Thursday, December 22, 2011



What a beautiful holiday plant to name your baby girl after. We all know someone with a Christmas related name, but not this rare gem. Pronounced POYN-setta, although some do say poin-SET-ee-ah or POINT-set-ah, you can create a wide range of nicknames such as Pippa, Settia, or just Tia. In 2010 and 2011 there were no babies named Poinsettia. The poinsettia was named for Joel Poinsett, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. It is said he is the one who brought attention to this plant for botanists to study. It's hard to believe this Christmas plant is actually tropical. The Aztecs used this plant to produce red dye, and today Mexicans and Guatemalans call it "Noche Buena," Christmas Eve, although in Spain it is called the Easter flower. The poinsettia's Christmas origin began in Mexico, where a young girl's gift of weeds to Jesus's altar at church blossomed into poinsettias. A century later, Franciscan friars in Mexico used this plant in their Christmas celebrations because the leaves resembled the Star of Bethlehem and the red color symbolized the blood of Christ. But just so you know, poinsettias can be toxic, so don't go eating them or feeding them to your pets.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Think of Judy Garland (real name Frances Gumm), Hollywood starlet, or musician Garland Jeffries when considering Garland, unisex, as a baby name. Transfer this traditional surname into a modern holiday name, and suddenly Christmas garlands will be special to them. Garland is from Old English and Old French origins, meaning "land of the spear," "wreath," or "prize." Garland ranked until 1984 on the Social Security Administration's list of the top 1000 baby names, albeit low on the list. Nameberry says Garland is "fragrant and celebratory." For a boy, nicknames include Garry or Lando (as in Orlando), and for a girl, Laney or Galla, perhaps. In 2010 there were 14 baby boys named Garland but no baby girls named Garland. In 2011 there were 21 baby boys named Garland and 6 girls named Garland.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby names that mean Star

We have multiple choices for star names, from the obvious, Star, to the not so obvious, Estreya.


Maria, Mary and their variants mean "star of the sea"
Vesper & Vespera



Actual stars:
Altair (Altaira)
The Garnet Star (Garnet, January's birth stone)

Constellations and galaxies:
Delphinus (from which we get the lovely name Delphina)
Taurus (from which we get the lovely name Tauria)
Ursa (Ursula is acceptable as a full name, Ursa the nickname)

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Christmas Carol

There are three different kinds of Carols. One, the surname Carroll, as in Lewis Carroll (born Charles) of Alice in Wonderland fame. There were 7 baby boys given Carroll as a first name in 2011. Two, the girl's name Carol, feminine variant of Charles. Three, Carol in the winter kind of way, as in Christmas caroling (my favorite kind of Carol). Carol last ranked in 2006 at #972

Carroll is suitable for a boy, but upon hearing the name many might be confused on the gender. Carol was originally a male anglicized form of Carolus, meaning "free man." As a female name it probably started as a short form of Caroline. Charles comes from the same root. Carola, Carly, Charlotte, Carla, Carlene, Charla and Carolina are all feminine variants of the same meaning. Charlemagne, Carl, Carlo, Carlos, and Chuck are all male variants of the same meaning. Chip, Chaz and Chad have been used as nicknames.

Carol can also be given as a reference to caroling, carol from the English word for "song," and the history of Christmas caroling gives you a pretty excuse for naming your winter baby Carol. There are other musically inspired baby names to give your child, including Aria, Chantal, Lauda, Gita, Lyric, Melody, Odele, Sonata and Ceridwen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peaceful Baby Names

Everyone knows how stressful the holidays can be, but everyone also knows how peaceful those silent nights can be. Here is my holiday list of names that are peaceful...

Dove, the universal symbol of peace.
Columba, pn. co-LUM-ba, meaning "dove." There is a St. Columba.
Paloma, Spanish, also meaning "dove." In 2010 Paloma ranked at #698.
Aloma is the shorter form of Paloma, meaning "dove."
Callum, from Scottish Gaelic Calum, a variant of Columba, meaning "dove." Calumina is the female variant.
Culver is Old English from the same root as Callum, meaning "dove."
Jemima, Hebrew, meaning "dove."
Yonina is also Hebrew, meaning "dove."

Paz, Spanish, in reference to Our Lady of Peace, means "peace."
Paxton (male) is from Latin and Old English, meaning "peace town."
Concordia, meaning "harmony," the goddess of peace after a battle.
Olivia, meaning "olive tree." Extending (giving) an olive branch is a symbol of offering peace. Fun fact: Shakespeare coined Olivia as a girl's name from the name Oliver.
Mira, which Latin, Slavic and Hindi. One of its meanings is "peace."
Axel, Hebrew, and Axelle, Old German, meaning "father is peace."
Nitsa, the German nickname of Greek goddess Irene, both meaning "peace." Yarina and Rena also come from Irene.
Amani, which is Kiswahili, means "peace."
Malina, Hawaiian, meaning "peace."
Chessa, Slavic, meaning "at peace."
Inga, Scandinavian and Old Norse, meaning "guarded by Ing." Ing was a god of fertility and peace.
Zulema, Arabic, meaning "peace."
Shalom, a Hebrew greeting, means "peace." Also Salome, Salama and Selima.
Wilfreda, the feminine form of Wilfred, means "desiring peace."
Winifred, Old English and Welsh, means "joy and peace."
Evania means "peaceful," as does Freda, Paccia and Pacifica.
Emeline can mean "peaceful home," as does Karinya.
Casimir, Polish, "announcing peace."
Farica, Frederica and Frederick, "peaceful ruler."
Geoffrey, "pledge of peace."
Milo, "peaceful."

Names that mean calm...
Halcyon, Halcyone, Alcyone

Cosima means "order, beauty."
Amity means "friendship, harmony."

And there's always plain old Peace...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December's Birthstone: Turquoise, Fairuza

Traditionally, if you're a Capricorn you should be wearing a ruby, although turquoise is considered December's modern stone. It is not uncommon for a month to have more than one stone.

So, since Ruby currently ranks #113, I will cover Turquoise, and it's Turkish gem-turned-baby-name, Fairuza. Turquoise would make a fine middle name in my opinion, because it's not as feminine and frilly as Ruby, Amethyst, Coral, etc. Fairuza, on the other hand, has first name potential. Fairuza is Turkish, meaning "turquoise." Pronounced fy-RO-zah, fair-OO-zah, or FY-ru-zah, you might be more inclined to ask actress Fairuza Balk (of The Craft and Waterboy fame) how she pronounces her name.

A suitable nickname for Fairuza is Fay. It was originally spelled Firouza, which is where the fy-RO-zah pronunciations come from. It can also mean "happiness," "luck," "precious one" and "victory." I believe the word fairuz means "turquoise" in Arabic, and all versions might come from the Persian word piruzeh, also meaning "turquoise." Firuza could work as another option if you don't prefer the spelling of Fairuza. There were no baby girls born in 2010 or 2011 with the name Fairuza or Firuza.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Today's name: North (male)

Potential nicknames: Nor

Origin: Old English, from nord. This is where "Norse" and "Nordic" come from.

Popularity: North has long been used as a surname, including variants such as Northman, and occasionally used as a given name. In 2010 there were 19 baby boys named North, and in 2011 there were 20.

Fun fact: North hosts a ton of different impressions: snow, "up north," winter, Christmas time, cardinal north, etc. It has also been the hereditary surname of the Earls of Guildford.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Today's name: Winter, a favorite among message boards

Pronunciation: WIN-ter

Potential nicknames: Win, Winnie, Terrie

Origin: The Old English season name for the coldest months of the year.

Popularity: Winter only ranked twice since 1880 - it was #1000 in 1978 and #705 in 1979, both times for girls. In 2010 there were 217 baby girls named Winter and 12 baby boys named Winter, making this a unisex name. In 2011 there were 13 baby boys named Winter and 10 Wynter, and 237 baby girls named Winter, 145 spelled Wynter.

Fun fact: (1) Harlow Winter Kate Madden, daughter of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden. Their son is named Sparrow James Midnight. (2) Winter Ave Zoli is an actress. (3) Gretchen Mol's daughter Winter.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Today's name: Cardinal
You know, the red bird most visible in winter against the white backdrop of snow. And although I see no reason why this name should be limited to males, know that the male bird is the brightly colored red, and females are a brown. However, you could also be talking about cardinal north or the senior ecclesiastical official in Catholicism or cardinal numbers, among a few other possibilities.

Pronunciation: CAR-din-al

Potential nicknames: Card, Cardy

Origin: The word cardinal comes from the Latin cardinalis, meaning "chief, principal, pivotal." The bird was named for its resemblance to the cardinal's robes.

Popularity: Although there were 21 baby boys named Cardin (a variant of Carden, meaning "wood carder") in 2010, and 17 in 2011, there were none or less than five named Cardinal both years. I'm surprised there aren't any babies named for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Today's name: Evangeline
Or try Evangelina, Evangela, or Evangelista
The male form in Greece is Evangelos

Pronunciation: ee-VAN-jel-een, ev-AN-jel-een, and occasionally ev-AN-jel-ine (as in Caroline)
Although emphasis can be stressed on the "gel" syllable instead, and even the "line" syllable

Potential nicknames: Evie, Eva, Evan, Vana, Lina, Angie, Angel, Gilly

Origin: Greek (and Cajun/Acadian), meaning "bearer of good news." It was invented by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for his Acadian epic poem, "Evangeline," although the events of the poem really happened in reality during the Acadian Expulsion. Evangeline derives from the Greek word euangelion, evangel, the term for the gospels, and Latin evangelium.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 20 baby girls named Evangaline, 12 Evangelene, 30 Evangelia, 9 Evangelin, 188 Evangelina, 953 Evangelin,28 Evangelyn, 8 Evangelynn and 953 Evangeline, ranking at #333, her highest ever until 2011, rising to #286 with 1,099 births.

Fun fact: (1) Actress Evangeline Lilly, born Nicole Evangeline Lilly, who named her baby Kahekili, which is Hawaiian, meaning "the thunder." This actress is part of the reason for Evangeline growing in popularity as a baby name. (2) Salvation Army leader Evangeline Booth. (3) Evangeline was also used in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." (4) Evangeline is a name from Disney's most recent movie "The Princess and the Frog." (5) There is an Evangeline, Louisiana and an Evangeline, New Brunswick, Canada.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Working With Name Associations

Working with name associations...

Sometimes you can't let cultural (or any other kind of) associations hold you back from choosing a name that you love. Here are some examples of how to deal with common associations…
#1 Names from books, TV, movies and history.

You love the name Dexter, but everyone now associates that name with Dexter the serial killer, from the TV show with the same name. You don’t want people to think your son will grow up to be a killer, but you love the name to death (no pun intended). Assert the fact, to everyone that mentions the TV show, that there were Dexter’s before the TV show, and there will be Dexter’s after it. (This happened to poor Ursula, meaning “little [female] bear,” when it was used for the octopus witch in The Little Mermaid.)

Other examples: You want to name your little girl Matilda, but everyone associates that name with the little witch. Just tell them, “That character was very inspirational to little girls.” Or maybe you love Xena, but everyone will word-vomit “the Warrior Princess.” Tell them, “I like that Xena was so strong and powerful. What a great role model.” You’d be surprised by how many people have to defend their name choices without any known associations. People sometimes just don’t like a name for the heck of it, and will give you a hard time.

#2 Celebrity names

Seraphina is a great name, and an uncommon name, with a unique meaning – just what you’ve been looking for. Unfortunately, Jennifer Garner beat you to it. Don’t let celebrities dictate what you name your baby. If someone confronts you on this by saying, “Oh, you chose a celebrity baby name,” retort to that person, “I had this name picked out before ___ used it,” even if you’re lying.

Seraphina isn’t exactly screaming “celebrity baby name,” however. Pilot Inspektor, yes, Bear Blue, yes, so let’s take a look at those two. Pilot Inspektor is widely known for being an extreme celebrity baby name. I’m sure when Lionel Ritchie named his daughter Nicole, no one cried out, “Holy crap! What was he thinking?” But when Jason Lee named his kid Pilot Inspektor, almost everyone said that. Most of us are cautious when it comes to extreme names like this. (Although job title names are common, they’re mainly surnames.) I doubt anyone reading this is thinking about using Pilot for their baby. Now, Bear on the other hand was certainly viewed as extreme by some, but some of us are warming up to less commonly used names in traditional categories. (Think Lavender or Lilac instead of Rose and Lily.) Bear falls into the same animal category as Fawn, Kitty, Peregrine, Falcon, Wolf, etc. Even names that refer to animals: Rudolph, Falena, Felina, Leo, etc, which we are much more tolerant of as a community. Some are more heard than others, but it probably wouldn’t be such a shock if the average parent were to name a son Bear, or a daughter Dove, or any other animal name. Think of the Native Americans, who routinely used animal and nature names for their children to convey what that animal represented – its strength, cunning, beauty, or whatever else. It’s really not such a bad idea, so thank you Alicia Silverstone for naming your son Bear, and inspiring celebrity baby name nappers all over.

#3 Product/Brand Names

This one would be much easier to defend if the name was legitimate and had been used on babies before whatever product it is came out. Mercedes, for example, is now widely known for the car maker, but had been used long before this, and even in Shakespeare. L’Oreal and Nivea, however, not so much. Even the name Portia, which has a long, legitimate history of use, can be confused for Porsche. Just stick up for your [legitimate] baby name choice, but be mindful of that association and consider what effect it might have on your baby.

#4 Find a new association.

Say you like Dahlia, but people comment, “Like the Black Dahlia murder story?” You can say “No, like the flower.” Maybe you like Magnolia, and someone says, “Oh, did you want her to be thought of as a Southern Belle?” You can say, “No, like the magnolia flower/tree.” Another example is Casper (and everyone knows Casper the Friendly Ghost) but if people mention this, inform them that Caspar was one of the Three Wise Men.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Today's name: Shepherd

Pronunciation: SHEP-erd

Potential nicknames: Shep, Sheppy, Harry, Perry

Origin: Old English, occupational word name meaning, "sheep herder." Mainly used in the 19th century. Sheep herding is one of the oldest known professions, and the shepherd Endymion from Greek mythology is credited as being the first astrologer.

Popularity: This name last appeared on the SSA charts in 1887 at #906, never to be seen again. In 2010 there were 64 baby boys named Shepard, 100 Shepherd, and 10 Sheppard. In 2011 there were 101 named Shepherd, 57 Shepard, and 9 Sheppard.

Fun fact: (1) As a surname, the most famous namesake may be Earnest Shepard, illustrator of "Winnie the Pooh." (2) Jerry Seinfeld chose this name for his son. (3) I suggest this name during the holidays for those of you who are religious, seeing as Jesus was known as "the shepherd," and Abel, the son of Adam, was a shepherd as well.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today's name: Emmanuelle

Pronunciation: eh-MAHN-yu-ELL

Potential nicknames: Emmy, Em, Emma, Elle, Ella, Ellie, Mandy

Origin: Hebrew, meaning "God is with us." This is the feminine form of Emmanuel, from the Hebrew name Immanuel. Emmanuella is another variant. Emmanuelle is known for being a French name.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 11 baby girls named Emmanuel (the male spelling, but said nearly the same), 26 girls named Emmanuela, 43 Emmanuella, and 47 Emmanuelle. As for nicknames, there were 272 Emmy's along with serveral other different spellings, 17,179 Emma's, 747 Elle's, 9,796 Ella's and 2,886 Ellie's. It seems that if you want to get these nicknames (or Emma, not necessarily a nickname) the best way to go is using a longer full name. Emmanuelle is considered rare, but can still get you Elle or Emmy. In 2011 there were 21 Emanuela, 21 Emmanuela, 36 Emmanuella, and 37 Emmanuelle.

Fun fact: (1)Ffashion designers Emmanuel Ungaro and Emmanuelle Khanh. (2) In the Bible Immanuel was a name title applied to the Messiah. (3) Emmanuelle (Emmy) Rossum, American actress. Emmanuelle Seigner, French actress. Emmanuelle Chriqui, Canadian actress. (4) In the 70's Emmanuelle was known for being a soft-core erotic movie with a main character of the same name. Younger people will never make this connection, I know I sure didn't, but older people will still remember.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Today's name: Theodore

Pronunciation: THEE-oh-dor

Potential nicknames: Theo, Teddy, Terry, Teo, Rory

Origin: Greek, from Theodoros, meaning, "God's gift." Teodor, Feodor and Fedor

Popularity: In 2010 there were 220 baby boys named Theo, 26 named Theodor, 1,305 named Theodore, and 8 named Theodoros. Theodore ranked at #263, a slow rise in the past decade. There were also 69 boys named Teddy and 80 named Ted. In 2011 Theodore rose in popularity to #231 with 1,545 births. There were also 240 named Theo.

Fun fact: (1) Teddy bear comes from the name Theodore, thanks to U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt. It was tied to an incident in which he refused to kill a black bear that had been hunted down, clubbed, and then tied to a tree for him to shoot. He thought the act was unsportsmanlike, but killed the bear to end its suffering. (2) Multiple Saint Theodores and two Popes. (3) Tudor is the Welsh variant of Theodore. The Tudor Dynasty of kings, also known as the House of Tudor, originally started from Wales. Henry VII is the most famous Tudor ruler. (4) Dr. Seuss was a Theodore. (5) Ted Nugent was a Theodore. (6) Alvin, Simon and Theodore of The Chipmunks. (I will refrain from going on a rant about how much I loved the original TV series and movies.) There are several more namesakes and media associations.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Natalie, Natalia & Natasha

Today's name: Natale (unisex, but would probably work better on a girl)
Connected to this name is Natalie, Natalia/Natalja, Noelle and Natasha

Pronunciation: na-TAH-lay

Potential nicknames: Nat, Nattie/Natty, Nala, Tally, Tillie, Allie/Ally

Origin: A variant of the Spanish name Natal and the French word/name Noel, meaning "birthday, Christmas." This name refers to the birth of Christ. Natalie, Natasha (the Russian pet form of Natalya) and Natalia all mean "birthday" as well, although Noelle means "Christmas."

Popularity: These names are extremely popular is various forms. Here are the stats for each name I mentioned above (and more) for 2010, although I left just a few out: 9 baby girls named Natacha, 9 named Natahlia, 5 girls named Natale, 19 Natalea, 7 Nataleah, 535 Natalee, 91 Nataleigh, 33 Nataley, 164 Natali, 3,025 Natalia, 28 Nataliah, 8,715 Natalie, 11 Nataliee, 12 Natalija, 9 Natalin, 15 Natalina, 6 Nataline, 41 Nataliya, 6 Nataliyah, 10 Natallia, 22 Natallie, 20 Natally, 697 Nataly, 353 Natalya, 16 Natalyah, 16 Natalye, 15 Natalyia, 32 Natalyn, 30 Natalynn, 666 Natasha, 13 Natashia, 16 Natasia, 11 Natelie, 12 Nathalee, 21 Nathali, 277 Nathalia, 470 Nathalie, 7 Nathally, 337 Nathaly, 15 Nathalya, 8Nathalye, 7 Nathasha, 43 Natilee, 5 Natiley, 10 Natilie, 11 Natily, 12 Nattalie, 7 Nattaly, 8 Natylee, 159 Noel, 7 Noela, 19 Noeli, 161 Noelia, 7 Noelie, 7 Noell, 58 Noella, 865 Noelle, 7 Noelly, 18 Noely. It is also worth mentioning that Natalie is a top 100 name in a few countries.

In 2011 Natalie ranked at #14, Natalee #566, Natalia #108, Nataly #505, Nathalie #522, Natalya #828, Nathaly #780, and Natasha #489.

Fun fact: (1) There are a great many namesakes for Natalie, Natalia, Natasha and Noelle, so I will not go into naming any of them. However, there aren't any namesakes for Natale, except for Antonio di Natale, in which Natale is the surname.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today's name: Balthazar

Pronunciation: BAL-thuh-zar

Potential nicknames: Baz, Bally, Balto (which is the natural nickname), Zar, Zaro

Origin: A variation on the Babylonian name Balthasar, meaning "Baal protect the king." Baal, or Ba'al, was a Phoenician God, but the titel Baal may have been used the same way "God" could apply to anyone's god, not just one.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 39 baby boys named Baltazar, but zero or less than five named Balthasar or Balthazar. In 2011 there were 13 baby boys named Balthazar and 33 Baltazar. Apparently writers use this name more than parents.

Fun fact: (1) Along with Caspar and Melchior, Balthazar was one of the three wise men who brought gifts to the newborn Christ. Balthazar is the one who brought frankincense. Balthasar is a variant of the biblical king Belshazzar, which could be the reason why, although the three wise men were not named in the Bible, this was thought to be one of the names. It would be natural for a king to visit. But, this is just a theory. It is also likely that this name pre-dates Christianity. (2) Actor Balthazar Getty. (3) Balthazar appears in four Shakespeare plays. (4) The title of a Laurence Durrell novel. It can also be seen in a wide range of media, past and present. (5) There was a Frisian nobleman named Balthasar Oomkens von Esens of the 16th century whose brothers were named Caspar and Melchior.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Ok, wow. I am seven days behind on my posts. I don't know how I'll catch up!!

Today's name: Rudolpha (since Rudolph is nearly out of the question, but it's still Christmas time)

Pronunciation: ru-DOL-fah

Potential nicknames: Rudy, Dolly, Rue, Dolpha

Origin: You might be thinking reindeer, but Rudolpha is Old German, the feminine variant of Rudolph, meaning "famous wolf." While Rudolph has many variants, including Rolf, Rudy, Rudolpho, and Rollo, the girl's name Rudolpha is just that.

Popularity: In 2010 and 2011 there were no baby girls named Rudolpha (despite it's rare and cute nicknames). Don't expect it to rise in popularity this century, and it hasn't been popular for a very long time. For boys, Rudolph last ranked in 1992 at #994.

Fun fact: (1) Movie star Rudolph Valentino. (2) Rudolph "Rudy" Giuliani, former mayor of New York. (3) King Rudolph I of Germany. (4) Gerald Rudolph Ford, a past U.S. president. (5) As a surname, and the only famous female namesake, Maya Rudolph, a comedienne, who has children named Jack, Pearl and Lucille. (6) Rudolph Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine. (7) Saint Rudolph. (8) Do I really have to mention Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Today's name: Luna
Also try Lunabelle, Lunabella, Lunette, Lunetta, Luneth, or even Crescentia

Pronunciation: LOO-nah

Potential nicknames: Luu, Lulu, Una, NaNa

Origin: Latin, meaning "moon." It can be traced back to the word lumen, meaning "light."

Popularity: Luna has always been mildly popular. In 1880 she ranked at #444, while today she ranks at #278 with 1,138 births in 2011. There were 934 baby girls named Luna in 2010, ranking at #343, along with 7 Lunabella's and 5 Lunabelle's. Luna has been popular in Belgium for a while now as a top 10 name.

Fun fact: (1) Luna is associated as the name of the Roman goddess of the moon. It is one of the names of Artemis. The Greeks called her Selene. (2) Luna Lovegood, a character in Harry Potter. (3) Luna can be a special name given to those born as the astrological sign Cancer, whose ruling planet is the moon. (4) Some of you might recognize the name Luna from the Japanese animated TV show, also a manga (Japanese comic) titled "Sailor Moon." Luna was the wise black kitty, with an enchanting side story in the comic version and one of the movies. (5) Luna is where the words lunatic and lunar come from. (6) A little girl named Luna will always have a special connection to the pretty green Lunamoth. (7) Luna Park at Coney Island.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Angel, Angela, Angelo


Today's name: Angel (Angela, Angelina, etc. & Angelo, Angelus, etc.)

Pronunciation: AYN-jel, AHN-hail, AHN-hel

Potential nicknames: Ang, Angie, Annie, Anne, Ana

Origin: Greek, meaning "messenger." Transfered in the New Testament and Church Latin to mean "messenger of God" with the rise of Christianity. Angelos was the first version of Angel, and Angela became widely used in the 18th century.

Popularity: Angel and its variants seem to be perpetually popular. In 2011 Angel ranked #52 for boys, while Angelo was at #298. For girls, Angela was #189 in 2011, while Angel was #216, Angelica was #373, Angelina #104 and Angeline #753. In 2010 there were 1,587 baby girls named Angel (ranking at #194 on the U.S. top 1000), 8,716 baby boys named Angel (ranking at #42 on the top 1000), 1,898 baby girls named Angela (ranking at #160), 1,143 baby boys named Angelo (ranking at #290), 3,110 baby girls named Angelina (ranking at #93), and even 32 baby girls named Angelic. There are a wealth of variants, including Angelia, Angeliese, Angelica, and all the variants spelled with a J instead of a G. The name Angel is certainly on the rise for boys in Spanish-speaking countries.

Fun fact: (1) Angel Clare, a male character in Thomas Hardy's novel "Tess of the D'Ubervilles." (2) Angel was the title of a TV series similar to/a spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The main characters full name was Angelus. (3) Actresses Angelina Jolie, Angela Bassett, Angela Dickinson, Angela Lansbury and Angie Harmon. (4) Angel is not only a word name, but can be used to describe someone. The phrase "A perfect angel." (5) St. Angela Merici. (6) The highest ranking angels are called seraphims. (See Seraphina.)


Friday, December 2, 2011

Tis the Season

Thought of the day: why not name a baby Season? Winter babies have been given every holiday and seasonal name under the sun, the most easily recognizable ones being Holly and Noelle. Other seasons influence other names, such as Autumn, March and Summer. But what about Season, with the ultra-cute nickname Sea for a boy or girl, or Sonny for a boy? Bonus: it works for any time of the year.

Season is Latin, meaning "time of sowing." There is an actress named Season Hubley. In 2010 there were 6 baby girls named Season, as well as 6 in 2011.

I know some of you are thinking "Are you nuts?" But after taking a ride through the SSA's extended list (meaning, beyond the top 1000) choices like Season and December deserve praise in comparison to Honystee, Palin, Payshence and Abcde. Yes, there were 24 baby girls named Abcde in 2010. Now do you think Season is weird?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December, Ember

Thought of the day: can Ember be a nickname? Why, yes, it can! Especially for a December baby, although any month ending in -ember works as well.

December. (dee-SEM-bur)

If you don't like the growing-in-popularity name Ember, which has only ranked on the U.S. top 1000 since 2009, there is also Emmy, Decie, Berry, Cece, and Dee. Ember ranked highest in 2011 at #671 (419 births), after #821 in 2010 (323 births) and #885. This shows that Ember is rapidly climbing the charts.

December is Latin, meaning "the tenth month," although on our calenders it is the 12th month. That is because it was the 10th month on the Roman calender.

There were 31 baby girls named December in 2010 and 33 in 2011.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today's name: Heidi

Pronunciation: HY-dee

Potential nicknames: Dee/Di, DiDi, Heid...

Origin: Surprisingly, Heidi is the short form of the Old German name Adelaide, meaning "exhalted nature," although Adelaide means "noble kind." Kind of the same thing. Simply put, they both mean "noble person." Heidi can also be a nickname for Hildegard and Heidrun.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 1,059 baby girls named Heidi, ranking at #303 on the U.S. top 1000. There were also 9 baby girls spelled Heide and 334 spelled Heidy. In 2011 it ranked at #331, a slight fall, with 943 births.

Fun fact: (1) You might recognize this name from Johanna Sprydi's novel "Heidi," in which there is a main character from the Swiss Alps with the same name, although her full name was Adalheid (Adalaide). This has been made into a 1937 movie. (2) Heidi Montag, a famous actress. (3) Adelaide was popular due to Queen Adelaide, the German princess who married Prince William IV. Adelaide has 57 variant forms, but I'll save that for a different post. (4) Supermodel Heidi Klum. (5) Heidi Fleiss, and several other famous Heidi's.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Today's name: Franklin

Pronunciation: FRANK-lyn

Potential nicknames: Frank, Franky/Frankie, Lin

Origin: Middle English, meaning "free landholder," referring to a free man who owned land in the feudal system and was not of noble birth. The name was derived from franc, the French word for "free." Franklin is not related to Frank and Franco.

Popularity: In 2011 there were 513 baby boys named Franklin, ranking at #504, and in 2010 there were 508 baby boys named Franklin, its ranking moved to #503. In comparison, there were 45 baby boys named Franklyn, 1,062 named Frank, 252 named Franco, 5 named Frankey, 271 named Frankie, 15 named Franko, and 58 Franky in 2010.

Fun fact: (1) Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Franklin Pierce. (2) Inventor/philosopher/scientist Benjamin Franklin. (3) Singer Aretha Franklin. (4) Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale, part of The Canterbury Tales, in which the name Franklin is actually the literal word for "free landowner." (5) The Franklin tree, franklinia alatamaha, was named for Benjamin Franklin.

Monday, November 28, 2011


the astrological twins

Today's name: Tamsin

Pronunciation: TAM-sin

Potential nicknames: Tam, Tams, Tammy, Sinna (like cinnamon)

Origin: Tamsin is the English short form of the name Thomasina, which is the Victorian-era Aramaic feminine variant of Thomas. Tamsin, Thomasina, and Thomas mean "twin." It is really up to you if you want to name a non-twin Tamsin or Thomasina, since people name non-twin boys Thomas regularly.

Popularity: There were only 9 baby girls named Tamsin in 2010, which means it did not rank on the top 1000. In 2011 there were only 8 baby girls named Tamsin and 6 named Thomasina.

Fun fact: (1) Tamsin was used as a given name about a century after the Victorian Era. (2) Tamsin was traditionally used in Cornwall. (3) Tamsin was a 1999 novel by Peter S. Beagle. (4) Actresses Tamsin Egerton and Tamsin Grieg.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unusual First Name, Common Middle Name

People do this all the time - unusual first name, common middle, vice versa. I think it’s great, but I personally prefer the first name to be the uncommon one, because I like the fact that a name can provide a sense of individuality. Personally, being know as both my first and last name (not even initials, because there was another Christina S.) from 1st grade to college, I definitely craved a more uncommon name.

Obviously I love names, so when considering naming my own future children, I always check the popularity of a name I'm interested in. My limit tends to hang around 200 births per year, which means about 4 babies with that name per state, but not necessarily every state. (Although I would go higher for the right name.) Once you get to about 250 births per year, the name pops up on the top 1000.

Of course, in the end, all that will matter is your baby and not anyone else with the name, unless you are intentionally naming after someone. I just find it hard to believe that someone could give their baby a name they know over 21,000 other babies were born with in that year (Isabella, Jacob). So if I ever give advice, I will always say "Uncommon first name, common middle name." The child can always go by their middle name if they choose to, but they will have a unique (legitimate) first name.

On this blog I try to only cover uncommon names, although I have done some that are very common, and will in the future. I feel like the uncommon names deserve more attention, and there are some beautiful gems out there that a lot of people don't know about that I hope to spotlight.

I do wonder why people are afraid of rare names, or names from the past that haven't been heard in a while. We are all too quick to make up invented names and misspell traditional names, but if there's a legit name that hasn't been used for a long time, we're scared off. Rowena, Cyprian, Titania, Calandra, and Fiamma are all examples. Some would much rather use familiar names like Aidan and Isabella, even if they're crazy popular, and others would rather use an invented name like Katrisha or Renesme. There are pronunciation issues with rare names - unfamiliarity makes people hesitate pronouncing it right, unlike popular names that everyone has heard, but with the rate of diversity today, especially in names, there are more rare or foreign names coming up than we would imagine.

Take a chance on a rare name!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Severus is definitely too associated with Snape, and Severine can sound a bit like “severing,” but what about Severa, as in Saint Severa, which sounds a little bit like Vera, a little like the number 7, and a little like the rising-in-popularity baby name Seven (as in Harlow Seven Beckham)?

Severa, along with Severine, Severana, Severea, and Severia, comes from the Latin masculine name Severus, meaning "severe," or "stern." Severa is a Spanish and Italian variant.

You can pronounce Severa say-VEH-rah, seh-VAYR-uh, or SEV-er-uh.

There were no baby girls named Severa in 2010 or 2011, and I highly doubt it was given in previous years. However, there were 37 baby girls named Seven in 2010 and 31 in 2011.

Before you dismiss this name, Severa and its variants come with the cute nicknames Sevvie, Vera, Verie, Sera, Era, Ever, and Seven.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Today's name: Abel

Pronunciation: AY-bel

Potential nicknames: Abe, Bello

Origin: Hebrew, meaning "breath." It is said this name comes from the Hebrew name Hevel and implies vanity, but it could also come from an Assyrian word meaning "meadow."

Popularity: Used since the 6th century, Abel has a long history of use. In 2011 there were 1,497 baby boys named Abel, which means it ranked at #237 on the U.S. top 1000, a slow rise from a decade ago, and also from 1880. In 2010 there were 1,119 baby boys named Abel, #292. It is even more popular in Hungary.

Fun fact: (1) In the Bible, Abel was the second son of Adam and Eve. He was murdered out of jealously by his brother Cain because Abel had pleased God more than Cain. He was also said to be the first shepherd. The Christian Church claims he is a pre-Christian martyr, thus a saint. There is also a Saint Abel of Reims from the 8th century. (2) Tasmania was named in honor of explorer Abel Tasman. (3) The Abel Prize is an international mathematics award named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel. (4) Amy Pohler and Will Arnett chose this name for their baby. (5) There are two movie directors with this name: Abel Fererra and Abel Gance. (6) Abel is a Dickens character and a Trollope character.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today's name: Odette (the only other variant being Odetta)

Pronunciation: oh-DET

Potential nicknames: Odie, Oda, Detta, Dottie, Etta, Ettie

Origin: French and Old Germanic, meaning "wealth."

Popularity: In 2011 there were 48 baby girls named Odette, and in 2010 there were 19 (compare to 48 Odessa and 23 Odelia in 2010), which does not rank on the U.S. top 1000. It ranked #967 in 1899 and #843 in 1905. Perfect for your little ballerina or graceful swan.

Fun fact: (1) Odette was the name of the white (good) swan character in the famous ballet "Swan Lake," which recently inspired a movie. Odile was the name of the black (bad) swan. You might be more or less familiar with Princess Odette from the animated movie "The Swan Princess." (2) Folk singer Odetta. (3) Actress Odette Justman. (4) Actor Mark Ruffalo's daughter. (5) Odette de Crecy was the wife of Charles Swann in Proust's "A la Recherche du Temps Perdu."


Sunday, November 20, 2011


Today's name: Matteo

Pronunciation: mah-TAY-oh

Potential nicknames: Matt, Matty, Teo

Origin: This is the Italian variant of the Hebrew name Matthew, meaning "gift of God."

Popularity: In 2010 there were 639 baby boys named Matteo, ranking at #428 on the U.S. popularity chart, jumping up from #555 in 2009. In 2011 it went up again to #385 (747 births). More people are leaning towards this name instead of common Matthew, and -o endings are getting more popular. There were also 6 baby boys named Mattheo, 29 Matheo, 694 Mathew, 13,954 Matthew, and 51 named just Matt. Mateo, spelled with just one T, has been more popular. In 2011 it was #171 (2,182 births), in 2010 it was #222.

Fun fact: (1) Colin Firth's son. Not really anything else to mention.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Today's name: Cosima

Cosima Wagner
Pronunciation: KO-see-mah, also KO-zee-mah

Potential nicknames: Cosi, Coco, Sima, Cosma, Sisi

Origin: Italian, via the Greek word kosmos, meaning "cosmos," "beauty," and also "order." The name is in reference to the order and beauty of the cosmos, the universe. The male counterpart is Cosimo, and different cultures use Cosmo and Cosma. This name is often heard in Germany, Greece, and upper-class Britain as well. The name is Cosmina in Romanian, which is equally lovely, and possibly more rare.

Popularity: Cosima is a rare name. In 2010 there were 10 baby girls named Cosima, none named Cosmina, and none spelled Kosima or Kosmina. In 2011 there were only 6 girls named Cosima.

Fun fact: (1) Cosima Wagner, wife of composer Richard Wagner, daughter of Franz Liszt. (2) There are four known celebrity babies with this name. The first is chef Nigella Lawson's daughter, Cosima Thomasina, and the second is supermodel Claudia Schiffer's daughter Cosima Violet. Cosima Voilet has siblings named Clementine and Caspar. Next is Sofia Coppola's daughter. Lastly, Beck and Marissa Ribisi's son Cosimo. (3) Lady Cosima Windsor, daughter of Earl and Countess of Ulster, who were formerly known as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. This Cosima was born in 2010. (4) Cosima von Buelow, daughter of Claus von Buelow. (5) Saint Cosmo of the 4th century was martyred with his brother Damian, and they are now the patron saints of medical doctors. (6) 644 Cosima is an asteroid. (7) Cosima De Vito is an Australian singer-songwriter. (8) There is a novel titled "Cosima" by Grazia Deledda, an Italian writer who won the nobel prize for literature in 1926.


Friday, November 18, 2011


Today's name: Massimo (male)

Pronunciation: MAH-see-moh

Potential nicknames: Masi, Simo, Max

Origin: Along with Massimiliano, Massimo is the Italian variant of the Latin name Maximilian (which was the name of three Roman emperors and a few saints), meaning "greatest."

Popularity: Massimo did not rank on the top 1000 baby names in 2010, but there were 148 baby boys born named Massimo and 5 named Massimiliano. In 2011 there were 107 named Massimo.

Fun fact: (1) The name Maksim is also a variant of Maximilian. (2) Massimo has been the surname of many powerful Roman families. (3) Saint Massimo, a 5th century bishop. (4) Massimo D'Alema, Italian Prime Minister. (5) Massimo Capra, Canadian celebrity chef.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lionella & Lionel

Una and the Lion - Briton Riviere

Today's names: Lionel & Lionella

For most Lio/Leo names the "i" or "e" is interchangeable. Lionel, Leo, Leonard, Leopold, etc. Lionella, Leona, etc.

Pronunciation: LY-on-ell, LEE-oh-nell-uh

Potential nicknames: Lio, Lion; Lio, Liona, Nella, Ella, Ellie

Origin: English variant form of Latin name Leo, meaning "lion," but the -el ending makes it mean "little lion." Lionella is the female Italian variant.

Popularity: For boys in 2011, Leo ranked #167 (2,226 births), Leon #405 (690 births), Leonel #459 (578 births), Lionel #786 (282 births), Leonard #705 (322 births), Leonardo#149 (2,631 births), Leandro #835 (257 births), and Leonidas #888 (232 births).
Non-ranking variants of Leo included 5 Liandro, 5 Leondro, 6 Lyonel, 6 Leonte, 7 Lionardo, 7 Lion, 8 Leovardo, 8 Leonitus, 8 Leonidus, 9 Lionell, 9 Leonides, 9 Leonell, 9 Leone, 9 Leodan, 10 Leeon, 15 Lenard, 18 Leonid, 24 Lyon, 27 Leondre, 34 Leandre, 38 Leopoldo, 48 Leander, 51 Leopold,and  61 Leobardos.
For girls, Leona was #929 with 276 births, but no other female variants ranked. There were 5 girls named Liona, 6 Leonella, 8 Leonela, 32 Leonie, and 81 Leandra.
In 2010 there were 9 baby boys named Lio, 10 Lion, 225 Lionel, 6 Lionell. Lionel ranked at #904, a slight decrease in popularity in the past decade. Leo, on the other hand, ranked in at #193 in 2010. There were also 7 baby girls named Liona, 11 Leonela, 9 Leonella, but 0 spelled Lionella.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Lionello, and different Popes named Leo. (2) Actor Lionel Barrymore. (3) Lionel Richie. (4) Sir Lionel, a Knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, cousin to Lancelot and son of the King of Gaul. (5) One of the sons of King Edward III of the 1300s. (6) Lionel Boyle, Earl of Orrery, member of Parliament from Ireland. (7) Lionel Cartwright. (8) Lionel model trains, founded by Joshua Lionel Cowen.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Today's name: Arthur
Is Arthur too popular for you? Try Arturo, the classy Italian and Spanish form of the name. Do you have Finnish roots? Try the Finnish forms, Arto and Arrturi. For Scottish flair try Artair.

A 19th c. painting by Frank Dicksee

Pronunciation: AR-ther, AR-thur

Potential nicknames: Art, Artie, Bear

Origin: Celtic, meaning "bear," "bear-like," or "bear king," from the Celtic word for bear, artos, and the Latin name Artorius. In Welsh it could mean "bear man." Arthur was first found in the Latin form Artorius, of unknown meaning. A similar and possibly connected name, Arnthor, is Old German meaning "Thor, the eagle." The Irish Gaelic meaning suggests "stone." (Sword in the stone, anyone?)

Popularity: This name was definitely used in the Middle Ages, although it dates back to pre-Roman times in Britan. It slowed in popularity, then had a resurgence in the 19th century.One reason for this is because the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, defeated Napoleon. Another reason for Arthur gaining popularity was a surge in interest in the medieval stories, as it became popular to create new literature and art around ancient tales. For example, Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote Idylls of the King in the 19th century. Arthur was a top 20 name from about 1880 to 1926. In 2010 there were 721 baby boys named Arthur, ranking at #389, with not very much change in the past decade. There were also 28 baby boys named Artur, and 652 Arturo. In 2011 it ranked at #338 with 888 births.

Fun fact: (1) King Arthur of legendary Arthurian fame, leader of the Knights of the Round Table, leader of the Britons, married to Guinevere, mentor was Merlin, weird situations with Morgan fe Fay, surname Pendragon. (2) There was a recent TV show called "Camelot," and a less-recent movie with Keira Knightley called "King Arthur." (3) A famous namesake is Arthur Miller, a playwright. (4) Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." (5) Arthur (the Aardvark) is the name of an animated PBS children's TV show that was more popular about a decade ago. (6) Surname of 21st President of the United States, Chester A. Arthur. (7) Actress Bea Arthur. (8) Arthur, Prince of Wales. (9) Arthur Weasley, a Harry Potter character. (10) Arthur Curry, better known as DC Comic's Aquaman. (11) Arthur Radley, from "To Kill a Mockingbird." (12) Arthur C. Clark, a British author. I find it impossible to say "Arthur is an author," repeatedly. (13) Athur Balfour, a previous British Prime Minister. (14) Arthur Conan Doyle. (15) Queen Victoria's 7th child was named Prince Arthur. (16) Arthur Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Today's name: Rowena

Artwork of the beautiful Rowena and King Vortigern.

Pronunciation: row-EEN-ah, row-ENN-ah, ROW-enn-ah, row-AY-na

Potential nicknames: Row, Rowie, Rowen, Rona, Rena, Wendy

Origin: (1) Old English from Old German, meaning "fame and happiness." (2) Possibly Welsh, meaning "slender and fair" or, less likely, the Saxon form of Celtic Rhonwen, meaning "white skirt," "bright spear," or "fair lance."

Popularity: Rowena is a very rare name, although it did rank toward the bottom of the SSA list until 1963. There were only 7 baby girls named Rowena in 2010, slightly increasing to 15 births in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) One of two heroines in Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" from 1819. In the movie her name is pronounced the traditional way, row-EE-nah. (2) Geoffrey of Monmouth claims Rowena was the daughter of Saxon chief Hengist, therefore making her a princess. This was supposedly the first mention of the name Rowena. She was also married to King Vortigern, therefore making her a queen. (3) Rowena Jackson, a prima ballerina from New Zealand. (4) Rowena is a character in Edgar Allen Poe's "Ligeia." (5) Rowena Ravenclaw is one of the four founders of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

A still of Rowena from the 1982 "Ivanhoe" movie, played by Lysette Anthony.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Today's name: Emrys (male)

Vortigern and the dragons

Pronunciation: EM-riss

Potential nicknames: Em, Rys

Origin: Welsh, meaning "immortal." Variant of Greek boy's name Ambrose, both coming from Ambrosios.

Popularity: Emrys is a very rare name in America, as there were only 9 baby boys born in 2010 with this name. It decreased by two in 2011 to only 7 boys born named Emrys.

Fun fact: (1) Emrys James, a Welsh Shakespearean actor born in 1928. (2) Part of Arthurian legend's Merlin, his full name being Myrddin Emrys Ambrosius. Geoffrey of Monmouth combined 5th century military leader Emrys Wledig's name with Myrddin Wyllt, a slightly famous prophet, to get Merlin's name. In Latin form his name is Merlinus Ambrosius. (3) Saint Ambrose of the 300s. (4) The historic castle of Dinas Emrys is now in ruins. Legend has it that Merlin was involved in freeing two battling dragons living under the castle of King Vortigern (see Rowena) before it was built, and once freed the red dragon finally won the battle, which is where the red dragon on the Welsh flag comes from. That's the castle of Dinas Emrys in the picture above.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Today's name: Lavender

Pronunciation: LAV-en-der

Potential nicknames: Lavie, Andie, Enna

Origin: From the Latin lavandula/lavendula, a flowering plant in the mint family that blooms in shades of blue and lilac. The ancient Greeks called lavender nardus after the Syrian city of Naarda. The late Latin name meant "to wash," presumably because lavender was used to dye and scent fabric.

Popularity: Lavender joined other popular flower names of the 18th century and was used on both boys and girls, although it has never been as popular as Lily, Rose and Violet, especially in recent years. It is worth noting that during the flower-name-rage in the 18th century, every flower had a meaning, and lavender symbolized distrust. In 2010 there were only 23 baby girls named Lavender. In 2011 there were 34.

Fun fact: (1) During Roman times lavender was an occupational name for a washer-woman, presumably because lavendula meant "to wash." (2) The genus of lavender includes annuals, herbs, and small shrubs. It blooms in shades of lilac and periwinkle blue. The color lavender comes from the color of these plants. (3) Lavender is often found to have a relaxing scent, and is therefore used in aromatherapy, essential oils, and mineral baths, among other things. This goes back to Roman times when lavender was extremely expensive, used in bathwater to improve and scent the skin. (4) Culinary enthusiasts might recognize lavender being used in herbs de Provence. (5) Lavender was used as a holy herb in the biblical Temple and mentioned in the Song of Solomon along with other herbs. (6) Lavender Brown is a character in the Harry Potter series, and also a character in "Matilda" by Roald Dahl. (7) Lavender has also been used as an English surname.


Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today's name: Atreyu

Pronunciation: ah-TRAY-yu

Potential nicknames: Atreyu comes with the adorable nickname Trey.

Origin: German, through the use of the fictional native language in the novel it came from, meaning "son of all." The meaning came to be so because Atreyu's parents were killed by a buffalo soon after he was born and his village raised him.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 130 baby boys named Atreyu (about 2.6 per state) which does not rank on the Social Security Administration's top 1000 baby names in the U.S. In 2011 there were 5 spelled Atreu, 8 Atrayu, and 125 Atreyu. If you think it's weird, keep in mind there were 91 Anakin's in 2011.

Fun fact: You will probably remember "The NeverEnding Story," Michael Ende's German novel and the 1980s movie series, in which one of the main characters is named Atreyu. Rumor has it that "The NeverEnding Story" (which in my opinion should be left a classic and not messed with) is being remade for 2014. If the book or movie does not instantly come to mind, you might be more familiar with the rock band Atreyu, formed in 1998, named after Atreyu from "The NeverEnding Story." These are the only two well known associations. And this is just a wild guess, but if the remake doesn't end up happening, chances are no one your kid's age (when they're older) will know where Atreyu came from. It will work well with other unique/less heard/rare literary, but still legitimate, name options coming about lately, such as Aramis and Merrick. And if the movie is remade, your kid will have a cool factor by being named Atreyu before the movie comes out, much like a Hermione might have had before Harry Potter came out, or Bella might have had before Twilight came out.


Friday, November 11, 2011


Today's name: Topaz, November's birthstone

Pronunciation: TOW-paz

Potential nicknames: Topa, Paz (like Paz Vega)
Topaz could potentially be a nickname for Topanga

Origin: Topaz is the Latin name (Latin Topazus from Greek Topazios) of this golden jewel. It does not have a formal meaning. It has been used in England, sparingly, since the 13th century.

Popularity: Never in the top 1000, with zero births in 2010 and 2011. Just in case you were wondering, there were 15 baby girls named Topanga in 2010 and 18 Topanga's in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) Topazios, the original form of the name Topaz, came from the ancient St. John's Island in the Red Sea, where a yellowish gem could be mined. (Today it is believed that gem was actually chrysolite, not topaz.) (2) Topaz comes in an array of colors. Only the golden/orange colored version is November's birthstone, which symbolizes friendship. (3) Topaz is the state gem of Utah. There is also a Topaz Mountain in Utah. (4) Topaz is mentioned in Exodus 28:17 although, like the island, they were probably refering to chrysolite. Back in the day, all golden gemstones were refered to as topaz with no distinction. (5) Leon Uris’ novel Topaz inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s 1969 movie of the same name, although Topaz did not refer to a person, but a spy ring. (6) Topaz War Relocation Center, which was America's vengeful way of detaining Japanese-Americans because of Pearl Harbor. Strangely enough, this camp was located in Utah.


Thursday, November 10, 2011


Today's name: Beatrix, which is classic and fun at the same time

Pronunciation: BEE-ah-trix

Potential nicknames: Bee, Bebe, Bea, Beata, Betty, Beatie, Trixy/Trixie, Trix

Origin: Variant of Latin name Viatrix (the feminine form of Viator), of which Beatrice comes from, meaning "voyager through life" and "blessed," the equivalent translation being "blessed voyager." I believe it is a combination variant of Viatrix and "beatus." It had been ocassionally used in England in the Middle Ages, then again in the 19th century.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 123 baby girls named Beatrix, compared to 319 named Beatrice, 12 named Beatris, and 152 Beatriz. Beatrix only ranked in 1883 at #760. There were also 18 baby girls named Bea, 5 named Beata, and 7 named Bebe. In 2011 there were 135  girls named Beatrix.

Fun fact: (1) Children's book author Beatrix Potter, widely known for "Peter Rabbit." (2) Saint Beatrix was martyred in Rome in the 4th century, along with Saint Faustinus and Saint Simplicius. (3) Beatrice was one of Queen Victoria's daughters. (4) Beatrice was a Shakespeare character in "Much Ado About Nothing." Beatrice is also Dante's ideal woman in the "Divine Comedy." (5) Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands around 1938. (6) Some might see a visual connection to a certain Harry Potter name: Bellatrix, which is NOT related to Beatrice/Beatrix. (7) Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Bill. (8) Author Beverly Cleary named one of her characters Beatrice, who more often goes by Beezus. (9) Beatrix Belden from the "Trixie Belden" series.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Today's name: Lewis

Pronunciation: LU-iss (not to be confused with LU-ee)

Potential nicknames: Although strong on its own, Lewis could be a Lew/Lou or Lewie.

Origin: Germanic, meaning "fame and war," equivalent to "renowned fighter." It is the English spelling of French Louis. Both names come from the Old German name Aloysius, although some sources say it is from the Old High German name Hluodowig.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 319 baby boys named Lewis (along with 124 named Louie and 901 named Louis), ranking at #717. It was in the tp 100 from 1880 to 1930, but its ranking has not changed much in the past decade. In 2003 it ranked #2 in Scotland (and for the past 3 years), #16 in England, #17 in Wales, and #19 in Northern Ireland. In 2011 it went up to #633 with 366 births. Other variants also ranked - Luis, Louis and Luis.

Fun fact: (1) Author Lewis Caroll, born Charles Dodgson, of Alice in Wonderland fame. (2) The Isle of Lewis, also known as the Hebrides, is an island off of Scotland. (3) Also a surname, one of the surname's most famous bearers being C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Others include Jerry Lewis and Jerry Lee Lewis, Daniel Day Lewis and Sinclair Lewis. (4) The name Louis, which Lewis comes from, was used by 18 French kings, multiple saints, and various famous people. (5) Saint David Lewis. (6) Famous explorers Lewis and Clark.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Today's name: Millicent

Pronunciation: MIL-ih-sent

Potential nicknames: Mil, Millie, Milla, Milcie, Missy, Min, Minnie, Lissa, Lissie, Penny

Origin: Used since the Middle Ages, Millicent is Old French and was brought to England by the Normans in the French form of Melisent and Old Germanic form of Melisende, meaning "brave strength," and "strong at work." The names Melisande and Melisanda could be part of Millicent's beginnings, or they could be from Melissa. Either way, Melisent and Melisende came from the Old Germanic name Amalasuintha, which become Malasintha, and then Melisenda.

Popularity: Not in the top 1000 for at least 45 years, there were 67 baby girls named Millicent in 2010 and 64 in 2011.

Fun fact: (1) Dame Millicent Fawcet was an early British suffragist and feminist. Coincidentally, Millicent Preston-Stanley is an Australian feminist and politician, and another politician is Millicent Fenwick. (2) A double Harry Potter name: Millicent Bagnold, former Minister of Magic (another politician position, although fictional), and Millicent Bulstrode, a Hogwart's student. (3) A character in Sylvia Plath's "Initiation," a short story. (4) Barbie the iconic doll's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. (5) Princess Amalasuintha, daughter of Theodoric the Great, King of the Ostragoths. (6) Crown princess Melisande, later Queen of Jerusalem.

I also happen to think Millicent would pair spectacularly with Winifred.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Today's name: Ellis (male)

Pronunciation: EL-iss

Potential nicknames: El, Eli

Origin: (1) Anglicized variant of Elias, from Elijah, meaning "the Lord is my God," often transfered from surname use. Eli and Elliot are related. (2) A Welsh Anglicized variant of Elisud, from the word elus, meaning "kind, benevolent."

Popularity: In 2010 Ellis ranked #732, a very slow rise from 2000. (Elias, on the other hand, ranked at # 141, and Elijah at # 18.) It is seldom seen as a girl's name. In 2010 there were 311 baby boys named Ellis, 7 named Elis, 13,735 named Elijah, and 2,799 named Elias. In 2011 it went up to #724 with 311 births again.

Fun fact: (1) Ellis Bell was the psuedonym Emily Bronte chose when she first began publishing her work, making it seem as if she were male. (2) Ellis Island, the gateway for immigrants, named after the last private owner of the island named Samuel Ellis.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


Today's name: Titania

Arthur Rackham - The Meeting of Oberon and Titania

Pronunciation: ty-TAY-nee-ah

Potential nicknames: Ti, Tita, Tani, Tania, Tani, Nia

Origin: Greek, meaning "giant," from the word titan.

Popularity: In 2010 there were only 6 baby girls named Titania, and in 2011 it went back down to 0.

Fun fact: (1) Most widely known as Shakespeare's Queen of the Faeries in his play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her husband (the King of the Faeries) name was Oberon. Titania and Oberon are also moons of Uranus. (2) Before Shakespeare gave this name to the faerie queen, "Titania" was a general name for daughters of titans. In Greek mythology the titans were a race of giants. The were the "older" gods, the ones the Olympian gods overthrew, and their myths go back further in time. Their leader was Chronos, a god of time (among other things), who was overthrown by his son Zeus. However, everything started with Gaia/Gaea, whose worship may have began even before any other god, as an "earth mother." (3) Titania Hotel in Athens, Greece. (4) Titania aka Mary MacPherran is a character in Marvel Comics, specifically known as the villain fighting She-Hulk. There was another Titania in the Marvel Universe who was a wrestler.

Frank Cadogan Cowper - Titania Sleeps in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alastair, Alistair, Alasdair

Today's names: Alastair, Alistair and Alasdair

Pronunciation: AL-ah-stayr, AL-uh-stayr, AL-us-dare

Potential nicknames: Al, Alic, Dair

Origin: From the Greek name Alexandros (Alexander), meaning "man's defender." Alastair and Alistair are anglicised forms of Alasdair, the Scottish Gaelic form of Alexander. Other variants include: Alasdhair, Alasteir, Alastar, Alaster, Alastor, Alaisdair, Alaistair, Alaister, Aleister, Alester, Alistair, Alistar, Alister, Allaistar, Allaster, Allastir, Allistair, Allister, Allistir, Allysdair, Allystair, Allyster, Alysdair, Alysdare, Alystair, Alyster, Allastair, and Aldair.

Popularity: In 2010 there were 15 baby boys named Alasdair, 25 Alastair, 6 Alaster, 81 Alistair, 5 Alistar, 28 Allister, and 29 Alister. In 2011 there were 108 Alistair, 57 Alister, 33 Allister, 27 Alastair and 23 Alasdair.

Fun fact: (1) There are several famous/well-known people with this name, one of which being Rod Stewart's son, and several fictional characters. (2) Three medieval Scottish kings were named Alasdair. (3) The surname McAllister/Macallister means "son of Alistair."


Friday, November 4, 2011


Today's Name: Viridiana
Or try Verdis, Verdiana, Viridia, Viridian, Viridianne, or Viridis

Pronunciation: ver-id-ee-AHN-uh

Potential nicknames: Viri, Vivi, Vira, Vana, Diana, Dia, Ana

Origin: From the Latin word veridis, meaning "green," which also means "young; fresh."

Popularity: A rare name, Viridiana first appeared on the SSA charts in 1991 at #981, then disappeared after ranking #934 in 1998. In 2011 there were 62 girls named Viridiana.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Viridiana, born in 1182, whose feast day is February 1. (2) Viridiana is a Spanish film. (3) Spanish actress Viridiana Alatriste. (4) Related is the color (pigment) viridian, a shade of spring green, and just so happens to be the name of a city in Pokemon. Also related (by name) is the Viridian Design Movement, and composer Giuseppe Verdi.


Thursday, November 3, 2011


Today's name: Merrick (male)

Pronunciation: MEYR-rick

Potential nicknames: Merr, Merri, Rick, Ricky/Ricki, Eric

Origin: The Anglicized version of Meurig, the Welsh variant of Maurice. I have to say, Merrick beats Maurice any day of the week. Merrick means "moor." It is also possible the name came from an Old French personal name meaning "famous ruler," or a different French name, both with Germanic influences.

Popularity: Merrick is used more as a surname than a given name. In 2010 there were 125 baby boys named Merrick, 11 named Merric, and 16 named Merrik. There were also 13 baby girls named Merrick. In 2011 there were 11 girls given the name, and 7 boys named Meric, 7 Merric, 10 Merick, 12 Merik, 13 Merrik, 15 Merek, and 116 Merrick.

Fun fact: (1) Beautiful (female) witch/vampire Merrick Mayfair from Anne Rice's novel Merrick. (2) A character in Michael Crichton's novel "Timeline," played by Gerard Butler in the movie adaptation. (3) Merrick, New York. (4) There are two bands named Merrick.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baby Girls With "-wyn" or "-son" Ending Names

A note on male suffixes thoroughly ignored: For goodness sake, please don’t add “-wyn” or “-son” to any girl’s names, because both “-wyn” and “-son” suffixes are for males. The "-son" suffix literally means "son," as in "son of [insert male name here]" and you typically see "-son" in traditional surnames. It is the difference between a Julia and a Julian, a Naoki and a Naoko, a Carole and a Caroll. Most of us can’t help but fall in love with some Welsh and English names, such as Bronwyn and Madison (and Madison has been completely taken over by Team Pink) but understanding and researching a name you’re interested in makes all the difference in the world. You should have an interest beyond “what sounds good,” and delve deeper into meaning, suffix/gender, associations good or bad, namesakes and origin. And yes, even Gwyn is masculine, used for boys in Wales, where the suffixes "-wyn" and "-wen" come from.

In my personal opinion, the only way using a "-son" name is justified is by naming a baby girl after a beloved male relative, better in the middle spot (and NOT when there are feminine variants of that male name available - in other words, don't name her Jamison instead of Jamie, the female variant of James).

Check out this post for more details:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Side Note: 7 Billion People

Hi, everyone. Yesterday morning I was checking my email and I saw that Yahoo posted an article that there are now 7 billion people in the world. Check out the article: There are deeper issues in the article, ones that should be taken very seriously, (like, do all of these new babies have food, water, families, etc?), but I will leave that to you and your free time.

So how does this tie into a baby name blog? Because that means there are 7 billion people with their own unique name (or not-so-unique). I just wanted to say that, with 7 billion people in this world, names are bound to be used multiple times, as they have been used repeatedly countless times through history, and most likely the exact same combination of first and middle names will be repeated as well. There might be two Isabella Marie's born on the same day, or the one born in 2011 might share her name with one born in 1990. There are probably (just a guess) something like 100 Isabella Marie's born each year. In fact, there were 22,731 baby girls named Isabella in 2010 alone. Combine that with 2009's 22,222 and that equals 44,953. This does not even guarantee her surname will distinguish her between the other Isabella Marie's, taking into acount the fact that there are several families with each surname. For example, there are approximately 2,751,783 people with the last name Smith. This surname alone leaves a lot of possibilities for repeated names, beyond naming after family members. When I found out there was another woman with my first and last name I was angry. If I found out there were hundreds of others...well. That is why I whole-heartedly agree with giving a baby either a rare first name and common middle name, or a common first name and rare middle name, or even both rare names.

I guess my point is that, while popular names are generally well-liked, having fewer issues, and each name is special in its own right, expectant parents should be more cautious on what to name their child. With so many people in this world, I find it hard to believe a parent would willingly give their baby a name that so many others have. And really, there is no reason to, considering that throughout the world there are almost as many name options as there are people (when you include variants and word-names and other possibilities). A lot of great names can't even be found in the recent Social Security Administration's data, and I have listed several at the bottom of my page 2010 U.S. Girls Names With Less Than 100 Births. (By the way, it is nearly complete. Digging through the SSA list is no small task.)

Monday, October 31, 2011


Today's name: Zelda (which I thought would be perfect to post today since it is a little witchy, and Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D came out just a few months ago)

Pronunciation: ZEHL-dah

Potential nicknames: Zell, Zellie, Ellie, or maybe even Zsa-Zsa or ZiZi

Origin: (1) The German diminutive of Griselda/Grizelda, meaning "dark battle" or "grey battle maiden," but can also come from a word for stone or gravel. (2) Yiddish cognate of German name Salida, meaning "joy" or "luck." (3) Old English variant of Selda, meaning "companion."

Popularity: Zelda first appeared on the SSA charts in 1880 when records of names first started being kept by the Social Security Administration, and it ranked at #834. It worked its way up to #379 in 1911, then worked its way back down to #997 in 1967, where it was last seen. When the first Zelda video game came out there were a handful of babies each year between 1985 and 1991 presumably named for her, but no more than 22 baby girls in one year. Read more about it here. In 2010 there were 69 baby girls named Zelda, zero or less than five babies named Selda, 7 girls named Gricelda, 15 Grisel, 59 Griselda, 5 Griselle, 5 Grissel and zero or less than five Grizelda. In 2011 there were 80 baby girls named Zelda.

Fun fact: (1) Robin Williams and his daughter were featured in the latest Zelda video game commercial because he named his daughter Zelda, after the video game princess. (2) The Zelda in the video game, however, got her name from F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, a Jazz Age/Roaring 20's icon and celebrity "flapper," who was a sophisticated and beautiful artist/writer, but was said to have mental issues. (3) "The Patient Griselda" is a well-known folkloric story about a patient and obedient woman, who endures emotionally painful incidents at the whim of her husband or fiancee, depending on which version you're reading. She has been written about by Boccaccio, Chaucer, Marie de France and others. It is interesting to note that while Zelda Fitzgerald became a feminist icon after her death, Griselda was the true "Angel of the Household," a Victorian term meaning "an obedient wife who knows her place." (4) This person is not as well-known but I thought it was interesting enough to mention: Griselda Blanco was a female drug lord for the Medellin Cartel. (5) Due to the video game association, and the connection to Zelda Spellman from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the name Selda may be more to your liking. Zelda is actually the variant of Selda, not the other way around. And doesn't Zelda seem like the perfect twin or sibling name for Stella, or maybe Phoebe? I think so.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Baby Names

Here is my October list of relevant Halloween baby names! Enjoy

Persephone (means "to bring death")
Beatrix ("tricks")
Arista (can mean "harvest")
Hallow (All Hallow's Eve)
Elphaba (The Wicked Witch)
Morrigan (meaning "great queen, nightmare queen")
Nerissa (meaning "black-haired")
Zelda & Hilda (Sabrina's witch aunts, also "Broom Hilda")
Sabrina (the Teenage Witch)
Elvira (Mistress of the Dark)
Morticia (The Munsters)
Carrie (Steven King)
Piper, Pru, Phoebe & Paige
(All Hallow's) Eve
Tituba (Salem witch)
Wednesday (Adams)
Wendy (Casper's witch friend)
Rosemary (Rosemary's baby)
Buffy (the Vampire Slayer)
Drusilla (a vampire from Buffy)
Tabitha & Endora (from Bewitched)
Ligeia, Lenore & Rowena (Poe characters)
Jacquelyn (for Jack-o-lantern)
Lilith (meaning "of the night," a she-demon)
Amber (an orange color)
Jetta (meaning "black)
Lamia (a snake-woman or phantom or witch, who knows, every source says something different)
Sable (meaning "black")
Felina (meaning "cat-like")
Circe (a Greek woman thought of as a witch)
Hecate (Greek goddess of witchcraft, demons, graves and the underworld)
Lilura (Basque, meaning "enchantment")
Medea/Medeia (means "cunning")
Mohana & Mohini (means "bewitching")
Calypso (meaning "she who conceals")
Runa (meaning "secret lore")
Leta (meaning "the hidden one")
Taika (Finnish, meaning "magic")
Lupe, Lupa & Lupita (meaning "wolf")
Ylva (Scandinavian, meaning "she-wolf")
Velvela (Yiddish, meaning "wolf")
Otsana (Basque, meaning "she-wolf")
Ulrica (meaning "wolf power")
Senka (meaning "shadow")
Zilla/Zillah (meaning "shadow")
Twyla/Twila (meaning "twilight")
Cora (from Kore, another name for Persephone)
Elysia (from Elysion, the "good" underworld)
Hazel (seasonal color, also Witch Hazel from Looney Toons)
Desdemona (meaning "wretchedness" or "ill-starred)
Diantha (a character in the Sookie Stackhouse novels)
Theria (possibly meaning "harvest")
Strega Nona (Grandma Witch)
Ursula (the underwater witch in The Little Mermaid)
Scarlet (like the color of blood)
Cruella (De Vil, from 101 Dalmations)
Malificent/Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty, but with non-Disney meaning as well)
Belladonna (the poisonous plant)
Amarantha (means "unfading," an immortal plant)
Candelaria (plant used to shoo evil spirits)
Branwen (meaning "white, blessed raven")
Ember (dying coals, part of a fire)
Medusa (well-known snake-haired woman of Greek myth)
Melanie, Melania, Melaina, Melina (meaning "black")
Melanthe (meaning "black flower")
Nimue (an Arthurian sorceress)
Opal (October's birthstone)
Alcina (a mythological sorceress)
Tempest (a storm)
Sally (from The Mightmare Before Christmas, and Fiona Apple sings "Sally's Song")
Emily (voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter in The Corpse Bride)

Bram (Stoker)
Obsidian, Onyx (black stones)
(The Brothers) Grimm
Lestat (Vampire from Anne Rice
Casper (the Friendly Ghost)
Freddie/Freddy (Kruger)
Boris (Karloff)
Jack (o-lantern)
Edgar Allen Poe
Roderick Usher (a Poe character)
Damon & Damien
Herman (Munster)
Frank (Frankenstein)
Griffin (a cat-beast with wings, watch Harry Potter to see him)
Blake (meaning "black")
Hades (god of the Underworld)
Maksim (meaning "enchanting")
Mohan (meaning "bewitching")
Rune (meaning "secret lore")
Ralph, Randolph, Randall & Rolf (meaning "wolf counsel" or "wise wolf")
Rudy (meaning "famous wolf")
Kenyon (meaning "little wolf")
Lowell (meaning "little wolf")
Phelan/Faolan (meaning "little wolf")
Wolfgang (meaning "wolf pack")
Anubis (Egyptian god of the underworld)
Devlin (sounds like devil)
Diablo (meaning "devil")
Orpheus (meaning "deprived" or "darkness")
Ichabod (Crane)
Wes (Craven)
Igor (from Frankenstein)
Binx/Binks (Thackery Binx, or maybe it's Binks, from Hocus Pocus, which I frickin' MISSED tonight on TV...(lol) But thankfully I own it.)
Edward (Scissorhands)

Raz (means "secret")
Blair (Witch Project)
Crimson (like the color of blood)
Midnight (the witching hour)
Grimoire (a witch's book of knowledge)
Nocturne (musical, night)
Oleander (which can be fatal)
Requiem (a mass for the dead)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Genoveva, Geneva & Genevieve

Today's name: Genoveva, from Geneva and Genevieve
There are also the variants Genovefa, Genevra/Ginevra, Genever, Genevia, and Geneve.

Pronunciation: jehn-oh-VEE-vah, HEN-oh-VEH-vah
Genevieve is also pronounced with the JEN sound in America, while it is either JAHN or ZHAHN in France.

Potential nicknames: Gen, Gena, Genna, Genny, Neva, Nova, Veva, Viva, Eve, Ever, Eva, Evie

Origin: The Spanish variant of either Old French Geneva or French Genevieve (perhaps originally Gaulish), although I am uncertain which it is for sure. Geneva can mean "juniper tree/berry," from either French "Genevrier" or old Dutch "genever, jeniver" or come from a Celtic meaning, while Genevieve can mean "white wave" (from Old German) or Celtic "of the race of women." This meaning is tied to Guinevere, which means "fair, smooth." There are other vague possible meanings. It seems the true origin was either lost in translation or Genoveva is a variant of both Geneva and Genevieve.

Popularity: Genoveva only ranked in the U.S. in 1885, 1894 and 1895. Geneva last ranked every year between 1880 (when the SSA first started keeping track) and 1995. Genevieve ranked at #279 last year. In 2010 there were only 5 baby girls named Genoveva, and 15 in 2011, while there were 149 named Geneva, 6 Geneve, 1,182 named Genevieve, 8 Gennavieve, and 16 Genevive. In 2011 Genevieve jumped up to #232, with 1,356 births. There were also 7 girls named Genavie, 15 Genoveva, 28 Genevie, 48 Genavieve, and 156 Geneva.

Fun fact: (1) Saint Genoveva Torres Morales of Spain, lived from 1870 to 1956. Her feast day is January 5. Saint Genevieve is the Patron Saint of Paris. (2) Genoveva Edroza-Matute was a Filipino author. (3) Lake Geneva, which touches both Switzerland and France. It was first called Geneva in the English language. There is also a Lake Geneva in Michigan and one in Wisconsin, possibly more elsewhere. (4) Geneva, Switzerland (and Illinois, and New York, with possibly more). (5) Fictional country of Genovia in "The Princess Diaries." (6) A good way to honor a special man in your life named Gene. (7) The Geneva Conventions. (8) The baby of Benicio del Toro and Kimberly Stewart is named Delilah Genoveva.