Names of the Week: Briar and Rhapsody


We’re going wordy this week with the names, and it’s worth first mentioning why exactly Briar takes the male name position in this post.

Yes, it’s well known that Sleeping Beauty also went by the name Briar Rose – but truth be told I came across the name first on a male character. I’m certainly one of the few to see Briar as male, since he does not rank as a male name in England&Wales; however, on the female list, Briar ranked at #5707 with only 3 girls given the name – with a further 5 named Briar-Rose.

So, where does this Briar-as-a-male-name thought stem from? Ever heard of a book called The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce? It was part of a series of books collectively known as The Circle of Magic which I first picked up in the late 90s. The four main characters were called Trisana ‘Tris’, Sandrilene ‘Sandry’, Daja and Briar. The character called Briar was male, and it’s important to note that he chose the name for himself. He mentions in the book that when he chose Briar he wanted it to be related to nature, but neither obviously so nor feminine in sound.

Another piece of popular fiction in the UK is the Artemis Fowl series of books by Eoin Cowlfer, and whilst it’s firstly notable for promoting Artemis as a male name through it’s main character – it’s also worth noting that there is a minor male character called Briar within it’s pages. With other character named things such as Julius and Caballine, I really need to devote a post to the character names in this particular series of books.

I can see his point completely, infact the name Briar rather reminds me of Brian – a rather staple in the arsenal of male names.

A Briar, or brier, plant is thorny in nature – such as a rose bush for example. Rather makes the popular combination of Briar Rose

We then have Rhapsody, a name very much still associated with legendary rock band Queen through their much-loved single Bohemian Rhapsody. The song itself came out in 1975 on the album A Night at the Opera; it’s unusual in that it has no chorus, rather, it has three very distinct sections in the composition: a ballad section, an operatic passage and a hard rock section. It remains to this day one of the most elaborate recordings in popular music, and at the time it held the distinction of being one of the most expensive singles ever made. It’s a good job, then, that the single was a commercial success – it’s one of the UK’s best selling singles of all time.

As a musical term, Rhapsody means:

An enthusiastic instrumental composition of indefinite form.

However, something you shouldn’t do is confuse Rhapsody with rhapsode; also called a rhapsodist, it refers not to music but to a professical performer of epic poetry from the 4th-5th century in classical Greek. Often, rhapsodes are depicted in Greek art, wearing their signature cloak and carrying a staff. This equipment is also characteristic of travellers in general, implying that rhapsodes were itinerant performers, moving from town to town.

The name Harmony is at #401 in England&Wales in 2010, but Rhapsody didn’t even make it onto the list (that requires 3 births). Melody ranked even higher at #293 – so it’s clear that musical names can be popular, but just not this one at this particular time.

Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Briar and Rhapsody

  1. I’m also one of the few who see Briar as more masculine than feminine – as you say, it sounds like Brian, and the thorns make it seem sort of tough and butch.

    (In the original French, Briar Rose would have been Eglantine anyway – I’m guessing that sounded too eggy or lumpy in English).

    Rhapsody seems feminine, although I can imagine a boy called Rhap, which sounds pretty urban. I do rather like the idea of Rhapsody.


  2. Pingback: Artemis Fowl « Mer de Noms

  3. On the ABC tv show The Fairies the fairies are named Harmony and Rhapsody being in my early teens and my mum doing family daycare that’s what I think of


  4. Pingback: Artemis Fowl | Mer de Noms

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