Monday, February 27, 2012

More Than Noah, Daniel, Joshua, Matthew, & Elizabeth: Biblical Names II.

So on my last Biblical post, I focused on more obscure Biblical names (and it was fun!). Admittedly, they may be a little too "out there" for some people, so this time, here're Biblical names that have a decent history of use in English, but haven't ever been really popular.

  • Abner (AB-ner)
  • Amos (AY-mos)
  • Asa (AY-sah)--"doctor"
  • Barnabas (BAR-nah-bus)
  • Bartholomew (bar-THOL-o-myoo)
  • Cyrus (SYE-rus)
  • Darius (DAIR-ee-us)--"possessing good"
  • Enoch (EE-nock)--"dedicated"
  • Ephraim (EE-fray-im or EF-rahm)--"fruitful"
  • Felix (FEE-liks or FEH-liks)--"lucky"
  • Gideon (GID-ee-on)
  • Hiram (HYE-ram)
  • Hosea (ho-ZAY-ah)--"salvation"
  • Ira (EYE-rah)--"watchful"
  • Jethro (JETH-roh)--"abundance"
  • Jubal (JOO-bal)
  • Moses (MOH-zes)
  • Reuben (ROO-ben)
  • Rufus (ROO-fus)
  • Simeon (SIM-ee-on)--"listener"
  • Thaddeus (THAD-ee-us)
  • Titus (TYE-tus)
  • Tobias (toh-BYE-as)--"God is good"

  • Abilene (AB-ih-leen or ah-bih-LEE-nee)
  • Carmel (KAR-mel)--"garden"
  • Damaris (DAM-ah-ris or dam-AIR-is)
  • Dinah (DYE-nah)
  • Esther (ES-ter)--"star"
  • Hephzibah (HEP-zi-bah)--"my delight is in her". Also spelled Hepzibah.
  • Junia (JOON-ee-ah)
  • Lois (LOH-is)
  • Magdalene (MAG-dah-leen or mahg-dah-LEN-eh)
  • Mara (MAR-ah)
  • Miriam (MEER-ee-am)
  • Noah (NOH-ah)--"motion". Sometimes spelled Noa. [not to be confused with the popular boys' name Noah, which sounds the same in English, but is of a different Hebrew source]
  • Priscilla (pris-SIL-lah)
  • Rhoda (ROH-dah)--"rose"
  • Selah (SEE-lah or SEH-lah)
  • Susanna (soo-ZAN-nah)--"lily" ["rose" in modern Hebrew]. Original Hebrew form is Shoshannah.
  • Tamar (tah-MAHR or TAY-mar)--"palm tree". Variants include Tamara.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Usual Nickname, Unexpected Name--Al/Allie

Al is a strange nickname--for a guy, it's terribly outdated. Need a name for an awkward, and/or low-class middle-aged male character? Al's the way to go.
On the other hand, I know Allisons and Alexandras who go by Al, and for them it's youthful & cool.
With the exception of Alexander, the usual full names for Al are pretty past their prime--although Alfie is making a surprising comeback, and Ali is pretty chic for a boy, too.

  • Alaric (AL-ah-rik, Germanic)
  • Alastair (AL-as-tair, Scottish)--form of Alexander. Also spelled Alistair or Alasdair.
  • Alban (AL-ban or AHL-ban, German, French)--from Latin Albanus.
  • Alby (AL-bee, Irish)--Anglicized from Ailbhe.
  • Alden (AHL-den, English)
  • Aldric (AHL-drik, Germanic)
  • Álmos (AHL-moshe, Hungarian)
  • Aloysius (al-oh-ISH-us, English)--A form of Louis.
  • Alphaeus (al-FEE-us, Latin)--from Hebrew, "changing"
  • Altair (AHL-tair, English)--from Arabic, "flyer"

  • Alaia (ah-lye-ah, Basque)--"joyful"
  • Alastríona (al-as-TREE-nah, Irish)--form of Alexandra
  • Alazne (ah-lahs-nee, Basque)--"miracle"
  • Aldith (AHL-dith, English)
  • Aldona (ahl-DAW-nah, Polish)
  • Aleida (AHL-eye-dah, Dutch)--form of Alice/Adelaide
  • Alethea (al-ah-THEE-ah, English)--from Latin, "truth"
  • Aliyah (ah-lee-ah, Arabic & Hebrew)
  • Allegra (ah-LEG-rah, English)--from Italian, "cheerful"
  • Alodia (ah-LOH-dee-ah, Germanic)--original form of Elodie/Elodia
  • Aludra (ah-LOO-drah, English)--from Arabic, "maiden"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Name Slang

Every name has stereotypes, some more pervasive or negative than others. For some unfortunate names, stereotypes eventually turn into slang, or even accepted formal words!  Names with unpleasant associations tend to fall out of use, sometimes permanently (this is especially true for feminine names).
Up until relatively recently, you didn't want your daughter to be an Abigail. And I'm guessing you've never even met any Parnels and Fannys, or seen a Gaye younger than 50.

  • Abigail--noun, "maidservant"
  • Barney--noun, "brawl" or "mistake"
  • Biddy, a nickname for Bridget--noun, "fusspot, nag" or "maid"
  • Bobby, a nickname for Robert--noun, "policeman" [U.K.]
  • Doll/Dolly, a nickname for Dorothy--noun, "plaything, figurine"
  • Fanny, a nickname for Frances--noun, "buttocks" [U.S.] or "vulva" [U.K., vulgar]
  • Guy--noun, "male"
  • Hick, a nickname for Richard--noun, "awkward, unsophisticated person"
  • Jenny, a nickname for Janet/Jane--noun, "female [esp. of birds or donkeys]"
  • Maudlin, a form of Madeline/Magdalene--adjective, "excessively tearful, mawkish"
  • Moll, a nickname for Mary--noun, "female criminal or accomplice"
  • nance, from Nancy, a nickname for Anne--noun, "effeminate male"
  • Parnel, a form of Petronilla--noun, "mistress, harlot"
  • Philander--verb, "flirt, be promiscuous"
  • Renard/Reynard--noun, "fox"
  • Sawney, a nickname for Alexander--noun, "a Scotsman" [derogatory] or "fool"
  • tawdry, an elision of Saint Audrey--adjective, "tacky, cheap"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Same Name?!--Ronald

Oh, Ronald. He's probably your uncle or grandfather, or maybe even great-grandfather. Thanks to a certain awkward teen wizard, he may be looking good for a comeback, but if not, there are some nice substitutes.

Original Norse form: Ragnvaldr (RAHNGN-valdr)
Scottish form: Ronald (RON-ahld)

Modern forms:
  • Reginald (REJ-in-ahld)--English
  • Reinhold (RINE-holt)--German
  • Reino (RAY-no)--Finnish
  • Renaud (ren-OH)--French
  • Reynaldo (hray-NAL-doh)--Portuguese, Spanish
  • Reynold (REN-old)--English

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's A Tragedy

Maybe it's the cynic in me, but I've never seen the point in Valentine's Day. I can totally get behind a good romance, but a whole holiday dedicated to it? *coughcommercialismcough*
Anyway, because I am a cynic, and because I enjoy a bit of contrariness, a list of mythological tragic characters:
(and I can already predict that there'll be so, so many more girls' name than boys' names. Sigh.)

  • Alvis (AHL-vis, Norse)--a dwarf beloved of Thor's daughter, Þrúð (anglicized to Thrud). Thor disapproved, and turned him into stone. Anglicized as Elvis.
  • Leander (lee-AN-der, Greek)--Swam across a river nightly to meet his love Hero, until he drowned in a storm. 
  • Tristan (TRIS-tan, English)--a knight who fell in love with the already-betrothed Isolde, leading to their deaths.

  • Cassandra (kas-SAN-drah, Greek)--Rejected the god Apollo's advances, so he cursed her to foretell the future, but never be believed.
  • Daphne (DAF-nee, Greek)--Another girl chased by Apollo, her father turned her into a laurel tree so she could escape him permanently.
  • Deirdre (DEER-dreh, Irish)--Legendary beauty who died of grief after King Conchobhar [Conor] killed her love, Naoise, and forced her to marry him.
  • Echo (EK-oh, Greek)--A nymph cursed to only repeat what others said; she pined away for Narcissus until only her voice remained.
  • Hero (HEER-oh, Greek)--A priestess who killed herself when her love, Leander, drowned.
  • Isolde (ee-ZOL-deh, English)--A princess whose accidental ingestion of a love potion leads to her & Tristan's deaths.  Variants include Eseld, Esyllt, Iseult, Isotta, and Yseult.
  • Klytië (klye-TEE-eh, Greek)--A nymph who pined for the sun-god Helios, until she turned into a flower. Latinized as Clytia.
  • Melusine (MEL-oo-seen or mel-oo-ZEEN, English & French)--fairy cursed to turn half-serpent one day a week. Should her husband see her in that state, she disappears forever. Sometimes written Melusina.
  • Phaedra (FAY-drah, Greek)--Fell in love with Hippolytus (despite already being married to Theseus), and killed herself when he rejected her.
  • Phyllis (FIL-lis, Greek)--despaired and killed herself when her husband Demophon temporarily left to help his father. 
  • Sadhbh (SIVE, Irish)--turned into a deer (while pregnant) because she rejected the advances of a druid. Her son was later found; she was never seen again. Anglicized as Sive or Sabia.
  • Semele (SEM-el-ee, Greek)--accidentally killed by her lover, the god Zeus

Saturday, February 11, 2012

No Alternates Allowed! (girls)

There were way more boys' names with few/no variants than I thought! Maybe I'm just too cynical where alternate spellings are concerned.
But, looking through the girls' lists....maybe not. Apparently parents are more willing to "tweak" girls' names, because the girls' list from the top 500 was nowhere near as long as the boys'! So, here's the girls' names from the top 750 (or so) that have 0-1 spelling variants.
(and again, there are definitely some spellings choices I don't advocate, but they are in use.)

  • Abril/Abryl
  • Alejandra/Alijandra
  • Alondra/Alandra
  • Amanda
  • Amber/Ambar
  • America/Amerika
  • Angelique/Anjelique
  • Anne/Ann
  • April/Apryl
  • Barbara/Barbra
  • Brenda
  • Brooke/Brook
  • Celia
  • Chaya/Chayah
  • Claudia/Klaudia
  • Dulce
  • Elle
  • Eve
  • Felicity/Feliciti
  • Fernanda
  • Giada
  • Gloria
  • Greta/Gretta
  • Guadalupe
  • Harper/Harpar
  • Heather
  • Heaven/Heavyn
  • Hope
  • Irene/Eirene
  • Iris/Irys
  • June
  • Karla/Carla
  • Kathleen/Cathleen
  • Laura/Lora
  • Linda/Lynda
  • Lisa
  • Lola/Lolah
  • Luna
  • Luz
  • Maeve/Maebh
  • Marie
  • Marisol/Marysol
  • Martha
  • Mary
  • Monica/Monika
  • Myla/Mylah
  • Nancy/Nanci
  • Olive/Olyve
  • Paloma
  • Paola
  • Parker
  • Patricia/Patrisha
  • Paulina
  • Penelope/Pennelope
  • Perla/Pearla
  • Regina
  • Rosa/Roza
  • Rose
  • Ruth
  • Sloane/Sloan
  • Susan/Suzan
  • Sylvia/Silvia
  • Valentina
  • Vera/Veera
  • Veronica/Veronika
  • Virginia
  • Willow/Wyllow
  • Winter/Wynter

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No Alternates Allowed! (boys)

One of the biggest annoyances people have seems to be finding a name you "don't have to spell all the time".   Even the traditional classics can have a myriad of spelling alternates. Rarer names tend to have fewer variants, but then you run the risk of people having never heard of them at all! So, here're boys names from the SSA's top 500 with only one or two spellings.
I certainly don't recommend some of these spellings, but they are in use!
  • Abel/Able
  • Abraham
  • Adan/Adon
  • Alberto
  • Alfredo
  • Ali
  • Andres/Andrez
  • Armando/Armondo
  • Arturo
  • August
  • Beckett/Becket
  • Brett/Bret
  • Brooks/Broox
  • Byron/Byran
  • Carlos/Karlos
  • Chandler/Chanler
  • Charles
  • Colt/Kolt
  • Dallas/Dallis
  • David/Dayvid
  • Davis
  • Dexter
  • Diego
  • Donald
  • Douglas
  • Edgar
  • Eduardo/Edwardo
  • Edward
  • Emerson/Emmerson
  • Enzo
  • Ernesto
  • Ezra/Ezrah
  • Fernando/Fhernando
  • Francisco/Fransisco
  • Frank/Franck
  • Gael
  • Gary/Garry
  • George/Jeorge
  • Gerardo
  • Gideon
  • Grady/Gradey
  • Grant
  • Gunner/Gunnar
  • Gustavo
  • Harrison/Harison
  • Hector
  • Hugo
  • Hunter
  • Jaime
  • Jasper/Jazper
  • Jerry/Gerry
  • Jesus/Jjesus
  • Joe
  • Johan/Johann
  • Jonah/Jona
  • Jonas/Jonahs
  • Jorge
  • Josue/Jossue
  • Juan
  • Judah/Juda
  • Jude
  • Julio
  • Keith/Kieth
  • King/Kyng
  • Lance/Lantz
  • Larry/Larri
  • Leo/Lio
  • Leon/Leeon
  • Leonardo
  • Leonel/Leonell
  • Lorenzo/Larenzo
  • Louis/Lewis
  • Luis/Luiz
  • Luke/Luc
  • Marco/Marko
  • Marcos/Markos
  • Mario
  • Marshall/Marshal
  • Martin
  • Matthew/Mathew
  • Maurice/Marice
  • Maximiliano/Maximilliano
  • Miguel/Migel
  • Mitchell/Mitchel
  • Oliver/Olliver
  • Orlando
  • Oscar/Oskar
  • Pablo
  • Parker
  • Paul
  • Pedro
  • Peter
  • Porter
  • Quinn/Quin
  • Randy/Randi
  • Raul/Rahul
  • Richard
  • River/Ryver
  • Robert
  • Roberto
  • Rodrigo
  • Romeo
  • Ronald
  • Russell/Russell
  • Salvador
  • Sam
  • Santiago/Santhiago
  • Saul
  • Sawyer
  • Scott/Scot
  • Sergio/Serjio
  • Seth
  • Simon/Symon
  • Spencer/Spenser
  • Terry
  • Theodore/Theodor
  • Thomas/Tomas
  • Timothy/Timmothy
  • Travis
  • Trent
  • Troy/Troi
  • Tucker/Tukker
  • Ty/Tye
  • Uriel/Yuriel
  • Victor/Viktor
  • Walter
  • Warren

Monday, February 6, 2012

Usual Nickname, Unexpected Name--Minnie

Poor Minnie. Once at the top, she was toppled by a certain animated mouse. Of course, the fact that Minnie was originally short for the clunky Wilhelmina probably didn't help.

  • Aminda (ah-MEEN-dah, Esperanto)
  • Araminta (ahr-ah-MIN-tah, English)
  • Carmina (kar-MEE-nah, Italian)--form of Carmen
  • Clementina (klem-en-TEE-nah, Italian, Spanish)--"gentle"
  • Cosmina (KOS-mee-nah, Romanian)--feminine of Cosmas
  • Domenica (doh-MEN-ee-kah, Italian)--feminine of Dominic. Other forms include Dominga (Spanish) & Dominique (French). 
  • Erminia (ehr-MEEN-yah, Italian)
  • Jessamine (JES-sah-min, English)--"jasmine"
  • Kamini (kah-MEE-nee, Indian [Hindi])
  • Luminita (loo-men-EETZ-ah, Romanian)--"little light"
  • Menuha (men-oo-khah, Hebrew)--"tranquility"
  • Minerva (min-ER-vah, English)--Roman goddess of wisdom
  • Philomena (fil-oh-MEEN-ah, Greek)--"strong friend". Also spelled Filomena.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Girls Didn't Win!

(yes, this is another post on unisex naming. What can I say?--the topic both intrigues and frustrates me!)

Often, when a boys' name becomes very popular, parents start to think it looks good for little girls as well. In many cases, the name becomes unisex, and then solely feminine (grrrrrr.....).
But, in a few cases, the names remained unisex, or failed to catch on for girls completely! So, I guess this is mostly a post of encouragement for parents considering names like Ryan, Dylan, Cameron, Rory, Austin, Emerson, etc--just because you may hear whispers of girls with that name (or even fully verifiable reports), doesn't mean it's doomed to "go to the girls!"

  • Adrian--originally unisex, has been exclusively male for quite a while
  • Andrew--charted for girls in the 80s
  • Blake--briefly charted for girls in the 90s
  • Brett--briefly charted for girls in the mid-80s
  • Channing--briefly charted for both sexes in the late-80s; reappeared for boys in 2010
  • Christian--originally unisex, has been exclusively male for quite a while
  • Corey/Cory--charted for girls from the 70s to mid-90s
  • Dale--peaked at #237 on the SSA charts for girls in 1952--about as popular as Willow or Nayeli in 2010
  • Darian--actually was more popular for girls in the mid-90s
  • Devin/Devon--remains more popular for boys despite charting for girls since the 70s
  • Freddie--ranked on the SSA charts for girls until the mid-50s
  • George--ranked on the SSA charts for girls until the mid-50s
  • Hollis--briefly charted for girls in the 50s
  • Hunter--peaked at #304 for girls in 1998--about as popular as Iris or Kenley in 2010
  • Jason--charted for girls from the early-70s to mid-80s.
  • Julian--originally unisex, has been exclusively male for quite a while
  • Kevin--charted for girls through the 60s/70s
  • Kyle--charted for girls through both the 50s and 80s
  • Logan--remains more popular for boys despite charting for girls since the late-80s
  • Michael--charted for girls from the late-30s through mid-90s
  • Micah--continues to gain popularity despite charting for girls since the early-80s
  • Nicholas--briefly charted for girls in the mid-80s
  • Ralph--briefly charted for girls in the late-20s
  • Richard--charted for girls from the 20s to mid-70s.
  • Robert--peaked at #314 for girls in 1929--about as popular as Rowan or Sloane in 2010.
  • Ronald--charted for girls periodically from the 30s-50s. 
  • Toby--actually charted for girls first (in 1933) and didn't become more popular for boys until 1942
  • Tyler--peaked at #238 for girls in 1993--about as popular as Kenzie or Tatum in 2010
  • Willie--charted for girls until the 70s