Monday, February 27

Panning for Name Gold: 2000

the deer at Nara, by lomonowski via Flickr

Welcome to the new millennium, and 10 new names from the very bottom of the popularity chart. Only one more decade left!

Cephas — I almost mentioned Cephas for my Lithium post, because Cephas means "rock" in Aramaic. Simon the apostle was called Cephas by Jesus, and in most versions of the New Testament, it is translated into Greek as Petros. It's a little clunky, and the "Ceph-" is not he most attractive sound, but there's something to its unusual makeup that appeals
Cully — I've seen Sully as a boys' nickname (for Sullivan, most of the time) but Cully seems a cleaner, fresh variant. With the popularity of Cullen on the rise (there's one namers will be watching when the stats for 2011 come out in May) Cully could make a sweet short form
Django — the most well-known bearer of this name is probably guitarist Django Reinhardt, whose real name was Jean. The name means "I awake" in Romani. I think we could see it get a little attention when Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film Django Unchained is released later this year
Eero — a Finnish form of Eric, architect Eero Saarinen is where most non-Finnish people recognize this name. It also belongs to Finnish interior designer Eero Aarnio and is a super-cool choice for parents looking for something in the Milo/Arlo vein, but worry about the future popularity of those trendy choices
Erasmus — from the Greek for "beloved," Saint Erasmus is also known as Saint Elmo (of "fire" fame) and was the patron saint of sailors. I like its vaguely hickish sound and its many nickname possibilities -- wouldn't a kid called Rasmus be kind of amazing?

Dulcinea —  in Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, Dulcinea (which means "sweetness") is the subject of Quixote's undying obsession. Though she's really a peasant girl named Aldonza, Quixote sees her as a superhuman beauty. In the musical The Man of La Mancha, he sings, "Dulcinea, Dulcinea/ I see heaven when I see thee, Dulcinea/ And thy name is like a prayer an angel whispers"
Eugenie — this is the French form of Eugenia, and the name of Napoleon III's wife, though its most famous modern bearer is probably Princess Eugenie of York, daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson. I particularly like it as Eugénie, with the French spelling and pronunciation
Hero — Hero's one I've seen used a few times (British celebrities Myleene Klass and Aaron Johnson have new daughters named Hero) recently. I like it for its strong sound and mythological associations. In Greek myth, Hero was the lover of Leander, who swum the Hellespont each night to be with her. It's also the name of a character in Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" 
Malin — Swedish-Canadian actress Malin Åkerman has brought this name into popular awareness and I think it could begin to be used more often. Though it hasn't been in the top 1,000 for the past 132 years (at least) it has elements that should appeal to the modern American parent -- particularly the "-lin" ending. It's a Swedish and Norse (it's in the top 100 in Norway, and on the decline in Sweden) short form of Magdalene, a name rich with history
Nara — this one caught my eye because of the city of Nara, on Honshū island, in Japan. Nara is home to many ancient temples and shrines, and is most famous for its deer. According to the legend of Kasuga shrine, a mythological god named Takemikazuchi came to Nara on a white deer to guard the capital. Deer are regarded as heavenly creatures that protect the city, and they roam freely, pestering tourists for snacks and being generally very magical


  1. Ceph- also means "head" in Latin. So when I hear Cephas I automatically think hydrocephaly or something medical.

    Cully, Erasmus, Eugenie, Hero, and Nara I like for different reasons. My great-grandfather had a brother named Erastus, which is really close to Erasmus, and that side of my family would definitely fall into the "hick" category. Erastus went by Rack most of the time.

  2. I just added a little Django seen in the newspapers ...

    He appears in "Hugo" which cleaned up at the Oscars as well. Good publicity for the name ahead of the Tarantino release.

  3. I've always liked Eugenie. It sounds geeky but cool.


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