Names of the Week: Chinon and Hestia

Chinon Fountain

I’ll be honest, there really is no connection with this week’s names, aside from being ones on my mind of late. Let’s start over at Midwinter Names, which may seem slightly unexpected but it serves as a good introduction to the name Chinon.

You see, Bree recently posted a name game, asking for the male first name to be a place name – and my first thought was to use Chinon, until I changed my mind and went with Mazières instead. As it happens, both are French towns in the western side of France. French names are usually rather wonderful – and place names are certainly enjoying somewhat of a popularity boom. Whether it be Paris or Sofia; Boston or Austin.

The town of Chinon is home to Chinon Castle – which itself was the primary residence of Henry II. During the Angevin Empire, court was frequently held there. By 1205, Chinon was considered a French royal estate and during the Hundred Years’ War the heir apparent and future Charles VII of France sought refuge in the area. From the sixteenth century, Chinon was no longer a royal residence.

All this may be so, the first real issue to mention with Chinon is how one says it: SHE-non. But then again, if Manon can be popular for girls in France, one could consider Chinon a logical male version of the name. Another similar French name is Ninon, which is a diminuative of the name Anne, much as Manon is to Marie.

As for the actual place, Chinon is where François Rabelais was born, a famed writer from the 16th century. He published his first work under the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier, which was an anagram of his own name. Personally, Rabelais feels as if he could fit in with Nook’s most recent edition of Surnames as First Names.

The name Hestia is, admittedly, from Harry Potter. She and twin sister Flora were part of Prof. Slughorn’s Slug Club, which I didn’t realise until a friend emailed me about it. There is another character named HestiaHestia Jones – who was a member of The Order of Phoenix.

Hestia comes from Greek mythology, and her Roman equivalent is called Vesta. Her name means hearth or fireside, and predictably she was the Goddess of the hearth amongst other things. Her siblings included similar-named Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Zeus and Chiron. The latter has a name rather similar to Chinon, and Chiron was a centaur. He had a daughter named Hippe, also known as the rather fascination Melanippe – like a strange cross between Melanie and Penelope.

I’ve seen the name compared in sound to Wisteria and Hester – indeed one could consider her a smoosh of the two. Whilst Wisteria is the name of a flower, the name Hester is a variation of Esther. The difference between the names comes in their popularity: in 2010, the name Hestia did not rank in England&Wales at all (i.e. less than 3 girls were given the name). The same goes for Wisteria, but Hester was given to 15 girls. On the other hand, Vesta was given to 3 girls.

Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Names of the Week: Chinon and Hestia

  1. Think it’s a shame we don’t (and never have) seen much of Hestia. You’d think it ticked the right boxes — when Esther/Hester were relatively popular (a hundred years ago) if not now.


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