Thursday, December 21, 2017

Names from William Blake

Hello, readers!

While researching the name Albion, I came across this interesting set of names from the mythology of William Blake. This eighteenth-century English writer wrote a series of books advocating for his own political and spiritual ideals through the exploration of invented gods and goddesses. While this series sounds a bit too complex for me, the names themselves are fascinating!

According to Wikipedia, many of these names were taken from writings of Geoffrey of Monmouth and John Milton, as well as individuals involved in Blake's 1803 sedition trial. (I wonder if his books included as disclaimer to avoid further legal action?) While I won't delve into the mythology, here are some of the character names!

The Four Zoas and their Emanations:

Tharmas (m) - The name sounds like a combination of Arthur and Thomas, but seems too clinical to have real potential for a modern name. 

Enion (f) - Only one letter off from "onion," so I'm going to pass on reviving this. 

Urthona (m) - Though this character is supposed to represent inspiration, I'm not quite convinced by Urthona...

Enitharmon (f) - Just complex and creative enough to pique my interest. Perhaps Ennis or Enid would be a bit easier to wear daily?

Luvah (m) - The name was supposedly chosen because of its aural similarities to "lover," but Luvah feels a bit excessive. Levi or Love, on the other hand, are fantastic!

Vala (f) - While this name has been recorded regularly since 1921, Vala seems unfinished. I'd recommend alternatives like Vera, Calla, or Valerie

Urizen (m) - Definitely not my favorite. Horizon, on the other hand, feels like an excellent modern choice. 

Ahania (f) - Euphonic names are big right now, and Ahania might fit right in. Somewhere between Hannah, Alana, and Anya?

Sons of Albion:

Hand - Nope. 

Hyle - I suppose if Lyle and Kyle can manage, Hyle's not too different. It was recorded for boys once in 1919. 

Coban - Hello, bell-tone boy's name! I'm genuinely surprised this name hasn't been recorded yet, being it sounds so similar to Colby, Cohen, and Robin

Guantok - This does sound like some Vietnamese or Thai names I've come across, but Guantok doesn't seem quite as accessible as other cross-cultural picks. 

Peachey - As a pet name, I wholeheartedly recommend Peachey, Peach, and Peaches!

Brereton - The extra syllable in the middle doesn't add much. Bretton or Brighton are lovely in and of themselves.

Slayd - This sounds like the name of a superhero! Slade has gotten some attention, but I don't think changing the spelling makes the name any cooler (Slade is inherently cool). 

Hutton - An uncommon surname choice, Hutton comes from Old English for "ridge settlement." With Sutton and Houston gaining fans, Hutton could work well on modern playgrounds. 

Scofield - Another surname pick, but not quite as friendly as Hutton

Kox - Being that this name's homophone could cause some issues, I'd go with Knox

Kotope - Sounds a bit like a scientific instrument. "Pass the kotope, Doctor Scofield!"

Bowen - The first name in this post to rank in the top 1000, Bowen is currently at #478 for boys. Handsome, Celtic in origin, with the cute nickname Bo - what's not to love?

Daughters of Albion:

Gwendolen - A fabulous Welsh name - whose spelling variant Gwendolyn currently ranks in the top 500 - with a ton of nickname possibilities, Gwendolen is positively gorgeous. 

Ragan - Maybe it's Germanic, maybe it's made up - Ragan (I'm reading it as "Ray-gahn") sounds like a spelling alternative for Reagan for parents who like the sound but aren't as fond of the president. 

Sabrina - Audrey Hepburn immediately comes to mind - a definite plus!

Gonorill - This looks a bit like Goneril, King Lear's eldest daughter. Can't say I love the name or the namesakes. 

Mehetabel - Ooooh, a rare and lovely Hebrew name (I'm writing this post while traveling Israel). While it's certainly different, it may be worth the work. And Bella works as a nickname!

Cordella - I can't decide if Cordelia is better, or if Cordella is an entirely new kind of name. Readers, what do you think?

Boadicea - I've come across this one in "name nerd" posts - beautiful rhythm, not really accessible. 

Gwiniverra - I'm a proponent of Gwenivere, but Gwiniverra takes Jennifer just a bit too far. 

Conwenna - It seems that this name was invented by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It almost feels like a feminization of a surname, which isn't something I've seen before. 

Estrild - Not even once. 

Gwinefrid - Oh boy. 

Ignoge - Again, nope. 

Cambel - A simplification of Campbell, perhaps? Pretty, simple, and sweet. 

Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Names from My Travels - Part 2

Hello, readers!

If you didn't get a chance, here's the first part - Names from My Travels.

TLDR: I'm traveling Asia and collecting name stories!

Since my last update, my boyfriend Ethan and I have visited more of southern China (Chongqing and Chengdu), spent six weeks in Taiwan (Taipei, Hualien, Taitung, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Sun Moon Lake), scootered through Vietnam (Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City), and are currently hanging out in Thailand (Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai). I've met some wonderful new friends along the way, and have asked a lot of people nosy questions about their names :)

Ethan and me scootering outside of Hanoi

I've tried to remove anything too personal - FB friends, let me know if I need to edit anything!

Not someone I actually met, but a few Belgian friends told me about the weirdest name they knew; apparently his parents couldn't pick between the two, so they created a compound name. I gotta say, Joe-Thibault is an unusual mix of styles!

Sibset: Camille (f), Justine (f), Auguste (m)
The lovely Camille was named for an associate of Auguste Rodin, one of her parents' favorite artists (hence her brother's name, Auguste). We had a great conversation about names later on (just saying, there's a lot of people out there who keep lists of their favorite names!)

Nadège (f)
The French form of a Slavic name meaning "hope" (from the same family as Nadia). I'm reminded of another French name, Edwige, and I can think of two currently popular names that end in -ge: Paige and Sage

Lannan (Eve)
A friendly Chinese woman told me her name means "very smart" in Mandarin (I couldn't find the right combination of name elements online). She picked her own English name, Eve

Sibset: Itai (m), Dror (m), Naama (f), Sivan (f), Shaked (f), Keshet (f)
When Sivan told me she was one of six children, I asked their names so fast I nearly choked. Her family is Israeli, and they chose each of their children's names based on the Torah reading for the week they were born. Itai is a name of one of King David's warriors, meaning "being." Dror means "freedom," chosen because he was born during Pesach (the Jewish holiday of Passover, celebrating the liberation of the Jews under the leadership of Moses). Naama is a fairly popular name in Israel, meaning "pleasant." Sivan was named for the third month of the Jewish calendar, which comes from a word meaning "season" or "time." Shaked means "almond," as she was born during Tu BiShvat, a Jewish holiday celebrating ecological awareness and the planting of trees. Keshet means "rainbow," referencing the story of Noah

Sibset: Talia (f), Alon (m), Shachar (m), Shani (f)
Another excellent Israeli family name group! Talia is a Hebrew name meaning "dew from heaven" (it's currently fairly popular in the US), Alon is a Hebrew name meaning "oak tree," Shachar is a Hebrew name meaning "dawn," and Shani is a Hebrew name meaning "red."

Special thanks to the incomparable Shachar and Sivan for answering my questions one after another! <3

The third Israeli interviewed on this list, Nathan was named for his grandfather. We talked a bit about "word names" being on the rise in the United States, when they're very popular in other countries already (see Sivan and Shachar's stories above!)

Sibset: Elena Georgina and Isabel Antonia
These gorgeous names reflect Elena's family's roots in Italy and in Puerto Rico. We also both noticed that the middles were feminizations of traditionally male names. 

The fabulous Sigrid was supposed to be named Julia, but her parents felt the choice didn't fit her. They chose her name in part because it sounds like "sie grinst," German for "she smiles."

Sibset: Jack, Grace, Samuel
Jack would have been Kate if he was a girl, but didn't know why his parents chose Jack

Couple: Una and Aga
This warm Taiwanese couple owned and managed a hostel in Hualien. Una is one of my favorite names, and I love how their names sound together. 

Sibset: Erica, Sara, Isaac, John
Erica told me that her parents chose "simple names" for her and her siblings because theirs were more complicated. I hear more about the reverse of that happening: choosing a "unique" name for one's child because one's own name is too popular. 

Arslan (m)
This is a form of Aslan (meaning "lion"), and comes from Arslan's home state of Bashkortostan, a republic in Russia. 

Huong (f)
This is a Vietnamese name meaning "perfume" - similar to Jasmine or Rose, perhaps?

While attending Quest Festival outside of Hanoi, I collected a lot of names, but few stories behind them: Aymen, Atlas, EdithLou and Loup, Jael, Mansour, Naadir, Muti, Trey, Pim, and a ton of Alex's!

Couple: Willi (f) and Willem (m)
This funny couple from Amsterdam had been together for decades, with the matching names Willi and Willem. Willem joked "If I had known her name, I would have walked away!"

Aladdin (m)
I met a real-life Aladdin, from Lyons, France!

Kurn (m)
When he told me he was Welsh, I asked his name, expecting an unusual Welsh choice. Instead, his parents chose a Hebrew name - Kurn, from Koren, meaning "shining" - to honor their Jewish heritage. 

So many names and stories! Thanks everyone for sharing theirs with me :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Common Names for Serial Killers

Hello, readers!

Today's post takes a bit of a turn from previous writing, as I'm incorporating one of my other major interests: serial killers. I'm a huge fan of true crime media, and over the past few months of traveling I've binged crime documentaries, podcasts (My Favorite Murder and Last Podcast on the Left in particular), and dramatizations on the lives and deeds of some of the most deranged murderers in history. Of course, I've been keeping an ear out for name-related trivia as well.

Edmund Emil Kemper III, the "Co-Ed Killer"

Years ago, I read an article online that claimed Wayne was more popular as a middle name among criminals (here's a more recent article on the "Wayne Theory") than in the general population. While there's no real evidence of this phenomenon - the United States doesn't collect or publish data on middle names, as far as I can tell - the idea that one's name might predict later criminal behavior was fascinating to me. Family relationships, class, financial status, race, gender, and environment all factor in to the likelihood of someone becoming a criminal - could names indicate these factors early on?

I'm not going to draw any dramatic conclusions until I can look at real data and sift through the complicated links between predictive factors for criminal behavior, but some theories have come to mind. What if men of a certain personality - hyper-masculine, traditional, intimidating - named their sons after a hero of mid-century cinema, John Wayne? And what if these men were more likely to raise children who would exhibit criminal behaviors?

What else can name data tell us about "deviants"? I decided to look at the data on the first, middle, and adopted names of serial killers in the United States. Using this Wikipedia entry (obviously not complete, but a decent representation) and discarding the names of female killers, I came up with a group of 201 names.

These are men of varying ages, mostly white, with some black and Latino individuals. A majority of these men were active in the twentieth century. Most common first/middle names:

12   - Joseph 
11   - Edward
10* - John 
10* - Richard 
10   - David
10   - Robert
9     - Lee 
8*   - Michael 
8     - Charles
7     - William
6*   - James 
6     - Anthony
6     - Wayne 

* = One name would be added if nicknames were to be included

Of the 13 names listed above, 11 fall into the 25 most popular names for men in the United States over the past century: Joseph, Edward, John, Richard, David, Robert, Michael, Charles, William, James, Anthony. The other two names rank much lower for the general male population versus the serial killer summation: Lee and Wayne.

Wayne! Based on my not-super-scientific data, there may be a correlation between criminals and use of the name. I'm eager to access real data someday and follow this theory.

Lee's popularity over time is directly related to the Confederate Civil War general Robert E. Lee - many Southern parents chose the name Lee to honor him in the decades after the war. The name has been decreasing in popularity since 1900, and since many of the killers listed were born in the twentieth century, it may indicate that their families had stronger-than-average ties to the South, or the tradition of using honorific names. Which brings me to another interesting finding...

The name community uses the term "honorific name" to refer to the practice of choosing a name for a child that celebrates a relative, friend, or place important to the parents. This could be anything from using Charlotte to honor Uncle Charlie, Ruby to honor Grandma's birthstone, Denali in honor of her parents' honeymoon site, etc. However, I'm going to use the term here to specifically refer to names directly taken from fathers and grandfathers, names that end in Jr., III, IV, etc.

Out of 201 names, 23 of these serial killers have Jr/III/IV at the end of their names. That's over 11% of them! This number seems particularly high, but the only article I found that listed data on the percentage of honorific names in the population referred to studies from the 1940's. At that time, 3% of the general population was named for a father, and that number has been supposedly decreasing over time. But among serial murderers, the tradition of naming a child after the father seems to be alive and well (excuse the terrible joke).

Using honorific names for children is a practice much more common in "honor states," where an emphasis on "traditional family values" is at play (these values include adhering to assigned gender roles, identifying as a Christian, and highlighting nationalism). Often, these communities also exhibit higher rates of patriarchal thought and the elevation of stereotypical masculinity. Honor states mostly include Western and Southern states - another connection to the Southernness of Lee and my John Wayne theory mentioned earlier.

What's the takeaway from this? Well, since it's correlative data and a small sample size, not much. But there's enough here to keep me asking questions... what questions would you want to ask?


Here are some interesting articles I referenced in this post:

The Wayne Theory - Heather Sutfin, Sword and Scale

Deciding on a baby name? Steer clear of these because they’re the most common among MURDERERS - Hannah Ferrett, The Sun

Babies Named After Dads: Which States Have More (And Why) - Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

Junior Status: Sharing dad's name a mixed bag - Melissa Dahl, NBC News

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sesame Street Names

Hello, readers!

"Can you tell me how to get / How to get to Sesame Street?" are lyrics that have rung through many American homes since the groundbreaking children's show debuted in 1969. I myself was an avid fan (as well as a member of the Barney generation) and I got to thinking how many people grew up with the knowledge of these characters in the back of their minds.

Sesame Street is known for including characters of all races, genders, abilities, cultures, etc., making their Muppet names pretty diverse. I'll be including names of the Muppets and not the humans here.

Everyone's favorite grouch was named for a particularly awful waiter that Jim Henson met in Oscar's Tavern in Manhattan - I wonder if his inspiration ever figured it out? This handsome choice is an excellent cross-cultural pick, and it's never been far from the top 200.

Unfortunately, this adorable old-fashioned name has been claimed by the furry red Muppet, one of the most popular characters in the show's history. Elmo ranked on the top 1000 until 1957, but it's barely been recorded for babies during the 1990's and 2000's.

Partially created as a counterpart to Elmo, vivacious Zoe debuted in 1993, during the period where her lovely name was skyrocketing up the charts. Today, both Zoe and Zoey are popular (along with Chloe and Khloe), with no sign of decline.

Rarely seen without his best friend and roommate (below), Ernie is an original Muppet character - with more than a few memorable songs over the seasons. His name, a popular nickname for Ernest, ranks in the top 500 in the UK but has yet to bring its retro charm overseas.

The serious half of the duo, Bert is particularly fond of collecting bottle caps and advocating on behalf of pigeons (something he and I have in common). Though Brett and Brent have had fans over the years, Bert still feels incomplete and a bit awkward.

Friendly and adventurous Grover has been beloved on Sesame Street since his debut in 1970. His name is worth a second look: though it fits in well with popular -er names and occupational picks (like Parker and Cooper), this adorable choice has never achieved the same level of popularity.

A relatively new Muppet, Abby Cadabby is a three-year-old fairy with boundless girly-girl energy. Her name is everywhere these days - Abigail is currently at #8, and Abby ranks at #441 - and the nickname is a sweet mix of classic and modern.

She made headlines with her debut in 2015 - this first Muppet with autism, performed by the parent of an autistic child - very important for disability representation! The name Julia has ranked in the top 100 since 1980, and it's a gorgeous choice with even more lovely namesakes and connections.

Worrying and dramatic, Telly's arrival on Sesame Street in 1979 followed another famous TV Telly - Telly Savalas, from the popular series Kojak. In fact, the actor's name directly inspired a blip of Telly's on the top 1000, though the fad was short-lived.

Bilingual Muppet Rosita was one of the first Spanish speaking puppets to grace Sesame Street, and she loves history, geography, and music. Though Rose and Rosalie have gained fans, Rosita is still flying under the radar - but this melodic Latin choice could appeal to many.

The little sister of Snuffy, Alice Snuffleupagus is a smaller character than her brother (not too difficult) but no less cute. The attractive name has been rising through the ranks, currently at #76 - might it one day join style sisters Abigail and Charlotte in the top 10?

All grown up at seven years old, Prairie Dawn has been on Sesame Street since 1971 - and the name has been recorded in the US since 1973. Windswept and winsome, Prairie is a cool yet underused choice that would fit in well with nature and geographical names today.

Elmo's dad Louie first appeared on the show in 2006, as a stay-at-home parent who later joins the military. While Louis (and its spelling variants) has gotten popular, nickname Louie is at the bottom of the top 1000, and adds a more friendly sound to the handsome name.

Elmo's mother Mae also debuted in 2006, as part of a series of videos about families dealing with military deployment. After a 40 year hiatus, magnificent Mae is now jumping back up the popularity charts, appealing to parents who love its simple, retro sound.

A Muppet that debuted this year - Rudy is Abby Cadabby's mischievous younger stepbrother. Though the name has been on the decline, this unisex pick still has a lot of charm. Rudy could also honor a familial Rudolph or Ruth.

Which characters would you add to this list? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Baby Names Inspired by Birth Control Methods - Yep, There's Enough of Them to Make a List

Hello, readers!

So I've wanted to write this post since I myself got the Skyla IUD. It cracked me up that a birth control option would have a brand name that's also in the top 1000 baby names for girls. And oh boy, what a style!

A baby with the birth control device meant to prevent his existence... 
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past"

Maybe you've found yourself unexpectedly pregnant - why not name this happy accident after the birth control method that failed you?

I cannot figure out how this name was so popular for so long. Of all the virtue names, this seems the cruelest. Also, the misspelling Chasity has ranked for awhile too - how??? If you're name is Chastity/Chasity, please comment with how your life is going so far, I worry about you all a lot.

Using the term "rhythm method" to describe the practice of having sex only on certain days of the month to avoid pregnancy dates from the 1930's, but the name Rhythm only started getting recorded in the year 2000. It's now rising up the ranks for boys and girls!

Though the Yaz birth control pill has been around since 2006, it was only in 2016 that Yaz was first recorded as a name for eight baby girls. This name also has the bonus of being worth 15 points in Scrabble!

When the Yasmin birth control pill debuted in 2001, the name was already near its peak popularity. Possibly thanks in part to the new association with the medication, the name has since dropped to the bottom of the top 1000.

This sounds like a lot of names out there - Marina, Mira, Mariah - so I wasn't too surprised to see it recorded in past statistics. The name has been used sporadically between 2007 and 2014, but the birth control method has been around since 1990.

My buddy, my pal - over 99% effective! It's been around since 2013, but the name has been recorded regularly since 1998. It's a more feminine form of Skylar, to be sure, but it will always remind me of the small plastic anchor in my uterus.

This creative spelling of Errin (or Aaron?) was recorded from 1964 to 2010 for both boys and girls. While this spelling is definitely unusual, I'd stick with either of the two originals for tradition's sake.

Ask and ye shall receive - I had hoped this name would be recorded, and by Jove, dozens of baby Kyleenas have graced this world since 1999. The IUD is pretty new, having been released about a year ago. Not sure why they picked this name, but let's all bask in the glory.

I'm serious - Sir Richard's is one of the more popular condom brands among vegetarians and vegans (The More You Know™). No idea which Richard the company's name refers to, but let's assume that all Richards were named after this brand - life's just more fun that way.

Though Kaia is in the top 400, homophone Caya just hasn't gotten attention. The birth control method it refers to is a diaphragm, and it's one of the only forms of this methods available in this decade.

This name was used between 1918 and 1960, and it's got a sound to prove it (think Laverne or Deborah). This birth control pill seems decently popular, though I've found nothing particularly interesting about it... or about the name itself, for that matter.

It may sound like the name of a Slavic spy in a James Bond knockoff movie, but this name was mostly used in the 1990s, post-Cold War. I'd go with Anastasia or Natalia rather than the name of an oral contraceptive.

Another condom brand on birth certificates! With word names - Grace, King, West - being so in vogue, Crown seems like a natural fit. (And I bet they'd use "natural fit" in their ad campaigns, too).

If you think your birth control method is worthy of a human child's first name, comment below. And seriously, all the Chasity/Chastity's out there, let me know how you're doing.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Name Conventions - Japan

Konnichiwa, readers!

I'm currently on an extended trip through East and Southeast Asia, working and traveling for a year with my boyfriend. One of my favorite parts of this experience is the chance to talk to so many different people about their names - how they got them, what their cultures dictate, and what they think about them. In addition to collecting name stories, I'm going to take this opportunity to study first name conventions for each country I visit!

I'm currently in China, but my first stop was two months in Japan, so I'll start there. If you're Japanese and/or you have a Japanese name, please tell me your story in the comments!

The Basics:

Japanese names usually include just a family name and a given name (middle names aren't common). Unlike most Western styles, Japanese names are said as "family name - first name," such as Kurosawa Akira. Unlike current trends in the English-speaking world, very few surnames can become given names, so they're usually easy to differentiate.

As seems to be the global trend, first names in Japan are increasingly unique. Since names are written primarily with kanji - complex characters of Chinese - the same kanji can have different readings depending on the context. This means that the same name can be written a multitude of ways, or that the same character can be read as different names.

Example: The unisex name Ryō (written phonetically in hiragana asりょう) can be written with the following kanji, each with a different meaning.

了: "completion"
涼: "cold"
燎, "to burn", "to illuminate"
椋: Aphananthe aspera (a species of tree)
良: "goodness"
亮: "light"
綾: "silk"
諒: "forgiveness"
龍: "dragon"
遼: "distant, far"

Because so many names can be read in so many different ways, many Japanese individuals also write their name in the katakana phonetic alphabet - Ryō isリョウ - or romanize it (Ryō).

Boys vs. Girls:

As in Western culture, first names are usually male, female, or unisex. Japanese laws currently do not dictate that names match the assigned gender at birth, but they do have a list of approved "name kanji" and "commonly used characters."

Historically, many Japanese boys had names ending with -ro ("son" or "bright") and many Japanese girls had names ending with -ko ("child"), though this is no longer a rule. Within the name, certain elements have historically denoted gender, such as -ichi- and -kazu- for boys, both referring to "first [son]." Boys were often named via a numbering system, with characters meaning "one," "two," and so on included in the written name. Other traditional endings include -ta ("great"), -hiko ("boy" or "prince"), and -suke ("assistant") for boys, and -mi ("beauty"), -ka ("flower"), and -na ("greens") for girls.

A recent trend is for parents to choose names for their daughters written in hiragana (one of the phonetic alphabets) for various reasons, one being that the script has historically been seen as "feminine" and was the only form of writing taught to women for centuries. Even today, few boys' names are written in hiragana.


In the past few decades, traditional forms of naming have been on the decline; for example, the -ko suffix is rarely used for girls today. At the same time, Western names written in kana have been trending: Emirii (for Emily), Merisa (for Melissa), and Kurisu (for Chris).

Another trend is using a traditionally written name with an alternative pronunciation. The boys' name 大翔 was historically pronounced "Hiroto," but pronunciations "Taiga" and "Masato" (among others) have recently appeared. This also allows parents to get around the approved lists by choosing traditional kanji, but pronouncing them in a variety of ways.

A current extreme example of this trend is the "kira-kira" phenomenon. "Kira-kira" is an onomatopoetic word meaning "shiny," and it's a style of naming in which parents choose both an unusual sounding-name and a written kanji form that can't be pronounced without context. One example I've heard multiple times is as follows: "Cheri, pronounced not sherry but cherry and written with two characters, one of which is 'sakura,' or cherry blossom" (Japan Today). This style of naming is debated passionately - many people dislike the difficulties in reading/speaking, but many parents like the idea of unique and inspiring choices.

Another fun name-choosing route is through seimei handan, a "fortune-telling" practice that correlates luck with the number of written strokes in name kanji. While it's no longer a common practice, it is a cool aspect of a written name to consider.

Current Top Five (2016):

My source for this list is Sora News 24, through data collected by Japanese company Tamahiyo. If you know where to find a more accurate (preferably government-issued) data set, please let me know!


  1. Ren (蓮), meaning "lotus"
  2. Hiroto (大翔), meaning "big flight"
  3. Haruto (陽翔), meaning "good flight"
  4. Minato (湊), meaning "harbor"
  5. Yuma (悠真), meaning "calm truth"
  1. Himari (陽葵), meaning "good hollyhock"
  2. Hina (陽菜), meaning "good greens"
  3. Yua (結愛), meaning "connected love"
  4. Sakura (咲良), meaning "blossoming well"
  5. Sakura (さくら), meaning "cherry blossom"
None of these names have ranked in the US top 1000, though feminine Wren has. My personal opinion is that Ren and Yuma could get fans in the States - Ren for its simple sound and unisex appeal, and Yuma for its place-name connection and its similarities to Noah and Ezra

*I read quite a few articles online for this post, and I've listed them below. Please let me know if you see anything amiss! I recognize that the Internet is sadly not completely reliable.*

Behind the Name - Kanji Readings
How do Japanese names work?
Japanese Miscellany
Japanese Naming Conventions 1
'Kirakira' names still excite strong passions
Let's write your name in Chinese characters - TarchBlog
Quora - Japanese Names of Western Origin
Seimei Handan - Nancy's Baby Names
Top Japanese Baby Names for 2016...
Wikipedia - Japanese name
Wikipedia - Ryō (given name)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Names from My Travels

Hello, readers!

I’ve been posting quite a bit less because my once-sedentary lifestyle has been upended - I’m currently on an extended trip through East and Southeast Asia with my boyfriend! So far, I’ve spent two months in Japan (Tokyo, Nagano, Osaka, Matsuyama, Hiroshima, Kyoto), one week in Hong Kong, and one month in mainland China (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Guilin, Yangshuo) working in hostels, exploring amazing cities, and meeting all kinds of new people - with excellent name stories. We’re exploring more of mainland China, then heading to Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam over the next 3-4 months - check out our travel blog at!

Ethan and me in Tokyo

Now, onto names: while traveling, I’ve been explaining my interest and study of names to all kinds of people, leading to some cool conversations about naming conventions in other countries. I’d like to explore name traditions for each country further, but with my current spotty access to wifi, I’ll just start with a list of cool names and stories I’ve come across so far.

Last names (and anything particularly identifying) have been removed!

Christopher called Kit
A good friend of mine told me how he got his nickname, one that’s unusual for our age group. He enrolled late in preschool when he was about three, and the teacher told him and his parents, “We already have two Christopher’s and two Chris’, you’ll need to pick a new nickname.” So they researched alternative options and found Kit! He likes his name, and it suits him well.

Sibset: Yua and Kanoa
These two sweet girls have equally sweet Japanese parents, who were very gracious about answering my questions about the kids’ names. They likes these names particularly because of their meanings, which I remember as “good help” and “kind help” (but Google is being unhelpful on confirming this!)

Frank’s family
An American friend living in Japan (who I miss dearly) comes from a big family - and he sent me a detailed explanation of all of their names! (One of the many reasons Frank is the best). Pretty much every child has been given names to honor a close friend or relative:
Frank Rowley, I'm named after a minister who lived… in Colorado and was as a grandfather to my mother. My father as a gift gave her the choice of my name and that was her choice.
Joseph Charles is next. Joseph is my mother's father's name and Charles is my father's father's name.
Mary Ellen Rose is the third child. (First name Mary Ellen) Her name is my father's mother's name and his grandmother's name.
Fourth is Billie Ann Margret. (Billie Ann is first name, double names for every girl actually) Billie Ann is my mother's mother's name, Margret is my mother's grandmother's name.
Fifth is George William, George is my father's name and William is my father's grandfather's name as far as I know.
Sixth is Helen Elizabeth Mae. Helen is my father's stepmother's name, Elizabeth and Mae I'm not sure about.
Seventh is Maureen Kimberly Alice. Maureen and Alice are my father's closest sisters name, and Kimberly is my mother's youngest sisters name.”

A fabulous Australian woman told me that she was supposed to be named Marissa, but her mother was helped by a kindly Kate whose birthday was near her baby’s due date. She said “If the baby is born on your birthday, I’ll name her after you,” not thinking that it could actually happen. Lo and behold, baby Kate was born on that exact day.

One of my favorite names! I met an Aya at a concert for the band YAY - she pointed out to me and the band members that it was her name flipped. Perhaps that’s why she attended?

Apolline (called “Apo” or “Apple”)
I was introduced to la belle Apolline while working with her a hostel in Ehime prefecture. Another worker told me her nickname was “Apo,” which I misheard as “Apple”. I definitely think that name-nickname set could work in the US! Note: the Japanese word for apple is ringo, and my boyfriend began referring to Apolline as “Ringo-chan,” much to the delight of our Japanese hosts.

A new Turkish friend told me her name meaning via email before I even asked - of COURSE we became friends. It means “origin,” and is used for girls in Turkey. She apparently gets called Ashley a lot, though.

Youhei, Kouhei, and Kyouhei
Three of our hosts in Ehime had VERY similar names, listed above - one of them joked we could call them all “The Hei’s.”

Twins: Sydney (f) and Tucker (m)
Their mom was ahead of the curve - these two are 25 years old, but their names sound incredibly modern. I like that the names fit well together but don’t feel matchy-matchy. Sydney recently had a baby girl named Maeve - a very stylish choice.

Yvanne (Yiwan)
While her official name is Yiwan, meaning “beautiful cloud” in Chinese, Yiwan told me that she goes by Yvanne when working with English speakers since it’s easier for them. But once I heard her name’s meaning, I had to call her Yiwan!

While in Osaka, I met a friendly Frenchwoman named Nadia - which intrigued me, since I thought that the name wasn’t popular in France (checking the data, that’s an incorrect assumption!) She told me that she was named after Nadia Comăneci, the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 at the Olympics. So cool!

Momen Morgan
Disclaimer: we were speaking at a loud open mic night, so there’s a chance I misheard his Chinese name! While talking with a family in Hong Kong, I met a man with two interesting name stories. His Chinese name, which I heard as Momen, means “no news” (can’t confirm online, but he probably knows better than Google). For years he didn’t know why his parents named him this, but as an adult his father told him the name comes from the saying “no news is good news,” echoing the virtues of peace and contentment with the present in Buddhism. His English name Morgan comes from a movie that his parents watched and loved, called “Morgan!” (1966) - but the main character spends the movie descending into madness. Sounds like this man’s parents were a kick!

Chun Nam 
I met Chun Nam (English name Stephen) in Hong Kong, and he gave us an amazing tour of the Kowloon Walled City - AND answered a bunch of my name questions! When he was born, his name was Tsin (展) Lung (龍), with the meaning of "an unfolding dragon, symbolising something good, like [positive] development in [his] life." However, another word (剪) also sounds like Tsin in Cantonese, meaning "scissors" or "cutting," making his name sound like "cutting a dragon in half." His parents, fearful of the implications of this inauspicious name, took him to a feng shui master to make a new name: Chun (震) Nam (楠). "Chun means shaking, like in an earthquake, and Nam is a very valuable type of good wood... The names means if you place the piece of wood in the river, it would resist the wave and stand still (won't shake)." I love this name history for all of the universal elements of naming it brings in - parental preferences, etymologies/meanings, aural confusion, and looking to outside professionals for help.

Sofi and Rumi
Alright, so these are border collies, but I found it delightful that in the middle of Guangdong’s (China) countryside, there were two dogs with such star names - with Sofia and Sophia being the world’s current favorite for girls, and Beyoncé making waves with a daughter named Rumi.

I met the incomparable Nicolai while in the Chinese countryside, and this Danish man surprised me with (what sounds to me like) a Russian name. He’s one of five children, and their sibset is fantastic - Rasmus, Nicolai, Frederik, Christina, and Josefine.

Fabian (f)
I met wonderful and Welsh Fabian while at a hostel in Guilin - her name is actually spelled creatively, but because it’s so unusual, I’ll simplify it for privacy’s sake. She’s the only female Fabian she’s ever met! She also comes from a great sibset: Seren (m), Phoenix (f), and Siaman (m) are her brothers and sister.

I met English Katy at the same hostel in Guilin, whose name sounds fairly popular - until she pointed out to me that no one in the UK spells her name correctly (Katie is preferred). The midwife wrote the incorrect spelling on her birth records, and it stuck!

We met while working at an English school in Yangshuo, China. He’s from Egypt, and when I asked him how many Mohamed’s he knows, he said “More than you can ever imagine.” (HA!) He was born on the Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (peace upon him), hence his first name (his middle name is after his father, Ayman). He told me some great stories about his siblings’ names too: it’s customary for the grandmother to name the first child, but since Mohamed (firstborn) was named by his father, his grandmother insisted on naming his next oldest sister - Sarah. His brother Yousef was given one of the more popular names of his birth year, and in Egypt the name Yousef implies strength, handsomeness, and kindness. His youngest sister is Dina, but Mohamed couldn’t remember why that name was chosen :) His mother's name is Ghada, meaning "graceful woman" in Arabic.

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.