Emmerich the Beautiful

Jun 11th 2010

Last week, I was surprised to see the name Americus submitted to Namipedia...as a girl's name. The -us form is the Roman masculine -- think Julius and Antonius vs. Julia and Antonia. But the reader who submitted the name, Aurora, is careful about such things. What did she know that I didn't? Time to go name digging!

First, the usage. Americus was a modestly common 19th-century American name. Use was mostly Southern and overwhelmingly rural. Within those boundaries, though, Americuses came in all stripes: male and female, black and white. (The black Americuses included quite a few born into slavery. Whether the name was given by slave owners or adopted as a statement by new freemen, I can't say.)

Americus isn't a common name in other countries, so the American usage was clearly inspired by the name of the nation. Yet it isn't a American creation per se. You probably know that the name America comes from the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci was a merchant who took part in a series of voyages several years after Columbus. His expeditions along the coast of South America established that the land was indeed a "New World," not just scattered islands. This discovery was reported in celebrated letters which some at the time considered immodest attempts to steal glory from Columbus.

In fact, modern scholars believe that those widely-circulated Vespucci letters were fakes written by others. Vespucci himself was a more modest fellow. But real or not, the letters had a lasting legacy. A Latin translation of them was included in a book by a German geographer named Martin Waldseemüller. In Latin writings, Amerigo Vespucci was rendered as Americus Vespucius. A few years later, Waldseemüller published a world map in which he named the new land after Vespucci. On the model of Europa and Asia, which were named after women, he chose the feminine form of the Latin: America.

So that's how the Italian man Amerigo gave us the Latin female America. But where did Amerigo itself come from? Curiously, in the schoolbook accounts of "where the name America comes from," this question is never asked. The answer is...well, guesswork. Some think it was an early form of Enrico, which would make America a form of Henry. Most, though, believe it's from the Germanic Emmerich (meaning unclear, but probably home or whole + strength/ruler). That makes the closest English relatives Emery and Emerson.

So let's recap. America is a male Germanic name, adopted to medieval Italian, translated from the Italian to scholarly Latin, then switched to feminine form by a German who used it to describe lands claimed by Portugal and Spain. And it means either Henry or Emery. Then in the 19th Century, it was turned back to the masculine form to sound scholarly and classical, and was used for both boys and girls.

Put it all together and you get an object lesson in the limits of "meanings and origins." This name has been transformed utterly from its Germanic roots, acquiring deep new layers of meaning along the way. You could say that it's a name that forged its own meaning, with the help of ethnic crosscurrents, individual initiative, happenstance, and a pinch of chutzpah. All in all, a not a bad symbol of the New World.


June 11, 2010 1:18 PM

I'm going to sound very smug during this post, so sorry in advance. If America were named after Amerigo Vespucci it would more likely be Vespucciland (or something similar) because if something is named after someone it is usually their surname (like Washington). America was probably named after Richard Amerike/Ameryk who paid for a voyage to Newfoundland and got the country named after him. Actually, I'm surprised "Ameryk" isn't popular with it's 'k', 'y', Ryk as a nickname and American connection :)

June 11, 2010 1:23 PM

Excellent research and commentary, Laura, but I'm guessing the poster of it was probably coming from the movie, Where the Heart Is (the one with Natalie Portman and the "Wal-mart baby" a few years back) where she wants a "good, strong name" for her baby girl and goes with Americus. :) She's very southern, very rural as you referenced. Actually, for NEs, the movie also has Ashley Judd's character name all of her many kids after snack foods! I can't remember any except for Brownie, but they're entertaining.

By Guest (not verified)
June 11, 2010 1:34 PM

I don't trust Wikipedia more than you, Laura (and actually there has never been a reason to do so): but it says that Amerigo derieves from Amalaric, which means ruler of a Gothic tribe.


But it also says "citation needed", so I guess you're right (; Anyway, great insights! I love your eloquence and humor.

June 11, 2010 1:40 PM

Excellent thread Laura! Love the information and the addendum by Awkward Turtle. Whichever story is "correct" they both are fascinating!

Btw, has Columbus ever been used as a name?

June 11, 2010 2:12 PM

Awkward Turtle, thanks for the Dutch angle! I've come across that alternate theory of how the word first circulating, but since Waldseemüller wrote America on the map and he stated that he was honoring Vespucci, you can argue that Amerigo at least "became" the origin, if that makes sense.

Another point to ponder: etymologically, is the surname Amerike also a form of Emmerich?

By Tintin LaChance (not verified)
June 11, 2010 2:16 PM

Actually, for NEs, the movie also has Ashley Judd's character name all of her many kids after snack foods! I can't remember any except for Brownie, but they're entertaining.

They're supposed to nicknames, at least in the novel the movie is based off of (and the film follows the book so exactly in most respects that it's kind of scary). Brownie's full name is something a bit odd, like Brownford (I can't remember, quite), and his sister Praline is really Pauline.

In any case, I totally agree. When one sees Americus today, it is almost certainly in reference to Where The Heart Is.

By Tintin LaChance (not verified)
June 11, 2010 2:17 PM

Just looked it up, and Brownie's real name was Brummett. I'd rather be called Brownie, too.

June 11, 2010 2:24 PM

Wow, I knew it was based on a book but had no clue at all that they were intended to be nicknames!

June 11, 2010 2:25 PM

I didn't know about the mention on the map! The plot thickens...Hmmm...

I've seen Richard Amerike's surname spelt Amerike, Ameryk and Ameryck but I think it is from the Welsh ap Meuric/ ap Meurig, meaning "son of Meurig". Extra point: some versions of his family coat of arms contain stars, red stripes and blue stripes. This has become very confusing.

June 11, 2010 2:30 PM

Totally off topic, but I compiled the names from my daughter's school. Keep in mind that this school is extremely diverse, with about 30% of the student body coming from a Spanish-speaking country, and another 16% coming from other countries (such as Saudi Arabia, Korea, Australia, France, etc.). Out of 620 students, there were:

2 boys named Aidan
3 boys named Alex and 6 named Alexander
1 girl named Alexandra
2 girls and 1 boy named Alexis
1 girl named Alexus
4 girls named Andrea
5 boys named Angel
4 girls named Ashley and 1 each named Ashlynn and Ashton
1 girl named Beverli
4 boys named Brandon
3 girls named Brianna
1 boy named Brayan, 2 named Brian, 4 named Bryan, and 1 named Bryant
2 girls named Caitlin
3 boys named Caleb
1 girl named Charlotte
1 girl named Chloe
3 boys named Christian, but only 1 named Christopher
3 girls named Cindy and one named Cyndi (none named Cynthia)
1 girl named Daelynn (pretty!)
2 boys named Darius
4 boys named David
2 boys named Dennis
2 girls named Destiny
3 girls named Diana
1 girl named Doris
3 boys named Dylan
1 boy named Edgar and 2 named Edward
5 girls named Elizabeth
3 girls named Ella
2 girls and 1 boy named Emerson
1 girl named Emeli and 2 named Emily
1 girl named Emma
1 boy named Emmett
1 girl named Esme
1 girl named Evelin and one named Evelyn
1 boy named Ezra
1 girl named Fanny
1 boy named Felix
1 boy named Finn, 1 named Finnegan, and 1 named Finnigan
1 boy named Frank
1 girl named Genevieve and 1 named Genoveva
2 girls named Grace
1 boy named Hayden
1 girl named Heather
2 girls named Isabel
1 girl named Isabella
4 boys named Jackson
1 boy named Jacob
2 girls named Jacqueline
2 boys named Jalen and 2 named Jaylen
1 girl named Jayla and 1 named Jaylaya
3 boys named Jeffrey
2 girls named Jenifer, 2 named Jenna, and 1 named Jenny
1 girl named Jessica
1 boy named Jihad
2 boys named John and 1 named Jonathan
1 boy and 1 girl named Jordan
1 boy named José
1 girl named Josephine
2 boys named Joshua and 2 named Josue
1 girl named Julia and 1 named Juliana
1 boy named Julian and 1 named Julius
3 boys named Justin
2 girls named Karen
1 girl named Karizma
1 girl named Katherine
3 boys named Kevin
2 girls named Kimberly
1 boy named Larry
1 girl and 1 boy named Lei
1 boy named Leifur
1 girl named Lemma
1 boy named Leo and 3 named Leonardo
1 boy named Liam
1 girl named Lieu
2 girls named Lizbeth, 1 named Lizcet, 1 named Lizet, and 1 named Lizeth
2 girls named Lucia
1 girl named Macey
1 girl named Maddison and 2 named Madison
2 girls named Maria and 1 named Marie
1 girl named Mason
2 boys named Matthew
2 boys named Mauricio
1 girl named McKenzie
5 boys named Michael
2 boys named Miles
1 boy named Mohamed
1 girl named Nancy
2 boys named Nate and 1 named Nathaniel
3 girls named Olivia
3 boys named Omar
2 boys named Oscar
1 girl named Paloma
1 boy named Percy
identical twin girls named Qingyang and Qingyue
1 boy named Quin and 1 named Quinlin
1 boy named Ralph
1 boy named Reality
1 girl named Riley and 1 named Rylie
1 boy named Roger
1 girl named Rosalia
4 boys named Ryan and 1 named Ryas
1 girl named Sabinne
3 boys named Samuel
2 girls named Sarah
1 girl named Siena and 1 named Sierra
1 girl named Simone
1 girl named Stella
2 girls named Stephanie
1 boy named Thaddeus
2 boys named Trent
1 girl named Trinity
2 boys named Tristan
1 boy named Truman
1 girl named Tylar and 4 boys named Tyler
2 boys named Victor
1 boy named Vincent
1 girl named Yamilet and 1 named Yamileth

Sorry for the length! There are LOTS of other names, but I had to cut it off somewhere. Since the school is so international, it is an NE's dream. The yearbook has rows of kids whose names are things like: Ikbal, Tiffany, Adolfo, Jamarion, and Doris. It's unbelievably awesome for someone like me!

June 11, 2010 3:03 PM

Sorry, I should have made it clear from the start that the user who submitted the name did reference "Where The Heart Is"! I just got on a roll from there. :-)

June 11, 2010 3:14 PM

Elizabeth T-Wow truly diverse. Thanks for that!

June 11, 2010 3:16 PM

zoerhenne, my great-grandfather's middle name was Columbus.

By Thea (not verified)
June 11, 2010 3:39 PM

My husband's family (German immigrants to Missouri) have an endearing habit of naming children after American heroes, thus:

George Washington [last name]
Ulysses Grant [last name]

and, yes,

Christopher Columbus [last name]

I don't think we'll pick that one up, but it makes for an entertaining reading of the family tree.

By Amy3
June 11, 2010 4:27 PM

@Laura, fascinating stuff! Not only do I love names, but I also love geography. This is a lovely combination of both!

@Elizabeth T, what a great list! I can't wait until my daughter's yearbook comes out.

@Thea, your family's naming convention made me think of my mother-in-law's family where her grandfather was Ulysses S Grant LN (called Grant, I think) and his son was Ulysses S Grant LN Jr (called Bus). I love that they kept the middle initial even!

And returning briefly to our Alistair discussion, I'm at gymnastics with my daughter and there is a boy Alistair (-ster pronunciation).

June 11, 2010 4:50 PM

Elizabeth T.

That's great of you to do and an absolutely fascinating list !

A wonderful job as always ! It's incredible interesting

@Awkward Turtle

Ryk is actually a legitimate name on it's own said as RAKE. You make a good point

June 11, 2010 5:15 PM

Madame Akward Turtle, you make a good point. Could someone do research on my son's name, Callen? I chose it before NCIS LA.

June 11, 2010 5:38 PM

Reality? Really? I can't say that is a name I would choose. And a Thaddeus! Thanks for the list, Elizabeth T. And I also have to say I'm always still shocked when I meet a little Jennifer, Heather, or Kimberly.

June 11, 2010 5:43 PM

I know a Kimber and a Kimberlyn, but no Kimberly. I tried my research....but came up with nothing

June 11, 2010 6:03 PM

MyNameIsPatonNow-First of all, I am curious as to what your name was before? Ha Ha! Anyway, Callen speeled as such does not show up in Namipedia above. So I googled it and came up with this:
A girl name meaning warlike. A variation on Callan which is Gaelic. {thinkbabynames.com and 3 other sites}

The name is possibly derived from Cathalan, King of Farney, slain in 1028, whose name means Little Charles and from whom the family is thought to have descended. Catahlan was in turn descended from Coleman Mor the king of Meath, 133rd Monarch of Ireland. {houseofnames.com}

June 11, 2010 6:19 PM

Amy3-Interesting facts about Ulysses S Grant. My DS did a report on him last year in school. It seems that he was born Hiram Ulysses Grant. Then when he signed up for West Point they inadvertantly added the S and registered him as Ulysses S Grant. Most people think its to be equated with U.S.A or that his middle name was Simpson but my research shows that was not the case.

June 11, 2010 6:20 PM

I will never tell my original name. I strongly dislike it. :)

That's interesting. I named him for a friend of mine, whose last name was Ma*cAllen* .....but I thought the name Callen/Callan was a variant of Collin. I guess I was wrong. Thanks for the info

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
June 11, 2010 7:33 PM

Elizabeth T: What an awesome list! Although I feel bad for the boy named Jihad. What a difficult name to carry through modern American life!

I was also surprised that you listed 4 Jacksons but no Jacks. Our John has recently declared he wants to be called Jack and I am worried that other people our age and younger won't get the connection, since all the Jacks I know are nicknames for Jackson!

June 11, 2010 8:14 PM

Elizabeth T., it was intriguing to see the name Nancy on your list. Have recently run into two other little Nancys -- anyone think the name may be making a comeback from limbo?

June 11, 2010 8:25 PM

There are a lot of recent immigrant or first generation children in my daughter's school; hence the names like Fanny, Nancy, and Jerry. I was surprised that there were no Jacks as well. And Alex/Alexander really won out! Jihad's mother was the president of the PTA last year--I've always wanted to ask her the story behind her child's name but don't know her.

June 11, 2010 8:40 PM

Kimberly - I realized recently that the older sister of Jason, my 4 y.o.'s classmate is Jennifer, who is about 8. Jennifer & Jason sibs, post 2000. That surprised me. But really, both are lovely names. On a kid today too, they are so rare and yet familiar.

Haddison - we just played on the playground with a 4 y.o. Nancy the other day. I think it is too consonant heavy to make an immediate comeback, but I think it will return once the frilliest of the vowel laden frilliana names start to decline.

By Sol's_mom (not verified)
June 11, 2010 9:00 PM

A well-researched and fascinating post as always, Laura!

May I please take a poll on our final name choices for a our little girl? I’d love some feedback. The two winning first name candidates are Violet and Iris. Our last name is a single-syllable B name. I’ve read the official BNW descriptions, but what are people’s impressions of these names? I think Violet might be a little more trendy, but I still think they will both rise and fall with the flower names. Do others agree? Other perceptions/associations? Thanks!

The middle names will be either the “losing” flower name (my husband’s preference) or Emily. Although I love both Violet and Iris I think two flower names are a bit much! My husband says that “middle names don’t matter; no one knows anyone else’s middle name” and although I suppose that is correct to a certain extent, I think that middle names provide a richness to a name and also another option in case the name bearer does not like their first name. Besides, middle names are half of the naming fun!

So, the names are:

Violet Emily
Iris Emily
Violet Iris
Iris Violet

Opinions? Thanks!

June 11, 2010 9:32 PM

okay, first: i have some things i've been meaning to post from the last thread. i will do that shortly.

sol's mom,
WELL, OBviously i adore your middle name choice of emily. :] and actually, this may sound silly, but as popular as emily is as a first name, i actually thinks it sounds kind of fresh as a middle name. anyway, while i don't think the double flower names sound *bad* per se, i do think i would avoid it if it were me. my favorite is iris emily. it just flows very nicely. violet emily is a close second. i think that both violet and iris are lovely names. the one i like least is violet iris because not only is it two flowers, it is also a color and a flower, so it sounds like a descriptor (i.e. an iris that is violet colored, if that makes sense). anyway, good choices. you have lovely taste. :]

By Amy3
June 11, 2010 9:50 PM

@Sol's_mom, Iris Emily! I love this one. I agree that two flower names doesn't provide the flexibility I personally like in a mn that's a bit different than the fn. (We took that approach with our daughter -- uncommon fn, familiar mn -- and part of the reason was to give her the option to go by the more familiar name, if she likes.)

While I like Violet, Iris reads as much fresher to me, and I like it a lot with Solomon.

June 11, 2010 10:10 PM

I've been reading the comments on this blog for a while and you all give great advice. So now I need your help.

I'm pregnant with baby #2 -- another girl due in Sept. The first time around we found what we felt is the perfect name for us, Naomi. It's
timeless (in that category in BNW2), historic (OT biblical), sounds good with our very jewish LN (K@pl@n), has a soft, lyrical, vowel-heavy sound. It sounds familiar without being too popular, though the popularity has continued to rise since we chose it :(

Now we're having a hard time finding another name that works as well. The current front-runners is probably Dahlia, which my husband really likes but I'm not loving. The name that most often comes up in the same categories as Naomi is Miriam, but neither of us really like the sound of it.

We would welcome any suggestions and I can provide more lists of names we've been mulling over, if that would help. We do have a tendency to overthink this... but I think that will fit in well here :)


June 11, 2010 10:14 PM

Sol's mom-I totally get where emilyrae and Amy3 are coming from. I agree with giving a name to fall back on and I agree that Iris Emily has a great flow. I don't think Violet Iris sounds silly though. So my votes in order go to:
Iris Emily
Violet Iris
Violet Emily
Iris Violet -this has the worst flow of the 4 of them to me.

And yes Solomon + Iris over Solomon + Violet!

June 11, 2010 10:26 PM

tiffg-I love naming challenges as well as many here I think. I am not an expert on Jewish things. Becky might want to step in if her hands aren't too full of her new little one. Miriam is a wonderful resource too. However, as Larksong pointed out the economy is tight these days and every 2 cents helps so here is mine :) And also don't forget to give a look at Nymbler!
Rebecca; Sarah/Sadie; Leah; Rachel
Abigail; Priscilla; Celeste; Lelah
Judith; Lydia; Elisha; Devorah; Bethany

Some are not Hebrew or OT but pretty nonetheless.

By Amy3
June 11, 2010 10:56 PM

@tiffg, what about Dorit? I've loved that one for a long time. (In the interests of full disclosure, I'm a consonant-lover in girls' names.) I think it sounds nice with your ln as well as with Naomi's name.

June 11, 2010 11:07 PM

i know that elisha is occasionally used as a weird alternate spelling for alicia, but in terms of OT names, it is strictly a boys' name (ee-LIY-sha). i don't think it would fit well with naomi (on a girl. on a boy it would!). but your other suggestions are great!

i'll add nina, delia, lydia, paloma, ariel (too disney for you?), and amira to the suggestions. also, i quite like dahlia (or dalia).

sol's mom,
i think i agree with zoerhenne, iris violet doesn't flow too well; that hadn't occurred to me before. i guess i'll narrow my vote to either of the emily combos (and not just because i'm biased!).

June 11, 2010 11:23 PM

In reply to Larksong on the previous thread about teacher's perspective on names.

Mostly, I really enjoy meeting students with new, varied names! I teach college and there are a lot of students who took a nontraditional path to school, so the age range is large, from 17-year-olds who graduated high school early, to people beyond middle age who are headed back to school after finishing their careers. That means that I get to encounter a wide variety of different styles, and I enjoy that a lot. I especially love looking at the roster before the beginning of the term and trying to guess demographic info from the names alone!

Teasing is a total non-issue given that everyone is a grown up. Thankfully.

I do think teaching has influenced my own naming style: it is challenging for me logistically when there are first name repeats in the same section of a course, so I think teaching has reinforced my liking for names that are not as popular as to risk having multiple representatives in one class.

Moreover, getting to know names is exponentially easier for me when the students have names that are really distinctive (i.e. it's the first person by that name that I've ever met, rather than the 30th Michael I've had as a student). Pronunciation issues are really never an issue with distinctive names, because then it's my first association and I can get it right in my head, but the alternate pronunciations of common names can trip me up.

And I have to say that the variant spellings do not contribute distinctiveness in a useful way. I'm a very visual person so I call out Bryan and Brian and then I'm surprised that the wrong one wants to pick up the papers because in my head they are such different names. So, yeah, I am less enamored of alternate spellings than I was before teaching, which lead to some names being removed from our own list (farewell, Elinor!).

The things that cause me private amusement are when there is a major mismatch between the personality of the student and the name on the roster. The most common example is when III with a very formidable upper-crusty slightly pompous full name turns out to be a total slacker (and/or stoner-by-self-admission). That particular combination seems to happen quite a lot, actually. Not enough that I would say "Beware, making your son a Jr will lead him down a dangerous road!" but it certainly happens more often than I thought it would. Equally delightful to me are people who have cutesy nicknames-as-given-names that are often very timestamped and have a ditzy/fluffy feel, and then turn out to be incredibly razor-sharp, assertive minds who are at the head of the class. This sort of thing has happened enough that I definitely know better than to pre-judge students by their names. :) But I do worry that their resumes won't be taken as seriously in the high-powered careers I hope they have, when it's a name that in your head you inevitably see dotted with a heart over the final i... so I would still urge parents who love a fun flirty nicknamey name to consider putting a more formal long form on the birth certificate, and thus the future course rosters and resumes.

June 11, 2010 11:12 PM

emilyrae-I knew someone would make that comment ;) I like it as a girls name anyway (you know I'm not religious). I prefer the pronunciation of Eh-lish-ah except for some it might sound too close too delicious to use. I will second your suggestions of Paloma and Amira also.

June 11, 2010 11:25 PM

haha. sorry for being such a predictable stick in the mud. :/ i'm not saying that pronunciation wouldn't be pretty on a girl, i just meant that as someone who grew up surrounded by lots of OT names, i would find it Very Odd to hear it on a girl, *especially* paired with naomi. i'm not necessarily against mixing styles, but one is a traditional OT name, and the other is (arguably) either a creative spelling of alicia or a hijacking of a male OT name, which just clashes terribly in my brain. however, we probably come from different backgrounds, and that can make a big difference with names, of course.

"it's a name that in your head you inevitably see dotted with a heart over the final i."
hilarious! i know exactly what you mean.

June 11, 2010 11:51 PM

Wow, thanks for the great responses so far. I'll have to think about these.

Though we did like that Naomi is an OT name, we are not limiting the second name to that category. We're both "secular Jewish" but not religous at all. The main benefit with Jewish names is the LN. There are many e.g. french or irish names that I think are great but just clash with K@pl@n.

emilyrae, it's funny that you should mention dalia. DH and I have been disagreeing about how to spell this name. It looks like (from BNW and name voyager) that dalia is the more traditional spelling. But DH likes dahlia better and thinks dalia would be mispronounced as da-LEE-ah. Plus, everyone he’s asked how they would spell it has said dahlia. But this issue is one of the reasons that I’m not sold on the name.

By J&H's mom (not verified)
June 12, 2010 12:03 AM

A friend was just talking about two little girls in her sons' kindergarten-Maeson and Zara.
Predictably, I got hung up on the names.

tiffg-I'm going to toss some out, but I apologize in advance if they wouldn't be appropriate. I know next to nothing about Judaism, secular or otherwise.
I Was going to suggest Miriam, but since that's out, how about
Avigail, Tova, Dinah, and I've read elsewhere that Daphne has Biblical roots.
Don't know how true that is....
I also know of a little girl called Selah (say-la), which I gather is a reference to Psalms.
I think it would be an interesting choice with Naomi (which I adore).
I'll also suggest Tamsin and Verity, just because I love to suggest them.

June 12, 2010 12:19 AM

Sol's mom - I really like both the names Violet and Iris separately but not together. The two flower names is only part of the problem though because they are both not exclusively flower names. The name Violet Iris creates an image of a person with violet eye color.

June 12, 2010 12:23 AM

@tiffg: If Naomi is the perfect name for you guys, I'd use it! It's not very popular, (at least where I live), so your daughter most likely won't be in school with any little Naomis. If it's a name you really love, I wouldn't even worry about the popularity factor! If it's really a dealbreaker, though, here are some name suggestions. Most are just names that I associate with the name Naomi and that sound nice, so they're all from different backrounds and nay not be what you're looking for. Hopefully these can help:

Camille, Heidi, Helena, Vivienne, Corinne, Adela, Daphne, Amaya, Nadia, Ilana, Linnea, Delia, Delilah, Scarlett, Leora

June 12, 2010 12:25 AM

Oh, and Sol's mom: My vote goes to Iris Emily! :)

June 12, 2010 12:25 AM

hmm. some of these may be too common for you, but how about:
flora (or florence)

regarding dalia/dahlia: i am no expert, but i *believe* dalia is generally the traditional (or at least more common) spelling for the hebrew name, but dahlia is the traditional spelling for the flower name. personally, i wouldn't ever think to pronounce it da-LEE-uh, though i can imagine that some might hesitate on how to pronounce the first "a." ("a" as in apple or "a" as in father.) however, i don't think that is a big deal.

June 12, 2010 1:02 AM

I find both Iris Emily and Violet Emily to be very nice, but Iris Emily is my favorite because the more distinctive flair of Iris is balanced out by the greater familiarity of Emily. Violet, while very charming, is much more common where I live, and therefore is less of a contrast with Emily.

Also, Iris to me reads as a more strong, assertive name while Emily and Violet are both very sweet and mellower... and again, I like the contrast between first and middle. I know for others that would be a reason for putting Violet and Emily together, though, so it's really a matter of personal taste.

Iris Violet is a lot of flower name, but as long as your last name isn't Bouquet, I don't think it's a big problem, either. My personal preference tends to be for middle names that provide a bit of a contrast to the first name to give a child greater name flexibility. However, that preference stems from the fact that I tend to like very out-there names, for which the need for a safety-net middle name is greater. I do think your husband is right that middle names are not used that often outside the family (and the course rosters that teachers get!), so if Iris Violet allows both you and your husband to be equally invested in the name and use the names you truly love, then I think that could be worth it.

I agree about the Violet Iris combination sounding like a very poetic description of eye-color, and that's the only one I would advise against.

Are you planning on more children? I know opinions on this would probably vary greatly, but although I personally might find Iris and Violet as a combo to be too much, I would find them to be just sweet on sisters. However, if you are planning on many more children, it might make it hard to come up with a name for a potential third daughter without being constrained by the purple/floral theme into names that you might not like that much. (Hyacinth? Lavendar? Lilac?)

June 12, 2010 1:07 AM

okay, things from last thread:

wow, the opinion of a real englishman! just what i was hoping for! :] i sincerely thank you for asking him about it; his response is very helpful and it is what i was hoping for (i wouldn't want either my or hyz's preferred pronunciation to be a "bad" pronunciation). so, thanks again, very much, and thanks also for your account of your experience in scotland--i found that first hand experience very helpful.

a facebook poll! excellent! i'm so glad that i pressed the issue long enough to get other people to do all the dirty work for me. :] it sounds like it's a pretty close match. thanks!

anna s, it sounds like, to me, that if medina is a chilean name, then she has just as much right to it as any one could ask. it sounds like a drastic overreaction on the part of the protesters, to me. and as eo said, obviously throwing things at someone is never an acceptable response. except in dodgeball.

as others said, kimberly is almost always the spelling of the name in the u.s. i'm not sure i've ever met a kimberley. interesting though, as i didn't realize there was a us/uk split over this name.

also, i'm glad everyone liked my jeeves and wooster idea. :] i think i might actually do it, if i ever get the opportunity. also, KRC, i like books and biscuits (the names, i mean, though i also like the literal objects :] ). i generally like people names for animals, but sometimes i make exceptions, and this is one of them. those are great names for pets. another exception was hyz's chickens. excellent chicken names!

i like all of your choices (gorgeous!), but my favorites are the ones that honor your sister, because that seems to be important to you. i think my favorites are rosalind genevieve claire (i just think genevieve is the most gorgeous, elegant name there is, and though it doesn't share roots with jennifer, i think it is the choice that *sounds* the most like jennifer), rosalind jennifer kay, and rosalind juniper kay. i'm with you: i much prefer juniper (i *love* that name. it's fantastically adorable), but at the same time, is it just better to just go ahead and use her real name? would it really be so bad to use a 70s name? like you, i think i would wobble back and forth. i'm not sure. : / i also quite like rosalind ruby christine, but, for me, i would prefer to use some form of my sister's first name, not her middle name. so that would push it to the bottom of the list for me, though i do think it's a gorgeous combination.

though i like several of your other choices better than pascale, and i do get where you're coming from with the "pretentious" vibe, i have to agree verity van der jagt: ursula and pascale are kind of cool together.

verity van der jagt,
now that's a cool name1 and we were just talking about van der names! so what does this one mean? anyone? "from the...yacht." i have no idea.

boys' name with multiple pronunciations: xavier! :]

By Sol's_mom (not verified)
June 12, 2010 7:13 AM

Thanks for the fabulous analysis on the Iris/Violet/Emily dilemma! I had completely missed that Violet Iris could also refer to purple eyes! Please keep the opinions coming. Although my favorite name is Violet, I can see how Iris might complement Solomon more as both has a "larger than life" reference to them. We also have cats named Morpheus and Jupiter if that is any indication of our fondness for "grandiose" names!

@lucabratrix This will be our last child. One boy, one girl. The big brother is Solomon (Sol) Forest. I had originally hoped for another subtle nature name combo, but it seems that all we like is flower names! I've always liked Emily though so I'm ok with it as a mn. I agree it's far too popular for a fn.

@tiffg My son has the OT name Solomon (we are not Jewish, just liked the name and nn Sol). For us, we're actively avoiding OT names for our second child but wanted a name that had a popularity a hundred years ago which is when Solomon was at its most popular. It looks like Naomi was popular in the 1920s as well - perhaps something of this era would complement? From the SSN database, I see Virginia, Frances, Evelyn, Irene. Another way to go is OT names that made the crossover into common use: Rachel, Rebecca, Sarah. Just some ideas on other ways to complement Naomi! Good luck!

June 12, 2010 7:30 AM


I get where both you and your husband are coming from. I think that both of you are right. It's all a matter of personal preference. If you were to have another daughter, would you feel inclined or forced to use another flower/nature name if you did use Violet Iris/Iris Violet? In a way, I do think that's it's a nice compromise as you both get to use names that you love, though it can be a bit much together for some (it depends on the specific combo for me).Plus, you will probably just have people think that you & your spouse really love flowers :) I think Violet Iris sounds gorgeous, but it does make me think of an eye colour. I'll vote for Violet Emily. Iris is very pretty, but it does also remind me of the 'eye' ( I have a thing for eyes actually).Violet is a lot fresher and sweeter than Iris. It sounds lighter, but will age well and it isn't intrinsically linked to any specific age group as Iris might be. I know a lot of people view it more as an older name or normally associate it with adults as opposed to kids. I 'think' it would probably be more popular in the US than Iris. So, Violet Emily, as she will have an alternative name of a different style to use one day if she wishes.But, I don't think that having a double flower name is awful. I do like Violet & Iris for sisters

Overall, I think Lucubatrix summed it up beautifully and my personal approach to naming is pretty much the same as hers


Thank you for your response! That was absolutely fascinating to read. I've actually saved your response and am going to show it to someone :)


How are you pronouncing Dalia/Dahlia? BNW lists it as DAH-lee-ə and that's how I always said it.

Gosh, everyone else has give some great suggestions! Random ideas are (sorry if there are any repeats. I'm trying to think of names that haven't been suggested)

Carys kah-riss
Samaire (sah-meer-ah)
Soleil said so-lay
Mara ..... might be weird with Naomi?
Talia.... similar to dalia
Arielle aah-ree-ehl or r-e-l
Bethsaida/Bethseda i've come across one

Rania --- raah -nee -uh like in the word far

sorry, apparently I can only think of 'ah' names today

http://www.20000-names.com/ might be of interest to you

June 12, 2010 7:32 AM


sorry! i've been typing in between doing other things, which is why i missed your latest post

By Sol's_mom (not verified)
June 12, 2010 8:52 AM

You said Violet is very popular where you live. Where is this? We're in New England.

June 12, 2010 10:00 AM

tiffg-I agree with your dh. I think Dahlia (with an H) is said Doll-ya more intuitively and Dalia (w/o the H) could more easily be seen as Dah-lee-ah. I don't think it would be a big deal to correct a few people however. I like many of the other suggestions that have been thrown out too.