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:
Chantal Sophia ‘Tessa’
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.
Today we’re back on familiar ground for a few, and the blog, with a revisit to Clover. She’s a name I’ve loved since I was a little girl, mostly due to a children’s cartoon called Totally Spies that I watched more than a lot of, which featured a character with the name. As many will know, I recommended it to my parents as a name for my littlest sister, but they decided against using the name at pretty much the last moment.
A Clover is a wild flower which ultimately comes from the Old English word clafre. It’s strongly associated with luck, due to the four-leaf clover, but she’s not has so much luck in terms of popularity in England&Wales:
Those who hesitate with the almost non-existent usage of the name should consider her familiarity to the likes of Heather and Chloe, meaning she isn’t an entirely outlandish pick. But maybe some might think that regardless due to Clover being a popular brand of margarine in the UK, although that hasn’t affected Flora so much – another brand of margarine – which in 2012 ranked at #404 in England & Wales.
And if the margarine connection comes up, you could sniffily respond by informing the person that the little sister of Katy Carr from the What Katy Did series of books bears the name.
There’s also the option to use Clover as a nod to Irish heritage, with links to their patron saint – St Patrick, who linked the clover to the Holy Trinity – and one of their national symbols is the shamrock, aka a little clover.
So when it comes to Clover, she’s a fan favourite who appears to be failing to convert people liking the name into parents of girls with the name. It’s a shame really, but that gives the name the familiarity that many obscure names struggle with which can only be a plus.
I’m afraid this’ll be a short’n’sweet post this week, but hey ho.
The first thing I really wanted to mention is that I recently sat down to watch a superb French film by the name Banlieue 13, and it’s worthy of note for the name of the main character: Leïto. If I remember correctly, his name was said something like lay-tow.
Last night, I took my sister to Strictly Come Dancing live at Wembley, and this is how the stage looked when we took our seats for the show:
Ever heard of Mumsnet? Some call it one of the most influential sites here in the UK – the politicians were all clambering over each other in a race to interact with the mums there.
Well, the other day I stumbled across a topic with one mum asking what’s the most unusual name you love? Here are their answers, most of which are given with meaning, unless they’re a word name or I simply don’t know:
Airi – beloved jasmine (Japanese)
Andromeda – to think of a man (Greek)
Aria – song, melody, air (Italian)
Bellatrix – female warrior (Latin)
Blythe – happy (Old English)
Boycie – wood (Old French)
Calypso – she that conceals (Greek)
Ciar – black (Irish)
Clemency – mercy (English)
Clothilda – famed battle (Germanic)
Cyrus – far-sighted, young (Greek)
Darwin – dear friend (Old English)
Decca – ten (Latin)
Desdemona – ill-fated (Greek)
Eppie – diminuative of either Hepzhibah or Euphemia
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:
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.
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:
The majority of Alexandr’s (with whatever variation) tend to shorten their name.
Alexandr could easily be mistaken for Alexander – it’s your choice to correct them.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve been thinking about organic chemistry quite a bit recently, and the combining of it with the topic of names struck me when we mentioned Aminelast week. It’s a name of relative popularity in France, but it’s also the name of a functional group containing a nitrogen with a lone pair of electrons. For those interested, they can look like this:
Primary Amine, from wikipedia.org
You may have no idea why they’re important but it’s from amines that we get amino acids, which collectively make up proteins. That makes them vital for life. So, one could call Amino a slight variation of the name Amine – especially given that the French slightly altered the Arabic name Amin to get to Amine. Amin comes from the Arabic word for truthful and the female form of the name is Amina(h). Aminah was the name of the prophet Muhammad’s mother, who died when he was young. The Arabic word and name Amina means feel safe. For Bosnia and Herzegovina, Amina was the #1 female name in 2010; the most popular male name that year was Amar.
Names that sound like they’re related to the above ones include the Iranian name Minoo, sometimes seen as Minu, which derives from Persian and means heaven or paradise. Like the English name Heaven, or alas the infamous Nevaeh, Minoo is a feminine name. A name of Arabic origins which means heaven, or indeed sky, is the female name Alya. Going back to the French, in 2009, the name Alya ranked at #259 in France.
The reason Arabic names feature in French name popularity is Algeria and Tunisia. Both are former colonies of France, from which many immigrants have moved to France, and brought their naming tendencies with them. For both, Arabic is the official language and both earned their independence from France in the middle of the 20th century.
Other popular names of Arabic origins in France include Mohamed, Rayan, Mehdi, Nassim, Farah, Naim, Sana, Marwa and Salma, to name just a few.
And for those wondering whether we’re using Amine in England&Wales, we are – to a certain extent. In 2010, 11 boys were given the name Amine with a further 37 named Amin, putting the latter name at #792. Amina ranks even higher for girls, at #182, with 285 girls given the name and Aminah ranking at #254 with 128 of them born.
Another group of organic compounds are called Esters, said pretty much the same as you would the name Esther. She fit’s nicely with our already established post-theme of names inspired by our friends from the East as Esther means star in Persian. An Ester looks like this:
Ester, from tqn.com
Of course, it’s not concrete that Esther derives from Persian and hence means star. The name Esther comes from the Bible, being given to Hadassah upon the moment she entered the royal harem of King Ahaseurus. Esther could also have derived from the name Ishtar, the name of the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love, war and fertility; the Phoenicians called her Ashtoreth. What is worth noting is that the Dutch word for star is ster, which has given birth to the Dutch name Sterre (ster-ra).
Esther has given birth to a plentitude of variations: from Hester to Estee; Eszti (Hungarian) to Esteri (Finnish). What’s worth noting is that the spelling Ester is a legitimate international variant of the name Esther, used by Scandinavians, Spaniards, Czechs, Finns and the Portuguese.
When it comes to Esther vs. Hester in the popularity charts for England&Wales in 2010, Esther wins outright. She’s at #156 with 334 girls given the name compared to Hester, who is much further down at #1815 with only 15 born.
The -er ending for male names is starting to be touted as an upcoming trend, but there are some undoubtedly pretty girls names which end the same way, like Esther and Hester:
Notice how most derive directly from English words? What’s more both Jasmine and Jasper are names popular in England&Wales, and of Persian origins, as Esther could be; Jasper means treasurer in Persian. Colour names Azure and Scarlet also have links with Persian words, and that’s where we shall end this post.
This week’s sibset is vaguely topical, since the daddy hit the news last week. Matthew Keith Hall, better known as Harry Hill gathered his fame through his critically successful show Harry Hill’s TV Burp in which he made fun of events of the TV from the preceding week. It’s been nine years since it’sd inception, and last week Harry Hill quit the show – I love being on topic for once, rather than talking about bands which split several years ago.
But staying on topic, we must now ask what the funnyman and his partner Madga Archer named their three girls, born between 1997 and 2004 (not at the beginning of the 20th century as you may initially think). Well…
If I’m honest, this is not the kind of naming style I was expecting, but it’s a pleasant surprise for me; proof one shouldn’t judge a book by a cover. Personally, I’m curious enough to hope his middle daughter is nicknamed Winnie; infact, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that the younger two have ‘fred’ names, although you may be surprised to know that the names aren’t etymologically linked.
What do you think? I love how the last two names go together, but I’m not sure I like how Kitty fits in, but I won’t deny that she does have a pretty kick-ass name.
Moldova's 2011 Eurovisoin Entry - So Lucky byZdob&Zdub, with accompanying trumpet playing fairy on unicycle.
Greetings friends, my Saturday evening was filled with the joy that is Eurovision, did my fellow continent dwellers enjoy it? I voted for Moldova, since it was in the true spirit of Eurovision, and it appears my fellow Brits agreed, since we awarded them 8 points, at which point our commentator, Graham Norton, told us off for not taking it seriously…and then we gave our 12 to Jedward of Ireland. As for the winners, twas’ Azerbaijan – a country in Asia.
But let’s get onto the point ofour post. The title of the Moldova song was So Lucky, and that got me thinking, what are some names which mean lucky?
We all love Lily, Violet et al, and so to honour my rediscovered love of Rose, we’re going to delve into the depths of the world of all things botanical. Not a Lily nor Rose will be present on this list, because that would just be obvious.
A- Adair, Amaryllis, Aster
B- Briar, Bryony
C- Calendula, Camellia, Cassia, Clover, Cosmos
D- Dara (A male name in Ireland, Dara Ó Briain is an example), Dahlia