Friday, October 25, 2013

Mythical Halloween Names at Nameberry Today!

My next Halloween post has gone up on Nameberry instead today!

It's a list of names inspired by some pretty nasty (and some not-so-nasty) mythical creatures. Phoenix and Griffin are already long established names, and with the current interest in animal like names such as Bear, Fox and Wolf, I thought it might be fun to look a little further afield for some fresh and unusual creature names. But don't just take my word for it - check out the post at Nameberry and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In 1987 the name Shadow and it's alternative spelling Shadoe made a sudden impact on the SSA charts in the U.S. Prior to then, the spelling Shadow as a girls name had charted a handful of years in the 70's, and again in 1986. Then in 1987 both spellings charted for both girls and boys. So what happened in 1986/1987 that suddenly put this name on people's radars?

The answer appears to be Shadoe Stevens. Shadoe is well known for his voice work in television and radio (including hosting the 'American Top 40' radio show from 1988-1995) and various acting roles. These days you may recognise him as the announcer on 'The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson'.

By 1986 Shadoe was already well known after he created and produced 'Fred R. Rated for Federated', a series of commercials for United States chain The Federated Group that were so popular that 'Time Magazine' devoted a two page spread to them. 1986 saw Shadoe appear as a regular and announcer on 'The New Hollywood Squares', plus he hosted created and produced an episode of the comedy sci-fi 'The Cinemax Comedy Experiment', titled 'Shadoevision'. This would have given him nationwide exposure.

His name seems to have inspired a number of parents, but Shadoe Stevens was born Terry Ingstad. On his website he explains how the name was actually forced upon him when he was employed by WKRO radio station in Boston. Up until then he had been going by the name Jefferson Kaye, but it was deemed too similar to many other radio personalities at the time. He wasn't quite comfortable with Shadow, as he felt that Orson Welles was the original Shadow, hence the slightly different spelling. It certainly is a distinctive name though, and he created a personality to go with it.

The Shadoe spelling fell out of use by parents by 1998, but Shadow has continued to see use for both genders in small numbers. The only exception was in 2012, when it didn't quite chart for girls. Shadow is a word name meaning shade, and makes for an cool and mysterious sounding Halloween name. Shadows are often seen as spooky and eerie, something that may stem from a basic human fear of the dark. Other associations people have with the term shadow or shade is that it is sometimes used to refer to a ghost or spirit of a dead person, and in Jungian psychology the shadow or shadow aspect refers to the entirety of one's unconsciousness.

I think Shadow has a really great sound, and style wise it reminds me a lot of names like Orion, Griffin and Zephyr. It also has a bit of a super hero type feel to it. However it's possibly just a touch too "out-there" for most people to feel comfortable bestowing it on a child as a first name. On the upside, I think it would make a fantastically quirky and unexpected middle name for the adventurous namer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Photo courtesy of Tumblr

From one bird related name to an actual bird name. This is one I first noticed in a birth announcement in February this year at Waltzing More Than Matilda. It caught my eye as interesting at the time, but I didn't really think much more than that. But for some reason it has slowly been growing on me, and I'm starting to think there is more to this powerful little nature name than meets the eye.

As a bird, Rooks are related to Ravens and Crows, both of which have a history of being associated with Halloween. Ravens in particular are popular in Halloween iconography. It's thought in many cultures that because these birds feed on carrion, they are a link between life and death. Some think they contain lost souls, others say ghosts of murdered people and some say they were messengers from the gods. To see one was considered a good omen by some, but an ill omen by many others.

The benefit of using Rook rather than Raven or Crow/Crowe as a name though is that its' connection is much subtler, a little less "dark" than the other two, possibly because it has plenty of other meanings. The Rook is also a chess piece (named from the Persian work rukh meaning 'chariot'), a card game, a piercing in the antihelix of the ear, a cheat or swindler, a type of rocket and a shortened slang term for a rookie (someone who is new to a job or activity). In pop culture he is a moving castle character in the video game 'Demigod', and a character in 'Ben 10' - sure to make a young Rook happy.

I've seen Rook described by various people as cool, modern, strong, fierce, fresh, unique, romantic and adventurous. It certainly is rare - it first charted in the U.S just over a decade ago, and in 2012 was given to only 24 boys. If you like the idea of Rook but think the K ending is a bit abrupt, Rooker is a possible alternative, or Roderick with the nickname Rook is a distinguished choice.

I also have to admit to having a more personal reason for liking Rook - my name is Brooke, and I adore the idea of using Rook as a middle for a son because it contains elements of my name. It could also work to honour any Brooks' or Brooklyns, or of course and Ravens or Crow/Crowes in the family. And of course I love a nature name.

If you like your boys names to be short, spunky and unexpected, Rook is definitely worth a second look.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Mavis in 'Hotel Transylvania', voiced by Selena Gomez

When I told my husband that I was doing a post about Mavis, his response was "Isn't that a grandma name?" Indeed, this is how this name would be seen by many people. After all, Mavis peaked in the 1920's and 30's, at which time it was in the top 300 in the U.S. It was also used for boys occasionally in those days. These days, Mavis can now be considered to be a "vintage gem", and that usually means hot property.

As character Johnathan says when introduced to Mavis in the 2012 movie 'Hotel Transylvania', "Mavis? That's a neat name!". Of course in this movie, Mavis is a 118 year old vampire, Dracula's "teenage" daughter to be exact. This Mavis has suddenly given the name some cool cred - when I went looking for pictures the suggested Google searches included "Mavis hot" and "Mavis sexy". The words hot and sexy, paired with Mavis? Who would've thought it.

There's a few mixed ideas as to where Mavis originated. Some sources say it is Scottish, some English and some French. From what I've read, it started as the Old French word mauvis meaning 'redwing', also known as a thrush or song bird. It's thought that it was first used as a name by English author Marie Corelli in her 1895 novel 'The Sorrows of Satan' for her character Mavis Clare. She must have been inspired by its' meaning, as the character was said to sing "quite as sweetly as any thrush". As this was the reportedly the first use of Mavis as a name (I say reportedly as it first appeared on the SSA charts in 1893, two years before the publication date), it's often said to be an English name. However as the word mavis was almost obsolete by the 19th century it is thought that Marie Corelli was inspired by one of two other sources.

One possibility is the 1850 love song 'Mary of Argyle' by Charles Jeffrey. The other speculated source is the Robert Burns' 1794 poem 'Ca' the Yowes'. As the Robert Burns poem came first and he is Scottish, mavis seems to have been in common use in Scotland - the song thrush migrates to Scotland in spring and hence is known as a harbinger of Spring in Scotland - and  has led to some sources saying it is a Scottish name.

Regardless of its' origin, Mavis has the potential to experience a resurgence soon. Mavis and similar names Maeve, Mae and Mabel all increased in use in 2012. Maeve and Mae are already in the top 1000 on the SSA charts, and Mabel will most likely join them there in 2013. Positioned at #3667 in 2012, Mavis has a long way to go to join them, but this only means it has a fresher feel. In fact, Mae or Maeve would be cute nicknames for Mavis, meaning you get the cool name and more popular nickname in one fell swoop (bird pun unintended ☺).

Yes, there will still be people out there who think it is a fusty name. But then there are others who think Mavis is stunning, sweet, pretty, adorable, spunky, classic, smart, adventurous and strong. She's a literary, poetic, nature/bird, and now vampire inspired choice. Thanks to 'Hotel Transylvania' she feels youthful again, and with a 'Hotel Transylvania 2' said to be in the works for 2015, she'll be relevant for a little while yet. It's very likely that todays' children will be more likely to think of Mavis as fun and clever rather than old and fusty. Mavis is definitely a name to watch.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Elodie Yung as Jinx in 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'.

I've been debating whether to do Jinx as a name or not. Maybe it's just a little bit too gimmicky as a Halloween name, not really usable as a baby name.

Jinx is a word name - as a verb it means to cast an evil spell on someone or bring bad luck, as a noun it means a person or thing that brings bad luck. It's also one of the seven different types of spells in the 'Harry Potter' series. It's because of the idea that a Jinx is a negative thing that I wonder if it would be too much of a negative experience for a child to grow up with this name.

Then I had a conversation with my husband the other day that gave me second thoughts. It seems there is a new female champion in the video game 'League of Legends' and her name just so happens to be Jinx. He thinks it would be a great name. To which I posed the question "Do you think it would work as a name on it's own, or only as a nickname?'  For the above reason I'm pretty firmly in the nickname only headspace, but he gave it a moments thought and replied that he actually likes it just fine as a given name, and in fact thinks it'd be really cool.

I have to admit I do love the sound of Jinx, I think it's really cute. It reminds me a little of the saying "Jinkies!", the catchphrase of Velma in 'Scooby-Doo'. And maybe it's because I think it's cute that I feel it's more of a "girly" name.

Turns out other people tend to think it's more of a girls name too, and that it can be used as a given name. Jinx has charted a few times intermittently for girls in the U.S. The first was in 1926, most likely inspired by the 1925 silent movie 'Galloping Jinx'. In then charted through much of the '40's, '50's and into the '60's primarily thanks to actress and model Eugenia "Jinx" Falkenburg. Besides acting and modelling, she also entertained troops during World War 2 and hosted a popular talk show with her husband called 'Tex and Jinx'.

These days when I think of the name Jinx there are a few female characters that come to mind, and they all give this name a strong, sexy, feminine appeal. The new 'League of Legends' character is one - you can check out her music video below. Another comes in the form of Bond girl Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson, brought to life by Halle Berry in 'Die Another Day' (and who doesn't remember that scene as she steps out of ocean in her orange bikini). I thought her nickname came from the Gi/Ji sound in her name Giacinta, but it actually comes from the fact that she was born on Friday 13th. And then there's Jinx from the G.I. Joe universe, who appeared in this years' 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation', played by Elodie Yung.

At the other end of the spectrum - and with a slightly different spelling - you get Mr Jinks though. Best known as Robert de Niro's toilet flushing cat in the 'Meet The Parents' movies, he is also a Hanna-Barbera cartoon cat from the 'Pixie and Dixie and Mr Jinks' segment that used to play during 'The Huckleberry Hound Show'. This particular spelling brings to mind mischief and hi-jinks rather than bad luck and curses, which helps to give the name Jinx more of a fun image.

Sexy tough girls and crafty cats aside, I still personally think it's best as a nickname, so a child isn't permanently labelled as "bad luck". In which case it could probably be used for pretty much any child with a name starting with J or G, or containing a "Ji" sound. And of course, it's the perfect nickname for a child born on Halloween.

Monday, October 7, 2013


A younger Sam Raimi at work on set

If you like action, superhero and horror movies and TV shows, I'd be pretty shocked if you haven't heard of Sam Raimi. He's a producer, writer, director and actor, has worked on TV shows such as 'Hercules', 'Xena: Warrior Princess', 'Spartacus' and 'American Gothic'; and has directed big blockbusters such as the 'Spider-Man' trilogy (the Tobey Maguire versions) and 'Oz: The Great And Powerful'.

But it was the cult horror film 'The Evil Dead' that first brought him attention, back in 1981. Since then he has continued to make great horror movies. He's been involved in the follow ups to 'The Evil Dead', 'Evil Dead 2' and 'Army of Darkness' and other horror movies 'The Grudge', 'Boogeyman', 'The Messengers', '30 Days of Night', 'Drag Me To Hell', and 'The Possession'. 2013 saw him involved in the production of the remake of 'The Evil Dead', 'Evil Dead' and he's currently working as a producer on the remake of classic horror favourite 'Poltergeist', expected to be released in 2014.

There's no doubt that Raimi is a big name when it comes to horror. And this makes Raimi a prime candidate for a good Halloween inspired name.

If you want to know the meaning of the name Raimi, you'll come across some mixed messages. Some say it is a Native American/Quechua name meaning 'sun celebration'. Others say it's an African name meaning 'compassion'. And others agree that it's meaning is 'compassion', but that it is instead a Hebrew name derived from the Arabic/Persian boys name Rahim. It's likely that it has origins in each. I personally like that both meanings are positive and inspiring.

Pronounced RAY-mee, there's also something very likable about the sound of Raimi. It sounds similar enough to Amy to work for girls, similar enough to Ray and Remy to work for boys. Just as there's a little confusion surrounding it's origins, reports are mixed as to whether it is "traditionally" considered to be a boy or girl name. In the U.S. it has only ever charted (rarely) as a girls name. But if used as a tribute to a surname, there's no reason it couldn't work for either gender. I'd originally pictured it as a boys name. mainly because the person I was inspired by is a male, but the more I think about it the more I realise what potential it has as a girls name too.

Personally, I'm a little surprised more people haven't used Raimi, considering the cult-like following that Sam Raimi has and a rising trend for "modern hero" names. With names such as Monroe, Presley, Lennon, Bowie and Jagger on our radars, maybe Raimi won't be far behind.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The New Covens of Witch Names

It's that time of year again - when new shows hit our screens, and old favourites return with a fresh new season. In recent years you can count on there being a few new shows that feature some of the most popular supernatural beings - vampires, werewolves and witches - and this season does not disappoint. It's always interesting to see how these types of characters are named. Do the writers give them little known, "exotic" names to emphasise their mysterious natures? Or old and sometimes antiquated names to emphasise just how old they are? Or "everyday" names to instill in viewers the fear that these types could be living amongst us and we wouldn't even realise it?

Well, often that depends on the era the show is set in. And usually a show will employ more than one of the above tactics. Out of interest though, I thought I'd look a this years batch of witch names, as seen in four new series to feature witch covens in their storyline.

'American Horror Story: Coven'
I love how this show refreshes itself, with each season an encapsulated storyline with different characters but employing a similar cast of actors. This season the show gets away from murder houses ad lunatic asylums and heads to New Orleans and a house that hides and nurtures young witches. This means there should be plenty of young witches (and names) to look at, but these are the main players.

Cordelia - I have to admit to finding this to be perhaps the "witchiest" name of this season. I love Cordelia, and have been seeing this name mentioned a lot over on the Nameberry forums. She feels kind of magical, almost regal, filled with feminine strength. Cordelia is a Latin name meaning 'heart' and has literary and Shakespeare connections.

Delphine - Pretty and delicate, I love Delphine. Kathy Bates, who is playing the character, doesn't really make me think 'delicate' though. And apparently her character is very nasty, very quickly, so it's unlikely to give this name much of a boost. It hasn't been in the U.S. top 1000 since 1962. and ranked just #4293 in 2012. Delphine is a French name that comes from the Greek town Delphi, means 'dolphin' and is also associated with the delphinium flower.

Fiona - Fiona is probably not the first name to come to mind for most people when picturing a Supreme witch. I guess that's about to change. Pronounced fee-OH-nah, it's a Gaelic name that is quite popular in Scotland but no quite as much in the U.S., although it has been steadily climbing in recent years. It was ranked 209 in 2012. Meaning 'fair, white', it's a pretty, understated name, which will probably feel at odds with this character if Jessica Langes' past roles on 'American Horror Story' are anything to go by.

Madison - Madison is one of the young "pupils" in the series. I like that they have chosen typical, modern names for the younger generation, rather than going out of their way to find outlandish, mystical sounding names. Used for a long time for boys, it came into sudden use for girls after it was infamously given to mermaid Daryl Hannah in 'Splash' in 1984, quickly peaking at #2 in the U.S. in 2001/2002. Swift peaks like this almost guarantee it will fade just as swiftly, but as of 2012 it was still a top 10 name.

Misty - Dare I say it, many would probably call this pretty nature name a "stripper name". Which is a shame as I think it's quite pretty. It does however require that care is taken with the middle name to avoid it becoming a pun name (avoid Dawn at all costs, as this one is already taken by a porn star). Misty peaked in the 1970's at #40, but has declined fast and in 2012 was positioned at just 2741 in the U.S. Which unfortunately also means it feels a little dated these days.

Myrtle - I have a feeling this might be one of those "fusty" names on the brink of being seen as a "vintage chic" name. She peaked in the 1890's and has only charted once since 1997, but a recent appearance of Myrtle on the gorgeous Isla Fisher in 'The Great Gatsby' earlier this year may see her chart again in 2013. It's a Greek/nature name based on the evergreen shrub that has star like flowers and little berries.

Queenie - An English name that means 'queen' (duh), this is also one of the younger characters. I'm not a fan personally as it lacks subtlety, but it has charted in the U.S. almost every year since 1880. It's a rare but not totally unheard of name.

Zoe - another of the younger pupils, Zoe is right on trend, peaking at #30 in the U.S. in 2012. Alternative spelling Zoey has fared even better, also peaking in 2012 but at number 20. Zoe is a Greek name meaning 'life', and I wonder if it's a hint as to what this characters mysterious "ability" is. This pretty name is a firm favourite of mine - along with many other people.

'Sleepy Hollow'
This show is oh-so-very-loosely-based on the legend of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. Turns out that the horseman is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse - go figure - and that Ichabods' wife was a witch (of the good variety of course) who managed to do something that preserved Ichabod so he could rise again to defeat the horseman when he re-appeared in Sleepy Hollow. Which just so happens to be in current times. It's all a bit silly, but I've enjoyed the first few episodes enough. So far we haven't met many witches, but I'm sure there will be more to come as the "good" versus "bad" witch mythology is very prevalent here. And I'm also pretty sure we'll find that Abbie turns out to be a "good" witch and her sister Jenny a "bad" witch. Just saying.

Katrina - Ichabod's wife. Katrina is an Old German name meaning 'pure'. It's a variant of Catherine/Katherine and has long been considered a classic name in many countries. The devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 led to a dramatic drop in the popularity of this name in the U.S., but 2012 saw it starting to rise again.

Serilda - does the "eril" sound make you think of "evil"? That's probably the point. That said, I quite like Serilda. It's a little like Serena, a little like Matilda. She's also an Old German name, meaning 'armed warrior woman' - making it a strong name if you're looking for something rare and a little mysterious sounding. It has never charted in the U.S.

'The Originals'
Technically about vampires, this show also mixes in werewolves, werewolf/vampire hybrids and an uneasy pact with a coven of witches. It's also set in New Orleans and is a spin off of the highly popular 'The Vampire Diaries', centred around the family of "the original" vampires.

Davina - pronounced dah-VEE-nah, this is a feminine version of David and means 'beloved'. It's definitely not a name you hear everyday - it's well outside the U.S. top 1000 - but it has quite an understated, classy feel to it. Nickname Vina is an interesting option too.

Esther - Biblical Esther (pronounced ESS-ter) has enjoyed quite a steady popularity in the U.S., never ranking outside the top 400. It's thought to have Persian origins and mean 'star'. If this spelling looks a little dated, maybe Esta is more to your liking. Either way, I have to admit to not being a fan of Esther. Which I think is mainly due to the 2009 movie 'Orphan'. It's just a creepy movie. If you love creepy movies and haven't seen it yet, I recommend that you watch it.

Jane Ann - technically not a character, because she has already died in the first episode. But I found this pairing as a first name quite charming so I thought I'd include it.

Katie - Katie is often thought to be an endearment for Kate or Katherine, but Katie is one nickname that has long been used as the name on the birth certificate. It has the same roots as the above Katrina, and hence also means 'pure'. It's a sweet, happy, friendly feeling name that due to it's long popularity feels almost timeless.

Sabine - This is one of those names that makes many name nerds swoon. It's sophisticated and internationally appealing yet charmingly simple. Pronounced sah-BEEN in English and French but sah-BEEN-eh in German, Sabine is a Latin name. It comes from the ancient Sabine people of central Italy and remains quite underused in the U.S.

Sophie - It's not quite as popular as U.S. number 1 Sophia, but it's not too far off at position 52. This is another, friendly, happy feeling name to me, which makes me think that this particular coven are meant to be "good" witches. Sophie (pronounced SOH-fee) is a Greek name meaning wisdom. It's a pretty name for a girl to wear.

'Witches of East End'
This show is based on a novel of the same name by Melissa de la Cruz, which I have to admit I haven't heard of before let alone read. And it seems the show is aimed at readers, as information about the show is relatively light on, except to say that witch sisters Joanna and Wendy are reunited after a long time apart and something happens that means that Joanna must reveal to her two adult daughters that not only is she and their aunt witches, but her daughters are too.

Joanna - Joanna is a Hebrew name meaning 'God is gracious'. It's a pretty well known name in many countries, peaking at #88 in the US in 1984. One benefit to this name is that although everyone has heard it and is familiar with it, plenty of Joanna's say they have rarely met another one. That makes it a great standing-out-yet-fitting-in name option. It's also a multi-syllable girls name that doesn't feel overly frilly, a middle ground which is sometimes hard to find.

Freya - Pronounced FRAY-uh, Freya is a Scandinavian name meaning 'noble lady'. In Norse mythology she was also the goddess of fertility and love. It's starting to get a little more attention in the U.S., where it has never breached the top 1000, but in other countries such as Scotland, Ireland and England/Wales it's a top 100 name. I was a little surprised to see this name on a show about American witches but it makes for a fresh, different name and might give it a bit more exposure.

Ingrid - They may be surprising choices, but a sibset of Freya and Ingrid is truly lovely. Ingrid is also a Scandinavian name with Norse mythology ties. It means 'Ing's beauty', coming from the Norse God of earth's fertility Ing who was said to ride the land every year to prepare it for spring planting. It's more widely known in the U.S. than Freya, but is also yet to reach high levels of popularity.

Wendy - Talking about surprising name choices, to me Wendy felt a little out of step with the other main characters names. And it made me think of Casper the Friendly Ghosts pal, Wendy the Witch. Wendy is a literary name, famously created by 'Peter Pan' author J.M. Barrie and means 'friend'. It feels slightly dated now as it peaked in the U.S. in 1970 at position 28, but still has somewhat of a happy-go-lucky feel to it.

Well there you have it - 20 new witches that will be gracing our screens this month. Which ones do you think are winners? Will the shows, characters and actors they are attached to give them a boost in popularity, or turn people off?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


The Lambert Family at the heart of the 'Insidious' movies

I found it so much fun finding "Halloween inspired" names that wouldn't necessarily stand out as Halloween names last October that I've decided to do it again this October. This year's first name is Lambert, inspired by the family in the movie 'Insidious' and it's current sequel 'Insidious: Chapter 2'. It's already been released in America (on the suitable spooky Friday 13th September), but is due for a Halloween release here in Australia and so far reviews have been quite positive. If you like horror movies ☺

I love a good surname name, and Lambert fits the bill quite well. Most sources have this as a German name, although I have also seen it attributed as Scandinavian and French. All seem to agree though that Lambert means 'bright land', 'brilliant land', 'famous land' or some variant of these themes, as it comes from the words 'lant' meaning 'land, territory or homeland' and 'berht' meaning 'bright, famous or great'. It seems it was quite popular as a first name in England during the middle ages thanks to a combination of the arrival of Saint Lambert (otherwise known as the Bishop of Maastricht) in England with the Norman conquest, and the number of Dutch immigrants arriving in England during that time.

In the U.S. it has been in almost constant use, appearing on the SSA charts for boys almost every year since 1880. However it has never been very popular at all. The highest number of boys to ever receive this name in a single year was 98 boys in 1919, which in that year positioned it as the 623rd most popular boys name. By contrast, in 2012 only 6 boys were named Lambert, putting it way, way outside the top 1000 at #11,554. It's highly unlikely that a modern day Lambert would meet another one.

What I find interesting is that before I knew of it's origin, I would have mistakenly thought it could be a Scottish name, as it reminds me a lot of names such as Campbell or Coburn. To find out that it's not makes it seem more intriguing, more chameleon like to me. The most often used pronunciation is lam-BERT, although the French pronunciation drops the T so it sounds more like lam-BERR, which also brings quite a different flair to the name.

One potential downside to the name Lambert is a 1952 Disney short cartoon titled 'Lambert the Sheepish Lion'. The cartoon is actually super cute, and Lambert ends up saving the day, but once seen it's really, really hard to get the the song where the little lambs tease him out of your head. I'm sure a young Lambert would hear this song a few times in the schoolyard. Then again, he may like being compared to a lion, especially one who grows up to become a hero. Another cool reference could be singer Adam Lambert. Or if you need more convincing of Lambert's Halloween cred, there's also the 'Highlander' himself, Christopher Lambert; or a female character named Lambert in the original 'Alien' movie.

Lambert could be a great choice, with multi-national roots, a current surname feel and a rarity that is hard to beat - especially if you chose to use it on a girl. Fingers crossed that a child with this name would have an easier childhood than the family in the 'Insidious' movies though!