Weekend Post: Comeback Kid (Female Version)

Candace Flynn, from fanpop.com

Today’s post was inspired by a chance meeting with a five-year old Gertie this week. Gertie? I’m still in the dark about whether Gertie was indeed short for Gertrude, given the briefness of the encounter.

The name Gertrude is one which many have labelled as being hopelessly out of fashion, even to this day. Plenty of other names join her in this category, and I’ve picked out a few which could make a comeback based on their similarities to other popular names. If not, maybe another lesser-known name also similar may take your fancy.

Edna

I covered this name a few months ago as part of the Family Names For Sale series. She has potential, when you consider the similarities she shares with both Emma and Ella. Or indeed Eden. Infact, pre-conceived ideas aside, a sibset of Ella, Emma and Edna could be cousins to the Maude, Mollie and Maisie one we mentioned a few posts ago.

The name Edna itself could possibly derive from Hebrew and means rejuvenation, pleasure. An Irish Saint by the name Edana is sometimes referred to as Edna. Other similar names you may never have come across before include Edmé, which is a French short form of Edmund used for either gender – although it may be spelt Edmée for girls. There’s also Eda, which is a name mostly used in Turkey meaning either flirtateous airs or well-mannered. Finally, there is Ede which is usually used as a nickname for Edith. It’s also a name in it’s own right, with several variations: Eadu, Eade, Ead, Edde and Edda. The name means rich, happy.

Ethel

A name to really reconsider given the recent, rather unexpected usage of the name by British singer Lily Allen. I’ve been seeing the name Edith mentioned more and more, which shares similar, soft sounds with Ethel. Then we have names such as Isabel and Mabel which end exactly the same as Ethel, but enjoy much heightened popularity.

The name Ethel has her origins as a nickname for other names such as Ethelred, Ethelbert, Ethelburga and Ethelfleda. She derives from Old English and means noble. A fun fact to remember is that Ethel is, at her most basic, the Old English equivalent of the Germanic name Adela, which also means noble.

Other name I think sound similar to Ethel include Estelle, which is a French name that means star. There is also Estrild, which comes from Old English and is a combination of the name Eastre and the element hild which means battle. The Welsh version of Isolde is also worth a mention: Esyllt and also the Hungarian version of Attila: Etel.

Gertrude

Aside from recently meeting a little Gertie, the name Gertrude also happens to be Candace Flynn’s middle name. Don’t know who she is? Approach the nearest tween you know: Candace is Phineas and Ferb’s elder sister from the Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb.

Gertrude is a name of Old German origins, from which she means spear of strength. I picked her out not because she’s similar to any popular name, but more that she’s a staple on these kinds of lists. Surely, eventually, she’ll make her move off them?

A slightly similar, equally fusty name is Geraldine. There were two very high profile owners of the name circa the late 90s, but it seems neither inspired the masses. The first is Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell and the second is Dawn French’s character in Vicar of Dibley: Geraldine Granger. The name was coined by poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. It is usually taken as being the feminine form of the male name Gerald, which means rule of the spear.

Another name I wanted to mention is Gerda, which was the name of the wife of Freyr in Norse Mythology. In Old Norse, the name means fenced in. Finally, there is also Gerlinde, which combines the spear element with one meaning soft, tender or even serpent. She’s like a cross between Gertrude and Rosalinde.

Myrtle

Recently covered by Kristen of Marginamia and at first glance she is perhaps hindered slightly by the Moaning Myrtle association. However, the evergreen shrub by the name of myrtle is oft associated with love, peace, fertility and youth. Myrtle is mostly here because I suggested her as a 4th sister in the aforementioned Maude, Maisie and Mollie sibset and at least two of those three names are inside the Top 120.

There are plenty of floral names such as Myrtle which have yet to be embraced by the masses, but the one which I immediately drew similarities with Myrtle is Myristica – the botanical name for nutmeg.

A similar name is the Irish Myrna, which means joy, affection. We also have Morwyn, which comes from Welsh and means maiden. The name Miriam ultimately comes from Mary, and so could Moira if we take her to be the anglicised form of Máire.

Norma

The real name of Marilyn Monroe, and another name striking similar to Emma. The name Norma could either come as a feminine form of Norman – a name which comes from Old England and means northman. It could also derive from the Latin word norma, which means rule.

In terms of lesser known sound-alikes, there is Nona, which is Latin for ninth. There is also Noor, a name of Arabic origins which means light – sometimes, infrequently used as a short form of Eleanor. The name Nora could also be a variation of Noor, but is usually taken to be a short form of Honora. Normina is the Scottish female form of Norman, whilst Nortia was the Etruscan Goddess of fate which rather leads us in a circle back to Nona – the name of one of the three Fates in Roman Mythology.

Phyllis

The name of the youngest sibling from Edith Nesbitt’s The Railway Children. Her elder siblings were Roberta ‘Bobby‘ and Peter. Aside from the literary connection, the name Phyllis also appears in Greek mythology, where she was the daughter of the King of Thrace. The name derives from Greek and means leaves, foliage.

To me, this name is similar in sound to a combination of Alice and Philippa – both names of relative popularity right now. Alice means noble, whilst Philippa means friend of horses. I also find Phyllis to be similar to Top 100 England&Wales name Phoebe, which means bright, radiant.

Going on to lesser-known names similar to Phyllis, we have Philomena. I work at a banqueting-esque establishment and have served no less than three different Philomena’s in the past month, all certainly beyond the 50 mark. The name means friend of strength or beloved. There is also Philomel, which is a poetic word for nightingale. Finally there is Phlox, the Greek for fire.

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Categories: Old People Names | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Post: Comeback Kid (Female Version)

  1. Awkward Turtle

    I think Myrtle is quite cute and Norma would be a good comeback.

    Like

  2. I went to university with a Philomena; I thought it was pretty then and still do. Her nickname was Meena.

    (I have relatives named Geraldine and Norma, and know a Myrtle and a Phyllis!)

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  3. I didn’t know Geri Halliwell’s name was actually Geraldine. It doesn’t seem to suit her at all (All I can think of well someone mentions Geraldine is Peter Kay). I’m intrigued by Gerlinde. It has a lovely sound. And I went to school with a Filomena who went by Fi.

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  4. The only name I like is Myrtle. There is a supermarket chain called Norma in Austria and Germany. An alternative for Edna might be Edina, which is a popular Bosnian name

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  5. Pingback: Downton Abbey of Names Pt. II « Mer de Noms

  6. Pingback: Waterloo Road « Mer de Noms

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