Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Bachelorette Tandra Steiner

As I do, I was checking out the list of the new bachelorettes who will be vying for the heart of Chris Soules in the next season of 'The Bachelor'. Among the usual suspects (the Ashleys and the Brittanys) I noticed this rarity - Tandra.

Maybe you've met a Tandra. She first charted in the U.S in 1947, and made regular appearances up until 2009. She's never come close to cracking the top 1000 though.

But where did Tandra come from? I can't find any examples that explain why she came to people's attention in 1947 in particular. It's also interesting that it's seen as a girls name, as one of the most famous Tandra's was a male. Tandra Paparayudu was an Indian General and hero who was present at the Battle of Bobbili in 1757. So is Tandra an Indian or Sanskrit name? Maybe, although there isn't much evidence of this. Some sources cite that it's Indian meaning is 'daughter', which seems a little strange for a country where the name is associated with a male hero.

Other sources say that Tandra is a female name from Madagascar and means 'mole or beauty marks'. Not the most inspirational meaning. Others agree that it is African, but that it means 'sleep', or more specifically 'the feeling of drowsiness just before going off to sleep'. That's a little more poetic. Or maybe it could be a variant of Tandy, or even a nickname for Timandra (a Greek name used by Shakespeare).

Seems this is a name infused with mystery.

Then again, maybe the explanations of it's use in the U.S is a little more ordinary. Perhaps people were simply attracted to Tandra as an alternative to Sandra or Tanya. Sandra was after all at the height of her popularity and a top 10 name in the decade that Tandra started charting, so it's entirely plausible.

I like the sound of it. She feels a little girl-next-door, but with enough of a twist to hint at a fun and spirited personality. And we won't have to wait much longer to see what additional impressions this bachelorette will give us of the name. Maybe her appearance on the show will see Tandra back on the charts soon.

Chris Soules and his 2015 bacherlorettes

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Australian Christmas Names

Photo Courtesy of Mom Spotted

This time of year inspires many great lists of names inspired by Christmas and the festive season. And while the way Christmas is celebrated has many similarities across different (particularly Christian) countries, there are some very big differences between Australia and many other countries. By which I mean it is Summer here at Christmastime.  So while we also celebrate with carols, bells, light and Christmas Trees, names like Winter and Snow have no relevance to an Australian Christmas. We're not sitting by the fireplace drinking hot cocoa - we're more likely to be in the backyard cooking a barbeque.

With this in mind, I thought I'd compile a list of Christmas related names specifically for Australians. Let me know if there are any you'd add!

As mentioned above, most Australians use their barbeque a lot in summer - I know people who would happily cook all three meals of the day on it. But we rarely call it a barbecue. We like to call it a barby or barbie. It may feel a little dated or too plastic doll for you, but Barbie would be a great homage to Australian summers.

It's not unusual for Christmas day to be hot - really hot. So if you live by the coast, many people escape to the beach for a swim on Christmas day. It feels cruisy and relaxed - a possible sibling to Bodhi.

It's hard to imagine an Aussie Christmas table without cherries. They're in season, fresh and delicious. Not to mention that their bright red colour looks great on the table. If Cherry feels a little 80's (or let's face it, a little too stripper) for you, how about one of her international versions?  Cereza or Cerise are both gorgeous options.

I'm not sure about other countries, but Australians love their slang. Similar to Barbie, Chrissie is a common term for Christmas here in Australia, with common uses being "Chrissie Day", "Chrissie lunch", or the question "what are you doing for Chrissie?" She's a little more youthful than Christie, but still sweet and perky.

Beach Cricket

Cricket may be all insect to Americans, but to Australians (and many other countries) it's the ultimate Summer sport. After Christmas lunch, families all over Australia will get together for a friendly game of cricket, whether it's in the backyard or on the beach. And of course being summer, there are plenty of the insect variety available too. It's a name that will bring to mind long summer nights and fun with the family.

When Australian singer Christine Anu recently released her Christmas Album, she said:

"I can't erase my childhood (memories) of Christmas being in the summer, 
where it's pretty much a sensory overload of beautiful colour - everywhere. 
It's snowing jacarandas in my street. 
There's mangoes and watermelon, blueberries. All that colour."

Jacaranda flowers are blue to purple, and in rare cases white. it makes a for a lovely floral name - unusual yet not jarring when considered next to names such as Miranda or Jacinda.

If you've lived in or near Adelaide in South Australia, chances are you've made at least one Christmas pilgrimage to the town of Lobethal. Nestled in the Adelaide Hills, Lobethal (German for 'valley of praise') comes alive at Christmas time, and the line of cars starts for kilometers outside the town in the evenings leading to Christmas Day. The main attractions are the light displays, but there's also pageants, Christmas Tree competitions and a living Nativity.

We love Christmas Carols, and Carols by Candlelight is a popular event. Many councils and local areas have their own, but the two main televised events are the Sydney Carols in the Domain and the Melbourne Vision Australia Carols by Candlelight. One of my favourite performers has to be Marina Prior. A famous theatre performer in Australia, she's performed at the Carols for over 20 years and is a beautiful and classy person - a great Christmas inspiration.

Jen Hawkins and the 2014 Myer
Christmas Window Display
Myer may be a department store here in Australia, but the name is very closely linked to Christmas. From gift shopping, to Christmas Eve carols at the Myer Music Bowl, to the must see Myer Christmas window displays in Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne, the name Myer is associated with many happy Christmas memories. Particularly for Melburnians.

Our Christmas dinners are just as likely (and possibly more so) to include fresh seafood as it does the traditional roast. The craziness at the fish markets on the days leading up to Christmas are a testament to that. Prawns and Crayfish are the main favourites, but who wants to name their children Prawn or Crayfish. So how about Ocean? It's fresh, calming and a great summer holiday name.

The inclusion of Summer is a no-brainer. She may not be as fresh as Winter, but Summer has become a modern classic. Just the word is infused with warmth, bringing to mind relaxed, fun days. As a name Summer is somewhat preppy, somewhat hippy - a great easy-to-wear crowd pleaser of a name.

Because Summer is all about the sun. Half the country even has daylight savings so we can make the most of the summer sun in the evenings too! For example, here in Melbourne today first light was at 5.24am and last light will be at 9.14pm. The name Sunny captures the enthusiasm and cheer we feel at this time of the year - it's full of optimism and positivity.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My husband was recently quite unwell. What I at first thought was just a typical bout of “Man Flu” turned out to require a visit to the Doctor – which he hates – so that’s when you know he’s really not well.

But what has this got to do with today’s name? Well, the Doctor we saw had the first name Conway. I took note for a couple of reasons, the first being that it isn’t a name you hear every day. But also that it is the surname of one of my husband’s bosses, and since he only refers to him as Conway I found it slightly amusing that he was seeing a Doctor with the same name as his boss. So it was already stuck in my head when I saw it come up in a recent birth announcement post on Names For Real. I like to think it was a sign that it would be a good time to look a little closer at Conway.

Pronounced KAHN-way, Conway hails from the UK, with various claims stating it is an Irish/ Welsh/ Gaelic/Celtic name.  It’s here that getting an exact meaning gets a little confusing. It seems that Conway means ‘hound of the plain’ to the Irish, coming from similar roots as the much more popular Connor (meaning ‘lover of hounds’). To the Welsh it is a place name, coming from the name of the River Conwy which is thought to mean ‘holy water’ or possibly ‘chief river’.

Indeed, Conway is a place name in many parts of the world. Plenty of places in the U.S are named Conway, as well as a river in New Zealand, a National Park in Australia and a coral reef in Fiji.

But so far this is one surname/place name that hasn’t had the same huge surge in popularity as many other names of this type making the jump to first names.  This could be set to change though.  In the U.S. Conway has experienced rises in popularity for the past 8 years. However the rise has been slow – in 2013 he was still a long way outside the top 1000 at position #2883. And Conway is so far uncharted for girls.

Yes, Conway could be seen as a fresh option for girls. While the few Conways that spring to mind are male – such as American Country musician Conway Twitty, American football player and coach Conway Hayman, Australian musician Conway Savage, British mathematician and scientist Conway Berners-Lee or even the fictional Pokemon trainer – young musician Conway (born Kassia Conway) could help parents see Conway as a viable girls name.

Conway feels like an approachable but somewhat dignified name. I can see it in the same league as Spencer or Thatcher, but with an added dash of roguish swagger. It's also great way to honour a Con (or Con related name) in your family tree. With the popularity of Connor it may be just a matter of time until Conway creeps into the top 1000 (or not) - use it now and you'll be ahead of the pack.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Australian Music Artist Sia

There are plenty of great girls names of the three-letter-ends-in-"ia" variety. The reigning queen for quite some time has been Mia - in Australia, the US and UK she was a top 10 name (at #5, #8 and #10) in 2013. But no-one loves her more than the Germans. In 2013 Mia was their number one girls name!

At the other end of the spectrum you'll find Sia, pronounced SEE-ah. In the US she was ranked #2979 in 2013, so is much, much rarer. Up until a few years ago you may not have heard of the name, but an Australian musician by the name of Sia has been giving this name a lot of exposure, albeit in an understated fashion.

You may recognise the name but have trouble placing her. Sia has been in the music industry for years, collaborating with many great artists. In 2010 she worked with Christina Aguilera, gaining a Golden Globe nomination for best original song from the soundtrack of 'Burlesque' and appearing as an advisor for team Aguilera on 'The Voice'. She had continued success with her next (and fifth studio album) 'We Are Born'. She was the vocals on the David Guetta track 'Titanium', and more recently had a chart topper with 'Chandelier'. And as an aside, if you haven't seen the Jim Carrey skit on 'Saturday Night Live' based on the video clip for 'Chandelier', you should. It's hilarious.

But where does the name Sia come from? Seems it has a few possible origins. Different sources claim it to be:

  • Of Indian origin, derived from the goddess Sita who represents the feminine virtues of dedication, self-sacrifice, courage and purity;
  • A Hebrew name meaning 'helper';
  • Derived from the Old Norse "sigr", hence a Swedish name meaning 'victory';
  • A Scottish word meaning 'six';
  • A variant of the Arabic name Zia, meaning 'light, splendour or glow';
  • Of Swedish origin, meaning 'prophesy'; or
  • Persian in origin, meaning 'one who brings joy'. 

Whichever it means, it feels like the time is right for Sia to rise. She's just different and quirky enough to feel fresh and cool, yet familiar enough not to be intimidating to parents debating whether it's usable. Or maybe you think this would make a cute and spunky nickname. In which case you might want to consider names such as Anastasia, Sienna, Elyssia, Alexia, Cassia or even Sophia for the birth certificate.

Give it a few years and I'm sure you'll notice many more Sia's turning up in birth announcements.

Friday, December 12, 2014

TV Name Quote

In this week's episode of 'Supernatural' titled 'The Things We Left Behind', King of Hell Crowley tells us what he really thinks of his (human) name.

Played by Mark Sheppard, Crowley was born Fergus McLeod in Scotland 1661. Fergus is in fact an old Scottish and Irish name, so quite fitting with his background. It is derived from the the words fear meaning 'man' and 'gus' meaning 'strength', so Fergus is said to have meanings such as 'man strength', 'strong warrior', 'man of force', or 'virility'.

Despite it's strong meaning Fergus is not a popular name. He's been falling in England and Wales in recent years, and has never been anywhere near cracking the top 1000 in the U.S. But he feels like he could be the next big thing for hipster parents. He's slightly old and fusty in a retro-cool name, and comes with the possible nickname Gus, which seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. And couldn't you just imagine little Oscar, Auden or Waldo with a brother named Fergus?

Or maybe you feel the same way Crowley does.