Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Happy Halloween! On this spookiest of days I decided to highlight the surname of the most famous family to rule over Transylvania, the noble Bathory family. The most famous member of this family was Elizabeth Bathory who was better known as ‘The Blood Countess’. As the historical figure that Count Dracula was based on, she seems like the perfect person to look at on a name-blog based around historical figures.

Bathory (pronounced: BATH-ohr-ee) is the surname of a group of Hungarian Nobles and is from the word “bator” meaning ‘valiant’. For such a noble meaning, the family in history has not exactly lived up to this meaning. They reached the height of their power in the 16th and 17th century and while there were some good members, like King Stephan Bathory of Polland, the more brutal and sadistic are the ones that have been remembered today. Even an uncle of the most famous, Elizabeth, was a Devil worshiper.

Whilst Elizabeth was considered a beauty with raven hair and pale skin, she did have, let’s say, her problems. She was promiscuous, vain, narcissistic and highly sadistic and she was considered a vampire in her own time due to her enjoyment of torturing servants, especially young women. Elizabeth became so fearful of losing her youth and beauty as she got older that according to folklore when a servant girl accidently pulled her hair when styling it, Elizabeth struck the girl drawing blood and when she washed the blood off her hands she thought that her skin had become youthful and supple again.

Long story short, Elizabeth went on to kill hundreds of girls from the lower ranks and got away with it before starting to kill high ranking girls and that would be her undoing. She enjoyed torturing them and it is famously suggested that she bathed in virgin’s blood. Creepy and fit for Halloween? I think so. When she started killing high ranking girls she got caught but was never charged and instead was confined to house arrest in 1611 and died in 1614.

Bathory has never been a popular name and I doubt that it has ever been used as a given name. It does have Rory as a possible nickname, however, and could fit in with other popular three-syllable-names such as Melody and Emily as well as other surname-three-syllable names like Kennedy, Bellamy and Flannery. However, if you know your history, this name might not sit well with you. I think that Elizabeth Bathory is a fascinating person to look at but as someone I would want my daughter to look up to and aspire to be, well, not so much. It might be for someone however and would make for an interesting three syllable choice. 

Friday, October 26, 2012


According to the popular nursery rhyme, Monday’s Child it would seem that Friday’s child is ‘loving and giving’ but the name Friday itself is not being used by the modern parent even when other names such as Wednesday, the child full of woe and Sunday are now being used by parents.

Frigg, Norse Goddess of Love that Friday
is named after
Since 2000, in every single year less than five babies were given the name Friday to possibly none at all. I like to think that someone out there has used the name but you can never be completely certain. It’s surprising that not more people are using this name as many people do look forward to Friday, being the end of the typical school/work week and for those macabre folk and Addam’s Family fans such as myself, you will know that Wednesday Addam’s middle name is indeed Friday.

Friday (pronounced: FRY-day) comes from Old English origin meaning ‘the day of Frigg’, which in turn is to honour the Norse Love Goddess, Frigg. In turn, Wednesday Addams is not the only character to bear the name, there is also a Friday (male) in ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and in the ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ series, there is a female Friday who appears in the final book and is the daughter of a man named ‘Thursday’.

However, in many cultures, Friday is seen as un unlucky day of the week. For sailors, they believe it is unlucky to start a voyage on a Friday. Also, Friday the 13th is seen as an unlucky day in modern times and whenever one of these Friday’s occur, it may be called “Black Friday.” However, Scottish Gaelic culture believes that it is a ‘lucky day for sowing the seed’. Friday is also connected with the planet Venus and the Astrological signs Libra and Taurus. Friday is also important in Christian Religion as ‘Good Friday’ was when Jesus Christ was crucified and for anyone who goes to work in an office setting, Friday is the best day at work as it is Casual Friday!

Overall, Friday is just as plausible for a name as Wednesday, Tuesday and Sunday are but I think the connotation with Friday the 13th and the doom and gloom brought about by it are turning parents away. It seems like it is fine to be macabre, just not unlucky.

* Note: I have skipped over Wednesday and Thursday but it was not on purpose, life just got in the way, so they will be done next week. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Scanning through some names given to babies in 2011, one name caught my attention and that was Berlin. With other cities of the world being used on children including London, Paris and Sydney, the German capital of Berlin seems like a natural choice as a successor to these names.

Marlene Dietrich in 'The Blue Angel',
the epitome of Weimar Germany Style
Berlin (pronounced: BEHR-lyn) is of German origin and means ‘borderline’. I don’t think that place names generally are chosen for their meaning but for what the culturally represent to the parents of the child. In the 1920s, Berlin became an epicenter of culture and was the heart of the Roaring Twenties thanks to the Weimar Republic that was established at the end of WWI. Films such as ‘Metropolis’, ‘Blue Angel’ starring Marlene Dietrich and ‘Pandora’s Box’ starring Louise Brooks where made in Germany at this time and the movie and musical ‘Cabaret’ starring Liza Minnelli is a good look at what Weimar Germany was all about.

Berlin is of course also known for the Berlin Wall that divided Berlin during The Cold War. Of course, I prefer the imagery of 1920’s Berlin but of course, the Berlin Wall was an iconic structure connected to the city for a time.

In 2011, the name was given to 97 baby girls and 5 baby boys. This is compared to other capital names such as London (given to 3145 girls and 448 boys), Paris (given to 927 girls and 74 boys) and Sydney (given to 3942 girls and 66 boys)/Sidney (given to 412 girls and 227 boys) or even the popular non-capital place name of Brooklyn (given to 7115 girls and 77 boys), the name Berlin is a rare and unique choice when it comes to selecting a place name for your child. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

In Retrospect: 1880 – Given To Seven Children

In this next segment of In Retrospect we take a look at the names that were given to 7 babies in 1880. There wasn't as much name choice in those days as there would be in future years (much joy to me when I try and narrow down babies in 2011 to just 10 for each) which means that many of these names have been heard of as they did make the Top 1000.

Like in the last segment, names that have modern use like Lea, Katy, Jessica, Felicia, Eugenie, Carol and Angela were given to 7 girls, and Miller, Duke, Roderick and Elliot where given to 7 boys. Vivian was given to 7 boys this year (it was given to 22 girls) as was Rose, Lindsay, Jennie and Connie and while there weren't any startling male names on the girls, though feminine variants were to be found.

Here is my selection of names Given to Seven Children in 1880:


Albertina – (pronounced: ahl-ber-TEE-nah) is another feminine diminutive of Albert. The variant Albertine was given to five babies but this variant of Italian, German, Dutch and Portuguese background that means ‘noble, bright, famous’ was given to 7 in 1880. In 2011, sadly no babies received this name. I have a favouring towards the feminine Albert variants and with Alberta the only one listed (with 9 girls in 2011), I wish that more would see the charm in the names.

Clarence – (pronounced: KLAIR-rence) is a name of Latin origin, it means ‘bright’. This name is more typically seen on males but there is a possibility that this name could be seen on some little girls as an extended form of Clare. For males, the name has been steadily declining for some time, finally ousted from the Top 1000 in 2010 so maybe this is a chance for the females to take it on. However, in 2011, it was still given to 190 boys while less than 5, if any, girls were given the name so there would still be a long way to go to see this change.

Delphia – (pronounced: DEL-fee-ah) is a name of English/Greek origin and is possibly derived from the Greek city of Delphi. It is also a possible variant of a Greek word meaning ‘dolphin’. Greek names with historical or place significance always seem to have an air of intelligence to them and this bears no exception. This would fit with people who like Athena and Penelope. It was given to less than 5 or no babies in 2011.

St Eulalia
Doshie – (pronounced: DOE-she) is a name derived from the Latin language and means ‘one who is a gift from God’. Now I had heard nothing quite like this name in the recent charts or even something that looked like it. I think it is charming vintage-esque-nickname-name that is ever so popular right now so that works for it. In 2011, it was given to less than 5, if any, babies.

Eulalia – (pronounced: yoo-LAY-lee-ah) is a Greek name meaning ‘sweet-speaking’ or ‘to talk well’. It was the name of a notable Saint and Martyr who was born in Spain and is the patron Saint of Barcelona. In 2011 it was given to 25 baby girls. The alternative, Eulalie, was used by Edgar Allen Poe in his poem ‘Eulalie – A Song’ and was given to less than 5, or none at all, in 2011.

Hedwig – (pronounced HED-vikh) is a German name that means ‘war’. There was a 13th Century German saint with the name and a 14th century Polish Queen but nowadays, it is a not heard as a name except on Harry Potter’s owl. It was given to less than five, or none at all in 2011 and I think this name might be one that was given to none.

Maymie – (pronounced MAY-mee) is either a variant of the name Mary meaning ‘star of the sea’ or a diminutive of Margaret meaning ‘pearl’. It is close to the name Mamie, seen on Meryl Streep’s daughter. It was given to less than 5 to none at all in 2011 but it fits in with the nicknames-as-names trend that is quite prominent at the moment, especially in the UK.

Neppie – (pronounced NEP-ee) is a Greek name meaning ‘weaver; duck’. It is also a diminutive of Penelope and was a common nickname from the 17th to 19th centuries. It might be an interesting choice as a nickname as 1847 girls where named Penelope in 2011, which might even rise in the coming year thanks to two celebrity babies (Tina Fey’s daughter and Kourtney Kardashian’s daughter) given the name this year. It would be different to the other nicknames of Penny and Nell. As a given name though, it was given to less than 5, or none at all in 2011.

Rillie – (pronounced: RIY-lee) is a German name meaning ‘brook’. The name could be an alternative to Riley (ranked #47 for girls in 2011). Surprisingly, with so many people liking a variation spelling, this name was given to less than 5 or none at all in 2011.

Yetta – (pronounced: YEH-tuh) is a Yiddish name meaning ‘light’. While the meaning is quite nice, there is something I can’t quite put my finger on with this name. In 2011, the name was given to less than 5, or no girls at all, which is not much of a surprise to me.


Alcide – (pronounced: AL-seed) is a name of Greek origin meaning ‘the strong kind’. Alcide was given to less than 5 babies last year, despite the fact that it is the name of the main werewolf on HBO’s True Blood. The name that it is derived from, Alcides however was given to 7 babies in 2011.

Eligah – (pronounced: i-LIE-jah) is a name of Hebrew origin meaning ‘my God is Yahweh’. It is a spelling variant to the wildly popular ‘Elijah’ which is now currently ranked at #13 on the US charts, #78 in Canada, #44 in Australia, #424 in France and #332 in the Netherlands. However, this spelling was given to 14 boys in 2011.

Hollis – (pronounced: HAHL-is) is an English surname derived from Middle English meaning ‘holly trees’. It has not only been used on males but was also used on girls though it had more popularity on the male side but as a feminine choice would be suitable for those who like the name Wallis. In 2011, 101 boys were given the name Hollis and 60 girls were given the name.

Math – (pronounced: math) is a name of Welsh origin of uncertain meaning. Math was a divine figure in Welsh legend who was the son of Mathonwy and ruled over Gwynedd in north Wales. Unfortunately, to me, it just reminds me of the dreaded school subject. In 2011, less than 5 were given the name, however, it would be a plausible nickname for a Mathew or Matthias.

Orson Welles
Miller – (pronounced: MILL-er) is an English Occupational Name meaning grinder of grain. It currently ranks itself on the US charts at number #925 with 215 boys given the name last year, it was the first time it has appeared on the charts since 1943. Miller is also a common surname.

Orson – (pronounced: AWR-son) is a name of Latin and English origin meaning ‘bear cub’ The name brings back memories of Old Hollywood aka. Orson Welles. It currently does not rank in the US and only 33 boys were given the name last year. It is a shame as I think that this name has a lot of potential as a first name.

Percival – (pronounced: PUR-si-val) is a name from Welsh Mythology created by the 12th century French poet Chretien de Troyes whose poem, ‘Percival, the story of the Grail, depicts the story of one of King Arthur’s Knights. With this gallant imagery behind it, the name actually means ‘one who pierces the valley’. The name does not currently rank in the US but was given to 13 boys last year.

Raoul – (pronounced: RAH-ool) is a French variation of the name Ralph and means ‘wolf-counsel’. There are plenty of namesakes for this name from the literary characters of The Phantom of the Opera’s Raoul and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’s Raoul Duke to the real life people of French Painter, Raoul Dufy and Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish businessman who rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. The name does not currently rank in the US and was only given to 6 boys last year.

Theron – (pronounced: F-ron) is an Ancient Greek name meaning ‘hunter’. The most famous person bearing the name today is South African actress, Charlize Theron who bears it as her last name. The name however does not rank in the US but was given to 87 boys last year though I could also see it as a possible girls name as well. It would fit along with the Archer’s and Hunter’s.

Tobias – (pronounced: to-BIE-as) is a Biblical name of Greek and Hebrew origin and means ‘God is good’. Currently ranked at #538 on the US charts with 470 boys given the name last year, it is also popular in Europe with it currently ranked #2 in Austria, #20 in Denmark, #79 in the Netherlands and #6 in Norway. The name has plenty of namesakes as well Tobias ‘Toby’ Raggs from Sweeney Todd, the first name of Professor Snape’s father is Tobias in the Harry Potter series and Tobey Maguire’s birth name was Tobias. 


As someone who loves to watch movies, as I am sure a lot of you have already worked out by now, I do get excited when I hear a name that I haven’t heard before and that was the case when watching The Rum Diary and it was the lead female character’s name that caught my eye – Chenualt.

Amber Heard as Chenault in The Rum Diary alongside Johnny Depp
Chenault (pronounced: shuh-NOH) is a name of French origin and means ‘one who came from, or lived near Chenal (irrigation chanel)’. It is more commonly found as a surname than as a first name and unfortunately the meaning doesn’t mean ‘radiant sunshine’ or something else really pretty but then that hasn’t stopped me loving names in the past and neither should it let you. I guess the French can make everything sound pretty.

The movie was based on the Hunter S Thompson novel of the same name and it makes me wonder where he found the name because truly it is an inspired choice and not just some run of the mill name from the 60s in which this is set. In any case, the character, well I would definitely describe her as full of life but then if you were to use this name on a child I doubt it would be a case of Veruca where people would instantly attach the name to the character in the story. The movie and book are good, but not as well known as they should be.

The name itself is quite like Chenelle of which it is a variant of, which then ties it back to the name Chanel. So if you are into your high fashion but don’t want to go with the obvious root of Chanel, then Chenault would make an interesting alternative. It looks quite chic and sophisticated as well which is what the Chanel brand is all like.

The name Cheanult was given to less than 5 girls last year though I would tend to guess no children were given the name. On the other hand, Chanel was given to 318 girls and Chenelle was given to 9 girls. So all in all, this is an interesting French name that would make for a wonderful name for any child, and if I do say so myself, this name is on my potentials list. There just seems to be a sort of aura surrounding the name, despite the fact that the name has to do with irrigation. 


The dashing male counterpart to the charismatic Cleopatra, Antony is one half of one the greatest love stories ever told. Dying believe his own love was dead, but really she wasn’t and then she killed herself with an Asp... wait a minute, their demise sounds slightly ‘Romeo and Juliet’ but there love we know was real and the reasons for killing themselves were much more plausible than those of star cross lovers. In any case, Antony was not only a famous lover, he was a good military leader too.

Antony (pronounced: AN-toe-nee) was the formely used English spelling of the name before the 17th century when the ‘H’ started to be added. Coming from Etruscan origin, the name means ‘priceless, flourishing, praiseworthy’. This spelling has never been as popular as the Anthony spelling but I find something quite modern about the Antony spelling, plus it fits in with other names like Atticus, Octavian and Augustus/August which are Ancient names making a comeback.

Mark Antony is not only known thanks to his own natural place in history but also thanks to the Shakespeare plays of ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Many famous actors have taken on the role of Mark Antony including Marlon Brando, Richard Burton and James Purefoy. Mark Antony is not the only person to bear Antony in their name either. In Christianity, St Antony of Padua was a significant cult; there was an Egyptian Saint known as Antony the Great plus there is also a village in Cornwall that is called Antony.

In 2011, there were 146 boys given the name Antony. That is a small amount compared to Anthony which was given to 14, 181 boys in 2011. It ranked #956 in 2010 but dropped off the charts in 2011 and the name reached its peak in the 1970s. However, in France, the name currently ranks at #451 with 78 boys given the name though it reached its peak in 2000 over there at #194 and has been steadily declining ever since.

This name is a different approach to the widely used Anthony but it should be seen as a possibility, as should the feminine version – Antonia. The name is rich with history and there is something just a bit dashing of a boy with the name Antony. 


For a while now, Wednesday has been one of those guilty pleasure names for me. I love the name, though I doubt I could get it across the board when the time came and yes, I do love the character from ‘The Addams Family’. In any case, I have always seemingly had a sympathetic ear to any ‘day-names’. When Nicole Kidman named her daughter Sunday, I thought it was darling, though the combination with the middle name that I think caused more of the problems.

While those two days are the most commonly, if used, ‘day-names’, this week I am going to write up about the days of the week and since this is a Tuesday, what could be better than starting with this name.

Tuesday Weld (b. 1943)
Tuesday (pronounced: TOOZ-day) is obviously the English word for the day of the week but it derives from the Old EnglishTiwesdæg’ which literally means ‘Tiw’s Day’. Tiw is the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god ‘Tiwaz’ or ‘Tyr’ in Norse who was a God of War and Law. The Latin variation of Martis is named after the Roman god of war, Mars and means ‘day of Mars’ and is used in most languages with Latin Origins. In Slavic Languages, the name gains the meaning of ‘the second’, which also symbolizes its place in the week and in Japanese, the translation comes across as ‘fire day’.

While Wednesday is given a bad reputation as the day that is ‘full of woe’, in the Greek and Spanish speaking world, Tuesday is actually seen as an unlucky day and if the 13th day of the month falls on a Tuesday, well it is unlucky, just like how many Western cultures believe that if the 13th falls on a Friday, then it is an unlucky day. In the Thai solar calendar the name means ‘ashes of the dead’ and the colour that is associated with the name is pink.

Also, like I mentioned slightly earlier, like Wednesday’s child is full of woe, the folk rhyme states that ‘Tuesday’s child is full of grace’. That is quite a darling meaning especially against all the negativity or darkness that protrudes itself from some of the other meanings. It might also make an interesting way to honour a past family member who has the name Grace.

Tuesday is also associated with the planets Mars and Uranus – and it is the usual day for elections in the USA so it would make an eclectic choice for someone who is really into politics. There are other days associated with a Tuesday as well including Black Tuesday (part of the Great Stock Market Crash of 1929), Shrove Tuesday (precedes the first day of Lent in the Western Calender) and Fat Tuesday (associated with Mardi Gras and is the same day as Shrove Tuesday).

There are Tuesday’s in popular culture as well, though not as notable as Wednesday’s pop culture fixture. The American actress Susan Ker Weld changed her name to Tuesday Weld, the ‘That 70s Show’ spin-off, ‘That 80’s Show’ had a character called Jane Tuesday who went by the name Tuesday and in Jasper Fforde’s Bookworld novels there is a Tuesday Next, daughter of Thursday.

Tuesday is the third most favoured day of the week when it comes to naming children. Sunday comes first and is used on both males and females, and Wednesday is next but Tuesday follows close behind with 22 girls given the name this year. All the other days of the week have none. I do see Tuesday as one of the more viable ‘day-names’ and I think it would be a unique, quirky and lively choice for a daughter, even with all the meanings surrounding ‘ash’ and ‘unluckiness’. 

Monday, October 22, 2012


In truth, I haven’t watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for years. That was until last night. While watching the movie I had forgotten just how horrid some of those kids are and how my heart breaks every time that Charlie doesn’t get the golden ticket – even though I know he has to get one. It is like watching The Tudors and getting emotionally invested in Anne Boleyn only to know that in the foreseeable future she is going to get to be executed.

In any case, the movie reminded me of the name Veruca – a name that is not heard about often or at all, and with good reason I suppose as well. Veruca (pronounced: ve-ROO-kah) is a Latin name meaning ‘wart’. Right off the bat, the name has a horrible meaning though that hasn’t stopped Courtney and Mallory from gaining popular support from the masses.

Veruca Salt
With all due respect – it is the character that would stop most people who are not turned off from the meaning from this name.

Roald Dahl made up the name for the spoilt and arrogant Miss Salt in his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and when she introduces herself in the film adaptation and Wonka replies that he thought ‘Veruca was a type of wart’ – I couldn’t help laughing. She is also ‘bad nut’ of the bunch and is spoilt as spoilt can be. I don’t think any parent wishes for their child to be demanding, arrogant and horrid so that would be reason enough for parents to stay clear from the name.

However, the other girl that gets to go inside Willy Wonka’s factory, Violet, has managed to not harm her name at all. Though that probably comes about because Violet was a name used before the novel and has a lovely meaning – and in all honesty, I think she is probably the best kid after Charlie – don’t judge me but what is she other than someone who is a extremely competitive and likes to chew gum. There are redeeming qualities within Violet Beauregard – there are none in Miss Veruca Salt. Plus Violet also has the help of being a main character in the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series and that Violet is quite the good role model.

Now back to Veruca. On the outside, without knowing anything other than just looking at the name, I find that it is a pretty name. I am partial to a name starting with V – but this is one I will not be using – though in reality it would be more to do with the wart connotation then anything else. Kids will surely see the film or read the book so I wouldn’t be surprised if some childhood teasing came if a child was given that name but I don’t believe that should be a reason to not name a child something. Kids will find a way to bully anything – it is just that I would prefer a child to be named after a more satisfactory literary character than one who is spoilt, arrogant – and has a name that means wart. 


There is a new Princess in the World. Over the weekend, the Crown Prince of Luxembourg married Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy and like many people, I love a good royal wedding. There is something magical about it that makes me feel like I have just witnessed a real-life Disney fairytale. So, in honour of the royal marriage, I have decided to profile the name Stephanie today.

Stéphanie de Lannoy, 
Crown Princess of Luxembourg
Stephanie (pronounced: STEFF-a-nee) is a female name of Greek origin meaning ‘crown’. It is the feminine form of Stephen and really, the meaning of the name is quite fitting for someone in royalty. There have been quite a few ‘Stephanie’s in royal history, going back to Stéphanie de Beauharnais who was born in 1789 or Stephanie of Milly who died in 1197 and was an influential figure in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. A favourite historical ‘Stephanie’ Royal, solely on name alone is Stéphanie of Belgium who was born Stéphanie Clotilde Louise Herminie Marie Charlotte of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1864. Along with the new Crown Princess of Luxembourg, there is also a Princess Stéphanie of Monaco who is the youngest child of Prince Rainier of Monaco and Old Hollywood Icon, Grace Kelly.

The name is not only used in royal circles as there a plenty of people that are bearers of the name from Stephanie Rice, the Australian Olympic Swimmer, to Stephanie Seymour, the Supermodel as well as two fictional characters on the American soap, The Bold and the Beautiful and a character within the popular name source, To Kill a Mockingbird and for all the comic fans, there is a Stephanie in the DC Batman universe as well.One of the most common variations of the name is Stefani (pronounced: the same way or SHTE-fah-nee) which is born by two well known musicians. Gwen Stefani is one, but of course this is her surname, not a given name, and is pronounced in the second fashion, and Lady Gaga’s birth name is Stefani Germanotta and is pronounced in the typical ‘Stephanie’ style. Stefani is not the only variation though – here are a few:
  • Stephani, Stephania, Stephany (English)
  • Stefanie (German)
  • Stefanie (Danish & Dutch)
  • Stefania (Italian)
  • Stéphanie or Étiennette (French)
  • Kekepania (Hawaiian)
  • Estefanía (Spanish)

Currently, it is only in the USA that the name Stephanie is ranked. Currently sitting at #146, the highest it ever got in the charts was an impressive #6, where it sat between the years of 1984-1987, though it was a top 10 fixture for that a good decade. The name is in a steady decline now. Whilst still obviously used, it has a slight dated feel though that in no way means that you should not use the name. The name has been used on males as well, ranking as high as #844 in 1985 though I would stick to Stephen for a boy. The variant spellings of Stephany was given to 202 girls in 2011, Estefania was given to 123, Estefani was given to 100, Stefanie was given to 78, Stefania was given to 40, Stefani was given to 37, Stephania was given to 32, Estephanie was given to 31, Estephany was given to 25, Stephenie was given to 20, Estefanie was given to 17, Stephani was given to 16, Estephania was given to 11, Stephannie  was given to 7, Stefanny was given to 7, Stephanny was given to 6, Steffi was given to 6, Steffanie was given to 6, Etsefanny was given to 5 and Estephani was given to 5.

The new Crown Princess of Luxembourg will probably not have the ‘Catherine Middleton’ impact but within Luxembourg the name might gain a rise and if you are elsewhere in the world, it is still a lovely name for a child, with a rich history, and might be a great way to honour a Stephen namesake, and if you want something a little more unusual, the variants are all wonderful possibilities. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


With names like Brittany/Britney having seen their day and Britton currently on the rise, a possible variation to it all could be Britannia. The thought process behind me profiling this name came from watching the show Quints By Surprise, and one of their quints in called Britton. Long story short, I ended up coming across Britannia as an alternative with a slightly frillier sound, thanks to having more syllables.

Britannia (pronounced: brit-AN-ee-ah or brih-TAN-yah) is of Latin background and means ‘from Brittany or Great Britain’. A pretty self explanatory meaning if I do say so myself but in truth it is quite the patriotic name and in this year of Diamond Jubilees and Olympic Games, the spotlight is on Britain so if you were going to use the name at any time this would have been the perfect year (not saying that you can’t use it any other time, you can).

The name has been around since Ancient times and is not only an Ancient term for Great Britain but also a female personification of the island. The Roman Empire conquered an empire they deemed to be called Britannia (roughly cutting off south of Scotland). It was in the 2nd century that the name was given to Roman Britannia as a personified Goddess who was armed with a shield, trident and centurion’s helmet. She is a symbol of British Imperial power and strength and is seen on British coinage.

The world is now naming kids after other Goddesses from around the world and while you may or may not be British, the idea of strength and power is a good thing to rally behind your daughter. One of the most famous uses of the name Britannia is in the patriotic song, ‘Rule Britannia!’ from 1740. I may not live in Britain but I do know the song, especially since my history teacher loved to sing it when we learnt about British naval battles when studying WWI. The words come from the poem of the same name by James Thomson.   

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.

The name is also commonly used is the naming of naval ships in England, with many called HMS Britannia and was well as a naval training college. Many companies use the name, there was a luxury car made in 1983 and an airline in 1952. The first steam engine liner in 1840 was called RMS Britannia and it is also a popular pub name with 82 of them in the UK (last recorded in 2011).

Alternatives to Britannia are Brittania, Britania and Brittanya though you might also like Brittani or Brittana as well. Really, it just all depends on how many letter ‘T’ and ‘N’ you want to put in.

The name definitely fits into my love of names with numerous syllables and there are a plethora of nicknames that come to mind as well including Britton, Britt, Tanya, Nia and Annie. The Brittania spelling was given to 8 girls in US last year though I prefer the original spelling and I think it is an alternative name to other names on the charts that would definitely be a unique and rare name for your daughter. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


Whilst Byron, Percy and Keats are all currently being used on baby boys, another name of the English Romantic Poets, Bysshe, is not. The middle name of Percy Bysshe Shelley, it would definitely make a perfectly interesting choice for your child.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Bysshe (pronounced: BISH) is a rare English masculine name that derives from an English surname. It is considered a variant of the surname ‘Bush’. This name originally meant ‘a person that lived near the bush’. The names origins however are either Norse-Viking, deriving from the pre 9th century ‘buskr’, or the Olde English pre 7th century ‘busc’.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) is the most famous bearer of the name. A Romantic English poet, he is famous for his work, obviously, as well as being the husband of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and for his death for he drowned in a sudden storm off the coast of Italy, in a boat originally named ‘Don Juan’ but reportedly re-named ‘Ariel’ just before his death. Also, interstingly, he wrote much on vegetarianism. His middle name was to honour his grandfather, Sir Bysshe Shelley. Later on, the Scottish Victorian-Era poet, James Thomson (1834-1882) went by the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis.

There are plenty of variants to the name as well including Bushe, Bish, Bysh, Busk and Buske. All of the variants though were given to less than five, or none at all, in 2011 so this is not a common name. It could make for an interesting name, nick-name or middle name choice for your child and I think there is potential for this name yet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Years ago, I discovered this wonderful blog The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the18th Century and one of my favourite series of articles is called ‘Tartof the Week’. When reading about these women there was one name that drew my attention, mainly because I had not heard it before and that was Albinia.
Albinia (pronounced al-BIN-ee-uh or al-BEEN-ya) is a rare Latin name meaning ‘white; fair’. It is rather a safe meaning but has never been popular in the U.S. or anywhere in fact. In 2011, it was given to less than 5 or no girls at all. It does sound quite upper-class but to me it matches equally with names like Georgiana or Vivienne. It has a certain charm about it.

Albinia, Countess of Buckinghamshire
The name Albinia also fits with those other Alb- names that I have taken quite a fancy to, especially when going through the 1880 records for the In Retrospect features. Albinia is a more fanciful approach to those names instead of Alberta (given to #9 in 2011), Albertine, Albertha and Albertha. As a female variation of Alban and Albinius, another female variation is Albina. With one less ‘i’ in the name, it is more popular with 10 girls given the name.

As for the ‘Tart’ that I discovered this name on, her name was Albinia, Countess of Buckinghamshire. She was born the ‘lovechild’ of Lord Bertie and Anne Casey. Her mother was illegitimate as well so really, Albinia was the illegitimate child of an illegitimate child. Not good for someone in those days. She married George Hobart, 3rd Earl of Buckinghamshire and was famous for her gambling parties and was also a bit of cheater when it came to it as well (taking in a bit more money from running the faro table than she should). Most of the ‘Tarts’ mentioned where known for their infidelity but not her so I guess that is a positive, just unfortunately her other bad attribute was gambling. Though, I don’t think this will affect a child too much. In any case, at least there is a pretty portrait of her.

I think Albinia is a name for those that prefer their Georgiana to their Georgia. I think it is a name that could be used today and while the name is a throwback to even further in the past than Edith, Lavinia or Vera, I think she would fit easily beside them. It also comes with a wide array of nicknames including Alby, Ally, Bina, Binnie, Alba etc.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012


A name that symbolises a time gone by, Lana is another one of those Old Hollywood names that I believe will continue as the years go by. Unlike Harlow who true popularity has been in the last few years, Lana has already proven that she has stood the test of time though her history on the charts is anything but settled. It left the Top 1000 suddenly in 1893 before remerging in 1939 before reaching its highest point at #188 in 1948 before dropping back to the bottom of the Top 1000 and completely out of it in the late 90’s before the rising again during the 00’s before now slightly dipping again. This name has a roller coaster of a history.

Lana Turner

Lana’s popularity in the 40’s was most likely, if not definitely, due to Lana Turner (who was originally born Julia Jean). It got a glamorous turn around thanks to Ms Turner. It did dip a little in the late 50’s (around the time that Ms Turner was embroiled in the situation of her daughter stabbing her abusive partner is self defence for her mother) before rising again after one of Lana’s great success in the film Imitation of Life before dropping again as her star began to fade.

Lana (pronounced: LAN-ah) is of Irish origin and means ‘little rock’ or ‘harmony, concord’. Its rise in the early 00’s might be due to ‘Lana Lang’ from the DC Superman Universe but she had been introduced in the 50’s so I am not completely sure. Maybe the show Smallville had an impact, though surely only a small one. In the first few seasons it was Lana who was the main love interest before Lois Lane, as before this I think poor Lana just didn’t have much attention on her compared to Ms Lane.

Lana Del Rey
It was starting a very slight dip again but I think the singer Lana Del Rey might help to turn that around. Lana, who was born Elizabeth Grant, chose the name for herself so she obviously can see the merits of the name. Since she really has only become prominent this year as a musician, I suspect a possible slight rise in the name in the next year, not a drop.

Lana is currently ranked #486 on the charts and was given to 607 girls in 2011. Outside of the US, it is quite popular on mainland Europe. In Belgium, it is ranked #90, Bosnia & Herzegovina its is ranked #19, Frances has it ranked #39, Netherlands it is ranked #46 while it #2 in Slovenia and #1 in Croatia.

The name ‘Lana’ is found in a lot of other names as well like Alana (ranked #188 in US, #88 in Australia), Milana (ranked #997 in US, #455 in the Netherlands), Alanah (given to 189 in 2011 in the US), Elana (given to 134 girls in 2011 in the US), Ilana (98 girls in 2011 in the US), Allana (90 girls in 2011 in the US), Solana (57 girls in 2011 in the US), Delana (45 girls in the US in 2011), Keilana (44 girls in 2011 in the US), Lanae (44 girls in 2011 in the US), Lanaya (43 girls in 2011 in the US), Malana (42 girls in 2011 in the US), Allanah (30 girls in 2011 in the US), Kaylana (29 girls in 2011 in the US), Ellana (24 girls in 2011 in the US), Leilana (23 girls in 2011 in the US), Svetlana (22 girls in 2011 in the US), Lanah (20 girls in 2011 in the US), Dallana (19 girls in 2011 in the US), Marlana (16 girls in 2011 in the US), Lanasia (15 girls in 2011 in the US), Ahlana (14 girls in 2011 in the US), Helana (13 girls in 2011 in the US), Jalana (8 girls in 2011 in the US) and Olana (5 girls in 2011 in the US).

While many of the above names seem eventually dated, Lana stands as a name that will become timeless with sophistication.

This is a name I can see more of. If it does go on the rise, I wonder if it could possible even crack the Top 100, the first time it would ever do so. I am not sure but I think it is possible. It might just need the star-baby effect, like Ava had back in 1999 thanks to Reese Witherspoon.

In Retrospect: 1880 – Given To Six Children

Here is the list of a few of my favourite finds of baby names given to 6 children in 1880. Of course, like in the list given to five babies, names that are common now are found here as well like Suzanne, Monica, Mercedes, Faith, Camilla, Alba and Aurora were there for the girls and for boys Rupert, Gary, Dexter, Damon and Colin. Also, something I find interesting is the trend for boy names on girls. Six girls were given the names Clifford, Freddie, Harry, Leo and Robbie and the same can be said in reverse with Ruby, Nellie, Hattie, Grace, Ethel, Eliza, Dora and Annie where given to six boys in 1880. Another little note, the name Adolf was given to six boys in this year (when the name did not yet have the negative connotations that is does now).

* Also, a point for my own amusement, Reese Witherspoon just named her new son, Tennessee James, the first name was mentioned on the girls list of the given to five babies list. Well it seems that mom Reese's name was given to six boys in this year.

And now here are my twenty picks from the six names that I think I quite interesting finds.


Bena – (pronounced: bee-NA) is a variant of the name Benita which is Latin for blessed. Despite having only been given to only 6 babies in 1880, it was ranked #752 on the charts. Bena was given to less than five if any babies in 2011, though Bena is found in various names like Abena for girls and Benaiah, Kwabena and Benas in boys so the sound is not uncommon. A possible nickname could be ‘bee’.

Fidelia – (pronounced: fee-DIHL-ee-ah) is a rare Spanish name that is the feminine form of Fidel and a variant of Fidelity and means ‘faithful’. It was ranked #782 in 1880 and in 2011, is not in the Top 1000 but was given to five babies, one less than in 1880.

Joella –(pronounced: yo-EHL-lah or jo-EHL-la) is a rare name of Hebrew origin meaning ‘the Lord is God’. It is a female variant of the male Joel, and another variant of the name could be Joelle. In 1880 it was ranked #792. It is still around today with 55 girls given the name in 2011. It’s nickname, Ella is currently #12 on the charts and for those that do not want to use a ‘popular name’ then, expanding it to Joella to get the nickname Ella might be an option for you.

Actress, Merle Oberon
Louetta – (pronounced: loo-ET-ah) is of both Germanic and American English origin it means ‘fame and war’. It was ranked #802 in 1880 and in 2011 it was given to less than five if any babies. I actually find this name quite charming and like Joella is to Ella, Louetta is to Etta (or Lou). With Etta recently been given the star baby treatment (in 2011 it was given to 83 babies by I expect to see that number rise), it could be a variant that could work for you. It is also a place name in Texas.

Merle – (pronounced: MURL) is of French origin and means ‘blackbird’. It was ranked #810 in 1880 but didn’t hit its peak until the early 1900’s.  It has been off the charts since 1956 but was given to 17 babies in 2011 but not for girls, for boys. It has always been a name used for both genders but I find it slightly disappointing that less than 5, if any baby girls were given the name. With the resurgence of early 1900’s name coming back, Merle fits into that category of vintage charm, like Frances but it seems to be a bit like Ethel. It also has that Golden Age of Hollywood thanks to the fabulous actress Merle Oberon. While not a popular namesake like Jean Harlow, Merle is a fascinating woman and is best known for her roles as Anne Boleyn in ‘The Private Lives of Henry VIII’ and Catherine Earnshaw in ‘Wuthering Heights’ opposite Laurence Olivier. She actually went by her middle name as she was born Estelle Merle and her nickname was ‘Queenie’. I think I will have to profile Merle as a name on its own in the future. Also, in the Netherlands, the name is ranked #133 for females.

Ottilie – (pronounced: o-TEE-lee) is a name of Germanic background and means ‘prosperous in battle’. It is a female variant of the German Otto. Though German, it has a French feel to it as well. Ranked #819 in 1880, it is not currently in the charts and given to less than 5, if any babies in 2011, I feel like this name and its family names like Ottoline (which was given celeb-cred thanks to Sienna Miller giving it as the middle name to her daughter) and Ottilia are about to start making appearances of at least 5 babies or more in the years to come.

Sybilla – (pronounced: sih-BIH-lah) is a name of mixed cultural background. It has been claimed to Polish, Late Roman, English, French and German background but all agree that is derived from the Old Greek origin and means ‘oracle; prophetess’. It is obviously a variant form of Sybil, which has gained popularity thanks to ‘Downton Abbey’ and the vintage name craze so why not this next step. Another way of spelling it is Sibylla. It was ranked in the Top 1000 in 1880 and  has never ranked in the US or anywhere since. It was given to 5 girls in 2011 so there is some hope for the name, and Sybil was given to 13. The Sibylla/Sibyl variations where given to less than five or none at all. Sybilla is special though as reportedly in the late 5th century BC, the name ‘Sybilla/Sibylla’ was given to a ‘single inspired prophetess’.

Vallie – (pronounced: VAO-liy) is a name of Latin origin that means ‘healthy, strong’. It reached its height of popularity in 1903 and is seen as a variant or diminutive of Valeria/Valerie. It could also be an alternative to the nature name Valley, so it looks less ‘nature’ oriented.  

Winona – (pronounced: wi-NON-ah) is a name of Native American origin, in particular Dakota, and means ‘first-born daughter’. It was borne by a legendary Sioux Princess and heroine but is best known on the actress Winona Ryder nowadays. The last time Winona was on the charts was in 1957, which shocked me as I thought in the late 80’s and 90’s, Ryder would have given the name a power surge. It was given to 34 girls in 1990 (the year Edward Scissorhands came out) and in 1995 it was given to 29 girls. Again, I just thought there would be more but then, I live in Australia and the first time I heard it was on the actress, not a friend and with similar naming styles between the countries, I understand the trend. In 2011, it was given to 20 girls. So it is a name consistently given, just not given to quite so many.

Zelda – (pronounced: zel-DAH) is a name of Yiddish and Germanic background. In Yiddish it means ‘happy, blessed’ while in Germanic it means ‘gray warrior’. It also bears the meaning of ‘luck’. The name was made famous by The Great Gatsby’s author, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda Fitzgerald but it seems today it might be more associated Princess Zelda from the ‘Legend of Zelda’ games. That is not a reason to not use a name and 80 families agreed in 2011, giving their daughter that name. Also, if you like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, you will remember that this is the name of one of her aunts. The name also has celeb-cred as Robin Williams named his daughter, now in her 20’s, Zelda.


Arlington – (pronounced: AAR-lihng-tahn) is an Old English name meaning ‘a town of Aelfred, Aelffrith or Eorl’. It sometimes used as a girl’s name but I see it as more of a boy’s name. The name reached its peak in 1910 and in 2011, it was given to 6 girls and 7 boys so it has a pretty even spread against either gender. I think it is a charming name actually. ‘Arlie’ would make for a nice nickname, fitting against an Alfie’s or Archie’s.

Asberry – (pronounced: AS-beer-ee) is an English name meaning ‘fort close to ash trees’ or ‘fortress’. It is a variant of the name Asbury. It is an English surname which was given to someone who used to come from Asbury in Devonshire or Berkshire. The name was given to less than 5, or none at all, in 2011, neither variation was so this would make for an interesting and rare choice.

Caesar – (pronounced: SEE-zahr) is an Ancient Roman name meaning ‘long-haired’ or ‘he who was cut out from the womb’ or even ‘blue-grey colour’. Obviously, its most famous namesake is Julius Caesar and also the rest of his family who adopted the name Caesar into their titles when they became Emperors of Rome. There is also a salad. Unfortunately, it was also used as a slave name in early American history. It was given to 59 babies in 2011 but the variant, Cesar, was given to 1605 babies in 2011.

Clarke – (pronounced: KLAHRK) is an English name meaning ‘cleric, scribe’. It was more well known in its variant form of Clark, whose most famous bearer is Clark Gable (1901-1960), the Old Hollywood Actor who was best known for playing Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Clark is currently ranked #616 in the US, given to 384 boys as well as 7 girls. However, the Clarke we are here to talk about was given to 23 girls and 23 boys. I think the –e on the end gives the name more appeal to the girl side (some might even associate with the British Actress Emilia Clarke – though it might be a long shot for the moment).

Friend – (pronounced: FRahND) is an English name meaning ‘friend’. It was given to 6 babies in 1880 but I am glad to say that less than five, if any, of either gender where named Friend in 2011. I mean, being a friend is good, and I don’t like to think that most names are plausible but really, you call so many people friend, would you want to be named Friend as well.

Hampton – (pronounced: HAMP-tun) is an English name meaning ‘home-settlement’ but really, it is another place name in our eyes thanks to the Hamptons. It was given to 66 boys in 2011 and 7 girls but I feel like this might rise as place names are continually popular at the moment, plus maybe the show Revenge, set in the Hamptons will increase the name as reportedly it is having an effect on the name Grayson, so why not Hampton? It fits in the same boat to me.

Sherlock Holmes
Holmes – (pronounced: HOL-mz) is Middle English name meaning ‘dweller near a holly tree’ but when it comes to this name, I can guarantee that most people associate it was Mr Sherlock Holmes. I think personally, he is a great namesake but I can see why some might want to not use it up front, by why not in the middle. Sherlock Holmes is quite popular at the moment with the BBC version ‘Sherlock’, the Robert Downey Jr films and now the new CBS show ‘Elementary’. It was given to less than five, if any, in 2011, which for some reason surprised me (not sure why) but I think if someone were to use it, it would be in the middle spot. I would consider using it, but I might go with it in the second spot.  

Orren – (pronounced: AOR-ahn) comes from two different origins Hebrew and Old Greek. In Hebrew it means ‘pine tree’ and in Old Greek it means ‘man of the mountains’. So really, this name is one for all this nature lovers. It is a variant of Oren which was given to 88 baby boys in 2011 and 5 girls. This Orren however was only given to 8 boys.

Stanford – (pronounced: STAN-ferd) is an English name meaning ‘stone ford’. It, in my eyes, is given to a child that you want to go to university, you are like screaming ‘Go to Stanford’ or ‘I went to Stanford’. Not that it is a bad name however. It is alright to look at but unfortunately the connotations still lie there. But are those connotations necessarily bad, no they are not, but it might put pressure on the kid one day (not as a literal child however) when he realises that Stanford is a really prestigious university. It was given to 7 boys in 2011.

Wilhelm – (pronounced: VIL-helm) is a German cognate of William and means ‘resolute protector’. It was the name of two German Emperors but is probably most remembered as the name of Kaiser Wilhelm, the man who Allies like to blame for the start of WWI (he was a major factor in it but many other factors came into play). He abdicated at the end of the War, the last monarch in Germany. I think it would make an interesting alternative to William and 16 sets of parents agree as they named their boy Wilhelm. Maybe in some parts, some might consider it too German but I think it makes an interesting alternative.


Over at The Name Station, there was a wonderful post on Hawaiian Names. Whenever I think of Hawaii, I tend to think of great beaches, lush foliage, the hula and floral print shirts. But there is one other thing, due to my love of history that I think of and that is the Hawaiian Monarchy. I will honestly admit that I do not know that much on the former monarchy of Hawaii but thanks to a wonderful book I have (Queen, Empress Consort: 50 Women Rulers From the Queen of Sheba to Catherine The Great) I have learnt about the last Queen of Hawaii, Lili’uokalani.

Lili'uokalani, Queen Regnant of Hawaii
Lili’uokalani (pronounced: lili-oo-kuh-lawn-ee) is a name of Hawaiian origin and means ‘smarting of the high-born one’. The historical Lili’uokalani was given the name because at the time of her birth, a relative was suffering from an eye-pain. This would not be the number one reason I would go about naming a child but she was one of fifteen children so they probably had to go about being inventive when picking a name out for a child.

Lili’uokalani was actually born Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha but was also known as Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī and Lydia K. Dominis after her marriage. She is famous for being the only Queen Regnant of Hawaii and the last monarch. She was Queen for just less than two years, abdicating after the failed Counter-Revolution of Hawaii in 1895, this was when Hawaii became a Republic and a protectorate of the United States.

As a staunch monarchist, she never stopped until her death in 1917 trying to restore the monarchy and whilst you may not agree with monarchy (maybe you do) but I think that strength is admirable. She was also a talented musician and composed numerous songs. One of her most famous is ‘Aloha Oe’ (Farewell To Thee) written in 1898.

Lili’uokalani can also be spelt without the apostrophe, simply Liliuokalani and this version was given to 6 babies in 2011. I think that is nice that the name is being used though I doubt to see it rocket up the charts. It is a Hawaiian name that is distinctly Hawaiian and would probably best be used if you have Hawaiian heritage. 
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