Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Caspian is a name that I have loved ever since reading "Prince Caspian" by C.S. Lewis when I was young. At the time, I thought that names such as Capsian, Edmund and Eustace were made up names that you would never see on a real person. Of course, now that I'm older I know that Caspian is a place name, Edmund means 'fortunate protector'; and Eustace has greek origins. Yet what hasn't changed is that I still haven't met any of these names 'in real life'.

Naming choices have also evolved a lot since the days when I first read C.S Lewis' classics, and suddenly names that seemed fantastical and 'made-up' when I was young seem trendy and not-so-outrageous now. There is a lot of love out there for Caspian, from those who have read the books, seen the TV adaptations and loved the huge box office movie versions. This gives Caspian the advantage of being familiar to those who have read the books and loved the movies, but still
fresh and uncommon.

When people hear Caspian they think that it is a name for a good, strong, handsome, intelligent, sophistocated, unusual, exotic, masculine and well-educated person. Not a bad first impression for your child to give the world. If you like your names with good nickname potential, nicknames I've seen thrown around for this name are Cas, Caz, Cash and the slightly more creative Ian. Seems like Caspian could have it all, for those who are bold enough to venture down this path.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gems from Fantasy Books - The Blending Series

One of the first fantasy series that ever caught my attention was a five part series called "The Blending", written by Sharon Green. The series centres around five people, each of whom are adept in a different kind of magic, who work together as a team to compete to become the new ruling five. I was always taken with the names of the five characters, as they were not names I had heard before and sounded fantastical and magical when I was a teenager. While they are still by no means usual names, they are ones that either are or have roots in known names, and could easily stand on their own in todays world.

Jovvi (female)
Jovvi is the spirit magic adept of the group. I'd imagine her name would be pronounced JOV-vee, rather than Joe-VEE. I haven't been able to find any reference to the name in this form, but have seen Jovi and also Jovie both as stand-alone names and as nicknames for the longer forms Jovial, Jovalyn, Joviana, Jovena, Jovana and Jovita. Most of the longer forms are feminine versions of the name Jove, the Roman King of Gods, and means 'happy'. I have however also seen someone say that Jovi means 'harmonious soul', which I guess would be suitable for someone wielding Spirit magic.

While I quite like the name Jovvi, I do think it works better as a nickname. If you are thinking about Jovvi as a name, it's worth remembering the almost immediate association with Jon Bon Jovi and a secondary association with Buddy's girlfriend Jovie played by Zooey Deschanel in "Elf".

Tamrissa (female)
Tamrissa is adept in fire magic, and it is her name that most caught my fancy. This is possibly because I have a bit of a fascination with the name"Rissa". As I can't find any references for the name Tamrissa, I can only assume it is a made up name, and a quick lookup on Facebook shows there are only a couple of girls with this name, so if it's unique and rare you're after, this is it!

My best guess is this is a combination of Tamra (meaning 'palm tree') and Rissa (meaning 'illustrious'). It is quite pretty, but some might stumble over the m-r combo, thinking it should be Tamarissa instead.

Vallant (male)
Vallant is the water talent. I think what strikes one immediately about his name is it's similarity to Valiant, which is starting to see some use as a virtue name for boys. Or it may come from Vallant-Saint-Georges, a commune in North East France. I like that it is similar to Valiant, without it being a virtue name that a child might feel pressured to live up to, but think that it would be too often mistaken for Valiant.

Lorand (male)
Lorand works with Earth magic. Again, a quick search on Facebook shows that this is a name that is actually getting some real life use, yet not enough to make it a common name by any means. In French it means 'crowned with Laurel', while in Hungarian it is a version of Roland and means 'Famous Country'. Lorand, to me, sounds quite strong with the hard 'rand' sound, but soft at the same time with the 'lor' sound that is reminiscent of girls names such as Lauren, Laurel and Lorelei. I think it would be a good choice for a boys name if you are looking for something different but not strange or 'kre8tiv'.

Rion (initially Clarion, male)
Rion is the air magic talent of the five. He has two names, the Clarion that he starts with and the Rion that he becomes as he matures into a grown man with an identity not entwined with his that of his mother. I think he ends up being perhaps the most endearing character in the series. While I think Clarion is too feminine for me to imagine using it for a boy due to it's resemblance to Clarissa, Rion is much more usable. It is an Irish name that means 'king'. I find it strange to discover it is pronounced similarly to Ryan, as in my head I always pronounced it Ree-on (by the way, I know a Reon, if you're looking for another alternative). It makes sense though, as it's almost just a shorter version of the rising Greek mythological name Orion. A good choice if a familiar sounding yet different looking name is what you are searching for.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The Dance, Henri Matisse, 1910
Say the name Matisse and most people immediately associate it with the French artist Henri Matisse. Matisse is an old French surname derived from "Matthew" or "Matias", meaning 'gift of god'. As with many surnames, Matisse is now being used as a given name for both boys and girls.

If you're interested in using Matisse, it's worth a check on the internet to see what is being said about Matisse, as it seems that this is one of those names that gets some quite different and passionate reactions. On one hand, one mother who names her daughter Matisse said that she receives nothing but compliments on her daughters name. But on yahoo answers, the responses to one woman's query about what people thought of the name were overwhelmingly negative - the favourite response chosen by voters was "I think it's really's like the parents are insecure nouveaux riches trying to shout to the world, "We are classy people who know about art!!!!! We appreciate art so much that we named our daughter MATISSE!" She went on to say "I don't think it makes any sense as a first name for a girl, either, since it's the surname of a male artist (Henri Matisse)" and "It also sounds like Maltese (those little white fluffy dogs). Just bad, bad, bad all around". I was more than a little shocked, as I doubt that anyone would actually say this to a child (or their parent) who bore this name!

I personally really like Matisse. And even though I like art, I wouldn't neccessarily choose it for it's "art factor" alone as there are other artists that I much prefer ;-). I think of it more as a girls name, probably because names ending in '-isse' or '-issa' tend to be girls names. If you wanted to differentiate it a little for your girl, maybe try the more feminine Matissa. Then it also lends itself to cute nicknames Mattie or Tissa.

If you have no problems with the nay-sayers who think it is a little pretentious (but would only say so behind your back, most likely) then this could be just the unique but not unheard of - or made up - name that you have been looking for. I can't see this hitting the top 10 or even top 100 any time soon, so you can be sure that this is one your child will not share with 5 other children in their classroom.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

'Supernatural' Instincts

Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles)
Ahhh, Sam and Dean, my favourite men on television! For those not familiar with Sam and Dean Winchester, these two handsome men are the main characters of 'Supernatural', due to start it's eighth season in October this year. Sam and Dean are 'hunters' who spend their lives traveling America to save the world from the evil that lurks in the dark (in a nutshell).

As a long time fan of the show, when I think of the names Sam and Dean I can't help but associate them with strength and masculinity. Another nice little touch I love in the show is that Dean is named after his maternal grandmother, Deana, and Sam after his maternal grandfather, Samuel. It's nice to see writers putting a little thought into how these 'loner' boys are connected to that side of their family, despite their mothers tragic death when Sam was an infant.

Beyond the first names of the various characters on this show and the actors who play them, the name that has perhaps caught my fancy the most is Winchester. We already have names such as Colt (#330 in the US in 2011!), Smith (of Smith & Wesson), Gunner, Hunter and Cannon, so I think this is fast becoming a very usable name. As a first name, you have the nickname possibilities of Winn or Chester, or if you feel the gun association is too strong this could make a masculine middle. For those that like their names with a touch of olde worlde British charm, this also has a sound reminiscent of other British locations such Rochester. In fact, Winchester is an Old English word meaning 'Venta's Village'.

For those not convinced by the idea of a Winchester in the family, here are a few other suggestions inspired by the characters of 'Supernatural':


Castiel (made the nn Cass cool for men)

Monday, June 18, 2012


A pink Calla Lily flower
Calla is a girl's name that seems to be suddenly popping up on the Internet and in the baby name books as a fresh new flower name alternative - as in the Calla Lily. Lily is a top 20 name in both Australia and the US, so it stands to reason that parents to be would be on the lookout for viable alternatives, and this could be just the name for the job.

Calla has the dual advantage of a old-fashioned yet modern feel. It is easy to pronounce and feels warm and friendly, girly and tomboyish all at once. Calla, far from being a modern invented name, is a Greek name meaning beautiful. It would be striking with other nature names such as Sage and Bay. Calla is also perfectly poised to be a nickname for longer Greek names that derive from Calla - such as Callista (meaning most beautiful) and Calliope (meaning beautiful voice). Which also opens it up as an option for those that love more fanciful/mythological/Greek names that have more accessible nicknames.

A couple of objections I've seen are that it could be caught up in the Kayla/Kaylee trend, that it was the name of a Gummi Bear on the 80's cartoon, or that it is slightly reminiscent of "call girl". However the response to this name seems to be overwhelmingly positive, with most lovers of the name suggesting it'd be best paired with a shorter and/or more traditionally feminine middle name.

Whatever way you prefer to use it, Calla is a versatile name that is beautiful by name and beautiful by nature. I'd love to see used more often!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


"My Musidora" by Vanitas Mori
I was watching the first episode of a 1997 TV show called 'The Hunger' when the name of one of the characters caught my attention - Musidora (pronounced mews-EE-dora). It has a lovely musical sound to it, and I hadn't heard it before.

At first, I thought maybe this was a made-up name, a cross between Muse (as in the mythical Greek muses that provided great artists with inspiration); and Dora (meaning gift). Turns out that I was on the right track - Musidora is a Greek name meaning "gift of the Muses".

Musidora is a rarely used name, with the best known namesake being the French silent movie actress. Her real name was Jean Roques, but she adopted the name Musidora to convey a more mysterious and exotic image to suit the vampy persona she portrayed on film. Her on screen presence was often compared to the likes of Theda Bara. There is also a lesser known Harry Potter character (one of the famous witches on the Chocolate Frog cards); a town in Alberta Canada; a British Group 3 Horse race (known as the Musidora stakes); and a song by Isidore that share the name Musidora.

Like Jean Roques, I feel that this name is beautifully exotic. I tend to like Dora names - especially since Dora itself has such a lovely meaning - and this is one of the rarer ones, which I also like. I've seen Musidora mentioned a couple of times in various forums, and it seems that people feel this name is dark, odd and interesting. Some people would see this as a negative, but if you find these qualities attractive in a name then this could be a great option worth considering!

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The name Hilton has long held a special place in my heart. Not because I'm a huge Paris Hilton fan or love luxury hotels. But because Hilton is a family name that has been passed down as a middle name for at least four generations that I know of. It is the middle name of both of my brothers, my father, my grandfather and his father.

A couple of years ago, we went shopping for a new TV. And ended up buying a new leather lounge suite instead (go figure). I have to admit that as I sat there thinking "we're not really about to impulse buy a leather lounge suite, are we?" I decided that it was meant to be, simply because the salesperson's name badge identified him as Hilton. I figured that it must be a sign. Most likely this wouldn't be the case if the family name was John - or I might think it is a sign every time I go to buy chocolate from the supermarket - but as a name I almost never see and hold so dear, it took on a special meaning for me. And incidentally, we love the lounge suite :-).

Hylton is another variation, and both names mean 'hill settlement', coming from the Old English hyll (hill) and Norse tun (enclosure or settlement). It has even been thought that the name could pre-date the Norman conquest and possibly has Viking origins - which kind of increases it's cool factor, in my opinion.

Hilton is used as a given name, but is much more common as a surname. I daresay it's the obvious connection with the Hotelier Hiltons that have kept this name from reaching it's potential - otherwise it'd be right on trend with the other -on ending names and surnames as first names. So it looks as if at least for now this is going to be one name that remains rarely used as a given name, which I for one think is a shame.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gems From (one of my) Favourite Books

One of my favourite books ever is "The Glass Slipper" by Eleanor Farjeon. The copy I have is a hand-me-down from my mother - who got it as a present from her Sunday School - which increases the charm of this book ten fold for me.

One of the most memorable and intriguing things in this re-telling of the classic Cinderella tale is the unusual monikers bestowed upon the two wicked Stepsisters - Araminta and Arethusa. These names were most likely created by the author, as upon checking the original Grimm Brothers version I found that they never actually named the sisters, just described them as "fair in face but foul at heart".

Cinderella's Wicked step-mother and step-sisters Araminta and Arethusa
As a name, Araminta is currently enjoying much more popularity than Arethusa. It is unknown exactly where this name comes from - some say it is a cross between Aminta (Greek name meaning defender) and Arabella (Latin for yielding to prayer); while others say it was invented by British writers William Congreve in his play "The Old Bachelor" in 1693 and Sir John Vanbrugh in "The Confederacy" in 1705. However as it is also thought that these two colleagues may have known an Araminta, so its origins remain sketchy. 

In this book Araminta is known as Minty to her sister, a nickname that people either seem to think is cute and funky, or too reminiscent of toothpaste and chewing gum to be usable. For those, Minta, Minnie or even Mindy might be better options. Either way, this name seems to be on trend with the lacy girls names that are currently on the rise.

Arethusa  is much less well known, but just as pretty. In Greek mythology Arethusa was a nymph who turned into a fountain after Alpheus tried to seduce her and she sought the protection of Artemis. From this, the meaning of her name is water bearer. For those that also like poetic connections, "Arethusa" is also the title of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Arethusa was called Thusy (I presume pronounced Thoosey) in this book, which is perhaps a nickname best avoided. If you need a nickname, Aretha might always be an option.

I think both are great names, but probably not ones I'd use as first names as they're not quite my style. Maybe as adventurous middles though :-) What do others think? Are there some gems from your favourite books that you'd secretly love to use?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Inspiring Names - "Hart of Dixie"

Stuck for a Name?
"Hart of Dixie" has to be my favourite show of 2011- it's so uplifting and quirky. I guess I also like to think that there are towns like that out there, and I'm still a fan of Rachel Bilson from her days on "The O.C.". But one of the other things I love so much about this show are the refreshing names many of the characters have.

The main character Dr Zoe Hart alone offers some great naming possibilities. Zoe - meaning life - has long been a favourite of mine. Unfortunately I'd hesitate to use it now because it is so popular. Last year Zoe was ranked 16th most popular girls name in both my state and for the whole of Australia.

However Hart.....well that throws up a few new, fresher possibilities! Hart is an English boys name, meaning stag. I like that this is technically an animal/nature name, without obviously being so. It's also a strong, short name which I find I prefer for boys names. But there is no denying that it obviously sounds like 'heart', which most people associate with girly things like flowers and rainbows. Makes Hart sound a little (O.K., a lot) less masculine,  so if you're stuck on this name for a boy I think it'd be strictly middle name material. Even as a girls name it doesn't quite work, as people would likely always spell it incorrectly and think you were trying to use a word name (a huge trend at the moment).

I feel that the winning choice here is Hartley. This is also an established English name, meaning stag meadow, and fits right in with the other unisex -ley names such as Riley and Bailey. Hartley was chosen by Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath for his daughter Hartley Grace in 2010, most likely inspired by the name of the town where he was born, Hartford. I think if I was to use this name it would also most likely be for a girl, although I'd opt for the variant Hartlee (as my husband's middle name is Lee). Other usable versions include Hartleigh, Hartlea and Hartlie, depending on your personal style.

Some other great "Hart of Dixie" names to inspire you are:

Lemon (short for Clementine - love this!!)
Tancy (pron. Tansy)

Judson (first time I had heard this handsome one)
Wilson (actually one of the actors, not a character, but I thought it fits right in)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Abel Tasman
I was looking at the girl's name Tamsin recently, when I had what I thought was a bit of a brainwave. What about Tasman for a boys name? So I turned to the trusty internet and surprisingly found - well, almost nothing about this as a name. Seems that it's just not on many people's radars. But why not?

While rarely used, Tasman has a fantastic namesake in the Dutch explorer from the 1600's Abel Tasman. The Tasman Sea is named for him; plus two marsupial species (albeit indirectly - the Tasmanian Devil and the Tasmanian Tiger); an island state in Australia (Tasmania); a bridge, highway and peninsula in Australia; and a glacier, lake, river, bay, mountain, district and National Park in New Zealand all bear this name.

It's a masculine sounding name, with the cool, masculine sounding nickname of Taz. It also has the popular -an ending sound. Tasman has English origins, meaning "of great faith". Yet it seems to remain relatively undiscovered, other than making the rare appearance on forums in the form of people who know one or have met one.

So is it the crazy image on the Warner Bros character the Tazzie Devil that is keeping his name out of the consciousness of baby namers? Or is is just that people outside Australia and NZ have hardly heard of it, while people in those countries hear it too much? No matter what it is, I think this is one name that has the makings of a popular name in the future.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Sage is a name that I find myself very attracted to. It has the interest of not one but two meanings, and sounds very similar to Paige, which has been a long time favourite of mine.

Sage has the beautiful latin meaning of "wise, healthy", and who doesn't hope thier child will grow up to be both! It also has a nature meaning, as in the aromatic herb sage.

This is a name that can be used for both boys and girls and in America is in the bottom half of the top 1000 names for both boys and girls, which in my opinion is a good thing as it is one of those names that's not too weird as everyone has heard of it and could spell it, but it's fairly unlikely you'll bump into very many of them :-) Although much more coomon on girls, it could be argued that it is better as a boys name due to it's associations with the archetypical wise old man. However I've always loved it more as a girl's name, and don't think I could ever use it as a boys name myself.

Variations can be spelt Sayge or Saige. I kind of like Saige, especially as this brings it closer to Paige. However interestingly enough, I saw an article of few months ago that Saige was actually one of the least popular names used in my state (Victoria, Australia) in 2011! Apparently only 3 new babies were given this name. Which in a way makes it slightly more appealing to me. The main disadvantage would probably be that everyone would spell it the "usual" way, so those future Saige's will likely have to spell it for people every time. But that's possibly a small price to pay for having a lovely name :-)

Welcome to my blog!

I've always had an interest in names, especially interesting and unique names. As a teenager, I was (and I still am!) an avid reader - and in particular a reader of fantasy and science fiction. So I've always been coming across names that seem exotic and different. I delighted in trying to imagine these names on real people, and often thought about what I would one day name my own children.

I'm now in my thirties, and married, and the time when I will be making that decision is (hopefully) going to be coming up soon. So naturally my thoughts turned again to names. And I found that increasingly, people are looking for unique names that will help their child stand out in the world. It seems that almost anything goes these days! So here are my musings on the names I'm noticing, and maybe some ideas to help you on your own path to finding the perfect name.