Friday, July 27

Olympic Names: 2012 Edition

I started this blog with a series of names taken from the athlete roster for the 2008 Olympics — and here we are at the very beginning of the London games, ready for another round of inter-multi-cross-national fantasti-names.  

I've said before that this list is one of my favorites, moslty for its randomness. Back in 2008 my husband and I first came across the name Otylia, which served as inspiration for our daughter's name. There's definitely something for everyone in this group. I'll do this in installments as the games progress. Here's the first batch!

Andrique (Seychelles) 
Ayele (Ethiopia)
Choucri (Morocco)  
Crox (Venezuela)  
Courtney (Australia
Ever (Honduras) 
Felix (Israel)
Jangy (Liberia)
Jasper (Belgium) 
Jeinkler (Brazil)
Jordi (Spain)
Juma (UAE)
Lamusi (China) 
Koko (Nigeria)
Lusapho (South Africa)
Muminjon (Uzbekistan)
Nijel (Botswana)
Saylom (Thailand) 
Suguru (Japan)
Taha (Turkey)
Tolga (St. Vincent & Grenadines)
Tontowi (Indonesia) 
Wellington (Dominican Republic) 

Alphonsine (Rwanda) 
Delphine (Cameroon) 
Elaheh (Iraq)
Endurance (Nigeria) 
Eniola (Great Britain)
Feta (Comoros)
Foluke (USA)
Geisa (Brazil)
Henriette (Cameroon) 
Irada (Azerbaijan)
Isabellah (Sweden) 
Kosovare (Sweden)
Lady (Colombia) 
Layes (Azerbaijan)
Loreto (Spain) 
Mariem (Morocco)
Merve (Turkey) 
Naz (Turkey) 
Odile (Benin) 
Ophelie (France)
Phara (France) 
Rand (Iraq)
Ranohon (Uzbekistan)
Reem (Egypt)
Soulmaz (Iran)
Teneal (Australia) 
Tonje (Norway)
Triin (Estonia) 
Tumuaialii (USA)
Ulrika (Sweden) 
Vida (Ghana)
Zorana (Serbia) 
Zourah (Djibouti)

Monday, July 23

Outside the Biblical Box

by laliseuse, via Flickr

On account of being an atheist and all, Biblical names are often not my thing. Not a big draw to have a meaning like "God is my judge" when I don't think anyone's there to do the judging, you know? But they are names with history and heft, and there are quite a few that manage to sound a little more strong-ancient-literary and less cheesy evangelical. And there are some really wild and wonderful inspirational characters, too — something that always makes a name more interesting. I was looking through the Biblical name lists over at Behind the Name, and these are the ones that stood out — 

Abilene — the name of this Syrian plain is briefly mentioned in the New Testament. It may come from Hebrew elements meaning "grass." I think it would make a really sweet girls' name
Absalom  means "my father is peace." He's described in the Book of Samuel: "In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him.Axel is the medieval Dutch form of this name
Amos  one of the 12 minor prophets of the Old Testament, Amos means "carried." Amos ranked in the top 100 in the first half of the 1800s, but has been steadily falling ever since. It  finally fell off the list in 2004, but poked its nose back in '07 and '09 in the high 990s. However, in 2011 Amos jumped into the top thousand pretty solidly, coming in at #860. I'll be looking at this one next year
Avidan  this one actually does mean "my father is judge" (and so does Daniel, below) It's mostly found as a modern-day surname 
Baltasar  a form of Belshazzar, the Hebrew form of Akkadian name Bel-sarra-usur, meaning "Ba'al protect the king." He appears in the Book of Daniel, where he sees mysterious messages written on a wall 
Bartholomew— I've always had a soft spot for Bartholomew. It means "son of Talmai," a name featured at the end of this list. I like a lot of the variants, like Dutch Mies and French Barthélémy, and the potential nickname Tolly
Bethel  another lovely place name, Bethel means "house of god," and was the place where Jacob sold that lady the stairway to heaven. I think that's right ...
Caleb  I don't really like Caleb, except that I do. Most of the time I just think people aren't using it the right way. It comes off as trendy and edges towards the evangelist category, but I think it's got potential in the right combo. I read East of Eden at an impressionable age and Caleb (who was called Cal, which is nice) was a great character. It means "dog," though, which is sort of random
Cornelius  such a fun one. From the Latin cornu, meaning "horn," Cornelius was the first gentile convert to Christianity  
Daniel  solid, dependable Daniel. Soft and strong all at once, it's really been growing on me lately after I used it for a character. Plus his is one of my favorite books of the Bible he's a total badass, brave, dream-interpreting namesake
Esau — Daniel's a badass, Esau's a bit of a scumbag. His name means "hairy" and he sold his brother for a bowl of stew, or something? Weird. Anyway this one is also saved, for me, by a literary association. I Saw Esau, anyone?
Gad — one of my newest favorites, Gad means "fortune" in Hebrew
Hanan  this is listed as masculine Old Tastement name meaning "gracious." It's also a feminine Arabic name meaning "mercy," or "compassion," and I prefer it on a girl
Iael — I've always liked Jael and Yael, but Iael is my current preferred variant. It means "mountain goat"
Ishvi  means "he resembles me," and was one of the sons of Asher in the Old Testament
Jemima  the oldest of Job's three daughters, this Hebrew name means "dove."
Jerusha  means "possession" in Hebrew. I also remember this name from a book I read as a pre-teen, though I can't remember which book. Some girl, maybe an orphan, writing in letter format ... hmm ...
Leui  a variant of Levi, meaning "attached." I'm not interested in Levi, but Leui looks a lot friendlier
Maala — a form of also-nice Mahlah, which has a lovely sound but a rotten meaning ("sick")  It's used for both boys and girls. Mahlet and Mahli are other pleasant forms
Maeleth  this beauty is a variant of Mahalath, meaning "lyre." She's the wife of aforementioned Esau 
Omri  an Old Testament king of Israel, his name means "my sheaf." I wonder why this one isn't a bit more well-used, it's so appealing
Phineas  a plague-preventing grandson of Aaron, this name could derive from Egyptian Panhsj, meaning "Nubian," or from the Hebrew for "serpent's mouth." I'll let you decide which would be wickeder
Raphael  a long-time personal favorite, I think I'm definitely in the "Raph-" camp and out of the "Raf-" one, though both spellings are nice. It is the name of one of the 7 archangels and means "God has healed." I can get behind that, God healing is a much better meaning than God judging, I think
Rhode — a New Testament name, from the Greek rhodon, meaning "rose." It ranks on the girls list in the Netherlands, and I'm totally into it at the moment
Talmai  a Hebrew name meaning "furrowed"
Yiskah — I can't help but love almost all "-iska" names, so this one makes the list. It's the original Hebrew form of Iscah, which means "to behold" and is the basis of English name Jessica

Wednesday, July 18

2011 Rarities: Part Six, the boys

my sister laliseuse is in Europe, the traitor. I will steal pictures from  her now

And that's it for the 2011 Rarities series! Enjoy.

Acheron — the name of a river in northwest Greece, described in myth as one of the five rivers of the underworld, the name means "river of pain." I don't mind meanings that are a little bit more nuanced than "joyful one" or whatever, but a hell-river of woe seems like a good one to avoid, maybe
Aliou  a quick Google shows this name is found most often on Senegalese men. I'm guessing it's a French-influenced form of Ali
Brave, Bravery  these were both used 5 times. I can see the appeal of Bravery (it has that trendy "Bray-" beginning, and the similarity to Avery helps it transition from word to word-name) but my preference is for the adjective form Brave, a simple virtue name that gets written off too easily
Cagney  anyone have a parent who's a lawyer? Honor them by naming your son Cagney, an Irish surname meaning "grandson of advocate" 
Clayson  at first glance this looks like a (capital-T) Trendy in the vein of Clayton and Bryson, but its regular use as a first name in Brasil makes it a little more interesting. 
Cypher — a word with many meanings, cypher (or cipher) can refer to the mathematical symbol denoting zero, an Arabic numeral, a person having no influence (there's a character in the Matrix series named Cypher) or a cryptic code. There's always the nickname Cy if you don't feel like being called a nonentity your whole life
Dartanian, D'Artagnan  the name of the "fourth Musketeer" means "from Artagnan," a town in southwest France. Quite a romantic sound, which I like in a boys name, I give credit to the parents choosing it for their boys 
Derby  a variant of surname Darby, meaning "deer town." And a dashing hat
Dragon  plenty of names mean "dragon," (Draco, Drake, Ryu) but why not get to the point? 
Eustace  way beyond the limits of most "charming old-man names," Eustace is one that probably won't be making a comeback anytime soon. Means "fruitful"
Getty — a surname (well-known as the surname of American industrialist J. Paul Getty) of Scottish origin. I've seen it used as a first name for a girl, as well
Jadis — interesting to see this one on a boy. Writer CS Lewis used it as the name of the white witch in his Narnia series. His inspiration may have been the French adverb jadis meaning "of long ago," or Persian jadu, meaning "magic"
Kalex, Calex  here's an interesting one. Both spellings of this name were used 5 times each, but spellings Calyx and Kalix were used 9 times each, and Calix was used 19 times. Perhaps inspired by Calixto, meaning "most beautiful"
Loyd — a variant of Lloyd, meaning "grey." I've never liked the double-L, and spelling it with just one makes it a bit more clean and modern
Lulan  I love the look of this one (and my guess as to how it's pronounced) but know nothing about it, other than it's a place name in China
Mantra  a repeated sound, word or statement used to aid in meditation, capable of creating spiritual transformation. I'm unsure of how I feel about it as a name, but I think I like the idea
Mauer  the German word for "wall." I've seen Bauer used, and Mauer seems just as likely to find its way to regular use as a first name
Quince  from the name of the fruit. I like this sentence from the Wikipedia entry for quince: "Cultivation of quince may have preceded apple culture." Mmm ... apple culture. Fruit names for boys are pretty rare, and this is the best one I can think of
Romain — the French form of Romanus, meaning "Roman" (duh?) It ranks highly in Belgium and France. This is a good name because LOOK 
Swift  my mother-in-law had an early love connection with a guy who went by the nickname "Swifty." I know this because she and my father-in-law have told the story a zillion times. Because we're naughty children, my husband and I like to tease them  "Old Swifty always held a candle for me," we say in exaggerated old-people voices. (And this is how we make our fun.) Anyway, Swift is pretty cool, I guess 
Tashi  a Tibetan word meaning "good fortune"
Tirso  a Spanish and Portugese form of Thyrsus, a Greek word referring to a staff of fennel carried by Dionysus, and the name of a saint. There's a little Bulgarian prince (born in 2002) with the name Tirso. His older brothers are Mirko and Lukás
Toretto  I didn't know anything about this name and guessed before researching that it was the surname of a soccer player. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that its main use in pop culture is as the surname of Vin Diesel's character in The Fast and the Furious series. Parents, no!
Utah — according to this fascinating link, the word Utah comes from the name of the "native tribe known as the Nuutsiu or Utes (which itself may come from the Apache yudah, yiuta or yuttahih, meaning 'they who are higher up'), whom the Spanish first encountered in modern-day Utah in the late 1500s. In the tribe’s language, ute means 'Land of the Sun'"
Zell  a character in the videogame Final Fantasy VIII and the name of American politician Zell Miller, former governor of Georgia. I've found it has Hebrew origins but cannot find a meaning
Zimri  means "my praise" or "my music" in Hebrew

Monday, July 9

2011 Rarities: Part Six, the girls

golden raspberries by laliseuse, via Flickr

Here's one half of the last installment of 2011 Rarities. There were too many great finds to fit in one post, so the boys section will be up soon. Enjoy!

Aberdeen — this Scottish place name comes from a Gaelic element meaning "confluence of rivers" paired with deen, which refers to the rivers Don and Dee. I think the sounds here are really interesting for a girls' name, and the potential nicknames Abby and Berdy are pretty sweet
Afifah  love the happy sounds in this one. From Arabic male name Afif, meaning "chaste"
Amaranta  the striking Italian and Spanish variant form of Amarantha, which is a flower name referring to the amaranth genus of herbs. The word itself comes from Greek elements meaning "unfading flower"
Aviance  I'm thinking this is a Beyonce-esque "French-ish" name used for its similarity to popular Ava. It's also the name of a beauty brand sold in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East
Bhoomi  another fun one. Bhoomi means "earth" in Prakrit and is also the name of a Bengali "urban folk" band. Urban folk? Must look into that immediately
Bryony — it was a surprise to see Bryony was used only 5 times in the US last year. It's more popular in the UK (used 67 times in England & Wales in 2010) and is the name of a flowering vine used in herbal medicine, from the Greek bryo, meaning "to swell"
Devery  saw this one in Part Three of this series, used 8 times for boys 
Evienne  one of the names given by writers to the "Lady of the Lake" of Arthurian legend. Her other names include Nimue, Viviane, Niniane, Nivian and Nyneve  all so pretty!
Future  not for everyone, right? I, however, dig it
Jeremia  a form of Jeremiah, a traditionally male Hebrew name meaning "Yahweh has uplifted"
Kerala — the name of an Indian state on the Malabar coast. The word means "hill country"
Lianet — also found as Liannet or Lianette, this seems to be a smushing of elements Lia and the suffix "-net/-nette," used in Spanish-speaking countries (model Liannet Borrego is from Cuba). I like its fresh, light sound
Malone  a surname meaning "descendant of St. John," this, weirdly, ranks highly in France (as a boy name), probably for its similarity to Malo, a Breton name meaning "shining hostage." Its use for girls seems odd to me, but it's along the lines of other long-O surnames like Monroe, Harlow and Marlow, so I guess it could jump on the trendwagon
Minelly — along the lines of Lianet, a name smush using sounds popular in Spanish-speaking places. I wonder if the similarity to Minelli is intentional or unintentional
Navieen  probably a variant of Navin or Naveen, a masculine Indian name meaning "new." I think the sounds work nicely on a girl
Nebula  yes, please. Call her Nebby?
Omolara, Omolola, Omotola  the "Omo-" prefix (meaning "child") is typical of names of the Yoruba people of West Africa. I love the look and sound and the idea that a prefix can be paired with so many potential endings — wouldn't it be interesting if English names were like that? Omolola is my favorite of these 3 
Oneida  the (mispronounced, English) name of a Native American tribe, meaning "people of the standing stone." Whether or not you think its gauche to use it as a modern girls' name (especially if you aren't of Oneida descent) I think the name itself is lovely
Poetry — we've seen Poet and Story used, why not Poetry?
Rand  5 really dedicated Objectivist parents? 
Selby  an English surname from Old Norse elements meaning "willow farm"
Theda  a short form of Theodora, meaning "gift of god." Actress Theda Bara is the most popular namesake  her birth name, Theodosia Burr Goodman, is pretty great too
Vennela  a Telugu (a language spoken in primarily in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh) word meaning "moonlight"
Wells — super preppy-rific choice. Though it rings masculine, I prefer it on a girl

Monday, July 2

2011 Rarities: Part Five

thoughtful seahorse by laliseuse, via Flickr

It's my daughter's first day of preschool today, so I actually have time to do a post (and try to keep it together emotionally!) — I'm definitely looking forward to learning the names of all her classmates.

Here are some of the stand-out names used on only 6 children born in the US in 2011 —  

Camp  wonder what the inspiration behind this is. A Palin-esque choice, like Track, maybe
Cartel  this is not a good idea
Draper  the inspiration here is obvious, a Mad Men name that fits right in with other trendy "-er" ending occupational surnames
Gaspard  often overlooked, I feel. Gaspard is the French form of Jasper, from the Persian for "treasurer"
Humphrey  you don't have to be Bogart to pull this off. A handsome, old-school choice with a great meaning: "peaceful warrior"
Iroh  apparently this is a name from the series Avatar: the Last Airbender. I really like the look of it, would love to know if it was made up for the series or if it has actual history
Jaya  a unisex name meaning "victory" in Sanskrit. It may seem feminine to the western ear but I think it's great on a boy
Kalif  variant of Khalifa, a Sanskrit name meaning "successor, caliph." I like this pared-down spelling best. (The title caliph refers to a successor of the prophet Mohammed)
Lalo  in Spanish, this is a nickname for Eduardo. I first heard it on Argentinian composer and pianist Lalo Schiffrin
Otilio  had to include this, of course. Variant of Otto, meaning "wealth" or "fortune"
Slyon — like the looks of this one, not sure where it comes from
Tanielu  the Armenian form of Daniel is Taniel, and the Finnish form is Tanieli, so this is probably related, perhaps a Pacific Islander form
Vartan  derived from the Armenian element vard, meaning "rose." Maybe this counts as a masculine floral name?
Venkat  from Venkata, the name of a sacred hill in southern India

Amma — this is a name with many meanings. It's the name of the supreme being according to the Dogon people of Mali, the name of the ancestress of Norse freemen, an Ashanti name given to Ghanaian girls born on a Sunday, and it's the word for "mother" in many Indian languages (and in Korean!)
Annajo  the SSA doesn't allow for hyphens in its records, so the 6 girls named Annajo could very well be Anna-Jo. However, I think it's kind of nice all together, gives it a Dutch look
Auset  a name for the Egyptian goddess Isis
Avanelle  a lovely, old-fashioned twist on popular Ava
Calais  probably inspired by the port city in northern France
Chinelo — chinelos are traditional Mexican dancers. The word derives from the Nahuatl word zineloquie, meaning "disguised"
Duru — a Turkish name meaning "clear" or "lucid"
Eimi  in Greek, the verb eimì means "to be." It's also a Japanese name meaning "beautiful scripture"
Ezinne  a Nigerian name meaning "good mother" 
Filza  a lovely name with many lovely meanings. In Hindi, it means "moonlight," and in Arabic it refers to a part of the heart, or a "piece of the heart"
Henchy  refers to a descendent of Angus, generally found as a surname
Jamina  feminine form of Jamin, a Hebrew name meaning "right hand"
Jetaime — from the French for "I love you," a pretty sound but sort of odd. Would French parents ever use Iloveyou?
Jinx — not just for cats? This one's looking for trouble
Kanna  another name with lots of meanings. It's a name from feudal Japan meaning "lily," as well as a Greek word meaning "reed" (perhaps where we get the word canon) It is also a name of one of the avatars of Krishna, and the name of a South American succulent known for its psychoactive qualities
Kawaii — the Japanese word for "cute"
Kokoro  means "heart" or "spirit" in Japanese
Maame  I like the look of this, no idea where it comes from
Nimco — the name of popular Somalian singer Nimco Dareen
Ojasvi  a Hindu name meaning "brave"
Orchid  lovely flower name, surprised it was only used 6 times
Steely — parents big fans of Steely Dan, no doubt. I can see the appeal
Tiger  though I'm not a huge fan of Tiger on a boy, on a girl it seems more appropriate (the cat thing, maybe?)
Tsering  a Tibetan name meaning "long life"
Wrenna  perhaps an elaboration of the bird name Wren, makes it sound a bit more feminine