Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It's difficult to talk about newly created names without mentioning one of the most recent ones to grace the movie screens - Tauriel.

She's a modern addition to a much beloved franchise already rich with invented names and words, and has caused plenty of controversy in recent months. Tauriel is a Silvan Elf who makes her first appearance in the recently released sequel to "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"; "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug". Played by Evangeline Lilly, upon first hearing about her addition to the movie many derided it as being unfaithful to the original vision of the book, and her presence as simply being an unnecessary love interest for Legolas.

Since watching the movie, many have since changed their tune though. She is a carefully crafted character - her creators Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh wanted to add some feminine balance to a very male heavy story, but didn't want her to simply be eye candy. Tauriel has a back story of her own, and is a talented warrior who becomes caught in a love triangle which sees her making the tough decision between hunting Orcs with Legolas and Dragon hunting with the charismatic Kili.

And her name is both meaningful and in keeping with the spirit of Tolkiens works. Created from the Quenya Elvish language, Tauriel means 'daughter of the forest' - from the words taurë meaning 'forest' and the ending  -iel which means 'daughter of'.

When I first saw Tauriel in writing, it didn't strike me as the most visually attractive girls name. Generally I think of words and names such as Taurus and Taurean to be more masculine, especially with the association with bulls. But it's pronunciation of tow-riel helps diminish this and show it in a more delicate light. The L ending is also a nice alternative to the very popular A ending for girls.

But it's not the look, sound or meaning of this name that I think will cause this name to make a few ripples.

One thing people love in girls names these days is an intelligent, strong and brave female. It doesn't matter if she is a killer either. In 2012, three names in particular had a big impact on the SSA charts - Arya, Cataleya and Khaleesi. One is a sword wielding tomboy, one an assassin and the third a dragon wielding warrior queen.

Tauriel would be good company for these women. Evangeline Lilly herself describes Tauriel:

"Shes's a little more...gritty. A little more spontaneous, passionate perhaps.
To play this character I need to have a certain amount of grace. But I'm also supposed to be an absolutely ruthless, deadly killer."; and

"It was actually great to have that little bit of freedom to play with her and not have my performance from beginning to end be stoic and ethereal."

Granted, a strong female character who can kick ass is not a fool-proof formula for an overnight naming sensation, otherwise Katniss would have made more of an impact than it has. But being an underdog, passionate and having a pretty and distinctive but not too out-there name definitely helps. Tauriel ticks a lot of the right boxes.

Die-hard Tolkien fans may not agree, but I think Tauriel has a sound and style that many will find appealing, with a cool and inspiring on-screen example. She'll be one to watch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


Photo courtesy of Alison Griffiths

He feels like a somewhat old world, somewhat aristocratic name. I can just picture boys named Topher - or Christopher nicknamed Topher - right at home in an Edwardian castle, or even working the fields outside of one. Yet it's hard to find any evidence that this was ever the case. Seems that this has only become a nickname or given name in fairly modern times.

Topher first came to wider attention via actor Topher Grace. In 1998 a show called "That 70's Show" first aired in the U.S. The show was a hit, and made stars of some of it's main cast members - in particular, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Topher Grace. Born Christopher John Grace in 1978, he spent a lot of his younger years as a Chris until deciding he wanted something more distinctive. Apparently it's not unusual for boys named Kristoffer (international variant of Christopher) to go by Toffer in Denmark either. But it seems that Topher Graces' fame prompted other Christophers to do the same, as most of the Tophers I can find online are about the same age or younger that Topher Grace. 

Topher may have stayed as simply a quirky nickname alternative to the traditional Chris or even Kip or Kit, but in 2007 Topher first appeared on the U.S SSA charts. It was the year Topher Grace left "That 70's Show" and appeared as villain Venom in the blockbuster "Spider-man 3", and it was given to 13 boys that year. It has appeared again in 2008, 2009, 2011 & 2012, possibly assisted by the appearance of a character by the name of Topher Brink in Joss Whedons' short-lived "Dollhouse". Like many Joss Whedon shows, "Dollhouse" has a somewhat cult-like following, and eccentric-young-genius-with-questionable-morals Topher Brink has struck a chord with many fans, giving this name a bit of geek cred. 

However, it may be a little simplistic to assume that Topher is just a nickname that has managed to make the transition to given name. While it's hard to find records of it as a given name, it does have a history as a surname. Reportedly originating from the area of Thuringia in Germany in early medieval times, spelling variations include Toepfer, Topfer, Toeffer, Toffer, Topper and Topfer. 

This additional aspect makes it slightly harder to determine the exact origin and meaning of this name. As a derivation of Christopher, it would have Greek/Latin origins and mean 'bearer of Christ'. As a surname it is an occupational name, coming from the German Töpfer meaning 'potter'. Chances are you may even have a Potter or variation of Töpfer in your family tree.

I like both Topher Grace and the character Topher Brink, so I can see the attraction of this name. It's currently fresh and "new" feeling, and those who like it think of it as suiting someone who is clever, sweet and gentle but a little off beat and quirky. It may sound similar to tofu or gopher for some, but at least these are not overtly negative or offensive associations. Topher is interesting and current. It's possible that this name is just at the start of a long climb to popularity.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stellaluna and Soluna

This post was inspired by the credits of a movie I watched the other day. The name I spotted was Soluna, the artist of one of the songs used in the movie. At least I thought it was an artist, as I assumed that it must be a persons name that I just hadn't heard before.

Turns out though that I was on the wrong path. Soluna (pronounced SOL-une-ah) was a group of female Hispanic singers that were together from 1998 to 2004. I hadn't heard of them before so they mustn't have had much success in Australia, but it seems they were relatively successful in the US.

But back to their name. They invented Soluna by combining the Spanish words for sun (sol) and moon (luna). So simple yet such a romantic result. Which made me think about another Luna smoosh name that I first heard sometime over the past year - Stellaluna. Meaning 'stars and the moon'. But how can one decide between the sun and the moon or the stars and the moon?

Almost surprisingly, neither has ever charted. Luna itself has been experiencing an upsurge in recent years, yet it doesn't seem to have transferred to any other Luna names yet. It seems a little strange - a name that is heaven spelled backwards is a top 100 name, but these two pretty names with their lovely meanings and current sound haven't even gotten a foot in the door. What's with that?

Well, both have a less than flattering association with them. And when a name is rare, there's a higher chance that it will only be associated with the one other thing people have heard it for.

Apart from being a girl group, car manufacturer Toyota released a model in the 1990's called the Soluna in Asia. It was a great seller, but marketed as a family car or taxi, which aren't generally considered to be sexy. It also can sound a little like saloon, and no-one wants their child confused with a bar.

Stellaluna on the other hand is most closely associated with the childrens book of the same name. Written by Janell Cannon in 1993, 'Stellaluna' is is the story of a cute baby fruit bat who learns to recognise that her and her friends differences doesn't mean they can't still be great friends. It was featured in the 2001 movie 'I Am Sam' and released as an animation on DVD in 2004. But again, people don't generally find bats very attractive.

I think there's hope for these names yet though. Maybe the children who grow up loving the book 'Stellaluna' will one day give it to their daughters with fond memories and messages of coming together to embrace our differences. Maybe 2012 Eurovision contestant Soluna Somay will bring more attention to the name Soluna, showing that it is one that would work in many countries.

Then again, if these feel a little too frilly as one name for you, they could always be broken up and used as first and middle combinations. Sol (or even the attractive Soleil) Luna or Stella Luna are lovely too. 'Grey's Anatomy' star Ellen Pompeo agrees - she named her daughter Stella Luna in 2009.

For something just a touch exotic, just a touch soft and dreamy; with an almost heavenly meaning, why not consider Soluna or Stellaluna?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Photo Courtesy of  Caroline Ghetes

At first glance, you wouldn't be alone in thinking that Daxos is a Greek name. This is probably because there was a character with this name in the movie '300'. Yes, Daxos was the name of one of the 300 Spartans that fought off Xerxes and his army of thousands. And the name certainly sounds right at home in this movie next to fellow Spartans Leonidas, Stelios, Dilios and Astinos. Admittedly, my knowledge of ancient Greek names is not extensive. But from the lack of history or references to this name on the Internet, I'm guessing that Daxos is an invented name.

Stylistically, it works well as a Spartan character. It's tough and cool sounding, and manages to feel ancient yet dramatic and fantasy-like. This is very much in keeping with the look and feel of the Frank Miller 1998 graphic novel that the movie '300' is based on. And it seems that Frank Miller wasn't the only one who perceived Daxos this way. George R.R, Martin also created a character named Xaro Xhoan Daxos for his 'Song of Ice and Fire' series (otherwise known to television viewers as 'Game of Thrones') and in 2013 it was announced that Daxos of Meletis is one of the new "rare legendary creatures" for the trading card game 'Magic: The Gathering'. On his card, Daxos of Meletis is a strong looking man swinging a sword, his appearance reminiscent of the portrayal of the Spartans in '300'.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Daxos appearing in birth announcements soon, as it contains a few elements that are appealing to parents at the moment. For one, boys names containing "X" are very trendy. Double "X" names (Maxx, Jaxx, Paxx) and names with the sound element of "xon" or "xton" are appearing everywhere. Think Jaxon, Braxton, Paxton, Jaxton, Maxton etc. It's possibly not long until people look for a different ending to add to their one-syllable, ends-in-"x" names. Especially if they are also into ancient civilisation type names such as Maximus, Julius, Titus and Darius, all of which were in the U.S. top 500 boys names in 2012.

Dax itself and it's related names are also getting their fair share of attention these days. In 2012 Dax was ranked #634, Daxton #620, Daxon #2399, Daxtyn #6024, Daxson #6354, Daxten #7617, Daxx #7618, Daxtin #8996, and Daxter #9864. Dax is a place name, after a region in south-western France that is famous as a spa. It's also thought it could possibly mean 'badger', coming from the German word 'dachs' which is often pronounced daks, just as Dax is. That's possibly stretching things a bit far though.

Daxos has a super cool sound that could appeal both to people who love a fantasy reference (or two) and historical feel but current look. Perhaps between 'Game of Thrones', the new MTG character/card and the upcoming release of the sequel '300: Rise of an Empire' Daxos will garner some attention this year.

Daxos of Meletis
by Karla Ortiz for 'Magic: The Gathering'

Thursday, January 16, 2014


These days, the lines between given names and brand names are growing ever more blurry. You don't have to look far to see some of the reasons why. For one, plenty of brands names are actually based on the name of the owner or inventor, or for some other reason are derived from already established given names. Think Armani, Wendys, Estee Lauder, Barbie or Reeses, just to name a few. And now that last names as first names have become increasingly popular the scope has widened even further. Then there are brand names that are based on words, particularly from nature or places. Milo, Lynx and Apple may not be common on the playground, but they're not completely unheard of. Yet to some they are just brands of hot drinks, men's deodorant and electronic products.

Then there is a slightly different breed of brand-names-come-baby-names. Those names that are specifically invented as a brand name, and have no origins or use as a given name until after the brand was invented.

That's not to say that these are unusable as names exactly. When you think about it, it's understandable why we would feel attracted to a word we hear every day, especially a word that represents something we admire, respect or aspire to. For example, Lexus brand cars were first introduced to the US in 1989, and the name Lexus subsequently debuted on the U.S SSA charts in 1990 for both girls and boys. Lexus is a name invented by parent company Toyota, loosely meaning "luxury edition cars for the US". You may not be able to afford one of these luxury cars, but that doesn't mean you can't add some of their sophistication and style to your household. In theory.

Shiseido is a name that falls into this latter category.

Shiseido was specifically created for the Shiseido brand. According to the Shiseido website:

"the name Shiseido was taken from a passage in I Ching, the classic Chinese Book of Changes, as it suggests some of the most ancient human wisdom still relevant today.
The last four characters of the Japanese translation (Ban Batsu Shi Sei) means, "Praise the value of the great Earth, which nurtures new life and brings forth new values".
These few syllables encapsulate the philosophy of Shiseido as a company, as a brand, as a citizen of the world".

It's an exotic sounding word with the currently cool "O" ending and quite a beautiful meaning. Plus it has the benefit of associations with youth, beauty and style. Yet it's a name that not many children bear - Shiseido has never appeared in the American charts, possibly because it may be a little hard to wear. Using it as a name would almost overwhelmingly make people think of the brand, so it could be considered a brave and distinctive choice for a daughter. 

Personally, I think that Shiseido falls into a similar category as the name Khaleesi. Both were invented to convey a concept, and weren't originally intended to be used as a given name. Yet both have a cool, lyrical sound; a romantic fantasy-like feel; and possibly represent something empowering to some people. They may even be quite well matched for a pair of sisters. 

Would I use them myself? No. But I can understand why some people would find them attractive and appealing enough to use.

I can't help but feel that the debate around the suitability of invented and brand names as given names is one that we will only see a lot more of in the future. Names are "invented" all the time, often just for their sound. They're not really that much different to those invented for a brand. At least Shiseido was invented to mean something, and something beautiful at that. What do you think - does Shiseido have potential as a name, or not?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Naming By Popular Vote?

Photo Courtesy of
Andrea Green Photography

How about a new way of naming? I was watching television this morning when they reported on a man who had started a website inviting people to help name his daughter. Stories such as this occasionally pop up, with people sometimes turning to social media or the internet. It's almost understandable - the choices can sometimes seem endless and deciding on just one (or two or three names depending on middles) can seem a daunting task.

But if approached with an open mind, it could open your eyes to a lot of new possibilities. Certainly it gives you an idea of how people will react to certain names.

Containing a disclaimer to say that they will make the final decision, this site - - seems to be a bit of tongue in cheek fun, and maybe even a way to share with the world how excited he is about the impending birth of his daughter. You can vote for your favourite first name and a middle name, or even suggest one if you can't see your picks listed. As of a few minutes ago the front runners were the pretty combination Amelia Mae. Hopefully the end result is just as pretty, as there are some shockers in contention - Pancake, Cthulu, Streetlamp and All-Spark are currently ranked pretty high! You can also add comments to champion your favourites.

It seems to all be a bit of fun, and is worth checking out and adding your advice, or even just to see what outlandish names people have suggested (which I am sure won't make the final cut!).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Creative Names From Cirque Du Soleil

Like your names with a bit of a magical, mystical flair? Then how about taking some inspiration from Cirque Du Soleil, a company for whom magical and mystical is all in a day's work. Below are some of the top picks just from the titles of their shows, although the shows are also rich with great character names if this list gives you a taste for a Cirque du Soleil inspired name.

Oh so very close to Allegra, it's almost surprising this hasn't found it's way on to the name charts considering the current love for alternate spellings and embellishments. Both Alegría and Allegra are Italian names meaning 'cheerful, joyous'. The added benefit of this spelling is that it's a nice step away from the medication.

Amaluna is a combination of 'ama', meaning 'mother' and 'luna' meaning moon. Cirque du Soleil chose the name because the moon is associated with femininity. It is indeed filled with feminine mystique. Nickname Luna is a bonus.

Pronounced 'surk', this is an option that could work well on either a boy or a girl. It's not that far removed from Circe of Greek Mythology, but comes with much more joyous associations. Clown jokes would be a definite possibility, but on the right person this could seem sophisticated and exotic.

Cortéo is an Italian word meaning 'procession'. Pronounced core-TAY-oh, this could work well on either gender, although I feel it leans more male. It could be the name of a swashbuckling pirate from days of old, or an extra in a futuristic sci-fi movie.

Over the past year we have seen an emerging pattern of Leo and Lion related names, so why not Dralion? A little bit dragon, a little bit lion, this one feels distinctly masculine. It's pronounced drah-lee-on and would be a super cool choice.

This name may sound like a motor vehicle, but the Ká in this show was the fire that has the dual power to destroy or illuminate. Similar to unisex name Kai, Ká is one of the few names on this list have actually charted previously as a name in the U.S. It's also the stage name of rapper Kaseem Ryan.

Names starting with Q tend not to be hugely popular, but as this is pronounced kee-dahm it has more in common with names starting with K, which are much more popular. This show title refers to the main character, said to be “the embodiment of both everyone and no one at the same time... one who cries out, sings and dreams within us all”. I love the romanticism of this notion.

A French name meaning 'sun', Soleil became widely recognisable thanks to the child star of 80's hit 'Punky Brewster', Soleil Moon Frye. However it has remained far from popular in the U.S., meaning it hits the sweet spot of recognisable but underused.

Another option that sounds so much like a name it's almost surprising it's not. Varekai (pronounced vah-reh-kye) is a word meaning 'wherever' in Romani. It sounds like it is straight out of a fantasy adventure, very similar to the rising Malachi but with an edgier vibe.

**This post originally appeared on Nameberry**

Friday, January 10, 2014

The New Twilight Names?

Photo courtesy of The Book Diaries

It often feels like 'Twilight' made a huge impact on the naming scene. Isabella and Jacob may have been top ten names before the first book was published, but the series possibly enabled them to hold onto their top positions longer than they may have otherwise. And while Edward seems to be the one anomaly that didn't benefit from the resurgence in attention, the secondary characters in the series certainly did.

As soon as the final movie had been released, critics have been theorising on what will be the next big sensation. And name enthusiasts have been wondering what will replace 'Twilight' for naming inspiration.

One promising contender is the Veronica Roth written 'Divergent' trilogy - 'Divergent', 'Insurgent' and 'Allegiant'. The first movie is due for release in March, starring Shailene Woodley (of George Clooneys' Oscar winner 'The Descendants') and Kate Winslet. But perhaps more importantly, it feels that in many ways the author has managed to tap into a naming style that may prove to be just as inspiring as Stephanie Meyers'.

Beatrice “Tris”
The books are told in the voice of Beatrice “Tris” Prior. As the series is very much about how the characters identify themselves, it's a poignant moment when Beatrice leaves one life behind her and chooses to “remake” her identity with the new name Tris.

There are several ways in which this name and character are reminiscent of Isabella.
1 – The name is a classic beauty
2 – It comes with more than one great nickname option
3 – It's already rising in popularity
4 – She's a strong girl yet quietly reserved girl with a “unique” mind
5 - And it is this that captures the romantic attention of a an aloof but attractive, seemingly unattainable older guy.

Could Beatrice be the next Isabella? I'm sure a lot of Beatrice lovers are hoping it won't, but it has real potential.

Tobias is another fantastic classic choice with a familiar nickname, however has been hovering on the charts around the low 500's for a few years now. Exposure from this series may be just the boost this name needs to gain some upward momentum.

Tobias is Beatrice's love interest, and like Beatrice Tobias has turned his back on his old life and is better known by the nickname Four (for reasons unrelated to his name). In fact, very few people in his life know his original name, and revealing his “real” name to Tris signifies the depth of his feelings for her. In many ways, this is a strong character that will likely appeal to many.

Other Worthy Mentions:
Alice, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper and Cullen – and even invented name Renesmee – have all experienced a surge in popularity in recent years thanks to 'Twilight'. Luckily, the 'Divergent' supporting characters are also rich with options for parents looking for underused classics begging to be rediscovered.

Albert (Al)
Amity (faction name)

**This is an update to the post that originally appeared on Nameberry in August 2013**

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ten Musician Stage Names: Avicii to Katy Perry

Performers often adopt a stage name – something that is memorable and conveys a particular image, their public persona. This seems to be particularly noticeable with music artists. An actor can hide behind the characters they portray, but a music artist is much more exposed. They are their music, and their public persona can help sell their music and sell tickets to concerts and gigs. And the name they choose to go by can be an important tool to build this persona.

But how do music artists choose a stage name? Here are some examples of current music artists who have chosen their public name, and what made them gravitate towards it.


Starting with a local artist, Gotye hails from Melbourne Australia and had a huge hit with 'Somebody That I Used to Know'. A Belgian Australian, he was born Wouter De Backer and went by the English version of his name – Walter – when at school in Australia. To his friends he's known as Wally, but chose to go by Gotye when creating his first solo tracks. Pronounced GAW-tee-ay, it's a pronunciation re-spelling of Gauthier, the French equivalent of Wouter (which is Flemish) that his mother used to call him as a pet name.


From an international cultural inspiration to a pop culture one. Born Alecia Beth Moore, P!nk (yes, with an exclamation mark) adopted her stage name in her teens, which reportedly started as mean nickname she was given. There are several versions of how she got the nickname though, which range from her bearing a resemblance to Mr Pink, a character played by Steve Buscemi in the 1992 Tarantino movie 'Reservoir Dogs', to her turning pink when she blushed, to showing her “pink parts” to a male friend. Whatever the cause, it's just like this feisty pop star to take something intended to hurt her and turn it into something empowering.


These days rappers with a pseudonym are definitely in the majority. Like P!nk, his stage name originated in his teens. Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, as a teenager he rapped with the name M&M, which soon morphed into Eminem. Which would have helped prevent possible confusion with the candy. He's also gone by the alter ego Slim Shady, said to be a reflection of the rage and resentment that he was feeling at the time.

Jay Z

Another well recognised rapper with a memorable stage name is Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter. When younger his friends called him Jazzy, and he later changed this to Jay-Z out of respect to his mentor, rapper and producer Jaz-O. It's also a nod to the J/Z subway services that have a stop in his home neighbourhood of Brooklyn. He dropped the hyphen in July 2013.

Miley Cyrus

Miley started life as Destiny Hope Cyrus, so named because her parents thought she would achieve great things. She was given the nickname Smiley as an infant because she smiled so much, and this was later shortened to Miley. When cast in dual roles Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart on the Disney Channel show 'Hannah Montana', the Miley character was originally meant to be Chloe Stewart, but was changed when Miley was given the job. In 2008 she officially changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus. Miley's clean cut Disney image inspired thousands of parents to use her name, and Miley leapt from position #5056 in 2005 before 'Hannah Montana' started to #128 in 2008. Miley's questionable behaviour in 2013 may have some people regretting that choice now, although the sentiment and meaning behind the name is very sweet.

Katy Perry

Katy's story is a little more straightforward. Born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, she was always known as Katy, and recorded her first album under the name Katy Hudson. It was a self titled gospel rock album, released in 2001, but wasn't very successful. While working on her songwriting in 2003, Katy dropped Hudson in favour of her mother's maiden name – Perry – to avoid being confused with popular actress Kate Hudson.


Unlike the previous people on this list, Swedish DJ Avicii (pronounced uh-vee-chee) deliberately chose his name, rather than it evolving more naturally from a nickname or family name. Real name Tim Bergling, he needed a stage name when he was starting out as a DJ and setting up a MySpace page to expand his fan base. He remembered hearing the word Avici – a Buddhist term meaning the lowest level of hell – and thought it sounded cool. The extra “i” was added as the name Avici was already taken on MySpace.


Another cool customer is rapper Drake. Drake is actually his middle name, his full name being Aubrey Drake Graham. When acting on TV teen drama 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' he went by Aubrey Graham, but records under the mononym Drake. Already ranked at #231 on the SSA lists in 2012, this is a name to watch. Drake was one of the most Googled people of 2013, and his 2014 is off to a big start as he is currently appearing in 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' and is hosting 'Saturday Night Live' on January 18th. He's also a great example of why a funky unexpected middle can be an asset – it's like an inbuilt stage name.

Lady Gaga

It's easy to tell that this pseudonym was not Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta's middle name. It's thought that her name was purely marketing, in which case they invented a great back story to go with it. True or not, the tale is that Gaga was already on the search for a stage name to reinvent herself with when she was working with producer Rob Fusari. Upon hearing her done a particular song he exclaimed that her voice reminded him of Freddie Mercury, and in particular the Queen song 'Radio GaGa'. It became an in-joke that he would sing her the song when she entered the studio. Then one day a text message mistake changed Radio to Lady and something clicked. Gaga loved the combined imagery of refinery and properness with craziness, saying it perfectly captured her journey from a private school girl to her life in a “trash glitter environment”.


And lastly, a girl who has been described as the anti-Lady Gaga. She's 17 year old New Zealand musician Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor, whose debut album 'Pure Heroine' has garnered her four Grammy nominations. Her stage name is exactly that – a character that she considers to be separate from her own persona. She has confessed that ever since she was young(er) she was fascinated by royals and aristocracy (hence the sing 'Royals'), and wanted a stage name that reflected that. She was particularly drawn to the look and sound of the title Lord, but felt it was too masculine so added the “e” to make it more feminine aesthetically.

Whether it be inspired by a middle name, nickname, pronunciation quirk, something the artist finds inspiring or simply a way to distinguish themselves, there is something that these stage names have in common. They are all recognisable as theirs. How would you create a stage name if you needed one?

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Liliandil, played by Aussie actress Laura Brent

In 'The Chronicles of Narnia' series, there appears a character in the books with no name. She is known simply as Ramandu's daughter - Ramandu being a star - and although her role is small, it is also quite important. In 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' she is the guardian of her father's island, the one with Aslan's table upon which the seven swords must be lain as part of Caspians' quest. She provides the necessary information to enable Caspian to complete his task. We then later learn in 'The Silver Chair' that Caspian married Ramandu's daughter and she bore him the son Rillian. Yet C.S Lewis left her nameless.

That changed in 2010 when the movie 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' was released. For this movie she was given a name by Douglas Gresham, executive producer on the movie and stepson of C.S Lewis. And that name was Liliandil.

Pronounced as lil-ee-AHN-dell in the movie, it's hard to find evidence of the precise thought process behind the creation of this name. For all we know C.S Lewis himself made it up when he was telling a young Douglas bedtime stories. But overall the response to the choice has been fairly positive from fans, who find it to be well suited to the character. Here are a few theories as to why this name works so well for Ramandu's daughter:

  • It's mysterious and feminine sounding;
  • and also evocatively ethereal (she is a half star, after all);
  • the name is reminiscent of the imagery of the sea of lilies that must be sailed though to reach Aslan's land in 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader'; and
  • it has similar sounds to Rilian, her son's name.

As far as "invented" names go, this is quite a pretty one. It's also not unimaginable to see this (or alternative spelling Lilliandil) on a little girl, mainly because it just feels like an elaboration of Lily or Lilian. Both of which could be used as nicknames, or even Dell or Della for that matter. It has a soft, romantic feeling to it, and it would be a nice way to have a Narnian connection without using one of the more well recognised names.

What do you think - is Liliandil a hit or a miss?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How would you choose a new name - for yourself?

Mask available at Samantha Peach Masquerade Masks

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2014!

The beginning of a new year is often the time when people reflect on the year past, and ruminate on what they would like the next year to bring. For some it is a time for transformation - a new image and maybe even a new name.

It's interesting when someone chooses a new name for themselves; whether it be for career reasons, personal reasons, or or as an online alias. Everyone has their own process. Some prefer to choose a variation of their current name, a tweak that sits more comfortably with them. Some choose a completely different name, something that simply resonates better with who they are, or who they see themselves as. And others prefer to take inspiration from from something with a personal meaning to them, something or someone they feel connected to.

I wondered about this recently when I saw a couple of movies on the one weekend where characters had slightly unconventional ways of choosing their aliases.

Firstly, in 'Pacific Rim' there is a black market dealer called Hannibal Chau, played by Ron Perlman. Not really the type of person most would picture when they hear the surname Chau, so there had to be a story behind it. As the character explains in the movie, "I got the name from my favorite historical figure and my second-favorite Szechuan restaurant in Brooklyn". He is referring to Hannibal Barca, a Carthaginian who lived from 247 BC to about 182 BC and is considered to be one of the greatest military commanders of all time.

The second movie was a little older and a lot more silly - 'Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay'. This one comes in the form of a bordello employee named Tits Hemingway "Because I have huge tits, and my favorite book is 'A Moveable Feast'" (charming, I know). The book she's referring to is a memoir written by Ernest Hemingway about his years spent in Paris in the 1920's.

So it seems that both have chosen an inspiring figure, paired with something a little less lofty. This is probably in part for their comedy value - they are characters in movies after all. Although I have to admit to my own screen name Blue Juniper being somewhat along these lines.

Juniper is a name I fell in love with as a teenager reading a book called 'The Juniper Game' by Sherryl Jordan. The main character Juniper was described as beautiful and magical, and I thought it was so exotic and lovely that I couldn't get it out of my head. It was my online user name for many things. Until I joined one site and it was already taken. So, put on the spot, I added my favourite colour and became Blue Juniper. Long before Blue Ivy Carter was born, might I add ☺

There are tons of other reasons why someone would chose to adopt an alias, or legally change their name. For a couple of examples, my mother changed her middle name to honour a beloved grandma, and a friend of mine once changed her surname to feel more connected to her biological father. And of course, many of us change our name when we get married. Are you looking at a name change (legal or less officially) in 2014? If you're in control of choosing that new name, how will you be making your decision?

This month I'll be looking at some current day screen names and invented names, so let me know if there are any that you're interested in finding out more about and I'll see what I can do. I hope you are looking forward to a great 2014!