Wednesday, June 27

Running Around

Ottilie runs in rainbows

Forgive me for letting this blog linger a bit — back soon with more rarities, gearing up for a series of 2012 Olympic names and much, much more. I've been busy with other writing projects. Just for funsies, here are the names I used for one of them. I don't know if any other namers out there also write fiction, but I find the naming process for characters so funny. It's not a reflection of my personal taste at all, just what the story seems to demand  — 


Kittredge — I can't decide if he should be called Kit or Kitts

Wednesday, June 20

2011 Rarities: Part Four

photo by laliseuse, via Flickr

Here are some of the stand-out names used on only 7 children born in the US in 2011 —  

Achyuth  a Sanskrit name, meaning "imperishable," referring to the god Vishnu
Alassane  an alternative transliteration of Al-Hassan ("the good" or "the handsome") used most often in French-speaking African countries
Arohan  the ascending scale of notes in a raga, in north and south Indian classical music 
Baer  short form of Albaer, from the German for "bright"
Branch  a nature name that fits right in with names like Brock and Brandt
Caspar  it's weird that only 7 babies were named Caspar last year, right? I mean, there were 7 named Awesome born. Who'd have thought Caspar and Awesome would be equally unusual
Chipper  I hear "chipper," but I can only think "Fargo"
Covey  a word used to describe a group of birds 
Edwing  a Google search turns up a fashion designer and musician with this name, but I'm not sure where that G on the end came from. Any insight?
Emmaus  from the Hebrew hammat, meaning "warm spring." The name of a town near Jerusalem, mentioned in the New Testament. Plagues, suppers, battles, etc etc ...
Hoss — one source says this means "good luck" in Norwegian, but it's probably more of a cowboy throwback name, Bonanza-style
Issachar  a Hebrew name meaning "hireling," this name was given to one of the 12 sons of Jacob (founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel)
McArthur, McCartney, McKai, McKinnon, McLean  these Mc-names were all used 7 times. I think the best of the bunch is maybe McArthur, since Arthur's a name on its own as well. McKai has a totally different vibe, doesn't it?
Mylon  a genus of butterfly in the family Hesperiidae
Niv — means "speech, expression" in Aramaic
Rally  from the word. Interesting, maybe? I like unexpected word names
Reason  here's another one, and I might prefer Reason to Rally, but then, I'm a pacifist like that
Redding  been thinking of the nickname Red since hearing it used as a middle name in a particularly cool combo. Bonus points for the Otis Redding connection
Zenith  pretty great meaning, if you can get over the brand name. Means "the highest point or state"

Aeon — sort of goes along with Zenith, actually. My favorite meaning is from Gnosticism, where it refers to one of a class of powers or beings said to emanate from the Supreme Being and perform various functions in the operations of the universe 
Alda  Saint Alda was an Italian mystic and nurse. It's the feminine form of Aldo, meaning "old," or "noble"
Almendra  the name of a village in Spain and a parish in Portugal, means "almond nut" in Spanish
Blue  only 7 Blue girls born last year. I wonder if it will rise much after Jay Z and Beyonce used it in January of this year
Caledonia  the Latin name given by the Romans to the land north of Britannia (Scotland)
Courage  a nice virtue name for a girl. Not the prettiest to look at, but a nice sound
Dollie  I like Dolly well enough, and usually prefer a Y-ending to an "-ie" one, but for some reason Dollie spelled this way makes me smile
Holiday — I knew a girl named Holiday and always admired it. Lovely sound and not too hard to pull off
Kulsoom  an Arabic name meaning "one with a full face"
Lucine  a variant of Lusine, an Armenian name meaning "moon"
Mavi  I met a little Mavi at the park a long time ago and it's one of my favorite "out and about" finds. It's Turkish, and means "blue"
Ohanna  a name from Arabia, meaning "god's gracious gift"
Pessel  I'm a sucker for P-names that contain the S sound (favorites include Persis and Priska) and this one certainly stuck out. I think this is a Yiddish name, a form of Hebrew name Batya, meaning "daughter of god"
Roselee  I may prefer this to Rosalie, the standard Rose + Lee smush, for its simplicity. It seems less fussy
Tulip — a lovely little-used flower name
Vielka  perhaps inspired by Dominican talk show host and former beauty queen Vielka Valenzuela, whose full name is Vielka Yudelka Valenzuela Lama ... that's awesome. Wonder where it comes from ...

Friday, June 15

Noms de Ballet

photo by aman|singh, via Flickr

Some random Googling led me to the Wikipedia page of the New York City Ballet, which very nicely lists the names of its current dancers. They're an interesting, varied group, and I got curious about how they compare to the lists from other companies. 

Names of ballet dancers (past and present) from the New York City Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi and Mariinsky Ballet — 



Monday, June 11

2011 Rarities: Part Three

photo by TURKAIRO, via Flickr
Here are some of the stand-out names used on only 8 children born in the US in 2011 —  

Artist  future accountants?
Bridges  generally found as a surname. There's Bridger and Bridget, why not Bridges? It has that sort of rugged sound that a lot of parents go for when naming their sons
Crockett  another one usually found as a last name. I can see this working as a first name  I first thought of one of my daughter's favorite books, Harold and the Purple Crayon, written by a man named Crockett Johnson. The Davy connection will appeal to some 
Devery  related to the French name Devereux. The 8 parents who used it for their babies may have been inspired by football player Devery Henderson of the New Orleans Saints
Ferney  an ancient Scottish surname. I like the sweet and innocent vibe
Hamsa  from the Arabic word for "five," this name refers to a hand-shaped amulet said to protect against the evil eye
Hermes  from the name of the Greek messenger god, may come from herma, meaning "stone," or eirein, referring to the power of speech 
Jabe  all I can think of for this one is that it's some form of Joab or Japheth
Laker  refers to someone, something or some-fish associated with a lake, though I'm sure most parents are thinking of the basketball team, here 
Neville  wow, an actual non-made up, usable name this low on the list? Means "new town"
Osmany  from the Turkish name Osman, which derives from Uthman, the name of the founder of the Ottoman empire. Uthman means "baby bustard" (a bustard is a type of bird)
Rafa  I've always been partial to this nickname for Rafael
Rondo  a musical name, a rondo is a musical refrain form and a rondò is a type of operatic vocal solo
Seton  another Scottish surname, belonging most notably to the first native-born American saint, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Sora  a Japanese unisex name meaning "sky"
Surafel  a place name and personal name from Ethiopia, it's from seraph, meaning "burning one," and referring to a type of angel
Taio  a place name in northern Italy and Brazil, English rapper Taio Cruz brings it into pop culture
Tialoc  the Aztec god of rain, fertility and water, controller of thunder and lightning. His name derives from the Nahuatl word for "earth," and its meaning has been interpreted as "path beneath the earth," "he who is made of earth," or "one that lies on the land," referring to a type of cloud. Wicked
Valiant  a virtue name, I suppose. Something appealing about it

Amorina  the name of a 1961 Argentine tango-dancing musical based on a play by Eduardo Borrás. Also the name of an Elton John song (spelled Amoreena
Damilola  a unisex Yoruba name used mostly in Nigeria, which means "prosper me" 
Domino  from the Latin dominus, meaning "lord" or "master." Sometimes found as a nickname for Dominique, made most famous in pop culture by English bounty hunter Domino Harvey
Ernestine  feminine form of Ernest, meaning "serious." It would be hard for a girl to pull of the nickname Ernie, but I always fall for fusty old "-tine" names
Evelette  modern made-up choice combining elements of Eve and the "-ette" ending from names like Charlotte and Violet. May be inspired by Evolet, a name used in the film 10,000 BC
Fable  popular in blog land thanks to Girls Gone Child, who used it for her firstborn daughter
Fey  fans of Tina? Probably an alternate Fay/Faye spelling, this one carries the added meaning of being vaguely supernatural
Halston — I wonder if the parents naming their girls Halston chose it for its fashion connection (named for its creator's middle name) or are using a family surname
Jessamine  I've always wondered why Jessamine hasn't seen more use. It seems a fresh, sweet alternative to popular Jessica
Lahari  the Soundarya Lahari (meaning "waves of beauty") is the title of a famous Sanskrit tantra textbook/poem. Lahari means "waves"
Lovette  you could extract the meaning "little love" from this one. It's most commonly found as a surname
Mahlet  I really like this one. I don't know much about it other than it's used mostly in Ethiopia
Mavery  Avery-with-an-M?
Rigby  I'd go with Eleanor if we're talking Beatles names here. Rigby seems a little more suited to a cat or a dog
Say — another one found as a surname, and impossible to research!
Solomia  perhaps a feminine variation on the Italian phrase "'o sole mio," meaning "my sun"
Svara  reminds me of Norwegian boys name Sverre, which means "wild, swinging, spinning"
Vesta  Roman goddess of the hearth and home, also the name of an asteroid group that contains the second largest asteroid in the solar system (4 Vesta)
Zeltzin  an Aztec name meaning "delicate"

Wednesday, June 6

More Model Names

photo by laliseuse, via Flickr

I've shared names of fashion models before, but came across some that are new to me. Why do so many models have awesome names? (Unless they're all secretly called Olga or Jennifer and change their names to distinguish themselves from one another.)

Enjoy — 

Fei Fei   

Monday, June 4

Inspired By: Elvis Costello

she gave a little flirt, gave herself a little cuddle 
but there's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle 
capital punishment, she's last year's model 
they call her Natasha when she looks like Elsie

Like the last two artists I've featured, Elvis Costello is no stranger to naming liberty. He was born Declan Patrick MacManus, a name that would probably fly for a punk musician with a big vocabulary today, but was much less accessible to American ears when he started out in the '70s. 

He took his stage name from a musical hero (Elvis Presley) and an alias his musician father once used (Day Costello) — he's used aliases for other characters he inhabits, including Napoleon Dynamite (he's the original) and The Imposter. He had his name legally changed to Elvis Costello, but in the late '80s changed it back to MacManus, adding Aloysius as a middle name. 

Here are 10 names inspired by Elvis Costello — 

Alfie — here's something that should shock non-namers: Alfie is currently the 6th most popular boys' name in Britain. Usually if a name's that popular somewhere else in the English-speaking world, it makes an appearance somewhere on the US charts, but Alfie was only listed for two years — at #915 in 1967 and number #968 in 1968. It was used on just 9 baby boys born in the US last year, but in Britain in 2010 it was used on 5,557. I doubt we'll see it climb too much. Though many popular names are big in Britain first (Emma comes to mind), their love of nicknames as full names hasn't caught on for boys in the US just yet
Elvis — I thought a look at Elvis itself was warranted. It was a top 1000 presence before Presley, though it lingered in the 700+ range before dropping into the 900s and off the list entirely at the beginning of the 1950s. In 1955 it came back at #906, the next year it was #357 and in 1957 it reached its highest point at #312 — and that, folks, is what rock and roll can do for a dying name
Gus — Gus fell out of vogue in 1978 when it last appeared on the US charts at #997, though it's getting lots of love as a nickname for August (on the rise since 2002) these days — I know more than 3 little ones who go by Gus. In addition to August/Augustus/Augustine, it is also regularly used a nickname for Constantine. Augustine and Constantine have some great variants, including Croatian Tin, which has been on my mind lately, Dutch Guus, Finnish Kusti, Bulgarian Kosta and Romanian Costel and Costin
Oliver — another name from the British top 10, Oliver is currently #2. Unlike Alfie, it's also seeing newfound popularity stateside, and was #78 in 2011, though it's been rising steadily since 1995. Lots of nice variants here, too, including Finnish Olavi, Danish Ole, medieval English Noll, Portuguese Álvaro and Scottish Aulay
Romeo — Costello references Romeo and Juliet more than once. Romeo means "a pilgrim to Rome" and reappeared in the top 1000 (after a long absence) in 1996. In 2011 it clocked in at #360

Alison — though it made its first appearance in the top 1000 back in 1934, Alison dropped off the charts again until 1942, when it appeared at #872 and started a rather fast rise. I'd love to know what caused its jump from #867 to #678 in 1945. It rose steadily until 1986, when it reached its highest ranking at #96. It's fallen since then, and currently sits at #249. The alternate spelling Allison is much more popular -- currently it's #40. Allison is a more modern spelling, and first appeared on the list in 1946. Its highest ranking so far was pretty recent, in 2009 (#30)
Elsie — the next 3 names are all from "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" — Elsie's used in this case as kind of a diss, I think, like Natasha's the sexy stage name of the model in the mini-skirt who's real name is plain old Elsie. Costello is so obviously a namer (he does have 3 well-named sons). Anyway, Elsie can be a nickname for lots of beautiful choices and has lots of lovely variants (most ultimately come from Elizabeth). Some of my favorites are Czech Eliška, French Élise, Danish Else, Dutch Elsje and Ilse, Estonian Liisu, German Liese, medieval English Ibb and Scottish lovelies Elspeth and Lileas
Chelsea — from the name of a district in London (and also New York) Chelsea first saw use as a modern given name in 1969 when it appeared on the US list at a whopping #707. A true trendy name, by 1992 it had nearly reached the top 10 (it was #15) but it fell 10 points the next year and has fallen steadily ever since, currently sitting at #222. Chelsea Clinton was born in 1980 and probably helped its rise — apparently her parents heard the song "Chelsea Morning" (written by previously-featured Joni Mitchell) and Bill said, "If we ever have a daughter, her name should be Chelsea." I'd definitely have pegged him as the trendy namer …
Natasha — I like Natasha (a nickname for Natalya, the Russian form of Natalie, which comes from the Latin for "Christmas day") but every time I see it I think of something my husband told me, about when he went to school at Berkeley in the 80s and there was a rash of girls inexplicably changing their names to Natasha. He'd meet someone as Lisa or Debbie and see them later saying, "Oh, I go by Natasha now." Hilarious, though it's colored the name for me — oh well, I like Polish diminutive Natalka better, anyway 
Veronica — until recently I had no idea that Berenice and Veronica were basically the same name with different spellings. Veronica was inspired by the Latin phrase vera icon, meaning "true image," and was the name of the saint who wiped Jesus' face on his pre-crucifixion walk, which helped it gain use during the Middle Ages. It's been a top 500 mainstay since the 1880s. I love it spelled with a K, as Veronika