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


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