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
January 14, 2017 08:58 AM

When it comes to clothes, toys and names, gender is the right word. When it comes to reveal parties the other word is correct, because in the vast majority of cases that is what is visible at birth or before. Gender is manifest later.

January 13, 2017 09:22 PM

Gender and That Other Word are not synonyms. In most contexts here gender is what is meant, since naming is a cultural artifact, as gender is also a cultural construct.

January 12, 2017 01:29 PM

As it happens my grandson has eight bio-siblings, and the names of two of his siblings are on this list.  So no surprise here....

January 12, 2017 01:26 PM

Molly has a long history of slang usage going back at least to the 18th century.  It was used for an underclass woman/prostitute (Moll Flanders, more recently gun moll) and for a gay man (mollie, Miss Mollie, molly-house, cf. the recent use of Nellie).  This historical use of Miss Molly may have been behind Little Richard's alteration of the lyrics of his hit Good Golly Miss Molly; his version is more suggestive than the original form.  So the name Molly has had "off" connotations since the 1700s, which hasn't prevented parents from using it.  I personally don't much care for using nicknames on birth certificates, so I would use Mary as the formal name and Molly (or Polly) as the call name.

January 12, 2017 01:06 PM

While the origin of Eleanor is vexed, it should not be lumped into the "light" names like Helen/Helena/Ellen/Elena/Helaine/Elaine.  Leona/Leonie/Leontine are lion names.  Leonora/Lenore/Eleanora are variants of Eleanor/Elinor. However, similar these names sound, they have disparate origins and histories.

January 10, 2017 05:31 PM
In Response to Brainstorming baby #2

Rosalind is a horse name, not a floral, but that is a very old bit of confusion.

January 10, 2017 05:28 PM

Maeve rhymes with wave.

January 10, 2017 11:36 AM

While a Henriette/a can be nicknamed Hattie, the traditional nickname is Hetty/ie.

January 9, 2017 11:49 AM

Hattie is the traditional nickname for Harriet.

January 9, 2017 12:54 AM
In Response to Miles or Remy?

Remy is a French form of the Latin Remigius, definitely a masculine name. I was at university with a Remigius who went by Rege, rhymed with liege and siege.

Romy is a French diminutive for Rosemarie/Rosemary. It shows up in a number of European countries.

January 6, 2017 01:35 PM

If you use a nickname like CC or Ceelie, you would limit possible confusion while the sisters are children.  Of course, people commonly call their children by each other's names even if the names are very different.  I sometimes call my son by my grandson's name and vice versa, and I am sure I am not alone in this.  Once the girls are grown and on their own, it won't matter if their names share a sound or not.

January 6, 2017 11:59 AM

Cecille=a lifetime of saying "with two ll's"  But Vivienne, albeit a standard French spelling with French pronunciation, and Lilla present the same issue of unexpected spelling.  OTOH these days no one can spell anything, or so it seems.

Bottom line: Cecile/Cecille, no matter how spelled, is a lovely name which meets your stated criteria.

January 6, 2017 11:13 AM

I have heard Fleur in Louisiana.

January 5, 2017 08:37 PM

Somebody's parents didn't take Latin.

January 5, 2017 06:54 PM

Having spent 25 years in la belle Louisiane, I have encountered names both southern and French: Suzanne, Jeanne (zhahnn), Mignon, Clothilde, Mathilde, Eugenie, Angelle, Diane (dee-ahn).

More: Ghislaine, Odette, Simone, Madeleine, Berthe, Marthe, Aimee (ay-may), Henriette, Cecile, Ninette/Nanette/Annette, Aurelie, Josette, Sidonie, Solange, Sylvie, Marguerite, Lisette, Mariette, Desiree.

Lots of double letters!

I have personally encountered almost all of these names while I was living in NewOrleans.  BTW most of the Camilles in LA I encountered were male.

January 5, 2017 09:11 AM

The King James Bible is written in Early Modern English, not Present-Day English, so differences should be expected.

I recently read an article about a rough draft of part of the King James that has just been unearthed from an archive. The commenters were all bent out of shape because the Bible is the literal word of G-d, so how could there be a rough draft. Oy!   

I can't say about antiquity, but in the Middle Ages, there were female guild members.

January 4, 2017 02:05 PM

If I were the scriptwriter and wanted a science fiction-y name pronounced CASS-ee-an, I would spell it Kassian (or even Kasse(e)an.  The K looks science fiction-y on its own and puts some space between the character name and the saint.

January 4, 2017 12:21 PM

Who even knows whether the scriptwriters were even aware of the history of tha name and of St. John Cassian.  They may, for all I know, have thought they were making up a typical sci fi name. If I were to encounter the name Cassian, I would think that the family was devoutly Catholic and referenced the saint, rather like if I met someone named Francis Xavier.

As for pronunciation, Cassian bears the same relationship to Cassius as Octavian does to Octavius.  Following the recent passing of Mohammed Ali, all of the video obituaries pronounced his original name as Cash-us. Likewise Cassian is Cash-in.  If parents today want to name their son after the Star Wars character, they would no doubt use the film pronunciation and may even be unaware of the name's long history and standard pronunciation.  However, the fact that they are either unaware of this history or choose to ignore it doesn't mean that that history and pronunciation are erased.  There is a tv newsperson in the Phoenix area whose name is Sean, which he pronounces SEE-an, despite the fact that the traditional pronunciation is Shawn.

January 4, 2017 09:45 AM

I am absolutely no expert on the Greek scriptures, but I think it refers to a seller of (expensive) purple dye. Someone else will perhaps know better.

January 3, 2017 07:51 PM
In Response to Brainstorming baby #2

Google cot-caught merger. I don't dare give a link lest I fall afoul of the drafted spam filter.