One last holiday leftover

Jan 2nd 2009


There was Holly and Ivy and Noëlle and Joy,
Merry and Carol, and Nick for a boy,
But do you recall
The least famous Christmas name of all?


During the holidays, I renewed my annual acquaintance with the name that represents the season best to me.  This name calls to mind generations of families around the world, celebrating with those little family-specific traditions that carry the most cherished memories. The name is Tammis.

The funny thing is, Tammis isn't part of any tradition of mine. In fact, I don't know much about the name, though I quite like it -- it's a female name, simple but chic and very uncommon.  The holiday link comes via a lovely household I visit each December.  One of the family-specific traditions in that home is an old Little Golden Book of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, laid beneath the tree each year.  And therein lies our tale.

This Golden Book was first published in 1958.  It was written by Barbara Shook Hazen, and illustrated by the great Richard Scarry.  I was raised on Scarry's Busytown books, which used cartoonish animal illustrations to present original stories from the practical (What Do People Do All Day) to the bizarre (The Talking Bread, Schtoompah the Funny Austrian.).  But before Busytown, Scarry spent years at Golden Books illustrating other writers' works in a more conventional picture-book style.  His drawings for "Rudolph" took the material totally straight, with one exception: names.

In a key scene, Santa holds a long scroll naming all the "good boys and girls" on his delivery list. Little John and Mary and Peter and, yes, Tammis are destined to be happy on Christmas morning. Here's the full lineup:

John
Mary
Leo
Betty
Ralph
Peter
Henry
Ruth
Sally
Huck
Joan
Jane
Tammis
Edward
Michael
Frances
George
Lucy
Carlton
Pierre

(You can see the original image, courtesy of a random flickr user.)

Every year I pore over the names, reading Tammis, Huck and Carlton and wondering about the real meaning of Santa's list.  It's not mentioned in the text of the story so I assume it was Scarry's own contribution, a shout-out to all the "good boys and girls" in his own life.  I like to imagine that Tammis could refer to Tammis Keefe, a great textile designer of the same period whose animal prints could have done a Golden Book proud. (Check out some of Keefe's handkerchiefs with crocodile, circus and exotic animal motifs.)

Whatever the real story behind the names, the list speaks across time.  It's a moment of connection, a glimpse of quirky humanity in an otherwise sanitized setting -- like a family tradition passed down to us from the Scarry household.  And Tammis is a pretty nifty name, too.  Maybe one to add to your own list of "good little girls"?

 

UPDATE: Since I posted this, readers have joined me hot on the trail of the elusive name Tammis.  Theories abound, but evidence seems to be mounting that its roots are in Celtic variants of Thomas, and that it can be used for boys and girls.  Close relatives are Tam (the Scottish version of Tom) and Tamsin (a Cornish contraction of Thomasina which is now widely used across the U.K.).  Thanks, everybody!

Comments

1
January 2, 2009 1:34 PM

Tammis is the only name from the Rudolph List I have never, ever heard before. Could it possibly have been a mis-typing of the female name Tammie? The E and the S keys on a typewriter aren't that far apart. There was also the Debbie Reynolds song "Tammy" from the 1957 film "Tammy and the Bachelor" - which came out the year before your Golden Book was published. How interesting.

2
By Caitlin (not verified)
January 2, 2009 3:00 PM

Excellent post. What a lovely name, do you know it's origin?

3
By Melissamerica (not verified)
January 2, 2009 3:13 PM

I'm not sure if the author had any input in this particular illustration, but Barbara Shook Hazen happens to be the author of a charming book entitled The Very Best Name for Baby. At the very least, I'd suggest this gives credence to the idea that this is a carefully considered list of names.

4
By C & C's Mom - and now B! (not verified)
January 2, 2009 3:20 PM

Happy New Year to everyone!

I agree Tammis just makes me think of the name Tammie/Tammy.

5
January 2, 2009 3:30 PM

Assuming Tammis is not a misprint of the name Tammie/Tammy, the more I think about it, the more I feel Tammis has a Middle Eastern flavor, similar to Tamar.

If I remember "Raiders of the Lost Ark" correctly, there was an ancient city in Egypt called Tannis.

6
January 2, 2009 3:57 PM

It's not often that a name truly stumps me...I'm rather relieved that nobody else seems to know much about Tammis either. :-)

I doubt it's a misprint, since the names are hand-lettered. Tanis/Tanith/Tanit is the name of an ancient Pheonician goddess (the Greek form Tanis is also a city in Egypt). And Tammy, of course, can come from Tamara. But my baseless hunch is that Tammis is closer to Tamsin, which comes from Thomasina -- like the Scottish Tam for Thomas.

7
By Joni
January 2, 2009 4:51 PM

Tammis is SUCH a cool name! I hope someone uses it. :)

As for Tamsin, which I also love, I always just thought it came to be Tamsin via the way that Thompson sounds with an English or Scottish accent: Taaaahm-sen. I have no proof, that's just always the 'reasoning' I came up with. :)

8
By Joni
January 2, 2009 5:23 PM

Other Christmas names?
Chrissy (I knew red haired Christmas twins named Holly and Chrissy :)
Names from the Christmas story...
Joseph
Mary
Gabriel
Zachariah
Elizabeth/Elisabeth
Simeon
Anna
Jesus (though apparently you can only 'get away with' that one if you pronounce it hay-soos...)
Caspar/Gaspar/Jasper (seems more accessible than Melchior or Balthazar, though Mel is cool for sci-fi fans...)
Shep/Shepherd
John

Solstice
Winter
Natalie
Noel (for a boy)
Kris (Kringle)
Cedar (Christmas tree?)
Angel/Angela/Angelina/Angeline/Angelique/Angelica
Yule (Yule Brenner?)
Scarlet
Rudolph/Rudolf
Stephen (Good King Wenceslas went down on the feast of Stephen, when the snow lay all about, clear and cool and even...)
Harold (Hark the herald angels sing... boo! Boo! bad pun! though I did once know a guy whose name was Harken, as in 'listen')
Lucia
Maria
Jahli (sound it out... ;)
Dickens
Bell (esp if your ln is Silver...)
Eira (snow, or the word snow in any language)
Gloria
Josephina
Mario
Star/Stella/Estelle etc
Emmanuel
Serafina/Seraphina or for a boy: Seraph
And of course... December. :)

Anastasia (for a baby born on New Years?)

9
By Amy3
January 2, 2009 7:12 PM

Laura -- It's interesting that you suppose Tammis might be related to Tamsin as that was my first thought upon seeing it. I had a roommate in college who spelled it Tamsen, and I always thought it was a great name. Although Tammis is a little close to Tammy for comfort, it's a pretty cool name, too.

10
By Anne with an E (not verified)
January 2, 2009 7:33 PM

You can count me in as a Tamsen/Tamsin fan, and I would agree that Tammis seems related. But I probably would never use it for the same reason I won't use Tamsen, because I'm very much not a fan of Tammy.

On a slightly related note (old books with name references)--I've been reading Word Play by Peter Farb (c 1973) which has a rather funny paragraph on the choosing of names.

"...the style of giving names to children, which in most American speech communities is quite standardized. A child is usually given the first name of a parent or grandparent, the family name of the mother or some ancestor, or one of a limited number of quite common names like Thomas, Richard, Harold, Jane, Carol, or Elizabeth.

But in certain speech communites in the South and Midwest, were most of the members belong to fundamentalist Protestant sects, the style is to bestow curious, folksy, or amusing first names--not as nicknames but as official birth-certificate names."

He then goes on to give examples of "this curious style of child-naming" such as Honey Combs, Coeta, Phalla, Buzz Buzz, Nicy, Sugie, Dilly, Skeety, Quince, Prince, Earl, Orlando, Tennessee, Savannah, Paris, Oleander, Fawn, Charme, and Rose Bud.

And (this is the part I love) he finishes by saying, "When name-giving is not a part of the sacrament of baptism--and consequently a clergyman with a sense of decorum has no say--individual style may run wild, as it often does in areas of the United States where members belonging to these {Protestant} sects are concentrated."

I feel that Peter Farb would find most names given nowadays decidedly indecorous.

11
January 2, 2009 8:25 PM

Yay! I love baseless hunches!

Joni: I love that list! I just wish I had a Christmas baby now so I could use it! Wikipedia says Yul Brynner's name is spelled like this though.

Anne with an E: That Peter Farb quote is amazing! I feel like it kind of aligns with more unusual names being given in the west today--you know the Sarah Palin style, Utah style and all that.

12
By kidlitfan (not verified)
January 2, 2009 8:45 PM

A Google search on Tammis brought up textile print designer Tammis Keefe http://fashionsfinest.fuzzylizzie.com/tammiskeefe.html , who would have been 45 when the book came out

and various links to the campaign contributions of a Florida lady named Tammis Day.

But I never heard it before today; I wonder if the illustrator knew Tammis Keefe, the timing is about right?

13
By Guest (not verified)
January 2, 2009 8:48 PM

Love love Tammis, but why are we not commenting on that other Christmas-time baby, Tripp? Laura did (excellently as always) here: http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/archive/2009/01/01/tripp-palin-s-name-explained.aspx

Did I totally miss the posts? Or are we done with the Palins, like as a kind of New Year's resolution?

14
By Buttercup (not verified)
January 2, 2009 8:52 PM

New birth announcement: Little boy called
Arlo Tristram. Love, love, love!!! I must give credit to his parents, because honestly, I can't stand them.

Jane: My closest friend has a younger brother called James. Unlike her other siblings who went by the nn's Annie and Matt, James has always been...well, James. Technically speaking, Jamie is not shorter or easier to say then James, which may make avoiding a nn easier. U can always tell that to the hubby if he nixes it solely because of the Jamie issue.

I also like both Tammis & Tamsin, although I dislike the Tammy nn as well (although the song & movie are favorites; they remind me of weekends at my Grandma's house). One could use Missy as an alternative nn I guess. Not sure that is any better.

15
January 2, 2009 9:21 PM

zoerhenne - Regarding the syllable thing: I'm only opposed to 2-2-2. My husband thinks I'm nuts.

We did do some mn narrowing tonight. Husband nixed a few outright and is considering several that he thought so/so. Others were ok, so we'll revisit in a day or few and see what his opinions are then. I did let him know which names seemed to be favs here.

WRT Tammis - I think I have that book! I remember reading the list and always wondering about that name, as I've never heard it or seen it anywhere. I don't think I'd use it for any of my kids, though.

16
January 2, 2009 9:56 PM

There are 19 women with the first name Tammis registered on Facebook. Most didn't indicate their location, but they appeared to be from all over the U.S.

So the name Tammis lives on!

17
By J&H's mom (not verified)
January 2, 2009 10:41 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only devotee of Lolly the worm et. al

I first ran across Tamsin in an account of the Donner party.

I've never heard of Tamiss before, but there is a teacher at Jack's school named Tambi.
I suspect it was her parent's creation, but I don't know.
She introduces herself as, "Like Bambi, with a T."
My only objection to Tamiss is that I'm just not a fan of Tammy.

On a related note....
I inherited a storybook from a great aunt about a boy whose toy bear runs off to a mountain cave.
His name is Thayer. It's the only place I've heard the name, and I've often thought it would fit right in with many of the names in style these days.

Another storybook discovery was Tolon (sp) which appears in the pages of some of Marc Brown's Arthur books.
I'm certain Tolon was one of his real life children, but again, I was struck by how ahead of the times the name was.

18
By KO
January 2, 2009 10:47 PM

I know a large Irish family with a boy named Tamas--the Irish Thomas. I would reckon Tammis is a version of that.

19
January 3, 2009 1:29 AM

"Twenty-two-year-old Tammis Foxton wrinkled his nose at the noise that was echoing through the forest. " Online excerpt from Lord of the Clans [WarCraft Series] by Christie Golden.

I think KO is right that Tammis is a version of Thomas. In "Scottish Names" (published 2005, Edinburgh), Tam is said to be "a Scottish short form or pet name for Thomas, sometimes used independently." "Oxford Dictionary of First Names" gives Tamhas as a Scottish Gaelic cognate of Thomas. 2008 baby names in Scotland includes one boy named Tammas.

And then there's this: "The name MacTavish stems from Taus Coir, (Tammis) a son born to Gillespic and a daughter of Sween the Red, Lord and Toisech (meaning leader, Chief) of Castle Sween and of Knapdale, in the last half of the 11th century... Taus (Thomas) became the progenitor of the Clan Tamhais..." (Highland Traveler: The Traveler's Guide to Scotland)

I'd put Tammis in the Gaelic boys' names category.

20
January 3, 2009 1:34 AM

Thanks for the post, Laura. I love Richard Scarry and also Little Golden books!

Re: Tammis- I immediately thought of la Tamise, which is the French version of the River Thames! No idea if there's a link, but Tamise would be quite pretty as a name.

Re: Tamsin: I always understood it was a derivation of Thomasina. I love it as a name. Tammy, not so much.

21
January 3, 2009 2:07 AM

Guest-It is MY New Years Resolution not to talk so much about the Palin/Johnston children but I believe we did cover that in the last thread.

Uppy Ear-Understood. You are not crazy or weird, just particular.

J&H's mom-Your remark about Lowly got me to thinking about a Christmas story I have by Scarry. The mom is giving birth on Christmas Eve. They decide to bring the Christmas tree to the hospital so the children will have Christmas morning there. The new baby's name..wait for it...Babykins! LOL The children (I think they were the cats-Huckle(b),??girl, and Lowly worm)in the story say "This was the strangest Christmas ever."

Re Tamsin/Tammis: Patricia you are wonderfully informative on Scottish names. That totally makes sense.

22
January 3, 2009 2:14 AM

a few more online Tammis references:

Canadian History
10,000 Scots gather for games here in 1892
...the Dancing Sailor’s Hornpipe crown was taken by Tammis McRae of Montreal.

As a surname: Susannah married Horatio WEEDS, son of John WEEDS and Elizabeth TAMMIS, on 19 May 1807 in St Nicholas Church, Gt Yarmouth.

1891 Census Index Surnames T-Z - Index to Norfolk Villages
Listed below in alphabetical order are surnames from the Norfolk villages ... TAMMIS.

Scots ditty:
THERE'S Wee Tammis Twenty, the auld tinkler bodie,
Comes here twice a-year wi' his creels and his cuddy,
Wi' Nanny his wifie, sae gudgy an' duddy,
It's hard to say whilk is the queerest auld bodie.

23
By Skye (not verified)
January 3, 2009 7:17 AM

I've known two male Tammis's over time, my understanding was that it is a Scottish name. Never heard of it as a female name. I live in Australia though, so maybe it's more common here?

24
January 3, 2009 10:33 AM

Digging a little further, I learned (just as I suspected) that Tammis was not the given name of the artist known as Tammis Keefe. She was born Margaret ("Peg") Thomas Keefe in 1913, first child of Thomas F. Keefe (whose family surname was O'Keefe a generation or two earlier).

Peg Keefe used a form of her middle name -- Thomas/Tammis -- as her professional name.

Perhaps through the years a few other parents have named a daughter Tammis after hearing of Tammis Keefe. Some may have been seeking a formal name with the nn Tammy and preferred Tammis to Tamara.

But it seems to me that it all comes back to the Scottish gaelic male name Tammis, a form of Thomas.

25
By Eo (not verified)
January 3, 2009 11:25 AM

Laura, your column on "Tammis" is one of the things that keeps me coming back for your unique and historically-informed insights!

Bingo, Patricia! Thanks for that extra digging.

Random thoughts: I also have that almost instinctive turning away from "Tammy", which has always led me to reject an otherwise great name, "Tamsin", or now, "Tammis".

Now, why is the aversion to Tammy so universal? Has it been stereotyped as just hopelessly cutesy? If I force myself to think of "Tam" in terms of a Scottish slant on "Tom", I like it!

Have the long-ago Tammy movie and Tammy song as warbled by Debbie Reynolds just made it too cloying and treacly to ever be considered? Your thoughts?

I even feel guilty not liking the name, since I very much like the forceful and funny and often sardonic Tammy Bruce- in my mind she seems as un-tammy like as possible.

"Brandy" strikes me as a sister name to Tammy that I've stereotyped also...

Have always liked the Scottish "Tavish" as a Thomas alternative.

"T" names in general hold an extra fascination for me, "Tarquin" and "Thaddeus" being two of my preferred names for boys...

26
By sdh
January 3, 2009 11:52 AM

J&H's mom -- Thayer is a surname, common here in the Boston area. My high school was called Thayer after General Sylvanus Thayer who was from MA and one of the founders of West Point. There is also the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. I haven't heard it used as a first name, but I wouldn't be surprised if I heard it!
Also, re: Marc Brown, he also lives in the Boston area and his children are Tucker (to tie in to the comments on the last post!) and Tolon. He hid their names in the illustrations of every Arthur book (my mom is a children's librarian who lives in the same town as him and she has met him and confirmed this).

27
January 3, 2009 12:04 PM

Eo, I too have not been a fan of Tammy (to say the least). The name reminds me of the cutesy movie and song and also the excessively made-up TV evangelist Tammy Faye Baker.

But of course, names are all about associations. When I hear "Tammy" as a Gaelic pronunciation of the classic boys' name Tommy (short for Thomas), I like the name!

Curious now about Tamsin, I looked for the name in my Scottish name book and found it under Thomasina:

"THOMASINA (f) Feminine form of THOMAS. Tamsin is also an early form, probably of Cornish origin, and still in use. Other forms in current use in Scotland are Tammie and Tammy. Sina is an occasional pet name."

Does anyone else remember the Disney movie "The Three Lives of Thomasina" (1964), about a Scottish cat that brings a family together through her mysterious death and reappearance? I loved that movie -- and still do!

28
January 3, 2009 12:24 PM

After Laura started the current post, I added another response to the previous post regarding Jane's quest for names for her twin boys. Just in case you don't go back to that post, Jane, I'm going to reprint it here. I really like James called Jamie a lot too! :-)

Jane, I'm wondering if you or your husband have any Scottish ancestry or a love of Scottish names (both of which apply to me) because Andrew (patron saint of Scotland) and Robert (noble Robert the Bruce and poet Robert Burns) are beloved names in Scotland and both appear in the 2008 list of 100 top baby names there, as does Jamie as a boy's name:
# Andrew - #20
Robert - #43; Robbie #62
James - #5; Jamie #17

I have a delightful little book of "Scottish Forenames" which tells that there were seven Scottish kings named James and that "by 1864 James had become the second-most popular name in Scotland... The name Jamie is now frequently used independently."

I noticed that both of your boys' names are in the top 100 too: John - #28 and Charlie - #41.

(BTW, Jamie as a girl's name didn't come close to making the top 100.)

29
January 3, 2009 12:27 PM

Patricia-I do not know the movie to which you refer but it does remind me of another Disney movie with another T name that I've always liked. "Escape to Witch Mountain"(1975) was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The girl's name was Tia(Tee-ah). The boy's name was Tony. I don't care for Tony but Tia always seemed to have a mysterious flair because of that movie.

Researching it finds many differing thoughts. There are sites that say Tongan, Spanish, Egyptian and Greek and the meaning is either Princess, or Aunt. I'll take the princess notion. Aunt makes it weird for me.

30
By Birgitte (not verified)
January 3, 2009 12:42 PM

Prior to the celebration of Christmas, December 25th (the winter solstice) was celebrated in Babylon as the birthday of Tammuz the sun god.

That's what I am reminded of from Tammis. Decidedly masculine, fertility god name.

31
January 3, 2009 1:11 PM

Jane, you mentioned that what you like most about James is the nn "Jamie", but that your husband won't agree to calling one of the twins "Jamie" due to the name being used for girls too. Would he consider James - Jamie - Jay: James as the given/formal name, Jamie as your son's nn now, with Jay as a possible grown-up nn?

I've been trying to recall my husband's thoughts in 1975 about naming our 4th son James and calling him "Jamie". Both of us liked traditional first names, with "little boy" nn, but also a more grown up name or nn for later on. Thus Edward was called "Teddy", with "Ted" reserved for when he was older; John, "Johnny" and later John; Robert, "Robbie" with Rob available for later (he goes by Robert now), and James was to be "Jamie" as a little boy and eventually Jay. My husband called him both Jamie and Jay when he was small, but at about age 12, "Jamie" announced he wanted to be called "James". (Occasionally I hear my husband call him the 'throwback' "Jay" or one of his sisters refer to him as "Jamie".)

When we chose the name James/Jamie, we had no access to SSA naming stats, so we didn't know that James was the #5 name the previous year, with Jamie ranking #68 as a boy's name. We were aware that the name Jamie was catching on for girls too, but had no idea that it was #97 -- nor did we care because both James and Jay are solid male names and we liked (I loved) the Scottish nickname "Jamie". Plus it went so well with Robbie,the name of his almost-twin brother in age.

Robert Andrew and James Duncan (ancestral surname in my family) were adopted from Vietnam in 1974 and 1975. Their birth names were unknown. They were the youngest children in our family of 9 kids (we subsequently adopted 3 school-age Amerasian children from Korea). Today Robert is a doctor and James, an MA secondary teacher. They've always been positive about the names we chose for them.

32
January 3, 2009 1:21 PM

Zoerhenne, my brother's family has just welcomed their first grandchild, first nephew, Dashiell, and my borther's daughter has asked to be called "Tia" (aunt in Spanish -- she teaches Spanish) as the baby grows up. I think that's rather sweet.

33
January 3, 2009 1:44 PM

Oh yes Patricia, in that respect an Auntie nn of Tia works very nicely and is very sweet. But as far as purposefully naming a new baby, its kind of like the Claudia thing-beautiful name but strange meaning. Unless of course you wanted to name her after your aunt.

34
By Guest (not verified)
January 3, 2009 2:22 PM

To the lady who like James-
What a handsome, classic name! But why Jamie, anyway? What about Jimmy?

Jimmy, Billy, Bobby, etc. have fallen by the wayside in recent years and I just cannot comprehend this. They are adorable nicknames. Also, it is really in style to give kids sorta old-fashioned unfashionable names, so calling a kid Jimmy would make you cool.

I'm sorry it's just a personal mission of mine to revive 50s nicknames for common male names. I hear so many "Williams" and "Jameses" these days, or really just a ton of Will/Williams as you hardly never hear James or Robert on little boys even in the formal. Will is cute but Billy is less common and spunkier. I think of Will/William for a man and Billy for a boy. Jimmy short for James is one of my very favorite names though and if I ever have a son that is what he'll be called. It's weird, because I hate nicknames for girls but love them for boys...go figure.

35
By Guest (not verified)
January 3, 2009 2:23 PM

Funnily enough, my captcha was ignorant and current. Maybe I really am ignorant of current trends. LOL

36
By Riot Delilah (not verified)
January 3, 2009 3:12 PM

An analysis of naming trends from today's London times:

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article5435373.ece

I am not very impressed by it, but am extremely amused by the last sentence. Sean Bean has a Sheffield accent, so just imagine him shouting the last bit...

Also, it talks about Tamsin a little, so is relevant. The name Tamzin is being used more apparently, and there's a TV actress named Tamzin Outhwaite, which might contribute to that.

37
By Angela (not verified)
January 3, 2009 4:16 PM

I rather dig the Wise Men's names. Gaspar (Caspar), Balthazar, and Melchior? Awesome.

38
By Knee Coal Peay (not verified)
January 3, 2009 6:18 PM

@Eo - Your thought about Brandy being a sister to Tammy is spot on! I was at school with 2 sisters born in the 70s, with those exact, unfortunate monikers.

39
January 3, 2009 8:39 PM

Riot Delilah, once again, thanks for the link. Two things in the London times article stood out for me: First, Tamsin as a male(?) name: "Similarly, for the self-made man with a few leftover rough edges, Tamsin seems so much more tempting than Tracey."

Second, the last bit of advice: "try applying this infallible test of a name's universality, taught to me by a friend from Sheffield. Does it work in the context of a cold, muddy football pitch? As in “Oi, Peregrine, you cloth-eared fool, fetch t' bloody ball”. Simple, but surprisingly effective." Exactly my concern about some of the male names suggested recently on this blog (eg., Clement).

40
January 3, 2009 9:07 PM

Riot Delilah and others, did you notice there's a plethora of name articles -- a NE's delight! -- if you click on the related link "Royalty still rules in favourite baby's names"? That leads to an article -- "Sorry, Gordon Brown. Royalty still rules when it comes to baby's names" -- which lists the top 10 boys' and girls' names from The Times 2008 baby announcements. The comments following the article are interesting too, including:

"How can this be a good representation of the UK, there are no ethnic names in here, not 1 Imran or Mohammed, Zara or Suki. Sorry but not convinced!!!"

"I can't see the average working class, simple parents calling any of their children any of the above names."

"That's not true. There are many James', Henries, Georges and Freddies in my neighbouring "ACORN 50" estate. Sophie, Sofia/Sophia are also popular names."

And there are still more 'goodies' for a NE, in the form of links to name articles from years ago:

TIMES ARCHIVE
* Fashions in Christian names - 1859, 1900, 1930

* Fashions in Christian names - Harrow School 1770

* Christian names in 1951 - UK and US

Classic!

41
By Coll
January 3, 2009 9:44 PM

Chiming in for Uppy Ear (from the previous post). Of the names you've mentioned, I vastly prefer Aldon Scott to the others. It meets the criteria you laid out, flows beautifully, and does not seem overly made up (some of the other names you've thrown out have unfortunately struck my ears that way). I also like Donovan Tucker.

Patricia, I have to speak up in favor of Clement again, which I think is a fantastic name. And to fit your model, "Can Clem come out to play" (which I think corresponds to the Telegraph author's crack about the football pitch) sounds perfectly fine to me--brisk, informal, clearly masculine.

I also think the class distinctions the Telegraph author discusses are subtly different in the American context.

42
By Penelope (not verified)
January 3, 2009 10:41 PM

I also like Clement. Clem seems to be a decent and simple nn.

43
By Aybee (not verified)
January 3, 2009 10:50 PM

I know a Peregrine who goes by Perry.-- That could work on the pitch.

On a similiar note to Tammis- I was a fan of the (early 90s?) movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken," in which the main charcter, a young girl, was named Sonora.
I have never come across this name again, except as the name of a place I think in Mexico/California?
What made it stranger were the other characters names in the movie-- names like Al, Helen, Clarabelle, Marie, etc.
Always intrigued me as a kid.

44
January 3, 2009 11:14 PM

Here's an interesting 1934 London Times letter-to-the-editor expressing the writer's viewpoint that changing fashions in names in an English village correlated with traditional village occupations no longer being desirable:

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES Sir,-With regard to fashionable changes in Christian names, I chance to have a current list of the youngest children in the neighbouring village. Out of a total of 40, the girls' names are Greta, Doris, Beryl, Esther, Winifred, Edna, Sylvia, Flora, Pearl, Joyce, Mavis, Valerie, Dorothy, Edith, Freda, Brenda; the boys are James (two), Wyndham, Victor (two), Ivor, Raymond (three), Dudley, Michael, Gilbert, Graham, Tony, Ernest, Reginald, Brian, Kenneth, Robert, Frederick (two), Cyril, Charles, George.

It would seem that in the villages the plain Tom, Dick, and Harry of their fathers' time, with the homely Mary Ann, have been ousted by the "pretty sounding" names of cinema stars. Is it an outward expression of the fact that so few village children to-day want to be ploughmen, hedgers or ditchers, cooks, kitchenmaids, or housemaids, preferring high-flown occupations in towns to the age-old livelihoods of their ancestors? On the other hand, I should say that among the upper classes the names of David, Elizabeth, Mary in compliment to the Royal Family are quite as frequent as the William, Victoria, Sophia, Charlotte, Charles, &c., of a former generation. Your obedient servant, V. A.

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By J&H's mom (not verified)
January 3, 2009 11:54 PM

sdh-Thanks for that! How fun!

Thank you all for your digging and tidbits.

Patricia-I'm thrilled to hear of a new boy named Dashiell. It was one of my, "If only I was a little braver," choices.

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By Prairie Dawn (not verified)
January 3, 2009 11:57 PM

Another Christmas name for a girl: Paloma, which means dove. My best friend just gave birth to a girl a few weeks ago and chose Paloma for the baby's name. I think it's lovely.

While on vacation, our 2 year old daughter announced that she had picked out names for our new baby, due late March/ early April. Completely unprompted, she announced that if the baby was a girl, she would be named Ocean. And if the baby was a boy, he would be Tomato! After we stopped laughing and congratulating her on her originality and creativity, my dh and I got to talking. We like the idea of our daughter being involved in the naming of her new sibling. Tomato is out of the question(!), but we had some thoughts about Ocean. Maybe Marina, which means sea. Or Marin.

I'm curious to know what the NE community thinks about letting older siblings help name new siblings. Has anyone done this? Also, your thoughts about names associated with Ocean and/or Tomato (still giggling about that one) are welcome. Interestingly, our daughter has not wavered from these names in the days since her big announcement. She is quite loyal to her choices!

Happy New Year everyone!

47
By Liz & Louka (not verified)
January 4, 2009 12:05 AM

Prairie Dawn - Océane is a real French name, pronounced something like Oh-say-AHN. If you like that pronunciation you could use it, or you could just use Ocean: after all, Océane is just French for ocean.

Not sure about Tomato - could you convince her that Thomas is the "name" version of Tomato?

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January 4, 2009 12:29 AM

Prairie Dawn--

When I was a little girl, my playmate down the street was named by her big brother. Her name was Hannah Linda. The Hannah was, if I recall, a family name, and the Linda was her brother's choice. She always went by Linda which does not, however, rise to the level of Tomato. :-)

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By Penelope (not verified)
January 4, 2009 12:44 AM

Prairie Dawn - I love the idea of your daughter helping to name her sibling. It's great to have buy-in from her at the beginning! Encouraging her to participate in the planning is a great idea.

Marina, Oceana, Oceane are all great ideas. Tomato is a little bit harder. I think Liz & Louka have a great idea with Thomas. Or what about Tomas? I doubt she'd approve of more distantly related names that mean "red", but she might. Since she is still thinking about Tomato, it is apparent that she is serious. What about middle names?

50
By Opal (not verified)
January 4, 2009 1:16 AM

Both people I've known with the name Tammis have been men.