If you've looked up names in Namipedia, you've probably noticed a feature called "Advanced Search." If you tried it, you could be excused for thinking "err...what's so Advanced?" Take heart! Today the Namipedia Advanced Name Finder takes some big steps toward living up to its name.
The Name Finder now features "Style Preferences" that let you narrow down your search results based on some fundamental qualities of the names. For instance, you can request--or reject--nicknames, biblical names, or word/place names. You can specify that you want a traditional name, or a contemporary name, or strikingly unusual name sure to spark comments.
Best of all, you can combine those stylistic requirements with other features of the name, such as letters, length and popularity. Only in Namipedia can you say "I want a four-syllable name ending in -a that's traditional but uncommon." Or "show me some surnames & placenames that contain the letter string MAR, because I somehow have to name this kid after Grandpa Marvin."
I hope you'll have fun playing with the Name Finder. Like everything in Namipedia, it's still a growing pup; it will keep changing and adding new, powerful features over time.
This week, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a lovely holiday, an occasion to gather together in appreciation and give thanks for the bounty with which we are blessed. This seems a natural time to consider baby names rooted in the concept of gratitude. Here's a sampling:
Bongani (Zulu, male, "give thanks")
Shakir (Arabic, male, "grateful")
Shukura (Kiswahili, female, "grateful")
Tatenda (Shona, male/female, "thank you")
Tendai (Shona, female, "be thankful")
No, I didn't intentionally avoid names of European origin. Oddly enough, European naming tradition -- which directly celebrates many other virtues -- offers little in the way of gratitude.
Some names may seem to suggest thanks. Grace, for instance, shares deep etymological roots with the word gratitude. The two concepts make contemporary links in some languages whenever you give thanks (gracias, grazie), and in English when you say grace before meals. But other powerful connotations, especially elegance and God's love, dominate the name's meaning.
Similarly, divine gifts are celebrated in a plethora of names: Bogdan, Donato, Dorothy, Jonathan, Matthew, Theodore, Zebadiah. The focus, though, is on the child himself as God's gift to the family. That's a loving expression of parental gratitude, but different from a celebration of the fundamental virtue of thankfulness.
For more direct expressions of gratitude in English names, you have to look back in time. The Puritans were known to use Thankful as a name along with Obedience, Humility and their ilk in centuries past. And you'll occasionally -- very occasionally -- find a namesake of Saint Deogratias.
Or you could just stick with Grace. Your daughter might be especially thankful if you did.
For those of you on Twitter, we've started a new feed to deliver bite-sized baby name news, musings and updates. Think of it as quick and tasty name snacks in between the nourishing meals of blog entries!
For those of you not on Twitter, Twitter is a site that lets you write a tiny note or post an interesting link whenever you feel like, and lets other people subscribe to your note feed (and send you notes, if they like). That's about it. It sounds utterly pointless until you try it, and then it suddenly makes sense.
P.S. -- Don't forget to offer your nominations and comments for the upcoming Name of The Year selection! Let's try to keep all the NOTY discussion in the comments of that original post, to make sure all "votes" are counted.