Name Spot of the Week: Bonfire Night

Writing the word Sparkler with a sparkler is also condemned by the Health'n'Safety brigade, from

Whilst I don’t have much care for Hallowe’en, I really get excited about Bonfire Night each year. We have a big fireworks party ’round mine every year, and I absolutely love it. The health ‘n’ safety parade are currently pedalling us all with the usual don’t swordfight with sparklers stuff they say every year, which I always think ruins things slightly.  Bonfire Night is, of course, an annual remembrance of the gunpowder plot, as in:

Remember, remember,

The fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot,

I see no reason, why gunpowder treason,

Should ever be forgot.

The man most associated with the event is Guy Fawkes, who was also known by the altogether more out-there name Guido. There is the joke that is resurrected every year about how Guy Fawkes is the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions and the means to carry them out. Aside from Guido, Guy and Fawkes, there are some other interesting names courtesy of the other participants in the Gunpowder Plot:

(Richard) Catesby

Everard (Digby)

(Sir) Ambrose (Rookwood)

(Thomas) Wintour

Now, let’s change the topic dramatically. The Great British Bake Off finished many weeks ago, but I caught some of the Junior version over on CBBC the other day. My sister was watching it, and one of the 12ish year olds competing was called Stanley. And that’s not the only time I’ve seen Stanley this week. During the regional news, there is the obligatory weather forecast and on my local version (and perhaps others) they show some pictures other watchers have taken over the day. This week they had a picture sent in from Stanley, Anais and Roman.

Now, here’s an interesting tidbit said by a friend of mine yesterday:

I think Isabella is a really nice name, you don’t hear her that often, it’s always Isabel

Being brought up the British way, I bit my tongue about Isabella being one of the most popular names in the States right now [2010 name data]. She does hit on a valid point in terms of Isabella, as there are three variations in the England&Wales Top 100:

Isabella, #12 (3395)

Isabelle, #17 (2689)

Isabel, #58 (1057)

Isobel, #75 (817)

Added together, the two Isabelle’s outnumber Isabella 4563 to 3395, so you are more likely to hear Isabel with whatever spelling more. That said, we have confined this highly mathematical study to just the Top 100, but lovely Elea went further and added up all the variations and came to the same conclusion that Isabelle has more uses than Isabella, with them being reshuffled to #3 and #11 in terms of ranking if different spellings were combined.

Isabella is a international variant of the name Elizabeth, but you don’t have to look far to find a little Isobel Elizabeth, Eliza Bella and so forth. This ties into an event which occured yesterday. I met a Megan Margaret, which shows this isn’t just limited to Isabel/Elizabeth.

Live At The Apollo returns tonight on BBC1, and an interesting note is that I’m actually good friends with the guy who uploads all of the comedy clips on YouTube. The show is named after the host of the show: Hammersmith Apollo, London. Most people associate Apollo with the moon missions. I’m of the generation where the Hammersmith Apollo is likely to be an equally notable possessor of the name, for services to the world of comedy.

Something I quickly tweeted about earlier on this week after getting back from work was my relationship with the name Harvey. Never particularly had a love of the name, until I began to work with one. He’s the sweetest potwasher you can meet, and even I can tell this, despite not really being able to understand a word he says due to hhis heavy accent. The same actually goes for Jacqui, a name I associated with the none too delightful politician Jacqui Smith until I met the one I work with, who looks eerily like the scary Kardashian mother.

Speaking of work, a rather controversial moment occured this week as well, when I was finally bestowed a name tag (hoorah!)…with Lucy written on it (boo!). Proof you can’t convert everyone.

Remember the Beau/Belle sibset from last week’s post, who were actually Benjamin/Annabel? Well, I have further news to report on this saga: there’s a third child. We received a Thank You card from the entire family on Tuesday for helping out at the party the father had organised to raise funds for a local charity, and I’ve had to bite my tongue all week about it. Turns out Beau/Belle have a younger sister I didn’t meet: Beatrix nn Betty. I feel like it’s me who should be sending them a Thank You card for services to great baby naming, despite the slight matchiness going off, I’m loving the offbeat way they’ve approached nicknames.

Let’s end by talking about the word Ben and the French. I’m off to France next February, and Ben is a word they really dig ( says it’s the 67rd most popular French word). Ben ranked #73 in England&Wales in 2010. For the French, the word ben is an interjection usually used colloquially, and for French learners, it’s a word you can draw out to a great length to give you more thinking time during a Spoken Expression exam (oui, j’aime le mot, aussi). It could be translated as meaning something along the lines of ah, well, yeah or ok. So if you’re a Ben visiting France and wondering why everyone keeps saying your name, now you know.

Categories: Name Spot of the Wek | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Name Spot of the Week: Bonfire Night

  1. I love Betty as a nn for Beatrix! Beatrix is high on my list and I keep coming up with even more reasons to keep her there.


  2. I love Guy, Fox (prefer it to Fawkes), Ambrose, Anais and Roman, and can see Wintour and Catesby being used by people looking for something “trendy but different.”


  3. Stunned by the adorableness of the BBB sibset!!!

    I’ve seen quite a few young Stanleys as well; it’s one of those names that aren’t really popular, yet you’re not surprised to run into one.


  4. I’m a bit iffy on Harvey, too. It’s an okay name, but ever since Katie Price named her son Harvey… Well, it seems to have cheapen it (that probably sounds really horrible).

    Beau, Belle and Betty are fantastic, though. I like both their first names and their nns.


  5. Pingback: ‘Beatrix/Beatrice Has No Decent Nicknames’ « Mer de Noms

  6. Pingback: Buzzing Bs « Mer de Noms

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