Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Melodious Names

Word names are very cool right now, but one type of word names has long been popular - musical names. No, not characters from musical theatre, but those names based on music and musical terms. This includes as classics Carol and Viola right through to new kids on the block such as Rhapsody and Sonnet.

Musical names have what I like to think of as the smile factor. People love music; and when they hear a name that makes them think of music or a certain piece of music that they adore, it brings a smile to their face. To have the smile factor a name needs to be instantly recognisable, and related to something joyous and positive. Musical names in particular also sound melodious, making them even more attractive.

There are many to choose from, but here are my top picks. Please excuse the fact that they are mainly girls names, I just feel that the softer, lyrical feel of these names tend to work best as girls names.

Aria - I first saw Aria (spelt this way) when it appeared as the name of one of the main characters on 'Pretty Little Liars'. I was immediately captivated by it, and it seems I was not alone. Aria was virtually unheard of until the 1990's, but since 'Pretty Little Liars' started airing in 2010 the name has skyrocketed. Aria is Italian in origin and means 'little melody'. Which leads me to.....

Melody - this is one of my favourite for the beautiful sound of the name. Melody is Greek and means 'song'. Melody is a huge hit now, but was last spiked in the 60's, when it was possibly favoured by "hippie" parents due to it's soft, gentle nature. It even has geek cred! In 'Doctor Who' it is the given name of Amy Pond's daughter, who grew up to be - spoilers - the enchanting River Song.

Cadence - Cadence sounds full of olde world charm, but has enjoyed it's biggest popularity only recently. Cadence has a few of the 'buzz' sounds for modern parents - the "kay" sound at the start (think Kayley, Kayla) the "aden" sound in the middle (think Aidan, Jayden, Brayden) and an "e" at the end. Never mind that it has the work dense in it, people will just notice the cute nickname of Cady. Cadence is Latin and means 'beat or rythm'.

Harmony - almost seems old fashioned these days, and while is less popular than my above examples, it has still enjoyed the same recent spike in popularity that the other musical names above are experiencing. I have to admit, most of my love for this name came from the ditsy, usually horrible but often well meaning character in the 'Buffy' and 'Angel' TV series'. And many will associate the name with her, but this is still a lovely choice if you love the trend but don't want one of the most common ones.

Lyric - Also experiencing a recent jump in popularity, this is one that works well on boys and girls, although is much more popular for girls. I'd be tempted to use Lyric for a boy, as it has the stronger "ric" ending, but Lyrical on a girl to make it a bit more melodious.

Love the idea of a musical name but want one that isn't quite as popular, or one of these just isn't your style? Here's a few more suggestions to get your imagination working - make your own mind up whether you'd use them for a boy or a girl!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


'Queen Zenobia's Last Look Upon Palmyra', painting by Herbert Gustave Schmalz
I've seen this name mentioned lately and find myself strangely drawn to it. One of the main attractions of the name Zenobia is that it is exotic sounding, without being too weird. It evokes images of perfume scented nights in the African desert. It is queenly, and quietly calm and regal because it starts with the word Zen.

Zenobia (pronounced ze-NOH-bee-ah) is most famous for being the name of a Queen of Palmyra in the 3rd century. She was said to be descended from Cleopatra, led a revolt against the Roman Empire and ruled Egypt until she was defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Emperor Aurelian. Pretty cool, right?

As a name, Zenobia has Greek origins and means 'the life of Zeus'. It has been used for characters in books, operas, movies and a ballet. It has also flirted with celebrity baby name fame, as Tina Fey chose it as the middle name for her first daughter Alice Zenobia, honouring her mother who is also named Zenobia. It's also one of the few examples of a longer girls name that isn't frilly sounding (such as names ending with etta, ella, bella or issa), which can be good for parents after a longer name to make a full name flow better but not necessarily after an "old fashioned girly-girl" name.

Likely to be more often used as an adventurous middle name for a plainer first name, Zenobia shouldn't be overlooked as a potentially fantastic first name with some great nickname potential. Bee, Bia, Zee, Zia or Zen could all be cute but spunky shorter versions for those willing to give it a try. It would certainly be a distinctive name for any little girl, would age well and wouldn't be instantly thought of as belonging to girls from a certain decade in fifty years time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Latest news is Sam Claflin will play Finnick Odair

Admittedly, I was trying to avoid writing about any of the names from 'The Hunger Games'. Before I read the series, I couldn't understand why Katniss was suddenly one of the most searched names on Nameberry.com. However I am now a convert, after reading all three books in lightning speed. Well, for me anyway - after all, I took three months to read the latest Games of Thrones book, but three weeks to read all three of 'The Hunger Games' books as I could hardly bring myself to put them down. But enough of my ranting about how much I loved the books. There are many fantastic names in 'The Hunger Games' but for now I just want to focus on my favourite from the books - Finnick.

The character Finnick Odair doesn't make an appearance until the second book, but is one of the most complex characters of the series. From flirt, to enemy, to ally, survivor to lover, Finnick is (to borrow a phrase from a famous ogre) like an onion. He is strong yet vulnerable. I think many people who have loved the books have fallen in love with Finnick Odair. And as we have all experienced, when we associate a name with someone we love, even if it's a character from a book, the name becomes extremely attractive by association.

It's also starting to see some real world use - I've seen announcements on the Internet for a Finnick Cameron, and a Milo Finnick Alexander. Both great uses of pairing an unusual name with more established names to balance it out.

Okay, so not everyone will be on board with Finnick. A lot of people immediately see 'finnicky', which is not a desirable trait to be associated with. Others feel that the name is far too intrinsically tied to the books. And that as a victor, he was a killer etc etc and it would leave a child open to teasing.

But I think as the next two movies are released the name will become more and more acceptable. Finnick has the benefit of the ready made nicknames Finn and Nick, and with Finn and Flynn racing up the popularity charts (in Australia Flynn was #25 in 2011 while Finn was #34) Finnick could become a very usable alternative. Or if you prefer a more subtle nod to the character, Odair is also an option, a more 'namey' sounding alternative to Dare.

Now I'm just interested to see who they finally lock in the play Finnick Odair on the big screen, along with thousands of other fans.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Word names are now huge, and look to be getting only more and more popular. One of the word names for a girl that I've seen thrown into the mix is Cameo, and I have to say that this is my favourite of the bunch.

There are many reasons why I'm attracted to Cameo, so here they are in no particular order:

 # Cameo ends with the magical O sound (I'm sure there's a good joke there, but I'll leave that one alone) which is the "vowel sound of the moment" in Australia right now. Whether at the start (Olivia, Olive, Oliver, Oscar), in the middle (Chloe, Zoe, Noel, Jacob) or at the end (Cleo, Echo, Hugo, Leo), O is the vowel to have.

# Cameo comes with the cute girly but tomboyish nickname Cami, or even Cam.

# The word cameo is based on the Italian word 'cammeo', and is a delicate gem portrait carved in relief. So when I hear the word I picture this beautiful style of jewellery, which makes me smile. I like names with immediate positive connections.

# Cameo is also the term used for a brief appearance, such as when a huge star makes a quick appearance in a movie. Think Ryan Reynolds in 'Ted', or Dave Grohl in 'The Muppets'. It's a nice surprise when you're least expecting it - another reason to smile when you hear this word.

#Even though it's a part of the current word name trend, it's not actually new to use Cameo as a name. It was also briefly popular as a name in the late 18th and 19th centuries. So it's a 'new' but established name.

#Not many people are using it. I certainly haven't seen any Cameo's in the local birth announcements.

#The benefit of word names (in theory) are that people are already familiar with the word, so should be able to spell and pronounce the word without needing to ask how. Plus it's "real", not made up like a lot of names appear to be these days as parents strive to make old name stand out from the pack and seem new again. Sometimes this works, more often it just looks like you don't know how to spell.

So there you have it - turns out I have seven lucky reasons why Cameo would be a good name for a little girl. What's your favourite word name?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Inspiring Names - "Switched At Birth"

One of my favourite "new" names in the past year is Bay, the name of one of the main characters in the ABC Family show, "Switched At Birth". For those not familiar with the show (I am aware that I often have the TV viewing choices of a teenage girl), "Switched At Birth" tells the story of Bay Kennish (played by Vanessa Marano) and Daphne Vasquez (played by Katie Leclerc). Bay has always felt a little different from the rest of her family, and manages to persuade her parents to have a genetic test to prove she is not actually adopted. It is discovered that Bay is not actually the genetic daughter of either of her parents, which leads her on a search for her real parents. However when she finds her birth mother, she also discovers Daphne, a girl with the same birthday as her who happens to look a lot more like Bay's mother than Bay does. Yes, these two girls were switched at birth, and the show follows how the two families now cope with the news, and the girls build new relationships with their birth families while maintaining those with the family that raised them.

Obviously Bay is not new name, it is just that this is the first time I had seen it. And this character is largely responsible for why I like it so much - sweet but spunky, caring, clever, cute and artsy. Plus I've liked Vanessa Marano since seeing her play Luke's daughter April in "The Gilmore Girls". Bay has been used as both a boys and a girls name and actually has a few different origins and meanings:

Vanessa Marano as Bay Kennish
Old English - reddish brown (used to describe horses with brown coats and black manes and tails)
French - born on Saturday
Geographical - an indentation of land in a coastline
Nature - name of several different types of trees (such as Bay Laurel) whose leaves are used as herb and flavouring agent
Nature - Berry
Vietnamese - seventh child, born in July

This makes Bay - such a little name - rich with meaning and appealing on many levels.

The other star name in this show is Bay's counterpart, Daphne. Daphne is such a sweet, beautiful and charming name, one that has been regularly in use for a long time without ever being uber-popular. Daphne is often thought to be a French or English name, but it actually a Greek name meaning Laurel. It has roots in Greek Mythology, as a nymph who was changed into a laurel tree to protect her from the unwelcome amorous advances of the God Apollo. This also makes it somewhat of a virtuous name. 

Katie Leclerc as Daphne Vasquez
And don't let the fact that most people think of Daphne from Scooby Doo when they hear Daphne put you off this name- Appellation Mountain has predicted that one of the big naming trends in 2012 is likely to be the rise of girls names ending in "E", which could see Daphne as a trendier name to have in the next few years (http://appellationmountain.net/2011/12/30/12-baby-name-predictions-for-2012/).

Both are lovely names, and I can't hep but think that the shows writers chose the names Bay and Daphne because they both have a connection to Laurel (another nature name I'm loving at the moment), just as the two characters will forever be connected to each other. I suggest you check out the show to see how well these names work on "actual" people. Maybe you'll fall in love with them the way I have, too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler & Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus
I recently watched the movie 'Hocus Pocus' again and was charmed by the name of one of the characters, Thackery. Thackery Binx (another cool name!) is the young boy who was turned into a cat by the three witches in this movie when he tries to rescue his sister from their wicked clutches (cackle cackle). He then helps a trio of young children to end the witches reign of terror forever when they are resurrected unintentionally 300 years later.

Thackery originated as a surname, and while there are many people with this surname it is rarely used as a given name. Apart from Thackery Binx, there is one other famous character with this name - Thackery Earwicket, the March Hare from 'Alice in Wonderland'. So it would seem that this is one surname crossover that has been reserved for mystical, talking animals in fantasy tales. Thackery is also the name of a town in the US state of Ohio, and the alternative spelling of Thackeray is the surname of the author of the classic novel 'Vanity Fair'.

It's a little difficult to pin down the meaning of Thackery, but assuming it's the same as the meaning for Thackeray it means 'place with thatching' or possibly 'dweller by the nook where the reeds for thatching grow'.

I like the sound of Thackery, it has a very upper crust British feel to it. People who remember the name from the movie think it is cute and unique. The main drawback seems to be that many people comment that it sounds like someone with a lisp trying to say Zachary. Maybe. And I guess the common nickname for Zachary is Zack, but I'm not so sure Thack would be considered a desirable nickname!

If you're a bit put off by the idea of people thinking your child's name is Zachary and you can't pronounce it correctly, Thatcher and Thayer are two alternatives with a similar look, feeling and meaning. I think I personally would lean towards Thayer as it is a little softer, but I don't think I'd need an alternative as I much prefer Thackery. Maybe as a middle name though :-)

Thackery Binx in cat form

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I saw this name - Florinda - in the paper today as the name of a French model. Having never heard it before, I was intrigued. It sounded like a great smoosh of Florence (which is so hot right now) and Linda. Exotic yet familiar at the same time, and different enough to stand out in a crowd.

So I have to admit I was surprised when a quick Google showed me that this is far from a new, invented name. Florinda is a Latin/French name, a variant of Flora, who was the Roman Goddess of Flowers. Like Flora, it means flower, flowering or in bloom. It has been used more years than not in the US but never given to more than a couple of dozen girls in any one year. When used used in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands it is pronounced flo-RIN-dah (which is how I automatically thought of it), when used in Spain and Portugal it is said flo-REEN-dah.

Florinda could be a great, little used alternative for popular favourites Flora and Florence, and better yet, another way to get to the cute nicknames Flo and Florrie. It's also a subtle nature name, for those like myself who like names with nature meanings. Still not quite convinced? Here are a few other similar choices and their meanings to get you thinking:

Florine (flower)
Florina (flower)
Florissa (flower-like)
Florencia (blooming flower)
Florentina (blooming flower)
Floressa (flower)
Floretta (flower)
Floria (blooming flower)
Floriana (flower)
Florinia (blooming flower)
Florita (flower)
Fleur (flower)
Fleurette (little flower)

section of the painting 'Florinda' (1852) by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Radha Mitchell
Today's name spotlight is inspired by actress Radha Mitchell, born Radha Rani Amber Indigo Anunda Mitchell. Radha is an Australian actress from Melbourne (where I live!) and has appeared in two of my favourite scary movies - 'Pitch Black' and 'Silent Hill' - plus many others, such as Woody Allen's 'Melinda and Melinda'.

Radha's full first name, Radha-Rani, was based on the name of the favourite consort of the Hindu god Krishna, followed by the Indian word Rani for queen. Her mother reportedly developed a love for India in the early 70's, inspiring her name. I'm not sure how popular it is in India, but it is not in the top 1000 in the US, or the top 100 baby names in Australia. For those of you familiar with the website www.names4real.wordpress.com (if you're not, it's well worth checking it out), it isn't even listed on their website, so must be rarely used in the western world indeed.

Radha is a Sanskrit name, pronounced RAA-daa, meaning 'success' or 'affluence'. I love the sound of Radha. Maybe it's due to the Rah sound, which reminds me of cheering and generally being happy. It also sounds kind of futuristic, like it wouldn't be out of place in 'The Hunger Games' or any post-apocalyptic tale (take note if you're a writer looking for these types of names!). Radha is a unisex name, and I think it could work well for either a boy or a girl.

Having a famous namesake has its benefits and its drawbacks. The benefit is that people are more likely to have heard of the name and therefore know how to pronounce it, despite it being a rarely used name. But the drawback is that it is more likely that people would be "Oh, like Radha Mitchell?". If you're a fan of Radha Mitchell, this isn't necessarily a problem though. With a happy sound and an aspirational meaning, this is one name that could potentially be a winner if it gets noticed by enough people.

Ted's 'Trashy' Names List

What names spring to your mind when someone mentions 'white trash' names? We went and saw the movie 'Ted' today, and one of the scenes that I found the funniest (especially because of my interest in names) went like this:

Ted: I met a girl; she's a cashier.
John: No way! That's awesome! We should fuckin' double date or something, you, me and Lori and w-what's her name?
Ted: White trash name. Guess.
John: Mandy.
Ted: Nope.
John: Marilyn.
Ted: Nope.
John: Brittany?
Ted: Nope.
John: Tiffany.
Ted: Nope.
John: Candace.
Ted: Nope.
John: Don't fuck with me on this! I know this shit!
Ted: Do you see me fuckin' with you? I'm completely serious.
John: Alright, speed round. I'm gonna rattle off some names, and when I hit it, you fuckin' buzz it, okay? You got me?
Ted: You do it. I will tell you. Yeah.
John: Alright: Brandy, Heather, Channing, Brianna, Amber, Serena, Melody, Dakota, Sierra, Bambi, Crystal, Samantha, Autumn, Ruby, Taylor, Tara, Tammy, Lauren, Charlene, Chantelle, Courtney, Misty, Jenny, Krista, Mindy, Noel, Shelby, Trina, Reba, Cassandra, Nikki, Kelsey, Shawna, Jolene, Urleen, Claudia, Savannah, Casey, Dolly, Kendra, Kylie, Chloe, Devon, Emmalou, fuckin' *Becky*?
Ted: No.
John: Wait; was it any of those names with a "Lynn" after it?
Ted: *Yes*.
John: Oh, I got you, motherfucker! I got you!
[Ted laughs]
John: Okay. Brandi-Lynn, Heather-Lynn...
Ted: Tami-Lynn.
John: [Exasperated] *Fuck*!

I was just relieved that mine (Brooke) wasn't one of the ones mentioned, but I do know - and am related to - quite a few people with some of these names. And I don't consider (many) of them to be very trashy (lol!). I also just realised that three of my five childhood Barbie dolls had names on this list, so I don't know what that says about my taste in names before I was ten!

Some of these I'm not surprised about, although I am surprised that Destiny wasn't mentioned. And Candy. And some I am surprised were included - I have never thought of Claudia or Lauren as 'trashy' names for example. Do you agree with any of these?  What ones are you surprised to see on here? And what names would you include on a 'trashy names' list?

Ted with (r-l) Angelique, Heavenly, Cherene and Sauvignon Blanc

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spotted - Denver Anton & Zelda Gypsy Jane

While having a squiz at the birth announcements in the Melbourne Herald Sun yesterday, two names struck me as particularly inspiring - Denver Anton and Zelda Gypsy Jane! I'd like to start with a congratulations to the lucky new parents, and their adventurous naming choices.

We don't get many Denver's here is Australia. The only examples that spring to mind is the last name of country singer John Denver, or the 80's cartoon 'Denver: The Last Dinosaur' (I have the theme song running through my mind right now!). I'll add here that I have very fond memories of the show, which is possibly why it made me smile when I saw this name in use.

Denver The Last Dinosaur
I really like the sound of Denver, and the much more traditional Anton makes this combination sound a little more grown up - grounded but not boring. It brings to mind images of someone cool but smart.

Denver is actually an English/French place name meaning 'from Anvers', while Anton is a German/Scandinavian version of Anthony, which means 'priceless one'. Such a beautiful meaning.

Zelda, Twilight Princess
Zelda Gypsy Jane on the other hand just drips with spunk.

Zelda was popular in the early 1900's, but has been rarely used since the 1970's. The popular Nintendo Game 'The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess' increased the recognisability of the name, but hasn't seemed to have given it a huge boost in popularity. Although it did inspire Robin Williams to name his daughter Zelda Rae.

With the association of Zelda with a video game princess, the romanticism conjured by the word Gypsy and Jane's lovely meaning of 'god's gracious gift', Zelda Gypsy Jane is a distinctive name that evokes positive images for most. It also has the benefit of being unusual without a "I think they made that name up" vibe. Plus it's a great use of the steadily rising two middle names trend, a practice that is giving baby name lovers a chance to create truly unique combos and the opportunity to use more of the names they love.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Great Sibsets - The Halliwells

No, not Gerri Halliwell aka Ginger Spice. The other Halliwells - Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige, the magical sisters from the TV series 'Charmed'.

Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combes), Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) and Paige (Rose McGowan)
For those who haven't heard of this, sibset is baby naming speak for sets of siblings. It seems that these days not only do we want the 'perfect' names for our children, but we want our childrens names to sound like they 'go together' when we do the family roll call :-) I think this combo was one of the first that ever made me think about having an element that links brothers and sisters names together.

Originally, Prue (short for Prudence) Piper and Phoebe were the 'charmed' ones - three sisters destined to be the greatest witches of all time, most powerful when they were together. After Prue's death, it was found that the girls had another half sister, conveniently also with a P name - Paige. So Piper didn't have to change the name of her nightclub (it was called P3). There are three main reasons why I think this worked so well in this instance:
  • The show started before the "matching-first-initials" craze was made famous (and let's face it, slightly trashy) by the Duggars and Kardashians.
  • There are only four few of them, so it wasn't an overkill and they didn't have to start having similar sounding names (Joshua, Josiah, Johannah and Josie in the same family?!)
  • They are all beautiful, 'proper' names. No changing letters to fit a theme (Kortney, Khloe, Jinger?). Here's a closer look at each of them.
Prue - This short form is the only thing that made me notice the beauty of the name Prudence. It's a lovely, old fashioned virtue name, with a cute, spunky nickname. It's not on the rise yet, but might be as the huge success of 'The Hunger Games' has put names such as Rue and Prim (short for Primrose) on the radar for many people. Prue has a similar feel and sound, so may be up for people who love these but want to steer clear of any obvious connections to the franchise.

Piper - Piper is an occupational name which leaped up the charts thanks mainly to this show. It was virtually unheard of at the start of the 1990's, but started to chart a year after the show started. It has steadily climbed since then, with Pyper now seeing some use as a variation. Piper is a fun, happy sounding and spunky name, while still sounding classy, which has likely contributed to it's popularity.

Phoebe - In the 90's, this name was seen on both 'Charmed' and the hugely popular 'Friends'. Already on the rise before this, these shows helped to push Phoebe up the charts. Phoebe has Greek origins - she was once known as the goddess of the moon - and has the beautiful meaning of 'radiant, shining one'. It's one of those names that nothing else sounds similar to. Phoebe is unique and makes people think of a fun loving, warm and caring individual.

Paige - an occupational name, the 'i' makes this an appealing looking name and less like the traditional word page, which conjures up entirely different images. Classy but not snotty sounding, I have a lot of love for Paige. Which I've mentioned before, so I won't bang on about it :-)

Matching first initials may still seem like a bad idea to many - I guess there could be problems with having 3 or 4 different B Smiths at the same school for example. But past those school days, it's a nice link that your children will always have with each other, something special that they share beyond the joy of simply being brothers and sisters.