Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ocea



I've been a regular lurker on the Baby Centre Australia forums since I was pregnant. Of course one of my favourite groups on their site is baby names because it can be a great source of inspiration. When I recently saw this little name being considered I was intrigued. I had never seen it before, and it seemed the reaction to it online was mainly positive (Plus I seem to have an interest in finding great girl's names starting with "O" that aren't super popular Olivia. Don't get me wrong, I love Olivia - it's my own middle name. I just like people to know there are other options). Barely a week later I saw another person mention it, so I mentally filed it away as a likely blog post for later.

And then on Christmas Day my sister gave birth to her second child - a daughter - and lo and behold, they name her Ocea!

Ocea feels like a fantastic fit for their family. We already knew that my sister and her husband were adventurous namers when they named their first daughter Jett, a name usually seen on boys. They live in Queensland and are both surfers, so the water inspired Ocea is a lovely nod to their shared love of the beach. I kind of feel like the sibset of sisters named Jett and Ocea are quite reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Livelys' daughters James and Ines. But that's getting a little off topic.

If you're a little confused about how to pronounce this rarity you are not alone. My first instinct was that it is Oh-SEE-ah, but it's actually Oh-Shah, like Ocean but without the N. Which makes sense when you consider that as a name it is thought to be derived from Oceana, a Greek name meaning Ocean or Oceanus, another Greek name meaning 'god of the sea'. In light of this it probably comes as no surprise that the name Ocea means 'Ocean'.

Ocea may seem a little incomplete to some people, but it definitely has its' charms. For one, if you want an uncommon name Ocea fits the bill perfectly. It doesn't appear to be popular in any part of the world. Ocea could be an alternative to those also interested in Asha, but concerned about the popularity of sound-alike boys name Asher. Or concerned about the popularity of Asha itself, or just the proliferation of Ash names in general.

For those worried that their rare name is merely a modern invention, Ocea continues to delight. Although rare she has been in use for a long time - she just managed to crack the US charts (was given to at least 5 girls) in 1895, and again in 1911, 1918 and 1921. So there is history there.

I also personally love the vibe you get from Ocea. It's pretty looking and has a laid back peaceful feel that you often get when you think of the ocean and the beach. The sound of it even brings to mind the rhythm of the waves lapping gently at the shore. She's a good choice for the water lover, surfer, or even just the nature name fan. And she doesn't seem too "girlish" - it's easy to imagine a stylish older woman wearing the name Ocea just as easily as a sweet little girl or precocious teenager.

And as I said, it feels like a great fit for my new little niece, who I'm sure will make it her own in no time. Welcome to the world little Ocea!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gore


I have looked at many, many lists of Halloween and "spooky, scary" type name lists and I have to say I'm surprised I haven't come across this one on any lists! You see plenty of word names such as Shadow, Shade, Raven, Tempest, Thorn and more, but no Gore.

Gore is well qualified to make it onto any list of Halloween baby names. The dictionary lists a few different definitions for the word gore, two in particular which are gruesome enough to earn Gore a place on any list of scary names. One is "blood that has been shed, especially as the result of violence", as in horror movies featuring blood and gore. Another is "to pierce of stab with a horn or tusk", i.e. to be gored by a bull. Which if you've ever seen the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona you'll know is a sort of horror itself.

Grisly meanings aside, Gore came into use as a name in much the same way many names have come into use - firstly as a surname, taken from the place name or landmarks which identified where a family lived. Gore came to use in Britain during the Middle Ages, derived from the old English word 'gara' meaning "a small, usually triangular piece of land". These days people bearing the last name Gore can be found worldwide, with some well known bearers being American footballer Frank Gore, 'It's My Party' singer Leslie Gore; and former US vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.

Gore is very rare as a first name, although at least one famous bearer was inspired by their family tree. American writer and intellectual Gore Vidal was born Eugene Louis Vidal but became Eugene Louis Gore Vidal when baptised as it was his mothers maiden name. At the age of fourteen he reportedly dropped Eugene Louis because he "wanted a sharp, distinctive name, appropriate for an aspiring author, or a national political leader". His father already went by Gene, and so he decided to become Gore. It certainly is sharp and distinctive.

The other famous Gore - director Gore Verbinski - wasn't originally named Gore either. The director of 'The Ring' and the first three 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies is actually a Gregor, choosing to go by Gore.

Despite having worthy namesakes to serve as inspiration, I think Gore really is most usable as a nickname. It is a bold and sharp name, and most people would immediately associate it with blood and horror; so you'd need to be a strong, charismatic character to do it justice. Choosing a name with Gore as a nickname means you could choose to use it if or when you felt comfortable to do so. Or if your child is a Halloween baby it could be a nickname that is only used at that time of the year, in much the same way 'The Simpsons' changes the names in their credits for their Halloween specials.

On that note, I'll end with a list of boys names that lend themselves to the use of Gore as a nickname:



Goran
Gregorio


Gordon
Gregory


Gordy
Grigori


Goren
Igor


Gregor
Macgregor

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Jessabelle

Australian Actress Sarah Snook, who plays Jessabelle in the movie 'Jessabelle'

I did have a different post in mind but then I realised that - lo and behold – it’s October already! And the tradition here at Baby Name Pondering is that only names with a Halloween-ish connection be featured during the month of December, and so I bring you Jessabelle.

'Jessabelle' is a horror/thriller movie released in 2014 about a woman (named Jessabelle, of course) who, after losing her husband and unborn child in a car accident that has also left her temporarily wheelchair bound, returns to her childhood home to be cared for by her estranged father. She feels ill at ease in the old Louisiana home though, and soon realises that she is being targeted by an evil spirit. I won’t say much more than that in case anyone hasn’t seen it and would like to, but it’s worth checking out if you are a fan of supernatural horror movies.

About the name though. Jessabelle suffers from the same problem that I feel Annaleigh (and Auraleigh for that matter) does. It’s quite a pretty name, which could easily be mistaken for a modern mash-up of two fairly popular names to create a lovely feminine-but-not-too-frilly result. But given more than five minutes consideration, a major drawback appears. For Annaleigh and Auraleigh it’s the resemblance to other words with sexual connotations when spoken aloud and fast. For Jessabelle it’s because she sounds so much like the name Jezebel when said aloud – a name that has negative sexual connotations of its’ own.

In fact, many websites say that Jessabelle is a variant of Jezebel. I’m not so sure how true that actually is though. It's very possible it's simply a modern invention which has resulted from people smooshing Jessica and Isabelle together without noticing it’s similarity to Jezebel at all. The data supports this too. Jessabelle first shows on the US charts in 2011 (given to just 5 girls that year), which comes at a time when people would have been looking for less common alternatives to the wildly popular Isabella, which was #1 in 2009 and 2010, and Isabelle, which peaked at #79 in the US in 2007. So this definitely seems like the more likely explanation.

If we were to say it is a variant of Jezebel though, then let’s consider why popular opinion is against naming your daughter anything resembling Jezebel. Jezebel is a Hebrew name, said to mean ‘not exalted’ in most sources; or ‘wicked, impure’ by others. It is the Biblical Jezebel that gives this name her bad reputation. She was a Queen of Israel who turned her husband King Ahab away from the worship of God and towards other deities. For this (and other many other things she did in the pursuit of this) she was thrown out of a window to her death. Although she was at first simply associated with false prophets, she later became synonymous with the image of ‘fallen women’. It is said that when she knew men were coming to put her to death, she dressed in her finest clothes, adorned herself in jewels and painted herself in makeup to symbolise her royal, queenly status. However this image of Jezebel in her finery is now associated with ‘painted women’ - women who seduce men into immoral acts. Even the dictionary now gives the meaning for Jezebel as “a woman who is regarded as evil and scheming” or “a wicked, shameless woman”.

However the tide may be staring to turn somewhat for Jezebel. Some see her instead as a symbol of female strength and power, particularly helped by feminist pop-culture blog Jezebel.com. Unfortunately going into the ways in which patriarchal structures are perpetuated by portraying strong, feminine women as evil and leading to the downfall of “good” men merely by virtue of their sexuality is not a discussion I can really do justice to within a blog about baby names. Let’s just say that personally, I can see merit to reclaiming the name and rewriting its' common association with more positive ones.

Which leads me to an interesting little fact – despite seeing people online providing well meaning advice to people considering the name Jessabelle to avoid it because of it’s similarity to Jezebel, the name Jezebel is actually used more than Jessabelle. Jezebel first charted in the US in 1980. It is definitely not popular by any means, but in 2015 was given to 24 girls, as opposed to Jessabelle, which was given to 19 girls, or even Jessabel, given to just 5 girls (and entering the charts for the first time in 2015). Personally I think Jessabelle is much prettier, and that small step away spelling-wise makes it an attractive alternative.

Jessabelle reads like a sweet southern belle, and just slightly princess-y, which often delights young girls. If anything the Jezebel association helps give it a little edge, something of a Southern Gothic feel (which is also a good way to describe the movie). The movie character goes by the nickname Jessie, but the more streamlined Jess or Belle/Bella are also options. My personal pick would be Jessa though. Jessa feels so girly and sunny to me, which I think is also a big part of the reason why I find Jessabelle so appealing. 


If you're brave and willing to ignore (or embrace) the similarity in sound to Jezebel, Jessabelle could be a winner. Combining the much loved elements that have made the names Jessica and Isabelle extremely popular, a young Jessabelle would fit in with her peers yet stand out as just that little bit different.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Oriantha


This gem is partly inspired by a kick-ass Australian guitarist, and partly by my husband. In that he saw a television interview with Richie Sambora about a new project with his girlfriend Orianthi, and thought I'd really like her name but either mis-heard it or wrote it down wrong as Oriantha. To be honest, I love it whether it's Orianthi, Oriantha or even Orianthe. But since he wrote down Oriantha, let's go with that.

Orianthi is actually the only version that has charted in the U.S to date, debuting in 2015 in position 14,408 after being given to just 7 girls. I'm guessing these were probably inspired by the guitarist. Australian born Orianthi has played with the likes of Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper, so already had quite the name for herself in the music world before starting their current project - named RSO - with Sambora in 2013.

Being the rarity that it is, it's actually quite hard to find reliable information on the origin of the name Oriantha. Orianthi (the guitarist) is of Greek descent, so that gives us a decent clue as to where to start. The Greek "Anthos" means flower, and is the basis of many "flowery" names such as Anthea (meaning 'like a flower'); Calantha (meaning 'lovely flower'); or Evanthe (meaning 'fair flower'). The Ori part is a little less clear. One source claims it comes from the Greek "Oraios" meaning 'beautiful', and hence Oriantha likely means 'beautiful flower'. Or there is the Latin name Oriana, which means 'dawn', or the Greek name Oria which means 'from the mountains'. So you could conjecture that Oriantha possibly means 'flower of dawn' or perhaps 'mountain flower'. Which makes me think that Oriantha is not a name for those who like a concrete, definitive meaning, but is perfect for those that like to take a bit of poetic license with their name meanings, or simply don't mind what the meaning of a name is at all as long as it sounds appealing.

For Oriantha certainly has an appealing ring to it. It has a nice melodic flow, but enough of an exotic edge to stop it from blending into the background. And the O sound is oh-so-hot right now, whether it be at the start of your name (think Olivia); in the middle (like Cora); or the end (as with Willow). Oriantha is a great option if you are after something rare, pretty and cool-but-not-too-trendy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jolly Holiday Names


I was recently watching 'Mary Poppins' for the first time in years, thoroughly enjoying all of the fantastic songs I loved so much as a child. My mum had a book with the music from the movie, and I remember reading it eagerly, trying to remember the words and even play some of the songs with my very limited piano skills.

As a child I maybe didn't care too much about the tongue twister part of the song 'Jolly Holiday', but re-watching the movie I was intrigued. If you can't remember it, 'Jolly Holiday' is all about how much Bert and the penguins admire Mary and spending time with her, and part way through Bert sings a quick verse where he rattles off the virtues of differently named girls. All up, twenty girls names are mentioned.

And what a combination of names he uses! I'd love to know how the names were chosen, as it's quite a mixed bag. This is probably because we're talking about:

  • a song written by two American men (Robert and Richard Sherman) for a movie released in 1964;
  • based on a book written by an Australian-born British woman (Pamela Lyndon "P.L." Travers) in 1934;
  • that was originally set in 1930's England;
  • but was changed to the setting of 1910 Edwardian England for the movie.

So the names used seem to be a mish-mash of names popular in the different eras, some more popular in Britain, some more popular in America, and some presumably thought to be somewhat "British sounding". Then again, maybe some were simply names of women known to the Sherman brothers, or ones that they thought fit the tune well. See the names as per the song for yourself below and let me know what you think :)


It's true that Mavis and Sybil have ways that are winnin'
Mavis was popular in England in the 30's, but Sybil not so much. Sybil peaked in America around 1920.

And Prudence and Gwendolyn set your hearts spinnin'
Prudence feels British enough. Gwendolyn though is the preferred spelling of Americans, whereas the English prefer Gwendoline. Gwendoline was a top 100 name in Britain in the early 1900's.

Phoebe's delightful, Maude is disarming
Phoebe feels a little surprising here, because she feels like such a current choice. But Phoebe was actually just as popular in the US in the late 1800's/early 1900's as she is now. And Maude is disarming because as with Gwendolyn/Gwendoline, spelling Maude is preferred by Americans and Maud by the British (particularly popular in Edwardian times).

Janice, Felicia, Lydia charming
In America, Janice and Felicia ranked significantly higher in 1964 than 1910. Lydia however was more popular in 1910, and a top 100 name in England/Wales in 1904.

Cynthia's dashing, Vivian's sweet
Interesting fact - Mrs Banks was Cynthia in the books, but renamed the "more British-sounding" Winifred in the movie at P.L. Travers' request. Which might be why she still made the song, especially considering she was a top 10 name in America in 1964. Vivian also seemed to be more popular in the U.S.

Stephanie's smashing, Priscilla a treat
As a name that feels synonymous with the 80's, Stephanie feels a little surprising. But she was a top 100 name in both England/Wales and America in 1964, so less surprising than she may first appear. But still not a very Edwardian feeling name. Priscilla makes more sense, despite not being super popular in England.

Veronica, Millicent, Agnes and Jane
Convivial company time and again
Millicent, Agnes and Jane fit the part well, as all were top 100 names in Edwardian England. And while Veronica wasn't in the top 100 then, she must have been rising as she was when the book was written in 1934.

Dorcas and Phyllis and Glynis are sorts
I'll agree they're three jolly good sports
Many people are confused as to whether it is Doris or Dorcas, which is understandable. Dorcas may sound much more British, but Doris was actually far more popular than Dorcas in England in the 1910's and 1930's. As a top 100 name in England & Wales at the same time, Phyllis is a good fit. But Glynis is a surprise, as she wasn't popular at the time the book or movie was set, or when the song was written in either country. Gladys would have been much more suitable. Maybe the inspiration came from Glynis Johns, the actress who played Mrs Banks in the movie.

But cream of the crop
Tip of the top
It's Mary Poppins and there we stop
Yes, for many years Mary really was the cream of the crop. She was number 1 in both England & Wales and the U.S. (and many other counties) in 1910, wasn't far off that in 1934 and was still going strong in 1964. 


Friday, July 1, 2016

Paeleigh

There are plenty of name lovers out there who are probably shuddering a little at this one. It looks invented; it looks like a creative spelling. And maybe it is. But I saw this one on TV recently (it was the name of a real estate agent on the show 'House Hunters') and the more I turned it over in my head, the more I liked it. So of course I thought I'd share it.

The main thing I like about this name is the sound. It's kind of like a Paisley-Peyton-Kaylee smoosh. Considering how popular these three names are (in 2015 they were #45, #72 and #61 respectively in the U.S), I'm a little surprised more people haven't jumped behind this one yet.

With almost 20 different spellings of Paisley recorded by the SSA in 2015, a lot of people have no problem with a creatively spelled name. Admittedly, this is probably not how I personally would choose to spell this name though.

Mae and Rae may be gaining popularity as alternatives to May and Ray, but I just can't see Pae finding favour with many people.

The two versions that did chart in 2015 were Pailey and Paylee. Both were given to just 5 girls each - placing them in the 18,000's, a long, long, long way from the top 100 - and only Pailey has already charted in previous years. But I personally don't find these to be very elegant either. I'd tentatively say that Payleigh might be the way to go. So maybe this illustrates why Paeleigh hasn't caught our attention before - it has a currently stylish sound, but it's difficult to settle on an appealing-looking spelling for it.

And it does seem to be a modern invention, as you'd be hard pressed to find a meaning for it online. So if a solid history of use; an established and attractive spelling; and a solid meaning is important to you, then this is not the name for you.

But still, as someone who personally likes the names Paisley, Peyton and Kaylee, the sound of Paeleigh really draws me in. Its just so cheerful feeling; so happy-go-lucky. If I was introduced to one I'd definitely compliment them, and be very intrigued to see what spelling they settled on.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Oviri


I found this one when watching 'Ellen' the other day. As Ellen often does, she was surprising a deserving viewer with a present after a woman's daughter - named Oviri - had written to Ellen. It struck me as an exotic sounding (pronounced oh-VEER-ee) and quite unique name, so of course it caught my attention!

And rare indeed it is. It has never appeared on the United States SSA records (so hasn't been given to more than 5 children in a single year). However a quick search on Facebook shows a small number of both males and females named Oviri, so it is used but there's a good chance you've never met one.

But if you are an art lover there is a better chance that you may have heard this word before. Oviri is perhaps best known as the name of a sculpture by French artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin encountered it during his time in Tahiti, where Oviri is a Tahitian word meaning 'wild'. It is reportedly also the name of the goddess of mourning in Tahitian mythology, but I haven't seen that anywhere besides Wikipedia so maybe take that idea with a grain of salt.

I get the impression that Gauguin was quite taken with Oviri as the concept of its' meaning of wild or savage rather than as a name. He applied the term to several works, and even to a self portrait he did in plaster. A 1986 biographical movie about Gauguin was titled 'Oviri' (also known as 'The Wolf at the Door') and based on his life in Paris after his return from Tahiti. So it seems to have had a lasting impact on his life. If you're a fan of his work it could be a great choice.

Perhaps what most struck me most about Oviri though is what a lovely alternative it would make to the extremely popular Olivia. Or Oliver for boys. In fact, despite hearing it first on a girl, now that I've seen it used for both genders I'm liking it more for a boy. And if we're being a little fanciful, I could imagine Oviri as a sibling for Kai, Mowgli or Shiloh. What do you think?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Blush

Photo courtesy of Sandra Bianco Photography
West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle was in the headlines this week for announcing that he had named his new baby daughter Blush.

The reason this has caused such a stir is two fold. Firstly, there is the name itself. As with almost any time someone in the public eye dares to use a name not deemed "normal" there are plenty of people declaring it to be wrong. They say things like "that's not a name!", "surely that's not right!" and the inevitable "is this a joke?".

Except in this case the context of this particular person naming his baby Blush gives people extra cause to wonder if it is a joke. Which brings us to the second reason it has caused such a stir. In January this year Gayle caused controversy for his sexism towards a female sports reporter. He had been flirting with her in a post game interview and made the comment "don't blush, baby" as she tried to ignore his unwanted flirtations. He tried to brush it off as being a joke, but was fined for his unprofessional conduct.

Reportedly this name is also a joke though, and his child is instead a boy (not named Blush). Which would mean that while Gayle may think that his tweets of "We would like to welcome the arrival of our beautiful daughter 'Blush'" and "Thank you all for the sweet and kind messages. Blush won't Blush, my baby" are funny, he has sadly learned very little from the whole incident. Which makes sense as "don't blush, baby" has basically become his signature catchphrase.

The overpoweringly negative reaction to the name Blush is interesting though. Let's take a step back for a minute. If someone had actually named their daughter Blush, and didn't have the background with the word that Gayle does, is it really that bad as a name?

I saw a discussion about the story on morning TV where one person used the extreme insult of "It's akin to child abuse" (I hate it when people use that phrase as an argument against a particular name. Seriously, a ridiculous - in your opinion - name does not automatically equal abuse. Such statements just trivialise the very serious subject of child abuse. But that's a discussion for another place and time).

The more considered argument I heard against naming your baby Blush was that as it's a word commonly associated with shy, young, awkward girls it would be belittling to give a female this name. Furthermore, it would be hard for an adult woman to be taken seriously with a name for an involuntary physical reaction, especially within a professional environment.

Which I understand and agree with. And is why I feel kinda bad for saying that I think Blush would actually be quite pretty as a name. It has a sweetly romantic feel, and makes me think of other soft pink flowery names like Bloom, Blossom or Posey. I could totally see it as a possible name should Jules and Jamie Oliver's next child be a girl.

But I think this is one that is best left for a surprising and demure middle name. And listening to the general reaction when Gayle announced the name (be it the real name or not), it's safe to say that most people would also prefer not to see Blush as a first name.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Friendly Happ-"BY" Names


There are a few names ending in BY that I quite like, so I thought I'd make a list of them. I found there's actually quite a few more names ending in BY than I realised! And I also found that they seem to fall mainly into one of two different categories.

There are those that I consider to be "Quirky Vintage". Think Bartleby, Gatsby, Maeby, Quimby, Willoughby and the likes. They tend to feel like (and often are) literary gems, and have a classic charm that is quite appealing.

The names I had in mind though tend to be more of the "Friendly and Perky" variety. Also very charming and appealing, they sound like they belong to people who are open and approachable. People you could easily become good friends with.

Maybe it's because a number of them are nicknames, and hence designed to be more familiar and friendly from the get go.

Personally though I think it's the "bee" sound itself. It brings to mind a little bumblebee, happily buzzing around flowers on a warm sunny day. You can't help but smile with that image in your mind (unless you're allergic to bees. In which case you might be filled with anxious dread instead). Some people even prefer to change the BY to a BEE or BIE spelling instead to enhance this happy friendly feeling, and add a hint of youthfulness to the name.

I don't think it's necessary though - the names below are all likable enough already.

Abby - Name your daughter Abby and chances are she'll forever be asked if it's short for Abigail. Abigail may be a very popular name in most Western countries, but Abby is a lovable name in it's own right. She's a top 500 name in the U.S and appears on many of our favourite on screen characters. My personal pick - the effervescent Abby Cadabby, the magical fairy Muppet of "Sesame Street" fame.

Alby - Archie is gaining steam in Australia, and Alfie is receiving lots of love in the U.K. Could these be leading the way for Alby? Quite possibly, as Albert is also on the rise. Alby also makes an appearance in "The Maze Runner" as the leader of the Gladers, showing that this name may sound light but has plenty of substance.

Ashby - With hints of Ashley and Aubrey, Ashby is definitely my pick for the next big "Ash" name. But probably not for another 20 years or so, making it a solid ahead-of-the trend pick. With nickname options of Ash for boys and Bea for girls, what's not to love about Ashby.

Bobby Brady
Bobby - Ahhh Bobby. Am I the only one who immediately thinks "The Brady Bunch" when I hear this? Bobby may have started as a nickname for Robert, but this name is quite the powerhouse and has been in the U.S. top 1000 for about 100 years now. He feels like a great Americana choice for a boy, but would be a refreshing (and rare!) choice for a girl.

Coby - It's a sound we're not unfamiliar with, thanks to basketballer Kobe Bryant and "How I Met Your Mother" actress Cobie Smulders (which in her case is short for Jacoba!). Yet this spelling is not very popular at all, perhaps lacking the energetic vibe of Kobe.

Colby - It may be a type of cheese, but it's not a cheesy name. Ever since season two of "Survivor" I've been a fan of Colby. I suspect I'm not the only one. On a boy it has cowboy swagger. On a girl it's cute and tomboyish (and rare!).

Darby - I had a Great Uncle Darby (Darb) so to me this name is straight from the era that we are borrowing so heavily from at the moment. In the U.S it was used fairly evenly for boys and girls until a Julia Roberts played Darby Shaw in the 1994 movie "The Pelican Brief". It's a great gender neutral pick, and currently largely undiscovered as it is no where near cracking the top 1000.

Debby - Before the popularity of Jennifer and her nicknames Jenny and Jen in the 70's, there was Deborah and her nicknames Debby/Debbie and Deb in the 50's. Deborah has never left the top 1000 in the U.S, but Debby was not the most well-liked of her nicknames and currently feels very unfashionable.

Digby - I really 'dig' this name! And another pun - I think it's very 'dig'nified ☺ This is actually true though. Digby is just the right combination of stylish and Old English sounding, yet down-to-earth and approachable. It's super rare currently but definitely deserves more love.

Gabby - As a child I had a book about a little creature named Gabby because they talked too much
and needed to learn how to listen. If you don't mind the association with being overly talkative, this cute little nickname for Gabrielle/Gabriella would be very sweet for a girl.

Kirby - Confession time - I've had a soft spot for the name Kirby ever since seeing the 1985 movie "St Elmo's Fire". That particular Kirby was male, but it was TV sensation "Dynasty" that put Kirby on the map for girls in the 80's. These both make Kirby feel like an 80's pick, but in an offbeat cool and retro way.

Korby - This name will be long tainted in Australia due to the Shapelle Corby drug smuggling associations. But I feel that the Korby spelling is a lot funkier, despite looking like it has been hijacked by the Kardashians. Almost no one is using this name right now, making Korby a great different-bot-not-too-different choice.

Libby - She may not be the trendiest or most popular nickname for the classic Elizabeth, but Libby has a that undeniable girl-next-door vibe. Whether that girl is sweet, quiet, outgoing, popular, mischievous or tomboyish doesn't matter - Libby feels like she could be any or all of these.

Rigby - Beatles tune "Eleanor Rigby" makes this one a great choice for lovers of their music. It only made it onto the radar in the U.S in the past decade and so far seems to belong to the boys, but I could see this going either way. One of the two main characters in the cartoon "Regular Show" is a raccoon named Rigby, and I have a feeling that this name will be very popular when viewers start having children.

Robby - For most of the 1900's Robert was a top 10 name in the U.S (and is still a top 100 name), and he spawned many nicknames. Robby is one of the more popular ones. I'm torn on Robby - on one hand he feels like a high school sweetheart, but on the other hand I recently saw "Dirty Dancing" again so he currently seems like a villain. Either way, when I think of Robby I picture a child or teenager rather than a mature adult, which is probably why Robert is far more popular as it gives the wearer the freedom of choice as they age.

Ruby - Ruby may feel like a vintage rarity, but she's actually very popular in many parts of the world. She's been a top 10 staple in Australia for a while now, top 20 in the UK and recently moved into the U.S top 100. Ruby has a winning combination of the "oo" sound that's trending right now, plus the friendly "bee", and she's a precious jewel to boot. What's not to love?
Shelby Eatenton Latcherie

Shelby - It may be a go-to name for turtles, tortoises and snails, but I can't help but love the preppy and perky Shelby. Shelby has a longer history of use as a boys name, but rocketed to popularity as a girls name in 1936 after Barbara Stanwick played a Shelby in the movie "The Woman in Red". Another onscreen Shelby - Julia Roberts (again!) in "Steel Magnolias" in 1989 - helped push Shelby to a top 100 girls name in the 1990's. Most people now consider it to be "a girls name".

Tibby - In 2005 Amber Tamblyn introduced many of us to the name Tibby in the movie adaptation of 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'. For her character it was a nickname for Tabitha, and she managed to make a name that possibly seemed overly cutesy feel cool and spunky.

Toby - Interestingly, the longer Tobias is currently far more popular than Toby in the U.S, but here in Australia (and the U.K and New Zealand) Toby is a top 100 name. I have a real soft spot for Toby. Toby feels like your best friend, and a fun, cheeky one at that. Call me crazy but I also think it's super cute on a girl.

Zibby - Looking for a truly unusual nickname for Elizabeth? Try Zibby. She's cute, unusual and rare. Great if you have a family full of Elizabeths and want a distinctive version with loads of personality.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alton

Alton Brown hosting Cutthroat Kitchen, courtesy of Food Network

A few months ago we started getting a new free-to-air TV channel from SBS called Food Network. From what I can tell, much of it's content is from the American cable channel of the same name, with a good helping of our own local cooking programs. It immediately became regular viewing in my house, and means we have only recently been introduced to some faces that have been familiar to Americans for years.

One such person is host Alton Brown, as seen on 'Cutthroat Kitchen', 'Good Eats' and 'Iron Chef America'. While I am familiar with similar sounding Elton, Alton was a new discovery. He was even missed when I did this mega list of names that Ton could be a nickname for!

Alton comes from the Old English word Aldtun, meaning 'old town'. Both Elton and Alston are thought to be related, although they actually seem to have different meanings which suggests they are separate names rather than different versions or variations of Alton. Like many "town" names, Alton would have been used as a surname to denote where a family was from before it became commonly used as a first name.

I hadn't heard Alton until recently but was very familiar with the name Elton (thanks to Elton John, Jane Austen's 'Emma' and the movie 'Clueless'). Therefore I kind of assumed that Elton must be the more popular choice, and Alton must be relatively rare. I was kind of right in one regard - Alton is a fairly rare name. Currently. Alton was actually a top 500 name in America for almost a century, dropping out of the top 1000 in 1999. I was wrong on the other count though - Alton is more popular than Elton, and in 2014 was given to almost 100 more boys than Elton was, ranking as the 1155th most popular name in the U.S. Seems Alton just needs better publicity ☺

Which seems silly to say considering there are a large number of towns named Alton in the U.S, U.K and Canada; and a number of famous faces with this name. Unfortunately one of those famous people includes Alton Coleman, who was executed in 2002 for a killing spree he committed in 1984. Possibly he is the reason why this name fell so far out of favour during this period. That shouldn't stop people from using it though.

I think Brown is the main reason I like this name. He's quite witty and intelligent with a wickedly fun sense of humour, so it's now hard for me not to associate these qualities with this name. It also feels somewhat "English" prep with a little hint of American Southern style, a combination I'm quite fond of. It may seem a bit quirky, but he's got the history to back him up. Alton could make a great off-beat  yet not strange choice for a modern boy.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Celestina

Celestina - she's strong yet feminine and lacy, a beautiful name inspired by the night sky.

I came across Celestina as a 'contestant' on a food network show today, and wondered why I haven't been hearing more about this name lately. I say this because she seems to be a great blend between similarly themed names Nevaeh (the notorious "heaven-spelled-backwards" name), Luna, Nova and Skylar; and more elaborate multi syllable names such as Clementine. Looking at Abby's post on the fastest rising girl names of 2014 in the U.S, both categories are hot property right now. Of the 25 names on her list one fifth of them have four syllables. So if both are gaining popularity right now why isn't a name that blends both getting more attention?

That's kind of hard to say. Perhaps it's just a little bit too frilly next to her counterparts Celeste and Celestine. The French flavoured Celeste has been in the U.S top 1000 since 1881, and is clearly the most popular of the three options. And although Celestine has never been close to the top 1000, she traditionally charts better than Celestina. Maybe Celestina reminds people too much of the popular Christina, which has been slowly dropping in popularity for the past three decades. Or perhaps Celestina just doesn't read as "French" (aka "chic") as Celeste does?

As you may have already surmised, Celestina comes from the Latin word for 'heavenly', which is the meaning of this name. Behind the Name gives three different pronunciations - apparently the Spanish say the-le-STEE-nah, the Italians say che-le-STEE-nah, while the Latin American Spanish pronunciation is se-le-STEE-nah. The latter is the one I would naturally use if I saw it written down without hearing it first, which I suspect would be the case for most people more familiar with the name Celeste.

All of these have a magical, melodic, romantic quality to them though. She feels like a great name for a fantasy princess or fairy. Or maybe a singer if you're a fan of 'Harry Potter' and recall that Celestina Warbeck is a favourite singer of Molly Weasleys. The name was also given to the heroine of an 18th century novel of the same name by English poet Charlotte Turner Smith, which is thought to have inspired Jane Austen to write 'Sense and Sensibility'. Very romantic indeed.

Celestina is a pretty one indeed. Maybe if frilly is not quite your style you'd prefer it as a lovely, surprising middle. Or maybe this one lies firmly in fantasy fairy tale territory for you. But it's a pity that more people are not loving Celestina.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Zindzi

Zindzi with Little Ted on the set of Play School

I came across Zindzi when watching an episode of Play School. Play School is an institution here in Australia - it's a kids television program that has been on air five days a week since 1966! (I've mentioned it previously as one of their most famous toys is named Jemima). Each episode features a couple of presenters singing songs, doing dances, telling stories and making crafts that kids can join in with. When I was watching this as a child in the 80's it feels there were far fewer presenters, but the favourites became household names. Everyone knew who Benita was (and still do!).

Zindzi (rhymes with Lindsay) Okenyo is one of the current presenters. She is also an actor and musician, so like many of the shows' other presenters is multi talented.

There's not a lot of information available about the name Zindzi. It seems it is actually short for the name Zindziswa, an African (Zulu) name which is also sometimes shortened to Zindi. One famous bearer of this name is Zindziswa "Zindzi" Mandela-Hlongwane, daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela. I'm not sure how popular it is in Africa (Okenyo herself is part Kenyan), but it has never charted in the US and is rarely heard in the Western world, making it a somewhat exotic rarity for most of us.

Zindzi (well, technically Zindziswa) means 'the stable one, well settled' or alternatively 'stable and anchored in life'. This is a beautiful sentiment, and makes it a pleasantly surprising virtue name.

I must say that I really love the look and sound of Zindzi - it's just so much fun to say! The double Z makes it feel snappy and cool, and I could definitely see this name getting more popular as today's children grow and start naming their own children.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Girls Birth Announcements

Photo courtesy of Babies By Britt

As promised, here is a selection of the girl names chosen by parents with a December due date on Baby Center Australia (the boys post can be found here). This list is admittedly longer, mainly because there were way more girls born in this group than boys so it was hard to shorten it while still showing a good selection of the wide variety of names used. And there are some great ones.

Of the full selection, Charlotte was the most popular first name, given to five girls. Maybe Princess Charlotte had an impact on this, although to be fair Charlotte was already extremely popular in Australia before the princess was born in May 2015 - she was our #2 name in 2014. As for the middle names, you'll see Rose a few times in the below list, and Rose was indeed the most popular middle name overall, used 11 times! Seems it's not just Nameberries that love Rose in the middle place.


Aaliyah Mae
Elodie Jade
Maya Lois
Abigail Grace
Emerson Lucy Lena
Megan Lily
Ada Violet
Emily Maree Isla
Mia Rose
Alexis Hope
Esther Pearl
Milla Grace
Alice Belle
Eva Theresa
Myka Elisabeth
Allirah Jayne
Gisele Rebecca
Mylah-Rose
Alyssa Kristie
Greta Eve
Natalia Nicoletta
Amarli Diaz
Gwynevere Sky
Norah Joy
Anna Elizabeth Rose
Harper Leigh
Peyton Daphne
Antoinette Genevieve Leona
Hazel Scout
Piper Jane
Arianna Skye
Hollie Lorraine
Poppie Leigh
Audra Grace
Imogen Jean
Remi Julie Ann
Bailee Tymia
Indianna Rose
Ruby Mae
Bella Louise
Indie Allys Ihaia
Sadie May
Bree Emily
Isla Annelise
Scarlett Elizabeth Winter
Brooklyn Fay Riley
Ivy Anne
Sierra Blake
Charlotte Therese
Joy Alathea
Skylah Rose
Chasca Lee
Kaia Bailey
Sonja Jaye
Chloe Jane
Keira-Lee Jean
Sophie Renee
Delaney Rose
Khalise Louise
Tali Rose
Delilah Anne
Laihton Elizabeth
Tamara Heather
Eden Leigh
Legacie Nicole
Thea Audrey
Edie Lyla
Lilah Giulia
Tui Rose
Edith Sophia
Lut├Ęce Isabel Marguerite
Zali Lola
Elliana Grace
Mahli Claire
Zoya Mowlana

Twin Sets
Indie Rose and Mylie May
Melodi and Elis      


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Boys Birth Announcements


During my pregnancy I was taking a bit of a break from blogging (a.k.a. sleeping and playing a lot of Candy Crush). But this doesn't mean that I'd lost interest in names. In fact, part of the great thing about giving birth is that I'm suddenly completely immersed in the current naming landscape - as a new mum I'm seeing what names my fellow new mums are using. And can I say I've seen some fabulous ones lately.

But before I digress too much, what did we name our son? His name is Atlas Bram!! That's him pictured above at two months old. Atlas was born October 30th 2015, weighing just 1.6kg (3lb 8oz). He was born five and a half weeks premature after a growth scan showed he was too small and our obstetrician told us to come in to the hospital for a cesarean birth that same day. I have to admit to having a few hesitations about naming him Atlas when we found out he would be so tiny, but my husband had none. Our boy may be small but he is strong and healthy and I'm glad we stuck with our choice (keep tuned for a post on how we chose his name in the coming weeks).

As I was saying, I've seen some great names lately, with one major source being on the Baby Center Australia forums. The below is a selection of boy names used by parents who had a December due date like I did. For those interested in popularity; Alexander and variant Zander/Xander was the most popular first name, and James the most popular middle name out of all of the boys names I saw.

The girls post can be found here 

Alexander Arnold (Xander)
Flynn Michael Lloyd
Landon Jonathan
Apollo Ronaldo
Greyson Higgins
Leo Archer
Archer Thomas Jack
Harrison Jack (Harry)
Lucas Rex
Arkyn
Harry Leslie
Maverick Ernest
Blake Anthony
Hudson Winston
Mitchell John
Bradley Jonas
Hugo Robert
Nate James
Carter Jacob (CJ)
Isaiah Lyndon
Oliver Michael
Charlie Gabriel
Jack Michael Dillon
Oscar James
Chet Bruce
Jackson John
Rhys James
Coby Peter
Jacob Aydin
Riley Alan
Cooper Ryan
Jarryd George
Ryan Alexander
D'Arcy James
Jaxon James
William Paul
Damien Michael Rhys
Jayden Charles
Wolfe Michael
Darcy John
Job Edward
Xander Danny James
Davy Jack
Kahlani James
Xavier
Digby Anthony
Kaiden Dylan
Zander Roy Theodore
Edward Max (Eddie)
Keldan Daniel
Zane Nicholas
Elias Dennis
Kobi Blair
Zayn Fahd
Elijah Albert
Kyran Silva
Zeke Robert
Ethan Thomas
Lachlan Graham
Zion Ross

Twin Sets
Lucas Robert and Cooper Riley  
Rigby and Frankie
Stirling Royce and Eli Henry