About Me

Per EVie's suggestion: Here is some information about me: Since personal names currently in use are derived from a multitude of languages and sources, no one can be an expert in all of them. My PhD is in Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic, and I also have had formal training in almost all the Germanic languages (Old and Middle High German, Old Saxon, Gothic, Old Low Franconian, Middle Dutch, Yiddish, Modern German, and Netherlandic/Flemish). In addition I learned Hebrew, Latin, and French before I left high school. Cobbling together my French and Latin, I know something about some of the other Romance languages (including Old French, Anglo-Norman, and Occitan), but I am no expert in Romance philology, although I have had formal training in Germanic philology. So that gives me a better than average background in many of the languages from which our current namestock is derived. However, what I know about Greek and Greek-derived , Balto-Slavic and Celtic names comes from my general knowledge of Indo-European philology, and my general knowledge of Indo-European philology does not really cover names from Sanskrit and other Indian languages and Persian. Knowing Hebrew gives me a bit of insight into cognate Arabic names, but I know nothing about Finno-Ugaric (happily we have our Hungarian sisters for that), Chinese, Japanese, the many indigenous languages of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

My Favorite Names

No favorite names yet.

My Recent Blog Comments
February 1, 2015 12:29 PM

There are other nicknames for Alexander: Xander, Sander, Lex, Sandy, Sawny (a Scots nickname for Alexander which is traditionally popular in Scotland).  And Sasha/Sascha/Sacha is absolutely a traditional male nickname, so the people who think it's crazy to call a boy Sasha are simply ill-informed.  One of the alternative spellings might make it seem more 'boy' (as in Sacha Baron Cohen).

January 31, 2015 04:33 PM
In Response to Minnie or Hattie?¿

If you name your daughter Minnie, do you think she would mind being associated by her peers with Ms. Mouse?  As for not aging well, I had a great-aunt Minnie, and she was old as the hills.  In fact, for me it's 100% old lady.

To my mind you have set up a pattern of Greek names ended in -e, and neither Minnie nor Hattie fits that pattern.  While there is no law that says siblings' names have to go together, FWIW Daphne/Phoebe/Hattie or Minnie very obviously don't match.  Having set up such an obvious pattern for two sisters, I personally would follow it for the third, but again sisters only spend a minor fraction of their lives as a set, so maybe not following the pattern for the third doesn't matter.

January 31, 2015 03:09 PM

I'm pretty sure you are thinking of Cleveland Kent Evans, a well-known professor of onomastics who did post here at one time.

January 29, 2015 10:26 AM
In Response to Quill as a first name

As I mentioned in another thread, some 60 years ago I knew someone named Quillace/Quillis (have no idea of the spelling).  I don't know the origin of the name, perhaps a family surname or just a made-up riff on Wallace/Willis.

January 28, 2015 05:03 PM

Gideon is depicted in the Hebrew scriptures as a judge of the Israelites.  Gideon's only appearance in the Greek scriptures is in the Epistle to the Hebrews which was addressed to an audience of Jewish Christians.  Gideon is there mentioned along with other figures from the Hebrew scriptures including Barak, Samson, Jephtha, David and Samuel, none of whom would I consider Chrisitan.  In the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches Gideon is considered an Old Testament saint, along with Abraham and other figures in the Hebrew Bible.

To me this does not add up to aggressively Christian.

January 27, 2015 04:24 PM

Reine, French for queen, is a traditional name pronounced  by English speakers like Rain, the meteorological phenonmenon.  The French pronunciation has a uvular r, and the English a retroflex r, and there are other slight differences, but essentially in an English context Reine is pronounced like Rain,  but it doesn't have the hippie aura should that not be wanted.

January 26, 2015 09:09 AM

While using the same first initial of a deceased family member's name is an American Jewish tradition, it's not the only traditional way to pick a vernacular name.  First, you need to start with the deceased family member's Hebrew name Assuming that you are Ashkenazim since Sephardim name after the living, the "Hebrew" name might be Yiddish, especially if the deceased family member is female.  Then you have several options.  You can simply use the Hebrew name.  Since you are considering Shoshanna, you might be open to that.  Or, as you are thinking, you can use a vernacular name starting with the same initial as the Hebrew name (or as the family member's English name).  You can pick a name with a similar rhythm, as my grandmother did when she picked an English name after she came to America.  Her name was Tzivya Chaya, so she pciked Celia Ida for the similar rhythm.  You can pick the standard English form of the Hebrew name, so Shlomo becomes Solomon and Yitzchok becomes Isaac.  Or you can choose a name with the same meaning as the Hebrew or Yiddish name.  This was done as a double name in Europe giving names like Dov Ber (both mean 'bear') or Tzvi Hirsch (both mean 'stag').  So if you have a grandfather named Tzvi Hirsch, you could give the child the English name Hart, or if you have a Dov Ber, you could choose Orson.  My mother's name was Sussel ('sweetie'), so I could have named a child Candy (although I wouldn't have).  My sister's name is Shaina Liebe ('pretty love'), and my parents considered Bonnie Cheryl, but actually went with Suzanne.  My grandfather's name was Shlomo Chaim (he used Solomon as his English name) which means Peace Life, and I considered Frederick for a boy and Zoe Irene for a girl.  Or, since the only name that actually matters is the Hebrew name, you can choose any English name you want as long as the child has the honor Hebrew name.  For girls there is no ritual significance to the name at all.  Jews have traditionally used all kinds of names for females.  In medieval England there was actually a Jewish woman (and a very interesting one at that) named Licorice (yes, the same as the black candy) of Winchester.

It is also a good idea to consult with a rabbi in choosing an appropriate name.  There are vernacular names which are uncomfortable in a Jewish context for various historical/cultural reasons.

January 23, 2015 08:25 AM

There was a substantial Greek community in my home town, and several members of it were named Christ, pronounced Chris + t.  Whether that was the full name or short for something I do not know.

January 22, 2015 06:50 PM

On behindthename, pay attention to the actual entries which are generally well researched.  Anyone can say anything in the comments and the user submitted entries.  The comments are generally only useful for information on people's perceptions of a name, associations, people they know with the name, etc.

January 22, 2015 05:26 PM

Your call.  In this case the "masses" are wrong because they don't know what they are talking about, but ultimately it doesn't matter what the name means or doesn't mean, as long as you like it and feel that it suits your child.

January 22, 2015 04:50 PM

Well, some names conjured up by Shakespeare, Joyce, and Beckett:

Beckett and Joyce for starters :-) Barclay (Beckett's middle name)

Vladimir (goes with Natasha if not O'Shell)

Molly, Anna Livia, Blaze (for Blazes Boylan), Leopold, Stephen or Dedalus, Finnegan, Humphrey, Gabriel or Conroy, Eveline

Thaisa, Charmian, Katherine, Beatrice, Prospero, Antonio, Cressida, Ariel, Miranda, Ferdinand, Rosaline, Benedick, Bianca, Calpurnia, Imogen, Edgar, Emilia, Hermione, Hippolyta, Percy, Helena, Jessica, Hero, Lennox, Lorenzo, Marina, Nerissa, Portia, Orlando, Octavia, Ophelia, Viola, Perdita, Sebastian, Silvia, Titania, Valentine

Some of Shakespeare's contemporaries: Spenser, Marlowe, Raleigh, Fletcher, Dekker, Heywood, Lyly, Lyndsay

January 22, 2015 03:50 PM

I saw all this nonsense on Nameberry.  Once something gets online, then it's widely copied by people who don't check the accuracy of what they are copying and who don't bother about copyright or attribution either.  BTW this site is also not reliable when it comes to name meanings either.

So I would say to "sheknows," she doesn't know.

IMO if you guys love Darby and feel it's right for your little fellow, then don't hesitate because of all the meaning nonsense online.

January 22, 2015 03:32 PM

My five year old grandson is Elliott, and he loves his name.  He especially loves the two sets of double letters.  Of course, that would be a feature of Emmett as well.  For some reason the two sets of double letters made it easier for him to learn to spell and write his name. 

January 22, 2015 03:25 PM

First of all, if you are responding to me, I didn't say anything about "meaning," only associations.  Besides being associated with elderly uxorious men, darby is associated with horse racing and with a certain kind of male hat.

Now as to meaning, Darby is an English place name.  All English place names ending -by are descended from Norse settlements and they occur in what was once the Danelaw.  Other Scandinavian place names in England have endings in -thwaite, -toft, -thorpe.  The suffix -by originally meant 'farmstead."  The common etymological explanation of Darby (more commonly spelled today as Derby) is "deer" plus "settlement."  However, some look to the name of the Roman fort on that location which was called Derventio, presumed to be derived from a pre-existing Celtic place name.  This Romano-Celtic place name is thought to be preserved in the name of the local river, the Derwentwater.  While there may be a bit of controversy about the origin of the first element of Darby/Derby, there is no controversy about the current form being Scandinavian. 

In any case Darby/Derby does NOT mean free men, free of envy or any such thing.  There is no end of nonsense available online and in printed books, pamphlets, etc., about the "meanings" of names.  If meanings matter, then it is necessary to do some serious research.  Meaning does not "depend on what one you look at," since much of what is out there to look at is in error.

Now if you want a name meaning "free," then I suggest Franklin, which does mean "free man." Another possibility is Charlton, the first part of which derives from the Old English ceorl (-ton simply refers to a settlement).  Ceorls were free non-noblemen as opposed to thralls who were slaves.  Ceorl has developed into our modern word churl, but originally ceorl did not have a negative connotation.  It just meant an ordinary, non-aristocratic man of free status.  The nobles were called eorls, which gives us our modern name Earl.  Thane is another name which derives from an Old English title of nobility.

I did some research, and I see where you found the meanings of "free man," "free from envy."  That's not a reliable site. On that same page it gives the meaning "free man" for Charles/Karl, etc., but that is not accurate.  Karl, etc., means "man" (male human), and that's it. And further down the page it says Francis means "free man."  It doesn't.  It means "Frenchman." The Germanic ethnic name Frank (Charlemagne's people) which gave rise to 'French' and all the Francis names is almost certainly derived from the weaponry characteristic of that tribe, a type of javelin, which was then conflated (erroneously) with the later English word frank, meaning free. (Similarly the name of the Saxons, another Germanic tribe, was derived from the type of sword they used.) And then the page says Fritz means 'free.'  It doesn't.  It's the diminutive of Friedrich/Frederick which means peaceful ruler.  I could go on, but just about every piece of information on that site is in error.

If the two of you love the name Darby, by all means go ahead and use it.  It's a perfectly fine name.  But don't use it because you like the fact that it means free man or free from envy, because it doesn't. 

January 22, 2015 02:21 PM

A lot of Teds were Edward.

There are for sure a lot of "godly" names, but there are a lot of "ungodly" ones too.  Have you tried  browsing the thematic section of behindthename?  You can look for themes that appeal and see if anything strikes you.  For those who aren't familiar with the thematic listings on that site, click on "tools' at the top of the page and "name themes" under that.

January 22, 2015 02:12 PM

Aliza is a Modern Hebrew name, derived from a word meaning happy, merry, joyful.  It is pronounced Aleeza.  That would be my default pronunciation for sure.

If you don't want the "most common name in the book," I would cross Aiden off your list.

A names not too common but not too out there: Aaron, Astrid, Abel, Alma, Alba, Axel, Azalea, Alistair, Ada, Adah, Alice, Adelaide, Adele, Adrian, Adrienne, August, Alana, Althea, Alyssa, Amalia, Ambrose, Annette, Anders, Anthony, Angela, Annika, Anthea, Anita, Antonia, Archer, Arden, Arianna, Aurelia, Arthur, Asa, Austin

January 22, 2015 01:00 PM

Darby brings to mind the proverbial phrase Darby and Joan, which refers to any elderly couple who are content in a long-standing marriage.  In this case the elderly husband is referred to by their surname.  So my view of Darby is an old homebody sitting by the fire eating his wife's home baked cookies, the opposite of youthful and cool.

I googled Darby and found that the few notable people with the given name Darby (well, notable enough to be googleable) are both male and female. 

So, no, the name Darby does not have an unambiguously masculine vibe. Rare as it is, I would say definitely unisex.

January 22, 2015 10:17 AM

My father was Eliyahu/Edward.  He passed away at a young age, and my son was named for him.  Along comes my little grandson, and he is Elliott, a name chosen in part to honor my father.  By the by, we are all "non-believers," and my son's mother-in-law is a quite militant atheist, and none of us has expressed any discomfort with the religious roots of Elliott.  His second name is even more "religious," but basically as far as we are all concerned, they are just names.

January 22, 2015 10:02 AM

You could use another 'pearl' name.  Margaret and all its derivatives would fill the 'pearl' bill.  The list of "Margaret" names is almost endless.  I particularly like Marjorie.  Note: among the Margaret variants, Marguerite is also a flower name, meaning 'daisy.'

January 21, 2015 11:59 PM

Given your concern about Theodore, I would just like to point out that the following names on your list are either biblical and/or have a "god' meaning:  Bram (hypocoristic form of Abraham), Dominic, Eli, Elliot (diminutive of the French Elie which is a form of Elijah--Eliyahu 'my God is "tetragrammaton"), Ezra, Ira, Levi, Simon.