Posts Tagged With: Calder

Straining Bookshelfs

The Thief Lord cover, from

One of the best places to root around for names inspirations is books. The fictional world is where anything goes really – I once read a book named Storm’s Child where the main characters were called Rail (male) and Moa (female). Whilst I never got into Garth Nix’s main successes, I did love his book Shade’s Children – where the main characters were called Drum (male), Gold-Eye (male), Ninde (female) and Ella. Eoin Colfer once wrote a book called Supernaturalist, with characters Cosmo, Stefan and Mona. I digress, I read too much as a mid-teen and now my bookshelfs strain under the weight of all the books I own.

Since both Abby and Elea have both covered names of fictional characters this week in their own ways, I’m instead going to bring you inspiration from the names of the author’s which I read back when every waking moment of my life curled up with a book, along with the name of one of my favourite titles by them and some names from said title:

Benjamin Zephaniah (Teacher DeadJackson)

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is his full name, and I’m in awe of the mix of styles he’s been bestowed. I’ve met two young Zeph’s recently – one was a Zephyr and twin of Asher, whilst the other was a Zephaniah.TV’s Julia Bradbury welcomed a son named Zephyr earlier on this year in August.

The name Benjamin is of Hebrew origins and means son of the south/right hand, whilst Zephaniah is also of Hebrew origins and means Yahweh has hidden. For the sake of completion, Zephyr means west wind, whilst Asher means happy or blessed.

And a quick breakdown of each name’s popularity in 2010 in England&Wales:

Benjamin Zephaniah Zephyr Asher
Rank 22 1407 3332 364
Births 3005 17 5 112

Blue Balliett (Chasing VermeerPetra and Calder)

Balliett purposefully chose unusually names, believing that’s exactly what would appeal to her readers. When I initially read Chasing Vermeer about 3 years ago I didn’t like the name Petra all that much, but she’s grown on me. She’s the female form of Peter, which means rock, although the character was named with reference to the ancient city of Petra and as part of family naming tradition.

Now, for some hard data from the 2010 data for England&Wales. Blue doesn’t rank for girls (the author is female), but does for the boys:

Blue Calder Petra
Rank 1801 n/a 1472
Births 12 n/a 20

Cornelia Funke (The Thief LordProsper, Boniface ‘Bo’, Scipio, Esther and Ida)

I adore the name Prosper, and it’s from this book that my love for him was first sparked. I acknowledge that Funke’s other work, the Inkheart trilogy, is better known, but this one has a special place in my heart.

As for the name of the author, first we must note that the author is German, and then note the name is the female form of the Latin name Cornelius. The name comes from the Latin element cornu, which means horn. 4 girls were named Cornelia in 2010 in England&Wales, putting it at #4688. On the flip side, 6 lads were named Cornelius last year, and thus at a ranking of #2941. And for the names of her characters I mentioned above? (The ranking for Bo is the male ranking)

Prosper Boniface Scipio
Rank n/a n/a n/a
Birth n/a n/a n/a
Esther Ida Bo
Rank 156 878 1483
Birth 334 40 16

Cressida Cowell (How To Speak DragoneseHiccup, Fishlegs and Camicazi)

I know that I’m probably too old for Cowell’s books these days, but I am still eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Hiccup franchise next month (the film adaption of the first book dissolved me into tears-the only film to ever do so). I love the name Cressida, and she’s the medieval form of another name I love: Chryseis and also means gold. In Greek legend, Chryseis was the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. Since Hiccup and friends don’t rank, but Cressida does at #4688, with 4 births – same as Cornelia.

Enid Blyton (The Mystery of the Burnt CottageFrederick ‘Fatty’, Margaret ‘Daisy’, Lawrence ‘Larry’, Philip ‘Pip’ and Elizabeth ‘Bets’)

Enid is almost synonymous nowadays with the author, and the name comes from Welsh and means either soul or life. As an author, she chose rather classic names, all of which are not as popular nowadays as they were back when the books were first published, the one mentioned above came out in 1943:

Enid Frederick Lawrence
Rank 2104 95 355
Births 12 688 117
Philip Margaret Elizabeth
Rank 296 505 49
Births 152 80 1356

Compare the rankings of 2010 with that of 1934 when  all six names were in the Top 100:

Enid Frederick Lawrence
1934 68 24 72
2010 2104 95 355
Philip Margaret Elizabeth
1934 56 1 14
2010 296 505 49

Malorie Blackman (Noughts & CrossesPersephone ‘Sephy, Jasmine and Meggie)

The Noughts&Crosses trilogy was the one which first introduced me to the name Persephone, although I wasn’t sure of the pronunciation until I watched the television show Firefly. My copy of the first book is also signed by the author, Malorie Blackman, which I won, rather than stood in a line for.

The name Malorie is a variant spelling of Mallory, a name that comes from Norman French and means unfortunate. Rather makes me think of the CBBC show Trapped, where the contestants are known as unfortunates. Persephone’s meaning is not established, although she has been linked to Greek words which means murder or to destroy, whilst Meggie is a short form of Margaret and Jasmine is a lovely botanical name. They rank, as such:

Malorie Mallory Persephone
Rank n/a 4688 3156
Births n/a 4 7
Jasmine Meggie
Rank 41 5707
Births 1466 3

Tamora Pierce (The Magic In The WeavingSandrilene ‘Sandry’, Trisana ‘Tris’, Daja, Briar (male) and Lark)

I actually took this book out of my local library by mistake more than anything, but found myself reading it anyway. Whilst a little difficult to follow to begin with, I loved it enough to read all it’s sequels. This is the first real occasion I came across the name Briar, since I was never really shown Sleeping Beauty as a child, and I actually like it. The character himself chose the name, wanting something botanical, yet masculine. I think he achieved that, since I’ve often misread the name as Bear.

As for the name of the author, Tamora, she’s a variant spelling of the name Tamara, which is a variant of the name Tamar, which means palm tree in Hebrew. Predictably, none of the names have really made an impact in the popularity data for England&Wales (the data for Briar is the female one, since there is no male ranking):

Tamora Tamara Sandry Lark
Rank n/a 458 n/a 5707
Births n/a 90 n/a 3
Trisana Daja Briar
Rank n/a n/a 5707
Births n/a n/a 3

Tom Becker (DarksideCarnegie, Vendetta and Marianne)

I listed him because of his surname, rather than his first name. Becket is a nouveau name getting some attention right now, and I think I like Becker a tad more. He’s a German surname and variant of another surname, Becke, which means baker. The Carnegie Award is given out annually to a single children’s book which has impressed, and named after Andrew Carnegie.

Out of all the names, only Marianne ranks in the England&Wales data – at #946 with 36 uses.

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Calamity Cal Pt.II

Front cover of children's book, Chasing Vermeer, from

We’ve already covered the more popular names from which you can derive the nickname Cal in the previous part to this post, so now it’s time to look at the more eclectic choices. Since my ideas were getting out of hand, we’ve condensed the list down to a top five, hence why this post way delayed. But it’s here, so let’s heartily celebrate:

1. Kalani
He’s one of my favourite Hawaiian names, which isn’t their form of an English name. Kalani means the heavens coming from the Hawaiian elements:
  • ka, meaning the
  • lani, meaning heaven
If you’re on the market for some new swimwear, Oleema and Kalani Miller own a company which sells just that, named Mikoh Swimwear. They’re from Orange County, and both are female. It’s true the name Kalani has usage on both sides, but currently in England&Wales he’s pretty unused for both genders. Only 5 male Kalanis were born in 2010 and he doesn’t rank in the female data.
2. Calder
One of my favourite books is called Chasing Vermeer, and features a lad named Calder as one of the main characters alongside a girl named Petra. Outside of this, Alexander Calder is one of the most notable bearers, and he was a sculptor and likely inspiration behind the name of the character, since the book heavily features art in many senses.
The England&Wales data speaks volumes about the popularity of this name, since it doesn’t rank for either gender, and you need 3 births to rank. So there could be two 2010 baby boys at present in England&Wales with the name, but equally there might not be any.
3. Clarence

I’m not ashamed to say I like the name Clarence, and at the same time admitting he replaced Callixto here on the list at the last minute. Thanks to the recent royal wedding, most people in the world will know about Clarence House, the London residence of the Prince of Wales and his wife. Will that help his popularity? We’ll have to wait until we get the 2011 stats to be sure.
Either way, Clarence does not suffer the gender issues some of the names on this list are open to. However, he is far down on the popularity list in England&Wales nevertheless, which gives him a spot on this list. In 2010, 6 baby boys became Clarence, that equates to a ranking of #2941, putting our rather refined choice amongst the likes of D’mari and Marvellous.
The name Clarence itself could come from a variety of sources. For one, it could come from the Latin word clarus, meaning clear perhaps making it the masculine form of Clare. It also has links with the title Clarensis which was used by various member of the British Royal Family.
4. Campbell
I much prefer soup to sandwiches for a variety of reasons, and Campbell is a name almost synonymous with soup, especially since Andy Warhol painted a picture of them in 1962.
This name gains a place in this list for being an unexpected brainwave. Campbell could easily shorten to Cal, but most probably use either Cam or Belle/a as a nickname depending on whether their darling child is male or female. Which brings us nicely onto our next point.
23 lads were named Campbell in 2010 in England&Wales, and Campbell didn’t rank as a female name. You may be thinking: Great! Let’s go get our unborn son a monogrammed hat to celebrate, but hold your horses because Campbell ranked at #758 in the US in 2010 as a female name, whilst as a male name it didn’t make Top 1000. So those 358 American girls will more than outnumber the 23 British boys. I’m not saying you should stop considering Campbell right here right now, I’m saying Campbell is a name you need to watch in terms of popularity. At the same time, Campbell could be posed to become another Ashley, a bonafide female name in the States, whilst still much more popular as a male name on the other side of the pond.
5. Callahan
I’ll admit, I used to like this name quite a bit. Unfamiliar, yet familiar in other capacities, i.e. as a surname. I’m still not sure quite where I stand on the whole surnames as first names trend, but this name put me in favour of it for a short while. There weren’t enough Callahans born in 2010 for it to rank on the England&Wales data.
This name also puts me face to face with one of my all time pet peeves: Fake Irish Syndrome. You may know a few, those people down at the local who claim to be Irish, yet have never stepped foot on Emerald Isle, and the only Irish person they’re related to is a Great Aunt from yester year. But I’ll stop myself before this rant takes over the post.
Callahan comes from the Irish surname Ó Ceallacháin, meaning descendent of Ceallachán. All pretty straight forward stuff. Follow back the name Ceallachán and you get to Ceallach, which is traditionally said to mean bright-headed. Alternatively it could have links to the word ceall, meaning church or the word ceallach, meaning war.
Categories: Boy Names | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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