Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gem Names

Basically today a gem name catapulted it's way into my attention. Ruby. Why? Today is the day that 2006 top names of the UK are published, and Ruby has charmed it's way into the top 5 - #4 to be exact. I doubt that this is a start of a great 'gem name' push into the UK (the only other gem name there is Amber, and that has stayed pretty stagnant at no. 40 for the last couple of years), but it is interesting.

In terms of meanings, gem stones are pretty descriptive - ruby means red, amber means amber, opal means opal (but is derived from jewel), diamond (surprise, surprise) means diamond.

Ruby isn't the only 'red' name in the top 100 - Scarlett is up at #46, only a small jump after last year's huge leap, whilst Sienna has decreased slightly in popular (#69-70). Adam, which means 'to be red' has not changed at all from last year.

So why Ruby? To quote a recent new parent of a Ruby (Tobey Maguire - he of Spiderman fame) - they 'treasure her like a jewel'. Some of the popularity of Ruby may be due to (or may simply be the follower of the fashion) the character Ruby Allen on popular soap 'Eastenders' - though she arrived in 2005, when Ruby was already on the rise. Perhaps it is because Ruby fills that mysterious and elusive category of fitting both a young girl (with the '-ee' ending) and a grown woman (strong and red).

12 years ago, the UK scene was different. The top gem name was Jade - in 1994 it was number 9. Jade completely fell off the top 100 last year. There are no 'red' names in this list - green is the major cololur with Jade, Chloe, Ashleigh and Holly. Gemma is also there.

Gemstones are also in the same category of month names (think May, June, April - then you have Julie/Julian/Julius/Juliet, Augustus/a, Octavia and Non/va). In that each month is assigned a stone - Garnet in January, Amethyst = Feb, Aquamarine (I can't see this becoming a name) = March, Diamond=April, Emerald (and therefore Esmeralda) = May, Alexandrite (Alexandra) or Pearl = June, July = Ruby, August = Peridot, Sept = Sapphire, Oct=Opal, Nov = Topaz and Dec = Tanzanite, Zircon or Turquoise.

If we US top 1000 these month names then the 'popular' month stones are: Diamond, Emerald (but not since 2000), Esmeralda, Ruby, Perry (for Peridot) and Sapphire.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ivy and Iris

This will be my seventh post on plant names. But Botanical names are a pet favourite of mine, so it is to be expected.

Popular at the turn of the century, Ivy is even more popular now. Very descriptive and obvious meaning (ivy) from Old English ifig. What makes it so appealing? It's an alternative to Eve, it has a sweet sound - especially with the 'ee' ending. It's a Victorian classic that has finally lost the stigma of being a 'Grannie name' - see Evelyn, Lillian or Audrey for other examples. Problems? Poison ivy. I do find the idea of a toxic plant slightly appealing (my favourite name, Bryony, is a poisonous plant) but ivy is more common. Poison ivy itself, is not even a member of the Ivy (Hedera) family but a woody vine that produces a skin irritant. Personally, I like variegated ivy (shown below, from Wikipedia).

The other 'i' botanical name, that I tend to associate with Ivy, merely because of sound rather than anything else. Iris peaked in the 1930s and therefore is old enough to be a 'Grandmother' name and I do not believe that it has totally shaken that image off. The absence of the 'ee' sound makes it more sophisticated. Iris boasts the more interesting meaning 'rainbow'. Iris was a Greek goddess of the rainbow, and iris is a part of the eye. For all Iris has for being a 'Grandmother' name, it still (if you are interested in meaning) has better credentials than Ivy. It is also a flower - so much more delicate than a woody vine. For me, Ivy has the better sound but Iris has the better meaning.
Iris Germanica from Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Alternatives to Hannah

Another popular name, fairly timeless (in that it has been fairly consistently popular across the centuries) name. Statistically it is # 6 in NZ, #6 in Austria, #10 in N Ireland, #10 in Scotland, #13 in England and Wales, #5 in Canada and #7 in USA. That's a lot of Hannahs.

Hannah comes from Channah meaning 'favour' or 'grace' (personally that reminds me of the grace and favour lodgers at Kensington amongst other places).

Biblically Hannah was the mother of Samuel, and one of two wives of Elkanah - the other being Penninah. Penninah was able to bear children, but Hannah had remained childless. In a plea to have a child she promised God that she would give him up to the priesthood. She went on to Samuel, who as promised, went to live with Eli the priest, and then five more children.

So, some alternatives:
1) Anna (the Latin form of Hannah) and 'Anna-' names:
Some '-anna' names:
Joanna (or Johanna)

Names containing other elements of Hannah:

2) Similar meaning (grace or favour):
The three graces: Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia


3) Random Connections:
Hester (a Babynamer on Oxygen suggestion)
Other Biblical mothers: Rachel, Leah, Sarah, Eve, Mary, Lois (a grandmother), Elizabeth, Rebecca, Naomi and Ruth

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Olive and Olivia

Meaning is obvious - olive, from Latin oliva. Since Greek times the olive branch has been the symbol of peace, so it could also be taken to mean peace - though it does not directly.
In terms of connection there is Olive Oyl (and olive oil) - the girlfriend of Popeye - probably what has condemned Olive and allowed Olivia to flourish.

The olive plant (as shown to the right) is grown in Eastern Mediterranean. The fruit of the plant is initially inedible and must be treated before eaten. This involves being soaked in a solution of NaOH and thoroughly washed with water to remove oleuropein - a naturally bitter carbohydrate. Green olives are unripe olives that have been processed and allowed to ferment. Black olives are ripe and unfermented thus tasting milder. Olives have also been used since ancient times for making Olive oil.

This is a Latinate name, first used by Shakespeare for the rich female heiress in Twelfth Night - wooed by Orsino, falls in love with Cesario (aka Viola as a man) and finally marries Sebastian, twin of Viola. This romantic connection (much more romantic than being the girlfriend of a spinach-muncher), the fact that it's a female form of Oliver and shares the same nicknames (Ollie, Livvy) means that it's popular in mainly English speaking countries - UK, USA, Australia, NZ and (interestingly, seeing as I don't know much about their naming trends) Finland.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Phoebe, Cynthia, Artemis, Diana and Selene

Seeing as I don't want this blog to be all about alternatives (it is interesting and useful to do them, I just don't want an overload).

So I'm going on Moon names or various names that have been attributed to the Greek goddess Artemis. A couple of years ago, the name Artemisia was among my favourite names. She was an architect - builder of one of the 7 wonders of the world, and named after the goddess of virginity and the hunt. Pure determination.

But if you really delve into Artemis it's either a safe name (artemes) or a butcher of a name (artemos), this is one of the problems I have with it - it does not mean beautiful one, or eagle or brave. It's meaning is debatable, and neither are stunning.

Want a twin set? Artemis and Apollo. Except that that would be horrendous. Together, they're names for twin cats or hamsters. I wouldn't advise Apollo on it's own - seems very he-man to me, like calling your child Hercules, Zeus or Achilles.

I suppose to finish off with Artemis - there is Artemis Fowl - a series of books by Eoin Colfer. Artemis is a boy. There is also in Bible a man named Artemas.

So if Artemis is not an option, what about the other names that derive from it:
Phoebe, Cynthia, Diana and Selene - I would say that they are all more popular than Artemis, more acceptable.

I'll start with Phoebe, certainly a name I've been hearing a lot recently. In the non-mythological, non-naming world Phoebe is famous for being the quirky 'Friend' and a witch in 'Charmed'. For English fans there's also a character on 'The Archers' named Phoebe.

Phoebe is sweet, and quite pretty - unusual sound that will stand out from the Emmas and the Amys. In the UK it's also borderline common (#35 to be exact), meaning that a Phoebe is unlikely to go through life without meeting another. It's a bright, pure name (phoibos), so unlike Artemis has a decent meaning.

Problem with it? Spelling - for the dyslexic (and non-dyslexic) Phoebe can be Phebe, Feebe, Phoeby, Pheobe, Phobe...

So lets get onto Cynthia - another name for Artemis due to her birthplace on Mt Cynthos. I tend to associate this name with older woman (all the Cynthias I know are older), but I still like it. It's a sensible name - not too frilly but not too bland. This is a name that has had a curve in popularity (in the US where I can get stats), In 1906 it was in the late 300s, 1957 it was #7 and last year it was #221. Cynthia has the thrilling meaning of 'woman from Cynthos' (reminiscent of Lydia - explored earlier, and Sabina - which will be in an upcoming thread)., not for me.

Diana - I have a personal reason for using this (or not using it as the case may be). Meaning is good - heavenly or divine. She was the Roman equivalent of Artemis - goddess of the moon, hunt, forests, childbirth...It's a name that has dipped in and out of the US top 100, it's rise hasn't been as extreme as it's spawn Diane.

Why not? Diana, Princess of Wales is just too big a block for me. I would use this name to honour someone else, but it may end up like I'm honouring her. I think I'll stick with Dinah - spunky and Biblical.

So finally we get onto Selene. It may have been irrevocably damaged by Celine Dion's 'My Heart will go on' hit. Except that apart from sound Selene and Celine are not closely related. Celine comes from Celio from Caelius meaning Heaven , Selene means moon. It's a fine name, another curve in popularity.

If I had to choose I'd go with Phoebe. It's spunky, a little different but still within the comfort zone.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Jessica and some alternatives

Last year Jessica was the #1 name in England, around #6 in Australia and #5 in NZ. Etymologically, Jessica supposedly hails from the Hebrew name Yiscah, though Shakespeare was the first recorded user of this name - in the Merchant of Venice as the daughter of the Jewish money lender Shylock.

Yiscah means 'Yahweh beholds' or 'God beholds'. Though Jessica may also mean wealth.

Famous Jessicas include actresses Jessica Alba and Biel, and singer Jessica Simpson. There is also the fictional character Jessica Rabbit. Jessicas also class among Oscar winners - with Jessica Tandy and Lange winning awards.

Jessica is very much a name of the 80s and 90s. Especially in America where it was #1 for 9 years between 85 and 95, and the top 5 from 1977-95. It's big year was 1987 when almost 56000 babies were named Jessica in the USA. It was even in the top 1000 boys names from 1977-91, peaking at #579 in 1985, with 229 boys being given that name.

It may not be an ultra-popular name anymore, Jessica is now one of those names that the universities are full of. So what are the alternatives:

1) 'Jes' names:

Containing elements of Jessica:

2) The meaning (Yahweh beholds, the Lord's gift):

3) Random connections (this is where I really on Babynamer on Oxygen):
(One I thought up myself) Any Alba name after Jessica Alba - Albinia, Rosalba etc.
(Another one of mine) Another Shakespeare name - Nerissa, Portia, Juliet, Ophelia etc.
(BNoO from now on):
Angela - from Angela Lansbury who plays Jessica Fletcher on 'Murder She Wrote'
Similar names according to BNoO:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Alternatives to Emily

New little thing I'm starting.
Basically Emily is a popular name, in terms of the stats I could get for it, it is:
#1 in the USA
#2 in the UK
#7 in Germany
#8 in Scotland
#1 in Canada
#1 in N Territory, Australia and #3 in New South Wales
#4 in New Zealand

Emilija is #3 in Lithuania and Emilie is #6 in Norway.

That's an awful lot of babies being called Emily.
So...what are the alternatives:

1) Obvious alternatives - similar in sound:
The 'Em' names:
Emma (however, this is also an ultra-popular name, in the top 10 of 14 countries - more than Emily)

The 'Milly' names:

Other names containing 'Emily' sounds:

2) Less obvious: The meaning
Emily is from Aemilius from aemelus meaning 'rival'.
There are no names with exactly the same meaning as Emily, however, here are some close and opposite ones:
Amika (friendly)
Atalanta (equal in weight)
Cara (friend)
Philomena (friend of strength)
Ruth (friend)
Theophilia (friend of God)

3) Really random connections (mainly from Babynamer on Oxygen, these are people that I have heard of - I could only think of the Bronte connection):
Charlotte and Anne (two other Bronte sisters)
Natalie, Laura, Martie and Robin (other members of Dixie Chicks)
Dorothy (creator of Emily Pollifax character)

Babynamer on Oxygen lists the following (which I have not mentioned) as similar to Emily:
Julia (I would say that Julie is closer)

So, just a 'few' names to consider, if Emily is not an option.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Zillah and Adah

I think that this is going to be a short one, but I would just like to touch upon two lovely, unusual, Biblical names - Zillah and Adah.

Zillah is a Biblical name meaning 'shade' featured in Genesis 4 v 19-23, as one of two wives of Lamech, the other being Adah meaning 'ornament' or 'dawn'.

Zillah is also spelled Tsilah.

Adah should not be confused with Ada, originally a pet form of Adela, Adelaide and Adeline etc. and therefore meaning 'noble'. Both Adah and Ada are usual alternatives to Ava, which is getting increasingly popular. Adah is also the wife of Esau, and is also known as Basemath.

Zillah is only the third woman to be mentioned in the Bible, and it is partly for that reason that the name was taken up by Puritans and fundamental Christians.

Unusual? Yes, Zillah has only been in the US top 1000 3 times, the last time being 1889. Adah is slightly more popular, it's high point was in 1883 when it was 277th, however, it dropped out of the top 1000 in 1917 and hasn't returned since.

Friday, August 25, 2006

'-wen' and '-wyn'

Just a little thing that's become a pet peeve of mine - the endings '-wen' and '-wyn' on Welsh names, and the trendiness which is blurring the difference between them.
I only found out the difference this week, but now it is annoying me whenever I see the name Bronwyn for a girl.

A simple rule:

'-wyn' is masculine
'-wen' is feminine

In Welsh these only occur in either masculine or feminine. There is no cross-over.
Bronwyn is masculine
Bronwen is feminine

Confusion is caused because their is an Anglo-Saxon feminine ending of '-wyn'. However, on Welsh names these rule exist.

Therefore someone trying to be trendy and using Bronwyn on a girl is doing the equivalent of calling a girl James or Richard.

Information on this can be found at:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ceres and Vesta

Both are the names of asteroids in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is the largest and has the most mass but Vesta is the brightest (and second massive). These are the only two asteroids that can be seen with the naked eye from Earth (Ceres only under exceptional viewing conditions).

Initially Ceres was thought to be the missing planet, but after discovering it was much smaller than any other planet it was decided that instead it was an 'asteroid' - meaning starlike (Latin astra - star). However, though this definition is wrong (planetoid would be better as they do not resemble stars at all) it has stuck. When Vesta was discovered in 1807 it too was called an asteroid.

Currently the IAU are drafting a definition of Planets and Plutons (orbits lasting over 200 years). Under these definitions Ceres is a planet (as it has enough gravity to assume an almost round - oblate spheroid (same as Earth) shape and orbits a star). For a celestial object that has been an asteroid for over 200 years this is quite a development.

Ceres (said Seer-rez) was the Roman goddess of plants and motherly love. She was connected with the Greek goddess Demeter. It is from Ceres that we get the word cereal. Ceres itself comes from ker meaning 'to grow' which is also the root of the words 'create' and 'increase'.

Vesta was the Roman goddess of hearth, home and family - connected with the Greek goddess Hestia. Her priestesses were called the Vestal Virgins/Vestales. They had to observe absolute chastity for 30 years and ensure that the public hearth sacred to Vesta never went out.

My thoughts? Ceres is possibly a planet name that could be used without sounding stupid. If not there is always Sarah, Cerys and Ceri.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Continuing from Elizabeth - male 'Eli-' names

Eli is probably the obvious choice to start with. In Hebrew el means God, however Eli is also believed to be an ancient Hebrew word meaning 'height' or 'high' or 'ascension'. In the Bible Eli was a High Priest of Israel, and the teacher of Samuel (who in turn went on to become a judge). Eli is a fairly simple name - three letters, two syllables and was popular during the Reformation and the rise of Puritanism.

Elijah is an ancient Hebrew name, borne by an important Old Testament prophet, recognized by Christians, Jews and Muslims. It was originally spelt Eliyahu and is commonly thought to mean 'Jah or Jehovah is God'. However, as with Eli, it may also mean 'Jah is highest'. The Biblical Elijah confronted the corrupt Ahab and Jezebel and was severely punished. Elijah's death was not normal -
'a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.' (2 Kings 2:11 NIV).

This prompted the Jewish people to believe that one day Elijah would return - at the Jewish Passover Seder a cup of wine is left for Elijah, who would arrive as an unknown guest and foretell the arrival of the Messiah. John the Baptist is sometimes referred to as Elijah, and during his lifetime Jesus was mistaken for Elijah - 'Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"

28They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."' (Mark 8:26-28 NIV)

Elijah also appeared during the Transfiguration, with Moses: 'There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.' (Matt 17:2-3 NIV).

Elias is the Greek variation of the name. The form Elias is used in the New Testament of the King James Bible for Elijah.

Elisha was Elijah's successor and a prominent prophet. This name is now more commonly used as a girls name (as with actress Elisha Cuthbert). It comes from Elishu'a meaning 'God is my salvation'.

There are many other 'Eli-' names including:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lydia and Bethany

In today's climate of giving place names as first names (think of the 'trendy' examples of London, Preston, Ireland) it is always good to look for alternatives which provide traditional charm whilst retaining the place name status. Two excellent examples of this are Lydia and Bethany.


This name has the rather unexciting meaning of 'A woman from Lydia' - an area of Asia Minor - then again when using a place name one should not expect an interesting meaning. However, what's more important about the name is the main namesake - Lydia (from Thyatira) who was a purple cloth-dyer in the Bible and was converted by St Paul. Another famous Lydia is Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice - Lizzie's silly sister.


The name Bethany has more of a connection with Jesus than the later apostles. It was the name of the small village outside Jerusalem where Jesus stayed before the Last Supper and crucifixion. It was also where the sisters Mary and Martha lived, and where Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the death. More information about the town of Bethany can be found here, on Wikipedia.

Bethany has the meaning 'house of figs'. The beth element is used in several place names in Israel such as Bethlehem and Bethsaida.

The enduring popular of Bethany can also be accredited to 'Beth' being a nickname of Elizabeth. Bethany can therefore be used as an alternative - to honour an Elizabeth or the other way around. The 'any' part can also be linked to names such as Anne or containing the '-anne' or '-an' element.

The Welsh name Bethan is connected to Elizabeth, instead of Bethany.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

An exploration of names with 'Theo-' as their root

Theos is Greek for God so it is not unexpected that it is a common element in many names. The most popular of these is Theodore meaning 'gift of God'. This names has been borne by Presidents (Theodore Roosevelt), Popes and Saints, and has the nicknames Theo and Teddy (giving Teddy-Bear from Roosevelt). Theodore has several related names, and different spellings in other languages:

Todor - similar to Tudor the Welsh form of the name which became the surname of the royal family 1485-1603 including the infamous Henry VIII and his 6 wives.

Dorothea - this is a swap of the two elements of Theodore - theos and doron Dorothea (and Dorothy) has the same meaning as Theodore and shares two of its nickames (Dora and Thea) with:
Tea (Tee-ah)

Another 'Theo-' name is Theophanes meaning 'manifestation of God' - phanes means appearing. Theophanes coined the female name Theophania from which the modern name Tiffany comes. Theophania was used to refer to Epiphany when the Three Wise Men visited the infant Christ. In Medieval times girls born during the Twelve Days of Christmas (25 Dec - 6 Jan) were given a variant of this name. The French changed Theophania to Tifaina and Tifaine.

The next 'Theo-' name is Theodosius meaning 'giving to God' - dosis means giving. From Theodosius we get the female form Theodosia. This name was borne by several early saints.

Theodotus means 'given to God' - dotus means given.

Theodulus means 'slave of God' - doulos meaning slave. This is quite apt as a Christian slave - Zoe and her husband Hesperus, refused to eat the food their Master offered to the pagan Roman Gods when their son was born. The Master then ordered them and their two sons - Syriacus and Theodulus, to be tortured and roasted. Not exactly a pretty connection but an example of early Christian bravery and trust in God.

Theophilus means 'friend of God'. The Book of Acts and Luke's gospel are both addressed toa man name Theophilus. The female form is Theophilia. This is another name that can be rearranged - in Louis de Bernieres book Birds without wings the central female character is named Philothei.

'Judge of God' is the meaning of Theocritus from krites meaning judge. It was the name of a 3rd century Greek poet.

Theophylaktos is my final Greek, male name. As well as being a mouthful and difficult to spell it means 'guarded by God' with phylasso meaning 'to guard'.

Theokleia is a female name from kleia meaning glory and was the name of the first female saint. Her suffering was recorded in the Apocryphal book of 'Acts of Paul and Thecla'. Thecla is a contracted form of the name.

The non-Greek Theo- names

Namely Theobald and Theodoric. These two names are (confusingly) of German origin. The Theo part is from peud meaning 'people'. Theobald simply means 'bold people' and Theodoric means 'ruler of the people' - ric meaning power.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Elizabeth and its diminutives and alterations

History: Elizabeth is a fairly common throughout history. It is of Hebrew origin from Elisheva - 'God is my oath'. In the Bible Elisheba was Aaron's wife and John the Baptist's Mother (who is now known as Elizabeth).

An early recording of Elizabeth is a Russian Princess Elisavetta who was sang about by Viking king Harald Hardrada. The songs established the name in Scandinavia and so came the alterations: Elsebin, Lisbet and Helsa.

Changing of Elizabeth:
Elisheba to Elisabet by the Greeks
Elisabet to Elisabeth in Latin
Elisabeth to Lescinska by the Russians
Elisabeth to Elizabeth by the Germans
And Elisabeth to Isabelle in the 12th century

Creation in a nutshell: Belgian Princess Elizabeth married Philippe August of France and changed her name to Isabella. This became Isabelle, Isabel and Ysabel.

Elizabeth = Ellie, Ella, Eliza, Elsie, Elspeth, Elise, Liz, Liza, Lizzie, Libby, Lisette, Lilibet, Beth, Bet, Betsy, Bess, Bessie, Bettina, Babette, Betty, Bella, Belle, Izzy

Elisabeth also gives Lisa and Lissie

So what do I think of Elizabeth?
1) Terrific numbers of nicknames and alterations eg Isabel, even if Elizabeth is common the vast amounts of nicknames means that an Elizabeth will not get lost in the crowd. The only names with similar scope that I can think of are Alice (because of all the different Alicia spellings) and Katharine/Katherine/Catherine/Catharine/Kathryn.

2) Huge numbers of namesakes as well - Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth I and II of England, several St Elizabeths, for celebrities there's Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler and Elizabeth Taylor. Also included in plays and literature such as Eliza Dolittle in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.

3) However, I also think that Elizabeth is common and can be plain. I consider Isabel to be a prettier alternative, especially in the middle name spot. However, Isabella is rising sharply in popularity - last year it was #6 in the USA. But Elizabeth is a safe choice - unlikely to attract the kind of teasing that other 'made-up' and 'unique' names will, and will last a lifetime.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Eglantine with comments '-ine' names

Certainly an unusual flowery name, Eglantine has over the last few weeks appealed to me.
Firstly, names such as Evangeline or Emmeline are getting popular - being used more - certainly around the name forums. I do not foresee Eglantine ever becoming popular and that adds to its charm. However, neither Evangeline or Emmeline have broken the top 1000 in USA for 40 years. Emmeline in particular, has never even got into the top 1000 and Evangeline's peak was way back in 1901 at #398. But nowadays more and more people are searching for unusually traditional names - Sarah, Alice, Rebecca are all being seen as lovely but too popular. Thus the rise of the '-ine' names - Josephine (2005 #229), Madeline (#69), Angelina (#43) and Katherine (which has been wallowing around #35 since 1978 with dips into the 20s in early 90s.).

Angeline, which was popular at the turn of the century, is back in the charts at #925 after an eighteen year hiatus. This could either be due to film star Angelina Jolie or because of its '-ine' ending.

Back onto Eglantine.
First thoughts:
The spelling - this is quite an ugly name really. The 'lantine' part is pleasing to the eye, but the 'g' is off-putting especially put next to the E.
Egg-lan-teen, Eg-lan-tin or Egg-lan-tine (to rhyme with twine)? My research seems to suggest teen or tine.

Meaning - possibly the most important part of a name - if you like sound and spelling then the meaning can break or make a name:
It is a flower name - sweet brier - from Old French aiglent which is from the Latin acus meaning 'needle' as the plant has a prickly stem.

So, does Eglantine have a long and illustrious history?
Depends which way you look at it.
It was used by Geoffrey Chaucer in 'The Prioress's Tale' and by JRR Tolkien as the mother of the Hobbit Pippin. A Wikipedia search comes up with it as the 'the estate of the Irish Mill Baron, Edward Thomas Green'.

My own thoughts on Eglantine are that it is a sing-song name, but should only be used as an alternative to Emmeline and Evangeline if they become popular. I like that it is unusual but dislike the spelling. Recently I have used it as a minor (who may become major) character in my current novel.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Another nature name - this seems to be becoming a theme. Slightly more unusual - important to me as it combines two elements of my own name.

Saffron is a spice which has a vivid yellow colour. The spice was introduced into Europe in the Middle Ages, having been used before in the Middle and Far East.

The word comes from the Old French Safran from Arabic origin.

The name became popular in the 1960s.

So why choose Saffron?
First it's unusual, in a class full of Emmas and Madisons a Saffron will stand out. It's a name that cries to be noticed, and by being unusual and choosing this name you are not butchering a popular name to be creative.

Second - it's nature. Nature is a popular place for names - Lily, Rose, River, Sky - but Saffron is not obvious.

Third - it has nicknames. As someone with a name that has no proper, understandable nicknames I feel that they are important. You can't go wrong with a Saffy or a Saff.

Definitely a colour name (perhaps that is my theme!) Saffron does not burn the tongue when said or the eyes when read. A Saffron will stand out for all the right reasons.

Monday, June 26, 2006


What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet.

It's always good to start with a bit of Shakespeare. I'm gradually getting away from the Orangery theme by talking about Rose - a plant but also a vastly popular name in its various forms. I recently did a like/dislike poll on a favourite forum of mine with 24 different names on a variety of different themes - traditional, trendy, popular, dated, old-lady, unisex, mythological, flowery, virtues, Hollywood...and Rose came out top with 86% of posters giving it a 'like'. Why?

From the categories I have already mentioned Rose seems to encompass many of them - traditional, popular (especially as a middle name), old-lady, flowery. The rose can be a symbol of love, it also one of the symbols of the Virgin Mary and also features in the legend of Madelon who gave a rose to the baby Jesus.

Where does Rose come from?

As with all great names (think Mary, Rhea, Maia) Rose has multiple meanings.
The obvious meaning is from the Latin Rosa meaning Rose. However, it may also have derived from the German Hros meaning Horse or Hrod meaning Fame.
It is one of the earliest flower names used.

Other forms of Rose:

Rosalind - meaning tender horse or lovely rose
Rosaline - think Shakespeare! Used in Love's Labours Lost and Romeo and Juliet
Rosamund - meaning horse protection or rose of the world
Rosemary - a herb, meaning sea dew
Rosetta - as in the Stone

In recent years Rose has become popular as a middle name (within my year there are at least 5 people with Rose as a mn). The long 'oh' sound makes it perfect but also makes it now a fairly standard choice. Alternatives to Rose include Ruth, Ruby, Rhea, Renee, Reine or Rachel.

Names to avoid using Rose with:
Mary - the name of Henry VIII of England's prize warship which sank in the harbour
Audrey - a horror film
Amy - one of Sonic's companions

There's probably more but good ol' Google hasn't come up with anything else.

I'll leave with some flowery alternatives to Rose
Bryony, Daisy, Fern, Flora, Hazel, Heather, Ivy, Jasmine, Lilac, Lily, Mimosa, Myrtle, Pansy, Peony, Petunia, Poppy, Posy, Primrose, Primula, Violet

Monday, June 19, 2006


Might as well start with an 'orange' name.

Clementine - French version of Clement
From the Latin meaning 'mild, merciful, gentle'.

Start by dissecting the meaning:
Mild - the climate of the UK is mild and temperate. You can get mild cheese.
Merciful - having this as a meaning is better than using Mercy to get the same sense or Mercedes.
Gentle - feel this describes the name - Clementine is sing-song, an unexpected surprise - not abrasive.

There were 14 popes named Clement and also St Clement of Alexandria. Clement is an old name - therefore traditional.

In the USA Clementine was most popular way back in 1882 when it was at 363. It fell off the popularity charts in 1953. Therefore - traditionally unusual and unused.

As said earlier - Clementine is sing-song. What probably puts people most off the name is the song 'Oh My Darling Clementine' (full words below). Basically Clementine was nice but couldn't swim - unfortunate when you hurt your foot and fall into a pool. So Clementine drowns. How tragic.

But don't trust me: read it yourself:

In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine
Dwelt a miner forty niner,
And his daughter Clementine

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Light she was and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine,
Herring boxes, without topses,
Sandals were for Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Drove she ducklings to the water
Ev'ry morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter,
Fell into the foaming brine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles, soft and fine,
But, alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

How I missed her! How I missed her,
How I missed my Clementine,
But I kissed her little sister,
I forgot my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling, Clementine!
Thou art lost and gone forever
Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Another problem with Clementine is the pronunciation: is it Clem-en-tine (rhyming with fine) or Clem-en-teen?

Variations on Clementine: Clement, Clementina, Clemence, Clemency, Clem, Clemmy

So Clementine - unusual, traditional, fruity and the subject of a song.

Friday, June 16, 2006

About the Blog name

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on oranges and orangeries. They're a nice fruit for a summers day. I wanted to have Clementine as my username - Clementines are oranges therefore the Orangery.

By the wonders of Google I give you orangeries that I have visited:

The Orangery at Kensington Palace - designed for Queen Anne in 1704
The Orangery at Holland Park - 'a presentation of the finest in contemporary arts'
The Orangery at Blenheim Palace (I have not visited) - apparently now a restaurant. Designed by the same person as the Kensington Palace Orangery (Sir John Vanbrugh)
The Orangery at Kew - recently restored, another restaurant

And of course the Wikipedia entry on Orangeries