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
November 20, 2014 10:13 PM

Penelope, Andromache, Eurydice--a lot of Greek names fit that pattern.

November 20, 2014 04:49 PM

Seems to me that Verne would work as well as Jules as a steampunk name.

November 20, 2014 11:54 AM

But this is a name site, and ISIS is, among many other things, a name story in a couple of ways.  First, there is the question of the acronym/name itself; that is, why the media have almost universally chosen to use ISIS rather than IS or ISIL (which President Obama uses) or Islamic State or something else.  And second, there is the impact of the use of ISIS as the name of an appalling terroorist group on the girls and women who have been happily living their lives as namesakes of an Egyptian goddess and who suddenly find themselves associated with caliphates, beheadings, crucifixions, rape as a tactic of war, sex slavery, genocidal attacks on Yazidis and others, among many other horrific acts.  IMO ISIS is the name STORY of the year and arguably the name of the year.  I don't think that it is either disrespectful or in poor taste to acknowledge the fact that political events have turned the previously benign if a bit eccentric name Isis upside-down and not at all for the good.

The "name of the year" as defined here is not an award, like the Nobel Prize of names.  It is a recognition of the significant impact of that name on society in the past year.

November 20, 2014 11:36 AM

Names only get to be popular when lots of people think they are great :-).

Without looking up the statistics I think Ethan (and Seth and Joshua) were beneficiaries of people who were a bit tired of Michael and David and John and Mark and Matthew and James and wanted biblical names that sounded "fresh." When I was a girl in the fifties there were no Ethans, Seths, Joshuas, Benjamins or Jonathans.  More recently a whole new set of "fresh" biblical names have become popular: Jacob, Isaiah, Isaac, Eli, Elijah, Simon with Josiah, Abel, and even Solomon on the horizon.

You might be interested in the transliterated form of the original Hebrew for Ethan which is Eitan/Eytan (Ei- pronounced like the vowel in 'ate').

November 19, 2014 06:50 PM
In Response to Sister for Eleanor!

When I was growing up, there were sisters named Edith and Beatrice.  They were known universally as Edie and Beadie....

November 19, 2014 08:07 AM
In Response to #4 Please Advise

Other male biblical names that would fit: Asher, Ephraim, Benjamin, Jonathan and Saul (but not with David), the maybe too popular Noah and Jacob.  I like Asher David with the other brothers.

I don't see a problem with Alice and Alex.  A name is for a lifetime, and she is not likely to live her whole life in proximity to Cousin Alex.  During childhood Alice can easily be differentiated from Alex if necessary with a nickname, such as, for example, Lis/Lissie.

I can vouch for Miriam.  In childhood there are several cute nicknames.  I was and still am Mimi, but Miri is more modern.  And Miriam is a very elegant name for an adult professional woman.  No problem seeing a Miriam on the Supreme Court.  I don't have a middle name, so I can't offer up mine as a suggestion.  I can see Miriam Rachel, Miriam Sarah, Miriam Eleanor, Miriam Suzanne (Suzanne is my sister's name, so my parents clearly thought they went together), Miriam Louise, Miriam Roberta....


November 19, 2014 07:50 AM
In Response to Sister for Eleanor!

My mother's name was Sylvia Eleanor, so to my mind those two names go together perfectly!

A few other observations:

Saying Adeline is Madeline without the M only adds to the confusion.  In English Madeline is commonly pronounced Madelyn, the pronunciation you don't want.  In French Madeline is Mad-uh-LEEN.  Madeline rhyming with 'fine' is pretty much just deriving from the book character and is not the traditional English pronunciation.  Perhaps Adelaide would work?

When I saw Coralea, I did not at first think "rhymes with Aurelia."  Instead I thought "creative spelling" of Coralie.  My second thought was Cora-Leah.  I didn't think "rhymes with Aurelia" until you said so.

I too am unfamiliar with Adelcia.  If it has a history of use somewhere it would appear to be one of the many names derived from Adalheidis http://www.behindthename.com/name/adalheidis.  Perhaps one of these variants would strike your fancy.  I myself can see Alys as a sister to Eleanor.

November 18, 2014 05:22 PM

Raymond is a big deal name in my life: my first boyfriend, my ex-husband, his father, and my son's middle name.  I don't have the fondest feelings for my ex-husband, but his name doesn't make me cringe.  It's a perfectly usable name.  However, my son never uses his middle name.  His first name is Edward, also my father's name, and that's the name that is dear to me.

November 18, 2014 04:54 PM

Please check the dates on threads.  By now the child in question is walking and talking and for better or worse has a name.

November 17, 2014 11:02 PM

The three real-life little Dutch princesses are Amalia, Alexia (daddy is Willem-Alexander), and Ariane.

November 17, 2014 02:00 PM

In Old English 'brand' also means 'sword' for those who want a boy name "with a hint of mischief."

November 17, 2014 08:57 AM
In Response to Insensitive naming

When my son was in middle school, we car-pooled with a little girl named Pooja, and there were no problems with vulgar nicknames.  We were living in the deep South of the US.  Disgusting behavior is not inevitable.  Children can be taught to behave properly.

November 17, 2014 08:50 AM

A nickname for Phelan could simply be Wolf, well, maybe Wolfie at first.  I am partial to the name Wolf--it was my grandfather's (given) name.  Wolves are, after all, very cool and definitely non-wimpy.

November 14, 2014 01:25 PM
In Response to Esme, Elise, or Celia?

To my ears, Celia is generally pronounced Seal-ya.  I don't think I have ever heard it with the accent on LEE.  My two grandmothers used the names Celia and Cecilia, and there was little difference in pronunciation.

November 13, 2014 09:09 PM

I think in this case "exotic" simply means "less frequently used."  I would put Gideon in the less frequently used biblical category, along with, say, Josiah or Jethro.  Everyone knows the name Gideon; it just hasn't been in fashion for a while.  To me, exotic would be more like something from another culture that most people here would never have heard of.

November 11, 2014 07:12 AM

My guess is that Simeon will not overcome its closeness in sound to simian.

My suggestion for a Victorian revival is Garnet.  It saw use in the 19th century, but never runaway popularity,  It's genuinely unisex, its use for males deriving from an old occupational surname, and for females it was part of the Victorian gem and flower name craze.  Currently we are seeing a boom in names derviced from occupational surnames, as well as a revival of interest in the gem and flower names (Ruby, Pearl, Lily, Violet, Rose, etc.), so Garnet would fit right in.

November 9, 2014 09:54 PM

Let me date myself: my first association was Montgomery Clift.

November 9, 2014 08:30 PM

Wynn is also a masculaine name.

November 9, 2014 08:54 AM
In Response to Juniper? Or similar?

Somehow I don't think Lavender Dir- would solve the problem :-).

November 8, 2014 06:20 PM

There is no requirement that those names be nicknamed Evie.  Genevieve can be Vee or Vivi or VeeVee.  Evelyn can be Lyn or Lynee.  Evangeline can be Vangie, Vanna, Lina/Lena, or even Evan.  Or your daughter can end up with a nickname somehow related to her personality, and not to her name.  My cousin Sandra just passed away (she was in her 80s); she was known as Honey all her life, and her obituary even read Honey.  If your niece is EE-vee, your daughter can be EHV-ee or vice versa.  I come from a culture where it is normal for cousins to have the same name because they are named for the same grandparent, and the sky does not fall and no one in the family is confused.