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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Full Disclosure

When my husband and I started discussing baby names (I believe at that time were were only dating), I was clear from the get go - the names were going to be secret. Any name that he seriously wanted to consider for a future child had to be kept secret, from everyone.

I am not entirely sure why. I mean, there are lots of people that will not discuss baby names, but I was particularly militant. It just seemed... right. I wanted it to be a surprise. I did not want our names stolen. I did not want anyone they would honor to know in advance. I did not want anyone elses opinions on whether they were good or bad names. I think I felt that by sharing a name I was somehow spoiling it.

Now my position has changed a little bit. I just love discussing names so much, not mentioning my favorites has become impractical. Plus, after deciding to do everything with my first pregnancy a certain way, all of which are decisions I liked (keeping the name secret, not finding out the sex, etc), I realized that there was no reason to do it the same way the next time. If I get pregnant again, I can have an entirely different experience. So, I lifted the ban on discussing names. 

And now, for the full disclosure name. What exactly names got discussed when we were naming our first child?

Well, his name (Benjamin Robert) was picked out for years before he was born. It was picked out while we were still just dating, in that very first conversation about baby names mentioned above. Therefore, we did not need to discuss boy's names that much when I got pregnant. We still did a little bit, in case one of our cousin's who was due shortly before us used it (we had two). Other boys names that were discussed are Barrett, Bode/Bodhi, and Nolan. Possible alternative middle name of Nathan or Nathanial. Actually their are lots of boys names we both like, its just a matter of finding one we both love and are OK with the popularity and honor value of!

Girls names are what really got the heavy discussion. We do not agree on many. In fact, as far as I can tell, DH just flat out does not like many! We discussed it ad nauseum. Natalie was strongly in the running for awhile, but ultimately felt too popular. For awhile early on it seemed like it would be Keira/Kiera but ultimately we could neither agree on the spelling or pronunciation (I liked Key-air-a, and he liked Kir - a). He vetoed some of my favorites- Virginia (Ginny for short) and Verity. It kept coming back to the same thing. My favorite name was Felicity. He was OK with it, but did not love it. His favorite name was Cosette. I was OK with it, but did not love it. We tried to throw those two out and just start going through the baby name book. Aurelia. Ariella... we had a growing list of names we liked but did not jump out as the one.

In the end, we struck a bargain. We agreed that if the baby was a girl, we would use one of our favorites (Felicity or Cosette), and then if there was ever a second girl, it would be the other. Of course the only question was which name to use first? (After all, the bargain was as much a gamble as anything). Finally, I decided to "give in". Thinking about the two names, I thought in the event that she ended up being an only child, Cosette was somehow fitting. Cosette is from the novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. He pretty much invented it for the novel as a pet/nick name for his main female character. Some people think its a spin off of Nicole, or a different take on Colette, but really no one is sure. The character Cosette is an orphan, single child, who ends up with a life full of love and happiness after a rocky start. So, I agreed that it would be Cosette, but that the middle name needed to reference a strong female role model. We debated it for weeks and eventually landed on Jane for Jane Austen. Jane also happens to be the anagram of a family name, which we liked. So, had he been a she, she would have been Cosette Jane.

But he was a he! And now the bargain is called off. We are back to square one with girls names, and I have no idea what will happen if we ever have a daughter!

I may in the future write a more general entry on the decision of whether to keep names secret or disclose them, but don't you think I will be better able to do that once I have experienced both worlds?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname: Ginny

Ginny is a fun nickname, a slight variation from the ever-present "Jenny" of my generation. (Of course, because Jenny is now a "mom name" it would itself be quite unique on a little girl). Anyways, Ginny is also featured in Harry Potter. There are some pretty unique options if you want to use Ginny for your little girl!

Virginia - I think that Ginny is most often derived from Virginia. Virginia is of Latin origin, it originally referred to a certain tribe, and means virgin or maiden. It is of course strongly associated now with the U.S. State, but maintains status as a name as well in popular media such as the famous letter "Yer Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"

Ginevra - This is the Harry Potter name that they use to derive Ginny.  It is of Italian origins and means fair and smooth. It is actually considered a variation of Jennifer.

Imogen - I have heard a lot of buzz about this name recently. I ran into it when reading the novel Middlesex, and had to look up the pronunciation, which it turns out is actually kind of controversial. The "I" is soft, but other than that there are some variations. I see both i-moe-jen, i-moe-jean, and the softer more flowing im-a-jin, where the middle syllable almost disappears and is just a swivel point for the rest. Anyways, Imogen is Celtic and means maiden. It also is found in Shakespeare.

Genevieve - This master of nicknames was already discussed once when I was looking for a source for Evie. It means white wave and is strongly associated with Saint Genevieve.

Eugenia - The much less used feminine version of Eugene (which in and of itself is not too popular at the moment). Eugenia is Greek and means well-born, or noble. Concerned that it should lead to the nickname Genny rather then Ginny? You can use the variant spelling Eugina (note the slightly different ending as well).

Regina - This name is of Latin origin and means Queen. It was a nickname for Queen Victoria.

I am sure I am missing other options. There are a lot of names that begin with "gin" that I suppose could also get you to the nickname, but I don't feel like featuring these names because they are either so short as to not need a nickname (Gina, Ginger), or I prefer a different spelling (Jeanette, Janelle). 

Do you like the nickname Ginny? What name would you use to get there?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Names Post (by Proxy)

I had been thinking of doing a Christmas Names post, but as I kept procrastinating because I was busy, and sick, and because I felt like it was too narrow minded to do a post just about Christmas when there are many other religions out there. Then, I started to see other baby name blogs doing Christmas name posts, and decided that they had done a good enough job. So, if you are interested in some Christmas names, I would check out:

Appellation Mountain: Unexpected Christmas Names for Girls
Appellation Mountain: Unexpected Christmas Names for Boys
Nameberry Blog: Christmas Baby Names from Natalie to Noel

As my child was due right around Christmas, we actually discussed whether this should impact the name. For example, we liked the name Natalie due to family connections and the sound, and Natalie means Christmas. However, it is at an all time high of popularity and ranked number 14th last year, so we decided not to go with it (not that it mattered as we ended up having a son).

Here are my favorites from the above blog posts:

Douglas - They recommend Douglas due to Douglas pines, to me it brings to mind the Christmas Song "Douglas Mountain". The name is Scottish and means "black river"
Casper - Recommended because it is one of the three wise men. This, and its cousin Jasper, are already on the rise, regardless of its Christmas association. Name meaning is "treasurer"
Rudy - Recommended as a shortened reference to Rudolph. It means "famous wolf" in Old English.

Neva - Recommended because it means Snow. Remember how I said once you see a name once it keeps coming up? Well here is Neva again!
Bell - Its obvious why its recommended, right? Would be a word name if spelled like this.

Would you consider using a Christmas themed name for a child?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is Nerd the New Cool?

One of the most popular sitcoms out there right now is The Big Bang Theory. It features a bunch of socially awkward geniuses in all of your typical Sitcom situations (dating, career, etc).
The names they chose for the characters are obviously meant to be "nerdy", but I have a feeling by being featured on the show, they may actually be priming these names for a comeback. Maybe not immediately, but perhaps in 5, 10, 15 years when some of the younger people who love the show are trying to name their kids and have positive associations with the names thanks to the characters.

Leonard - If Leo is popular, and Leonardo has had its day, why not Leonard? I know its pronounced a bit differently, and has its associations (Lynyrd Skynyrd comes to mind), but Leonard from the show is smart, funny, loveable, and has the most common sense of all of them. The meaning is "lion strength" from old German.

Sheldon - Ah, the nerdiest of then all! Sheldon has the popular "on/en" ending associated with many "last names as first names", it actually is an old-school place name, meaning "steep valley" in old English.

Howard - Howard has never gone completely out of style as there are many celebrity Howards, but its never been super popular either. I love the nickname Howie. Howard means "Noble Watchman" and is of English origin.

Rajesh - Ok, so I actually have no idea if Rajesh sounds nerdy in India, or if they just picked an Indian name for their Indian character. Nickname could be "Raj", this name refers to royalty/ruler.

Leslie - I actually don't find this name "nerdy" at all, and it is surprisingly more popular (currently ranked 245th for girls) than I would have guessed. It is Scottish and means "Holly Garden". In the show it is a girl, though can be used for boys as well.

Bernadette -Derived from Old Germana and French, Bernadette means strong, brave bear. It shares the root word with Bernard. It yields the nickname Bernie, which may be a bit tainted the movie Weekend at Bernies (or perhaps more tainted for me by an old babysitter we did not like). I prefer the alternate nickname Etta or Ettie, or you could even do Birdy!

 So what do you think? Are these current "nerd names" and will the show reinforce that image or give them a new charm?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

20 Names Meaning Peace

As the rest of the country, I was horrified by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut yesterday morning. I tried to write a normal (non-name) blog post last night relating my feelings, but couldn't really put it down. This morning I have decided to write a name post about it instead. To honor the twenty children who lost their lives, here are twenty baby names that mean peace.

Concordia - With root word concord, Latin for the god of peace
Olivia - Latin for olive tree, a symbol of peace.
Amani - African (Kiswahili) name meaning peace
Irene - The Greek god of peace
Theresa - Greek origin, literal meaning "late summer", but namesake of Mother Theresa
Hacana - The word meaning peace in native Bolivian language Aymara, pronounced Ha-saan-ia
Beke - The word meaning peace in Hungarian, pronounced Bay-ca.
Lahna - The word meaning peace in native Algerian language Kabyle
Kimia - The word meaning peace in native Congonese language Lingala.
Friede - The word meaning peace in German.

Solomon - Hebrew name meaning peace
Shalom - Hebrew word meaning peace
Gjorn - Scandinavian god of peace, pronounced gee-yorn
Pax - Latin for peace, could be lengthened to Paxon
Calum - From the Latin Colombia, meaning dove, a symbol of peace
Frederick - Old German, meaning peaceful ruler. Same root word as Frieda
Heddwyn - Celtic name meaning "fair peace".
Erray - The word meaning peace in native Australian language Olkola.
Paco - The word meaning peace in Esperanto.
Ro - The word meaning peace in Micronesian language Tarawan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Harry Potter Alphabet: B is for Bathilda

Bathsheda - I actually have not been able to find this exact name and almost wonder if it is not a mistake and it should be Bathsheba. It is a very minor character. Bathsheba is a Hebrew name meaning "daughter of oath".  It can be shortened to the more common Sheba (Bathsheda Babbling)

Bathilda - I am quite fond of this name. So close to the popular Mathilda, Bathilda means woman warrior. It is old German in origin. It could use nicknames such as Tilly or Hilda - I would aoive Battie! (Bathilda Bagshot)

Bellatrix - This is a Latin word (not name) meaning "female warrior", transformed to name status by use in multiple pieces of fiction. It is also the name of a constellation. Since baby names are subjective, it could also be viewed as a mixture of the popular names Beatrix and Bella, producing a meaning such as "beautiful voyageur". I know this is not a friendly character in the book, but it it a beautiful name and yields nicknames Bella, Bell, and Trixie  (Bellatrix Lestrange)

Bartemius - A biblical name meaning "son of temius", nicknames Barty, Bart, Temi (Bartemius Crouch)

Blaise - Blaise is increasingly popular for girls though it is traditionally a boys name. It means "stutter". The alternate spelling Blaze is a "word as a name".  (Blaise Zabini)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Literary Inspiration: To Say Nothing of the Dog

My next book for Literary Inspirations is To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. I know its not very famous, not very many people have read it, but it is highly entertaining. It is a comedic time-travel mystery. The main characters are traveling from 2057 to 1888. It is full of a mix of quirky and Victorian era names, and it is the place I first saw what remains to this day one of my favorite girls names.

Ned Henry - Ned is a classic nickname for Edward, meaning 'wealthy gueard'. With Theodore/Ted/Teddy on the rise, I would not be surprised if Ned follows suit. Henry has a classic feel and is already on its way to the top.

Verity Kindle - A classic virtue name, meaning of course truth. My husband dislikes it because of something called a "Verity Index", but I think its brilliant and love the meaning. My husband hates it due to something in computer world (People Soft specifically I believe?) called a "verity index". I do  not think the vast majority of the population would make this link. I would also suggest Kindle as a nice name if it had not been corrupted by the branding of the popular E-Reader.

James Peddick - Another classic English name, James means 'he who supplants". Not exactly a nice name, but the historical weight outweighs the old Hebrew meaning I believe. James is of course one of the twelve disciples in the bible, a royal name of England, and used often in popular culture (think James Bond). I actually recently discovered the Scottish version of James in the movie Brave and then again somewhere else (ever notice how once you hear a name you start hearing it multiple places). Anyways, the Scottish version is Hamish.

Finch - In the book, Finch is a assistant in 2057,  turned butler in 1888. Finch comes off as a classic Butler name. It could be seen either as "last name as first name" or as a nature name, as in the songbird.

Tocelyn Merring - I am having no luck identifying the origins of this quirky first name, Jocelyn with a T. The character goes by the nickname "Tossie," which has some minimal usage in the United State, but it is quite possible that Connie Willis made this name up and that it is even meant to be comedic (Tossie does evoke notions of tossing something out). Jocelyn is a Germanic tribal identification name. Mering could be a nice "last name as first name" type for a little boy.

Terence St. Trewes - Terence is derived from the Latin name Terentius, who was a poet of ancient Rome. It turns out that there is actually no Saint named Trewes, in fact the word appears to refer to a part of Medieval underwear, so I would suggest avoiding it. Did I mention is a comedic novel?

William Patrick Callahan (Baine) - Enough names for you? All three names are great. William and Patrick are both classic, while Callahan offers a nice "last name as first name" option with nickname Cal. The character's nickname Baine means "pale bridge", though I can't help but think of the word bane, meaning "cause of distress or annoyance".

T.J. Lewis - I am a big fan of initial nicknames, so of course I love T.J. I would prefer it stayed as an initial based nickname (how about a Theodore Joseph? Tristan Jude? Thames Jarret? Terence Jerome?), but if a person really loved it they could spell it out Teejay. Lewis is a nice alternate spelling to the classic Louis, that gives it s different feel. Lewis means "famous battle" and is an old German surname.

Elizabeth Bittner - Elizabeth is of course a classic name with biblical and royal reference. It means "God's promise".

Princess Arjumand - Ok, so in the book this is a cat. But the cat is an important character (to say nothing of the dog... hahahahaha!!) Arjumand is a famous historical Indian name, the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was made (as a tomb).

Cyril - The dog. A greek name meaning lordly or masterful.

Place Names
Thames - Pronounced Tames, the Thames is the biggest river in the U.K. To use this name in the UK would probably be like naming a child Mississippi here, but I think for an American it has a nice sound, similar to James but with a twist.

Coventry - Coventry is a district in England. To an American ear, it evokes a cozy country feeling. It has a nice flow, with the popular feminine Y ending.

Oxford - Again, if you used this in the UK, it would be liked naming a kid Harvard. A bit pretentious? But in America, it has a nice ring. 

Other references
Connie Willis - Of course you could take the author's name as inspiration! In this case, Connie is short for Constance (another virtue name!) meaning consistency, loyalty. Willis could easily be made a first name, an Old English derivative of William.

Jerome K Jerome - the title of the book is inspired by a novella of similar humor called Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog) - I love the name Jerome, meaning "sacred name"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Thing about Common Names I Never Knew I Loved

My son has a pretty common name. Benjamin. It was 19th overall in 2011, and 5th in the state we are living in. If you asked my family, they never would have guessed I would use such a common name. They know I love baby names, and have always had some unique ideas for them. But Benjamin was the perfect storm of circumstances. I started liking the name when I was in third or fourth grade when I read it in The Boxcar Children. My husband had also always liked the name. Then, our two best friends in college, who we lived with, ate with, studied with, and played with for four years, ended up both being named Benjamin. It was a no-brainer when we were trying to find a boys name that it should be Benjamin.

Even knowing it was the perfect name for us, I still had my reservations about the source, meaning, and popularity of the name (It is not just from the Bible, but unlike most "biblical" names, did not exist until it appeared in the bible, it means "son of my right hand" or "son of the south"). But little did I know, the name had  a surprise for me. It started shortly after my son was born. I had a lot of downtime, mostly while breastfeeding, and I started re-watching old M*A*S*H Episodes, and got a little thrill when I remembered/realized that one of the main characters was Benjamin Franklin Pierce. I know its nerdy, but I just really liked that one of my favorite fictional characters shares my sons name. The little bits of excitement kept coming as I realized that my son shares his name with all sorts of cool and interesting people, and it ties him to all sorts of interesting books and historical tidbits. I never imagined I would get joy out of who my son shares a name with, I expected almost the opposite!

I intend to post more broad posts about the good and the bad of unique and common names, but I just wanted to throw this out there first. Here are some of the great Benjamin references that have made me smile over the last year:

Benjamin Franklin Pierce- AKA Hawkeye
Benjamin Franklin
Much to my Husband's Chagrin, there IS a Benjamin in the Twilight Series, though a very minor character!

Benjamin Martin - Main Character in The Patriot
Benjamin Harrison - 23rd President
Benjamin Disraeli - an old British Prime Minister, Google him, he has some cool quotes!

Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname: Evie

This post is actually my first request! (Or, at least, user-produced idea?). How do you get the nickname Evie? Its most commonly just a pet name actually the same length or longer than the original Eve or Eva, but it can be derived from several longer names. Just be warned, like may "E" names, all of these and the nickname are likely to be on the rise! 

Evelyn - This name has so many possible origins and history, there are several possible meanings. There are many possible variations- Evaline, Evalina, etc

Everil - A take off on Averil, meaning ferocious warrior. An edgier option in both meaning and sound.
Evangeline - Meaning is "good news", same roots as found in Evangelical.

Evette - a french take on Yvonne.  Meaning is "Yew", a type of wood.

Evania - Greek name meaning peaceful. Possible variation is Evana.

Genevieve - Meaning "white wave", Genevieve is highly associated with Saint Genevieve, patroness of Paris, famous for her virginity and defense of virginity.

Geneva - Place name, famous city in Switzerland, famous for the Geneva Convention, which is a landmark treaty on human rights. The place name is of Celtic origin and means "Juniper". The name can also be considered a variation on Genevieve.

I would say the above all fairly obviously produce the nickname Evie, but I feel like if you want to stretch is a little farther you can find even more options.

Neve/Neva - pronounced with a soft e, like Evelyn, ths is a Latin name meaning Snow. It is such a short, soft pretty name I doubt it would need a nickname, but if you wanted to have both the soft Neva and the edgie Evie, you could go this direction

Joseva - an alternate transcription from Hebrew of the more common Josephine, meaning "God (Yahweh) will add", again with a soft "e", JOE-zev-ah.

Beverly - an Old English place name referring to a meadow or stream.

Everly - a modern take on Beverly

So what do you think? Do you like the nickname  Evie? What name would you choose if you wanted to use it? My favorite discovery from researching for this post was Neva, which hardly needs a nickname, but its all about the process, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Harry Potter Alphabet: A is for Alastor

Harry Potter is a great place to find unique "everything old is new again" baby names, even if you  have no love of the book. It is a treasure trove of unique names for two reasons. First, just because it is British, and of course different names are popular and common. Second, because J.K. Rowling used very old names for many of her wizards. So I am setting out to create a Harry Potter alphabet, starting with A. (This list is by no means all inclusive. I did not feel the need to use HP to explore names like Alice or the like).

Alastor - Meaning "man's defender", Scottish and Greek origins. Possible nicknames Al, Allie, Lassy, Torry. (Character Alastor Mad Eye Moody)

Albus - Meaning "white". Possible nickname Albie (very close to Alvie which seems to be gaining popularity). (Character Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore)

Amycus - A minor character in Greek Mythology, son of Poseidon, known for a boxing match. Possible nickname Micky (Character Amycus Carrow)

Amos - Biblical name, meaning "to carry". Possible nickname Moss, but nice and short so maybe no nickname? (Character Amos Diggory)

Antonin - Russian version of Anthony, Roman in origin, last name as a first name. Nicknames Tony, Andy (Character Antonin Dolohov)

Marc Antony, Roman General
Aberforth -  It is hard to find information on this name outside of Harry Potter! Is it possible Rowling created this name? The only information I found anywhere suggested it derived from old Irish "aber" meaning "at the mouth (of a river", and Forth being a river. Possible nickname Abe. (Character Aberforth Dumbledore)

Argus - Greek name meaning vigilant guardian. Nickname Argy or Gus. Also the name of a creature with 100 eyes that alter was turned into the peacock.  (Character Argus Filch)

Augustus - Latin/ Roman name meaning magnificent, great. Growing in popularity currently (as are shortened versions such as August). Possible nickname Augy, Gus  (Character Augustus Rookwood)

Arthur - Celtic in origin, many possible meanings/origins such as Bear, Stone. Nickname Arth. (Character Arthur Weasley)

Alecto - Minor character from Greek Mythology, one of the furies, the name means unceasing anger. Might want to avoid it just for that. Possible nicknames Alec, Allie, Al (Character Alecto Carrow)

Arabella - Latin meaning Prayerful. Possible nicknames Ari, Belle, Bella, Abi (Character Arabella Finch)

Arianna - Welsh meaning Silver. Possible nicknames Ari, Ana, Ria (Character Ariana Dumbledore)

Augusta -  Female version of Augustus (Character Augusta Longbottom)

Andromeda - Minor character in Greek mythology, saved by Persues who became her husband. Popular figure in art . The name means "ruler of men". The name has been somewhat "corrupted" by the pop culture reference to a Sci-Fi TV series. Possible nicknames Andy, Medi (Character Andromeda Tonks)

Andromeda being rescued from the Sea Monster

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Names

Have a baby due on Thanksgiving? Why not consider some of these names:

Names that Mean Thank You 
Asante - Pronounced Ah-sahn-tay, this Swahili name meaning "thank you".  It is familiar to me because of NFL player Asante Samuel. The name can be made feminine by changing the last letter to "i" - Asanti, pronounced Ah-sahn-tee.
Hoda - Arabic
Shakira -  Arabic, meaning Thankfullness. Its a pretty name but is liable to bring to mind THE Shakira, I am not sure it will be fit for common usage for quite sometime.
Jendayi - African (particularly Zimbabwe region?), meaning "to give thanks"
Judah - I almost did not include this, the meaning is actually more "praise", but some out there seem to think to praise and to thank are similar, so I will leave it on the list.

Thanksgiving Theme
Cornelius - actually shares the "corn" root with Cornucopia, meaning "horn". Could go my nickname Niel. The feminine version, Cornelia, is also nice, and produces the nickname Nelia, Neela, Ne
May - for Mayflower. Possible variations would be Mae, Mabel, Maybell. Generally these names are thought to mean "lovable". If you really wanted to go with a May"flower" theme you could even pair one of these first names with a flower middle name. Mabel Rose, or maybe little Lillian Mae.

Notable Pilgrims
William Brewster (led the Pilgrims in prayer of Thanksgiving upon reaching land)
John Carver (first elected governor of the pilgrims).
Myles Standish - a soldier that came with the Pilgrims and helped lead the initial exploratorations
William Bradford - the second elected governor, presided over the original 'Thanksgiving'
Edward Winslow - His journal offers one of two accounts of the first Thanksgiving celebration

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname: Fitz

My husband bungles words a lot, usually on purpose. When you tell him a new name, phrase or title, he does not remember exactly what you told him, and when he needs to refer to it, he makes up whatever vaguely similar hilarity strikes his fancy to stand in its place. For example, when the popular TV show Bones featured a serial killer named Gormogon, he took to calling the character Gorgonzola (a tasty type of blue cheese). Another example, last night we took my son to the local holiday parade called "City of the North Parade". When we were making plans, my husband asked 'When does the Chicken of the Sea begin?". Usually this habit ranges from entertaining to vaguely annoying, but recently it actually brought a new naming tidbit to my attention, and got me researching.

We were walking the dog (and the baby in his stroller), and I was listing possible baby names. I mentioned the name Fitzwilliam, like from Pride and Prejudice (the name of the main love interest is Fitzwilliam Darcy, more commonly known in popular culture just as Mr. Darcy). Ten minutes later, my husband complained that I am always coming up with girls names, "except Fitzwallace or whatever." And yes, that is what got me thinking, what exactly does Fitz mean? I associate it with Fitz's Rootbeer in St Louis, Missouri (seriously, if you are ever driving through, go to their restaurant and get some, or even the grocery store). I think of it as a quirky nickname, but if you asked me for what name I could not have told you (until recently I probably would not even had made the Pride and Prejudice reference.

When I did start really thinking about it, I realized Fitz is a common prefix, occurring more in surnames than first names. So when I started to research I was not surprised to find out that it actually means "son of" in old French (very old, tied to the Norman's). I think now, these Fitz names fit in perfectly with the "last name as first name" triend, and that Fitz fits with a lot of other rising names/nicknames, such as Max, Jax, Hank, Mac, Nico, Ash etc. The names also have the "double barrel" first name feel that is gaining popularity.

Now for the actual name ideas, not much to discuss in terms of meanings though!

Fitzwilliam - As I mentioned, inspired by Pride and Prejudice

Fitzwallace - Last name of a character in West Wing (which is why it was in my husbands head). I feel like this name does double duty as it yields two nicknames I like, both Fitz and Wally

Fitzpatrick - Put a little Irish Twist on it!

Fitzgerald - This would be the most recognizable version I think - F. Scott Fitzgerald being the most obvious reference, but  there is also the Edmund Fitzgerald (famous shipwreck), or Ella Fitzgerald the singer.

Fitzroy - Unlike the previous names that have meanings like "son of Gerald", Fitzroy actually means son of royalty, or son of the king.

I could list many more. Fitz can be added to a prefix to almost any English name. A few others that stick out to me as phonetically pleasant are Fitzalan and Fitzharris.

Also, if you like Fitz, you might also consider the close phonetic match of Fritz, a traditional shortening of Frederick/Friedrich.

Would you consider the name of nickname Fitz, and if so, what would you want to put on the birth certificate?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Literary Inspirations: Pride and Prejudice

Now that you know how I feel about Name Inspirations, I can move onto another new series - Literary Inspirations. In these posts I will expound upon one book or author to get some name inspiration. My first book is one close to  my heart (of course! Blogging is a selfish enterprise!). Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and Pride and Prejudice is clearly her most popular and most relevant novel. (If this were a book blog, perhaps I would expound on why I say its the most relevant and not necessarily the best, but it is not a book blog, so lets move onto names).

When it comes to Jane Austen, we are mostly talking about old, traditional English names which can have a lot of charm.  For girls, we first have the five sisters of the Bennett Family - Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine (Kitty), and Lydia. Then, their friends and correspondences: Charlotte, Caroline, Georgiana, and Anne. Of these names, the ones that stick out to me personally the most are Jane and Georgiana.

In fact, Georgiana has recently become one of my favorite girls names! Its soft and rolls so nicely off the tongue. It is very traditional and fits in with current trends, but its not being used and has not been in the top 1000 names since 1952.  A little Georgiana could go by Georgie, Giana, Ana or even Gigi (a nickname that I pretty much hated until I found this name as a source for it).

But you can be more creatively inspired by Pride and Prejudice than just grabbing the female characters names! In fact, besides Georgiana, my favorite P&P inspired girls names are Darcy, after the main male character Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Pemberly, the name of Mr. Darcy's mansion. Pemberly is lovely because it is reminiscent of Kimberly, but very unique. Darcy is cute and quirky, and the reference to P&P would be very subtle, if you even chose to make the reference at all.

There is also much inspiration for boys in P&P. The main male characters include Fitzwilliam, Charles, George,  and William. Once again however, I find some of the most fun names to consider are not the male characters at all (though I do like Fitzwilliam, more on that later). I love the last names! Bennett, Lucas, Forster, Collin, and Bingley. As well as place names, such as Derby (for Derbyshire), Hertford (Hertfordshire), Brighton, Rosing, and Kympton. Or, you could always just use Austen, for Jane Austen.

My favorite name fantasy for Pride and Prejudice (yes. I am a nameaholic. I have name fantasies) is boy/girl twins named Bennett and Darcy. I love this because (1) The names are the same style in my opinion and both sound modern (2) The reference to P&P is subtle enough that only those who really like the novel, and therefore would probably appreciate the reference, will catch it. (3) I like the Irony that the girl (Darcy) is named for male character Mr Darcy and the boy Bennett is named for the female character Elizabeth Bennett... Unfortunately, There are as many reasons for why this won't happen! (1) I would have to have boy/girl twins (what are the odds?) (2) My husband and (3) My son's name is Benjamin, don't think I can have a Bennett!

So what do you think, do you like ANY of the names from Pride and Prejudice? And if you do, would you use them because they are from the classic, or just because you like them?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Name Inspirations and Intentions

Take a second look - this is not the same post that was up a day or two ago. Its a new post about something very closely related to namesakes and intentions. There is a whole realm of ways to choose names that are not really "namesakes" but still are tied to something. I would call these name inspirations. The difference between a namesake and a name inspiration is that when you use something as a naming inspiration it does not necessarily mean you are trying to honor or remember that something.

 I often use books or movies or celebrities to brainstorm names.  I will start going through one of my favorite books and pull all the names out to see if there is anything worth thinking about. Just because I first see a name in a work of fiction, however, such as Dori, does not mean if I used it that I would be naming my baby after that character. That is just where I happened upon the name. Here is where the intention part comes in. If I read Hunger Games, and am absolutely obsessed with it and love its message, and want to name by baby Katniss because the book has so much meaning for me, that is something entirely different from if I see Katniss in the book and think "wow, that is a really cool name, I think it might be my favorite" and end up using it, regardless of the book. I would consider neither of these namesakes, and both of these various levels of name inspirations.

Allow me to give you an example. Last weekend I met a little girl named Kairi (almost rhymes with Riley). Unless you are an avid video gamer you probably have never heard it before. The mother and father got it out of a video games called Kingdom of Hearts. Some sites list it as Japanese, but it appears it actually has no use there, despite the Japanese root word "Kai" meaning ocean. The video game pegs its meaning as "ocean princess". It is a pretty name, quirky, unique. I doubt the parents consider Kairi to be a namesake for her fictional counterpart.They don't want to honor the character. More likely, they were inspired by the video game, like the name, and like that they found it from somewhere they love. 

You probably noticed this leaves a LOT of grey area, and is not a clear classification, but that is how naming is in general. Even lists of "rules" are not really rules. Its pretty much all gray area and opinion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Namesakes and Intentions

Naming baby after aunts, brothers, grandparents, is a pretty common occurrence. Occurring just as frequently is the namesake dilemma - you absolutely love your great Aunt Dolores Maud, but the name sounds old and you can't get over the Seinfeld Reference. Still, you really want to honor her, what options do you have? Opinion on this varies widely, and I am going to diverge from some of my fellow baby name bloggers on this one. To me, namesakes are all about intention. Names, after all, are part of the narrative of our lives, they carry the meanings we give them. Therefore, if the narrative of your daughters name is "Oh! Her name is Lori after her Great Aunt Dolores!" or even "We named her Molly! We combined her Great Aunt's first and middle name to get it - Dolores Maud." Or perhaps "We named her Desiree Monique, we wanted her to have the same initials as her Aunty Dolores Maud." To me, all of these are namesakes, they honor the person they are intended to honor because they tie the narrative of the child to that relative. The child will grow up knowing her Great Aunt was special to her parents, incorporating her Great Aunt's name into her life, and that is what namesakes are all about.

What do you think? Is it the name itself or the namer's intention that makes for a namesake?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname: Dori

This is actually the nickname that inspired this series. I think the nickname Dori is adorable. It reminds me of the loveable Ellen DeGeneres character in Finding Nemo. It also reminds me of Dora the Explorer. In fact, pretty much any name that you can get the nickname Dori from also yields Dora. If I was spelling Dori for the birth certificate I might go with the slightly more substantial Dorrie, plus I am loving "ie" these days.

I am not sure if there is ONE name that is "traditionally" linked to Dori.  A quick Google search indicates it is for Doris or Dorothy. (One site even said that it is short for Dora, which just makes NO sense at all). Here is what I came up with.

- Your not in Kansas anymore! This name has some serious old school charm. I actually slightly prefer the variation Dorothea, which is the name of a great character in the book Middlemarch. It means "gift from god"- that is the same "thea" that you would find in words like theocracy or theology.

Theodora - Theodora hasn't been in the top 1000 names since 1954, but the masculine version, Theodore, has always been in the top 1000, though not above 100 since 1944. Theodore has shown some growth in popularity recently, I think largely because it yields the nickname Ted or Teddy. Anyways, Theodora is an anagram for Dorothea, and in fact is the exact same roots. (I have seen the recommendation that Theodore and Dorothea would make good twin names for this reason). While Dorothea is "gift from god", Theodora is simply "god's gift".

Isodora - A recent discovery for me! While this name has never cracked the top 1000, it still seems familiar, and a possible variation on the recent hit name Isabella. The name means "gift of Isis", an Egyptian god.

Nymphadora - Yes. Yes I did get this name out of Harry Potter. In fact, it is possible, that it is also this name that made me wonder "hey, how else could you get the nickname Dori? Because I like Dori but don't want Nymph in my daughters name...".  The character named Nymphadora hates the name. I do think it is beautiful, and maybe playful to the right ear. It means "gift of the nymphs". Sensing a theme here? Per Wikipedia, a Nymph is a minor greek nature deity.

Pandora - I love the sound of this name, and the meaning - "all gifts".  However, it has some strong associations that go along with it - the most obvious of which is the Eve-like story in which Pandora, as the first woman, releases evil on the world through her curiosity by opening a box. Due to this bit of mythology, the name gets used a lot in Science Fiction and Fantasy (for example, it is the name of planet in the uber-popular Avatar movie). But, after all, the name Eve still gets used despite the namesake, so I think the name is worth considering.

Dorianne - I am having some difficulty finding the roots or meaning of this name. In fact, a lot of sights do not recognize it at all. I think it probably would be considered a feminized version of the male 'Dorian' (a boys name I quite like). Dorian refers to a Greek region, literally meaning "descended from Doris". However, the name could also be concieved as a joining of Dori and Anne, in which case the meaning would be Gift of Grace... quite beautiful. And it has that "double barrel first name" feel some people really love. (The more common Dorris is also a female version of Dorian, and does indeed mean Descended from Doris).

Doreen - Another name whose roots are a bit hard to trace. Some sites say this just means Gift of God again, or is just a variation of Dora, but it also may be Irish/Gaelic origins, in which case it would actually mean "brooding". Possible spellings abound - Dorine, Doryne, etc.

I can't hit them all! A handful of other, a bit more exotic options:
Amadora (Italian, gift of love),
Salvadora (Spanish, Savior),
Pheodora/Fedora (A hat... but also, the Russian version of Theodora),
Madora (Greek, version of Medea, means "ruling"), 
Eudora (Good Gift, Greek)

So, do you like the name Dorrie/Dori? Do you like any of the longer versions? I think Isadora is my favorite.

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Get Your Nickname!

One of the modern debates or points of contention in baby naming these days is whether nicknames should be given as the full name. If you plan to call a little girl Lizzie, do you need to name her Elizabeth, or can you just write Lizzie on the birth certificate? If you want to call your boy Hank, do you need to name him Henry? Obviously, we are here in America where the government does not regulate baby names, so parents are free to do what they want. That does not stop people from judging one another for taking one path for another! What are the two sides to the argument, and where do I stand?

Keep it Simple! - The main argument for using what are traditionally "nicknames" as full names is that it keeps things straight forward. Little Lizzie does not have to tell the teacher at the start of every year "Oh, I go by Lizzie" when they do roll call. Hank's friends won't be confused when he walks across the graduation stage. His diploma will read Hank.  There is no chance (or at least drastically reduced chance) of unwanted nicknames. ("We are naming her Patricia, nickname Tricia, I HATE the name Patty.") The shorter name will simplify paperwork and unify his identity into one piece of clear purpose.

Allow for Growth! - The main argument for using a full length or traditional name on the birth certificate, even when you intend to shorten it immediately for day to day use, really takes two varieties. For some, it is straight up tradition. Little Lizzie might spend as much time explaining she IS NOT Elizabeth, as Elizabeth nicknamed Lizzie spends giving people the nickname. For others, it is about allowing for Growth and multipurpose usage. A name gets a lot of wear and tear in a lifetime, and the traditional longer form gives a child more options as they grow. Lizzie as a child can become the sharper "Beth" in high school, be known as Elizabeth in the professional setting, and become grandma Betty in old age. The longer name is meant to give the opportunity for formality and flexibility of identity.

Where do I stand? I see the strength of both arguments. I am a Nameaholic. In order to be a nameaholic, you have to love ALL SORTS of names (a point I am sure to return to). Otherwise, you would run out of things to think and talk about rather quickly! And, when it comes to names, I am pretty non-judgmental (another point likely to make frequent reappearance.) That said, of course I have a personal opinion! For the vast majority of names, I would choose the longer form for my own child. I don't particularly think that a child is likely to change their nickname several times throughout life, but I like the flow of longer full names, and the opportunity for formality. But, that  is my own choice! It does not mean I think that there is anything at all wrong with choosing to give a child a shortened version of a name! Sometimes the longer name just DOES NOT work, even if you love the shorter name.

With that in mind, I am starting a series. How to get Your Nickname! Its targeted at people who love a nickname, but do want to use a more formal given name. It might hit up a bit on spelling options for the shorter version, for those of you who like to use the shorter version as the given name. Each post in this series will focus on one nickname, and discuss what longer names you could give your child to justify the nickname. I will start in a couple of days and just mix them in with other things I want to post. Hope you guys like the idea!! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Social Subconscious

The way baby naming trends work fascinates me. Out of the four times my parents chose names, twice they chose names they had rarely heard or thought were not too popular, only to find out in the months and years to come that they had tapped into the peak of some major naming trends. You here the story over and over.

 "When we picked the name Ava we thought it was so unique! A throwback, so simple, so beautiful, and not being used. Once she was born though it seemed like we were meeting Ava's everywhere, and now there are three in her preschool!! So much for a unique name..."

"I have ALWAYS wanted a son named Jack! Its just such a cute name! But now its SO popular, and its not fair because its my name, the secret name I have kept for my son for years!!..." 

"My cousin stole my baby name! I have always wanted to name a baby Olivia, but my cousin and I were pregnant at the same time and now she is saying her daugher will be Olivia! She says she has had it picked out since she got married! Out of all the names in the world, how did we pick the same one?"

 Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Why does this happen? How do so many people come to the conclusion that a name is perfect all at the same time? Often these trends are attributed to pieces of popular culture. For example, people say Jacob and Isabella are popular because of the popular TV and Movie series I disagree with this assessment. I would argue that Isabella and Jacob being in Twilight is part of the trend, not the start of it. Stephanie Myers has stated that she chose the name Isabelle because it was the name she wanted for her own daughter, which she never got to use. Jacob was similarly chosen.  Isabella was well on its way to the top prior to the publication of Twilight.

Yes. I am so nerdy that I made a graph. As you can see, Isabella was already trending. Twilight might have given it that last little push to jump from top ten to #1, or perhaps the whole series gave the name more staying power than it would have otherwise had, but the series did not bring about the trend. (I would have loved to make this chart an aggregate of all spelling variations, but the data-gathering task for it would have been quite difficult given just how many spellings there are!).

So, if its not caused by popular culture, what brings it about? Why did Stephanie Myer want to name her daughter Isabella (as did many other women at the same time?) It seems clear that people of the same generation gravitate towards the same types of names, without ever discussing it or focusing on it, like a mass social subconscious. I do not have a better more specific explanation for it, but I think it makes for an excellent study on how the culture and time we grow up in shapes us in ways we do not even realize.

The question then becomes, what is next? What names are mothers choosing today thinking "oh this is so cute and under used?" only to find out tomorrow that the name is actually uber popular? My big predictions are both boys names - Henry and Charles. I think both of these names will see a signifiant increase in their rank this year. Henry is at 57th and Charles is at 62. I am quite confident they will leap, but how big will the leap be? I also get the sense that El and Em names will continue to grow in popularity - Emmit, Emerson, Eli, Elijah, Elliot, Ell, Eleanor, Elsie. But we shall have to wait and see, shan't we?

I have a feeling this is a topic I will be revisiting, because I can think of about 100 permutations or spinoffs of it that I would like to cram in here, but rather than do that, I will save it for another day and just leave you with the question - What names do you think will jump this year?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Names

With the presidential election taking place today I thought I would brainstorm some presidential names. With forty-four names to begin with, we hopefully can find a bit of inspiration.

First there are the "traditional" names. There are presidents with these names, but the names are so well used through the years that the strength of the presidential association is miniscule or indirect. People would never guess a George was named for George Washington, or a John for JFK, or Andrew for Andrew Johnson unless the parent chose to emphasize this when discussing the name. Slightly more unique, but still traditional names "inspired" by presidents that pop out at me:


There is also a number of names that would fit well with the "last names as first names." Some of these scream "presidential" while others are more subtle. And they range in popularity from rare to top 100. Kennedy and Reagan are quite popular for example, both suggesting a strong reference to the president. Kennedy was ranked 90th amongst girls names in 2011, while Reagan came in at 122nd!


Everything I have listed so far is pretty "safe".  If you want to push the limits a little more, why not something like:

Here is the real question - do you have to believe in a president's view in order to use them as a baby namesake? For me personally, yes. I really like the name Reagan, but I would not want my daughter permanently linked to the Reagan legacy. I think if the namesake was further back in history I might care about specifics a little less. What do you think? Would you consider a presidential name? Do politics matter for these names?

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Hi, my (internet) name is Manday, and I am a nameaholic. That's right. I am addicted to baby names. I have been obsessed with names for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of discussing them as kids. I discussed them with my husband well before we were married. We had our son's name picked out for years before we were married. Then, married and in graduate school, but still not ready to try for a kid, I spent my "down" time in class compiling lists of potential names, from the common to the outlandish. Finally, when I was finishing up graduate school, it was time to start trying for our own baby to name. We struggled for two and a half long years. In those years we occasionally discussed names, but it was a painful topic that got less and less attention as the months went by. I finally got pregnant in 2011, and suddenly it was very real. Baby name conversations not just about theoretical children, but about a very real child that was on their way into the world.

Now, I have 10 month old son, and we are trying for number two, and I find myself totally obsessed. We originally wanted four children. Now, we are more in the "lets see what happens" camp - not because we don't want four anymore, but because with how hard it was getting one, we don't know what will happen. We could spend the rest of our childbearing years trying for another and not end up with a second baby, or we could end up with more than intended due to natural conceptions combined with fertility treatment. Who knows? And while how many children we end up with matters a great deal for our lives, I don't think it matters one bit in terms of this name obsession. I could birth and name ten children, and I would still have an eleventh idea of what we should name the next. Lately I have been reading a lot of Baby Naming Blogs, just for kicks. And the more I read, the more I think - Hey, I could do this, and it would be fun!

So I am giving it a go. I have loads of ideas for posts, we will see what actually pans out! Who knows if I will have any readers, but even if I don't, at least I will have a whole blog worth of brainstorming!