Monday, January 28, 2013


Five year old Victorian girl Tempany after donating her hair to cancer patients for wigs
Saturday was Australia Day, but because the actual day fell on a weekend we are enjoying our Australia Day Holiday today. So in honour of today being technically-not-Australia-Day, I thought I'd look at a name that is quoted by many sources as being an Australian name, but in all likelihood is a technically-not-Australian-name. It's also a fitting name to look at today while Queensland and New South Wales experience some particularly stormy weather.

The origins of the name Tempany (pronounced TEHM-pah-nee) are very vague. At best guess, it comes from the word Tempest, meaning 'violent storm'. Tempest comes from the Old French "tempeste", and Latin terms "tempesta" and "tempestas". All of these mean 'storm, weather, season' and 'commotion, disturbance'. It is also related to "tempus" meaning 'time, season', hence Tempest came to be known as 'a disturbance in a period of time, season or weather', which led to 'bad weather' or 'storm'. For this reason, Tempany is thought to have Old French and Latin origins.

It's unclear how the name Tempany came about, but it seems that it most likely started as a surname. Maybe it started as a misspelling of a different name, as many surnames we see today started that way, or maybe it was adopted by someone who lived in an area prone to storms, or a child who was born during a storm. No one really knows.

It's thought that the first known Tempany's were from Leinster in Ireland, where the Tempanys held a family seat as Chiefs. The first documented appearance of the surname Tempany in Australia is 1850, when Henry and Elizabeth Tempany arrived in Adelaide, South Australia aboard the ship 'Sultana'. The 1891 England and Wales census shows evidence of some Tempany familes in London, Warwickshire, Essex and Wiltshire, while the 1920 American census shows some in New York and Ohio.

Tempany is usually listed as an Australian name, maybe because it's one of the only (if not the only) country where Tempany is used as a first name. This is mainly thanks to actress Tempany Deckert, who was in one of Australia's longest running soapies 'Home and Away'. Tempany appeared in the show as teenager Selina Roberts Cook from 1994-1998, making her a household name in Australia. One of her besties on the show was played by actress Isla Fisher, who is in the upcoming 'The Great Gatsby'. Melissa George also starred on the show during this time.

Tempany Deckert & Isla Fisher
in their 'Home and Away' days
Isla's name was rarely heard when she was on 'Home and Away' in the 90's, but it has since skyrocketed. In 2011 Isla was the 23rd most popular name in Australia, 15th in England and Wales and #268 in America. A lot of it's popularity is due to Isla Fisher. The same however can not be said of Tempany. Which just goes to show that a little international exposure can go a long, long way.

Tempany  is quite a pretty,with the benefits of  not being an overly frilly or delicate name. It does however sound kind of similar to words such as temporary, timpani (kettledrums) and teriyaki, which could be a little off-putting. If you can look past that, it kind of has the sound of Tiffany, but with the strong, classical but modern feel of Cadence or Temperance.

I love that it sounds like it could be either an unearthed vintage gem, or a modern invented name, as I think the more "faces" a name has the better it's longevity. Plus, if you're looking for a weather related name, Tempany is much prettier and subtle than Storm, Stormy or Tempest. You can pretty much guarantee that your daughter won't come across many other Tempanys in her lifetime.


  1. I have never heard the name Tempany and I like it! I did immediately think of Timpani, but to me that is a positive association (I like musical terms as names). I will be adding this to my list of new discoveries!

  2. As an Australian child of the 90s, all I think of is the Home and Away actress. I wasn't really into Home and Away as a kid, and thought the huge fandom amongst the other girls in my class was a bit silly. So, not the best name for me.

  3. Thanks for covering this great Australian name - I've never heard of anyone outside the TV show being called Tempany, and I wonder how often it's been used even here?

    There's something pretty and slightly odd about it that is quite appealing.

  4. I was named after the actress Tempany Deckert
    The only difference is that my name is spelt: Tempanie

  5. Tempany is a gorgeous name and the name of my 8yr old daughter. I also first heard the name in 'home and away' and thought that if i ever had a daughter that would be her name, 7yrs later we had our little girl. I live in the uk and have yet to come across another tempany but everybody comments on what a lovely and unusual name it is!

  6. Tempany is an English surname and the Tempany's in Ireland came about as a result of two injured brothers left behind by Cromwell in County Sligo. It's believed to be Norman originally.

  7. My 9 yesr old daughter is tempany I love the name we live in nz and know of 1 other tempany

  8. My name is Tempany, my mum named me after Tempany Deckert. I would love to meet somebody with the same name but don't think I ever will! When ever someone asks me my name I have to repeat it a few times for them to get it and I'm always questioned about how I got my name.