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!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pretty (but not too popular) Names

Hello, readers!

When I first entered the world of naming, my favorite names were the "pretty ones" - Juliana, Isabella, Alexandria, Cecilia. Feminine picks with a bunch of syllables and vowels, rolling off the tongue and conjuring images of princesses. While my tastes have evolved and changed, I still adore finding rare choices that fit this criteria!

Here are some uncommon names (below the top 800) with beauty and embellishment. Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Cordelia - Shakespearean and noble, this choice is beloved in the literary world - from novels to poems to plays, Cordelia's leap off the page.

Isadora - Occasionally used in the early twentieth century, glamorous Isadora still flies under the modern radar. Connections can be made to the dancer Duncan, and the daughter of musician Bjork.

Theodosia - Now that Lin-Manuel Miranda's hit musical Hamilton has brought dazzling Theodosia into the spotlight, it's bound to soar in the next few years.

Philomena - A phenomenal choice, Philomena means "lover of strength." It's a substantial pick perfect for a passionate (and compassionate) little girl.

Novella - Part genre, part diminutive, Novella is much more than the sum of its parts. It comes from the Italian for "new," and it's a lovely alternative to Nova.

Georgiana - A thoroughly British name, Georgiana's appear in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Princess Diana's family tree.

Mirabelle - Both adorable and sophisticated, Mirabelle is a French import that could usurp Annabelle or Gabrielle. Nicknames Mira or Miri are also delightful.

Araminta - Invented in the seventeenth century for a literary character, Araminta has remained recorded but relatively rare. It was the birth name of Harriet Tubman.

Calliope - The goddess of epic poetry and eloquence, Calliope is commanding and exquisite. It comes from the Greek for "beautiful voice," fantastic for a musical family.

Seraphina - Seraphina has a lot going for it - the etymological connection to Angelina and Michaela, the sound similarities to Samantha and Savannah, and the built-in nickname, Sera.

Fiammetta - Romantic and spirited, Fiammetta is a fabulous Italian choice with history in Boccaccio's Decameron and Machiavelli's The Prince.

Celestine - A heavenly choice (wouldn't Celestine and Seraphine make an excellent sibset?), this is name is a pretty alternative to Celeste or Evangeline.

Euphemia - You probably know this name via its nickname, Effie, but the long form of this Greek choice is far more attractive. Mia would be an accessible modern nickname.

Aurembiaix - Positively decadent, this Aragonese choice comes from a medieval aristocrat. It's pronounced "or-EM-bee-ay," and it's embellishment may be bordering on inaccessibility.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Names that Shine

Hello, readers!

Looking for a name that stands out in a sea of conventionality? Check out these sparkling choices, all shining literally and figuratively. Only a couple of them have ever made the top 1000, with most flying under the radar. I've included the number of children born in the US with the name for 2015.

Crystal - 559 girls
This name made it all the way up to #9 in 1982, but has been declining since its heyday. Crystal is especially popular in Asian communities, and has dozens of namesakes from which to choose. If you're looking for something more unusual, check out the names below for the same shimmery vibe!

Diamond - 258 girls and 35 boys
Though it did well through the 1990's and 2000's, Diamond is now off the top 1000. It's especially stunning, but may be a bit over the top for modern tastes. Nickname Dia is a great option if you like the long form want want something simpler for daily use.

Star - 92 girls and 5 boys
Millennial parents prefer Stella, but Star has a lot of strength and ambition imbued in its four letters. Variation Starr is another Beatles-y option, given to 73 girls last year. For uncommon names that mean "star," check out Aster, Yvaine, or Roxanna.

- 57 girls
A hippie name straight out of the 70's, Sunshine is bright (but nearly blinding). One positive trait is that there are dozens of songs with the word in the title, so you'll never run out of lullabies. More recently, Sunshine was featured as a character on Glee.

Golden - 28 boys and 17 girls
It rhymes with Holden and fits in with Gideon and Grayson, so it's no surprise that Golden has been doing alright for boys. Names with a similar meaning include Aurelio and Zahavi. Gold was also given to five baby girls, switching the adjective for a glittering noun.

Silver - 40 girls and 9 boys
Crisp and cool, Silver is one stand-out option that could rise for both genders - it sounds like surname picks Sawyer and Skyler, it blends with color choices Scarlett and Jade, and plenty of pop culture references include prominent Silver's (Treasure Island, Pokemon, and the Lone Ranger).

Copper - 21 boys and 10 girls
It adorned a (male) puppy dog in Disney's The Fox and the Hound, but both boys and girls have been bequeathed this beautiful name. Copper would be a unique honorific for a family police officer, or an attractive alternative to Cooper or Carter.

Shine - 7 girls and 7 boys
When in doubt, go for the direct and concise - Shine is friendly, straightforward, and substantial. It's not too far off from Sean or Shane, either. It may raise some eyebrows, but it's definitely memorable.

Rainbow - 12 girls
A not-uncommon celebrity baby name, Rainbow is bold, feminine, and chromatic. It may work better as a middle name, if only to allow some room to grow with your child.

Light - 7 boys
Another unambiguous pick, Light is a marvelous choice for the little one who lights up your life. As word names get popular, Light is sure to increase in brilliance!

Prism - 5 girls
Illuminated and modern, Prism is assuredly hip. Connections can be made to Primrose and Priscilla, though neither choice equates Prism's level of style.

Sparkle - 5 girls
Positively gleaming and associated with at least one of the My Little Pony characters, Sparkle may be a bit intense. More accessible MLP names include Belle, Luna, and Celestia.

Starlight - 5 girls
The My Little Pony influence continues! Starlight (and variation Starlite) have been used in the United States occasionally since 1964. Stella (or Estrella) is preferable.

Tell me your favorites (and any shining names I didn't cover) in the comments!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Black Activist/Feminist Names

Hello, readers!

In honor of Black History Month, this installment of Feminist Names will focus on black women who've made great strides in the movement. In Famous First Wave Feminists, I included Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells, two early fighters for suffrage and equality. Let's look at some twentieth-century activists (in no particular order).

bell hooks, 1988, via Wikimedia Commons

Audre Lorde
She described herself best - "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” - and wrote many influential works on racism, sexism, and homophobia. Though she was born Audrey Geraldine Lorde, she dropped the "y" from her first name to achieve "artistic symmetry" with her last. Choosing the Audre spelling would be a great way to honor this icon while maintaining relative ease of pronunciation; though Lorde has also been recorded for girls!

Daisy Bates
A civil rights activist and mentor for the Little Rock Nine, Daisy Bates also worked as a journalist and in political organizations against racism and poverty. While Daisy is currently in the top 200, naming your little one after Bates is far from trendy. Another option is Daisylee (Lee being Bates' middle name), a pretty Southern-sounding pick.

bell hooks
Though she was born Gloria Jean, bell hooks chose to take her pen name from her grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks, but kept it lowercase to separate the two identities. She is known for her focus on intersectionality and postmodern perspective on race, class, and gender. Today, Bella reigns in popularity, but Bell is a beautiful and crisp choice that hasn't ranked since 1915.

Alice Walker
Known for The Color Purple, Alice Walker is a novelist and political activist with a career spanning from the early 1960's to today. Though Alice is another name on the rise, Walker's novel characters may provide further inspiration: Celie, Nettie, and Henrietta. Walker is also a great choice for either gender, fitting in with the surname trend.

Dorothy Height
An advocate for education, literacy, and equality, Dorothy Height also advised political leaders throughout the 1950's and 1960's. She was most recently honored with a postage stamp bearing her likeness in November 2016. Though Dorothy is used more in the UK, it's a classic, attractive name that offers excellent nickname possibilities for girls today - Dot, Dottie, and Thea among them.

Shirley Chisholm
The first African-American woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm was also the first black candidate to run for a major party presidential nomination. Though she retired from Congress in 1982, she was active in education and civil rights promotion until her death in 2005. Shirley may soon return to name charts if the 100-year rule proves true, and it's a friendly and feminine choice.

Fannie Lou Hamer
A leader in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and a political and social activist, Fannie Lou Hamer also released an influential album of spirituals and civil rights' anthems, called Songs My Mother Taught Me. While the name Fannie has some issues in the English-speaking world, long form Frances or middle name Lou are both underused, stylish options.

Maya Angelou
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, she was called Maya by her brother ( for "My-a Sister") and it stuck. Maya Angelou is well-known for her poetry and memoirs of a complicated life throughout the civil rights movement and subsequent decades; when she passed away in 2014, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings became the #1 best-selling book on Amazon. Both Maya and Marguerite are gorgeous names, with the latter still outside the top 1000.

Angela Davis
Scholar and radical activist Angela Davis no longer teaches at universities, but her speeches and work on feminism, social issues, and political activism continue to inspire audiences today. Today, her words are especially relevant: "Radical simply means 'grasping things at the root.'" The name Angela is on the decline, but variants Angelina, Angelica, and Angelique are fabulous options.

Florynce Kennedy
Lawyer, civil rights advocate, and feminist Florynce Rae Kennedy championed intersectionality and reproductive rights, and is remembered for her outspokenness and radical protests. Though she was better known as FloFlorynce may appeal to modern parents who like the "y" trend combined with an elegant English standard.

Coretta Scott King
Though many remember her as the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King was an author and activist in her own right. She's now referred to as the "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement," who worked tirelessly for equality and peace for over fifty years. With Cora in fashion, elaborate Coretta could definitely take off as both an honor name and an update of a classic.

Kimberlé Crenshaw
A leader in intersectionality studies and a law professor at UCLA and Columbia, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a current source of inspiration and knowledge for activists and feminists today. Like Audre Lorde, Kimberlé is missing the expected "y" at the end of her name, making it simultaneously more memorable and more likely to be misspelled. Still, she is a fantastic potential namesake!

Here are links to helpful articles about these and other black feminists:
10 Black Feminists/Womanists Everyone Should Know
14 Black Female Activists You Must Know
27 Black Women Activists Everyone Should Know
4 Famous Black Feminists You Never Learned About in School
14 Books That Should Be On Every Black Feminist's Bookshelf

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Extraordinary E Names

Hello, readers!

If you haven't picked up on it yet, I have an acute preference for E names - it comes with having the excellent name Emily. But there are other reasons - my boyfriend's name is Ethan, my father is Edwin, and my sister's middle name is Elise. I associate E names with wonderful people, and I'm always on the lookout for new options!

Americans today also prefer E names more than they have in the past - whereas there were 175 different E names recorded in 1880, there are a whopping 1,495 today. In the top 100, seven E names rank for each gender. In this post, I'm going to focus on E names outside of the top 1000 that are a bit more offbeat.

Girls' Names

Earhart - This cool surname honors aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and comes from the German for "honor" and "bravery." Hart would be a cool nickname, too!

Edwige - Common in francophone communities, Edwige (pronounced "Ed-WEEJ") is the French form of Hedwig. It's a quirky yet sophisticated choice for a little girl. 

Eglantine - Another French name, this time botanical. Eglantine is totally unique, but it sounds much too much like "eggplant" to work in the United States. 

Eilis - This Irish variation of Elizabeth is pronounced "EYE-lish" - pretty, stylish, and a fabulous heritage choice. Recently, the Saoirse Ronan film Brooklyn featured the name. 

Ekaterina - A surprising number of Russian athlete-namesakes have brought this feminine name to global audiences, and it has the classy nickname of Katya

Electra - This electric name from Greek mythology has also been made popular by the Marvel character. Still, Electra is more and more usable in an expanding name landscape. 

Elodie - With Melody, Eloise, and Melanie in the top 300, it seems surprising that ethereal Elodie hasn't taken off. Perhaps its rise across the pond will one day extend to the States. 

Emerald - Ruby and Pearl are usable - why not Emerald? Its shimmering green energy, plethora of nicknames, and royal vibe are all appealing reasons to give Emerald a look. 

Emmanuelle - An elaborate, sensual choice, Emmanuelle could be a lovely alternative to Evangeline or Eliana. The name comes from Hebrew for "God is with us."

Enid - Unlike Ethel, Enid has transcended its dusty image and become a clunky-yet-cool vintage option. The Arthurian tale of Geraint and Enid adds an air of romance as well. 

Eowyn - An invention of Tolkien, Eowyn appears in the Lord of the Rings series. All kinds of parents have been eyeing this name of late, thanks to its friendliness and closeness to Owen

Etta - Ella, Eva, and Elsa are back in the game, and Etta could be next. It would work well as an honorific for a family member whose name ends in "ette", like Annette, Colette, or Yvette

Eugenia - Eugenia hasn't ranked in the US since 1984, but this Greek name for "well-born" has a bit more dignity than its masculine form. Plenty of namesakes add historical credibility, too. 

Euphemia - The originator of vintage nickname Effie, Euphemia means "fair speech." This name is regal and memorable, if a bit stuffy. 

Boys' Names

Eamon - Though it's pronounced "AY-mon," American speakers are bound to say "EE-mon." Luckily, both variations of this understated Irish name are attractive!

Eladio - Melodic and alluring, Eladio is the Spanish form of a Greek name meaning "Greek" - a unique heritage choice, perhaps? It was also featured on Breaking Bad.

Eleazar - This Biblical name meaning "God helps" would make a creative alternative to Elijah or Elias, plus it has the cool Z-factor.

Ellington - A refined honor name, and just in time for Black History Month! Ellington is a sterling long-form choice with great diminutive options - Ellie, Eli, and Tony, for instance.

Emrys - A warm, Welsh name, Emrys is unusual but friendly and familiar. It's a variant of Ambrose, and is rising for both boys and girls in the US.

Erasmus - The fifteenth-century Christian humanist was known for his writings on society and theology. Though he's widely recognized today, Erasmus' name has only been used sporadically.

Esai - A form of Isaiah, this rare name is more common to Spanish speakers. Still, Esai could cross cultures with its simple sound and attractive meaning - "gift."

Etienne - This French classic is sophisticated and debonair, a stylish alternative to Ethan. It's actually a form of Stephen, and could be used as an honorific as well.

Evander - Once associated with a singular boxer, Evander could rise on its own merits. It has a background in Greek mythology, and sounds like a combination of popular Evan and Xander.

Everest - With McKinley and Denali gaining traction, Everest isn't too far off. It may seem unconquerable, but close ties with Everett help it feel usable.

Ewan - Actor MacGregor has inspired quite a few American parents to pick this cute Scottish choice, but it's never reached the heights of Evan or Owen.

Ezio - Meaning "eagle," this nature name has quite a bit of Italian flair. It's also an uncommon choice next to Ezra, at least in the US - in France, Ezio is in the top 400.

Tell me your favorite E names in the comments!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Girls Like Boys - Feminizations of Male Names

It's no surprise to most name nerds that "unisex" names often begin on boys and end up on the girls' side - Leslie, Kelly, Jordan, and even Riley have been claimed in one way or another by the parents of baby girls. It's also true that masculine nicknames - like Charlie, Bobbie, and Frankie - end up on girls more than their longer forms do (have you met a baby girl Charles, Robert, or Frank?)

But what about less-obvious masculine choices for girls? Charlotte, Brianna, and Gabriella are part of this group. In fact, let's look at the some of the masc-turned-fem names in the top 250:

Charlotte Alexandra Angelina Stephanie
Gabriella Valentina Adriana Angela
Caroline Andrea Michelle Georgia
Brianna Josephine Daniela Noelle
Gianna Nicole Gabrielle

While some of their origins are unclear, what is clear about these names is that there's an easily found masculine equivalent. Many names just add an "a", "anna" or "ella" to the end to emphasize the chosen gender. So then, what really makes a name "feminine"? Is it ending on an "ah" sound? Is it embellishing an established name in unexpected ways?

You may be wondering, "Emily, why does this matter?"

There are plenty of reasons to use feminizations: naming a child after a beloved male friend or relative, honoring a hero or ancestor, or heck, even just liking and wanting to use a particular name. But there are also plenty of reasons NOT to use a feminization.

Today, there are thousands of unique names in common use for girls. Never before have parents been able to pick just about any name/noun/adjective/verb they like and write it on a birth certificate. Simultaneously, women currently have the most power they've ever had in society - assuming, of course, that the current administration doesn't set us back 50 years.

With so much freedom, why not go outside the box? Make up a name for your daughter that has significance for you. Name your daughter the girliest thing you can think of. We should be celebrating femininity for its own merits, not as dressed-up masculinity. The prevalence of masculine names for women is a direct result of misogyny in our society - engage with that dilemma, and figure out where you stand. When you read articles, search databases, and study names, look at their origins. What meanings come with the name, whether direct or indirect? What does a name make you think of, how does it make you feel?

If you love Georgia, pick Georgia. But if you also love Abigail, and wouldn't give it to your son, ask yourself - why not?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Las Vegas Names

Hello, readers!

I just got back from a fabulous weekend in Las Vegas, where my friends and I attempted to strike it rich (didn't work). This sojourn into Sin City got me thinking - what sort of glamorous, glitzy names can one find among the roulette tables?

Today I'll be looking at names associated with the glimmering parts of the city. As always, tell me what you think in the comments! What sorts of monikers do you associate with Las Vegas?

Spanish for "meadows," Vegas has been in use as a name since 1979. It's been used for both boys and girls, but somehow doesn't really work anywhere but the city. Vega is found in multiple languages, from Arabic to Spanish to Greek, and it would be an excellent possibility for a girl!

A major hotel on the Strip, the Mirage was one of the most expensive hotel-casinos in history. The name Mirage probably has less to do with the glitz than the dreamy connotation of the noun - and the character in The Incredibles

One of Las Vegas' most beloved performers, Frank Sinatra influenced name popularity in many ways - from his song "Linda" to naming his daughter Nancy. The last name Sinatra was recorded three times in the late 1950's and mid 1960's.

Sure, this place-name does well enough on its own; but Paris Las Vegas has brought a whole separate dimension to the city. Why travel all the way to Europe when a scaled replica of the Eiffel Tower can be found in the Nevada desert? Paris' sparkle can also be attributed to heiress Hilton. 

Named for businessman Steve Wynn, this Las Vegas hotel is often ranked as one of the best in the world. Its name isn't so bad, either - it comes from the Welsh for "fair," and has been used for both boys and girls in the United States. 

While this name has long been associated with the one and only King, extremely quirky choices are now in the realm of possibility. In Las Vegas, between 125 and 500 Elvis Presley impersonators are in the building at any given time. 

The entertainment company Cirque du Soleil arrived in Las Vegas in the early 1990's, and still impresses millions of visitors a year. Over 100 girls were given the pretty French name Soleil last year, with Soleil Moon Frye still being it's most distinctive wearer. 

One of the biggest landmarks on the Strip, Caesar's Palace is known for its plethora of entertainment and gambling offerings - and it was featured prominently in The Hangover. While Cesar has long been a popular name, Roman variation Caesar could take off.

While Hugh has begun to find favor in the states, variant Hughes could honor literary Langston. It's also included in this list as a reference to Howard Hughes, the notorious billionaire who lived in Las Vegas for years and owned many of its establishments. 

A classic hotel in downtown Vegas, El Cortez is also on the National Register of Historic Places. While it's more popular as a surname, Cortez could work well as a first - it means "courteous" and has a few namesakes on the football field. 

Like Paris, Rio has a bit more going for it besides the Vegas connection - there's a Duran Duran song, a recent animated comedy, and of course, Rio de Janeiro. This name is popular for girls in Japan, too! The hotel was built in 1990, and it's the current residence of magicians Penn and Teller. 

One of the original "Rat Pack" hotels, the Sahara officially closed in 2011. This desert name has gained recent interest due to the popularity of Sierra and Savannah, and could be a unique way to honor an aunt or grandma Sarah