Monday, October 17

Panning for Name Gold: 1920

Herbert James Draper's Halcyone

Welcome to the Jazz Age and the roaring 1920s —  let us troll the birth announcement dregs and see what we come up with. 

Ames — generally used as a surname, I like its ambiguity. Some say it's from Amos, a Hebrew name meaning "burden" or, in a nicer interpretation, "carried," and some say it could be from the French noun amie, meaning "friend." To further the mystery, it might be a smooshing (very official word) of Ambrose + Eames. James is such a classic in the English-speaking world, I wonder why shorter, simpler Ames doesn't enjoy a bit more popularity
Crispin — means "curly-haired." A couple fairly well-known actors bear this name: brother of Helena, Crispin Bonham-Carter, and Crispin Glover, whose middle name is Hellion (hey, Helena, Hellion, kinda weird, right?) If you're put off by the word "crisp," I find the Spanish pronunciation much more appealing
Crosby — music fans of all types can appreciate this one. There's (David) Crosby from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and Academy Award-winning crooner Bing Crosby. Means "by the cross"
Ingram — I've seen Graham used on a few babies, recently, but I like the masculine gruff of Ingram. It reminds me of Everett or Forrest, names that conjure up images of mountain cabins with big bookshelves. A little naturey, a little literary, with a great meaning ("raven"), too
Soren — I think Soren's on a little bottom-to-top journey. In 1920, it was used on six boys, but since then it made its way to a top 1,000 debut in 2003,  coming in at #957. Though the rise hasn't been steady, it is currently the most popular it's ever been in the US — #726 — and I expect it to climb even higher. Are these parents all fans of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, or are they drawn to the "two syllables, ends in -N" boy name appeal?

Halcyon — in Greek myth, Alcyone was turned into a bird (the name means "kingfisher") after throwing herself into the sea out of grief. I like the phrase "halcyon days," and the connection to astronomy — Halcyon is the brightest star in the Pleiades. I think it would make a smashing middle name for a girl
Ismay — I first heard this name when I went through my brief "shipwreck phase" in 3rd or 4th grade, thanks to this guy. He was quite a controversial figure after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 — do you think his surname stuck with parents naming their daughters 8 years later? It stuck with me ...
Maris — taken from the Latin title of the Virgin Mary, "stella maris," or "star of the sea." I think girl names ending in "S" really stand out
Svea — Mother Svea is the female personification of Sweden, usually depicted as a fierce warrior holding a shield and standing beside a lion. It was popular in Sweden in the first half of the 20th century and still ranks pretty high up on the charts, currently sitting at #72
Vesper — from Hesperus, who in Greek mythology was the evening star (Venus) and son of the goddess of dawn. I think of recent Bond girl Vesper Lynd (wait a minute, Crispin Bonham-Carter was in Casino Royale. What does this all mean? Naming kismet abounds ...)


  1. I like Crispin, and Soren has its charms - it's another vampire name from pop cult, and also the Danish form of Severus, so may be attracting some Professor Snape fans?

    Ismay is one I have long found romantic, and Vesper is beautiful (although it does remind me of the Vespa moped).

  2. Halcyon is the middle name of actress Lauren Ambrose's son, Orson - born in 2007.

    I'm totally crushing on Soren lately, I'll admit it!

  3. While I prefer Halcyon on a girl, Orson Halcyon is a fabulous boy name!


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