Monday, October 10

Panning for Name Gold: 1910

No, mummy, I'm never coming down!

It's 1910 —  a Halley's Comet year — and these 10 names are still hovering around the very bottom of the popularity charts.

Atlas — in Greek mythology, Atlas was a titan whose punishment for going up against old Zeus was to bear the heavens 'pon his shoulders. Objectivists will like its connection to Alisa Rosenbaum Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and I am drawn to its various outer-space connections: Atlas is a moon of Saturn and a triple-star system in the Pleiades
Auburn — a very unusual color-name, auburn is a shade of reddish brown. I also think similar color Russet could work as a given name, though you'd have to be very sure he's not going to be a ginger
Jethro — stay with me, here. Jethro wears many hats. It's Biblical (father-in-law of Moses), it's rock 'n roll (the band Jethro Tull, who, adorably, took their name from an English inventor/agriculturalist) and it's hickish (Jethro Bodine, a character in the Beverly Hillbillies). Jethro means "abundance," and I like its quiet history and unusual sound
Mercer — an occupational surname, Mercer is from the French word mercerie, which refers to the notions trade — a mercer was someone who dealt in fine cloth. I think the nickname Merce could be pretty cool, and it's connected linguistically to mercury
Simeon — my very favorite hermit ascetic (who's yours?) is Saint Simeon Stylites. This fanatic weirdo lived on top of a pillar for 39 years. Not only that — he convinced a lot of other guys (not a lot of women involved = bad sign) to sit on top of pillars, too. This name means "he has heard," which, for Saint Simeon, probably means something more like, "he has heard ... the voices inside his brain." He really is my favorite, though

Araminta — did you know Harriet Tubman's real name was Araminta? I didn't. That kind of saves it from being too Telegraph-y, for me. Once, in the Barnes & Noble at the Grove, I heard a nanny refer to a little girl as Araminta and I squealed with delight. Like, audibly. Turns out the girl had a twin brother named Lorenzo. Cue the name-swooning, though the nanny seemed offended when I asked if they ever called her "Mint" or "Minty"
Hyacinth — in Greek mythology, male Hyacinthe was accidentally killed by Apollo and a lily grew from his spilled blood. Hyacinth flowers are associated with rebirth
Isola — from the Italian word for island. With Isla on the super-rise, I think Isola is a striking alternative. Oscar Wilde's sister was named Isola Francesca Emily. She died when she was 9 and his poem, "Requiescat", is dedicated to her
Meryl — Meryl comes from Muriel, which means "bright sea." Streep-iness aside, I think it's due for a little bit of time in the sun
Olivette — a less-common feminine form of Oliver. I also like the French Olivie, if you're looking to honor but don't want to use popular Olivia. I'm a sucker for "-ette" endings right now, and I think the "little olive" meaning is perfectly charming


  1. Atlas and Araminta - I always go for the A names.

  2. I like Jethro and Araminta (nn Minta).

    Auburn is a name I once suggested on my own blog, but got rather negative feedback - people seemed to think it was a bit girly. :(

    Saw an Atlas recently, but the name didn't suit him at all! I can only think of an Atlas as being really huge, and he was tiny and dainty.

  3. I really like the name Olivette, albeit as Olivet. When it comes to Araminta, I tend to stray towards her shorter form of Aminta.

  4. Love Jethro. But then, I love Jethro Tull (the band!) :)

    Isola is distinctly interesting.

  5. Always put off by the "Ara-" in Araminta, I love Aminta. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


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