Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween baby names from last year

This will be the second Halloween for A Baby Name Per Day, so I thought I'd revisit 2011's October posts.

Zelda - as in Zelda Spellman, from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch"

My first list of Halloween baby names - for girls I loved Persephone, Beatrix, Hallow, Eve, Drusilla, Rowena, Jacquelyn, Lilith, Stormy, Jetta, Lamia, Felina, Circe, Lilura, Taika, Zillah, Twila, Desdemona, and Branwen... for boys I loved Salem, Casper, Samhain, Roderick, Damon, Blake, Orpheus, Ichabod (nn Ike) and Night...and ohhhh, the unisex list!

Hallow - I thought this was just too cool

Samhain - a great new way to get Sam as a nickname

Falena - not quite sure why I think moths go so well with Halloween, but I do...maybe because they come out at night, and they're kind of mysterious

Casper - needs no introduction

Sabrina - not many known Sabrina's Celtic origins

Bram - for Bram Stoker

Persephone - the goddess abducted by Hades

Opal - October's birth stone

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Interview with Anna of Waltzing More Than Matilda

Anna Vivian is the creative mind behind Waltzing More Than Matilda, a baby name blog from Australia that provides unique insight into the world of names.

What is your name?
Anna Vivian. Vivian is actually my confirmation name, as my original middle name was kind of a mess.

Do you have any nicknames?
In high school my nickname was Goanna, and then from that, Go-go. Apart from pet nicknames and terms of endearment from loved ones, I don't have one as an adult.

What is your ethnic background?
Australian, from a mix of New Zealander, English, Cornish, Scottish, Irish, German, Danish and American. There's a family legend of Maori ancestry, but I don't know if it's ever been proven.

What decade were you born in?

How did you get your name?
It's a variant of my mother's name, Anne. They originally considered Anneliese, but then thought it clashed with the surname, so shortened it to Anna. They tried putting the Liese part into the middle name and then adding stuff to it, but it didn't really work.

How did you feel about your name growing up?
Like many young girls, I went through a stage of wanting something more exotic, but mostly I was okay with it. When I was little, I loved the fact it was a palindrome, and despite it being common, I never went to school or university with another girl with the same name.

How do you feel about your name now?
I can't say I really love my name, but I do like it. It's a good, serviceable name, and other Annas I've met have tended to be solid, practical people, so I feel that I must have grown into it in some ways.

What are some names of your family members?
My dad is called James (he goes by Fred), and my sister is Mariana (yes they used another Anna-type name!). My brothers are Edward (Eddie) and Philip (Bear).

If you have any kids, what are their name(s)?
One has a popular classic name, and the other a less-common vintage name. If you think Victoria and Florence you will have some idea of the style.

What is the name of your best friend?

What are some common names for your age group?
Women: Michelle, Lisa, Melissa, Sarah, Karen, Natalie, Fiona, Danielle, Megan, Vanessa, Rachel.
Men: David, Michael, Andrew, Paul, Daniel, Damian, Bradley, Justin, Brett, Luke, Nathan, Ashley.

If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be?
I actually think Alice would rather suit me, and although not common for my age group, it's not too unbelievable either. (It was in the 200s when I was born).

Are people ever confused about your name?
Sometimes people mishear it as Anne, Hannah or Emma, especially on the phone. A neighbour kept calling me Tina; I don't know where she got that from.

Would you suggest someone give your name to a new baby?
If they really loved it, I wouldn't discourage them, because it's a classic and does wear well. I have actually had a baby named after me, and she seems happy with her name so far (she's eight now).

Of the kids you've met most recently, which are your favorites and least favorites?
One of my friends just had a baby and named her Cynthia Rose, I think that's sweet, and I met brothers named Casper and Otto, which struck me as an awesome sibset. I heard a boy named Tosh; I can only think of the slang term, where "tosh" means "nonsense".

What are your favorite names at the moment?
Girls – Allegra, Clementine, Cordelia, Cressida, Jemima, Olive, Saskia.
Boys – Alastair, Ari, Bede, Digby, Jago, Monty, Rafael nn Rafe.
(These are all names my husband has crossed off name lists, so I feel safe sharing!)

What advice would you give expecting parents looking for the perfect name?
Take your time and remain calm, it's not a decision to be rushed through or conducted frivolously. I think that too many parents feel limited by "name rules" they impose on themselves, and I would rather they followed their hearts than some arbitrary system of rules. No name that you and your partner sincerely love, chosen out of love for your child, could ever be a bad choice. 


Anna ranked at #38 in the U.S. in 2011, and other variants ranked as well: Ana, Ann, Anne, Annie, Annabel, Annabelle, Anabel, Annabel, Annabella, Anabella, and Annabell. It is popular world-wide. Anna is of Hebrew origin, meaning "grace, gracious" as a Latin variant of Hannah. One of the earliest known namesakes was the sister of Dido, the queen of Carthage, who appeared in the Aeneid by Virgil, and later in Ovid's Fasti. Ovid's character was known as Anna Perenna, a Roman goddess linked to both Mars and Janus, after becoming a water nymph. In the Bible, she was a woman and prophetess who saw the infant Jesus presented at a temple in Jerusalem. Her name is also well known from Anna Karenina, the novel by Leo Tolstoy. Saint Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary. It has been a perennial favorite for centuries.

Vivian ranked at #154, while Viviana was at #462. It has ranked in the U.S. every year since records began being kept in 1880. Vivian has her own mythological, literary and religious stories. This Latin lovely meaning "lively" is also a female saint's name (Latin, Bibiana), and male saint's name, but has only been common since the 19th century. In Le Morte d'Arthur, the King Arthur tales by Sir Thomas Malory, Vivian was the name of the Lady of the Lake. She is known as Nimue in other stories, and known for being the mistress of Merlin. Alfred, Lord Tennyson chose to spell her name Viviane. Vivian is thrown Arthur's sword Excalibur as he is dying, and then some ladies in black hoods (including Morgan le Fay) take Arthur to his grave in Avalon. The name has been used for boys in England and Australia, but as Anna points out in the comments below, once Vivienne was used in "Gone with the Wind," it abruptly sounded to feminine. The root, vivere, meaning "to live," is also found in plenty of words, such as vital and vivid.

Thanks again to Anna, a great interview with some great advice. Be sure to check out her blog!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Interview Over at Ren's Baby Name Blog

Just a couple of days ago I completed an interview with Ren, from Ren's Baby Name Blog, which you can read here. You may remember Ren from the interview I did on her name back in September, which you can read here. I would have posted this Friday but I wanted to post Arrietty and then Cheshire as baby name of the day first.

Also, my polls are not working properly. I'll put up new ones soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2012



I really didn't want to do another C name this month, as I've already done three, but when I thought of this I couldn't stop myself. And somehow it fits in with the Halloween season. But, like Tarragon, I'm afraid someone's going to say "Are you nuts?" (To which I would reply, "At least it's not made up, and if people can name their kids Cashley and Kale, why not Cheshire?") Cheshire dates back to about 1086 from the words cestre scire - Chester (roughly translating to "camp of soldiers") and shire (district). Cheshire is the name of a county in England, a contraction of Chestershire. Being a place name, Cheshire classifies as unisex. Cheshire is also seen as a surname (over 3,000 in the U.S.).

"Cheshire" is obviously most famous thanks to Lewis (Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) Caroll's Cheshire cat from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and his charming use of the Cheshire cat with it's bewildering grin, but John Wolcot used the phrase "grinning like a Cheshire cat" before Caroll in his Works, and William Makepeace Thackeray used it before Wolcot. According to this source, cheese artisans in Cheshire used to draw a grinning cat on a special type of cheese, so the phrase most likely continued as a tradition of jest, as everyone knew cats couldn't grin. Another explanation found on Wikipedia suggests the phrase came about from the large number of dairy farms in the area, and the common misconception that cats like milk (adult cats actually get stomach trouble from drinking milk and cream, but that's beside the point) so there came the idea that the cats were so happy they would grin. It is thought that Caroll got the idea for his Cheshire cat from the 16th century cat carvings on St. Wilfrid's Church, which was very close to his birthplace, but there are other churches with artwork or carvings he could have been inspired by.

In my search on Cheshire I found four related names. 1) Clive, which is said to be often used in Cheshire, 2) Wharton, used in Cheshire due to the river name Woefer, 3) Newell, which was possibly a place name for someone in Cheshire, and 4) Ridley, whose meaning differs in Cheshire and Northumbria from the meaning used in Essex and Kent, apparently.

There are approximately 37 people named Cheshire living in the U.S.

Saturday, October 27, 2012



Arrietty (ahr-ee-ET-ee) was a name made famous for the first time by author Mary Norton in her 1952 novel The Borrowers, a story of a family of tiny people living in the house of a normal sized family who "borrow" their supplies from the humans to survive. The name was made famous for the second time when Hayao Miyazaki's animation company, Studio Ghibli, turned the story into a Japanese animated motion picture, called "The Secret World of Arrietty," which was released by Walt Disney Pictures in the U.S. Please note that ahr-ee-ET-ee and air-ee-ET-ee are the correct pronunciations of the name.

For those of you not familiar with Ghibli movies, including Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, Totoro and Castle in the Sky (all of which had U.S. releases), these movies are a must see for adults and children alike (says the biggest Ghibli fan ever). There are no American animations that compare when it comes to story and artwork, and you'll find that a recurring theme is protecting the environment - a good lesson for kids to learn. And don't get me started on the music. The songs for Arrietty were written by a Ghibli fan, Cecile Corbel. (I refuse to talk about the American theme song. Refuse.)

Without spoiling too much, the plot of the book and movie is this: Arrietty Clock lives with her mother, Homily, and father, Pod. She meets a human called The Boy, named Sho in the Japanese movie and Shawn, I believe, in the American version. They become friends, but The Boy understands that she should not be seen by others, because it is not safe. Arrietty tells The Boy how there may actually be only a handful of Borrowers left in the world. Both the book and movie have an equal "leave you wanting more" ending.

Arrietty has only experienced a handful of namesakes since the 1952 novel, none born in recent years, and White Pages tells me there are only two living Arrietty's. It seems like Arrietty comes from Arietta, a variant of Arlette, which is a variant of Charlotte, but it is in fact a German variant of Harriet, meaning "home ruler." In other words, Arrietty was not just "made up" by Norton. I definitely see some little Arrietty's being born soon. Especially considering possible nicknames like Ari, Etty and Etta, although Arrietty does feel like a nickname itself.

Friday, October 26, 2012



I was a little hesitant to use Tarragon (TARE-ah-gon) for my baby name of the day, as some may find it to be too word-name, too unusual, but I would definitely suggest it for those wanting to continue a spice/herb/flower/nature name theme, as it's difficult to find boy names in those categories. Also, this blog celebrates rare names of all kinds, and why should Tarragon be any different than Juniper or Forest? This spice name has potential as a baby name thanks to its familiar feel, being similar to Aragon and some T names for boys like Terrance, and also being in the same category as spice and herb names gaining in popularity, like Sage, Bay, Cassia and Saffron, and those that have been popular before, such as Basil, Ginger and Rosemary.

As a plant, tarragon looks a little bit like rosemary, but more leafy, like blades of wild grass. It has been used for culinary purposes for quite a long time, and tastes like aniseed. As a name, it sits alongside other undiscovered herb name possibilities, such as Chervil, Marjoram, Chamomile, Lovage, Oregano, Sorrel and Coriander. White Pages affirms that there are 3 living people with Tarragon as a first name, and 5 with it as a surname. Looking it up in the Social Security Administration's extended list, it seems there were no kids (or less than 5) born with this name in the past few years, although some boys were given names that sound similar, like Tarrion, Talon and Tyrion (and if Talon and some made up T names can be used on real babies, why not Tarragon?). I also find it fascinating that the botanical name for tarragon is Artemisia dracunculus, and Artemisia is another rare name, a variant of Artemis that was used on only 5 girls in 2011, while there were 39 girls named Artemis. Tarragon, also known as the "dragon herb" and one of the "four fine herbs" of French cooking, is used to prevent cardiovascular disease and help with diabetes. It was named tarragon and Artemisia dracunculus due to the old belief in the Doctrine of Signatures, meaning a plant's appearance dictated what it would be named and used for. Since tarragon's root look serpentine, botanists believed it could be used for snake bites. Draco and drakon, as you may know, mean "dragon," therefore dracunculus means "little dragon." Tarragon comes from drakontion, meaning "dragonwort."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


leocadia zamora y quesada by frederico de madrazo 
Leocadia Zamora y Quesada by Frederico de Madrazo (1847)

Don't be so quick to pass up the intriguing and memorable Leocadia (lee-oh-KAY-dee-ah in Greek, lay-oh-KAH-dee-ah in Spanish), which includes international variant spellings Leokadia, Laocadia and Liocadia. Nicknames include Leo for a tomboy, Cay, Cady, Lea, Leda, Dia, and Adia. This Spanish variant of the Greek name meaning "clear, bright" from the word leukos and name Eleokadia has been used in all Spanish speaking countries, influenced by the martyred 5th century Saint Leocadia and the subjects of two famous paintings. "La Leocadia" is a famous painting by Goya, which is of Goya's house maid Leocadia Zorrilla (Weiss). She was supposedly his "last love" and the subject of a few of his paintings, although her daughter may have been in a couple of his paintings as well. Two other lesser-known namesakes bear the name, including Leocadia Alba, a Spanish actress born in 1866, and Leocadia Zamora, featured in the above picture, who was the daughter of the Regent to Havana and native to Port Prince. Ms. Zamora was pretty much famous for being beautiful, although she was well loved by those that knew her, including her suitors Washington Irving and Frederico Madrazo himself. Both men claimed Leocadia was the love of their life, but for unknown reasons she decided to give up court life for the life of a Carmelite nun.

Leocadia Zorrilla, Goya's "Last Love"

I think Theodosia, Zenobia and Leocadia would make for excellent sisters, or other Greek or Spanish names such as Eulalia, and Carnelian would be a nice brother name. Leocadia has never ranked in the U.S. White Pages claims there are currently 739 living people named Leocadia, 100% of them are older than 55, and that 1917 marked the height of its popularity. While other distinctly Spanish names are being used, such as Lluvia and Lourdes, there were no babies named Leocadia in 2011, which is quite a shame. If White Pages is correct, there haven't been any babies named Leocadia for at least 55 years. I'll go digging through the SSA list later to find out for sure.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012



Carnelian (kahr-NEEL-yan) is a handsome red-orange gemstone that you definitely don't see in everyday jewelry. This mineral, or crypto-crystalline quartz, turned semi-precious gemstone has been used since the Bronze Age as decoration, and is still used for decoration and jewelry today. Cameos carved in ivory on top of carnelian have always been popular, as well as carving into the carnelian, as you can see on this antique Algiers seal ring below, from Eragem. One of the stone's first purposes was for these seal rings, used to print the carved image into wax to seal and identify letters.

antique-carnelian algiers seal ring

Carnelian has never been popular as a name, but it has a very masculine, strong, mystical feel to it. Neil could be an easy nickname for boys. It has been used at least twice for male characters, once in Dancers at the End of Time series by Michael Moorcock, and once in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon trilogy by Ricardo Pinto. It was also a U.S. war ship during World War II, and can be used as a color name for the specific reddish-brown that is carnelian stones. According to the Bible, carnelian was worn on the Breastplate of Aaron, and is the stone of Virgo. The Babylonians and Greeks wore carnelian as a sign of good luck and to give them strength both mentally and physically.

The name comes from cornelian, from the Medieval Latin word corneolus for the cornel cherry (carnelian cherry) and it's red, fleshy color, and was modified to "carnelian" in the 16th century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, carnelian's similarity to the word carnis, meaning "flesh," is a perversion of the original form of the word. Carnelian's meaning is "flesh colored."

The girl's names Carnella and Carnelia could be a variant of Cornelia, meaning "horn," or it could be the female variant of Carnelian, happening the same way "carnelian" came from "cornelian," by replacing the "o" with and "a." Either way, they are related. Nell and Nelly could be good nicknames.

Carnelian, Carnella and Carnelia have not been used as baby names, that I can find. There were none in 2011, and none have ever ranked. There were, however, 11 boys named Crimson and 15 named Cornelio in 2011, which is a sign of good hope for Carnelian.

Monday, October 22, 2012


zenobia Herbert_Schmalz queen zenobias last look upon palmyra 
Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra by Herbert Schmalz

Here is an appellation that name lovers and history buffs can't stay away from. Zenobia (zen-OH-bee-ah) is a Greek name that is often listed as meaning "life of Zeus, strength of Zeus" due to the components zen, zeno, (Zeno being the poetic name of Zeus), and bia, meaning "strength." The etymology seems a bit forced in this case, but Nook of Names has a different suggestion:
Zenobia — although interpreted as “life of Zeus” in Greek, the name is probably from the Palmyrean form of Arabic Zaynab, the name of a fragrant flowering plant, as the original Zenobia was a 3rd C Queen of Palmyra who defied the Romans. Although she was ultimately defeated, she was said to have lived out her days in Rome as a respected philosopher and socialite. Used since the 16th C, but always a rarity. (Source)
Zaynab means "desert flower" or "ornamented tree" in Arabic. Wikipedia suggests Zaynab is an altered form of Zenobia, not the other way around. Her Aramaic name was Bat-Zabbai, meaning "daughter of Zabbai," and this is how she signed her name every day, although she was also known as Septimia Zenobia after her marriage, and Julia Aurelia Zenobia to the Romans, as tradition to reflect her father's and family's name. Although, Zenovia seems to be the Latin form. The Semitic name Zabbai means "gift of God."

British Baby Names says more on her name, that Zenobia is composed of zen, as stated above, and bios, meaning "life." Therefore it is safe to say zen + bia = "strength of Zeus," and zen + bios = "life of Zeus." Bat-Zabbai and Zainab (Zaynab) being the Aramaic family clan name of disputed meaning. It is said Zenobia was a Hellenistic transcription of the Aramaic name, and she was almost definitely of Arabic descent. Her relation to Cleopatra is only rumor and cannot be proved. Zenobia believed she was a descendant of Cleopatra Thea through Drusilla of Mauretania. Through Drusilla's grandfather, Zenobia would also be a descendant of Dido from Carthage.

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra by Warwick Goble 

Zenobia, born 240 AD, the second wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, was a 3rd century queen of Palmyra, ruling the Palmyrene Empire in Roman Syria after the death of her husband. Zenobia expanded the territory as an independent ruler, captured Egypt and Anatolia, was able to speak four languages, and was well loved by her country. In fact, she was known as the "Warrior Queen," which is charming, considering an obvious nickname is Zena, as evidenced in the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. If it isn't obvious, the reference implied is "Xena, Warrior Princess." Queen Zenobia was most famous for leading a revolt against the Roman Empire, and as stated above, was defeated in 274 AD, which thus ended her career. Emperor Aurelian took her as a hostage, but rumor has it she was able to live the rest of her life peacefully, and possibly in luxury as a socialite. Her cause of death is not known for sure. Some say she died soon after her capture, others say she married a senator and had several daughters. You can read more about her life and capture in these translated diary entries, which I did not find out if they were accurate, but still a fun read.

Sir Edward Poynter, Zenobia Captive 1878 
Zenobia Captive by Sir Edward Poynter

There are two other well known namesakes of Zenobia. The first is St. Zenobia, who was martyred with her brother St. Zenobios, for their religion. The second is Princess Zenobia, wife of Prince Rhadamistes of Iberia, who lived in the 1st century, around 50 AD. The two were cousins, and although Rhadamistes was a valiant man at first, he turned into a murderer and vicious ruler. They became King and Queen of Armenia after the murder of Zenobia's father and brothers, yet Zenobia remained loyal. After enemies attacked Armenia, a pregnant Zenobia and her husband fled the kingdom, and unable to bear the long ride, and afraid of being captured, Zenobia begged Rhadamistes to kill her. He stabbed her and left her behind, b ut she survived and was saved by shepherds, who took her to the court of Tiridates, where she was received kindly. Her husband returned to his father and was beheaded. This Zenobia's tale was retold by the Roman historian Tacitus, then made into a play called Zenobia in 1761.

Three lesser-known namesakes include comedienne/actress Tina Fey's daughter Alice Zenobia, Zenobia Powell  Perry, a composer, and author Zenobia Camprubi Aymar. The name also features in other literature, include The Blithdale Romance, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1852, and The Hour of the Dragon (also known by Conan the Conqueror) by Robert E. Howard in 1935. Most recently, Amazon currently sells Zenobia - Birth of a Legend by Russ Wallace, which is about the Queen of Palmyra. It has strong reviews. There was also a 1939 film titled "Zenobia," in which Zenobia is an elephant, a 1975 film called "Madame Zenobia," and Anita Ekberg played Zenobia in the 1959 film "The Sign of Rome."

A non-person namesake is Zenobia pulverulenta, a pretty white-blossomed plant as shown below, a clothing line, and the name of a ship. Do some digging and Zenobia pops up in quite a few places. It's even the name of a hotel and a ballet.


Nook of Names and British Baby Names tell us Zenobia was used sparingly until the 16th century, and then rarely until the 19th century, including variant forms such as Senobia. In 2011 there were only 22 baby girls named Zenobia in the U.S., and in 2010 there were 18, plus 7 named Zenovia. It ranked low on the charts every few years, on and off, between 1881 and 1925. Zinovia is also a rarely used variant.  Zenaida and Zinaida are related names. Zenobia's name day is October 30th.

One more fun read on Zenobia as a mistaken "black" name can be found at Zenobia: Empress of the East, since I am rapidly running out of room for this post. And be sure to Google more artwork of Zenobia, as there was a bit too much for this baby name blog to hold.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Q Baby Names

I remember reading through lists of Q names in baby name books and online sites, always thinking "there has to be more." Just for example, there are 14 Q girls names and 36 Q boys names on Behind the Name, and 22 Q names for girls on Nameberry. Not too many for girls, and in comparison with all the A names out there, well...

Thanks to White Pages and 100,000 Baby Names by Bruce  Lansky, I've found so many more. There are literally hundreds, although not all of them may be the original first form of a name. Take your pick, then research it elsewhere. Here's a small sampling of girls (I'll go with triple the amount shown on Behind the Name).

Quilla (Mama Quilla was an Incan goddess)
Quenilda (featured on Nook of Names)
Quarralia (Australian, star)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rare 1880 baby names for girls 2

Continuing on from my first post, I will list rare and interesting baby names from 1880 with 11 to 20 births per name. I have also put the names currently in the top 300 (as of 2011) in bold. I love when baby name blogs and websites tell you about how often a name was used back in the day, and showing how those baby names are used today and how popular they've become.

Theodora, 11
Salome, 11
Rosina, 11
Queenie, 11
Mathilde, 11
Iris, 11 (now #303)
Eloise, 11
Beryl, 11

Willa, 12
Rachael, 12 (Rachel is #117)
Joan, 12
India, 12
Imogene, 12
Easter, 12
Celina, 12
Celestine, 12
Abigail, 12 (now a top 10 name)

Vida, 13
Serena, 13
Magdalene, 13
Fay, 13
Eleanore, 13
Carolina, 13 (Caroline is #87)
Bella, 13 (now #60)
Ava, 13 (now a top 10 name)
Annabel, 13 (Annabelle is #111)

Veronica, 14 (now #284)
Odessa, 14
Melinda, 14
June, 14
Emmaline, 14
Bonnie, 14
Betsy, 14
Avis, 14

Sophronia, 15
Luna, 15 (now #278)
Lucia, 15 (now #242)
Dixie, 15
Clare, 15

Sidney, 16
Maybelle, 16
Dorothea, 16
Anita, 16
Agatha, 16

Savannah, 17 (now #41)
Rilla, 17
Prudence, 17
Minna, 17
Evie, 17
Cleo, 17
Alva, 17

Neva, 18
Molly, 18 (now #78)
Liza, 18
Leta, 18
Iona, 18
Gracie, 18 (now #136)
Georgianna, 18
Antonia, 18
Annetta, 18

Magdalena, 19
Clementine, 19
Antoinette, 19

Vesta, 20
Elsa, 20
Chloe, 20 (now a top 10 name)

Look for the list of interesting 1880 names with 21 to 30 births and/or interesting 1880 boy's names, coming soon in November.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rare 1880 baby names for girls

Here's a list I've been working on while sifting through all the names in the SSA extended list. These are all the interesting (rare, unusual, popular, unique, uncommon and beautiful) baby girl's names I thought were noteworthy. Included is the number of how many babies were born in 1880 with that name, up to 10 births per name. Some of these might be surprising to see listed with only 5 or 6 births, considering how popular they are today, some you'll see are starting to become popular now, and some are still just as rare. I've highlighted those that are now in the top 200.

Verona, 5
Texas, 5
Tennessee, 5
Sibyl, 5
Selena, 5
Penelope, 5
Parthenia, 5
Ottilia, 5
Opal, 5
Natalie, 5
Marilla, 5
Margaretta, 5
Mahalia, 5
Lucina, 5
Lovisa, 5
Lollie, 5
Linna, 5
Letty, 5
Judith, 5
Jewel, 5
Isadora, 5
Honora, 5
Gwendolyn, 5
Gracia, 5
Georgina, 5
Elvina, 5
Delphine, 5
Corrine, 5
Cordella, 5
Charlotta, 5
Araminta, 5
Adrienne, 5

Zelda, 6
Winona, 6
Thea, 6
Sibylla, 6
Sabina, 6
Ottilie, 6
Monica, 6
Mercedes, 6
Martina, 6
Fidelia, 6
Faith, 6
Euphemia, 6
Erie, 6 (had to throw this one in)
Eleanora, 6
Dinah, 6
Claudine, 6
Cherry, 6
Camilla, 6
Aurora, 6

Tressa, 7
Tilda, 7
Osa, 7
Lea, 7
Jessica, 7
Gina, 7
Felicia, 7
Eve, 7
Eulalia, 7
Drucilla, 7
Delphia, 7
Carol, 7
Angela, 7

Tabitha, 8
Rowena, 8
Millicent, 8
Magnolia, 8
Faye, 8
Evelina, 8
Elena, 8
Drusilla, 8
Camille, 8

Winifred, 9
Rosalia, 9
Leda, 9
Kitty, 9
Ione, 9
Indiana, 9
Hope, 9
Emilia, 9
Emeline, 9
Annabelle, 9
Angelina, 9
Amber, 9
Amalia, 9
Althea, 9

Una, 10
Theodosia, 10
Selina, 10
Philomena, 10
Paulina, 10
Leonie, 10
Juliet, 10
Diana, 10
Delilah, 10
Anastasia, 10

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween baby names from a catalog

I was flipping through my mom's Olive & Cocoa catalog filled with [expensive] Halloween decorations when I saw a few names that scream "Halloween!" Let me start by saying I love Morticia Adams. When I think "Halloween name," she's the first that comes to mind. Her name is a twist on many classic or used-to-be-popular names, like Portia and Marcia, but with morte (death) in her name and a strong similarity to the word mortician. Because of her, I don't like cheesy Halloween names like Carrie or Vampira or Lycan that you often find on baby name blogs. I like elegant, gothic, witchy it blew my mind when I saw the picture of Zanzibel & Norbet, below.


Here is their description: "From the dark shadows of night, Zanzibel & Norbert rule over their eerie Transylvanian castle." Their names are so perfect for them, for Halloween, for their description. Zanzibel has been used as a given name before, but has no listed meaning. There were no baby girls named Zanzibel in 2011, but 8 were named ZsaZsa, which would make an excellent nickname for Zanzibel.

Next up we have Hootie & Priscilla, the owls. "Perched in high cindered black boughs, Hootie & Priscilla quietly watch over a mysterious enchanted forest." Priscilla was #487 in 2011.


Last we have Agnes the Witch. "With bubbling cauldrons and a rush of chilling wind, the witching hour is nigh. Agnes, with her wonderfully detailed hand painted face, jagged striped skirt and pointy hat is ready to cast a multitude of magical spells."


Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The Prose Edda, at first simply called Edda, was composed by Snorri Sturluson, an Icelandic scholar. The title was changed from Edda to Prose Edda to differentiate between the Poetic Edda, from an anonymous author. Both works contain Old Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and both were written around the same time, somewhere between 985 and 1600 AD, but Poetic Edda came first, as the Prose Edda cites parts of it. The Poetic Edda comes from a medieval Icelandic manuscript called Codex Regius. J.R.R. Tolkien and Ezra Pound are just two authors who claimed to have used to Poetic Edda as style inspiration for their work. Both works showcased things like skaldic tradition, poetic meter, alliterative verse, and strong imagery. The stories deal with gods, princes, the history of the universe and it sometimes reads like a history or guide.

Edda has a few different meanings. The one most closely linked to the books is Old Norse, and it could mean "great grandmother," or "poetry." As the books have Germanic ties, that meaning could be "inheritance." However, it is now widely accepted that edda was taken from a Latin phrase meaning "I compose [poetry]" specifically for the title. In the poem Rigsmaal, contained within the book, Edda is definitely used as "great grandmother." To use Edda as a baby name, you would have to be familiar with the works.

The Edda Awards, are the Icelandic TV and movie awards. Also, Audrey Hepburn's name was Edda during  the war and changed it back in 1945. In 2011 there were 22 girls named Eda (most likely pronounced EE-da, as a variant of Edith or Edna) but there were none named Edda in the U.S.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus Augustus

Hadrian (HAY-dree-an) is a Latin name meaning "from Hadria," Anglicized from Hadrianus. Hadria was an ancient northern Italian city built by the Etruscans, which gave its name to the Adriatic Sea. The town is now known as Adria (Atria, Atri) in the Veneto region of Italy. Both the male variant Adrian and the female variants Adria, Adriana and Adrienne come from Hadrianus. Hadria can also be used as a given name. It seems the H was dropped from Hadrian around the Middle Ages. Following the etymology of Atria, it seems to mean "black, dark." There is a possibility this was given as a first name specifically to those with dark features.

One of the first namesakes was the Roman Emperor Hadrianus from the 2nd century AD, who was known for his writing and architecture. He built Hadrian's Wall across the north of England, which protected the Roman Empire. The city of Adrianople/Adrianopolis/Hadrianopolis was named for him, and it still survives under the name Edirne, in modern Turkey. His wife, Vibia Sabina, was also a strong person. An exhibit was on display for Emperor Hadrian at the British Museum in 2008. You can still watch the video clip right here. Overall, he was a very inspirational leader, if not with a few quirks. If his name isn't enough to sway you, there is also St. Hadrian, and Hadrian Saravia, who was charged by King James I of England to work on the King James Bible. Most recently, it was chosen by French food & TV personality Julie Andrieu for her son, spelled Hadrien.

While Adrian lacks a good nickname, Hadrian has the unusual, simple and charming Hade (hayd). Hadrian could also be a solution for anyone that likes Hayden (currently the #3 boys name starting with H) but cannot use it. While Adrian ranked at #61 in 2011, there were only 34 baby boys named Hadrian, never hitting the top 1000. It has been gaining in popularity in France. Adrian is currently very popular in many countries, and has ultimately been more popular overall.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Tindra (TIHN-druh) is a Swedish word-name meaning "twinkle, sparkle." This Scandinavian gem has only started being used recently, and I believe the earliest documented use of Tindra as a given name was in the early 1980's. Going by Sweden's name statistics, Tindra was given to 238 girls in 2011 and 307 in 2010. It's rank in Sweden in 2011 was #60, and in 2010 it was #51. When I did a search on the website it told me there are 5,713 people in Sweden named Tindra, and 4,022 of them had Tindra as a nickname.

Over here in the U.S. Tindra is unheard of, with no children given the name in 2011 or 2010.

Just for fun, and since I already did Norway, here's Sweden's top 10. Go here for the full chart.

1. Alice
2. Maja
3. Elsa
4. Julia
5. Linnea
6. Ella
7. Ebba
8. Molly
9. Wilma
10. Emma

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Blair

Gender: MALE
What is your name? Blair
Do you have any nicknames? Gonzo
What is your ethnic background? Greek, French Canadian, German and Irish
What decade were you born in? 80s baby
How did you get your name? Same name as father and grandfather
How did you feel about your name growing up? Loved it until the Blair Witch Project came out
How do you feel about your name now? Love it, unique
What are some names of your family members? Blair, Clare, Betty
If you have any kids, what are their name(s)? If no kids, do you have any names you know you’d like to give to future children? No, I don't know the names of my future children
What is the name of your best friend? Dave
What are some common names for your age group? Chris, Dave, Ryan, Jeff, John
If you had to give yourself a new first name, what would it be? Rialb (Blair backwards)
Are there any personal stories about your name? No stories specifically about my name other than both my dad and I got called the Blair Bitch Project. (You may want to omit that.)
Are people ever confused about your name? People usually think I say Brian when I say my name if they don't know me
Would you suggest someone give your name to a new baby? Sure, it's not utilized enough
Of the kids you've met most recently, which are your favorites and least favorites? Of the kids I met most recently, Celina is my favorite, and my least favorite is a girl who I met named Blair, it felt awkward.

This was an excellent interview, given that most baby Blair's today are female, thanks to Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl. Blair is of Scottish Gaelic origin meaning "field, plain." Once a Scottish surname relating to local places, it transferred to use as a male given name, and now it is making a crossover to the girl's side, in the works since the 80's. The name has not appeared on the top 1000 for boys since 1995 at #950, slowly declining from #580 in 1990, but for girls, it ranked in the top 1000 in 2011 at #973, and I have a feeling it's only going up. Before that, it's last appearance on the charts for girls was in 2000 at #971, so there was a ten year gap. It had a steady decline on the girl's side from the mid 80's, where it was in the #400's, when it ranked higher than boys. The only difference between use as a male name and use as a female name is that Blair has been given as a male name much longer - every year since 1881 until 1995, whereas it has only been given to girls since 1980 (on the charts, anyway). That's a 99 year difference. 

Despite the rivalry between girls and boys, this name is unisex. As a place-name-surname, even though given to boys first, it can still be used for girls, as there is nothing about it that is strictly masculine. My best example of Blair as a surname can be seen on actress Selma Blair. For male's with it as a first name, Blair Redford. For female's with it as a first name, Blair Fowler. In Scotland it's still all boy, ranking at #87 in 2011.

In 2011 there were 75 baby boys named Blair and 5 spelled Blaire, and 260 girls named Blair, 123 spelled Blaire.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Oh yeah...

Indiana Jones or Indiana state? Male or female? Indiana is definitely a unisex name. Due to the heavy influence of Indiana Jones, most parents will choose this as a boy's name, but like the name India, the similarity to Diana, and the -ana ending, some parents choose it as a girl's name. Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix chose this name for their baby, as well as Ethan Hawke, and Indiana Rose Evans is an Australian singer and actress.

Indiana means "from India" in Latin and "land of Indians" in English, dating to the 1760's and referring to the Native Americans who lived in North America before settlers arrived. Indiana Jones was actually Henry Walton Jones, Jr. and was nicknamed Indiana after the family dog. There was also the controversial (for 1831) novel titled Indiana by George Sand, a pseudonym for Amandine Aurore Dupin. Then there's the Indy 500 and "indie" bands and movies.

Indiana only ranked on the top 1000 for a few years, and each year it only ranked for girls. It went down from #604 in 1880 to #877 a year later. It came back at #897 in 1887 and went down to #989 a year later. Then its last appearance was in 1893 at #986. Now, in 2011, there were 42 baby boys named Indiana and 54 girls named Indiana. As far as nicknames go, in 2011 8 parents preferred to name their sons Indie and 16 Indy, while 56 parents chose Indie for their baby girls, 13 chose just Indi for their baby girls, and 15 chose to spell their girl's name Indy. In 2010 there were 34 girls named Indiana and 17 boys. As far as nicknames go, there were 8 boys named Indie and 12 Indy, then 7 girls named Indee, 7 Indi, 35 Indie and 19 Indy.


Monday, October 8, 2012



October's official flower is Calendula, pronounced kah-LEN-doo-lah and/or kah-LEND-yuu-lah. It is the botanical name for the English marigold species, relating to the word calender, Latin calendae or kalends. The name means "first day of the month, little calendar" blooming year-round, so I'm a bit late posting this.

Calendula has many modern uses, from treating sore throats to reducing inflammation of the skin. It's petals are edible, and eating them protects cells fom being damaged by "free radicals." The name Marigold has been given since about the 16th century, and now has an appealing vintage charm. Marigold has ties to Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.

In 2011 there were 7 baby girls named Marigold and none named Calendula. If you're thinking Calendula is too weird, know that it does come with the super cute nickname Callie.


Sunday, October 7, 2012


Thayer is one hard name to dig up information on. In researching the name I've found many different sources listing many different origins. In French, Thayer is pronounced tie-YHER, supposedly meaning "army of the nation." One source suggests it is an Old English phrase meaning "the people," from origins elsewhere. Other ties lead to Germany, where there were several bearers of the name, though there were others in Austria, and the meaning is listed as "wild animal." There is a strong possibility it comes from the French word for "tea cup,"théière," possibly in reference to those who made them. It could be an Old English name that is possibly related to the occupational surnames Taylor or Thatcher, both of which are currently popular as first names. The name Thatcher means "roof thatcher" in Old English and was worn by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I recall the name from when I was very young, reading a book called Jeremy Thatcher the Dragon Hatcher. However, it is more likely Thayer comes from Taylor, as opposed to Thatcher, as a regional dialect or French variant. Taylor ("tailor") ranked at #44 in 2011 for girls, and #337 for boys. My favorite explanation, and the one that sounds most reasonable and accurate, is French, "tea cup maker."

Occupational surnames are unique in that they do work for both genders, unlike strictly masculine surnames such as Anderson, meaning "son of Anders/Andrew," and, unfortunately for adventurous namers, girls cannot be born sons. On a happier note, roof thatchers, tailors, brick layers and more can be men or women nowadays, which is why I'll be listing Thayer as unisex. For strictly feminine surnames, look to Scandinavian surnames such as Leifsdottir, meaning "daughter of Leif." I dare say it might be strange to give surnames such as these anywhere but America, though. I don't think you'd find any Leifsdottir Sorensdottir's or Thayer Anderson's elsewhere.

Some of the first Thayer's (as a surname) to come to America settled down in Braintree, Massachusetts, where you can still find Thayer Academy. Thayer featured as a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel This Side of Paradise. It was the first name of a character on the TV show "The Lying Game," and the likelihood of that character's name being given due to Mount Thayer in California is strong. Thayer is a place name in several U.S. cities. In 2011 there were only 20 baby boys named Thayer.

Saturday, October 6, 2012



Christabel Pankhurst was the inspiration for today's post. Born in 1880 (the year the U.S. started keeping track of how many babies were born with a name per year) this suffragette from England helped found the Women's Social and Political Union, even while in exile. She was one very inspirational woman, from going to prison to support her beliefs, to writing a book on how sexual equality would help protect women from sexually transmitted diseases. She earned a law degree, but was unfortunately not allowed to practice. Her parents believed in causes and raised their children (Christabel, Sylvia and Adela) to do great things. Her mother Emmeline was a political activist and suffragette as well, helping women win the right to vote. Emmeline was named one of the "100 Most Important People of the 20th Century" by Time in 1999, and she as well was raised by politically active parents. Emmeline's husband, Christabel's father, supported women's right to vote. Richard also supported free speech, free secular education, and the disestablishment of the Church of England. He did two very important things for women's rights: he drafted the Women's Disabilities Removal Bill, and was author of what became the Married Women's Property Act.

Christabel was named after another, older famous Christabel, that of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Christabel." It is said the direct influence for this name came from the line "The lovely lady Christabel / Whom her father loves so well." Criticism of the poem falls under many categories, one of which having a feminist reading to it, which could have been another reason why Emmeline thought it would make a good name for her daughter. However, it can also be read with a critical eye toward gothic literature, and the unfinished poem had a haunting undertone, especially since the poem was modeled off of Poe's "The Sleeper," which in turn inspired Poe to write something else. For those unfamiliar with gothic lit, here are the basics (because it's not what you think): innocent virgin lives in a scary place, old pervert wants the young beauty, scary stuff happens, virgin usually makes it out alive. In the poem, Christabel is an example of purity and innocence. The name was given to Coleridge's grand daughter, who also became an author.

Another famous Christabel (last name Burton Bielenburg) lived through World War II Nazi Germany, and another, Lady Alice Christabel Montagu-Douglas-Scott married King George V's son Prince Henry.

Like Christina and Christopher, the French name Christabel is a coinage combining "Christ" with the -bel suffix to mean "beautiful Christian," after the French form of Christopher, Christobal. It was not invented by Coleridge. Since reading as a child that Cristina meant "annointed," yet modern sources say "follower of Christ," a little more digging told me that Christ (Christos, Khristos, Cristo) means "annointed" from an ancient Greek word meaning "to rub with scented ointments/oils." Christos was not originally a Christian name. The variants used as given names came about long after Christ, with the intended meaning being "follower of the annointed one." Christabel can be spelled any number of ways, from Christobel to Christabelle.

For those seeking the famous "belle" name without having to worry about popularity, look no further. This rare name was only given to 20 baby girls in 2011, and has never ranked in the top 1000. There were 5 baby girls named Cristabella and 5 Christabella, 6 Cristabel and 7 Christabelle. There were 77 baby girls given one possible nickname, Christa.

Friday, October 5, 2012


This Irish Gaelic name, pronounced REARden, means "bard, minstrel, royal poet," derived from the older name Rioghbhardan. A bard was a poet who recited epic poetry, especially that with a long oral tradition. Bards were most popular in medieval times. These professionals were employed by wealthy patrons who believed in their work, but the patrons wanted the bards to compliment and praise them and their ancestors. William Shakespeare was known as the Immortal Bard, and he is still known as the very definition of a bard today. Robert Burns was another popular bard. The word bard, a loan word from Proto-Celtic, Proto-Indo-European, meant "to raise the voice, praise." Bards did not solely retell the works of others, they composed original work, funded by their patrons. Their work include eulogies and satires. Riordan is also known as a surname, and Archbishop Riordan High School. Rio could make for a nickname, and Riordan could make an excellent solution to the slight infatuation with Raiden as a given name in the U.S. There were only 11 baby boys named Riordan in 2011.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Witchy Baby Girl Names!


Have a little girl due in October? Looking to name a character? Here's my [seemingly endless] list of witchy-sounding baby names, and I love almost every single one. Most of them also fit in the "clunky but cool" category, or "vintage." Keep in mind that most plants, trees, herbs, spices, flowers, gems, space and nature names fit the bill. Also, I've put any actual witch names from legend, myth, literature, movies, etc in bold. I have not considered the names of actual, living people. Feel free to point out anything I missed, and sorry for any repeats.

circe invidiosa john william waterhouse
Circe Invidiosa by John William Waterhouse

Tabitha, Samantha, Endora
Tamsin Blight
Merrick, Deirdre
Sabrina, Hilda, Zelda
Melisande (Game of Thrones)
Mathilda, Matilda, Mathilde
Iona, Ione
Siobhan, Saoirse, Sorcha, many other Irish/Gaelic/Celtic/Welsh names
Eglantina, Eglantine
Fortuna, Fortunata
Junia, Juna
Marie Leveau
Ceridwen (goddess and sorceress)
Kikimora (although more of a haunting spirit)
Zeniba and Yubaba, Spirited Away
Viviane, Nimue (and Madame Xanadu)

Here is Wikipedia's list of fictional witches.