Saturday, January 31, 2015


Photo Courtesy of Mali Workman Photography
Like your literary heroes a little rough around the edges yet still with a refined sound? Perhaps you should consider Crusoe.

Crusoe comes to us from the pages of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel 'Robinson Crusoe', the tale of a man who braves the wilds seas in the pursuit of improving his situation in life. He doesn't have a lot of luck at sea though, and one particular misadventure sees him end up shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. He manages to make the best of a bad situation, and even rescues a prisoner of the native cannibals, teaching him English and naming him Friday for the day of the week he met him. They eventually make it back to Crusoe's homeland in London and reclaim the wealth he built while in Brazil.

The book was quite revolutionary at the time. It's a fictional autobiography that was first published crediting Robinson Crusoe (pronounced KROO-soh) as the author, leading people to think it was a true tale. While this was not the case, it is often said to be the beginning of the literary genre realistic fiction. It remains one of the most widely published books in history, adapted many times into movies and TV shows.

This popularity means that Robinson Crusoe is widely recognised and used as a generic term for an isolated survivor. The character of Crusoe is also popularly thought to represent a person who has strength and resourcefulness and can thrive despite isolation. That's not too say he's a hero, just that he is an ordinary man able to make the best of bad situations.

But where the name Crusoe comes from is the subject of much conjecture. In the novel, Robinson himself says that:

"....he had married my mother whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual corruption of words in England we are called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name "Crusoe,".... "

And so Crusoe is thought to come from a German surname Kreutznaer. But general consensus is that Kreutznaer isn't actually a German name. It's thought that possibly:

  • Kreutznaer is invented (as it comes from a fictional story anyway);
  • Kreutznaer is derived from the similar German surname Kreuznach, meaning 'crossing of the River Nahe'; or
  • The name Crusoe was actually inspired by a friend of the author named Timothy Cruso, who wrote guide books, and the German "origin" Kreutznaer was purely fictional. 

The last option is supported by the fact that Cruso and Crusoe were both surnames already in use in England when 'Robinson Crusoe' was written. While it's meaning is hard to track down, the Crusoe motto is reportedly 'Virtus Nobilitat', meaning 'Virtue ennobles'. Maybe this was in fact the definition that inspired the use of Crusoe for this character, as it seems to describe well his personal and spiritual journey throughout the book.

So if true, this seems to reinforce Crusoe as a virtue name of sorts.

Photo Courtesy of
Beth Wade Photography
Despite being inspired by a literary tale that is almost 300 years old, Crusoe has a style that feels at home on a modern child. Likely nicknames Cru and Cruz are both strong, cool and short names that don't feel overused and have been gaining in popularity. Crusoe itself blends well with quirky literary picks like Atticus, Dorian or Beatrix; or equally as well with popular surname choices such as Sullivan, Wyatt and Jackson (as a side thought, wouldn't brothers Crusoe and Jackson nicknamed Cruz and Jax be adorable!). Speaking of sibling choices, mix both literary and surname origins and Bronte, Huxley, Salinger and Twain also make great possibilities.

While all of the names mentioned above have charted in the U.S, I was a bit surprised to find that Crusoe has never been given to more than 5 babies in one year. Maybe people find it is too tied to the character, even if he is most often viewed positively. Or maybe Crusoe "the celebrity dachshund" has too much of a presence? (although I'd never heard of him until today).

But I think the time is right for Crusoe. He has the literary and surname origins that have made so many other names winning options. He has a cool sound with even cooler nickname options. His namesake is a symbol of the virtues of strength and tenacity, his motto representing the virtue of spiritual growth. Why have we been resisting his charms for so long?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great Names - According to Peralta....

Jake Peralta (played by Andy Samberg) in 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

Last week's episode of comedy 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' shows that you never know who's going to feel that they have "useful" suggestions when it comes to naming your child.

After Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) discovers that Serjeant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crewes) and his wife are expecting a child, he suddenly finds name inspiration everywhere, and is very enthusiatic to share them with Terry. So enthusiastic that it causes him to break his promise to keep the pregnancy a secret as he eagerly hits 'reply all' to an email with his latest suggestion.

Peralta's style? Names which - in his words - "Works for a boy or a girl!" All I can say is that they are very Jake Peralta. And that I'm not so sure people should follow his name suggestions. See if you agree:

Verdict - Dubious. Extremely dubious.
Makes me think of a certain video game bandicoot. And I'm not sure I would want to be the one to give a teenaged Crash their driving lessons. Crash has in fact appeared on the U.S charts in 2008, 2012 and 2013 though! It was for boys only, and for less than 10 children in each of those cases. Possibly names such as Dash, Chase and Colt have helped make it an option.

Verdict - Shows some potential....
Of this pick, Peralta says that it is "my favorite.....after the tower in 'Die Hard'." Oh. OK. Umm...
Nakatomi has never charted in the U.S. It is the name of an influential Ancient Japanese clan, and seems to be mainly used as a surname.

Verdict - I'd cruise past this one
Admittedly, I'm not 100% sure that this is what he said, as it was kind of heard to tell. But he was in a parking garage at the time. It does have the kind of sound that could work as a name, and other people have thought so too. Miata charted (just) in the U.S for girls from 1989 to 1999, the years it was first sold. If you want more car name related inspiration, Nancy has a great list here.

Verdict - Keep looking
Not surprisingly, the name Hurricane has never charted. National Geographic tells us that "Violent winds...driving rain...killer waves. These are the hallmarks of a hurricane". Which made it a good nickname for a professional boxer, but not for a child. Just....don't. Please.

He may not love your suggestions,
but Terry still loves you Jake

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Movie Name Quote

I was watching some girly rom-coms today and one of them was 'When in Rome'. It stars Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, but also featured Dax Shepard (pictured above) as one of Beths (Kristen Bell's character) "suitors". Dax plays a narcissistic model named Gale who is magically attracted to Beth when she takes his coin out of a love/wishing fountain. He comes on quite strong when they first meet....

Gale: I'm Gale. Like a gale force wind. I took on that name because it's the most powerful force in the natural world. For shaping and eroding the earth. It's ahhh.....You can feel it
Beth: Actually I think that's water...
Gale: Mmmm....
Beth: ....eroding the earth.....
Gale: I don't think it's water, I think it's wind.
Beth: the Grand Canyon
Gale: I'm gonna look that up

So lesson to us all - always double check if you are choosing a name for it's meaning or symbolism 

Many people deride Gale as a girls name, and a dated one at that. The latter is understandable as Gale and Gail peaked in the 1950's, however both Gale and Gail have been used for both genders for a long time, so is not just a girls name. Gale had recently been flagging in the US but returned to the charts for both boys and girls in 2013. This was likely inspired by the character Gale Hawthorne from 'The Hunger Games' movies, played by Aussie Liam Hemsworth.

There's a few explanations for the meaning of Gale. Possibly it comes from the Middle English 'gaile', meaning jovial. Or it comes from the Gaelic word Gael, meaning 'a Celt' or 'foreigner'. The most popular opinion though is that it comes from Abigail, a Hebrew name meaning 'my father is joyful'. And of course it is also a nature word meaning 'a very strong wind'. All things considered, this makes Gale a positive, strong name.

The other cute thing about this movie scene is that it is between Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, who are now married with two beautifully named daughters - Lincoln Bell and Delta Bell.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trends and Insights - 2014 Victorian Top 100

Photo by Karen Wiltshire

The Australian state of Victoria has already released it's top 100 results for 2014!

Since it's the state I live in, I'm particularly interested in what is happening in Victoria. So I thought I'd share some of the insights I got from this years results.

For The Girls...

We're falling in love with vintage nicknames - Particularly if they're boyish! Charlie and Billie have returned to our top 100, while Frankie debuted at #95 and Sadie and Elsie also entered the top 100. Sadie is actually the hottest new entry and fastest rising girl name overall, entering at #64! Evie and Ellie also rose, while Millie held her ground.

We think "EL" is a hot sound - Elsie entered the top 100 at position #84, Ella, Ellie and Eloise are all on the rise and Eliza and Elizabeth are also still in the top 100. Other names featuring the "EL" sound that rose in 2014 were Evelyn, Isabel, Annabelle, Isabelle and Madeleine. Hazel and Penelope both entered the top 100. And Isabella, Stella and Bella can also be found in the top 100.

We prefer Sophie over Sophia. And Sofia. - In 2013 in Australia the combined spellings of Sophia and Sofia put the name at number 8, two places ahead of Sophie. She was also the winner in the U.S. But in 2014 in Victoria? Combining Sophia and Sofia would put her at #15, still 8 places behind our 7th favourite name, Sophie.

We made different pop culture choices - All the punters have been tipping Elsa to rise dramatically thanks to Frozen. But it seems our hearts are actually with her sister, Anna. Elsa is noticeably missing from our top 100, whereas Anna was one of our fastest rising names, up 23 places! We also shunned 'Game of Thrones' character Khaleesi/Daenerys but gave the nod to the actress who plays her, with Emilia entering the top 100 at #68.

But we agree with some predictions - Violet, Penelope, Hazel, Ariana and Piper are hot picks to rise in 2015, but we've gotten an early start on that! Violet is up 35 places and Piper 18. Penelope, Hazel and Ariana were all new entries.

For The Boys...

We're heavily debating nicknames vs full names - Over a quarter of the names in the top 100 are nicknames and their full names. In some cases the nickname is tops, in other cases it's the full name. So it seems there are some sounds that we simply love, in any of its' forms. The most popular options are highlighted below:

Full Name Position
Nickname Position

Alexander 11
Alex 83

Archer 40
Archie 34

Charles 92
Charlie 12

Elijah 39
Eli 70

Harrison 22
Harry 23

Jackson 35
Jack 2

Jaxon 42

Jacob 25
Jake 55

Lucas 7
Luke 63

Maxwell 87
Max 17

Nathaniel 97
Nate 53

Nathan 64

William 3
Liam 14

Zachary 51
Zac 95

Isaac 21

But overall, full names are winners - We seem to predominantly like a formal name on the birth certificate. For those names where only the full name or the nickname appears in our top 100, there are three times as many full names as nicknames. For example, we love Benjamin but not Ben, Samuel but not Sam, Nicholas but not Nick. Theodore and Anthony also entered the top 100 in 2014, with no Theo or Tony to be seen. Nicknames that buck the trend? That would be Leo, Toby and surprising new entry, Lenny.

We're pretty conservative when naming boys - We love the old fashioned staples, particularly if they can be found in the Bible or on a Royal family tree. This isn't anything particularly new, but shows few signs of changing. The next hot Biblical pick looks to be Caleb, which rose 20 places in 2014. The fastest rising Royal pick of 2014 was George - thanks to William and Kate's first born. Hot on his heels though is Edward, already placed ahead of George and also rising. If William and Kate's second child - due in April - happens to be a boy and they name him Edward, we could see Edward shoot into the top 10 very soon.

Kai bucks the norm - It seems that the winning formula for a boys name in Victoria is a two syllable name (71% of the top 100) with Biblical or Royal (preferably British) roots. So why is it that one-syllable Kai was super hot in 2014? Kai is a new entry to the top 100 and the fastest rising name for boys or girls in 2014, entering at position #61! We are admittedly a little behind the other states though as Kai has been a top 100 Australian name for the past couple of years already.

For Both...

It's Charlie all the way - Charlie is the only name that appears in both the girls top 100 (at position #91) and boys top 100 (rising 9 places to #12 in 2014). Longer version Charlotte is #2 for girls, while Charles is #92 for boys.

Want to check out the full lists for yourself? Check out Anna's post at Waltzing More Than Matilda.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Photo Courtesy of Mali Workman

I've been hearing this charmer more and more often lately, and it's great that it seems to be working it's way on to more people's lists.

Beau is a handsome name - quite literally. It has it's origins in the Latin word 'bellus' which became 'beau' in French, meaning 'handsome'. But despite coming from a French word, there is little evidence that Beau started as a French name, or is even currently used as a name by the French. Which makes sense, as English speakers don't (generally) use Handsome as a name either.

Instead, most of the earliest famed Beaus seemed to have adopted it strictly as a nickname. This could be related to their good looks, or related to it's other meanings. Beau is also a term for a "male admirer" or boyfriend; or for a "rich, fashionable young man".

But there is no denying that Beau has now made the transition to given name. Perhaps it's because of it's positive French meaning, or a adoration of French culture and language. Or maybe it's just that it's a cute sounding (pronounced Boh) one syllable name, which is often a winner.

Whichever it is, Beau has been in the U.S charts for boys since the 1940's and girls since the 1970's. For the girls it's still rare (but on the rise in recent years) whereas for boys Beau entered the top 1000 in the 60's. It peaked in 1980 at #203, but could quite possibly beat that in the next year or two as it has been rising in recent years and was poised at position #270 in 2013. Nowhere is Beau more popular than in the southern hemisphere though. He's a top 100 name in both Australia and New Zealand, and has been for a few years now.

Beau Garrett
Beau comes in many guises, which is possibly what makes him continue to feel fresh and current. The popular impression of Beau may have once been the southern gentleman who made the ladies swoon, or the roguish cowboy full of swagger. Thanks to several young Beaus in the public eye these days though, people today are more likely to associate Beau with the young, popular, adventurous, laid-back, sexy surfer type. Examples include:

  • Canadian actor Beau Mirchoff (who plays Matty in 'Awkward') 
  • ex 'Home and Away' star, Australian actor Beau Brady
  • Australian Beau Ryan, and ex rugby player and TV presenter
  • You Tube sensation Beau Brooks, of The Janoskians
  • American model and actress Beau Garrett 

Hopefully these famous Beaus will help reduce confusion about the pronunciation, as one of the main complaints is that people mistakenly say Boo or Bow (rhymes with cow). Another is that it's similarity to B.O. - an abbreviation for body odour - is a possible source of teasing. But plenty of Beaus have done just fine with those challenges.

One thing is for sure, Beau packs a lot of punch for such a small name. If you're after a one syllable name full of old-fashioned charm that still feels young and fresh, you should take another look at Beau.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


We've been having a nostalgia fest in our house lately, and one of my old favourites that I revisited was the movie 'Troop Beverly Hills'. It stars Shelley Long as privileged Beverly Hills housewife Phyllis, who takes over as leader of her daughters Wilderness Girls Troop. Of course, they do things a little differently in Beverly Hills, and along the way Phyllis discovers a resourcefulness, courage and leadership that she didn't realise she had.

There are just eight girls in the troop, bearing the names of Hannah, Claire, Tiffany, Lily, Chica, Jasmine, Tessa and Emily. But what caught my attention was the name of the young Philippino actress playing Lily - Aquilina.

Sounds alluring and glamorous, doesn't it? I wonder why there aren't more actresses with this name.

Aquilina is a Spanish version of the Latin name Aquila, meaning 'eagle'. Hence it is said to either mean 'eagle' or 'sharp-eyed'. Like Aquila it can be used for both boys and girls. But unlike Aquila it has never charted in the U.S. This makes it quite rare.

If it sounds a little familiar, you may have heard it as a surname, particularly an Italian surname. Apparently this surname was adopted by people who either:

  • Owned eagles
  • Had great eyesight (eagle eyed)
  • Lived near a place populated by eagles; or
  • Lived in or near the city of L'Aquila, the capital of the Italian region of Abruzzi.

There was also a child saint by this name who lived from 281-293 BC. Her story is quite grisly, as she was a martyr saint who is honoured by the Roman Catholic Church. This does lend a sense of history and gravity to the name Aquilina, and likely helped to establish it's use as a girls name rather than a boys.

I'm not 100% sure on what the "proper" pronunciation of Aquilina is, although it seems that both ah-kwi-LEE-nuh and ah-kwi-LIE-nuh are acceptable. Personally I much prefer the first. I also prefer it as a girls name - the more likely nicknames of Lina or Aqua make it seem more feminine to me.

Another one of the things I like about this name is that it has a unique look to it. Names containing Q are still very rare on the whole, and therefore generally stand out for that very reason. This may make it seem like Aquilina would be slightly harder to wear if your child happens to be the shy type. But I think it is still soft enough to wear well no matter what your personality. I could see this one on a headstrong princess just as easily as on a tomboy or a quiet bookworm.

Aquilina stands out in a subtle way - graceful, almost whimsical; energetic and sparkling.  If you like names that are rare and tasteful, then Aquilina would be a worthy addition to your shortlist.