Names from the Box

Barely Legal Drivers

Today I want to talk about a controversial BBC Three show thats recently finished it’s second series called Barely Legal Drivers. For those not familiar – and as the video above explains – the premise of the show is that various youngsters are lent the family car for the wee. Whilst they think they’re part of a show looking at modern life of young people in Britain, but actually they’re driving is scrutinised by their parents and ex-traffic officer Judith Roberts. There has been several cases of pretty shocking (and in more than a few, downright dangerous) driving in the series thus far (you can see some in the video), which has caused some controversy amongst the general British public.

Now, I’ve been watching the show with a bemused look on my face since I’m 20, and thus in the exact demographic for participants, however I hasten to add that unlike those on the show I do have my own little runaround (Gypsy, whom I’ve mentioned in passing before) and almost 3 years no claims bonus.

But we’re not here to snipe about others driving, but instead to look at the names, which also happen to be a look into the names of my own generation. Perhaps the most notable naming I’ve seen thus far on the show is a set of twins named Zahra and Farah. I think that it’s the first time I’ve seen the two names paired together, and I kinda loved it, despite the match-y-ness. The name Zahra (or Zara) almost certainly came into the English speaking world as an offshoot of Sarah, a name that comes from Hebrew and means princess. The name is also similar to Zahrah, an Arabic name that means blooming flower. The name Farah is Arabic in origin and means joy/delight.

Another set of twins that have appeared have less match-y names of James and Brian.

Another interesting fact is that there has been both a Chantal and Chantelle featured. The name Chantelle is a respelling of Chantal, which isn’t as modern as some may think: she comes from Old Provençal word cantal and means stone. The name Chantelle was #83 in 1994, but has fallen all the way to #750 since then. Ouch. It’s not much better for Chantal, who ranked at #571 in 1996 and now doesn’t even rank for 2013 (i.e. less than 3 girls were given the name). Clearly, the names are sadly past their best.

Another girl popped up with the name Dominique (using the nickname Dom). This is an interesting one for me to look at as I used to work with a girl my age with the same name, but at the same time the name appears to be more male-centric across the channel in France. Dominique is the French form of Dominic, which comes from Latin origins and means of the Lord. The name has fallen from #309 in 1996 to #2460 in 2013.

A young lad with the name Renaldo appears. Now, the name could be a respelling of the Portuguese name Ronaldo who ultimately comes from the Ragnvaldr (via Scottish name Ronald). The name is formed of two Old Norse elements:

  • regin, meaning might, counsel
  • valdr, meaning ruler

Many of the names on the show are what you might consider popular picks for my generation of youngsters born in the 90s, but have sadly fallen out of favour since.

Two examples of this are in Bradley and Dean. The former is a surname-turned-first name that means broad meadow. He’s fallen from #34 to #117 since 1994. Another name is Dean, who also comes from Old English and means valley. He’s had less staying power than Bradley, having fallen from #67 to #429 since 1994.

Nicknames – or what appears to be simply nicknames – appear frequently. A girl with the name Caz appears, with Caz being short for Caroline. I have a close friend who is also a Caroline nn Caz. Caroline was a Top 100 name from 1944 to 1984, but she’s fallen a long way since then, ranking at #733 in 2013. The name comes from the Karl family of names and so mean either man or woman, depending on whether you feel feminising the name means feminising the meaning.

There’s also an episode that features a Jamie and a Jessie. Now, Jessie is pretty certain to be actually a Jessica – a name that was #3 in 1994 and hasn’t strayed too far from that ranking since as in 2013 she came in at #6 in England&Wales. I might not be a fan myself, but the British public has for her to be a consistent Top 5 name for almost 20 years. That’s impressive.

The name Jessica was introduced to the British public by Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice, where he got the inspiration from a Biblical character called Iscah, who was also known as Jesca; the name means he beholds.

As for Jamie, he could actually be a James, a name that was #2 in 1994. However, Jamie ranked at #26, so it’s not so certain. The name James is Hebrew in origin and means supplanter.

A Tommy appears, and since Thomas was #1 in 1994, you could make an educated guess that he was born a Thomas – especially since Tommy didn’t enter the Top 100 until some 20 years later in 2011. The name Thomas is like Jessica in that with a 2013 rank of #6, he’s a long time keeper in the eyes of the British public; the name means twin.

Two final mentions go to Jac and Lauri, in which Jac is likely a respelling of Jack, and Lauri is most like a nickname for Laura.

Jack has been in the Top 3 since 1994, making him the ultimate male name of the past two decades in England&Wales, whereas meanwhile Jac has been hoovering around the 300 mark – and he’s currently at #350. Jack is a nickname of John and in 1984, the name John outranked Jack at #14 to #74 before Jack launched into his two decade long dominance; the names means Yahweh has favoured.

Laura was inside the Top 10 in 1994 at #9, and since then has fallen all the way to #146 with little signs of a reverse in fortune. The name comes from the Latin laurus and means bay tree. Whilst Lauri has hovered around the 3-baby-per-year mark, the spelling Laurie fares better at #910 for boys and #1360 for girls (both down from around the 500 mark in 1996).

All in all, the names are a little snapshot of the 20-somethings of today here in England&Wales, and that’s of personal interest to me as someone who grew up amongst them.

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The Borgias

l-r, Cesare holding Lucrezia, Pope Alexander, Vannozza and Juan. via wordpress.com

l-r, Cesare holding Lucrezia, beneath them Joffre, Pope Alexander, Vannozza and Juan. via wordpress.com

Anyone ever seen the historical drama The Borgias? I hadn’t even heard of it until recently, when a friend mentioned it to me, and it sure is a melting pot of slightly interesting names. Since it’s set in medieval Italy, the names of course have an Italian flair to them – but this is to be expected when pretty much all the characters are based on real life people, wearing the names of said people.

The series follows the Borgia family in their ascent to the top of the Roman Catholic Church as the family patriarch, Rodrigo Borgia, is elected to the papacy – albeit only due to bribery, of which Rodrigo’s son Cesare more than helped. Once Rodrigo becomes Pope Alexander VI, the series follows his family’s fight to maintain power, through striking alliances with other European powers and generally murdering anyone of any nuisance (two people were murdered by them in the first 10 or so minutes of the first episode I watched).

It’s no wonder that the series happily slates them as the original crime family.

CESARE

Pronounced che-SAH-ray, this is the name of one of Rodrigo Borgias’ sons. It is the Italian form of Caesar, and indeed with the Italian pronunciation sounds an awful lot more like it is spelled something like Cheseray. The name Caesar is heavily associated with the Roman, Julius Caesar.

LUCREZIA

The only daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, and when saying this name aim to insert a t sound in the second syllable: loo-kret-zyah. The Italian form of Lucretia, which most likely derives from the Latin word lucror, which means to gain/ to acquire.

SANCHA

A rather quirky alternative to Sasha, and the name of the wife of the youngest Borgia son, Joffre. Probably related to the Latin word sanctus, which means holy. The name is alternatively spelled Sanchia, and it’s male form is Sancho.

VANNOZZA

A form of the name Giovanna, which is the feminine form of the name Giovanni and itself is the Italian form of John. This is the name of the mistress of Rodrigo Borgia, and mother of his children.

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Fairies

Bloom

Ever heard of a TV show by the name of Winx Club? My youngest sibling used to watch it quite a bit a few years ago, but these days seems to be addicted to watching Tracy Beaker instead.

Either way, I wanted to talk about the show, which originates in Italy. The storyline of the series follows the adventures of initially 5 central fairy characters, and are generally do lots of good things in the process.

The names of the key characters very much subscribe to the whimsical theme:

Bloom. A whimsical word name I’ve yet to see used, although I guess it’s only a matter of time, really.

Stella. A name I see more and more these days, which derives from Latin and means star.

Flora. Another name related to nature, deriving from Latin and meaning flower.

Musa. This is an interesting pick, and I’m lead to believe this is the Italian word for muse/inspiration. It also happens to be the Arabic form of Moses.

Tecna. Again, a fascinating pick. She’s the fairy of technology, so her name appears to be a strained nod to that.

The Winx Club aside, I’m due to go and see Skyfall at the cinema tomorrow for the second time, and my sister wailed for some time about wanting to go and see the new Tinkerbell film instead. Thus, I thought it worthwhile to ponder for a moment on some of the names from this film, also.

Clarion. At first glance, I would make a wild guess that this name perhaps derives as another elaboration of Claire. Then again, Clarion also happens to be the name of an instrument, kind of a forerunner to the modern trumpet.

Fawn. The name associated with a young deer. Spell it Faun and you get a creature from Roman mythology. Fawn also happens to be a colour, sort of yellow-ish brown in hue.

Periwinkle. A shade of purple, and I’m certain that an old kids show from when I was little, Blues Clues, had a purple cat character in it with the name Periwinkle, too (Plus a pick dog named Magenta).

Vidia. Possibly a nod to the Latin word vida, which means life, but that seems a long shot (although Vidia is notably similar in sound to other names related to vida, including Vita and Vida).

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Waterloo Road

l-r teachers Chris, Helen, Grantly and Max, from revellation.co.uk

Last week we spent two days covering names from Downton Abbey, and I’m acutely aware that I still owe you all part. III of that particular series. However today,  in classic lou-style, we’re going in a completely different direction. Waterloo Road.

Those who do not live in the UK may not be familiar with the program, as it is another show of British origin and transmission. Like Downton Abbey, the name of the show is also the name of the setting – but this time the setting is a rather more modern one; a rather more chaotic one. It’s also award-winning – it won the most popular drama at the National Television Awards in 2011, and at the 2012 ceremony that title was taken from it by Downton Abbey.

Waterloo Road airs on the BBC, whilst ITV is the home of Downton Abbey, and it’s setting is a failing school in a not-so-affluent part of Greater Manchester.

Needless to say, some of the names on the show fit the surroundings. This is just a small selection of some of the names which have appeared on Waterloo Road since it’s inception in 2006.

Any name with an (*) next to it implies my belief that the name may be a nickname.

TEACHERS ET AL.

Bridget

Anglicised form of the name Brigid, means might and power.

Candice

Alternative spelling of Candace, which was once a title of the Queens of Ethiopia in ancient times.

Clarence (parent)

From the Latin title Clarensis – the dukedom of Clarence was created in the 14th century for Prince Lionel, son of King Edward III.

Eleanor

variant of Alianor, which is most likely a medieval Provençal form of Helena.

Estelle

derived from the Latin stella, which means star.

Grantly

presumeably a variation of Grant, which either derives from the Old English gránian which means to groan/murmur, or the Old French grant, meaning great, big.

Izzie*

likely to be a short form of Isabel, which is a medieval form of Elizabeth.

Janeece

an interesting take on the name Janice, which is a modern elaboration of the name Jane – she herself a feminine form of John.

Jez*

the name of a male character, could be short for James, Jared or Jeremy…or indeed, something else entirely.

Lorna

feminine form of the name Lorne, an ancient district in Scotland.

Maggie*

nickname of Margaret.

Nelson

originally an English surname, means son of Neil.

Ruby

a popular gemstone name for girls these days – Ruby was #1 in 2007 in England&Wales.

Steph*

usually a short form of Stephanie, the feminine form of Stephen – a name which means crown.

STUDENTS

Aleesha

a variant spelling of Alicia, a name that derives from Alice, who means noble. (more Aleesha)

Bex*

I know several girls named Bex, and for all of them it is a short form of the name Rebecca.

Bolton

the name of an area in Greater Manchester.

Denzil

a variation of the name Denisel, a medieval form of Dennis.

Earl

an aristocratic title, originally from the Old English eorl, meaning nobleman.

Harley (m)

derives from the Old English hara and léah, meaning hare clearing.

Jodie

a variant of either Judy or Josie.

Jonah

a Biblical name meaning dove.

Madi*

most likely a short form of either Madison or Madeline.

Marley (m)

derives from the Old English mearth meaning weasel or pine marten.

Mika (f)

in Japan, this is a feminine name meaning beautiful fragrance. Mika Newton represented Ukraine in Eurovision 2011.

Phoenix (f)

a legendary bird, this name is considered unisex.

Rhona

possibly an adaptation of Rona, the name of a Scottish island. It could also come from Rhone, Rhondda or Rhonabwy – or even a smoosh of Rhoda and Anna.

Ronan

an Irish name meaning seal.

Ros*

I know a Rosamund and a Roisin who both go by Ros.

Ruth

derived from Hebrew and means friend.

Sambuca

the name of an Italian anise-flavoured liqueur; character often went by the short form, Sam.

Trudi

the name Trudy derived as a nickname of Gertrude, a name which means spear of strength. (more Gertrude)

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Tweenies

The Tweenies from blogger.com

It’s been awhile since I’ve rummaged through the depths of children’s programming. I briefly watched Tweenies myself when it launched in 1998, but quickly grew out of the target audience – but with a sister still inside it I kept watching it throughout it’s run.

The show focuses on four main characters, all between 2-5 years old at the time of the series who attend nursery. Whilst it may not sound like a particularly exciting concept for a show, but it managed to keep my sister entertained for several years. In theory, that means that the characters would’ve been born circa the mid-1990s. It may therefore interest you first of all to know what the four main characters were called, with their 1998/2010 rank in England&Wales:

Bella (#925/#104)

Usually used as a short form of Isabella, and indeed it is the Italian word for beautiful. As you can see, this name has shot up since 1998 – which some attribute to the Twilight effect. The novel itself first hit the shelves in 2005, when Bella was at #438 which confirms my suspicions that the name was moving up prior to the books.

Fizz (no rank/no rank)

English word, in context, if a liquid fizzes, it produces a lot of bubbles. The posh word we chemists like to use instead is effervescence. As a child, I was certain that this was a nickname since even to a much younger, gullible and somewhat impressionable me. In terms of ranking, I’m not surprised to see this name has never ranked – although in 2010 both Fizza and Fizzah made an appearance. The fact that Fizz’s brother was called Gary somewhat supports my childhood theory that Fizz was a nickname for her but since we’ve never been provided with further detail it remains a theory.

Jake (#22/#29)

Either a medieval variant of Jack, or a short form of Jacob. In terms of rankings, the name hasn’t really shifted anywhere far since 1998.

Milo (#244/#164)

Old Germanic form of the name Miles. Often associated with the Latin word miles, meaning soldier. Quite by chance, the name Milo came up yesterday.

Aside from the four main characters, there were a few other interesting names in the mix from peripheral characters, and a special thanks to my sister whose knowledge of The Tweenies remains startling intact. Then again, I discovered this week during a debate with friends that I can still recall where the bus stopped on each weekday on the show Playdays.

Kexin

The name of Jake’s older brother. There’s a Chinese gymnast by the name He Kexin, whose exact age was subject to some controversy during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The thing to remember, however, is that Kexin is female – but it is telling that Kexin surfaced on the Tweenies several years before the gymnast made her international début in 2008. I’m pinning my bets on my second cousin Keivan using the name Kexin, following the example of father Kelvin and grandfather Kevin. He is only 3, though, so that day is potentially a long way off. According to Nancy, there were 5 girls born in the US in 2009 named Kexin; I’m rather unsurprised that the name Kexin ranks for neither gender in 2010 in England&Wales.

Mella

The name of Bella’s older sister. As you may have seen above, Bella wasn’t exactly popular back in 1998, never mind Mella. You may like to link it to melle, the Latin word for honey – from which the French received their word for honey: miel. The we have the English word mellow, which isn’t really applicable to the origins of Mella, but is certainly a word I always link it to.

Mitzi

The name of Jake’s mother. Mitzi is the German form of Maria, although my sister has commented that to her the name is Maisie gone German. Whilst that isn’t exactly correct since neither name is related, it does have a social application, i.e. if you like Maisie, but not her popularity, why not consider Mitzi?

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Downton Abbey of Names Pt. II

Sceneshot from Downton Abbey, from guim.co.uk

Yesterday we talked about the family of the Earl of Grantham from the surprise hit show Downton Abbey. We’re continuing in a similar thread by today looking at the staff of the household. For those wondering, there will be a part III, which I’ll put off until next week to allow you time to recover; that post in question will be looking at the recurring cast of the show.

However, first, we introduced Pt.I with a mention of the creator of the show, Julian Fellowes. It seems fair, therefore to start this post by talking about Shelagh Stevenson who is one of the main writers for the show. Shelagh is likely to be a variant spelling of the name Sheila. The name Sheila herself derives from the Irish name Síle, which is the Irish form of the name Celia; follow that further and you get to Cecilia, which derives from Latin and means blind.

But now, let’s begin with the gentlemen, and the first one to mention is Charles Carson, who is played by Jim Carter. What’s interesting about both men is that their surnames have seen use as first names.

Charles is usually taken as being the English and French form of the German name Karl, which means man. On the other hand, the name Carson is likely of Irish origins, but his exact meaning remains unclear. In 2010, Charles ranked at #62 for boys in England&Wales, whilst Carson ranked at #503.

The name Jim is usually a short form of James – a name which means supplanter. The surname Carter alludes to one who uses a cart. Whilst James ranked at #10 in 2010, Jim ranked at #1620 with just 14 born; he was outranked by both Jimmy (#307) and Jimi (#942).

The actor Jim Carter is married to the rather delightful Imelda Staunton who played Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films. Imelda’s middle names are Mary, Philomena and Bernadette.

Starting at the start of her name and working through in order, we first have Imelda which is both the Spanish and Italian form of the German name Irmhilde, which is derived from the Germanic elements:

  • ermen, meaning whole
  • hilta, meaning battle
We spoke in depth about Mary yesterday, and Philomena is derived from Greek and means friend of strength or loved. As an aside, the word filomena was once used in Italian and Spanish medieval poetry whereon it took the meaning of nightingale. Finally, the name Bernadette is the French feminine form of Bernard, which can be taken to mean brave bear.
In terms of ranking, both Imelda and Philomena failed to achieve a place in the England&Wales data, thus less than 3 were born in 2010. The name Mary ranked at #213, whilst Bernadette was way down at #2235 – with just 11 of ’em born.

What’s more, together the couple have a daughter named Bessie, which is one of the many offshoots of Elizabeth, another name we discussed yesterday.

Moving on we have the character John Bates, who is played by actor Brendan Coyle. The name John means Yahweh is gracious, whilst Brendan could derive from the Welsh brenin, which means king.

We then have the character of Thomas Barrow, who is played by actor Robert James-Collier. The name Thomas is another popular choice – he currently ranks at #6 –  but no doubt many will be unaware that he means twin. Once more, we mentioned Robert yesterday – but in a nutshell the name Robert means bright fame.

The last male staff member we should mention in this post is William Mason. He is played by Thomas Howes. The name William derives from two Germanic elements:

  • vilja, meaning will
  • helm, meaning helmet
The name Mason is simply a word name, in terms of a builder, although many refer to the Freemasons as simply Masons as well.

Moving on to the female members of the staff, we start with Elsie Hughes, played by actress Phyllis Margaret Logan. The name Elsie is the second name we’ve come across in this post alone which derives as a short form of Elizabeth. The name Phyllis we very recently mentioned in a post on old people names, and if you missed it, the name means leaf/leaves/foliage. I’m pretty sure we mentioned Margaret as well in Pt.II, although I will tell you that she means pearl.

Moving slightly away from the Yorkshire home of Downton Abbey, the actress Phyllis Logan was born in Paisley which I’ve recently seen considered for/given to girls. As well as being a place name, it is also the name for a pattern which derived from the town of the same name; Paisley is closely associated with Scotland. The origins of the name Paisley likely lie in the Irish word baslec, which means church. And as for Logan, it heralds from Ireland and means hollow.

Our second female member of staff is Sarah O’Brien, who is played by Siobhan Finneran. The name Sarah is well known to mean princess in Hebrew, whilst Siobhan is the Irish Gaelic form of the name Jane/Joan, both of which derive from the name John we we’ve already mentioned above.

The actress Siobhan is married to one Mark Jordan and together they have two children: Joseph and Poppy – two more names we’ve mentioned recently, but in two different posts. Joseph came up yesterday, whilst Poppy came up last week. The meaning of Poppy is clear, and she ranks at #16. The name Joseph means he will add, and the name ranks at a pretty similar #15.

Next we have Anna Smith who is played by Joanne Froggatt. The name Anna is usually taken as being derived from Ann, whilst Ann herself is usually taken to come from Hannah – which would therefore mean that the name means grace. Joanne is a variant of Joan, mentioned above.

Still with me? Gwen Dawson is one of the household’s housemaids along with Ethel Parks. Gwen is a delightful Welsh name and female form of Gwyn – but she is often seen as a nickname for Gwendolen or even Guinevere. The name Gwyn means white, pure, blessed. Then we have Ethel, which appeared in the same post as the aforementioned Phyllis. The name Ethel derives from Old English and means noble.

As for the actresses, Gwen is played by Rose Eleanor Leslie and Ethel is played by Amy Nuttall. When it comes to the former, both her first and middle names are in the England&Wales Top 100: Rose at #90 and Eleanor at #61. The name Leslie started off life as a Scottish surname, and thus probably derives from Scottish gaelic and means garden holly. Once upon a time, the name Leslie was all-boy. It’s worth noting however that in 2010, there were only 8 girls called Lesley born – and not enough girls named Leslie for that particular spelling to rank. However, on the other side of the fence, 10 male Leslies were born in England&Wales.

One of our last characters to mention is Beryl Patmore, who is played by Lesley Nicol. The name Beryl coincides with the name of a precious gem and just 6 girls were given the name in 2010.

And last, but by no means least, we have Daisy Robinson, played by actress Sophie McShera. Both names are quite popular these days in England&Wales: Daisy ranks at #15 and Sophie ranks at #2. The name Sophie comes from Greek and means wisdom.

 

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Downton Abbey of Names Pt. I

Snapshot of the charming Dame Maggie Smith in character, from madblackcat.com

I would be a sham of a Brit if I didn’t admit to visiting a few castles/abbeys in my time. I’ve dedicated a whole post to Chatsworth House, and have been thinking about other castles to mention in the near future. But today, it seems time to cover a famed British estate, which may not exactly be real – but it has certainly captured our attentions, and the attentions of those abroad.

Downton Abbey is a period drama, which airs on ITV here in the UK and it set up north in Yorkshire. At the time of the series, George V was the King – and future grandfather of our current monarch – Elizabeth II.

The series was created by Julian Fellowes, so it seems apt to begin our look into names there. In 2010, the name Julian ranked at #311 in England&Wales, whilst Jules is experiencing something of a boom over in France. The name Julian is the English form of the Latin name Julianus, which means belonging to Julius. The name Julius derives from Jupiter, although it is often claimed that he derives from Greek and means downy-bearded.

As an aside, in 2009, Elizabeth Adeney gave birth at the age of 66 to a son she named Jolyon – a medieval variant of Julian – making her then the eldest mother in the UK.

Julian Fellowes is married to Emma Joy, and together they have one son named Peregrine. Emma was born in 1963, and her name means whole, universal, whilst Peregrine means stranger, traveller.

Moving away from real-life, and into the fictional world of Downton Abbey, let’s start with the Crawley family as the focus for Part I. At the top of the pile is The Right Honourable Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. The name Robert is a classic staple, currently ranking at #90 in England&Wales. He means bright-fame, whilst charming Rupert is a German form of him and ranks at #360.

This character is played by Hugh Bonneville. The name Hugo has been enjoying increased attention of late, not least in thanks to the BAFTA-nomintated 2010 film of the same name. Hugo is the Latin form of the name Hugh, which himself is the English form of the Germanic name Hugi, a name that means heart. It was brought to Britain with the Normans.

Of all three names, Hugi does not rank in England&Wales, but both Hugh and Hugo do. Despite the star-power of comedian-come-actor Hugh Laurie, the name Hugo outranks Hugh at #149 to #364. It’s worth noting at this point that Hugh Laurie isn’t actually a Hugh – his real name is James Hugh Calum Laurie.

Going further with the actor’s family, Hugh Bonneville is married to a lady named Lulu Evans, and together they have a son called Felix. The name Lulu is a common short form for plenty of names, such as Louise; Lucy; Louisa; Lucia, and indeed plenty moreLulu ranked at #840 in 2010, England&Wales. Felix, on the other hand, derives from Latin and means lucky, successful. Felix is another slightly-outside Top 100 lurker at #122.

The wife of the Earl of Grantham is The Right Honourable Cora Crawley. The name Cora is likely to have been derived from the Greek Kore, which means maiden, however there may have been influence from similar names such as Coralie. Cora ranks at #438, whilst Coralie ranks at #2589, with only 8 of them born in 2010.

This character is played by Elizabeth McGovern, whose name means God is my oath. She has two children, called Matilda and Gracie. The name Matilda means strength of battle, whilst Gracie is a diminutive of the name Grace. The name Matilda ranks at #53, whilst Gracie is slightly higher at #51. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is at #49 – so all three names are separated by just 2 other names – Leah at #50 and Amber at #52.

The children of the Earl and Countess of Grantham are called Mary Josephine, Edith and Sybil. As an aside, my sister recently declared dibs on the name Edith, along with a handful of other names. But that’s for another time, another post.

Mary has enjoyed ferocious popularity for centuries, mostly thanks to her prominent role in the Bible. Despite this, it’s never been certain what exactly the name Mary means, but what we do know is that she currently ranks at #213. Her origins could be:

  • Egyptian, meaning to love/desire
  • Hebrew, meaning rebellious/disobediant, or even sea and star.
The name Josephine is the feminine form of the name Joseph, which derives from Hebrew and means he will add. The eldest sister is played by Michelle Dockery, whose name is a feminine form of Michael and means who is like God? In 2010, Josephine ranked at #303, whilst Michelle leads her #251.
The name Edith derives from Old English, and it’s elements means rich and war. She is played by Laura Carmichael, and Laura means laurel. Edith is surprisingly high at #259, whilst Laura is at a respectable #125.

The youngest sister’s name, Sybil, derives form the Latin name Sibylla and means sibyl – which is a title given to a female whom utters prophecies. She is played by Jessica Brown-Findlay. The name Jessica made her début in William Shakespeare’s play Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare likely based the name on the minor Biblical character Iscah – who was known as Jesca/Jescha in his time. Either way, the name derives from Hebrew and means he beholds. The name Sybil was only given to 4 girls in 2010, whilst Jessica was given to a pretty impressive tally of 4102 – rewarding her with a ranking of #6.

Our next character to mention is The Right Honourable Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess, who is played by the rather wonderful Dame Maggie Smith – born Margaret Natalie Smith. She was married to Robert Stephens before divorce and married to Beverley Cross until his death. She has two sons: Toby and Christopher.

Let’s start with Violet, which derives from the plant. The name is currently lurking just outside the Top 100 at #123. Out of Maggie and her long form of Margaret, it is Maggie who ranks higher – at #276 to Margaret’s #505. The name Margaret means pearl.

The name of her second husband highlights the once masculine edge Beverley possessed – a name which means beaver stream. As for the names of her two sons: Christopher derives from Late Greek and means bearing Christ; Toby is a short form of Tobias, the Greek form of Tobiah, which means Yahweh is good. Christopher dropped out of the Top 100 in 2010 to #104, whilst Toby has recently entered the Top 100 at #54.

The name Beverley no longer ranks for males, whilst 6 female Beverleys were born in 2010.

The last two Crawleys are called Matthew and Isobel. The name Matthew means gift of Yahweh, and is a Top 100 favourite at #41. Then we have Isobel, which is the Scottish form of Isabel. The name Isabel herself is a medieval variant of the already mentioned Elizabeth. There are currently a few versions of Isobel in the England&Wales Top 100:

  • Isabella at #12
  • Isabelle at #17
  • Isabel at #58
  • Isobel at #75

Matthew Crawley is played by actor Daniel Jonathan Stevens. Daniel derives from Hebrew and means God is my judge, whilst Jonathan is also from Hebrew and means Yahweh has given. Daniel lurks just outside the Top 10 at #11, whilst Jonathan is a little lower down at #141.

Last, but by no means least, we have Isobel Crawley who is played by Penelope Alice Wilton, and both names are rather in vogue in Britain at the moment. Alice is currently at #43, whilst Penelope is at #272; her common short form of Penny is at #396.

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Weekend Post: The Name the Advert Took

Claud from the Renault Mégane advert, from carpages.co.uk

I’ve spent all day running up an down a Great Central Railway train giving out gifts with Santa Claus. That means I have now seen a small sample of what names the kind people of the East Midlands are giving to their offspring. Something someone mentioned to me was that they named their 10 week old daughter Nina because there are too many Clover adverts on the TV at the moment – something I never noticed myself. Clover is a brand of margarine here in the UK, and the recent We All Love Clover ad campaign was ripped to shreds by my peers for featuring people getting rather emotional about some margarine:

Their current advertising campaign is about the greatness of being in the middle. Despite this mother’s concerns, I still maintain Clover is a fantastic choice nevertheless. It’s also worth noting that the name of another brand of margarine here is called Flora.

So, we may hate them, but there’s always that occasional gem you need to look out for when it comes the adverts. Whilst the Clover advert doesn’t feature a named character, the product bears a name that a child could. It’s a thin line really between over and under exposure names get from companies desperate to flog their goods.

Therefore, it seems apt to look at a few adverts that have which all heavily feature a named character. Clearly, if Cadbury had named it’s characters, it would’ve easily taken a place on the list for its drumming gorilla and eyebrows adverts:

1. Adam and Jane (BT)

From the BT adverts we have Adam and Jane, alongside Jane’s children from a previous relationship, Joe and Lucy, and their new baby, Alfie. The main characters are acted out by a Kris and an Esther. The adverts have been following them now for several years, charting the development of their relationship and their use of BT services at the same time.

Whilst you may think that both name are reasonably well used, Jane has fallen down in recent years, now sitting below the 1000 mark:

Adam: #39, 2088 births

Jane: #1040, 32 births

Adam is the Hebrew word for man, whilst Jane ultimately comes from the same sources as John, meaning Yahweh is gracious. I still doubt that the BT adverts really have any effect over whether we use the names Adam and Jane any more or less – but the writers appeared to have picked up on current name trends by using Alfie for the newborn.

2. Alexandr (Compare The Market)

Comparethemeerkat.com has never been more popular. Fronted by the rather batty meerkat, Alexandr Orlov, he urges you to go the comparethemarket for cheap car insurance, not comparethemeerkat. Here in England&Wales, you’re more likely to meet an Alexander than a Alexandr:

Alexandr: #4678, 3 births

Alexander: #21, 3025 births

Really, using Alexandr may mean you get simples shouted at your little one, but there are two facts to consider:

  1. The majority of Alexandr’s (with whatever variation) tend to shorten their name.
  2. Alexandr could easily be mistaken for Alexander – it’s your choice to correct them.

3. Nigel (Government Anti-Piracy)

We’ve all been told, knock off Nigel buys knock off DVDs. This one, out of all of these, is probably well remembered given that it came in the form of a catchy song. We all love a catchy tune to hum, and that may be a  hinderance to the name Nigel. That, and the fact that most see Nigel as a middle-aged name. Currently in England&Wales, the name is at:

Nigel: #1344, 18 births

The name Nigel is commonly associated with the Latin word niger, meaning black. It has also been linked with the name Neil, which either means champion or cloud.

4. Pablo (Frank)

I love David Mitchell, who voiced the rather cynical drug awareness advert for Frank: Pablo the Drug Mule dog. Particularly well-known amongst the younger generation, since David Mitchell’s core fan base is as such.

Pablo: #792, 32 births

Pablo is the Spanish form of Paul – which comes from Latin and can either mean small or humble.

5. Claud (Renault Mégane)

This acts as an additional name. In the shortened adverts which were the core ones shown his name is not given, but if you catch the long version, you do find out his name. It follows the pursuits of a frenchman, Claud, as he goes to Gisburn in Lancashire to discover why there is a correlation between fertility and the presence of Renault Méganes in a town. The really long version is quite amusing because of the stick the people of Gisburn give Claud.

‘Money can’t buy you happiness’…’but lack of money certainly causes misery’

Claude: #2629, 7 births (Claud does not rank)

This advert is certainly the least well known of the five, and I’m sure many of you have no idea what I’m talking about. That’s totally fine, even I’m not sure what I’m saying some of the time. My problem with Claud comes from his meaning: he’s a derivation of the Latin name Claudius which means crippled.

Categories: Names from the Box | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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