Monday, August 31, 2015

And Your Bird Can Sing - Bird Names, Part Two

As products and behaviors go green these days, why not consider some nature-themed names? This avian monikers might work for your little one, to encourage them to spread their own wings and soar!

This is part two of "Bird Names", check out part one here! Again, I'm focusing on the symbolism and etymology of the names, as well as their connotations in pop culture.

And we're off!

Peregrine - from Latin peregrinus, "traveler, foreigner"
A highly underused name with historical roots, Peregrine was a name used by some early saints. It has an excellent meaning and a strong sound: the -in ending calls to mind names like Peyton or Madeline. While only listed for boys on Nameberry, I think this could just as well be an attractive unisex name (or middle name!)

Swan - from Proto-Germanic swanaz, "singer"
As far as bird connotations go, you can't do much better than Swan - beautiful, graceful and elegant describe these creatures to a T. And pop culture references are everywhere - from Swan Lake to Twilight's Bella Swann to Elizabeth Swan of Pirates of the Caribbean. This single syllable name will be memorable - but may provoke a few raised eyebrows.

Raven - from Old English hræfn
These days, the most popular Raven is Raven-Symone, star of her own eponymous Disney show. But it's already at number 507 in the US, so it's not entirely unheard of on the playground. Strong, bold and intelligent, this bird name is one that will age gracefully with your little one.

Dove - from Old English dufe, related to "dive"
Pretty, but it might be too soft for a first name. Like Love or Peace, keep this on as an understated middle name to soften a longer or more intense first one.

Rhea - from Greek Rhea, mother of Zeus
While always low in the top 1000, this name dropped off the list entirely in 2005 - but is it time for a comeback? There are plenty of reasons to consider Rhea today - the connection to a strong woman in Greek mythology; the similar sounds as Nia, Gia and Leah; its appearance in the culture of South American countries (it features on both Argentinean and Uruguayan money). I'd say Rhea could be an original but confident choice.

Kestrel - from Latin crepitacillium, "small rattle"
Incredibly rare - not on Nameberry, and only a tiny entry on Behind the Name - this might just be a personal name crush: I babysat a Kessel in college, and fell in love with the sound of his name! I don't think it's too far off from Kendall or Crystal, though. Another ends-in-L name to consider!

Heron - from Proto-Germanic hraigran
An excellent bird name with a connection to water, this might be the up-and-coming nature name you're looking for! With the popular bell-tone sound, this name will fit in one way but stand out in so many others. For one thing, it's got the word "hero" in it, but the -on ending will connect to cousins Landon or Hayden. It's also a great choice if you live near a body of water and want to honor your surroundings.

Let me know your opinions in the comments!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Jams: Song(s) for RUBY

One of my favorite gem names, here's some Ruby jams for your weekend!

"A Song for Ruby", Conway Twitty, 1977

"Ruby Tuesday", the Rolling Stones, 1967

"Ruby Baby", Dion and the Belmonts, 1963

"Ruby", Kaiser Chiefs, 2007

"Ruby", Ray Charles, 1961

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Literary Names #2: Little Women

Hello, followers!

This week in Literary Names I've decided to focus on another favorite book - Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. (Quick shoutout to the author for having a great first and middle combo!)

I'll only be focusing on the four sisters and their three husbands, but there are some other great names in the book - the next generation includes a Daisy, Demi, Josy, Robin, and Teddy.

Shall we?

Margaret "Meg" March..... Marit Damiana
Margaret has seemingly infinite variations, Marit being a Scandinavian form. It strikes me as very neat, elegant and mature, like Meg's character. Damiana is much more feminine, and means "domesticated" - I think it's a great amalgamation of the traits these "little women" were expected to fulfill.

Josephine "Jo" March..... Josefina Constance
To keep with my pattern of homage first names and personality middle names, I chose the Spanish variant of Jo's name, Josefina - also a popular American Girl doll, to continue with the "herstory" theme. Constance refers to the determination of Jo's character, and tempers the feminine first name with an anchored -ance ending.

Elizabeth "Beth" March..... Ellie Sonata
I wanted a name that was soft and musical, sweet and light. Ellie is warm and amiable, like Beth's character. Sonata is a reference to Beth's musical abilities, as well as her love for the piano. This name is less formal than the others, but Beth always stood out from the sisters (at least for me!)

Amy Curtis March..... Esme Sandrine
Amy always struck me as sophisticated and worldly - or at least, she wanted to be that way. Esme, like Amy, means "beloved", but has a more exotic twist. Sandrine is a reference to Amy's European travels, as well as being a diminutive of the strong and defensive "Alexandra" - another nod to her character.

Theodore "Laurie" Laurence..... Theo Lorenzo
Theodore is a great name on its own, but Theo updates it against the old Teddy or Tad nicknames. Lorenzo is grand and attractive, like Laurie's character, and the two ending-in-O names together have a nice ring to them.

John Brooke..... Jack Moses
For Meg's beau, I wanted a friendly, common name that was a little softer than the formal John - Jack fits the bill. With Brooke, I wanted to continue the water theme, so I choses the softer Moses - also the name of a Biblical leader, it's a slight nod to John's work as a tutor.

Friedrich Bhaer..... Pax Oberon
This was more a of a guilty pleasure name, but there are so many options - Friedrich means "peaceful ruler," so I chose another peace name - Pax. Bhaer comes from the German for bear, and Oberon means "bearlike". I also like the literary reference - Oberon is in A Midsummer Night's Dream - which I think works nicely for a professor.

What do you think, readers? Did I nail the names or miss by a mile? Tell me in the comments!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Name Community!

Hi all!

Today, in an effort to educate myself on others in the naming community, I'll be posting links to other cool blogs about names. Here's a short list if you want to find more cool articles and opinion pieces!

Appellation Mountain - Abby Sandel

I've mentioned this site before, as an AM fangirl, but I think Abby's articles deserve more readers. Check out this fantastic article about gender and heritage baby naming - the comments provide more (often heated) opinions too: Why I Never Say "Save the Name for a Son"

Waltzing More Than Matilda - Anna Vivian

Here's an Australian perspective on naming in the English world. Check out this encouraging article on defending name choices from judgmental friends and family: Family Criticism Has Made Her Anxious About Baby Names

The Beauty of Names - Bree

A lovely blog with an emphasis on beautiful, elegant and historical names. I myself can never resist a Romanov sisters' shoutout: Long and Luxurious

Nameisms - Laura Emerson

Really cool in-depth looks at different names each day - etymology, history and celebrity namesakes included! Laura has a great article on the recent controversy over Atticus: Atticus: To Kill a Name

Baby Name Pondering - Brooke Cussans

Interesting a varied articles on names - this is what I hope one day to achieve! A recent article by Brooke is just badass: Post Apocalyptic Naming

Also sidenote: it looks like I accidentally appropriated the title of a Nameberry article from a couple weeks back: Name Trend: The I's Have It for Girls. Whoops! I'll try harder to avoid overlap.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Saturday Jams: Que SARA, SARAH

A few songs about Sara/Sarah for your weekend...

"Sara Smile", Hall & Oates, 1975

"Sarah Smiles", Panic! At the Disco, 2011

"Sara", Fleetwood Mac, 1979

"Sara", Bob Dylan, 1975

"Sarah", Thin Lizzy, 1979

Friday, August 14, 2015

And Your Bird Can Sing - Bird Names, Part One

Hello, readers!

As more and more nouns are turned into names these days, it's only natural that we would seek out the animal kingdom for inspiration - Fox, Bear, and Fawn among the favorites. My personal favorite, however, are bird names!

This theme offers a wide realm of possibilities, and name fans everywhere can agree: check out Abby Sandel's excellent bird list - Fetching Names: Bird by Bird - and Kristen Gregg's Nameberry blog post - Bird Names: Avian options beyond Robin and Raven.

As for my own spin, I'm going to focus on the symbolic connotations of each bird name - what do we think of when we hear Hawk, Lark, or Robin? This will be the first in a series, since there are far too many bird names for just one post!

Disclaimer: a lot of sports teams use various birds as mascots, and that will definitely influence the reaction to little Oriole or Falcon's name. I won't be addressing this, partially because there are plenty of people who won't make the connection and mostly because I don't know enough about these teams to form an opinion...

Let's begin!

Birdie - "bird" (of course)
Another nickname name coming back into style, Birdie is cute but not very deep. It dropped off the top 1000 in 1948, but celebrities like Busy Philipps and Maura West haven't been deterred.

Falcon - from Latin falx, "curved blade"
Falcons are among the fastest animals on earth, and are known as formidable birds of prey. This is a very forceful name, which could work for a just-as-determined kid. 

Finch - from Old English finc, an imitation of its sound
Now that Atticus has been tabled, Finch could be a strong alternative. A common bird, this brings to mind friendliness and a down-to-earth attitude. I'd say it's a solid contender. 

Hawk - from Old English hafoc, "to seize"
Similar to Falcon, Hawk is powerful and concise. Keep in mind that "watch like a hawk," "hawk" as a verb, and "deficit hawk" all have rather stern meanings. 

Lark - from Old English lawerce, unknown meaning
A very light and happy name, Lark is great for any child born laughing. Historical symbology connects the lark to daybreak or new beginnings, more great connotations. 

Oriole - from Latin aureolus, "golden"
An excellent meaning, but a conflicted name. On the one hand, orioles are bright and beautiful, and a cute nickname could be Oreo. But a kid will have to expect a lot of double takes when introducing themselves. There are plenty of other names that mean "gold" that could work, check them out here.

Phoenix - from Latin
An ancient word, but a relatively new name - Phoenix hit the top 1000 in 1995 and has been steadily rising. Very cool and edgy, a mythical bird reborn from the ashes is a great name that speaks to growth and determination. 

Robin - from Robert, "bright fame"
A bird named for a human, this unisex avian name has been on the charts for decades. Robins have come to be associated with Christmas in recent years, but many will appreciate the pretty and natural feel of the name. 

Sparrow - from Old English spearwa, "small brown bird"
Sparrows are among the most recognized birds in the world, so I think this name could be great for a multi-culti kid. Like Finch, it's friendly, but much more beautiful. 

Wren - from Old English wrenna, meaning unknown
Very small birds, with bold songs and behavior, Wren is perfect for any bright personality. Interestingly, the wren's name in other languages speaks to royalty, due to its golden crest. On a personal note, reading the comic Baby Blues growing up was the first time I was introduced to the name, and I loved it right away. 

What do you think? Any other favorite bird names? Tell me in the comments!

Also, thanks to Online Etymology Dictionary, Wikipedia, and Name Voyager for the background info!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday #1 - The I's have it

Hello followers! (or just my boyfriend and supportive friends)

This Throwback Thursday is brought to you by the letter I. Originally a very popular first letter, I-names declined significantly in the 1920's and 30's. Towards the 1980's and 90's, however, the I-names skyrocketed again. Check out this graph (thanks Baby Name Voyager!)

Right now, Isabella, Isaac, Isaiah and Isla (and variants) are topping the charts. But are there names from the past that might fit in nicely as well? Let's look at some of these vintage I-names (from the top 200 in 1890) and find out!


Ida - "industrious one"
Currently a favorite in Scandinavia, Ida could be a great alternative to the popular Ava and rising Isla. It dropped off the top 1000 entirely in 1984 - is it time for a comeback?

Inez - "pure, virginal"
Off the list for quite some time, this Latin variant of Agnes has resurfaced in recent pop culture - check out Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris or the recent musical Hairspray. The ending Z adds a zip, but this name might be too mature for a child to pull off. 

Irene - "peace"
With a beautiful meaning, this divine name has a very serene feel. There's also an historical Irene for every type: the actress Irene Dunne, the scientist Irene Joliot-Curie, the fictional Irene Adler (the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes). 

Iva - "willow tree"
This name works well on its own, as a bright alternative to Ivy, or as a nickname for Ivonne or Ivanna. It would also work well with a long last name without being too short or plain. 

Ina - feminine name suffix
No meaning of its own, and somehow very lackluster next to Ida or Iva. Nickname possibility perhaps? Angelina, Katerina, and Marina are all examples of pretty names with popular nicknames - Ina could help a little girl stand out. 

Irma - "universal, complete"
Although it's got a great meaning, Irma still hasn't yet dropped its grandmotherly image. What popular name has the same meaning? Number one darling Emma, of course!


Ira - "watchful one"
With short Hebrew boy's names ending in A making a comeback - Noah, Ezra, Asa - Ira might fit in perfectly on the playground. NPR's Ira Glass and music's Ira Gershwin are popular namesakes. 

Irvin - "handsome"
Somehow incomplete, despite popularity over its brother name, Irving. I'd stick with Ivan

Irving - "green water"
There are quite a few historical Irving's, whether the name came first or last. More complete than Irvin, but it would take a lot of confidence to pull it off. 

What do you think? Are there I-names I didn't mention that you love? Did I totally mischaracterize a name? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Literary Names #1 - The Secret Garden

For those of us who are both name fans and avid readers, fantasizing about naming your future kids after your favorite characters can be incredibly tempting. I mean, how cute would a little Hermione be? But to save a child from years of the same comments - "'Your parents are Harry Potter fans, huh?" - it can be a better idea to give a child an homage name, rather than a direct namesake.

In an effort to expand my interest in names, I've decided to flex my naming muscles and take on popular literature. For each "Literary Names" installment, I'll be taking characters from a book and updating their names as an homage. Let me know what you think!

Today's installment: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Putting aside that fact that Frances is an adorable vintage name, this book was one of my favorites as a kid. There are also only a few main characters, which should make this first try doable. Let's begin!

Mary Lennox..... Mari Elowen
I didn't want to stray too far from Mary, which means "bitter" - an excellent adjective for the character at the beginning of the book, so I chose a Welsh variant of the name. As for Lennox, I considered the up-and-coming Lennon, but it was a bit too masculine to fit with Mari. Lennox translates to "place of elms" in Gaelic, so I looked up names that mean "elm" and found Elowen! I like that the n-ending grounds the name, being that Mari is so light. "MarI ELowen" also flows together nicely.

Colin Craven..... Cole Perrin
Colin itself is a fabulous name, but I chose another diminutive of Nicholas slightly behind it in popularity - Cole. Again, I looked up the meaning of the surname: Craven means "rocky place". Perrin is a diminutive of Peter, which means "rock".

Dickon Sowerby..... Rico Dumas
Much more Latin than the first two, I've continued the pattern: Rico is another diminutive of Richard, like Dickon. Dumas means "of the little farm", an homage to SOWERby. Dumas also allows for a second literary reference in addition to The Secret Garden - Alexandre Dumas is known for The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Martha Sowerby..... Mattie Leighton
The original name struck me as rather fussy, so I've made it more modern and tomboyish. Mattie is a diminutive of Martha that is currently at #958, while Leighton, which means "meadow town", comes in at #540. The name is also upbeat and friendly, like Martha's character.

Ben Weatherstaff..... Benjamin Robin
This is more of a guilty pleasure name than an homage, but Benjamin has always been a favorite. As for Robin! Ben Weatherstaff talks a bit about his "friend", a robin who hangs around him in the garden. Why not put the pair together in a name?

Archibald Craven..... Emery Mason
While Archie is climbing the charts, I still think of it as a name associated with fussy old men. Archibald, however, means "truly brave", so I chose another name with the same meaning, Emery. It's currently at #161 for girls and #687 for boys, and I think it works either way. Mason, while popular, isn't in use much as a middle name - it's strength is clear next to Emery.

What do you think? What would you do differently? And any suggestions for future books to try this out with?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I can see CLARE-ly now

Greetings, readers!

As some of you may know, today is the feast of the Catholic Saint Clare. No, I don't know saints' feast days by heart - but Clare just so happens to be the name of my favorite (and only) sister!

The family story goes that my parents once again couldn't decide on a name for their second child, so finally my dad - who had been holding out for Angela - caved and let my mom name my sister Clare Elise. At one point Anna Clare was thrown out as a possibility, but they nixed it because it sounds like the old song "On a Clear Day," or "Anna Clare Day."

As a consolation prize for caving, my dad was allowed to pick the spelling of Clare, and he chose the less common version, for the saint. Incidentally, this has meant that my sister has never been able to find her name on a souvenir mug or keychain, so there are tradeoffs for originality.

So, here are some beautiful Clare-related names - all stemming from the same meaning, "clear":

Clare: The original spelling of a beautiful name. My personal favorite, though I'm biased. The name is currently at number 723 for girls. It was used for boys as well, until the early 1940s when it dropped off the top 1000. Short with a long A like Blaine and Chace, this name could come back for boys, I think.

Claire: The French version of the name and the most popular, currently at number 44. It's been steadily rising since the 1970s, so don't expect your child to be the only Claire in the room. Excellent for parents who want a name that crosses Europe and North America easily.

Clara: Currently at number 108 and climbing fast, this name is getting popular for its cross-cultural appeal and vintage feel. There are quite a few famous Clara's in history - check them out on Nameberry!

Clarissa: Incidentally another family name, Clarissa is a fantastic alternative to the popular Melissa, Marissa or Vanessa. It also has a great literary connection - Clarissa Dalloway is the main character in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, later played by Meryl Streep in The Hours. Clarissa is currently at number 765.

Chiara: The Italian version, and the name Saint Clare went by, isn't even on the top 1000 (those of you looking for something unusual, consider this name). Pronounced kee-AR-ah, it may be difficult to explain in the US. Spelling variation Kiara (of Lion King 2 fame) is on the list at number 353. Italian names are trending - Isabella, Mia, Sofia - so this name might just be ahead of the curve.

Sinclair: Meaning "from the town of St. Claire", this unisex name is literary and almost unheard of - almost. Definitely preppy, but very cute.

Final Clare factoid - my sister believed for most of her childhood that her middle name was Bear, as in Clare Bear. It wasn't until she was around double digits that she was taught her true middle name - Elise. How cute is that!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Name Reference Sites

Here are some of my favorite sites to use when looking up names, meanings, and statistics!

Nameberry - My favorite baby name website, it has a fantastic, beautiful interface with interesting articles posted daily. Name information includes origin, famous people with the name, nicknames, related names, and comments for each. It's always my first stop when I hear a new name!

Behind the Name - This site is excellent or looking up origins, especially for obscure names not found on your average baby name site. They have excellent statistics by country, and really in-depth backstories for names. They also have a related site just about last names!

Social Security - Baby Names - The SSA collects the top 1000 names in the USA every year, which feeds statistics on most baby name websites. You can search by year, name, decade, etc. Not super user-friendly, but if there are statistics, this is the place to find them.

Baby Name Wizard - Name Voyager - This incredible interactive online graph lets you compare name popularity and statistics, search by beginning letters, and more! Want to see which decade had the most J-names? Or see whether the "El" beginning of names is on the decline? Check it out here!

Appellation Mountain - This site is run by Abby Sandel, a contributor to Nameberry and a professional name consultant. She puts up excellent lists, names of the day, and more!

What are your favorite name sites? Tell me in the comments!

Hello there!

So I've been inspired by Appellation Mountain and Nameberry to create my own name blog, where I'll post cool name ideas, name origin stories and the like. Hopefully this will be cool and not at all weird or narcissistic. Hopefully.

To start: my name is Emily Grace. I was born in 1992, when Emily was at number 7 and Grace was at number 127. My parent's hadn't known that Emily was so popular, and to be honest it was the only name they could agree on. My dad tended towards Barbara or Lisa, and my mom tended towards Celeste or Quinn. My middle name comes from a play both my parents acted in prior to my birth, "Amazing Grace," as well as the fact that my mom's name means "grace" (I'll talk more about family names in a later post).

I really like my name, despite its popularity - it hit #1 in 1996 but is now back at #7 - and despite its meaning - "rival", which to me is a little negative. It would explain my competitiveness, though.

I really do believe that a person's name can tell you a lot about them - from when and where they were born, to the types of parents they had, to the experiences with it they had growing up. Those who pick their own names often have a story of why, too. Ultimately, when I eventually name my own children, I hope to have a knowledge of names that will help me pick something fitting. (And if they want to choose a new name later, maybe they'll let me help).

Do you know your name story? Do you like your name or wish it could be something else? What's your current favorite name? Tell me in the comments!