Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Literary Persuasions

Love reading and writing? Love the idea of names inspired by this love? But it can be so hard to pick just one iconic writer, book or character that represents your tastes and what it is that you love so much about the world of fiction and prose. If you're someone trying to escape "can't see the forest for the trees" problem, how about some more general literary related names.

Author - if occupational names are in, why not Author? Possibly due to its similarity to Arthur, I could see this working best for a boy. It has in fact been used regularly in America, appearing in the US charts most years up until 1995, when it dropped off the charts not to be seen again. Maybe we feel it would be too much for a child to live up to these days because it is still a common career, whereas the more popular occupational names such as Piper, Hunter, Cooper or Archer are very rare in society today.

Fable - I adore Fable! It would be a great name for either gender. So far it has only charted for girls in America, and only in the recent years of 2008, 2010 and 2011. Each year it was given to fewer than ten babies. Fable is also the name of an action role playing video game, so has the cool advantages of a literary reference, classic feel, modern sound, and video game reference.

Journey - The Heroes Journey is generally accepted as a template for an effective storyline in a fictional tale. It also happens to be the name of a great (some may say legendary) rock band that has won a new generation of fans after their hit 'Don't Stop Believing' became the iconic song of the first season of 'Glee'. Another choice that works well for both genders, it has been gaining in popularity since 1981, and in 2011 was positioned #372 for girls and #2208 for boys.

Legend - OK, I'll admit this is a bit too over the top as a first name. But it makes a fantastic middle, up there with Danger. How cool would it be to say "My middle name is Legend"? Cheesy, yes, but cool. Legend first appeared in the US charts for boys in 1993, closely followed by the girls in 1994, and remains more popular for boys. In 2011 it was ranked #924 for boys, and #8867 for girls. I guess this is one case of a daring name that people are happier to use for boys.

Muse - The Muses of Greek mythology were the goddesses of inspiration for literature, science and the arts. These days, a Muse is a general term used for a person who inspires someone to do great artistic work. It is also the name of an English rock band, who were reportedly inspired by one of the band member's art teacher. They liked that it was short, looked good on a poster and reflected the way the band was formed. It is indeed a one syllable name, and has a unique sound amongst other one syllable names. Muse has only charted for boys, in the years 2005, 2010 and 2011, with parents preferring other versions such as Musetta or Musidora for their daughters.

Myth - Another cool one syllable name option. Unlike other fanciful sounding options here, Myth has never charted. Maybe because it could be hard for young children to pronounce. It does sound suspiciously like Miss with a lisp. Maybe not the most wearable choice here, but it would certainly be different. Mythic or Mythical may feel slightly more usable, but for now it's probably best that these remain middle name territory.

Novella - It might seem like I'm clutching at straws here, but I love the idea of Novella as a name. A novella is a short novel or a long short story (hmmm, is there something wrong with calling something long short?), but is also a Latin name meaning 'new', much like the name Nova. It actually has a long history of use for girls, and used to be a regular in the American charts from the 1880's to the early 1940's. Chances are good you may have a Novella in your family tree, and I think that with Nova on the rise Novella may not be far behind.

Page - It's generally accepted to have an occupational name origin, but taken literally as a page from a book it would be a great literary themed name. Paige is one of my all time favourites and is much more popular than this spelling. But without the "i" it feels a little more masculine, and more wearable for a boy.

Penn - Penn "Lonely Boy" Badgley shot to fame on 'Gossip Girl', and made the name Penn triple in use. Which meant it went from about 10 boys a year being named Penn to about 30 boys a year. This makes it pretty rare, but with the benefit of being recognisable, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. It also feels like one of the gentler 1 syllable boys names if you want simplicity without sharpness. And as we have all heard,  the Penn is mightier than the sword!

Penna - A feminine version of Penn, with the meaning 'feather'. I first saw this rarity on A Baby Name Per Day (now Once Upon A Time Baby Names) last year and it stuck in my head. I think it's pretty, sleek and classic-but-friendly sounding due to it's similarity to names like Jenna. Also a great (and pretty unique) nickname for names like Penelope. It has never appeared on the American charts.

Poet - admittedly not my favourite occupational name, but it does have a certain charm. So far it's preferred use is for girls, with it entering the charts in 2005 for girls but only appearing in 2007 and 2009 for boys. It's still very rare. Like Author, it's a good choice for a occupational name with a difference.

Quest - There aren't many Q names that I'm fond of, but Quest could be one of them. Quest has been in the American charts for boys since 1991. It "peaked" in 1998 when it was given to just 30 boys, and that year was the only year it has appeared in the charts for girls too. I think it could do much better though. It has a modern, almost futuristic sound and could be among the new generation of one syllable names. Quest feels closely related to Journey, and is also an oblique reference to adventure video games where characters often need to complete different quests to advance in the game.

Saga - this word name means a long involved story of heroic achievement, and comes from the Old Norse for 'seeing one'. It's been used rarely in the US, and when it has it's charted only as a girls name. This is influenced by Scandinavian countries, where Saga is a fairly popular name and also the name of a goddess in Norse mythology. A good choice if you want a literary related name with a mythological background and history of use but rare in most countries.

Sonnet - A pretty name that makes me think of love and songbirds. William Shakespeare famously wrote sonnets (a fourteen line poem with a specific rhyming pattern), as did many other famous poets. I've seen nickname Sunny suggested for this one, which is really lovely too. May cause confusion when in English class, but is a sweet name nonetheless. Historically it's only charted for girls, which I guess makes sense. If I'm thinking love and flowers other people probably do too.

Story - This is my favourite on this list, and even more so since I found I have a Story (surname) in my family tree. I also love the idea of Astoria nicknamed Story. It's been seen on boys and girls since the 70's, but it still a long, long way from the top 1000

Wright - sounds like write, but isn't. This surname is derived from Wainwright, which means 'wagon maker'. I love the look and it's preppy feel, and it actually has a long history of use for boys. Unfortunately though it also sounds like right, which could be a little hard to live with. Unless your child is headed for a career in law enforcement perhaps.

Whew! That ran a little longer than I expected, but there are some truly great gems here just begging to be used. I like the idea of these as a middle name theme for siblings perhaps, although some are too nice to be hidden as a middle name. Which ones are your favourites? Would you use them as first or middle names?

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