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 29, 2014 12:20 AM

Just curious--are you thinking Clementine rhyming with fine and like the fruit or "Clementeen" as in Winston Churchill's wife?

November 29, 2014 12:11 AM

Just to clarify, Dafna is not made up.

November 29, 2014 12:10 AM

Noa and Noah are two completely different names.  The H in Noah is pronounced -ch (as in Bach) in Hebrew, so considering the interest in an Israeli influence, I wouldn't consider naming a girl Noah.

November 29, 2014 12:04 AM

Texas has a number of ethnic enclaves.  Among them are settlements of Silesians, Sorbs/Wends, Germans, and, yes, even Poles.  Someone with a Polish surname could plausibly come from on the Polish enclaves.

November 28, 2014 11:37 PM

Just to pick a nit: Scarlet (t) does not "mean" red.  Scarlet was a very expensive woolen fabric.  One could have a cloak of brown scarlet or green scarlet or any color scarlet.  However, because scarlet was such an expensive fabric with such a fine finish, it became customary to use only the most expensive dye, making red scarlet a true luxury.  Eventually the scarlet stopped being used to refer to the fabric (which was no longer being made), and it survives only as a color term. 

Compare this with Khaki which started as a color term and was then transferred to a fabric and is presently used (as khakis) to refer to a particular type of garment which is made of khaki fabric and is also khaki-colored.

November 28, 2014 11:15 PM

Actually the Dutch pronunciation of Schuyler isn't Shy-ler. It's (roughly) S-ch- with the ch pronounced rather like the ch in German ich. Not an easy sound for English speakers... The -uy- (more modern spelling -ui-) is a diphthong I personally have trouble pronouncing, but it isn't the -y in shy. 

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.