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 24, 2015 09:52 PM
In Response to Ezekiel or Emmett?

My father was Eliyahu, and his English name was Edward, so I gave both his Hebrew and his English names to my son, my father having passed away many years before my son was born.  Now my little grandson is Elliott which is the diminutive for Elie, the French form of Eliyahu/Elijah, so he is also named for my father.

It occurred to me that if you mash up Emmett and Ezekiel, you get Emmanuel.  In that case the traditional nickname would be Manny, and obviously not Zeke.

Given that the uncle's name was Avrum Moshe, have you thought about Abram with the increasingly fashionable nickname Bram?  Or Avi?  I have run across a few non-Jewish little ones named Avi. Or you could use Moshe with the English name being Moss, a medieval form of Moses.

If you like Eyal (I personally do), then perhaps Ayal which does start with an aleph and means 'deer' (the feminine form is Ayelet).  Another aleph name is Avshalom (Absalom).  THe Scandinavian form of Absalom is Axel, which is also getting some naming interest here in the US.

May 23, 2015 10:19 PM
In Response to Ezekiel or Emmett?

First of all, Emmett is not a Hebrew name.  It is an English surname derived from the Germanic female name Emma.  The fact that it sounds like the Hebrew word for 'truth' (emes/emet) is a coincidence, although nothing should stop you from enjoying the coincidence.  Lena only has Hebrew roots in the case where it is a diminutive for Magdalena.  It is also a diminutive for Helena which has Greek roots.

Now as far as Jewish naming customs (and I will assume you are Asklenazic--if you are Sephardic the customs are different), it is an AMERICAN-Jewish custom to give the child an English name that starts with the same initial as the English name of the deceased family member, but that is by no means the traditional custom.  In choosing the name for a boy, the important thing is to pass down the Hebrew name (shem kodesh) of the deceased relative.  There are only about 150 acceptable names (almost all are Hebrew, a few are Aramaic like Shraga, and Alexander and Kalonymus are Greek, Kalonymus being a Greek translation of the Hebrew Shem-Tov 'good name').  In selecting the vernacular name (shem kinnui) then, you start with the shem kodesh which should be identical to the name of the deceased relative.  Then you can choose ANY name for the shem kinnui, but most people like to choose a shem kinnui which has some relationship to the shem kodesh.  Many like the idea of having the same first initial as you are considering.  But there are other possibilities.  You can simply use the English form of the Hebrew name: David for Dovid, Solomon for Shlomo, Jacob for Yaakov, Isaac for Yitzchok, and a little further afield Moss for Moses, Bennett (a medieval form of Benedict) for Baruch, Ellis/Elliott for Eliyahu, and so on.  Another possibility is to chooose an English name that has the same meaning as the shem kodesh.  So for Tzvi, Hirsch or Hart (all mean stag); for Shlomo/Shalom, Frederick or Siegfried carrying the peace meaning; for Dov, Orson, Bruno, Bernard, any 'bear' name, and so on. Yet another possibility is to choose a name related to the heraldic symbol of the shem kodesh.  For example the heraldic symbol for Judah (Yehudah) is the lion, so a Yehudah can have any 'lion' name (Leo, Leon, Leonard, etc.)  Benjamin is the wolf, so any 'wolf' name (Randolph, Rudolph, possibily Boris, and just plain Wolf which was my grandfather's name).

So if you like you can give me the Hebrew name (shem kodesh) of your husband's uncle, and we can develop possibilities from there, remembering that as long as you pass down the shem kodesh you can give the baby ANY English name you happen to like.  Now as to the cross gender middle name, since the baby will have a shem kodesh derived from his great-uncle, any middle name that reminds you, whether by shared initial or anything else, of your grandmother would be fine.

Girls do not have a shem kodesh and can be named anything whatsoever.  Often American-Jewish girls are given the name of one of their female forebears as it was used in the old country.  That name could be Hebrew, Yiddish or derived from any other language (Yenta, for example, is a Yiddish form of a French name and Shprintze is a Yiddish version of the Spanish name Esperanza).  And then they are also often given an English name which in some way relates to the "old country" name.  So my sister's name is Sheine Liebe, and her English name is Suzanne, but my parents also considered Bonnie Cheryl for the similarity in meaning.  I have a cousin named Nissel (little nut) after our great-grandmother.  Her English name is Norma, but it could just as easily been Hazel.  My mother's name was Sussel (sweetie); her English name was Sylvia, but it could have been Candy (just as well it wasn't).


Simone's mention of Viven reminds me of the Arthurian Lady of the Lake, Queen of Avalon, who in various accounts was Lancelot's foster mother, the keeper of Excalibur, and the power who imprisoned Merlin with her spells (which were stronger than his--haha!).  Her name is given/spelled differently in different texts as Nimue, Viviane, Vivien, Elaine, Ninianne, Nivian, Nyneve, or Evienne.  One of those might appeal.


Actually the biblical Delilah was a prostitute.  There are two types of prostitutes referred to in the Hebrew scriptures: the temple prostitutes who were involved in pagan worship rituals and the ordinary prostitutes.  The word for the common prostitute is zoneh (still the word for prostitute in Modern Hebrew), and Delilah is called a zoneh in the text.  The biblical story tells us that Samson was a regular customer of Delilah's who erroneously came to believe that there was some sort of romantic (as opposed to merely commercial) connection between him and Delilah.

The Hebrew word                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

לַיְלָה (lamed yod lamed hay, transliterated lilah) means 'night', not delicate.  Not that it much matters...
As for strong women of history, legend, myth, since you have a Penelope, how about Zenobia?  She has popped up in the news in the last week or so since ISIS attacked the city of Palmyra with its amazing antiquities.  Zenobia was the queen of the Palmyran empire.  Palmyra (pal-mee-ra) would also make a good name come to think of it.  Other strong biblical women who "didn't take any crap from men" include Judith, Jael/Yael, Deborah, Tamar.  Other historical "strong" women: Boudicca, Joan/Jeanne (d'Arc), Matilda (the Empress Matilda, Matilda of Tuscany), Caterina/Catherine (Caterina Sforza, Catherine the Great), Elizabeth (Tudor).  Legendary/literary/mythological: Iseult/Isolde, Morgan/Morgana, Helen (of Troy), Cressida, Athene, Juno, Diana, Hera, Freya, Artemis.
I see you are considering Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, who is said to have saved Paris from Attila the Hun.  There are many other heroic female saints/martyrs if you are interested in going in that direction.  My personal favorite of the names you mentioned is Eleanor, Besides being my mother's name, it is the name of two of my heroes: Eleanor of Aquitaine and Eleanor Roosevelt.

May 22, 2015 04:13 PM

Here in Arizona, javelinas run willd and show up in people's yards (as do coyotes).  I live in the densely populated Phoenix metro area, so no javelinas have appeared in my yard, but I am terrified of the very idea that one could.  Coyotes, however, do show up in my neighborhood, and that freaks me out a little.

May 22, 2015 10:45 AM

I have heard a variant pronunciation of Lois as Loyce, rhyming with Rolls-Royce.  Maybe that has something to do with the described pronunciation of Eloise.

May 19, 2015 04:37 PM

I once had a phone interview for an administrative job at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.  After several minutes the interviewer said, "You are African-American, aren't you?"  Well, as soon as I said no, the guy hung up.  I can't imagine what in my materials gave him the impression I was AA. My surname is as bland as it can get, could be anybody, and there was nothing else that would indicate anything by way of ethnicity, religion, etc.  This was a good 40 years ago, so does not reflect any current practice at Cal Poly-SLO.

Hiring committees can be pretty capricious, and not just about names.  About the same time as the previously mentioned phone interview, I had another with Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls.  Again after a while I was asked, "Do you play pin ball?" No. Hung up.  That was for a job teaching tech writing.  In my own department, I served many years as hiring chair,promotion and tenure committee chair, and graduate chair, and I had to keep policing my colleagues for their discriminatory attitudes, divided between the bigots (refused to hire someone with a distinctively Jewish name--like Avraham or Moshe) and the nutters (wouldn't entertain the job application of someone who liked to play bluegrass music in spare time).  I even had colleagues who commented in writing in candidates' files about physical appearance and disability.

The point is that no matter how carefully chosen, no name is going to protect your child from someone who decides to take against him/her for no good reason.  This was illustrated in one of the recent concluding episodes of Mad Men.  Pete Campbell is upset because the private school attended and supported by generations of his family has refused to accept his daughter's application.  He goes to see the head master, a Mr. MacDonald, and MacDonald tells him that he will never allow a Campbell on the premises, this despite the fact that it's been hundreds of years since the Great Massacre of the MacDonalds by the Campbells in 1692.

May 19, 2015 08:41 AM

How do you pronounce your daughter's name?  Yo-hah-nah? or Joe plus Hannah? Or something else?

May 17, 2015 12:02 AM

If you think the "ghost" may be a problem, you could use the alternate spelling Kasper which seems less spectral and strikes me as no more "foreign" than Laszlo.

May 16, 2015 11:59 PM
In Response to Audai

There was a World War II American military hero named Audie Murphy, so that's a possibility.

May 16, 2015 03:35 PM
In Response to Third Boy's name

Some other saints: Chad, Bede, Bennet (medieval form of Benedict), Edmund, Anthony, Oliver, Giles, Albert, Clement, Ambrose, William, Titus, Conrad, Hugh, Anselm, Gerard, Eustace, Terence.  Well, there are a whole lot of saints.....

May 15, 2015 10:04 AM

Also Sag3 0live (it's not easy being green...)

May 14, 2015 06:31 PM

For a girl, my first thought was Clara/Klara.  Well, actually my very first thought was Anna, but Disney has done away with that.  Other possibilities: Tilde/a, Agnes, Signe, Asta, Ida, Marta, Min(n)a, Greta, Hilde/a, Fri(e)da, Saskia, Tuva/Tove, Amalia, Hedda/Hedy. Johanna, Jana, Annika/e.

For boys: Bram, Lars, Jan, Anton, Emil, Stefan, Niklas, Magnus, Karl, Kasper, Oscar, Axel, Kai, Nils, Markus, Erik, Dirk, Henk.  Although you only speciified short and not overly popular, I took my boy suggestions from the same countries/regions you mentioned for girls.


May 14, 2015 12:24 PM

My name was ranked 247 when I was born; in recent years it has been steady around 300 give or take a few years.  Going back in time #247 would be Josie, Nichole, Maritza, Misti, Isabel, Roseann, Eula, Rosalee, Juana, Monica, Mina, Ludie, and in the 1890s Mertie.  What struck me: in the 1950s when I was a little kid, I knew a few other Miriams, but Eula, never encountered a single one.  I did go to school with a Erla (who wisely went by her middle name Jean), but Eula, no.  Juana reminds me that in mid-twentieth century Hispanic names like Juana, Juanita, Anita, and Inez were mainstream.  Despite the great increase in the Hispanic-American population since then, those names seemed to have disappeared, both as mainstream choices and within the Hispanic community.

May 14, 2015 12:05 PM
In Response to Which middle name?

Just a note: Adélie is a species of penguin  It is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable as the acute accent would indicate, and not as desired by the OP.  Nonetheless, there may be some confusion as to pronunciation, and however adorable Adélie penguins are, there still maybe some teasing down the line.  Just something to be aware of.... 

May 14, 2015 09:11 AM

The Hebrew form is generally transliterated as Dafna, so that's another possibility.  Daphne is Greek. The French form is Daphne with an acute accent over the e.

May 10, 2015 05:00 PM

Here's what one brand of senna-based laxative has to say for itself:

About Senna

Senokot Tablets are produced from the natural vegetable laxative ingredient, Senna. Grown for use during Ancient Egyptian times, learn more about Senna here. 

After being ground to a fine powder, the senna undergoes a scientific "standardization process" to ensure consistent potency with every recommended dose.

References to the use of senna as a natural vegetable laxative go back 3,500 years to the days of the pharaohs. It is even mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, which documents medicines used to treat Egyptian royalty.

Our Senokot family of laxatives contains only purified and standardized senna.

Proven Relief

Senokot laxatives have been studied — and proven to relieve constipation — in over 8,000 patients in over 50 clinical trials.

These studies encompassed a wide variety of subjects, including:

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Post-surgical patients
  • Patients over 60
  • Postpartum patients*
  • Pediatric patients***
  • Patients suffering from chronic and drug-induced constipation

I personally cannot vouch for the efficacy of senna in this regard, having no personal need for such a product, but it's been in use for thousands of years, so I assume it works.

Personally I wouldn't care to name a child after a laxative, but others may take a different view.

May 9, 2015 03:11 PM

I know Senna can be a surname, but I don't know if anyone has used it as a given name.  Naming a child Senna is like naming a child Castor Oil.  It's something I would want to know before choosing that name.  Sienna is of course a different story.

May 9, 2015 01:55 PM

Senna is a type pf plant which has been used from antiquity to the present as a laxative.

May 8, 2015 11:29 PM

I only said that Jaeger defeats the purpose if the purpose is pronunciation.  I never said it wouldn't "count" if the point were something other than pronunciation.  Alliteration strictly speaking means repetition of sound, not spelling; for example, traditionally all vowels alliterate.

However, the first line of Beowulf (a poem in which alliteration is the organzing principle so to speak) is Hwaet! we gar-dena   in geardagum (translation: Lo! we spear-danes in days of yore) in which the poet has gar- and gear- in the alliterating parts of the line.  Gar (spear) has survived in Edgar and gar-fish. The g in gear- is pronounced like the y in yore.