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
August 26, 2014 01:56 PM

I assume you are asking about hunting-related names.  In that case, I would suggest Diana the Huntress, or the Greek equivalent Artemis.  Here is a list of hunting deities.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hunting_deities Of these Devana, the Slavic version of Diana might work.  Or perhaps the Egyptian goddess of the hunt Neith (rhymes with Keith or alternatively pronounced like night with a th ending).

You could also consider "deer" names like Fawn, Doe, Bambi, Ayala/Ayalet, Ofra/Ophrah--and Daisy (duck). 

August 26, 2014 01:40 PM
In Response to Outlander

It's the name of the lead actress, not of a character, and therefore it's not pronounced on the show.  I daresay the actress knows how to pronounce her name :-).

August 26, 2014 08:55 AM

I think that Penelope Ryan with the call name Penny would be a fine choice.

August 25, 2014 09:47 PM
In Response to A name for a boy

My son is named Edward, and I went to every length to assure that he would be called Edward, not Ed, Eddie, Ned, Ted, or whatever.  And I was successful until he reached high school and decided to call himself Ed to my extreme and evident dismay.  And so he is Ed to his wife, to his friends, on the covers of his books, and so on, but to me and my friends he is and always will be Edward, period.  OTOH my sister was called by her nickname Suzi when she was a child at home, but as soon as she went to university she became Suzanne.  Her family called my mother by her initials, which she hated.  She ditched them when she married and moved to a different town, but her family persisted with the initials until she died.  I was called by my nick name Mimi from the moment I was born, and I still am called Mimi.  I didn't even know my name was Miriam until I went to school, and the teacher broke the news.  Point being, you really can enforce your preferred name until your child comes of age, and then he or she will suit him/herself.  If you like Edward and dislike Ned, you absolutely can enforce Edward successfully while your son is a child at home, but when he becomes of age he will introduce himself as he pleases.  My guess is though that an Edward is more likely to become Ed than Ned,  I think the great majority of Neds were so-called by their parents from birth. 

August 25, 2014 04:46 PM
In Response to A name for a boy

Well, if not legendary per se, there are kings about whom legends are told. for example Frederick (Barbarossa), Richard (Lionheart), Charles/Karl (Charlemagne), Alfred (the Great), Robert (the Bruce), Owen (Glendower, if not a king, a soi-disant prince and national hero of Wales to whom the aura of magic clings).

August 23, 2014 10:58 PM

I am confused.  The possible meanings you cite are postulated for the Miriam/Maria/Mary group of names.  However, Mariana does not belong to that group, although people have misread it as something on the order of Mary + Ann.  Mariana is the feminine form of Marianus which itself is derived from Marius.  These are Roman names, and they are not related to Miriam/Maria/Mary.  I don't see how it is to the OP's advantage that multiple theories exist for the origin of a name which is not the one she is considering.

This sort of misattribution/false etymology is not uncommon.  In fact, the meaning 'bitter' for the Miriam/Mary group is probably an example.  The meaning 'bitter' is dependent on Miriam being a Hebrew name derived from the root 'mar' bitter (the bitter herbs of the Passover seder are called maror, same root).  However, Miriam is probably derived from Pharoanic Egyptian, and not Hebrew, which renders a Hebrew etymology irrelevant.  Moses is definitely an Egyptian name, same root as the pharoanic name Thutmose. 

Other examples of false etymologies of names:

Rosamund which is etymologized as if it were Latin, that is, rosa (the flower rose) + mund (which is etymologized as both 'pure' and 'world'--as in the phrase "sic transit gloria mundi.").  However Rosamund is Germanic.  The first element is hros (horse) and the second element is mund ('protector' and ultimately 'hand'), as in Edmund and Raymond.  So if someone is looking for a flower name, Rosamund isn't it.  However, if someone wants an equestrian name, then Rosamund should be on the list along with Roswitha and Philippa.

Tristan which is Pictish in origin.  The original form was Drustan, the diminutive of Drust with the probable meaning of riot/tumult.  However, the medieval French-speaking elite who read the romance of Tristan and Iseult wrongly assumed the meaning was 'sad' as in French 'triste.'

The point of all this is that the OP expressed a liking for the name Mariana, but was turned off by what she thought was the meaning 'bitter.'  However, since Mariana does not mean 'bitter.' that particular concern has been assuaged.  This is not an issue of 'wiggle room' provided by competing theories.  Mariana just plain doesn't mean 'bitter.'

August 23, 2014 08:01 PM


August 23, 2014 07:58 PM

It's his real given name: Penn Fraser Jillette.

August 23, 2014 10:56 AM

The only person I know with the given name Penn is Penn Jillette.  I had the misfortune of meeting him and spending some time in his company.  He is a genuinely obnoxious individual.  I wouldn't want my child to be associated with him by name.  Before choosing the name Penn, you might want to look him up and see what you think.  OTOH I am originally from Pennsylvania, and I associate Penn as a surname with William Penn, and that's a positive.  Oh, and I have three degrees from Penn :-).

August 23, 2014 09:19 AM

Puts me in mind of a student I once had many years ago.  Her name was MIsty Dawn (surname one-syllable on the order of Clegg or Bragg).  And the reason I remember her and her name is that she was so not misty or dawn-ish.  Just sayin'....

August 23, 2014 09:09 AM

I personally wouldn't put Hank or Ike on a birth certificate.  As someone who has been called by a nickname since birth, I am very glad my parents put the full formal name on the certificate, available for use when I want to (appear to) be a dignified grownup.

August 23, 2014 09:05 AM
In Response to Margaret

I checked Margret out on forvo (http://www.forvo.com/search/Margret/).  That gives Icelandic, German, and Swedish pronunciations, and to my ears there is no substantial difference between Margaret as pronounced in English and Margret. 

August 22, 2014 05:06 PM
In Response to Our First Baby

If you like Brooklyn, how about the original Breukelen?  I have driven past Breukelen many times.  It's on the Vecht River between Utrecht and Amsterdam in a beautiful area lined with the country mansions of the Golden Age elite.  With your surname anything but Reeva.  (See Laura W.'s current blog post 9/20/14.)

August 22, 2014 04:59 PM

Well, if you are looking for a short, less common biblical, (hyper?)-masculine name with a z sound (and possibly u), there is Uzi (also transliterated Uzzi).  It means "my courage, valor, strength, power."  It's also a first-rate submachine gun, named for its designer Uziel Gal.

FWIW the only Julian I knew had the middle name Noah.

August 22, 2014 04:44 PM

Marietta does not mean star of the sea.  It's simply one of many diminutives of Maria/Mary/etc.  Stella Maris means star of the sea.  Maris is sometimes used as a stand-alone name.  However, with sister Stella, it's a bit.....

Aurora Dawn=Dawn Dawn.  Seriously?  Aurelia Dawn perhaps.....

August 20, 2014 03:02 PM

With your criteria, you might find what you are looking for by shaking your family trees.  A family surname would automatically have meaning and will very likely be less common than Julian.  If you find a name with an appealing sound, you'll be in business.

August 20, 2014 02:55 PM

How old was the Kelly character supposed to be?  Over the years I have run across quite a few males named Kelly.  They would generally be young middle-agers by now, a half-generation to a generation or so younger than I am.  So if this character is not young, say of an age to have been born in the sixties-seventies, the name would not be anachronistic or unusual for the time period.  I know too many males Kellys to consider it an exclusively female name.

OTOH the male Lynns I know are all a fair bit older than I am, and I do now consider that name female.  This is also true of Joyce and Evelyn, Joyce Kilmer and Evelyn Waugh notwithstanding.

August 20, 2014 01:25 PM

I think that Martin does a good job with dynastic names.  He uses them, but he doesn't overuse them to the point of confusion.  Examples:  Tywin and Tyrion, but Jaime; the Targaryens: Daenerys, Aemon, Aerion, Aegon, Viserys, Rhaelle--clearly all related; Gregor and Sandor Clegane; the Greyjoys: Quillon, Harlon, Quinton, Balon, Euron, Victarion, Aeron, Maron, Theon.  Other houses, like the Tullys, do not seem to use "dynastic" naming styles at all.  Because the use of similar sounding names from house to house and within houses is not universal, the patterns are noticeable but not overwhelming.

This coincides with the naming patterns of European royal and noble houses, from which Martin presumably took inspiration.  In Anglo-Saxon England the aristocracy used alliterative names.  For example, the names of the royal house of Wessex all alliterated on vowels (all vowels alliterate with each other): Alfred, Edward, Edmund, Athelstan, Edgar, etc.  Later, throughout the High and Late Middle Ages, the naming pattern switched from repeating individual sounds to repeating whole names from one generation to the next:  the counts of Toulouse used Raymond, the de Montforts alternated Simon and Amaury; the House of Poitiers in Aquitaine used the name William, ten of them in succession,;the House of Lancaster used Henry and the Yorkists used Edward, while the House of Tudor, combining both Lancester and York, used both, and so on.


August 19, 2014 10:41 PM

Yes, names that don't fit the time and place do bother me and are a distraction.  One recent example:  In the TV series Murder in the First, one of the leading characters is a police detective in her early thirties living in San Francisco.  The character's name is Hildy Mulligan.  How many thirty-sih women are named Hildy?  The only Hildy (spelled Hilde) I know is a Holocaust survivor bborn in Germany who is now the spokesperson for a retirement village.  And Hildy plus Mulligan--the whole name clangs for me.  BTW Hildy's grade-school age daughter is named Louise which I found interesting.  For a time there, every tv "daughter" was named Julie.  I'll be watching to see if Loiuse starts turning up for kids in other shows.

August 19, 2014 06:02 PM
In Response to Naming #3

I hate to bring this up, but will your husband be able to handle it if his son isn't interested in wrestling or being a tough guy?  What if young Commando loves music and wants to be a concert violinist, or little Gladiator has a brilliant intellect and wants to major in philosophy?  If I were you, I would stamp my foot and insist on a name that would be suitable for any personality type.  If the child turns out to be the tough athletic type your husband is envisioning, then a tough nickname would fit the bill.

Given that your name is Dodge and that you have already considered Wyatt, may I wickedly suggest Barclay for William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson?  You also considered Warren, another of the Earp brothers.  So perhaps you would be interested in the rest of the clan: James, Virgil, and Morgan?  Then there are the Earp brothers' enemies here in Arizona, the Clantons:  William Harrison 'Billy', Joseph Isaac 'Ike' and Phineas Fay 'Phin'.  More seriously, some of the Old West names might suit both you and your husband.

A footnote re 'tough' wrestling names:  I once ran into the name of a star high school wrestler in Oklahoma.  In all the newspaper articles he was called Mimi....