Chesten

Chesten

I’ll be honest, I had a hard time choosing names to feature this week: there were just so many great options ! I was swapping names in and out more times than you can imagine, but finally we’ve made it.

For day 1 of Week C, we’re looking to Cornwall for inspiration. The county lies at the south-western tip of England, and has the dubious honour of being the only English county that I’ve yet to visit. Strange really, since Cornwall has been a popular tourist destination since the times of the Victorians.

Cornwall is the home of the Cornish people, who are recognised as being distinctly different, culturally speaking, from the majority of the rest of England. It’s interesting, as alongside the whole Scottish independence furor, several did comment about the potential for an independent Cornwall. Indeed, some have tried for years for Cornwall to compete separately from England at the Commonwealth Games.

What this is a very long way of saying is that Cornish names are more influenced by Celtic roots than the Germanic influence felt elsewhere, which gives rise to a whole host of fascinating names.

Like Chesten. She is, for all intents and purposes, the Cornish form of Christine and – from what I can gather – is pronounced how you’d probably expect: CHEST-en.

This name doesn’t rank at all in the England&Wales data, which includes babes born in Cornwall. As an aside, I personally think it would be fascinating to see separate Cornish stats, if only to see how Cornish names fare. We know that 17 girls were named Elowen in 2013, but I can’t help but wonder about their distribution.

Christine as a name is interesting, as it was recently commented to me by a 20-something friend that Christine is ‘hopelessly unfashionable’. Don’t you just love tidbits from those who don’t obsess over name statistics? But she makes a good point, nonetheless, as Christine is more common amongst the grandparents of we hip 20 year olds than our parents. The name ranked at #3 in 1944 and 1954, #26 in 1964, #63 in 1964, #89 in 1984 and thus dropping out of the Top 100 some 20 years ago in 1994. The name now lies outside the Top 1000, so the unfashionable comment is not without it’s merit.

But that’s still at least 27 more uses in 2013 than Chesten received.

Looking at the Top 100 these days and there are plenty examples of names that a reinventions of popular names of bygone years. Think Maisie for Margaret (#1, 1924-1944); Molly for Mary (#1, 1904-1914); Jack for John (#1, 1914-1944).

So there’s precedence, especially in the case of Maisie, who started out life as a nickname for the Scottish form of Margaret: Mairead.

Of course, the problem I see is that Chesten isn’t feminine and frilly like many popular girl names these days, which could be somewhat of a problem.

Chester the walking chest, from Don't Starve

Chester the walking chest, from Don’t Starve

The name actually reminds me of Chester, a character from the Don’t Starve survival PC game. Once you pick up the Eye Bone, Chester appears and you can store items in him. His name is a pun on the word chest, obviously. Chester is also, of course, a city in the Cheshire region of England, close to the Welsh border.

To surmise, what you get with Chesten is a no-frills Celtic adaptation of a name that’s not like to rise in popularity any time soon.

Categories: The Offbeat Alphabet Series | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Caitlin Moran on How She Chose Her Name

Ebury | Caitlin Moran Jacket cover shoot. 22nd April 2012 T: +44 (0) 7500 829 003 E: info@garethiwanjones.com http://www.gijones.co.uk

Caitlin Moran, via http://www.gijones.co.uk

A few weeks ago I talked about Caitlin Moran in a Sibset post, well we’re back today because I recently read an interview she did, wherein she discussed her own name and how she came to choose it, which I thought was interesting enough to share. She also talks about a familiar pitfall of reading a name before hearing it said aloud first – I had the exact same problem with Imogen many years ago !

You chose your own name, Caitlin, out of a book when you were 13 years old, and pronounced it in an unusual fashion—”Cat-lin.”

It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, and that includes trying to get a wasp stoned and playing chicken on the motorway. Because we didn’t go to school, I went to our local library every day, and after I’d been doing that for about six months I decided that I was going to read every book in the library, section by section. The first section I chose was the paranormal section, because when you’re a teenager, it seems like that’s where they’re hiding all the secrets. I read a book about numerology, where each letter is given a numerical value, and then you add things up to tell the future. I did numerology on my christened name, which was Catherine, and it said I would not be successful. So I spent about six months coming up with all these different names and working out what their value was in numerology until I came across Caitlin Moran, and it was like, “Yes, that one will be successful.” And I was like, “Great.”

But then, because I got the name out of a book, I didn’t know how you pronounced it. I’m literally the only person in the world who pronounces it “Cat-lin.” I feel so embarrassed—I’ve spent all my life trying not get special treatment, so the agony of having a name that everybody pronounces incorrectly and then feels bad about, and then I have to go, “I’m really sorry, that’s not even my name, but you pronounce it this way,” I just feel like it’s the most ridiculous problem that anyone’s ever given themselves. I am such a penis.

See the entire interview here: http://blog.longreads.com/2014/09/25/interview-caitlin-moran-on-the-working-class-masturbation-and-writing-a-novel/

Categories: Name Opinions, Name Pronunciation | Tags: | 1 Comment

Sibset of the Week: The Dahls

Roald Dahl, via hollowverse.com

Roald Dahl, via hollowverse.com

Some time in my primary school years, we went to watch a play adaptation of George’s Marvellous Medicine after reading it in class. I remember being enraptured by it and like many children before me, became a fan of author Roald Dahl. It makes sense, of course, for Roald Dahl to feature prominently in school libraries across Britain, given that he is considered by some to be one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century. It is, of course, by pure accident and happy fate that this is the third week in a row to feature a prominent wordsmith from Britain.

Dahl married American actress Patricia Neal in 1953, and in their 30 years of marriage welcomed 5 children:

Olivia Twenty

Chantal Sophia ‘Tessa’

Theo Matthew

Ophelia Magdalena

Lucy Neal

It’s a fairly interesting collection of names, part of me wonders the tale of how Tessa evolved as a nickname for Chantal. I also couldn’t help but note that for children born in the 1950s and 60s, the names could easily be transferred to a 2010s set of children. Theo has rocketed to #41 in the past 10 years, with Ophelia also rising to #306 in 2013. The name Olivia spent 3 years at #1 from 2008, and is currently at #2, whilst Lucy has been hanging in the Top 30 since 1996. The only name to buck this trend is Chantal, who experienced popularity in the 1990s, but fails to rank at all anymore.

This ahead of the curve naming was continued by Tessa Dahl, who named a daughter Clover in the mid-1980s, a name which has only consistently been ranking in England&Wales since 2004 (albeit only about 12 girls receive the name each year at the moment). Clover is sister the Sophie, Luke and Ned.

Sophie Dahl is these days a well known cookery writer who married jazz singer Jamie Cullum in 2010 and has two daughters: Lyra and Margot.

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

Don’t Starve

In a recent playthrough, I got bored and set an entire forest on fire.

In a recent playthrough, I got bored and set an entire forest on fire.

In yesterday’s Sibset post I made a brief mention of the game Don’t Starve, and it occurred to me not long after hitting publish that the names of the playable characters were worth a mention. I picked up a copy of Don’t Starve during it’s beta release on Steam (i.e. before it’s official release), and have been a big fan of the game ever since.

At it’s heart, it’s a survival game. You’re effectively plopped down in a world by the antagonist Maxwell and the aim is to survive for as long as possible. The three things you need to keep up is your characters health, hunger and sanity. Whilst you’re busy trying to collect fire wood, there are also many enemies out there attempting to kill you.

As for the playable characters, they all possess a W- name. You start out with Wilson and gradually unlock other characters as the game progresses.

Wilson

A gentleman scientist and the first playable character. His special ability is that of growing a magnificent beard. No, really. The name Wilson means son of William and ranked at #692 in 2013.

Willow

The second playable character, who you can see me playing as above. Willow’s special ability is that of spontaneously (or purposefully) creating fire. Willow is a tree name, the name coming from Old English and means to twist, which itself came from Latin, meaning vine. She ranked at #54 in 2013.

Wendy

The Wendy character is haunted by her dead sister Abigail, whom Wendy can summon as almost a sidekick when fighting mobs. I knew that I’d covered this name before, and was somewhat alarmed to discover that my 3 Long Forms of Wendy post is now 3 years old. Huh. Time flies.

The origins of the name Wendy are often given as being  penned by J.M.Barrie when he first wrote Peter Pan. It also has roots as a nickname of the Welsh name Gwendolen, which means fair, blessed or white, but it was when Barrie used the name that it really entered the public conscious. She ranked at #1774 in 2013.

Wolfgang

The strongest character in the game, Wolfgang bears a Germanic name, meaning path of the wolf. Only 3 babies were given the name in 2013.

Wes

This character is effectively the hard setting for the game, with health, sanity and hunger all decaying much faster for him. The name Wes is the short form of Wesley, a name which means west meadow in Old English. Wes doesn’t rank, but Wesley does – at #655.

Wigfrid

This character is an actress dressed up as a viking. She’s a tough cookie, and is spawned in the game with armour. Her name derives from Old High German, and means peaceful warrior. Predictably, the name doesn’t rank.

via the Don't Starve wikia

via the Don’t Starve wikia

via the Don't Starve wikia

via the Don’t Starve wikia

Woodie

This character beings the game with Lucy the Axe in his inventory, and is a Canadian lumberjack. Woodie is either a nickname for Woodrow, or simply derived from the word wood. The name Woodie does not rank, but Woody does (no doubt with a little help from Toy Story) – at #464.

Webber

This character is a boy who was at some point eaten by a spider, but lives on. His name is therefore a reference to this somewhat bizarre relationship. The name Webber is a surname, and does not rank.

Waverly

This witch character, like all those below, can only be modded in game. Her name is of Old English origin, meaning quaking aspen. I was rather surprised to discover that the name does not rank in England&Wales.

Winnie

This name comes as a nickname of Winifred, and is notably the name of beloved bear-character Winnie the Pooh. She ranked at #925 in 2013.

Wallace

This name started out as a Scottish and English surname, coming from Norman French origins and meaning Welsh/foreigner. The most famed bearer of the name is Sir William Wallace, a Scottish hero whom lead a rebellion against the English in the 13th century. Unsurprising, the name was only given to 4 boys born in England&Wales in 2013.

Wilton

This name was also originally a surname of Old English origins, meaning town on the River Wylye. The name doesn’t rank.

Wilbur

Our last character bears another surname turned first name. This one is also of English origins, and comes from the Middle English nickname Wildbor, meaning wild boar; he ranked at #730.

Categories: Video Game Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sibset of the Week: The Burnses

via wikipedia.org

via wikipedia.org

A few weeks ago I spent some time in Ayrshire during the Commonwealth Games, and this week’s family hails from that very part of the world and seemed a fitting way to end the unofficial ‘Scottish Week’ we’ve had going on.

Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns is one of the most noted poets to hail from Scotland, and indeed is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. As well as writing in English, he also wrote works in the Scots language, being one of the best known poets to do so. In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV. His family therefore seemed an obvious choice to round off this week.

First, let’s take a look at Rabbie’s own family. He was the eldest son of William Burness and Agnes Brown:

Robert (1759-1796)

Gilbert (1760-1827)

Agnes (1762-1834)

Annabella (1764-1832) (I’ve also seen her name listed as Arabella, the Scottish form of Annabella)

William (1767-1790)

John (1769-1785)

Isabella (1771-1858)

All the names are pretty typical 18th century names, although the one that I took note of is Gilbert, since I’ve never covered the name on the blog. He’s a Germanic name that means bright pledge.

Then we have the children of Rabbie Burns who, unless noted, are also the child of Rabbie’s wife, Jean Armour.

Elizabeth ‘Bess’ (1785) by Elizabeth Paton

Robert (1786, twin of Jean)

Jean (1786, twin of Robert)

Unnamed twin daughter (1788)

Unnamed twin daughter (1788)

Robert (1788) by Janet Clow

Francis Wallace (1789)

William Nicol (1791)

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ (1791) by Ann Park

Elizabeth Riddell (1792)

James Glencairn (1794)

Maxwell (1796)

There are some pretty interesting middle names here: Nicol; Glencairn; and Riddell. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Nicol comes from a friend of Rabbie Burns’, so it could be logical to assume the same for the other two.

Maxwell is interesting to me, because he appears in several popular PC games: Scribblenauts as the primary playing character; Don’t Starve as the antagonist; and partially in the Max Payne games as the titular character. Maxwell also happens to be the codename of a Nvidia graphics processing unit (GPU).

Categories: Sibset of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scottish Forms of Popular Names, Female

via bbc.co.uk

via bbc.co.uk

Like yesterday we’re looking at the Scottish forms of some popular names. Again, the ranks quoted come from the Scotland 2013 set of data.

ALICE – Aileas

ANNA – Annag, Nandag

BEATRICE – Beitris

CAITLIN (#72)- Caitriona, Catriona (#413)

CHRISTINA (#344) – Cairistìona, Kirstin

ELEANOR (#147) – Eilionoir, Eilidh (#23)

ELIZABETH (#93) – Ealasaid, Elspet, Elspeth (#413)

FRANCESCA (#183) – Frangag

ISABELLA (#40) – Iseabail, Ishbel, Beileag, Isobel (#147)

KIRSTY (#213) – Ciorstaidh

LILY (#11) – Lillias, Lileas

LUCY (#5) – Liùsaidh

MARGARET (#319) – Maisie (#47), Mairead, Maighread, Peigi

MARY (#254) – Màiri, Mhairi (#344)

Categories: Scottish Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scottish Forms of Popular Names, Male

via bbc.co.uk

via bbc.co.uk

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you should know that this week Scotland decides whether it’s in or out of the Union. The vote is of personal interest to me as my sister recently moved to Aberdeen for University – so there’s every chance she might soon be living in a different country to me. This also means I’ve been in Scotland a few times this summer, and on my last drive through Scotland in the weekend just gone I was slightly saddened to see the vast majority of the Vote No signs in farmer’s fields to have been vandalised.

So today and tomorrow, we’re looking at Scottish forms of popular names. If Scotland does become independent, a thing of interest to me as a name nerd would be whether independence will lead to a resurgence in legitimate Scottish names.

Scotland releases it’s name data separately to England&Wales, so the rankings quoted below are for Scotland 2013.

AIDEN (#45) – Iagan, Edan

ALEXANDER (#7) – Alasdair (#177), Sawny, Alistair (#130), Alastair (#357)

ARTHUR (#142) – Artair

CHRISTOPHER (#75) – Christie, Kester

DAVID (#36) – Dàibhidh

EDWARD (#130) – Eideard

FRANKIE (#177) – Frang

GEORGE (#84) – Deòrsa, Seòras

HARRY (#10) – Hendry, Eanraig

JACK (#1) – Seoc, Jock, Iain

JAMES (#2) – Hamish (#93), Seumas (#434)

JOSEPH (#49) – Seòsaidh

LAURENCE (#434) – Labhrainn

OLIVER (#4) – Amhlaidh, Aulay

THOMAS (#21) – Tam, Tamhas, Tavish

WILLIAM (#39) – Uilleam

Categories: Scottish Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sibset of the Week: The Paphides

Caitlin Moran is a favourite writer of mine after I received her book How To Be A Woman, as a gift. The book was published in 2012, it went on to win Galaxy Book of the Year.

Caitlin is also a keen tweeter, and rather controversially, in 2014 her twitter feed became part of the set texts for A-Level English. Despite this, she is considered one of the most influential British journalists on twitter.

She married husband Pete Paphide in 1999, and the couple have two daughters together:

Dora, 2001

Eavie, 2003

The name Dora has been up and down in terms of ranking for the last few years, although the number of births has been steadily rising (up from 14 in 1996 to 30 in 2013) and she now ranks at #1148.

The name Eavie fares less well, despite sister Evie’s successful years including a stint in the Top 10 in 2008-2010, having last ranked in 2011 at #4764.

Categories: Sibset of the Week | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Alternatives to the Top 10

Top10Alternatives

We’re taking a break from our Offbeat Alphabet Series this week, and today we’re talking about alternative names. It’s always been that there are those who don’t care about using popular names, and those who look for alternative to the popular names they love. I know this because my blog traffic is mostly people looking for alternatives to Olivia. Consider it a dream come true to all you google searchers today, because I’m going to address just that. In fact, I decided to push the boat out and come up with a list of alternatives for every name in the 2013 England&Wales Top 10.

Now, I had plenty of ideas for every name, but then I took a step back and decided that I needed to rein myself in. In my mind, it’s not a simple case of swapping out a comfortable favourite with something no one has ever heard of, otherwise this list would look a lot different. Instead, I’ve decided to go for familiar names of a similar style, so my criteria was thus:

  • The name has not been in the Top 100 since 2010
  • The name was within the Top 500 in 2013
  • The name has risen consistently in the rankings since 2010 without stagnant or fall

So, in the end, I’m swapping out current favourites for what could be the incoming favourites of the next decade or so, which I think is more fitting than telling parents considering Jessica to instead use Cressida, a name only used 6 times in 2013. Despite this, the list of options was a fun one to compile, and it became more of a discussion piece than a list as I felt an explanation for each choice was warranted.

OLIVER -> BENEDICT

With Oliver, we’re looking for something charming, and a solid nickname option that’s also pretty popular as a standalone, like Olly. Originally I thought of Raphael, but his popularity is faltering. Then there’s Rupert, but he didn’t quite fit. In the end, I went with Benedict, where Ben once ranked as high as #34, but still is in the mix at #140.

The name Benedict could attribute some of his popularity to Benedict Cumberbatch. Indeed, up until 2010 the name was falling, down from a peak of#165 in 1999 to #449. However, the name has begun to regain ground, as in 2013 he was back up to #350 in 2013. The name comes from Latin and means blessed.

AMELIA -> ROSALIE

We’re looking for a 3-syllable flourishing name that features a ‘lee’ sound. For me, the minute I saw Rosalie, I couldn’t help but see her as ‘the one’. Like Mia for Amelia, the nickname Rosie is seeing increased use and ranks at #38.

The name Rosalie is, for all intents and purposes, an elaboration of Rose, but she’s a darn fine one at that. She’s rocketed up from #1171 in 2009 to #394 in 2013.

JACK -> TED

We’re looking for a one syllable nickname that stands well aside from his parent name. I had a hard time here deciding between Ralph, Ted and Frank. Ralph was ruled out because he has two valid pronunciations used widely in the UK and that made him a step away from the simple style we were looking for. Frank was ruled out for being not quite on trend, whereas Ted felt more current.

Ted is usually taken as a nickname for Theodore, but it is known for him to be used as a short form of longtime Top 100 name Edward. His brother Teddy broke into the Top 100 in 2013, whilst Ted rose from #278 to #179 between 2010 and 2013.

OLIVIA -> AURELIA

Olivia is similar to Amelia in a few ways, so the suggested names could cross over. We’re looking for a many syllables name, but not too many letters as with Anastasia. The finalists were Aurelia, Ariana and Elodie, with Aurelia winning out in the end for her similar sound and feel to Olivia.

The name Aurelia comes from Latin and means golden. Since 2010, the name Aurelia has risen from #567 to #327.

HARRY -> REGGIE

We’re looking for a nickname that could standalone. Lenny was a serious consideration, but his popularity didn’t quite qualify him. In the end, Reggie wins the acolade.

Reggie is a nickname for Reginald, a name that means advice and rule. He’s been on the rise for much of the last decade, rising 79 places since 2010 to #121.

EMILY -> MILA

This is another name like Amelia, that the minute I saw Mila, she felt right. She’s almost come out of nowhere in recent years, after ranking at #616 in 2010, she’s rocketed up to her current ranking of #124.

The name Mila is from the Slavic region originally, but she’s finding more and more fans in the English speaking world. The name contains the Slavic element mil, and means gracious/dear.

JACOB -> EZRA

We’re looking for a biblical choice here preferably, although Gethin was briefly considered. Jeremiah has the popularity, but seemed too long. On the flip side Malachi, Raphael, Levi and Isaiah all felt valid as alternatives, but didn’t have the popularity. I settled for Ezra in the end.

It is somewhat of a compromise choice, as Ezra dropped between 2010 and 2011, but has rocketed from #441 in 2011 to #295 in 2013. The name means help in Hebrew.

AVA -> ALBA

With Ava, the obvious choice was Ada, but I was more intrigued by the option of Alba.

Alba has a Latin origin and a Germanic one. In Latin, she derives from Albus, and thus means white/bright. In Germanic, she comes from the element alb, meaning elf.

CHARLIE -> ALBIE

Again I had two to decide between: Albie and Arlo. As Albie, like Charlie, is a nickname in origin, he gets the honour. It’s also worth noting that Charles was once popular before being overtaken by Charlie, and right now Albert is a Top 100 pick that could be overtaken by Albie in the coming years. We briefly mentioned the name Albie earlier on this week.

ISLA-> SKYLA

There were two good choices here: Iris and Skyla. The former seemed a good option, due to her similar length and starting letter. In the end, however, Skyla felt the better fit style-wise as Isla is Scottish in origins (from Islay, a Scottlish island in the Inner Hebrides) and Skyla relates somewhat to the Isle of Skye that lie off the coast of west Scotland, also in the Inner Hebrides.

As for popularity, a friend of mine became a Dad to a little Skyla last year. The name could be taken as a feminising of Skyler, itself a variant of Schuyler, a Dutch name meaning scholar. Since 2008, the name has been rocketing up from #639 to her 2013 ranking of #176.

THOMAS -> MAXWELL

Plenty of T- names were considered here – Tobias and Tristan, for example – but none adhered to the popularity rule. Tate does, but he seemed too short. I finally settled on Maxwell, who has a similar feel and an easy nickname of Max, as Thomas has Tom.

Maxwell is a Scottish surname that’s over time become used more frequently as a first name; the name means Mack’s stream. From a ranking of #145 in 2010 to #114 in 2013, there’s a very real possibility that Maxwell could enter the Top 100 in a year or twos time.

JESSICA -> ATHENA

She has a unique sound to her, so instead I looked for a name that was equally statement and of equal length. I considered Verity, but her popularity has been somewhat inconsistent. Then there’s Harmony, who was rising until she dropped off in 2013. Adelaide could maybe be a contender in a few years time, and Tabitha has been more plateau-ing than rising. In the end – and since I couldn’t nominate CressidaAthena felt the most fitting of all the names I went through.

Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare. In 2010 the name ranked at #583, and has risen since then to #437.

OSCAR -> RUFUS or RUPERT

I considered Rupert for Oliver, and in fact he could also be an alternative to Oscar. However, poor Rupert was sidelined once more in favour of Rufus, before I relented and let them share the honour.

Whilst the two names appear quite similar, they do not share origins. The name Rufus comes from the Romans, and means red-haired in Latin. The name has been on a steady rise in 1996, and is currently at #237. On the flipside, Rupert is an Old German form of Robert, which means bright fame. In 2010 the name ranked at #360, and has risen more than a few places since then to #213.

POPPY -> ROBYN

There were so many choices here for me to decide between. Penny is similar to Poppy, but I wanted a nature name – this also sidelined Bonnie and Luna. It came down between Robyn and Pearl, and my gut told me to go with Robyn. She was the same rank in 2010 and 2011, but I’m letting it slide because she’s works on all other levels for me.

Whilst Robyn is decidedly feminine, the name Robin is considered more unisex. Most would presume the name to come from the bird, but (s)he actually derives as a medieval nickname for Robert. The name was within the Top 100 in the 90s, but she has started to rise again after spending the majority of the turn of the century falling. Since 2010, she’s risen 54 places to #119, which means she may be poised for a triumphant return to the Top 100.

WILLIAM -> CASSIUS

With William, we’re looking for something a Prince could wear. Now, I had plenty ideas of old classics that could work here: Christopher, Tobias, Jonathan, Maximilian, Richard and even Montgomery. Sadly, they’ve all experienced either inconsistent popularity or continuous fall. In the end, I had to turn to more modern classics for inspiration. The choice was between Barnaby and Cassius, but with Barnaby spending as much time plateauing than rising, the honour falls to Cassius.

It seems a surprising choice, and I’ll openly admit that this name is one that I’ve loved for a very long time. However, it appears he is one the current crop of parents are loving too, as he was at #481 in 2010, and now at #363. The name, however, doesn’t have the most wonderful of meanings: he comes from Latin and potentially means empty/vain.

ISABELLA -> ARABELLA

Both Emmeline and Penelope were contenders with their ‘el’ sounds and 3-syllables, but they didn’t feel quite right. It seemed that, with Isabella, we’re looking for preferably a -bella name, and we have that with Arabella. However, an honourable mention should go to Mabel.

The name Arabella is another one we mentioned earlier on this week. She’s a medieval Scottish variant of Annabel, a name that means lovable. The name has risen form #228 in 2010 to her current ranking of #157.

JAMES -> MYLES

My first consideration with this name was Miles, but in the end Myles is the spelling I went with because he’s had a more consistent rise in popularity and is currently the more popular spelling (albeit only by 3 places).

The name comes from the Germanic name Milo, which was brought over to Britain by the Normans as Miles. The name could come from the Slavic element mil, which means gracious. Alternatively, he could come from the Latin word miles, which means soldier. The name currently ranks at #177, up from #210 in 2010.

SOPHIE -> THEA

Vivienne and Sylvie were options, but Thea shares Sophie’s Greek origins. She also has the girly sound that translates well into adulthood.

In Greek, the element theos means God(ess), which might put parents off. The name can either be pronounced with a silent h (like Tia), or not – I hear both used as frequently as the other. Theia is also the name of the Greek Titaness who is the mother of Selene, the goddess of the moon. Fittingly, her name is given to a proposed planet from the beginning of the solar system that was the size of Mars which collided with Earth to create the moon. Thea had a massive soar in rank between 2012 and 2013, going from #225 to #121.

GEORGE -> BEAU

I’m stepping away from the classics to go with Beau here. It may seem like a bit wildcard, but stay with me here. My thinking for this is both names have spellings that you wouldn’t think if you’d only heard them said, plus both are one-syllable. You also can’t really shorten them. I wasn’t so sure of the popularity, and briefly considered dropping Beau in favour of Lloyd or Noel, but I’m sticking to my guns instead.

The name Beau means handsome. The problem with Beau is from 2010 to 2013 he’s only risen 5 places from #180 to #175, so it’s not like he’s going anywhere fast.

MIA -> LYLA

Something that is short and could be a nickname for many popular names felt like the brief here. The name Annie was a choice, but I was looking for something more nouveau. Emmie could have worked, but she fell between 2012 and 2013. In the end, it came down to two: Zoya and Lyla.

The name Lyla comes from Layla and means night in Arabic. The name was basically nowhere in 2004 at #1715, before a dramatic surge to #303 in 2005. Now, the only thing I could find to explain this is that in 2005 the band Oasis released an album called Don’t Believe the Truth, for which the lead single was called Lyla, which was the UK number one single for a week in May 2005. She now ranks at #114.

Categories: Alternative Names, Popular Names, Popularity | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Popular A Names, Boys

PopularANames-Blue

Yesterday we covered popular A names for girls, so today it’s the turn of the boys. The premise is the same: this is a list of boy names beginning with the letter A that have risen and are now within the Top 200 in England&Wales in 2013. Whilst there were 16 girls names, there are only 9 male names that qualified.

1. Arlo

Our highest riser started at #567 in 2008 and is now at #189 – that’s an impressive 378 places. Like Arthegal before him, this name likely came via The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, which features the location of Arlo Hill. However, there are alternative suggestions that he originates from Charles, or even Carlo.

2. Albie

The new Alfie ? It’s an intriguing possibility as in the past 5 years the name has risen 202 places from #341 to #139. Since the name is originally a nickname for Albert (see below), he could follow him into the Top 100 in the near future.

3. Austin

The first of many names on this list that  is already in the Top 100. For Austin, he briefly entered the Top 100 in 2009 at #100, before dropping back out and not re-entering until 2013 at his current ranking of #94. Given his shaky popularity in recent years, this name could go either way. That said, in the five year difference we’re looking at, he rose 66 places from #160. Whilst the name looks modern, he’s actually a medieval contracted form of Augustine, which comes from the Roman name Augustus, a name that means great.

4. Arthur

This name is one that I’ve always liked in the back of my mind, and what’s not to love ? The Legend of Arthur is my second favourite folklore to come from this fair isle behind my local hero of Robin Hood, of course. The name is also our second name on the list to already rank inside the Top 100 at #43, and I was personally surprised to discover that Arthur’s current reign in the Top 100 only began in 2009, as his 2008 ranking was #101.

5. Ayaan

This name has risen 52 places, from #167 to #115. Ayaan is probably the first unfamiliar name on the list. He appears to be Arabic in origin, and appears as a word in the Koran, meaning good luck and destiny; the name is particularly used in the Somali community.

6. Alan

Probably the biggest surprise on this list is this name. After falling down to a low of #296 in 2003, he’s started to rise back up again and in the last few years has risen a total of 41 places from #226 to #185. The name likely originated from the Brittany region of the world and means little rock or handsome in Breton – this means he’s one of the many names that came to Britain in the Norman Conquest.

7. Albert

One of the new entries for the boys in the Top 100 in 2013, he has risen 18 places in the last five years from #117 to #99. The name became a mainstay amongst the British Royal Family thanks to Prince Albert – the current members of the senior royal family to bear the name are Prince Harry and Prince Andrew, both obviously as middle names. The name is Germanic in origin, coming from Adalbert, and means bright and noble.

8. Archie

The highest ranking name on the list is Archie at #16. In the past five years he’s risen only 15 places, from #31, but it’s worth noting that names tend to rise more slowly at the very top of the list due to the leap in number of births needed to go up a ranking. the name is a short form of Archibald, a name meaning genuine and bold.

9. Aiden (#104 to #92, 12 places)

It’s also worth noting that whilst this spelling has flourished – rising 12 places from #104 to #92 – alternative spelling Aidan has instead fallen 52 places to #143. An indication of Aiden’s future ? Perhaps. The name in the anglicised form of Aodhán, which comes from the Old Irish name Áed and means fire.

Categories: Popular Names, Popularity | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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