Saturday, July 18, 2015


Photo Courtesy of JME Portraits

Isn’t this a pretty one? I was talking to someone today who mentioned a lady she knows with this name, and it struck me that I had heard it before and forgotten about it. But one mention and I remembered how lovely I thought it was back then too. To me it has a softly exotic, peacefully lilting feel that makes me think of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves.

If it seems familiar to you, you’ve probably heard of it in one of two ways. One, you’re Indian or familiar enough with Indian culture to immediately think of the famous Hindu poet/princess who devoted her life to the worship of Krishna. Or if you’re Australian you may be thinking of Mirabai Peart, a violinist who appeared as a contestant on the second season of ‘Big Brother Australia’ back in 2002.

Of course they aren’t the only Mirabai's, but it seems this name is relatively uncommon. It has only charted once in the U.S back in 2006 when it was given to just 5 girls. You’re much more likely to meet a Mira (ranked 613 in the U.S in 2014) or a Meera (ranked 1353). Even in India where Mirabai originated from Meera is much more popular, with Baby Center stating it was the 32nd most popular Indian girls name amongst parents registered with their site in 2014.

Which brings us back to the aforementioned poet. She lived from 1498 to 1547 and was more commonly known as Meera, with MiraBai (pronounced Meer-ah-bye) seemingly her formal name. Bai indicates a feminine name, but there is a little more confusion as to the meaning of Meera or Mira as it seems to have origins in many cultures. Some sources claim that in its’ Sanskrit/Hindu (Indian) origin it means ‘ocean’ or perhaps ‘limit’ or ‘boundary’, or even ‘prosperous’. An alternative explanation I’ve seen is that Meera means “saintly woman”, but I can’t help but feel that this is more of an association with the poet, rather than an actual meaning. Which in a case like this probably makes more sense anyway. The original Mirabai is considered to be a saintly heroine, a great inspiration, and this in itself imbues the name with meaning for those who love her story.

Parents already considering the similar names Mirabel or Mirabella might consider Mirabai as a way to escape the “belle/bella” suffix and nickname option that has proven to be so popular in recent years. On the downside, it might take a little work to get people unfamiliar with the name to say it correctly (is it Meera-Bay? Myra-Bye?). But I think that once most people hear it they will be intrigued and enchanted. And your daughter would be extremely unlikely to ever meet another one.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Post Apocalyptic Naming

Survival is tough in AMC's 'The Walking Dead'

Recently I had a really strange dream. I know a lot of boring conversations start this way - but stick with me, because I promise it’s name related!

The world had just gone through a zombie apocalypse (proving that this dream is directly related to the type of movies I watch) and in the aftermath our group of survivors found ourselves in the position of trying to re-establish some sort of community and re-start civilisation (somehow the zombies had either been wiped out or we were in a guaranteed safe zone. Don’t ask how).

As the group of the nine or so of us were discussing how to start, someone pointed out that since the world as we knew it was gone, if we wanted to change our names, now would be the time. They pointed out that none of us knew each other before the disaster, and what we had gone through had changed all of us, so maybe we felt our new lives deserved new names.

One girl who had been named Erin wanted to be known as Aquarius, because that was her star sign. A guy named Chris wanted to be known by a kind of non-committal grunt sound. Which I protested because how would I get his attention when I needed to call out to him? But I was over-ruled, as the spirit of the activity was that you could be whatever you wanted, none of the old “rules” applied. Everyone in the group chose to change their name. Everyone but me. For some reason I was quite happy to keep my name Brooke as my post-apocalyptic moniker. Go figure.

But this dream led me to think about post-apocalyptic naming in general. Would survivors feel the need to change their names, like we did? Would the names passed on to further generations carry on current naming trends in a bid to hang onto the old order? Or would they reflect what the world had gone through, or what the new mode of living was, or our hopes for the future?

I’d imagine that these are things that any writer in the post-apocalyptic genre must consider when naming their characters. So in the spirit of fun, I thought I’d consider some of the possibilities.

“Power of Nature” Names

It might not be a man made disaster that brings abut the collapse of the world as we know it. Many people believe the world changing event will indeed be natural - be it solar flares; a meteor strike; shifting tectonic plates causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; or climate change. Nature names are already popular, but if brought to our knees by the power of nature we could see nature names taken to a new level.






“Thank Our Lucky Stars” Names

How about if we survived a disaster of massive proportions that left people thinking what a miracle it was that they survived. We could probably expect to see more miraculous and religious themed names. We already see some evidence of this today. And if everyone is doing it, suddenly some of the names used in 'The Hunger Games' such as Marvel might not seem so extravagant and self-indulgent. They might even seem humble, in deference to a higher power.






“Tough” Names

Kate Mulgrew as Red in
'Orange is the New Black'
If we’re talking zombie apocalypse or a ‘Mad Max’ style future I think this would be a popular choice. Names that people would respect as a sign of your prowess in a world filled with violence and a struggle to survive. Names that would instantly communicate “don’t mess with me”.






“This Is Me” Names

Not everyone has to be a fighter, although choosing a name that instantly communicates something about ourselves or projects a certain image is a common theme in post-apocalyptic stories. 'The Walking Dead’ featured The Governor. The boy in charge of the cooking in ‘The Maze Runner’ is named Frypan. And it's not just a post-apocalyptic theme - think of Red in 'Orange Is The New Black'. The only problem here is that people are always so much more than any one thing that this feels like a mask of sorts.






“Origin” Names
Maybe survivors would want to shed their old identity, without losing sight of where they came from. Or maybe it’s nothing more than a quick way to convey information about your previous life. They went this route in the movie ‘Zombieland’, where the four main characters are known as Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Little Rock. And there’s a character in the ‘Resident Evil’ movies named K-Mart, as that’s where she was found by her fellow survivors.

I could only see this working in a world were very, very few people survived, or it could get confusing quickly. But I love that this potentially makes us reconsider which place names make for “suitable” given names. People I might meet in my area if the apocalypse happened tomorrow could be:






**disclaimer: these name suggestions are in the spirit of fun - I am not recommending that they are all suitable for a person**

Monday, June 15, 2015

BNP Turns Three!!

It's hard to believe, but this month marks three years of Baby Name Pondering!

Just over three years ago, my husband and I started trying to conceive our first child. Like many name enthusiasts, one of the main ways I kept myself occupied while we waited for our big fat positive as to spend hours looking at names; dreaming of the possibilities. It only took a few months before looking was no longer enough, and so Baby Name Pondering was born.

Our conception journey since then  hasn't gone exactly as planned. And you may have noticed that I've been largely MIA in the past couple of months. But that's because we finally got our happy result. After three years and three rounds of IVF, we are expecting a baby boy in December!

I'm guessing that your first question is likely to be have we chosen a name yet, and the answer is yes we have; but no, I'm not sharing it just yet!

What I love though is that the first and middle names we have chosen have actually been featured here on the blog. One I wrote about because we were already seriously considering it. But the other I wrote about because I was seeing it mentioned on forums and other sites and found it interesting. After writing that post and letting the idea simmer in the back of my mind for ages, I've decided it's a winner (and luckily husband didn't take too much convincing either!). Hopefully it's an experience that some of my readers have also had after visiting Baby Name Pondering!

So what does the future hold for BNP? Hopefully more of the same! The typical first trimester tiredness took over for a while, and as I do all my writing in the evenings naps after work and early bedtimes ended up taking precedence. But this doesn't mean that I haven't been brewing ideas in the meantime, and I'm aiming to get some of these into writing for you soon!

At this three year mark I'd like to say thank you so much for reading my blog; your positive comments; and for coming back again and again. It's made the last three years of blogging a very positive experience, and I hope to keep creating content that you love to read for at least a few more!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Suri, Zuri or Xuri? S, Z and X Spellings for Girls

Photo Courtesy of Images of Grace Photography

Admittedly this has taken a little longer than I intended, but following on from my post on boys names that are identical except for the first letter, here is the girls list of S, Z and X names.

Which letter rules your heart for girls? The sweet, girl-next-door S? The antique-ish, spunky Z? Or is it the modern-looking edgy X? Read on and judge for yourself.

























Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fascinating Female Names From My Family Tree

In honour of International Women's Day earlier this week I thought I'd have a look at five female names that I've found on my family tree. Tracing my family tree is something I've been doing off and on for the past few years - roughly as long as I've had this blog, I guess. As my interest in names grew keener so too did my curiosity in what names had previously been used in my own family (besides the couple of generations I already knew). It's a sometimes frustrating - but more often fascinating - activity which I highly recommend trying if you haven't already. Or if the family historian hasn't already beaten you to it.

So here are five of the most  (I think) fascinating female names from my family tree. I'd love to hear what gems can be found on yours!

Rohese - 11th century France 
I've heard people complain that Rose as a first is old fashioned, and Rose as a middle name is a filler. But this medieval version of Rose definitely can't be accused of either of those things these days. Also in my tree is Rohesia and Roesia, other versions of Rose. Any of these three is a good way to re-introduce some old-fashioned romantic charm to a name that has been a favourite for generations.

Hephzibah - 19th century England
What a mouthful this one is - and what a surprise to find it on my family tree. I always felt like it was the kind of name given to old crones and evil witches in fairy tales. But the meaning is so at odds with that image! This Ancient Hebrew name found in the Bible means "my delight is in her" - a beautiful sentiment to bestow on your beloved daughter.

This name was apparently passed down through my family in a few different forms - Hepzibah, Hepsibah and even the elaborate Hephzabahian, which was very distinctive in comparison to her siblings William, Mary, Johnathan, Harriet, Emma and George.

Aseda - 9th century Norway
Aseda is a bit of a mystery name - it's hard to find any information about it. Apparently this relative also went by Ascride/Ascrida, Aserida or Ásdís. The latter is the only one that can be found on the website Nordic Names, and it seems that it loosely means 'goddess'.

It's names like this that perfectly illustrate the ever changing nature of names. We may lament on the 'correct' spelling of names, but names and spellings have often been fluid, whether by design or due to mis-translations or mis-spelling.

Thurfrida - 11th century England
Alternatively spelled Torfrida, there is both a mother a daughter in my tree with the same name, and I wish I knew the names of the mother's parents to see how far back this name goes. It's hard to track down the meaning of this name though. This makes me tempted to say it might come from a combination of Thor or Tor (Old Norse for 'thunder') and Frida, which means 'beautiful' or 'beloved' in Old Norse, or 'peace' in Germanic. I like to think that 'beautiful thunder' is the intention, as it's such a romantic notion.

Godiva - 11th century England
Godiva was Thurfrida's mother in law. And if you're wondering - yes, apparently it is that Godiva. Godiva was the 17th Great Grandmother of the wife of  my 12th Great Grandfather. It is reported to have been a fairly popular name at the time, and was a Latinised version of an Old English name meaning 'gift of God'.

While the tale of Lady Godiva riding naked through the streets to stop her husbands' oppressive taxes on his people can't be totally substantiated, it's a tale that it re-told and celebrated enough that this name will always be associated with naked horseback riding. Which unfortunately makes this name unusable for a modern child. But not a bad choice for your chocolates ☺

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sander, Zander or Xander? S, Z and X Spellings for Boys

Photo Courtesy of Laura Morita Photography

In her regular Monday Nameberry post this week, Abby from Appellation Mountain wrote about different ways to choose an unusual name. Number five on the list is respell a name, to which she adds this caveat:

"Warning: this can be a VERY controversial approach to creative naming!"

Yes. Yes it can. Because ask people what their top naming peeve is and almost everyone will say "yooneek" names. Names where the spelling has been altered so much that it is non-recognisable and the pronunciation is almost impossible to interpret. So the lesson is to tread carefully when altering the spelling of a name.

However there are a few simple changes that are more readily accepted, the main one being interchangeable letters. An I to a Y or a C to a K for example are fairly commonplace. Maybe not universally loved, but accepted.

Take names starting with an S. Maybe there's one you like, but think it would look much cooler if it started with a Z. Or maybe you think it would look stronger and more exotic if it started with an X instead. Not sure what I mean? Here is a list of names that appeared on the 2013 SSA list (meaning they were given to more than five children) where the name is exactly the same but differ by the first letter - the aforementioned S, Z and X.

You may hate them, or maybe you'll find some inspiration. 

First up is the list for the boys. The girls list will follow soon.












Sunday, February 22, 2015


Dakota Johnson of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

Recently the long-awaited 'Fifty Shades of Grey' movie opened at cinemas. When it was first announced that the books that became a phenomenon were to be made into a movie, there was much excited speculation on which actors would be cast in the two leading roles. The lucky lady to be cast as Anastasia Steele was Dakota Johnson, a decision which will surely make her a household name. Dakota herself comes from quite the acting pedigree - she's the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, and the granddaughter of iconic 'The Birds' actress Tippi Hedren.

Dakota is a unisex name most commonly associated with the United States. It comes the Dakota people, a native American Indian tribe, and means 'ally'. The name has been given to multiple places in the United States, the most notable being the state names of North Dakota and South Dakota. Dakota has also been given to makes of aircraft, trucks, ships, a camera and even a cigarette brand; and in the musical world it is the name of more than one band plus the title of the 2005 hit by band Stereophonics.

It's easy to understand why Dakota is used as a name for both genders. Pronounced dah-KOH-tah, each syllable starts with a harder sound more commonly associated with male names. However the softer emphasis on the first syllable and A ending are also popular among female names. And since currently two of the most notable famous bearers are Dakota Johnson and Dakota Fanning, many people probably think Dakota leans feminine.

The history of the use of Dakota is a little more complicated than that though. Dakota first appeared on the US charts as a girl's name, given to more than five girls in 1915 and 1921. It appeared again for girls in the late 1950's and early 1960's, and it wasn't until then that it started charting for boys. The boys quickly claimed it and by 1993 Dakota had become a top 100 name for boys.

When Dakota Johnson was born in 1989 the name was just outside the top 1000 for girls, so was a slightly offbeat choice for a girl. Then Dakota rose sharply (almost 500 places!) for girls in the following year. But it has only been recently that the number of female Dakota's born started to outnumber the males again. This seems to concur with popular opinion in other countries - Dakota is overwhelmingly feminine in the U.K and Australia.

Whether you prefer it for a boy of a girl, Dakota has quite the quirky, indie-type charm to it. I've heard it labelled as a "bogan" name here in Australia, which I think is mainly because Australians see it as an American place name and not as a native, somewhat spiritual name. And maybe also because the work "daks" is slang for pants/underpants here.

Alternative spellings are Dakotah and Dacoda. I personally have very mixed feelings about the use of Dacoda. Optimistically I hope its' use is because people want a "legitimate" way to use the spunky and friendly nickname Cody, and not just because they have lazy pronunciation. Then again, other would argue that it isn't a great name for a person - full stop - but it makes for a great dog name.

I like to think that Dakota is a good example of a "modern" name that doesn't feel too over-used or tied to a particular year/decade. Good sibling choices include Levi, Indigo, Bodhi, Shiloh and Tru.

What do you think - is Dakota boy or girl? And would you use it? No matter your opinion, I have a feeling we'll be seeing plenty more Dakota's in the next few years.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Posts Updated 15th Feb 2015

Just a couple of updated posts I thought you might want to check out!

First, we answer the question of what one family names a third sibling when their first two sons are named Cooper and Mason.

Also, a few years ago I looked at the names of characters - better known as champions - from the online video game 'League of Legends'. They're constantly adding new playable characters so unfortunately my lists were a little outdated, but that has now been rectified. Some of my favourite additions to their legion of already cool and intriguing names are Braum and Zed for the guys and Kalista and Lissandra for the girls. See what you think - you can check put the full list of the Ladies here and the full list of Gents here.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lost My Name!

Has anyone else heard of these books? A friend of mine recently shared a link to this site - -  on Facebook, so I checked it out and have to say that these books look fantastic!

It's a personalised book for your child, but it's not one of those with a predetermined story that they simply insert a name into certain places. With these, your child's name IS the story! The concept is that your child has lost their name, and goes on an adventure to recapture the letters that spell their name. You can type in the name you want in the book into their website for a full preview too, so you know exactly what your child will be receiving before it is printed and sent to you.

They also ship for free worldwide. At this point I'll add that this is not a sponsored post. I just think it's a brilliant idea, and I'm guessing that if you're here it's because you care about names too and would also think that a book like this is a super cool idea. If I had a child I would definitely be ordering a copy! And if you already have one, I'd love to know what you think of the finished product ☺

Most parents put a lot of thought into their child's name - so why wouldn't you want to celebrate it with them with a special book that they can keep forever?

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Photo Courtesy of Mali Workman Photography
Like your literary heroes a little rough around the edges yet still with a refined sound? Perhaps you should consider Crusoe.

Crusoe comes to us from the pages of Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel 'Robinson Crusoe', the tale of a man who braves the wilds seas in the pursuit of improving his situation in life. He doesn't have a lot of luck at sea though, and one particular misadventure sees him end up shipwrecked on a seemingly deserted island. He manages to make the best of a bad situation, and even rescues a prisoner of the native cannibals, teaching him English and naming him Friday for the day of the week he met him. They eventually make it back to Crusoe's homeland in London and reclaim the wealth he built while in Brazil.

The book was quite revolutionary at the time. It's a fictional autobiography that was first published crediting Robinson Crusoe (pronounced KROO-soh) as the author, leading people to think it was a true tale. While this was not the case, it is often said to be the beginning of the literary genre realistic fiction. It remains one of the most widely published books in history, adapted many times into movies and TV shows.

This popularity means that Robinson Crusoe is widely recognised and used as a generic term for an isolated survivor. The character of Crusoe is also popularly thought to represent a person who has strength and resourcefulness and can thrive despite isolation. That's not too say he's a hero, just that he is an ordinary man able to make the best of bad situations.

But where the name Crusoe comes from is the subject of much conjecture. In the novel, Robinson himself says that:

"....he had married my mother whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual corruption of words in England we are called, nay, we call ourselves, and write our name "Crusoe,".... "

And so Crusoe is thought to come from a German surname Kreutznaer. But general consensus is that Kreutznaer isn't actually a German name. It's thought that possibly:

  • Kreutznaer is invented (as it comes from a fictional story anyway);
  • Kreutznaer is derived from the similar German surname Kreuznach, meaning 'crossing of the River Nahe'; or
  • The name Crusoe was actually inspired by a friend of the author named Timothy Cruso, who wrote guide books, and the German "origin" Kreutznaer was purely fictional. 

The last option is supported by the fact that Cruso and Crusoe were both surnames already in use in England when 'Robinson Crusoe' was written. While it's meaning is hard to track down, the Crusoe motto is reportedly 'Virtus Nobilitat', meaning 'Virtue ennobles'. Maybe this was in fact the definition that inspired the use of Crusoe for this character, as it seems to describe well his personal and spiritual journey throughout the book.

So if true, this seems to reinforce Crusoe as a virtue name of sorts.

Photo Courtesy of
Beth Wade Photography
Despite being inspired by a literary tale that is almost 300 years old, Crusoe has a style that feels at home on a modern child. Likely nicknames Cru and Cruz are both strong, cool and short names that don't feel overused and have been gaining in popularity. Crusoe itself blends well with quirky literary picks like Atticus, Dorian or Beatrix; or equally as well with popular surname choices such as Sullivan, Wyatt and Jackson (as a side thought, wouldn't brothers Crusoe and Jackson nicknamed Cruz and Jax be adorable!). Speaking of sibling choices, mix both literary and surname origins and Bronte, Huxley, Salinger and Twain also make great possibilities.

While all of the names mentioned above have charted in the U.S, I was a bit surprised to find that Crusoe has never been given to more than 5 babies in one year. Maybe people find it is too tied to the character, even if he is most often viewed positively. Or maybe Crusoe "the celebrity dachshund" has too much of a presence? (although I'd never heard of him until today).

But I think the time is right for Crusoe. He has the literary and surname origins that have made so many other names winning options. He has a cool sound with even cooler nickname options. His namesake is a symbol of the virtues of strength and tenacity, his motto representing the virtue of spiritual growth. Why have we been resisting his charms for so long?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great Names - According to Peralta....

Jake Peralta (played by Andy Samberg) in 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

Last week's episode of comedy 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' shows that you never know who's going to feel that they have "useful" suggestions when it comes to naming your child.

After Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) discovers that Serjeant Terry Jeffords (Terry Crewes) and his wife are expecting a child, he suddenly finds name inspiration everywhere, and is very enthusiatic to share them with Terry. So enthusiastic that it causes him to break his promise to keep the pregnancy a secret as he eagerly hits 'reply all' to an email with his latest suggestion.

Peralta's style? Names which - in his words - "Works for a boy or a girl!" All I can say is that they are very Jake Peralta. And that I'm not so sure people should follow his name suggestions. See if you agree:

Verdict - Dubious. Extremely dubious.
Makes me think of a certain video game bandicoot. And I'm not sure I would want to be the one to give a teenaged Crash their driving lessons. Crash has in fact appeared on the U.S charts in 2008, 2012 and 2013 though! It was for boys only, and for less than 10 children in each of those cases. Possibly names such as Dash, Chase and Colt have helped make it an option.

Verdict - Shows some potential....
Of this pick, Peralta says that it is "my favorite.....after the tower in 'Die Hard'." Oh. OK. Umm...
Nakatomi has never charted in the U.S. It is the name of an influential Ancient Japanese clan, and seems to be mainly used as a surname.

Verdict - I'd cruise past this one
Admittedly, I'm not 100% sure that this is what he said, as it was kind of heard to tell. But he was in a parking garage at the time. It does have the kind of sound that could work as a name, and other people have thought so too. Miata charted (just) in the U.S for girls from 1989 to 1999, the years it was first sold. If you want more car name related inspiration, Nancy has a great list here.

Verdict - Keep looking
Not surprisingly, the name Hurricane has never charted. National Geographic tells us that "Violent winds...driving rain...killer waves. These are the hallmarks of a hurricane". Which made it a good nickname for a professional boxer, but not for a child. Just....don't. Please.

He may not love your suggestions,
but Terry still loves you Jake

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Movie Name Quote

I was watching some girly rom-coms today and one of them was 'When in Rome'. It stars Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel, but also featured Dax Shepard (pictured above) as one of Beths (Kristen Bell's character) "suitors". Dax plays a narcissistic model named Gale who is magically attracted to Beth when she takes his coin out of a love/wishing fountain. He comes on quite strong when they first meet....

Gale: I'm Gale. Like a gale force wind. I took on that name because it's the most powerful force in the natural world. For shaping and eroding the earth. It's ahhh.....You can feel it
Beth: Actually I think that's water...
Gale: Mmmm....
Beth: ....eroding the earth.....
Gale: I don't think it's water, I think it's wind.
Beth: the Grand Canyon
Gale: I'm gonna look that up

So lesson to us all - always double check if you are choosing a name for it's meaning or symbolism 

Many people deride Gale as a girls name, and a dated one at that. The latter is understandable as Gale and Gail peaked in the 1950's, however both Gale and Gail have been used for both genders for a long time, so is not just a girls name. Gale had recently been flagging in the US but returned to the charts for both boys and girls in 2013. This was likely inspired by the character Gale Hawthorne from 'The Hunger Games' movies, played by Aussie Liam Hemsworth.

There's a few explanations for the meaning of Gale. Possibly it comes from the Middle English 'gaile', meaning jovial. Or it comes from the Gaelic word Gael, meaning 'a Celt' or 'foreigner'. The most popular opinion though is that it comes from Abigail, a Hebrew name meaning 'my father is joyful'. And of course it is also a nature word meaning 'a very strong wind'. All things considered, this makes Gale a positive, strong name.

The other cute thing about this movie scene is that it is between Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, who are now married with two beautifully named daughters - Lincoln Bell and Delta Bell.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Trends and Insights - 2014 Victorian Top 100

Photo by Karen Wiltshire

The Australian state of Victoria has already released it's top 100 results for 2014!

Since it's the state I live in, I'm particularly interested in what is happening in Victoria. So I thought I'd share some of the insights I got from this years results.

For The Girls...

We're falling in love with vintage nicknames - Particularly if they're boyish! Charlie and Billie have returned to our top 100, while Frankie debuted at #95 and Sadie and Elsie also entered the top 100. Sadie is actually the hottest new entry and fastest rising girl name overall, entering at #64! Evie and Ellie also rose, while Millie held her ground.

We think "EL" is a hot sound - Elsie entered the top 100 at position #84, Ella, Ellie and Eloise are all on the rise and Eliza and Elizabeth are also still in the top 100. Other names featuring the "EL" sound that rose in 2014 were Evelyn, Isabel, Annabelle, Isabelle and Madeleine. Hazel and Penelope both entered the top 100. And Isabella, Stella and Bella can also be found in the top 100.

We prefer Sophie over Sophia. And Sofia. - In 2013 in Australia the combined spellings of Sophia and Sofia put the name at number 8, two places ahead of Sophie. She was also the winner in the U.S. But in 2014 in Victoria? Combining Sophia and Sofia would put her at #15, still 8 places behind our 7th favourite name, Sophie.

We made different pop culture choices - All the punters have been tipping Elsa to rise dramatically thanks to Frozen. But it seems our hearts are actually with her sister, Anna. Elsa is noticeably missing from our top 100, whereas Anna was one of our fastest rising names, up 23 places! We also shunned 'Game of Thrones' character Khaleesi/Daenerys but gave the nod to the actress who plays her, with Emilia entering the top 100 at #68.

But we agree with some predictions - Violet, Penelope, Hazel, Ariana and Piper are hot picks to rise in 2015, but we've gotten an early start on that! Violet is up 35 places and Piper 18. Penelope, Hazel and Ariana were all new entries.

For The Boys...

We're heavily debating nicknames vs full names - Over a quarter of the names in the top 100 are nicknames and their full names. In some cases the nickname is tops, in other cases it's the full name. So it seems there are some sounds that we simply love, in any of its' forms. The most popular options are highlighted below:

Full Name Position
Nickname Position

Alexander 11
Alex 83

Archer 40
Archie 34

Charles 92
Charlie 12

Elijah 39
Eli 70

Harrison 22
Harry 23

Jackson 35
Jack 2

Jaxon 42

Jacob 25
Jake 55

Lucas 7
Luke 63

Maxwell 87
Max 17

Nathaniel 97
Nate 53

Nathan 64

William 3
Liam 14

Zachary 51
Zac 95

Isaac 21

But overall, full names are winners - We seem to predominantly like a formal name on the birth certificate. For those names where only the full name or the nickname appears in our top 100, there are three times as many full names as nicknames. For example, we love Benjamin but not Ben, Samuel but not Sam, Nicholas but not Nick. Theodore and Anthony also entered the top 100 in 2014, with no Theo or Tony to be seen. Nicknames that buck the trend? That would be Leo, Toby and surprising new entry, Lenny.

We're pretty conservative when naming boys - We love the old fashioned staples, particularly if they can be found in the Bible or on a Royal family tree. This isn't anything particularly new, but shows few signs of changing. The next hot Biblical pick looks to be Caleb, which rose 20 places in 2014. The fastest rising Royal pick of 2014 was George - thanks to William and Kate's first born. Hot on his heels though is Edward, already placed ahead of George and also rising. If William and Kate's second child - due in April - happens to be a boy and they name him Edward, we could see Edward shoot into the top 10 very soon.

Kai bucks the norm - It seems that the winning formula for a boys name in Victoria is a two syllable name (71% of the top 100) with Biblical or Royal (preferably British) roots. So why is it that one-syllable Kai was super hot in 2014? Kai is a new entry to the top 100 and the fastest rising name for boys or girls in 2014, entering at position #61! We are admittedly a little behind the other states though as Kai has been a top 100 Australian name for the past couple of years already.

For Both...

It's Charlie all the way - Charlie is the only name that appears in both the girls top 100 (at position #91) and boys top 100 (rising 9 places to #12 in 2014). Longer version Charlotte is #2 for girls, while Charles is #92 for boys.

Want to check out the full lists for yourself? Check out Anna's post at Waltzing More Than Matilda.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Photo Courtesy of Mali Workman

I've been hearing this charmer more and more often lately, and it's great that it seems to be working it's way on to more people's lists.

Beau is a handsome name - quite literally. It has it's origins in the Latin word 'bellus' which became 'beau' in French, meaning 'handsome'. But despite coming from a French word, there is little evidence that Beau started as a French name, or is even currently used as a name by the French. Which makes sense, as English speakers don't (generally) use Handsome as a name either.

Instead, most of the earliest famed Beaus seemed to have adopted it strictly as a nickname. This could be related to their good looks, or related to it's other meanings. Beau is also a term for a "male admirer" or boyfriend; or for a "rich, fashionable young man".

But there is no denying that Beau has now made the transition to given name. Perhaps it's because of it's positive French meaning, or a adoration of French culture and language. Or maybe it's just that it's a cute sounding (pronounced Boh) one syllable name, which is often a winner.

Whichever it is, Beau has been in the U.S charts for boys since the 1940's and girls since the 1970's. For the girls it's still rare (but on the rise in recent years) whereas for boys Beau entered the top 1000 in the 60's. It peaked in 1980 at #203, but could quite possibly beat that in the next year or two as it has been rising in recent years and was poised at position #270 in 2013. Nowhere is Beau more popular than in the southern hemisphere though. He's a top 100 name in both Australia and New Zealand, and has been for a few years now.

Beau Garrett
Beau comes in many guises, which is possibly what makes him continue to feel fresh and current. The popular impression of Beau may have once been the southern gentleman who made the ladies swoon, or the roguish cowboy full of swagger. Thanks to several young Beaus in the public eye these days though, people today are more likely to associate Beau with the young, popular, adventurous, laid-back, sexy surfer type. Examples include:

  • Canadian actor Beau Mirchoff (who plays Matty in 'Awkward') 
  • ex 'Home and Away' star, Australian actor Beau Brady
  • Australian Beau Ryan, and ex rugby player and TV presenter
  • You Tube sensation Beau Brooks, of The Janoskians
  • American model and actress Beau Garrett 

Hopefully these famous Beaus will help reduce confusion about the pronunciation, as one of the main complaints is that people mistakenly say Boo or Bow (rhymes with cow). Another is that it's similarity to B.O. - an abbreviation for body odour - is a possible source of teasing. But plenty of Beaus have done just fine with those challenges.

One thing is for sure, Beau packs a lot of punch for such a small name. If you're after a one syllable name full of old-fashioned charm that still feels young and fresh, you should take another look at Beau.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


We've been having a nostalgia fest in our house lately, and one of my old favourites that I revisited was the movie 'Troop Beverly Hills'. It stars Shelley Long as privileged Beverly Hills housewife Phyllis, who takes over as leader of her daughters Wilderness Girls Troop. Of course, they do things a little differently in Beverly Hills, and along the way Phyllis discovers a resourcefulness, courage and leadership that she didn't realise she had.

There are just eight girls in the troop, bearing the names of Hannah, Claire, Tiffany, Lily, Chica, Jasmine, Tessa and Emily. But what caught my attention was the name of the young Philippino actress playing Lily - Aquilina.

Sounds alluring and glamorous, doesn't it? I wonder why there aren't more actresses with this name.

Aquilina is a Spanish version of the Latin name Aquila, meaning 'eagle'. Hence it is said to either mean 'eagle' or 'sharp-eyed'. Like Aquila it can be used for both boys and girls. But unlike Aquila it has never charted in the U.S. This makes it quite rare.

If it sounds a little familiar, you may have heard it as a surname, particularly an Italian surname. Apparently this surname was adopted by people who either:

  • Owned eagles
  • Had great eyesight (eagle eyed)
  • Lived near a place populated by eagles; or
  • Lived in or near the city of L'Aquila, the capital of the Italian region of Abruzzi.

There was also a child saint by this name who lived from 281-293 BC. Her story is quite grisly, as she was a martyr saint who is honoured by the Roman Catholic Church. This does lend a sense of history and gravity to the name Aquilina, and likely helped to establish it's use as a girls name rather than a boys.

I'm not 100% sure on what the "proper" pronunciation of Aquilina is, although it seems that both ah-kwi-LEE-nuh and ah-kwi-LIE-nuh are acceptable. Personally I much prefer the first. I also prefer it as a girls name - the more likely nicknames of Lina or Aqua make it seem more feminine to me.

Another one of the things I like about this name is that it has a unique look to it. Names containing Q are still very rare on the whole, and therefore generally stand out for that very reason. This may make it seem like Aquilina would be slightly harder to wear if your child happens to be the shy type. But I think it is still soft enough to wear well no matter what your personality. I could see this one on a headstrong princess just as easily as on a tomboy or a quiet bookworm.

Aquilina stands out in a subtle way - graceful, almost whimsical; energetic and sparkling.  If you like names that are rare and tasteful, then Aquilina would be a worthy addition to your shortlist.