Friday, April 28, 2017

Colorful Names Inspired by Clue

Hello, readers!

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

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

Image by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr

Miss Scarlett

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Plum

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

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Peacock

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend (Mr.) Green

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

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

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

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

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

Colonel Mustard

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

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

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

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

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

Mrs. White

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peaceful Names for Spring

Hello, readers!

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

Image via Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy National Beer Day!

Hello, readers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me your favorites in the comments!