Names of the Week

Names of the Week: Kalani and Lilo


Can you guess what I’m watching at the moment? Well, only half-an-eye is on my father’s Sunday night guilty pleasure of Hawaii Five-0.

The name Kalani was once one I was rather fond of, and he maintains a small place in my heart for his playful sound, similar with many other names of Hawaiian origins. A similar Hawaiian name I’m also fond of is Kala, which is their version of Sarah.

Kalani can either be a male or female name, but my personal preference is for it to be on a male. Indeed, that is vaguely the way things are looking in the popularity stakes here in England&Wales: there were 5 boys given the name in 2010, but less than 3 girls.

If we split the name into two parts, we get ka and lani, the former part meaning the, and the latter part meaning heaven, thus the name collectively means the heavens. As far as dodgy meanings go, this one doesn’t get a look in.

As for where/how he’s being used, there are two notable surfers named Kalani; one is Kalani David, and the other is Kalani Robb.

Aside from them, there are also a few notable people from other cultures with the name Kalani; Iranian football player Hossein Kalani bears the name Kalani as his surname; and an Indian surname, such as Indian criminal/ politician Pappu Kalani.

Then we have Lilo, who is a fresh alternative to the ever-popular LilyLilo Pelekai is perhaps the best-known bearer, she of Lilo&Stitch fame. There is also the rather unfortunate connection with the troubled actress Lindsay Lohan – often referred to a LiLo.

The film Lilo&Stitch came out in 2002, and featured a young Hawaiian girl with the name; her elder, teenage sister was called Nani. Whilst the film was of reasonable success, it appeared to have little effect on the name’s fortunes here in England&Wales. The name didn’t rank in either 2002 or 2003 – and not even in 2010.

Aside from being a Hawaiian name meaning lonely, it could also be a short form of the German smoosh name Liselotte meaning she very well could have qualified for a list from last week. Especially as she globe trots elsewhere, since there is a village in Northern Ireland called Lilo and another just outside of the capital in the country of Georgia.

Then we have the English word lilo, also known as an air mattress.

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Names of the Week: Jazz and Sorrel


Two word names last week, ‘lo and behold, two word names this week. Even more in keeping is that one of last week’s names was a musical name, and the other was a nature name; this time we’ve switched genders, at the very least.

Back in my days of secondary school I was in the same form as a guy named Jared and he went by the name Jazz on a day-to-day basis. Then again, one could also argue the case for using Jazz as a short for of Jasmine, a female name. Speaking of gender ambiguity, remember the debate that erupted over a Canadian gender-neutral baby last year? The baby in question was called Storm, and the elder siblings were called Kio and Jazz (we know them to be male).

As a word, Jazz is difficult to define; a jazz critic by the name of Joachim Berendt has attempted to do just that, describing as:

form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music…a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role….sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician

Pretty wordy, but I guess it does the job of defining Jazz well enough. The origin of the word also happens to be a bit of a grey area (of course it would be). The American Dialect Society even named Jazz as the Word of the 20th Century. Since Jazz began life as a slang word, that’s why it’s exact origins are hard to place.

I think that Jazz has a certain vibrancy to him, and he ends with some snazzy zs – almost as fantastic as ending-in-x. You could also link him to Jack on the basis of sound, since both are short, 1-syllable names starting with J.

In terms of his popularity, the name Jazz only ranks on the female list in England&Wales – and only just with 3 of ’em born. That means that I still see the gender of Jazz as fluid since he’s hardly used right now.

Then we have Sorrel, another name which lives in the grey area of gender-ambiguity. It ends in -el, like plenty of female names do – but then again, so does Lionel and that’s one name that is quite firmly male. British author, Sir Julian Sorell Huxley was a notable male bearer, as is Sorrell Booke, an American actor.

Sorrel, in botanical terms, is a plant with acidic leaves, sometimes used in cooking. Personally I’ve never used sorrel before in the kitchen in my life, but there we go.

There’s a plant in the Caribbean known as Jamaican Sorrel, or otherwise as Roselle, and another link to Jamaica is that they have a hibiscus tea there known as Sorrel.

Related names could include Sora on the basis of sound-similarity (a name which we’ve previously covered in this feature) and perhaps even Perenelle.

On to popularity and it’s not exactly an exciting set of statistics: in 2010 the name Sorrel was given to 8 girls born in England&Wales. Not a sizable number by any means, but if you’re looking for a less-than-often used name this may be a statistic you’re happy to hear about.

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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.

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Names of the Week: Fawkes and Avie

V for Vendetta poster, from

This week we’re covering two names picked mostly off the top of my head, which predictably turned out to have a strenuous link to one another. My spidey senses work overtime on these posts, clearly.

First off, our male name. It’s no where near the 5th November, but I’m itching to cover Fawkes nevertheless. Here in the UK he’s synonymous with Guy Fawkes, whilst elsewhere many may firstly think of a certain phoenix.

Guy Fawkes was also known as Guido Fawkes and was involved in the famed, yet failed Gunpowder Plot. I visited the Tower of London a year or two ago, and was told a rather humorous joke relating to Guy Fawkes by a Yeoman Warder there, which ran along these lines:

Guy Fawkes is famous in English history for being the only man to have entered Parliament with honest, noble intentions, a clear agenda, and the resources to see it through (6.40).

The main aim of the Gunpowder Plot was to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of England’s Parliament on the 5th November 1605, thus resulting in the death of the reigning monarch, James I. Things, however, didn’t go exactly to plan and Guy Fawkes was later sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered for treason.

The Gunpowder Plot also happened to be the basis of the cult film V for Vendetta. There has recently been a feature on the BBC news channel regarding the masks seen in V for Vendetta, and their usage by groups opposing Government in some way; the most recent example being the Occupy protests. It also so happens that the main female character in the movie is called Evey, which happens to be startlingly simple to our female name this week.

Goin back to the name, Fawkes likely derived from the Latin falco, which means falcon, a type of bird. You may therefore be able to see the aptness of assigning the name Fawkes to Dumbledore’s phoenix in the Harry Potter series of books.

There are actually plenty of other names related to falcon which merit a mention here, too:

Eleonora, a species of Falcon.

Fox, a type of Kestrel found in Africa.

Kestrel, a type of bird also categorised as a falcon.

Merlin, a species of Falcon also called a Pigeon Hawk.

Peregrine, a species of Falcon also called a Duck Hawk.

Taita, a species of Falcon found in Africa.

Speaking of birds, the Latin word for them is avis, which has been linked to our second name: Avie. I’ve had her continually on my mind since I mentioned her several weeks ago. Aside from a possible connection with the Latin avis, the name may also be an offshoot of another Av- name, a category which includes (numbers which come after indicate number of girls given the name in 2010, England&Wales):

Avalon, means apple orchard and is the name of an island in Arthurian legend. (7)

Aveline, a diminuative of Avila. (3)

Aven, the name of a river in Brittany, France.

Averil, a variation of Everild, which means boar-battle.

Avila, a name of Old German roots, possibly meaning desired. Could also be related to Avis.

Aviva, a Hebrew name meaning spring.

Avocet, a species of wading bird.

Avril, the French for april. (8)

All delightful choices, and mostly obscure ones at that. It’s worth noting that Avie makes it onto Nameberry’s list of Lost Names From the 1880s, alongside Hettie, Delphia and Vesta.

There is another name which Avie may be linked to and that is Avi; he’s a Hebrew male name and means my father. He also happens to be related to Abe, a name we made mention of earlier on this week.

Either way, Avie is right up the alleyway of nicknames so much in vogue right now here in Britain. She startlingly similar to Evie, who lives at #10 in the 2010 England&Wales rankings, so could make for a viable alternative if Evie’s popularity isn’t your cup of tea.

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Names of the Week: Jules and Helen

Christophe Maé and son Jules, from

I started writing this whilst France vs. Ireland is on in the background. I can profess to be a huge follower of rugby, but exceptions can be made for Six Nations. That’s kind of why we’re writing about the name Jules this week, because he is really the darling of the French at the moment. Oh, and as for Helen – she’s Kira’s middle name.

Jules can also be spelled Jools and whilst the name appears more popular for lads in France at the least, examples of males and females bearing the name are there. In England, there are two well-known people named Jools – one male, one female.

Jools Holland is a muscian come presenter, and in his case Jools is short for Julian Miles. Then we have Jools Oliver who is chef Jamie Oliver’s wife and former model, for her Jools is short for Juliette. The latter name may seem overly familiar to you, and that’s because you’ll likely be all-too-familiar with the name of her children:

  • Poppy Honey Rosie
  • Daisy Boo Pamela
  • Petal Blossom Rainbow
  • Buddy Bear Maurice

There is another well-known Jules in England, immortalised in a song by two comedians called Three Lions. The line goes as such:

Three Lions on a shirt, Jules Rimet still gleaming. Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming

Football fans may be aware that the name of the original World Cup was called Jules Rimet, after FIFA president of the same name; it was during his leadership of FIFA that the World Cup began in 1930 and he remains one of the longest-serving FIFA presidents. After Brazil won the tournament for the third time in 1970, they were granted the reward of keeping the trophy indefinitely. Unfortunately, in 1983 the cup was stolen and hasn’t been seen since.

In terms of well-known French uses, the first one whom comes to mind is Jules Verne, author of Around the World In 80 Days, amongst other fine works. Then we have a rather more modern namesake: well-known and liked French singer Christophe Maé has a son named Jules born in 2008.

So, Jules can be short for Juliette or Julian – or indeed used as he stands as the French do; he is the French form of Julius, after all. Whilst Jules may be popular in France, that’s not exactly the case in England&Wales:

Rank Births
Jules #1082 25
Jools #2941 6
Julian #311 143
Julien #1724 13
Jolyon #4678 3

Sometimes the name’s meaning is given as downy-bearded, but the name Julius is likely to derive from Iovis, from which we also get Jupiter.

Overall, what you get with Jules is a vibrant, modern-sounding name that has been around for much longer than one may intially believe – Jules Verne was born in the early 19th century. Yes, he has a slight unisex edge to him – but it’s worth noting that Bailey, Riley and Ashley continue to perform best on the male side of the fence in England&Wales:

Male Female
Ashley #178 #516
Bailey #79 #505
Jules #1082 n/a
Riley #25 #830

Whilst Jules is very much in vogue in certain parts of the world – well, mostly France – the name Helen hasn’t had much chatter about her of late, although sister’s Helena and Ella are getting a look in.

Mentioning the French, my French teacher for most of my school career was called Helen, and the French pronounced her name as we would Ellen. The h is silent, as it is for Héloïse.

Helen can very much be a modern pick, Robert De Niro welcomed a daughter named Helen Grace as recently as December 2011. He’s just one example. Helen ranked at #623 in 2010 in England&Wales, which isn’t popular by any stretch of the imagination but very much could be baby bear’s bed if you want something familiar but not crowding out the local nursery group.

Helen is related to a whole bunch of other names, of which many outrank her:

  • Elena – #192
  • Ella – #18
  • Ellen – #216
  • Ellie – #29
  • Helena – #333
  • Lena – #192
  • Nell – #390
  • Nelly – #747

Now, the meaning. Her exact meaning is uncertain, but Helen has been associated with the Greek word helenê, which means torch. I take it this is where Kira got the impression that the name Helen has a light-related meaning.

To sum up, every name has potential to shine if one truly believes it can. Some say Helen is outdated, but if Stanley can make the Top 100 in the 21st century, the sky really is the limit. Helen has a more popular sister by the name Helena to contend with, and that could hold her back from any real resurgence for a few more years. But hey, both Lexi and Lexie are in the female Top 100, so it’s proof that sister-names can co-exist in the top flight of popularity.

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Names of the Week: Claude and Pétronille


This week’s names come courtesy of a suggestion by a French friend of mine – Pétronille is one of her middle names, whilst her little sister has the middle name Claude. It doee remind me of a point I keep meaning to mention: most of the French people I know my age seem to have two middle names. Then again, French president Sarkozy also appears to have two middle names – as does Dominique Strauss-Kahn to name another relatively well known French politician.

French middle names have always been a source of an interesting selection of names for me, since they always surprise. I have French friends with middle names such as Laurabell, Ghyslaine and Florizel. On the other hand, three of my closest English-speaking friends share the middle name Louise, but that may just be down to pure chance.

However, we’re getting off topic.

Back to the names, and specifically this week’s male name of Claude. Well, he’s not strictly a male name; in France, the name Claude is both feminine and masculine – but Claud sans the e is solely masculine. Either way, both names comes from the Latin name Claudius, which derives from the Latin claudus and means lame, crippled.

The name Claude isn’t exactly raging with popularity these days – only 7 were born in England&Wales in 2010; Claudius and Claudio both having 3 births apiece. It seems odd that Claude still laments near the bottom of the popularity charts, given that his feminine form of Claudia is doing relatively well at the moment – at #240 in 2010. As well as Claudia, both Claudette and Claudine were given the girls in 2010, but only 3 of each.

I guess what we can take from this is that popularity for one name does not necessarily translate to popularity for the other gender counterpart. Other names one could lump in with Claude include Jamesina, Thomasina and Lucius; then again, plenty live well together such as Olivia/Oliver and Georgia/George.

To me, Claude exudes sensibility, rather as Ralph does – a name notably doing much better than Claude, ranking at #258 in 2010. I could also see  myself recommending Claude as an alternative to Charlie or Charles.

Putting Claude aside for now, we have Pétronille. She’s the French form of the name Petronilla, a name that derives from the Ancient Roman name Petronus; it possibly derives from the Latin petronis which means yokel, rustic, dolt, young ram.

The name Pétronille is also sometimes taken to be a female variant of Peter; indeed tradition dictates that St. Pétronille is the daughter of St. Peter, but there remains little evidence for this.

Eleanor of Aquitaine is well known in the naming world for being one of the first bearers of the darling name Eleanor. What may be lesser known is the name of her sister: Petronilla, later known as Alix. Petronilla married Count Raoul of Vermandois, a cousin of the reigning King Louis VII.
We also have Saint Petronilla to consider, who was known by a variety of other names, which you may take to more than Pétronille:
Pernelle; Peroline; Perrenotte; Perrette; Perrine; Perronelle; Petronella; Peyronne; Peyronnelle; Pierrette; Pérette; Périne; Pétronille
I also can see some similarities between Pétronille and Penelope, despite them not exactly being related. I guess you could shorten Pétronille to Penny as well, but my line of thought is more along the style of both names, in that they’re both long-ish and with plenty of nickname options to consider.
St. Petronilla is notable in French history because she is the patroness of the daupins of France – which were basically the French royals version of the Prince of Wales, i.e. the heir apparent to the throne. It’s also in her chapel that French kings were buried.
Rather ironically, as I was wrapping up the writing of this post I did discover a link between the two names. A French story by the name Pétronille et ses 120 filles was written by Claude Ponti. Oh, how fitting.
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Names of the Week: Romulus and Floriane

Floriane Pugin, from

I’m not exactly sure why I decided to cover these two names specifically this week, but hey ho, that’s just how we roll. I did, however, specifically try and choose names to cover which I’m mostly indifferent about, given that I’ve covered several favourites over the past few weeks. That’s not to say that these aren’t great name, I’ll surely be singing their praises once I’ve finished writing this post anyhow.

In the interests of truthfulness, I have mentioned Romulus beforehand in a post about my favourite names ending with the letter s. In all fairness, I quite like the name Remus and opted to mention Romulus with him given that they almost go hand in hand.

Romulus is slightly obscure in that most have likely never seen him used on an actual person, but no doubt that many are familiar with his associated tale. He comes from Roman legend, where he was the twin brother of Remus. Together they founded the city of Rome, but had a dispute about where it should lie; Romulus wished for it to be built on the Palatine Hill, whilst Remus preferred the Aventine Hill. As a result of these disputes, Remus was killed. Romulus went on to found the city, and named it after himself.

The Latin name for the city is Roma, which is sometimes found as a female name. She’s not to be confused with Rona, a name borne by two Scottish islands. The Italian form of Romulus is Romolo, and the feminine form thus Romola. It is also believed that the name Romeo may be an Italian derivation of Rome.

It is worth mentioned here that there are a few Rom- names which remain unrelated to Romulus, but may be mistaken for being so:

Romilly, a French place name of uncertain origins

Romilda, derived from Ragnhild, which means famed battle

However, there are several more names which derive from the name Roman, a name itself that originates as meaning a citizen of Rome, these names therefore are linked to Romulus. Aside from Roman, there is:

Romaine, french feminine form of Roman.

Romana, feminine form of Roman.

Romano, italian version of Roman.

Romany, poetic name for the Roman Empire.

Another name I would like to briefly mention is the name of an obscure saint we’ve mentioned once before: Romlua. She came from near Rome, so most take her name to derive from the name of the city, or indeed Romulus himself.

Moving on to our female name, I’ve recently met a young French girl by the name of Floriane, and it certainly struck me, although I’m yet to really be won over by her. If I’m honest, I’m not particularly enthralled by the name Florence either, pretty though she may be.

Whilst Florence ranked at #54 in England&Wales in 2010, Floriane did not rank at all. However, there were a few other Flo- names which did make it into the data:

Flora – #409

derived from the Latin flos, which means flower. The name of the Roman Goddess of flowers.

Florrie – #1180

a common nickname for Florence.

Florie – #3156

an alternate spelling of Florrie.

Florance – #4012

an alternate spelling of Florence.

Florentina – #5707

female form of Florentinus, which means belonging to Florens.

Flores – #5707

more often seen as a Spanish surname, it means flowers.

Floryn – #5707

likely an alternate spelling of Floren; in Latin florens meaning blossoming.

Other similar flower-meaning names include Fleur, the French word for flower and one which ranked at #499 in 2010.

The name Floriane itself is no doubt a feminised form of the name Florian – a popular male name in France. It derives from the Roman named Florus, which itself comes from the Latin flos, meaning flower. It can alternately be spelling either Florianne or Florienne.

One noted bearer of the name is Floriane Pugin, a French mountain biker who has enjoyed reasonable success in her discipline.

So, there you have it, two names I’ve yet to really decide my opinion on. I would like to say that I really like them both, but that would be a tad too dishonest for me. Feel free to make up your own minds about these two.

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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.

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Names of the Week: Gem and Sora

So I did finally think up of a name to pair with Sora, and it occured to me whilst listening to the radio one morning. How is this so? Because there’s a radio station in my area called Gem 106.
It’s only recently though that we’ve had a radio station called Gem, as it was launched on the 1st January 2011 – so is a few weeks older than 1. Prior to being called Gem 106, the radio station existed with a previous name: Heart 106. For those wondering about the 106 at the end, that denotes the radio frequency – Gem Radio can be found at 106 FM. We used to have a radio station called 96 Trent FM, whose name followed a similar format; infact, Trent FM was relaunched on the same day Gem was as Capital FM – following a merger between Trent FM, Leicester Sound and Ram FM.
The reasoning behind the naming of Gem FM is worthy of some eye-rolling, as GEM stands for Great East Midlands – and one of the favourite catchphrases on the radio is Great Music for the Great East Midlands.
Aside from badly named radio stations, a variety of moth carries the name Gem – also known as orthonama obstipata. It is commonly found in Continental Europe and bordering lands, but does not range much further beyond the Baltic regions, nor indeed into Russia. Thanks to the moth’s quality of being prone to vagrancy, you can also find them in Britain – although mainly down south.
Gem is also sometimes used to refer to one of the constellations of the zodiac. It was first described by Ptolmey in the first 48 described in the 2nd Century. These days there are now more like 88 constellations to sort through. As mentioned previously, Gemini comes from Latin and means twins. The constellation is associated with the twins from Greek Mythology, Castor and Pollux.
The alternate spelling of Jem is worth a mention too – he’s a nickname for James, Jeremiah, Jeremy or even the female name Jemma/Jemima. You can sometimes see the name as an anglicised version of the Turkish name Cem.
Probably the best known Jem would be the brother of Jean Lousie Finch aka Scout – Jeremy Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. I’ve definately seen an uptake in usage of the name Atticus, and both Scout and Harper are becoming somewhat fashionable.
There is a problem with the name, in that there are two rebel groups from Asia/Africa who bear the name Jem. The first one isn’t so bad since it’s the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which is concerned with the Darfur conflict in the Sudan. They are fighting against the Sudanese Government, and are a member of the Eastern Front – which is a rebel coalition formerly active in the east of Sudan along the Eritrean border. After the Eastern Front signed a peace deal with the central government, the JEM lost access to its funding from Eritrea.
The second group is called Jaish-e-Mohammed, which literally translates to The Army of Mohammad. It is based in Pakistan, and is a known terrorist Islamic group, established in March 2000. It’s probably not one you’d have heard of, given that their aim involves India. They wish to end Indian rule in the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir – to expel Indian security forces from the area and then unite Jamu and Kashmir with Pakistan.
As for our female name, not much time has lapsed since I covered Sora a few weekend posts ago, but I’ve been itching to cover her. Aside from being the Japanese word for sky, you can find the name Sora elsewhere.
First off is that Sora is the name of a tribe in Northern Indian. Sometimes their name may be spelled as Saora, Soura, Savara or Sabara. This tribe is the second most prominent tribel community in the Rayagada district of Orissa, and in specific areas in Koraput and Gajapati.
The people of this tribe speak a Munda language, but the written language is not followed by all. They practice was is called shifting cultivation, rather that what we know as settled agriculture. This means that they farm one land, then move onto another piece of land after a few years and thus leave the land to recover from cultivation. My geography teacher used to call it the Slash&Burn method. Some of them are taking up the settled agriculture these days.
There is also a language called Sora which is a Munda language of India, which has roughly 300,000 speakers. It is mainly spoken in the Ganjam District, but can be heard elsewhere such as Koraput and Phulbani regions. Despite the name of Sora generally being pronounced in this area as Savara, it has no relations to a Dravidian language also called Savara. The Sora language is written in the Latin alphabet and the Telug script, and in 1936 the Sorang Sompeng script was devised for the language.
Stepping away from India, you may also like to know about the type of small waterbird called the Sora. They can be mostly found in the Americas, but you can occasionally find them in Western Europe – when they are usually mistaken for the Spotted Crake, which has a different wing pattern.
The fnal thing I want to talk about is the fictional character called Sora, who is male. He appears in the best-selling Kingdom Hearts series, first introduced in the first game of the series in 2002. He’s a cheerful teenager, and is best friends with Riku and Kairi. Sora has also made supporting appearances in a few games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and novel adaptations of the games.
That perhaps a best palce to end, since it shows us that both names have the potential to be used for both genders, but the ones I’ve sort of assigned them in this post seem to be my preference.
Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Names of the Week: Horatio and Jacqui

Nelson's Column, from

Probably not names you’d instinctively pair together, but since both have been on my mind of late, it seems apt to talk about them now. That, and I was originally planning on covering the names Sawyer and Sora this weekend – but then realised I’ve already covered Sawyer in a Names of the Week post previously. I’m now on the hunt for another male name to pair up with Sora for a future post, suggestions are welcome, but come with no guarantee.

I once read a book entitled Horace by a man named Chris D’Lacey. In the book, Joel finds a bear named Horace in a bin – and later discovers that Horace is worth a small fortune.

Aside from this, Horatio does make for a good patriotic choice should you be British – Vice Admiral Nelson’s was voted at #9 on a 100 Greatest Britons poll and his first name was Horatio, he who won the Battle of Trafalgar and now has a column named after him in the middle of Trafalgar Square, London. He had only one, illegitimate child with Lady Hamilton – a daughter named Horatia. As a child I remember a skipping rhyme we used to sing referencing Lord Nelson:

Lord Nelson sailed across the ocean, Waves got higher, higher and over (The song starts with the rope going to and fro at less than 180 degrees, at the end of this line it starts going 360 degrees)

Lord Nelson lost one leg, Lord Nelson lost the other leg

Lord Nelson lost one eye, Lord Nelson lost the other eye

Lord Nelson lost one leg, Lord Nelson lost the other leg, Lord Nelson fell down dead

The above is the rhyme I learnt at school, and seems to be a slight variant on what other people sing. A notable difference is that I used to sing Lord Nelson, whilst others usually call him Old Lord Nelson. Some also leave out the first line as well. The actions remain the same though, thus when Lord Nelson loses an eye, one closes one of their eyes and so forth. The rhyme itself comes from the early 19th century according to one source I found, and is a humourous re-telling of how Nelson lost several limbs over his lifetime.

I’ve always thought that Horatio could come into vogue, should a high-profile, modern bearer come about. Rather tragically, something in line with this occured in 2011, when a group of British teens were attacked by a polar bear whilst on a trip to Norway. Of the group, it was 17-year-old Horatio Chapple, a student at the prestigious Eton College, who lost his life.

Another literary link you get with Horatio is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet where Horatio was a friend of Hamlet. The name Horatio itself is a variant of the name Horatius, which itself likely came from the Latin hora, which meant time, hour or season.

These days, Horatio isn’t particularly common – only 10 of them were born in 2010 in England&Wales. I seen the name often dismissed as being too pompous a name for today’s parents, and can see where they may get this idea. Another thing to note is that aside from Horace, there isn’t much in the way of names that Horatio instinctively shortens to. Given how much nicknames are thriving right now in Britain, I guess one can see why Horatio is being overlooked.

As for this week’s female name, Jacqui comes as a short form of the name Jacqueline. One of the best known Jacquelines in the UK is the author Jacqueline Wilson – and we’ve previously covered some of the names she’s used in her works.

From 1964-1993 there was a weekly British magazine entitled Jackie, and urban rumour dictates that it was named for the author, since she was working at the establishment prior to launching her rather successful career as an author. In truth, the name of the magazine was simply picked from a list of girls names, but was almost dropped following the JFK assassination in 1963 – since his wife was called Jackie. The owner, Thomson, chose to close the magazine in 1993 than follow the route of increased sexuality and fashion that it’s competitors of the 90s were following.

It must be said that shortening Jacqueline to Jacqui makes sense when it comes to the spelling of the names. However, most still assume the spelling to be along the lines of Jackie. Jacqueline is the feminine form of the French name Jacques – which isn’t their version of Jack, rather Jacob, a name which means supplanter.

In England&Wales, the name Jacqueline peaked at #4 in 1964 and is now at #1257, whilst Jacqui doesn’t even rank.

To my ears, Jacqueline isn’t that far removed from Josephine. The latter name is popping up all over the place at the moment – she currently ranks at #308 in England&Wales and I can see her rising further in the coming years. A key difference between the names, however, is which generation they’re most attributed to. Whilst Jacqueline peaked in the 60s, Josephine peaked in 1934 at #38. This means that Josephine classifies as an old lady name, and the same is mostly true for Jacqueline when you think that a lady born in 1964 will turn 48 this year – thus 50 in 2014. Whilst not necessarily likely to be a grandmother, nor a holder of a free bus pass, the name Jacqueline must certainly soon join the ranks of Josephine, Edith and Ethel.

It’s also worth noting that the only Jacqueline ‘Jacqui’ I know is in her mid-30s, which isn’t rocking-chair-ready by any stretch of the imagination. More than likely, this name will remain relatively out of fashion for the following few years, which makes it a good time to choose the new if you like the whole concept of naming ahead of the curve, so to speak.

Indeed, when it Jacqui, I find myself fond of her, more so than the variant spelling of Jackie. This could be because I see real-life Jacqui a couple of times each week, and it’s through day-to-day interaction that I’ve come to appreciate this name more than I would otherwise have felt. My opinion is just one, however. I’m sure there are plenty of other people who can’t understand my fondness for the name, but that’s just how things are with names. It’s all very subjective – and it’s worth remembering that even the most popular of names aren’t liked by everyone which was the basis of the post before this one.

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

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