Monday, April 29, 2013

A Ton of Fun Nickname

Allen Haff and Clinton "Ton" Jones of SPIKE TV's 'Auction Hunters'

Have you seen 'Auction Hunters'? It's an American reality show based on a couple of guys who buy the contents of storage lockers once the original owners stop paying their storage fees and the storage companies want to recoup some money. Basically the concept is that you bid on the contents after only a quick chance to guess what it might contain, hoping you uncover some forgotten treasure that you can sell for some serious cash. I have to admit the novelty of the show wears off a little when episode after episode the guys best finds seem to be guns, weapons, explosives or vehicles. But I love the idea of behind it.

The "hosts" of this particular show are Alan Haff and Ton Jones. Now, the name Ton might have caught your eye. Ton is actually a nickname for Clinton. It seems to suit him well, as he is quite an imposing figure at 6 ft 3in and 380 lbs. And I really like the idea of a nickname for Clinton other than Clint.

Ton as a name itself has actually been given to a handful of boys a few years in the 80's. I wouldn't recommend it as a full name though, because this is one that is easy game for teasing if worn by a shy or overweight child.

But as a nickname it could work quite well - especially in certain sports where a stocky build is an asset, not a liability. I think it could be a strong, masculine nickname, one that would sound right at home on a cowboy. And for popular, "life of the party" types, it could signify that they are a ton of fun to be around!

There is a surprisingly long list of names that Ton could be a nickname for, primarily due to the fact that "ton" is a common ending meaning 'town' in Old English names. These were used when names were often given to identify people by their occupation, or in this case, where they lived or were born.

Below is a few lists of some of the best suspects. They tend to be male names, as I really don't think any girl would be too happy with the nickname Ton. If you have any you'd like to add, let me know!

A Rough Edge for a Distinguished Name



A Modern Spin on an Old Familiar

The Cowboys

The Good Time Guys

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Eva Mendes plays Romina in 'The Place Beyond The Pines', opposite Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper

If you like your girls names to be of the feminine but not frilly persuasion, have you considered Romina?

Romina (pronounced roh-MEEN-ah) is a Latin name meaning 'woman from Rome'. This pretty gem belongs to the same family as other female names Roma, Romelle, Romola, Romella, Romelia and Romilda. However I feel that Romina stands apart from these (with the exception of Roma) as the sleeker, more modern sounding option. Its cool factor may also be set to rise in the near future, as Eva Mendes portrays a character called Romina in the new Ryan Gosling movie 'The Place Beyond the Pines'.

Romina is more likely to be heard amongst Italian and Spanish speakers, but has been a quiet presence on the US charts. It has been stealthily creeping upwards - in 1970 it was ranked #7770, but fast forward to 2011 and it was placed #1577. It's yet to crack the top 1000, but that may be a different story in ten years time.

Some Rominas in the public eye that you may recognise include:

  • American born singer/actress Romina Power, and her actress daughter Italian born Romina Carrisi-Power
  • Argentinian actress Romina Gaetani
  • Austrian concert musician Romina Lischka
  • London based Italian born R&B and soul singer Romina Johnson
  • Italian Opera Singer Romina Basso
  • Italian actress Romina Modello; and 
  • Swiss tennis player Romina Oprandi (who interestingly has a mother named Romy, father named Roberto and a brother named Romeo). 

This name also comes with some cute and spunky nicknames. My personal favourite is probably Mina, but Ro is another option, and it's also a great way to get to Romy. Romina is also a nice, subtle way to use a place name. For those of us living outside Italy, Romina is a good option for a sleek, current sounding name with international flair.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Rugby Player Braith Anasta

When I was having a look at the entrants in the Bonds Baby Search competition recently, there was one boys name in particular that I noticed - Braith. This was mainly because I hadn't heard it before, and also because there seemed to be quite a few of them, particularly in the 0-9 month and the 10-25 month categories.

A quick Google search made it pretty clear that the inspiration behind the name must be Australian Rugby League player Braith Anasta. If you're a fan, please excuse me now for not really being aware of who he is. In my defense, I live in Victoria, where Aussie Rules - not rugby - is the ruling sport. And I'm admittedly not a huge sports fan, so don't tend to familiar with players unless they're constantly in the news. More often than not, if a player is making headlines it's not necessarily for positive reasons.

As far as players go, Braith seems to have stayed away from a lot of the issues and controversy that often surrounds high profile players. He started with the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2000, moved to the Sydney Roosters in 2005, and started playing with the Wests Tigers this year. In October 2012 he married actress Jodi Gordon, a former star of popular Australian soap 'Home and Away'. This probably helped a lot to boost his profile with females, especially when pictures of their Balinese wedding were published in leading Australian women's magazines.

Braith is reportedly a unisex name meaning 'freckled' or 'speckled', often interpreted as 'black and white' or 'red and white'. It is said to be a Welsh name, although I have seen a Welsh person say they've never heard it in use in Wales. There is however a history of Braith as a surname in England (near Edinburgh), where it may have been a precursor for town names such as Braithwell and Braithwaite. It's also thought that the name Brad possibly evolved as an alternate spelling of this name.

Braith is quite a rarity, with other bearers being 19th century German painter Anton Braith and a young female character in the video game 'Skyrim'. Variations I've seen used for boys are Braithe and Braithen, and I've also seen the suggestion that Braithwen could be an option for a girl. If you're looking for a more substantial name for your boy though I suggest that the town names Braithwell and Brathwaite would be the most attractive options. Braithwaite in particular is a relatively well known surname, and would likely transfer to use as a first name easily.

As far as "modern" sounding names go, Braith is a reasonably attractive one. It fits in well alongside other one syllable "AY" names, such as James, Blake or Zane, but manages to stand out from these too. It's also a good blend of masculine and soft. This may sound strange, but I could see Braith working well as a werewolf name in a book or movie (which I mean as a positive thing).

Braith may turn out to be a quick fading trend. But if Braith Anastas star continues on its current trajectory, we could be seeing more of this name in the future.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Emilia Clarke plays the Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

As a name lover and fan of the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' books, I was pretty excited when I first heard that the books were being adapted to a TV show. And like many others, I couldn't help but wonder how the show - titled 'Game of Thrones' for the small screen - would affect the baby naming landscape.

I think occasionally people would name a child after their favourite character from the books, but of course there are some that a few years ago would seem much more wearable than others. You could easily use Jon, Rob, Ned or Catelyn. Arya, Bran, Sansa, Theon and possibly Tyrion would get some questions, seen as more "out of the box" than outlandish. And then others such as Daenerys, Viserys or Targaryen would seem completely unusable.

But the good thing about being part of a hit TV show is that such names now have a wide audience, and the once "out of the box" names become less questionable, the "unusable" a possibility. Suddenly a wide range of people would know how to pronounce a name that before would have only been recognised by loyal readers.

I had to wonder which 'Game of Thrones' names would capture peoples attention and start appearing in the birth notices. So far Arya has perhaps had the most success. And then a few months ago one popped up in an Australian birth notice that I had not expected to see - Khaleesi.

If you have any knowledge of the books or the show, you'll know that Khaleesi isn't actually a given name, it's a title. It's the closest thing the Dothraki people have to a queen, and Daenerys receives this title when she weds Khal Drogo in the first episode, and is almost always referred to as Khaleesi rather than Daenerys in the show from that point on.

Now, a Khaleesi isn't always a prestigious position. Basically they are a possession of the Khal, and could be treated like dirt if he so wishes. However Daenerys' determination and ability to become respected by her husband and therefore his people is a pivotal plot point, the first proof we see that this young, sometimes frail looking girl is actually a strong, powerful force to be reckoned with. This is further reinforced when she survives fire to hatch her dragons. Although her storyline is set far, far away from the land of Westeros, we see that she has the determination to possibly take Westeros and be a worthy contender for the Iron Throne.
Emilia Clarke enjoys a lighter moment
with Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow

I can see why Khaleesi has been picked up as a given name for a child. It's a word that is associated with inner and mental strength, resilience, assertiveness, determination and power. And sound wise, it's quite similar to Kamari, Kymani or Kalani, all of which are listed among the top 100 American unisex names in Nancy's Baby Names book titled 'The Most Popular Unisex Baby Names of 2011'. It has a sound that people find appealing for both boys and girls.

Due to it's connection with the 'Game of Thrones', it has so far been primarily (possibly only) used for girls. In the US it appeared on the charts in 2011 at position #5094, given to 27 girls. Considering the first season of the TV version started that year, I'm interested to see how it fared in 2012 when those results are released next month.

I have to admit I wouldn't have picked it, but so far it seems that Khaleesi is the surprise breakthrough name from the show. What else do you think might race up the charts for 2012 thanks to 'Game of Thrones'?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Jewelled Headband available at Etsy

Giselle is a name that oozes femininity in my eyes. Like the gazelle that it sounds so similar to, it seems sleek, elegant, yet quite exotic. And the fact that there is a gorgeous Brazilian model with this name does nothing to distract from that image!

Although quite a French sounding name, Giselle (pronounced jiz-ELLE) actually has Old German roots, coming from the word "gisil". It means 'hostage or pledge'. This may not sound overly appealing, but needs to be considered in it's original context. In the middle ages, warring parties would sometimes offer a person (often a child) to the other party as a symbol of their pledge of peace. This helps to dispel some of the negativity around the 'hostage' connotation, when you think of it in terms of being a promise of a better way of living.

Giselle entered the US top 1000 in 1983, peaking just short of the top 100. It's easy to see why, especially when you consider some of the great nicknames it conjures up, such as Gigi, Zelle or the ever popular Ella. Just be aware that Jiz is also a possible nickname, one that could be the cause of much teasing if you live in a country like Australia where it's a slang term for - well, um - male ejaculation, to put it nicely.

Besides Victorian Secret model Gisele Bundchen, you may also recognise Giselle as the name of a ballet. The ballet 'Giselle' was inspired by a poem by Heinrich Heine and is the story of a peasant girl (Giselle) who loves dancing. She falls in love with nobleman who is disguised as a peasant, only to die of a broken heart when she discovers he is already engaged to a noblewoman. She later rises from the grave to protect him from a nasty death, forgiving him in the process.

The story and the name Giselle are also familiar to little girls through the Barbie movie 'Barbie in the Pink Shoes', where Barbie is transported into the magical "Ballet World". Further adding to the magical princess vibe of this name is the character  Princess Giselle, played by Amy Adams in the 2007 movie 'Enchanted'.

Giselle is a beautiful name. If you want something similar but a little rarer, Gisella or Gisette are other possibilities. But I personally prefer Giselle for it's balance and grace. Or maybe this could be the next Grace - evoking the impression of Grace without being an actual virtue name. It all adds up to one gorgeously feminine name.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy Names

Big Laugh courtesy of Zoug Lazo

April is one of my favourite months in Melbourne. In April, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is on! We try to go to a few shows every year - last night we saw musical comedy act Axis of Awesome. Who were indeed pretty awesome. If you haven't already seen them live, I recommend it. Or if you can't wait, they have videos of their best songs on You Tube.

So in honour of April being comedy month here, I thought I'd put together a list of suitably happy names for you. Let me know what your favourites are.

Names with Smile, Smiling or Laughing Meanings

GIRLS                                                        BOYS
Amura (Polynesian)                                                                                          Ahanu (Native American)
Ashi (Indian)                                                                                                    Ataroa (Tahitian)
Basma (Arabic)                                                                                           Basim/Bassam (Arabic/Muslim)
Charusmita (Hindi)                                                                                           Charuhas (Hindi)
Cinthana (Hindi)                                                                                               Darahaas (Hindi)
Devasmitha (Hindi)                                                                                           Hasin (Hindi)
Emi/Emiko (Japanese)                                                                                      Ike (Hebrew)
Erendira (Spanish)                                                                                            Isaac (Hebrew)
Hasika (Sanskrit)                                                                                              Ochi (African)
Koemi (Japanese)                                                                                             Sasmit (Hindi)
Maemi (Japanese)                                                                                             Sekan (Zimbabwean)
Miley (Modern English)                                                                                     Sekaye (African)
Misha (Hindi)                                                                                                   Smeet/Smit (Hindi)
Muskaan (Punjabi)                                                                                           Tabassum (Arabic)
Rissa/Risa (Latin)                                                                                             Teshi (African)
Suniska (Hindi)
Suriya (Afghan)
Tirrike (Aboriginal)

Names with Happy, Merry or Joyful Meanings

GIRLS                                                        BOYS
Ada (English)                                                                                                   Allegro (Italian)
Adana (Phoenician)                                                                                          Asher (Hebrew)
Aida (Arabic)                                                                                                   Ayu (African)
Alair (Latin)                                                                                                      Bledsoe (English)
Aleeza/Aliza (Hebrew)                                                                                      Bligh (English)
Allegra (Italian)                                                                                                 Eudo (Greek)
Bayo (African)                                                                                                  Fahey (English)
Beatrice/Beatrix (Latin)                                                                                     Fane (English)
Beeja (Hindi)                                                                                                    Faraj (Arabic)
Blythe (English)                                                                                               Felix (Latin)
Chara (Greek)                                                                                                  Festus (Latin)
Charmian (Greek)                                                                                             Gaius (Latin)
Desta (Ethiopian)                                                                                              Gale (German)
Eda (German)                                                                                                   Gill (Hebrew)
Etsu/Etsuko (Japanese)                                                                                     Hani (Arabic)
Farrah (Arabic)                                                                                                Happy (English)
Felice/Felicia (Latin)                                                                                         Helgi (Norse)
Felicity (Latin)                                                                                                  Ilario (Italian)
Gay (French)                                                                                                   Hiroki (Japanese)
Geela (Hebrew)                                                                                               Huan (Chinese)
Gilana (Hebrew)                                                                                              Joss (English)
Gioia (Italian)                                                                                                   Kantu (Hindi)
Gwyneth (Welsh)                                                                                             Kasem (Thai)
Halona (Native American)                                                                                Koji (Japanese)
Hana (Arabic)                                                                                                  Lok (Chinese)
Hilary (Latin)                                                                                                 Makarios (Greek)
Huan (Chinese)                                                                                                Mesut (Turkish)
Jovita (Latin)                                                                                                    Naim (Arabic)
Joy (Latin)                                                                                                       Nanda (Sanskrit)
Joyce (French)                                                                                                Noam (Hebrew)
Kay (Greek)                                                                                                   Oron (Hebrew)
Keiko (Japanese)                                                                                            Parvaiz (Persian)
Kishi (Japanese)                                                                                              Pramod (Sanskrit)
Lacey (Latin)                                                                                                   Ranen (Hebrew)
Lara/Larissa (Russian)                                                                                 Ranjit/Ranjeet (Sanskrit)
Leda (Greek)                                                                                                  Sayid (Persian)
Letitia (Latin)                                                                                                   Sealey (English)
Mab (Irish)                                                                                                      Selig/Zelig (German)
Meara (Irish)                                                                                                   Sharma (Sanskrit)
Merry (English)                                                                                               Simha (Hebrew)
Miyuki (Japanese)                                                                                          Soroush (Persian)
Naila (Arabic)                                                                                                 Suman (Sanskrit)
Naima (Arabic)                                                                                               Tate (Norse)
Naomi (Hebrew)                                                                                            Winfred (English)
Nara (Celtic)                                                                                                   Yuki (Japanese)
Olina (Hawaiian)                                                                                             Yukio (Japanese)
Rina (Hebrew)
Sachiko (Japanese)
Seeley (English)
Sharmila (Hindi/Sanskrit)
Simcha (Hebrew)
Surata (Hindi)
Sushila (Sanskrit)
Tatum (Norse)
Trixie (Latin)
Ulani (Hawaiian)
Vaisey (French)
Yukiko (Japanese)
Zemirah (Hebrew)

Monday, April 8, 2013


OK, so I'll admit that todays inspiration came from a not-quite-glamorous source. I was looking at a bottle of toner (made by Nivea) while I was in the bathroom and thought to myself "Nivea is nice, that's not one you hear often". As you do.

It's pretty easy to guess why you don't see it very often. Googling Nivea will get you two main results. One is the singer Nivea, best known for her debut 2001 single "Don't Mess With The Radio" and her Debut Album (and second single) "Don't Mess With My Man".

The other is of course the skincare company. Founded in 1911 in Germany, the name Nivea was inspired by the snowy white colour of their cosmetic skin cream. Creator Dr Troplowitz based the name on the words nix and nivis, both of which mean 'snow' in Latin.

While many may not be too keen for their name to be related to just these two things, when we consider that Nivea comes from a Latin word for snow, we can start to appreciate the potential beauty in this name. In looks it's similar to recent favourite Nevaeh, it sounds a lot like top 10 name Olivia, and is on trend with wintry names Snow, Frost and Winter (but is much subtler). It's like a more traditionally feminine sounding version of Neve, a name which also means 'snow' in Italian.

Nivea, while rare, is not a complete stranger from the US top 1000. Since entering in 1975 it has appeared in the charts more years than not. But if you're truly hesitant to use a name that was basically invented for a skincare company, maybe this one is better left as a surprising but pretty middle. Nivea is a name that is definitely worth a second look.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


New 'Doctor Who' Companion Clara, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman

'Doctor Who' is back on our screens, this time with a new companion Clara Oswin Oswald, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. They've set the character of Clara up fairly well. Before she actually became the "official" companion, we had already seen two possible "incarnations" of Clara. There's something very intriguing about this character, and I'm looking forward to seeing  where her storyline goes.

The 'Doctor Who' writers have done a good job picking companion names recently. The last female companion - Amelia, nicknamed Amy - was very well named. Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan) first appeared on the show in April 2010. Amelia was already a fast rising name in many countries, popular in England & Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Wales, Canada, Scotland and America. Amy had however been dropping, so in one clever choice they got a name with almost universal appeal, with a familiar but not over-used nickname.

And for a show that is broadcast in 48 countries, it is important that main characters have names that have a wide appeal, making it easier for viewers to embrace them.

Like Amelia, Clara was (and still is) already on the rise. It's not as popular or common as either Amelia or Amy in the previously mentioned countries, but instead is currently popular in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Spain, Ireland and Canada. This makes it another name that is easily recognisable, warmly familiar and with near universal appeal.

Clara is a charming choice, and this Latin name meaning 'clear, bright, famous' seems to suit the vivacity of the new companion quite well. It is a perfect example of the vintage revival names that are currently trending upwards. My own fondest memories of the name are characters in Enid Blyton books, in particular a short tale called 'Conceited Clara'. It's about a girl who is very vain about her pretty dress and shoes, but learns the values of humility and modesty. And it doesn't get much more quaintly vintage than an Enid Blyton character.

Promo Poster from the 2012
'Doctor Who' Christmas Special
There are also some great famous Claras if you like a name with admirable role models, such as:

  • Virgin Saint Clara of Assisi
  • Founder of the Red Cross, Clara Barton
  • Clara Schumann, pianist and wife of composer Robert Schumann
  • Canadian Olympic medallist Clara Hughes
  • Clara, the heroine of the ballet 'The Nutcracker'
  • Concert singer and Mark Twains' daughter, Clara Clemens; and
  • Early movie screen legend and original "It" girl Clara Bow

Many people feel that Clara is the new Clare. It's certainly a very sweet, pretty and elegantly understated name. For some that may mean boring, but I'm betting this new Clara will help inject a bit of spunk and geek chic into Clara's image, and make many people reconsider this gem. Clara could be one to watch over the next couple of years.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 Bonds Babies

Cielo - One of this Years Gorgeous Baby Bonds Winners

The 2013 Bonds Baby Search competition has ended, and 17 gorgeous babies and children have been picked to be the new faces of Bonds. Winners were chosen for their bright personalities, cheeky smiles or "a touch of spark". And of course, with 17 winners we have 17 gorgeous names to mull over, so here they are (in alphabetical order):

Annabelle - This is one name whose star is currently on the rise. Thought to be either a combination of Ann/Anna (which is a Hebrew name meaning 'He (God) has favoured me' or a variant of French name Amabel meaning 'lovable', either way this is a lovely name. It's understandable why it's currently gaining in popularity.

Ashton - This is a great unisex option, although it has been far more popular for boys in the last 10 years thanks to Ashton Kutcher. An English name meaning 'ash tree place', this English name has a slightly preppy  but friendly feel to it.

Austin - One of the more popular place names, Austin reached top 10 status in the US in the late 90's but didn't stay there long. Of French and Latin origin, it means 'great, magnificent, venerated'. If you like a more literary spin, change the "i" for "e" and you have one of the most beloved females writers - Jane Austen - but the Austin spelling for now remains far more popular.

Azriel - A Hebrew name meaning 'God is my help', I love the sound of Azriel. Great for either gender, it has a long history of use. However it is also a commonly recognised name for the Angel of Death (also spelled Azrael), and is often depicted in fiction in this role. If this isn't a problem in your eyes, it's a great sounding name.

Bella - As most know, Bella literally means 'beautiful' in Italian/Latin. A pretty, friendly name, and extremely popular when you take into account girls with -belle or -bella names that go by Bella as a nickname. And of course there's that small franchise known as 'Twilight', which helped put Isabella and Bella at the top of everyone's lists. Whether it was your use or avoid list depends on how much it's popularity bothers you.

Charlize - A nice surprise, as this is not a name you see very often. It first appeared on the US charts in 1998 thanks to the popularity of actress Charlize Theron, but peaked in 2004 at #624 and has slowly been dropping off again. It's a feminisation of the Old German name Charles, meaning 'free man'. A lovely, slightly more exotic sounding name than Charlotte if you're looking to honour a Charles in your family tree.

Cielo - This is perhaps my favourite on this list. In Spanish it's pronounced see-EL-oh and means 'heaven', in Italian it's chee-EL-oh meaning 'sky'. It's usually used on girls, and is a pretty but rare choice if you love the sound of an "o" ending, but aren't keen on other favourites such as Cleo, Arlo or Sparrow.

Cohen - A cool sounding name, this is one that comes with a bit of controversy. It is a royal name in the Jewish faith, meaning 'priest', and is therefore felt to be off limits as a given name. Nonetheless, its sound is what has attracted many who are largely unaware of the association, and Cohen is a name on the rise.

Declan - I love Declan, it's such a strong, warm, and masculine name. Declan is a Gaelic name meaning 'full of goodness' or 'man of prayer'. It's also an Irish Saint name. Declan has been getting a lot of exposure as a character name in recent years, appearing on shows such as 'Revenge' and movies such as 'P.S. I Love You', which may have helped to boost its popularity.

Franklin - A surname and presidential name in America, Franklin is an English name meaning 'free land holder' or 'free man'. It is distinguished sounding, but the "frank" in it also makes it feel honest and down-to-earth.

Isabelle - There's something so pretty about this particular spelling. Yes, it's currently super popular, but that's because so many people love the sound of Isabelle. Derived from the name Elizabeth, Isabelle means 'pledged to God'.

Jaydan - Jaydan (or Jayden) is a name that in unpopular with many name aficionado's, mainly because they feel it is too popular (people say they are "over it"), sounds like several other currently popular names (mainly Aiden and Hayden) and sounds made up. Jadon however is a biblical name, meaning 'thankful', while Jaden (chosen by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith to honour Jada)  is a Hebrew name meaning 'God has heard', so technically it's an alternative spelling rather than a made up name. Jaydan has been likened to the Jason of this generation - a familiar, friendly and slightly funky name.

Jaydan - Another 2013 Bonds Baby Winner

Lyla - Lyla contains the double "L" sound which is also contained in popular favourite Lily. Lyla however feels a little less delicate than Lily, while retaining a lovely musical, feminine quality. In Persian it means 'dark haired beauty, night' and in Sanskrit it means 'divine play'.

Mia - I'm assuming this one is pronounced ME-ah, as that is the most common in Australia. Mia has been a top 10 name is Australia, Germany, Norway and America in recent years. It's soft but spunky, pretty, and easily understood in many languages, giving it universal appeal. It's often thought to be a pet form of Maria (meaning 'star of the sea'), but is also Italian for 'my' or 'mine'.

Mya - And I'm assuming this is pronounced MY-ah. Mya is a variant of Greek name Maia, meaning 'great, mother'. It's less popular than Mia, which is to say you'll see it at the top end of the top 100, rather than the top end of the top 10. It has a slightly stronger look to it than Mia, and for me feels like it would be right at home in a sci-fi tale.

Ramsey - In Australia, Ramsey Street is synonymous with 'Neighbours', one of our longest running television soaps. Beyond 'Neighbours', Ramsey is an Old English name meaning 'low lying land' or 'wild garlic island', but is better recognised as a Scottish surname. It feels like a happy, warm name, despite any associations you might have with irritable chef Gordon Ramsay. It's quite an adorable, off the beaten track choice.

Zac - It doesn't get much simpler than Zac. Many Zac's may be Zachary, Zachariah or Issac, or even Zack or Zach, but I love the sleeker look of Zac. This particular spelling has recently been made popular by famous Zacs Efron (actor) and Posen (fashion designer). Zac and its' variants continue to be some of the most popular Z names for boys, and means 'the Lord has remembered'.

So that's the round up for this year. I few themes I've noticed are:

  • a lot of these names have meanings involving God, which indicates a trend for not just biblical names, but also names with a spiritual meaning
  • a few have the letter "z" - which always seems to make a name feel a little spunkier and cutting edge for some reason
  • Belle/Bella names make a few appearances, so it's likely we will see a few more of these types of names rise in popularity before the Belle/Bella trend dies down.

A pretty bunch of names for a group of beautiful children - which names are your favourites?

Monday, April 1, 2013


Wreck-It Ralph

A couple of different paths of thought led me to profile Ralph today. One is that I recently saw 'Wreck-It Ralph' again for the second time, and I am still just as in love with it as I was the first time I saw it. And the second is a recent post I did on the name Barney.

Not only could Barney and Ralph be brothers, it also strikes me that these two names have a lot of similarities. Both are well recognised names that have long been popular. Both have often appeared on characters that while lovable, tend not to be the hunkiest or most heroic. But just as the character Barney Stinson is helping to make Barney cool and likable again, 'Wreck-It Ralph' could also have a positive impact in the way we view the name Ralph.

Ralph has historically been quite a popular name. In the US it was a top 100 name from 1880 until 1963, but has slowly been moving down. In 2011 it was raked at #953, dangerously close to slipping out of the top 1000. The name Ralph evolved from Old Norse, Norman and Germanic roots. In each case it is a compound of two words meaning counsel and wolf, hence it has the meaning 'wolf counsel'.

It's meaning coveys a somewhat sophisticated and clever image, and several real life Ralphs also help to lend some class and substance to the name. Think fashion designer Ralph Lauren, American activist Ralph Nader, or Transcendentalism leader Ralph Waldo Emerson. British Ralphs - actor Ralph Fiennes and composer Ralph Vaughan Williams - take it up yet another level by pronouncing Ralph as Rafe, rather than Ralf, which has a sexier sound and feel.

However it is the pop culture and colloquial Ralph's that have most likely been leading to the drop in popularity for this name. Unfortunately, "to ralph" is a slang term for vomiting (something which is not as much of an issue if you use the British Rafe pronunciation) which is not a likable association. And fictional Ralphs have often portrayed an image of well meaning but not too bright. Some of the most recognised fictional Ralphs include 'Happy Days' funny but silly sidekick Ralph Malph, American slob turned heir to the throne 'King Ralph', played by John Goodman, sweet but clueless Ralph Wiggum of 'The Simpsons' and Ralph Kramden, the blustery short tempered main character in the classic TV show 'The Honeymooners'.

'Wreck-It Ralph' introduces people to a Ralph who it still sweet and well meaning, but a bit smarter and less of a comedic caricature. If you haven't seen the movie, Ralph's job is to continuously wreck a building so the hero Fix-It Felix can save the day for the people that live in the building. Ralph feels that even though he has a job that other people don't like, it's an important job and doesn't mean that he is a bad guy. So he sets out to win a medal to prove that he to can be a hero and a good guy that people should want to be friends with. Of course, things don't go quite according to plan, but along the way Ralph learns to like himself and makes his first friends. This movie is also a good lesson not to judge (and exclude) people without getting to know them first.

Maybe the movie won't help Ralph's image as much with adults, but I think it will definitely increase it's cool factor amongst children. Rather than being seen as someone possibly not very bright whose name means vomit, Ralph's could now be seen as strong and heroic. I also think this is a name that could grow well - I love the nickname Ralphie for a young child! And Ralph is a good solid name to have. There is the option to use the Rafe pronunciation, but despite the popularity of actor Ralph Fiennes I'm not sure how well this would go outside Britain. Most likely you'd either be constantly correcting people on their pronunciation if they say it written, or saying "no, that's not short for Raphael/Rafael" when introduced verbally.

However you prefer to pronounce it, I think signs are good that Ralph is due for a comeback.