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
May 26, 2017 04:45 PM
In Response to Gal Gadot

Gal is gender-neutral, Galit feminine. Israelis are big nicknamers. Benjamin/Binyamin Netanyahu is often Bibi. The late Ariel Sharon was Arik. The politican Tziporah Livni is always Tzipi. The Miriams are Miri, and the Dovids are Dudu.

May 26, 2017 10:48 AM

The h is pronounced like the ch in Bach, the ai as in train. Dialectal variation could have it like the ei in Heidi (haid in Hrodohaidis is the same as the root of Heidi/Adalheid;this root is realized as hood in English).

May 17, 2017 02:45 PM
In Response to Twins!

FWIW Hero is a feminine name. It's rare that people give a feminine name to a boy.

May 17, 2017 02:40 PM

John and Jean are part of the same name family, the original form being Yochanan which derives from a root meaning grace. There are a ton of names in this family: Hannah/Ann/numerous Ann variants, Jane, Joan, Joanne, Siobhan, Sian, Janis/Janice, Ivanka (?!), or just Grace.

A colleague of mine named his daughter Casey, and Robin is of course gender-neutral. For Robin in addition to other bird species names like Lark, Wren, Merle, there are more general bird names like Avis and Zipporah. For Reginald, perhaps less obvious than Regina is Reine or linguistically further afield Malka.

May 9, 2017 07:12 PM


May 9, 2017 05:56 PM
In Response to Wallace or Woodrow

Actually Wallace is derived ultimately from a root meaning foreign. See, for example, the queen in Beowulf Wealhtheow, foreign slave/servant. Also walnut, foreign nut (in Latin nux gallica, Gaulish nut). Besides Welsh/Wales, see also Walloon. To the Anglo-Saxons, the Welsh were, of course, foreigners. The Welsh language name for Wales is  Cymru.

May 7, 2017 11:37 AM
In Response to FIrst Name For Lórien

Um, the surname is Wilder, so maybe not Wilder Wilder, although I went to school with a Russ3ll Russ3ll.

Maybe Elanor, although that may be overmuch LOTR.

May 7, 2017 08:07 AM
In Response to Baby boy Rhodes

Algorithms determine the order of Google results. What comes up where differs from user to user.

May 6, 2017 02:40 PM

Well, a Levi could end up being called Lee, Levi/Lee a very denim-oriented name. The Theodores I knew growing up were all Ted/Teddy, but today I suppose it's all Theo. As it happens all the Theos I know are European, so it's pronounced Tay-o.


May 6, 2017 02:12 PM

Just a thought: Ivanka Trump's newborn is Theodore James Kushner, but I don't imagine people will be rushing to emulate her, causing a spike.

May 6, 2017 08:19 AM

I have mentioned this before, and some people don't think it matters, but I think it's something that ought to be considered before choosing to name a child Samwise. Yes, Samwise Gamgee is a positive character, but his name is one of Tolkien's numerous philological jokes. Samwise is simply an Old English word meaning 'half-wit.' Now I know this because I have taught courses on Tolkien and written about LOTR, but there are numerous books, some excellent and some pretty bad, explicating all of Tolkien's allusions and jests, so the fact that samwise is a word for half-wit is not a secret. Personally pigs would fly before I named a child half-wit, but I know that others feel that their love for the character trumps the meaning of the name. This in my mind differs from people not using, say, Cecilia, because it is derived from the root for blind, because really blindness has nothing to do with anything. Cecilia is a fine name, not an ill omen. However, Samwise is used for the character specifically because it does label him as dim. The surprise, joke, irony is that Sam turns out to belie his name. He is far from the dull peasant that his name says he is. So none of this may matter, but IMO it is something to know and be OK with beforehand. BTW Frodo is from the Old English word for old and wise.

May 4, 2017 06:46 PM

If you like Ruby, but want something more unusual, but stll nature-y, perhaps other gemstone names like Emerald or Garnet, or a non- flower botanical, say, Magnolia, Ginger, Fern. Or watery names like Bay, Oceane, Undine, Delta, Spring.

May 4, 2017 06:09 PM

Well, there is Meriwether Lewis, probably most people's first or only association with the name.


May 4, 2017 06:08 PM

Well, there is Humfrey/Humphrey of Lancaster, Duke of Gloucester, who fought in the battle of Agincourt (15th century). He was a great patron of the arts and scholarship and is memorialized by Duke Humphrey's Library, part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Duke Humphrey was named for a grandfather. So it was in use after the 13th century. As a bit of curiosity, Duke Humphrey had an illegitimate daughter Antigone.

May 4, 2017 08:12 AM

Have you checked out the current blog post on this site? It's a list of possible boys' nature names, and since Oak is on the list, perhaps some of the other names mentioned might give you some ideas. The post itself is one of Ms. Cardoza's less bad ones.

May 4, 2017 08:03 AM

Apropos of very little, besides being a botanical term, Moss is a medieval variant of Moses and is still occasionally used as such (e.g., Moss Hart).

May 3, 2017 02:59 PM

There are many legal forms which call for initials. Also some employers/institutions use initials to generate email addresses. But usually people use three initials if they have middle names. If the three initials spell something unfortunate, then the option to use just two initials generally exists.


May 3, 2017 07:45 AM

That only works if Leif is mispronounced. Leif is pronounced Layf, not Leef.

April 28, 2017 12:21 PM

Actual southern ladies of my acquaintance: Eva Kay and Martha Jane.

Also typically southern, Something Mae/May: Anna Mae, Ella Mae, Jessa Mae, Rod Stewart's famous Maggie Mae, and so on. The common pattern seems to be a two-syllable first part and a one-syllable second part: Peggy Sue, Billie Jean. Also typical, the use of nicknames as the full name: Sally, Sadie, Nancy, Molly, Polly, and so forth. The nicknames are often masculine--in addition to Billie, Bobbie, Jimmie, Sammie, Jo, and the like.

April 27, 2017 11:13 AM

Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, maybe not Uriel, the archangels of course