or Owen

Winfred - Another addition to the "so out that it's in" group

Mari - Variant of Mary, popular nickname option

Rhodri - Means "wheel," cool alternative to Riley or Rory

Siwan - Variant of Joan, pronounced "sheh-VAHN"

Iori - Short form of Iorwerth (?), also found in Japanese

Bedwyr - Arthurian name unlike any I've seen!

Alun - Variant of Alan, also a river in Wales

Endaf - Possible meaning of "goods"? (See above note regarding sources)

Geraint - Another Arthurian name, uncommon alternative to Garrett

Morgan - Quintessential Welsh name, still timeless and attractive

Glyn - Means "valley," variant of Glen/n

Bethan - Chic version of Elizabeth, an update to fading Bethany

Branwen - Means "beautiful raven," a great find to bring to the US!

Huw - I really love the spelling of this name, it's so friendly

Esyllt - Variant of Isolde, bit too close to Ethel in sound for modern usage

Aled - Another river in Wales, with an uncertain etymology

Eluned - Ethereal and beautiful, Eluned sounds like a princess' name

Harri - Fabulous spelling variation of handsome Harry

Gareth - Popular in Wales, could gain American fans in a snap

Medi - Means "September," but a bit too medical in my opinion

Rhian - Pronounced "REE-ahn," a lovely name meaning "maiden"

Arwyn - Variant of Arwen, but still traditional

Abi - Short form of Abigail, stylish and sleek

Delyth - Means "pretty," and the sound stays true to that!

Annes - Variant of Agnes, means "pure"

I was also delighted to see a pair of brothers named Caleb and Aron!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Barbie Names

Hello, readers!

On March 9th, 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York, and an icon was born. This classic doll has become a constant object in the lives of little girls all over the world - from her fashion sense to her career forays, Barbie has become a medium for imaginative play.

As a Barbie girl growing up - I had ninety dolls at one point - playing Barbies was one of my first experiences experimenting with names. I made extensive Barbie families of my own, and I memorized Barbie's friends and family names. Let's look at some of these names surrounding the classic toy!

I've included relevant full names and surnames in parentheses. Since many of these have a rather mid-century style, I've included international- and nickname-variants. 

Barbie (Barbara Millicent Roberts)
Named for founder Ruth Handler's daughter Barbara, Barbie has now become almost-unusable thanks to the eponymous icon. The name ranked on the popularity charts throughout the 1960's, but dropped off once the doll became a household name. More uncommon forms of Barbara include Babette, Basia, and Varenka

Ken (Carson)
Barbie's longtime boyfriend Ken has been available for purchase since 1961, and available to other single dolls since 2004, when he and Barbie broke up. Ken reached its height in the early 1960's, along with top-twenty contender Kenneth, but it has a dated feel now as well. Alternatives include Kent or Kendall, if you like the sound of the name!

Midge (Midge Hadley Sherwood)
The first best friend for Barbie debuted in 1963, but made waves in 2002 - her character was married to male doll Alan, and Midge was sold with a removable pregnant stomach and baby inside. Though the "controversy" around this died down, Midge might have more problems these days as a name. Surname Hadley, however, is becoming a new attractive favorite.

The first "black Barbie" was Christie, Barbie's best friend since 1968. It seems especially meaningful now that she debuted that year, and that her character is one of the longest-running in the franchise. While Christie and its many forms are no longer as popular, rarer variants include Ina and Kiki

Teresa (Rivera)
Another best friend was introduced in 1988 - Teresa, a Latina/Italian doll (her heritage is ambiguous). Teresa is still included in today's Barbie World, but her name has been on the decline. Teresa has some beautiful religious connotations in addition to its pretty form - to honor a familial Teresa, try Tessa, Terra, or Therese

Nikki (Nicole O'Neil)
For over ten years now Nikki has been a part of Barbie's long line of best friends, and her presence is especially notable in web and television series. Nikki continues to be a cute nickname choice, but more unusual long forms like Nikita and Nicolina offer more flair. 

Summer (Gordon)
Blaine's little sister (see below) and friend to Barbie, Summer is known for her athleticism. The name has been relatively common since the 1970's, with fans appreciating its positive and warm feeling. There are dozens of real and fictional Summer namesakes, too!

A mixed-race Asian-American doll, Raquelle is fairly new to the franchise - she debuted in 2007. With Rachel a consistent classic, Raquelle and Raquel could gain name fans looking for a more unique vibe. Raquel is popular especially in Spanish-speaking countries. 

Skipper (Roberts)
Barbie's little sister appeared in 1964; smaller and "younger" than Barbie, she was meant to look more like a teenager. The name Skipper was recorded sporadically for boys throughout the twentieth century - while it does fit in with surname and occupational name trends, it's still very much attached to the doll (or Gilligan's Island). 

Stacie (Anastasia Tutti Roberts)
Another sister for Barbie, Stacie first appeared as "Tutti" in the 1960's and was reinvented in 1990. While the long list of Stacie names and spellings have subsided, long form Anastasia is still elegant and feminine. Could it be the next Victoria?

Todd (Roberts)
Barbie's little brother hasn't been too prevalent in Mattel's franchise, but he's worth noting. Todd was originally the twin brother of Tutti (or Stacie, depending on the packaging), and remains a rare doll today. The name Todd peaked in the early 1970's, but could make a comeback today with its concise sound and friendly vibe. 

Kelly (Roberts)
Toddler-sized Kelly - known as Shelly in Europe - was a huge hit in the late 1990's and early 2000's, before the doll was discontinued. Another of Barbie's many sisters, Kelly's name is slightly more modern, but already on the decline. Similar energetic Irish names include Riley and Kennedy

Blaine (Gordon)
Australian Blaine appeared on Barbie's arm after her breakup with Ken. Though their romance was a bit shorter - two years versus forty-three - Blaine had an effect on Barbie fans worldwide. Today, Blaine dolls are no longer being produced, but the name Blaine continues to shine. It's similar enough to Blake or Lane, but has a personality all its own. 

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Names from Calvin and Hobbes

Hello, readers!

Today's post is a study of one of my favorite comic strips, Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. If you aren't familiar with this excellent artistry, check out any of the compilation books and enjoy! The strip focuses on precocious six-year-old Calvin and his tuna-loving tiger Hobbes, and it explores everything from philosophical concepts to religious doctrines to terrible babysitters.

The strip ran from 1985-95, and it's still regarded as a classic, with its influences extending into today's funny pages (see the adorable documentary Dear Mr. Watterson for more about its impact). Let's look at some of the names associated with this great comic!

Named for John Calvin, a major player in the Protest Reformation (and the founder of Calvinsim), six-year old Calvin more than lives up to his name - he's intelligent, funny, and very observant. The name Calvin has never been far from the top 200, and it even shows a bump in popularity during the strip's run. Nickname Cal is cute, but the full form has strength and tenacity. 

Calvin's stuffed (or real?) tiger is named for Thomas Hobbes, a seventeenth-century founder of modern philosophy. Though this English surname is now more associated with the comic strip, Hobbes has begun to appear in name records - it was given to twelve boys in 2015 (it's like we're watching Millennials begin to name their children). Hobbes is a diminutive of Robert, and fits in well with today's trends towards surnames. 

Susie Derkins
Calvin's nemesis (and possible crush) is Susie, a match for the boy in intelligence, wit, and cunning. Fans of the series have even created a sequel comic strip in which Calvin and Susie end up married.
While Susie is associated with mid-century name Susan, the nickname could gain more of a following now that Sadie and Maisie are back in the mix.

Possibly the only person Calvin truly fears and respects is Rosalyn, his teenage babysitter. Though she does seem to enjoy spending time with him, she is a no-nonsense kind of girl - and Calvin is all nonsense. Rosalyn has begun to rise again, thanks to True Blood and the -lyn trend, and this pretty name could reach fans of both vintage and modern sensibilities.

The school bully, Moe is a kid of few (monosyllabic) words. Though Moe is still connected with the Three Stooges and The Simpsons, it could make a comeback in a few years - its simple sound and (mostly) friendly vibe is appealing. Moe is also a common nickname for M names for both boys and girls.

Calvin's uncle makes an appearance in one or two strips, visiting Calvin's family. Funnily enough, there are a few Uncle Max's in cinema and television, prior to the resurgence of the name for kids.
Handsome and traditional Max is now at #118, with longer forms like Maxwell, Maximilian, and Maxim providing support.

Tracer Bullet
One of Calvin's alter-ego's is Tracer Bullet, a noir-style detective. Though Trace became a favorite in the last couple of decades, it's on the decline - perhaps active Tracer could gain some fans? It's been recorded sporadically between 1996 and 2015, and trades the country music association for a creative and boyish feeling.

Mabel Syrup
The author of Calvin's favorite book, Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, Mabel Syrup isn't incredibly prevalent in the strip (though she seems to be very creative!) While Mabel had a long hiatus from the top 1000, it's been steadily moving back up the list since 2013. This sweet and retro name deserves its resurgence!

Rosalyn's boyfriend (and Calvin's competition for her attention) is named Charlie. This standard nickname for Charles has extended to the girls in recent years, with kids of all genders receiving the names Charlie, Charlee, and Charley.

One of the monsters under Calvin's bed identifies himself as Maurice. This name has been on the decline for awhile - better variants include Morrison or Moss.

Another monster under Calvin's bed, but this time with a cooler name - Winslow fits in well with Willow and Wyatt. Nickname Win is fantastic, too!

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Unique U Names

Hello, readers!

Vowel-heavy names seem to be the trend these days - from Isabella to Emma to Ava, parents are enjoying the open sounds. One vowel that's rather less-used? U.

Only 4/2000 names in the top 1000 (for both boys and girls) begin with U: Ulises, Uriah, Uriel, and Urijah. Notice that they're all male - no U names rank for girls! Let's look at some rare options that could make a comeback in today's world.

A short and snappy gender-neutral choice, Uli was originally a diminutive of Ulrich. Today, this name would fit in with other cute concise picks, like Leo or Ari.

With brand names like Armani and Chanel in the mix, why not try Ultima? It's Latin for "last", and it has a strength and determination not found in many names.

Though Uma is Sanskrit in origin, it's most associated with American actress Uma Thurman. In 2015, sixty-six girls were given this lovely name - it's not just for Hollywood types!

While Amber and Ember have stayed in the girls' lane, Umber is a more distinctive choice that could side with the boys. It's a beautiful color choice with links to the classic Italian Umberto.

Pretty and unusual (at least in the US), this Japanese name has two notable namesakes - Tsuda Umeko, a pioneering feminist educator, and Umeko Ando, an Ainu musician.

Many will recognize the connection to "one", but Una has another origin - it's an ancient Irish name meaning "lamb." It's beautiful and unique, a fantastic alternative to Anna or Luna.

Modern virtue names have been sweeping the top 1000, from Serenity to Trinity. Friendly and fierce Unity fits in with this trend, and especially works with Una as a nickname.

Preppy and posh, Upton has been sporadically recorded in the United States. It's associated with writer Upton Sinclair, as well as model Kate Upton.

Once a papal choice, now connected with country music - Urban is a name that spans multiple styles and tastes. It's a cool alternative to the current ends-in-an names, too.

Relatively popular in the 1960's and 70's, Ursula's fame diminished with the prevalence of Disney's eponymous sea witch. But today, strong and uncommon feminine names are appreciated again.

Olympian Usain Bolt brought this name to national attention in recent years. It's a variant of Arabic Hasan, meaning "handsome" - and it starts with the letters USA!

An Old Testament choice with two Z's? Uzziah could very well join such names as Elijah and Isaiah on the popularity charts, with the machi nickname Uzi (not required).

Any names I missed? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Names

Hello, readers!

Happy first day of March! Today, I'll be looking at names related to this fabulous month. From etymological origins to birthstones, March has a lot to offer.

The month was named for the Roman god of war, Mars. While this may have been unusual in previous decades, it's beginning to attract attention - it was given to twenty-seven boys in 2015.

This classic Latin name has never gone below the top 400, and for good reasons. It has a substantial sound, a plethora of notable namesakes, and a bunch of excellent variations and diminutives: Marco, Mark, Marcia, Marcel, and more.

While Cosette has begun to find favor, this Les Mis name has yet to take off. Marius is handsome and unassuming, perfect for fans of Maximus or Moses.

Though aquamarine is the official gemstone of March, it's a form of the mineral (and retro first name) Beryl. This name was more popular in the UK, though its associations with Cheryl and Meryl may not make it ripe enough for re-use yet.

March's birth flower is the daffodil, a cross-cultural symbol of springtime. The name Daffodil hasn't been recorded in US name data, but it has been given to one or two individuals in history.

The genus of plant that includes the daffodil is narcissus - Harry Potter fans will recognize the name as that of Draco Malfoy's mother. Unfortunately, Narcissa is a bit too close to "narcissist" for use today.

The zodiac sign Pisces covers about two-thirds of March; while fish-related names aren't terribly common, Fisher is a great choice for a few reasons. There's the religious connection - "I will make you fishers of men", the surname attraction, and the verb-ends-in-er trend.

For Catholics, March is the month honoring Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus. Aside from its religious links, Joseph is a traditional, masculine choice, ideal for those who like strong, timeless names.

The Spring Equinox takes place in March, also called the Vernal Equinox. Verna now has a dated image, but with Vera on the rise, Verna may follow.

March is Women's History Month, an international designation honoring the many women written out of male-centric history. Gerda Lerner, an historian and author, was part of the initial movement to establish this holiday.

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Très Mignonne French Names

Hello, readers!

As a lifetime francophile, French names have always held a special place in my heart. While pronunciations can be a bit difficult in the US, that's no reason to reject these names entirely! Here are a bunch of short-and-sweet options from l'Hexagone.

Image va Flickr

Special thanks to JolisPrénoms for the inspiration and name ideas!

A variation of Anne, Anouk ranks in the top 200 in France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. This stylish import was used in Chocolat, and could gain favor with parents who want a different sort of sound for their little girl's prénom.

This attractive form of Naomi is a favorite in France and Belgium; for Americans, the initial vowels will sound closer to those of Noelle. Since the "em" syllable is so popular - Emily, Emma, Emerson - Noémie might fit right in.

With single-syllable names on the rise for girls, sophisticated Laure is an appealing update to the Lauren-Laura-Lori family. Pronounced "Lohr", this name would work especially well as a unique middle choice.

Positive and perky, Eulalie is a vintage throwback that may find favor in the states soon! The "L" sounds and "E" beginning fit with modern trends, and Eulalie's literary connections (see Poe and Spence) add another kind of charm.

What sounds like a combination of Maya, Mila, and Elise is actually the feminine form of the name Maël, meaning "chief" or "prince". This gorgeous choice may also be confused with Miley, but the original French form is beautiful.

It's a wonder that Coralie hasn't gotten more fans in the US - its closeness with Cora and Coraline lend it to the playground, but it has an adorable personality all its own. The name comes from the word "coral", of course, and has both religious and musical connections.

Another variant of Anne, Ninon is a sweet and simple option, great for both a first name or a nickname. One famous Ninon was Anne de Lenclos, a seventeenth-century Parisian courtesan and author, who is now famous in France for her writing.

From the Latin for "dawn", Oriane is an alluring alternative to Italian Arianna and the more masculine Orion. The name can be found in Proust, and its unusual O-beginning may lend it to fans of Olive and Olivia.

Made famous by author Anaïs Nin, this pretty moniker is also the name of a perfume. It's yet another form of Anne, this time from the Provençal and Catalan dialects. Anaïs ranks in Spanish, English, and French-speaking countries, making it a multicultural option.

Though the name gained popularity from the sci-fi classic The Fifth Element, Lilou was already a diminutive of Liliane. With today's interest in Lily and Liliana, Lilou may be a great alternative with a more chic vibe.

In my opinion, Mireille is one of the loveliest names on this list! It's a literary invention, derived from classic M names Mary and Miriam, as well as the Occitan verb mirar, "to admire." Pronounced "meer-AY", this name has elegance and meaning.

A classy choice for a coastal baby, Océane - "oh-say-AHN" - combines an uncommon word name with a stylish French sound. It's another name with the O-factor that's hardly used in the US, but well-loved overseas.

Tell me your favorite French names in the comments!

Friday, February 24, 2017

You Can Call Me AL

Hello, readers!

Being a fan of 70's singer-songwriters - still debating naming my future child James, just so I can sing "Sweet Baby James" to them - I'm fairly well-versed in Paul Simon hits. He's also a fantastic example of using names in songs! "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" is one great tune, but so is the title of this article - "You Can Call Me Al."

This short nickname-name peaked in 1910, but it was used quite often in the mid-twentieth century. Al is short for a bunch of excellent names with varying styles - let's check out a few!

The most popular Al-name, Alexander is a classic with no signs of losing its edge. It's got history, namesakes, and a handsome sound - this pick will age well!

Alan, Allan, Allen
Though Alan's ranked higher in the 1950's and 1960's, the names are still popular. For good reason - Alan is simple, friendly, and accessible to all. 

Long on the decline, Alvin got a slight boost in 2007-08, thanks to the Chipmunk films. It's definitely geek-chic, but Alvin is also quirky and adorable. 

Alistair, Alastair
It already ranks in the UK, making this an import we Yanks are excited to receive! The Scottish form of Alexander, Alistair is sophisticated and attractive. 

What's not to like about a name whose meaning comes from the French for "mustachioed man"? It may be a bit stuffy, but Algernon could take off with today's creative namers!

Another bold, old-fashioned choice, Aloysius can be found on Sesame Street, in Brideshead Revisited, and in the names of the saints. Could it return to birth certificates?

Dignified and durable, Albert has quite a few notable namesakes, from Einstein to Camus to a dozen royals. Some may find it dated, but Albert is bound to persevere through its traditional tone. 

A favorite in English literature, Alaric is an ancient name that's never quite become popular. That could very well change, thanks to its unusual sound and refined appeal. 

While it's primarily known as the middle name of Thomas Edison, Alva hits all the right notes to move to the first name slot. It's short yet resolute, uncommon yet recognizable. 

It's incredibly popular in Europe, but Alfred is still relatively under the radar in the US. While Al and Fred(dy) are other traditional nicknames, Alfie is a huge hit in Britain. 

Once well-used, Alphonse has fallen a long way from its rank 100 years ago. But this French choice is now a rare vintage find, perfect for those who love history in a name. 

Though it sounds like a trendy name, similar to Corbin or Ruben, Albin is actually a Swedish pick that's never taken off in the US. It comes from Latin for "white" - lovely for a winter baby. 

With a zippy sound and remarkable history, Alonzo's have appeared on the basketball court and in Congress. This pleasant choice will work for all kinds of personalities!

Tell me your favorite Al names in the comments!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Multi-Culti Monikers - Names that translate well

Hello, readers!

As my boyfriend and I begin to plan our upcoming travels, I've been looking into names popular in our destination countries. In Japan, Tatsuki, Aoi, and Hinata are among the best-loved, but they could have a hard time translating elsewhere. The same could be said, of course, for Elizabeth, Alexander, and Genesis, if they arrived in Japan!

While it would be impossible to compile a complete list of names that work well across various languages and cultures, here's a list of some ideas. Notice that most names are vowel-heavy, with the consonants S, R, M, and N showing up regularly. Also, the most popular gender for each name will depend on the culture/country!

AvaEva - Persian, Hebrew, German
These pretty, classic choices already rank at #4 and #75 in the US; there's no need for me to sell their simplicity and femininity! Still, they're popular for a reason, and would make lovely choices that will stand the test of time (and passport pronunciation).

Mia - Spanish, Scandinavian, Japanese, etc
Ranking on popularity charts in over 25 countries, Mia is fabulous as either a nickname for something longer or all on its own. It's uncomplicated and chic, the type of name with a friendly sound and a beautiful form.

Rui - Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese
A variant of Rodrigo and a popular Chinese surname? Rui has got you covered. Pronounced "ROO-ee," it's a pleasant, lively name that will fit in among the Ray's and Leo's on the playground.

Sara - Hebrew, Japanese
It means "princess" in Hebrew, and has multiple meanings in Japan (depending on the kanji used to spell it). In either case, Sara is a traditionally feminine choice with a long history and dozens of unique namesakes.

Ari - Hebrew, Scandinavian, Armenian
Historically Ari has been a name for boys, with illustrious meanings like "eagle," "lion," or "brave." These days, you're just as likely to hear it for a little girl, often as a nickname for Arielle, Arianna, or Aria. No matter the gender, this name is bright and warm.

Rio, Ryo, Reo - Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese
While Ryo is an immensely popular name in Japan, Rio has only just begun to rise for boys and girls in the US. The recent animated film, as well as the 2016 Summer Olympics, have reminded us of the energetic appeal of "Rio by the sea-oh."

Mei, May, Mai, Mae - Chinese, Japanese, English, Latin
Darling and delicate, this single-syllable pick is bound to work with just about every last name. Whether you're intrigued by the various meanings or honoring a namesake, Mei is a terrific and timeless choice.

Aya - Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Yoruba, etc.
This gorgeous name has roots in dozens of languages and cultures, making it a multiculti favorite! However, Aya has only recently started to gain notice in the US, with more fans in Europe and Asia.

Noa - Hebrew, Japanese
Though it's bound to be mistaken for mega-popular Noah in the US, Noa actually comes from a different Hebrew root, meaning "motion." In Japanese, it means "love" or "affection." Perhaps once Noah begins to decline, Noa will rise for girls all over the world.

Hana - Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Persian, etc.
While most variations of Hannah peaked in the late 1990's/early 2000's, this pretty short form could take off on its own. It fits in with trendy four-letter names like Emma, Nora, and Anna, but stands out as a less-common choice.

Sia - Scandinavian, Coptic, Hindi
Most Americans will link this name with contemporary musician Sia, but the name was used even by ancient Egyptians. It's an alluring choice that's sophisticated and unique, yet accessible.

Any great options I missed? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Call for Name Blogs

Hello, readers!

I'm trying to increase my viewership of other name blogs in this fabulous community. Please comment with your favorite URLs, especially ones that are still active! Or, if you have suggestions for the best way to search/find name blogs, let me know your tips!


Monday, February 20, 2017

Vintage Boy's Names Ending in A

Hello, readers,

Names that end in A have long been popular for girls, but it certainly seems like the boys are making an effort to catch up! Choices such as Luca, Joshua, and Ezra manage to balance traditional styles with modern sounds. But which choices err on the side of classic rather than trendy?

Here are some names used as far back as the nineteenth century that maintain a masculine sound with an "A" at the end!

Once a popular pick among Jewish families, Ira joins Noah and Abraham in transitioning between the ancient and the contemporary. Ira means "watchful one," and has a few notable namesakes. 

The middle name of inventor Thomas Edison, Alva is another Hebrew choice. It was used for both boys and girls in the nineteenth century, but its attachment to Edison places it more fully in the male category. 

Originally a pet form of Mikhail, Americans haven't met too many male Misha's. Still, this adorable name shares traits with Marshall and Mitchell, as well as honors familial Michael's. 

The name of a biblical prophet, Hosea has also been worn by strong civil rights' activists and leaders. The name means "salvation," a beautiful choice for religious families. 

Though it's a well-used boys' name in Ireland, Dara has been historically feminine in the U.S. However, its energetic sound, bright vibe, and cultural history could bring it back to the boys!

This Slavic variation of Elijah is a stylish alternative to the popular Hebrew pick; it reached American audiences recently via a character in The Man from UNCLE

Possibly related to fan favorite Jacob, Akiva is a more active and attractive pick. A member of The Lonely Island shares the name, but it's still uncommon in the states - only sixty-nine Akiva's were born in 2015. 

Despite the appeal of actor Cuba Gooding Jr., this national name hasn't ever been recorded more than nine times in any year. With international relations (hopefully) improving, Cuba could be a cool place-name choice.

Creative names are increasing in the US, with edgy names like Omega beginning to rise. This pick could get a boost from other trendy O names like Oliver, Owen, and Oscar, too.

Janet Jackson brought this Arabic name to American ears this past January; the name Eissa is a form of Jesus, meaning "the Lord is salvation." Let's watch to see how a celebrity namesake impacts this handsome pick.

What sounds like a combination of Kai and Noah is actually a Hawaiian name meaning "warrior." Koa is bound to jump up popularity lists with its concise tone and tropical origins.

With history in both ancient Rome and Iroquois culture, Seneca is a serene multicultural choice that works well for all kinds of families and personalities. It was also promoted recently in the Hunger Games series.

Another Slavic nickname, this time for classic Ivan. Vanya is the main character in a Chekhov play, as well. It sounds enough like Van to gain notice, with the -ya ending adding a bit of individuality.

Any great choices I missed? Tell me in the comments!