Sunday, April 23, 2017


Photo Courtesy of Natalie Harris Photography

I sometimes feel like I could write a book on great preppy surname names, especially for boys. There’s just something I find so attractive about them. Todays name is no different – heard on a young contestant on a kid’s cooking show J

Townsend is a pretty straightforward name, meaning – and you probably guessed this – 'from the end of the town'. It’s much more popular as a last name, but quite rare as a given name. It sits well outside the US top 1,000, given to just 18 boys in 2015.

Whereas I often like preppy surname names because they feel somewhat polished, I find that the main appeal for me in Townsend is that it feels a little less upper crust. I can picture a sheepish little Townsend coming home dirty at the end of a day spent in rough and tumble play with his friends, almost like a slightly more reserved version of Tom Sawyer. Maybe it’s because the “town” is at the start of the name, rather than at the end like so many other surnames that end in “ton”.

Besides the romantic vision in my head, there are plenty of places to find Townsend inspiration. Perhaps it is a name that runs in the family, or perhaps you grew up in one of the many places named Townsend. Or maybe you are inspired by the achievements of one of the many people with the surname Townsend.   

If you like the feel of a preppy surname but sometimes find them a little too stiff and stuffy – or overused and clich├ęd – then Townsend is a stylish option. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I've been a regular lurker on the Baby Centre Australia forums since I was pregnant. Of course one of my favourite groups on their site is baby names because it can be a great source of inspiration. When I recently saw this little name being considered I was intrigued. I had never seen it before, and it seemed the reaction to it online was mainly positive (Plus I seem to have an interest in finding great girl's names starting with "O" that aren't super popular Olivia. Don't get me wrong, I love Olivia - it's my own middle name. I just like people to know there are other options). Barely a week later I saw another person mention it, so I mentally filed it away as a likely blog post for later.

And then on Christmas Day my sister gave birth to her second child - a daughter - and lo and behold, they name her Ocea!

Ocea feels like a fantastic fit for their family. We already knew that my sister and her husband were adventurous namers when they named their first daughter Jett, a name usually seen on boys. They live in Queensland and are both surfers, so the water inspired Ocea is a lovely nod to their shared love of the beach. I kind of feel like the sibset of sisters named Jett and Ocea are quite reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Livelys' daughters James and Ines. But that's getting a little off topic.

If you're a little confused about how to pronounce this rarity you are not alone. My first instinct was that it is Oh-SEE-ah, but it's actually Oh-Shah, like Ocean but without the N. Which makes sense when you consider that as a name it is thought to be derived from Oceana, a Greek name meaning Ocean or Oceanus, another Greek name meaning 'god of the sea'. In light of this it probably comes as no surprise that the name Ocea means 'Ocean'.

Ocea may seem a little incomplete to some people, but it definitely has its' charms. For one, if you want an uncommon name Ocea fits the bill perfectly. It doesn't appear to be popular in any part of the world. Ocea could be an alternative to those also interested in Asha, but concerned about the popularity of sound-alike boys name Asher. Or concerned about the popularity of Asha itself, or just the proliferation of Ash names in general.

For those worried that their rare name is merely a modern invention, Ocea continues to delight. Although rare she has been in use for a long time - she just managed to crack the US charts (was given to at least 5 girls) in 1895, and again in 1911, 1918 and 1921. So there is history there.

I also personally love the vibe you get from Ocea. It's pretty looking and has a laid back peaceful feel that you often get when you think of the ocean and the beach. The sound of it even brings to mind the rhythm of the waves lapping gently at the shore. She's a good choice for the water lover, surfer, or even just the nature name fan. And she doesn't seem too "girlish" - it's easy to imagine a stylish older woman wearing the name Ocea just as easily as a sweet little girl or precocious teenager.

And as I said, it feels like a great fit for my new little niece, who I'm sure will make it her own in no time. Welcome to the world little Ocea!

Sunday, October 16, 2016


I have looked at many, many lists of Halloween and "spooky, scary" type name lists and I have to say I'm surprised I haven't come across this one on any lists! You see plenty of word names such as Shadow, Shade, Raven, Tempest, Thorn and more, but no Gore.

Gore is well qualified to make it onto any list of Halloween baby names. The dictionary lists a few different definitions for the word gore, two in particular which are gruesome enough to earn Gore a place on any list of scary names. One is "blood that has been shed, especially as the result of violence", as in horror movies featuring blood and gore. Another is "to pierce of stab with a horn or tusk", i.e. to be gored by a bull. Which if you've ever seen the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona you'll know is a sort of horror itself.

Grisly meanings aside, Gore came into use as a name in much the same way many names have come into use - firstly as a surname, taken from the place name or landmarks which identified where a family lived. Gore came to use in Britain during the Middle Ages, derived from the old English word 'gara' meaning "a small, usually triangular piece of land". These days people bearing the last name Gore can be found worldwide, with some well known bearers being American footballer Frank Gore, 'It's My Party' singer Leslie Gore; and former US vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.

Gore is very rare as a first name, although at least one famous bearer was inspired by their family tree. American writer and intellectual Gore Vidal was born Eugene Louis Vidal but became Eugene Louis Gore Vidal when baptised as it was his mothers maiden name. At the age of fourteen he reportedly dropped Eugene Louis because he "wanted a sharp, distinctive name, appropriate for an aspiring author, or a national political leader". His father already went by Gene, and so he decided to become Gore. It certainly is sharp and distinctive.

The other famous Gore - director Gore Verbinski - wasn't originally named Gore either. The director of 'The Ring' and the first three 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies is actually a Gregor, choosing to go by Gore.

Despite having worthy namesakes to serve as inspiration, I think Gore really is most usable as a nickname. It is a bold and sharp name, and most people would immediately associate it with blood and horror; so you'd need to be a strong, charismatic character to do it justice. Choosing a name with Gore as a nickname means you could choose to use it if or when you felt comfortable to do so. Or if your child is a Halloween baby it could be a nickname that is only used at that time of the year, in much the same way 'The Simpsons' changes the names in their credits for their Halloween specials.

On that note, I'll end with a list of boys names that lend themselves to the use of Gore as a nickname: