Friday, June 6, 2014


Every day on my tram ride into work, I pass by a big house with the name Penryn emblazoned on it. But it wasn't until recently that it struck me what a nice name Penryn would make.

Penryn is a real rarity, but feels incredibly name-worthy. Maybe because I've seen Penn and Penna getting some love in recent years. Or maybe because it sounds a little like a vintage-y, fantasy-like substitute for Lauren/Loren. Either way, I can see this working equally well on a person of either gender.

Penryn is in fact a place name in Cornwall, England - a quiet town called Penryn that is located on the Penryn River. It comes from the Cornish Pennrynn, meaning 'promontory' or 'headland'. Which gives it a bit of a nature and water/earth reference. There's also a small town named Penryn in the U.S, or there's Penrhyn Castle in Wales, which is the Welsh spelling of this word. And Penryn is also a technological name, as the code name of a processor sold by Intel from 2007-2011.

Funnily enough, my research into Penryn tells me that I was not the first to think Penryn would be a great name for a character in a science fiction/fantasy story. Author Susan Ee has used it for the name of the central female character in her series known as 'Penryn and the End of Days'. The author relates in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the inspiration for her name came from an exit sign off the I-80 in California, showing that good inspiration truly can come from anywhere. I like her style - the main male character bears the very cool moniker Raffe.

I haven't read the books myself (having only just found out about them), but the first one titled 'Angelfall' was released in 2011 and has rave reviews on GoodReads, as does the 2013 follow up 'World After'. It may be yet another YA dystopian post apocalyptic series, but I have a real weakness for those, so will definitely have to check them out myself! When I'm finished reading the current 'Dresden Files' book, that is. Seems the author Susan Ee is already in talks with Sam Raimi (!), Rob Tapert and Good Universe to make 'Angelfall' into a film, so we may hear Penryn a lot more in the next few years. Luckily it feels much more wearable than Katniss.

What initially drew me to Penryn is that is feels like a strong, vaguely aristocratic and preppy name. Yet the second syllable lends it some softness too -  I'd assume that it's pronounced PEN-rin. For a girl I could see it being a fresh and spunky alternative to Kathryn, Karen or Lauren; or maybe even Penelope if you're worried about how popular Penelope has become in recent years. Nicknames could be Penny, Pen, Rin or Rynn, the last few of which could also work well for a boy. And wouldn't it be great for a boy? It's like an (even more) stately Henry or Peregrine, and brings to mind names such as August, Jasper, Teague or Riordan, which have a similar vibe.

Penryn has never charted in the U.S, and seems to be quite rare in other parts of the world too. If you can also recognise the charm this name has, Penryn may be the rarity you have been looking for. What do you think? Penryn - Yay or Nay?

1 comment:

  1. I too came across this name while driving down I-80, saw the exit sign for 'Penryn road', and thought that make an excellent name for a character.