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
July 5, 2015 03:49 PM

A childhood playmate of mine was named Linda by her big(ger) brother.  Her parents put Linda in the middle slot, but that was her call name and still is, 70 years later.  Her first name is Hann@h, which I presume was after a deceased family member.

July 5, 2015 03:43 PM

The only Brazilian I know is named Angela, which would certainly cross over.  Here is a list of notable Brazilians--something might strike you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Brazilians

July 5, 2015 03:17 PM

While Lisette is most commonly thought of as a diminutive for Elizabeth, it is also coincidentally derived from the word for the yellow iris (sometimes the golden lily).  Cf. with fleur de lys.  So Lisette and Laurel would have a subtle botanical connection for whatever that's worth.

July 5, 2015 02:59 PM

Caroline, like all of the Carl/Charles/Charlotte/Carol/Karel names, derives from a Germanic word (Karl) which means 'man' in the sense of human male, not 'man' in the sense of human being/someone. Cf. with housecarl/huscarl/huskarl which means bodyguard. Another word from this family is churl (ceorl) which originally meant "male human" and then free man of the lowest rank, free peasant, in contrast to eorl/thegn (male aristocrat) or thrall (slave).  Over the centuries churl has undergone pejoration and now means something like a lout.  (Other words for agricultural laborer which have similarly undergone such pejoration include boor, villain, heathen, and pagan.) Unlike Charlotte, Caroline is not a diminutive, and it sure as heck has nothing to do with "womanly."  I have a feeling that it might amuse you to think of your fiery, opinionated, non-southern-belle sister bearing a name that, having wandered through Latin and French, traces back to a root which was also applied to the elite bodyguard of a Viking chieftain.

July 5, 2015 11:24 AM

There is no way you can guarantee that your child will like his name at any stage of life.  I didn't like my name when I was a child (I thought my sister had a nicer name and was jealous).  Now (at age 70) I think my name is excellent.  BTW being an academic does not make a male automatically less manly, far from it.  The finest specimen of manhood I ever met is an academic--his name is Jack, which is, I guess, as manly as any.  If mom and dad like Oliver, don't give newborn's preferences a thought, since you can't predict what they will be and since they are likely to change over time any way.  If it turns out that the name you choose at birth somehow doesn't fit the personality that develops, a more fitting nickname will likely present itself.  Example: Marion Morrison>John Wayne>Duke.

BTW Oliver Cromwell, whatever he was, he was so not a wimp.

July 5, 2015 08:32 AM

The -dora part of Isadora means gift, as in Theodore 'Gift of God'.  Isidore/Isidora/Isadora=Gift of Isis.  The origin of Eleanor is a vexed issue, but it is generally considered not to be part of the Helen/Ellen group of names which seem to derive from a word for torch, fire light.  Sophronia does derive from a word meaning prudent, sensible.

July 4, 2015 04:25 PM
In Response to Really!

I went to school with a Russ3ll Russ3ll.  Maybe the first Russ3ell was a name from the mother's side of the family :-).

July 4, 2015 04:20 PM
In Response to Baby Season?? Part 3

I would think that the Christmas connection of Pax is "Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

July 3, 2015 07:49 PM
In Response to Baby Season?? Part 2

FWIW Zoe is Greek, not French, although it is used in French with an acute accent over the e.

July 3, 2015 07:44 PM
In Response to Baby Season?? Part 3

Just a note: Jedidiah is the biblical name.  Jebediah is a made up name, mostly associated with a character on The Simpsons and a rock band.  Personally not a name I would choose.  The nickname Jeb, as in Jeb Stuart (James Ewell Brown) and Jeb Bush (John Ellis Bush), is an acronym.

July 3, 2015 12:43 PM
In Response to Baby Season?? Part 5

Adam means 'red'.  The Israeli version of the Red Cross is called Mogen Dovid Adom (Red Shield/Star of David).  So, a red flower name (Rose, Poppy, and so forth) might be a subtle tribute to an Adam, as would the S-name Scarlet(t).

July 3, 2015 12:28 PM
In Response to Baby Season?? Part 1

I am not sure where OP and her fecund family and friends are located, but if they are all in the US, then Alexander has become quite popular, especially with the nickname Xander, much more so than Gary and Gavin which are but rarely heard on young'uns.

July 2, 2015 09:36 AM
In Response to Please Help!

Lew is an alternate spelling for Lou that you might like.  It is short for the Welsh name Llewellyn, which I wouldn't recommend because it is long and seldom pronounced properly.

July 2, 2015 09:18 AM

My 5.5 year old grandson would love it.  Somehow he has understood for years that gender is a cultural construct (an idea which all too many of my university students never grasped) and is very happy to re-gender things according to his own lights.  He went through his own drag queen phase (yes, they make little black cocktail dresses and 2.5 inch bedazzled heels to fit five year olds) helped along by Project Runway and how to apply makeup YouTube videos, and now he is into robots and skateboards and ever beloved motorcycles (he has been obsessed by motorcycles since he was 18 months old), no longer particularly interested in his Barbies and Monster High dolls (mostly he liked dressing their hair as well as the hair of any humans who would let him exercise his pro-level braiding skills).

July 1, 2015 02:39 PM

Well, I know two Tychos (adult and little kid), my rabbi in childhood was Ephraim, and my college academic advisor was Theophilus (and Theophile is not unheard of in Acadiana).  And there is Aeneas Williams from New Orleans who is in the NFL Hall of Fame (he went to Alcee Fortier High School, another oldie but goodie name).  I don't know a Wolfgang (except for the son of Valerie Bertinelli and Eddie Van Halen), but I did know a Wolfram (even cooler).  I don't know a Vitus, but I did know a Remigius.  I never met a Rudiger, but in its Dutch form Rutger, there is the splendid Rutger Hauer and a cashier at my local market.  Galen isn't on your list, but it would fit right in--there were a couple in my high school class.  And if Jethro is on the list, how about Jerah and Mahlon?  I knew people with those lesser used biblcial names.

I knew a Batsheva, the original form of Bathsheba, an Honora (my high school world history teacher and a nasty piece of work), Guinevere (daughter of someone I went to grad school with), Olympia (Snow and Dukakis), Oona Chaplin, Rosamond (a professor when I was in grad school), and Philomena (the film).  I don't know a Flavia, but I do know of a Faustina.  I don't know a Sophronia, but I did know a Seraphia.  Not an Io, but a Hero and a Sappho, also a Pandora....

Lots of underused oldies but goodies out there, no need to come up with some infelicitous concoction....



July 1, 2015 07:53 AM
In Response to Please Help!

In the case of the Coen brothers film-makers, yes, but much more frequently Coen is a Dutch name cognate with the Con- in Conrad.

June 30, 2015 01:41 PM

Obviously I am not you, but I know from experience that it's no big deal to yell Edward on the playground, certainly no bigger deal than yelling Teddy.

So many nicknames just arise organically.  Baby likes to make a funny noise, and suddenly he's Buzz for the rest of his life.  Or learning to walk, he has a funny hitch in his stride, and he's Skip/Skipper until he's 120.  Or he's a real live wire, and then he's Sparky.  I wouldn't stress over a nickname.  Much of the time they just happen.

June 30, 2015 08:40 AM

I'm a philologist by education and trade, and so I am interested in all words, not just names.  No one is surprised if I pop up with little onomastic (or generally philological) tidbits, although they may be bored.  However, I grew up in a time when intruding into other people's business was very much frowned upon, so I wouldn't offer any advice or make any comments uninvited.  I was invited when it came time to pick my grandson's name which turned out to be a family consensus.  I did say that I wished that he had been given a middle name because I didn't get one and always missed it.  But my daughter-in-law also doesn't have a middle name, and she thought a middle name would be surplus to requirements.

June 30, 2015 08:26 AM

My son is Edward, and I think it's worn very well.  Everyone knows it and knows how to spell and pronounce it, and he didn't meet another one until university.  I insisted that his full name be used throughout his childhood, until he grew up and decided to be Ed--which he uses exclusively these days, publishes his books as Ed, etc.  As it happens just the other day the barista at Starbucks wrote EDD on his cup, and he was so chagrined, he posted the offending cup on his facebook page.

I would say pick a name you like and is meaningful in some way and will serve for a lifetime, and don't get hung up nicknames which may or may not stick.  Nicknames will usually arise organically or not.  My little grandson is Elliott, no nickname, well, except I call him Bunny and buy him lots of bunny themed items.  But that's just between grandma and kiddo.  I would certainly not pick a middle name solely or primarily for the nickname.

However, if your surname is at all common, I would second the idea of going a bit out there for the middle for purposes of disambiguation.  Pick something that is meaningful in some way for your family and your aspirations for your child, not just something that might (or might not) yield a nickname.

A thought--if you really love the nickname Indy, then let the name be just Edward Indy.  If your child turns out to be at all active, people will just think he's a little racer :-).

June 29, 2015 11:00 PM

All the Lexes I know of, real and fictional, have been male.  However, the Latin word lex is a third declension feminine noun (by and large Latin abstract nouns are feminine), so there's that.  OTOH I hear Alex on both males and females.