Posts Tagged With: Dahl

Sibset of the Week: The Dahls

Roald Dahl, via

Roald Dahl, via

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.

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Names of the Week: Dahl and Fauna


We all love a nature name or two, so now it’s time to add a few more to the pile because you can never have too many. In theory.

It’s certainly a case two for the price of one when it comes to Dahl. For a start, there’s the foodstuffs called dahl, which you may also see spelt as either daal, dal or even dhal. I’m a huge lover of Indian cuisine, which is where you’re most likely to be served dahl. It is a preparation of pulses which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. Indeed, the name dahl comes from a Sanskrit verbal root dal-, which means to split. The name dahl also refers to the thick stew one can prepare from these split pulses; regularly served with rice, vegetables or flat bread. Generally speaking, other areas to feature variations of dahl in their cuisine aside from India include Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Aside from food, the second nature reference you get from Dahl is his meaning: he’s a Germanic surname most often seen in the Scandinavian area of the world. As for his meaning, it’s valley or dale. It seems apt therefore that the best known Dahl is, naturally, the author Roald Dahl who was born in Wales to Norwegian parents. Dahl had three sisters named Astri, Else and Alfhild; tragically Astri died at the age of seven from an illness.

There are plenty of interesting names in Dahl’s family tree. With his wife Patricia, Dahl had five children:

  • Olivia
  • Chantal Sophia ‘Tessa’
  • Theo
  • Ophelia Magdalena
  • Lucy

Tessa, notably, has four interestingly named children: Sophie, Clover, Luke and Ned.

Going back to the author, Dahl’s books are much loved in many British households, even today. In 2008, he was placed 16th on The Times’ list: The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. He wrote such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; The Twits; Matilda; The BFG and my personal favourite: James and the Giant Peach.

Are people actually using the name Dahl? Yes, yes they are. A lady wrote into You Can’t Call It It! for advice a few months ago, and was considering the possibility of using Dahl as a middle name for her unborn son. Guess what? She used it, too. Plenty more could be using Dahl quite simply as a pet name for their daughters they named Dahlia. It was well-reported that Nicolas Sarkozy named his newborn daughter Dahlia when she was born last year, before it eventually emerged that she was infact a Guilia.

Speaking of female names, the one we’re looking at this week is Fauna. She’s another offshoot from my search for alternatives to Flora. In part inspired by my lifetime love of the video game Spyro, as in the second game there is a faun introduced who is called Elora. There’s plenty of things linking her with Flora, too.

First off, if you’re thinking that you’ve heard the name elsewhere before, think Disney. The names of Sleeping Beauty’s three fairy godmothers in their version of the tale are Flora, Fauna and Merryweather; Fauna is the one who wears green and gave Aurora the gift of song.

In terms of mythology, whilst Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers, Fauna was the Roman goddess of fertility, women and healing. Whilst in the botanical world Flora relates to plant life, Fauna relates to animal life.

We mentioned faun earlier on, and a faun is also a character from Roman mythology; depicted as being half-man, half-goat. They were forest Gods and were often association with Greek satyrs. A famed faun you may remember is Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a faun.

As a noun, the word fawn is the name for a young deer and a light-yellowish brown colour. As a verb, to fawn over usually suggests that one is seeking favour with someone else by flattering them.

Overall, both Dahl and Fauna feel almost contemporary names to use, but it remains to be seen as to whether they’ll pick up is usage since neither of the two names rank in England&Wales for the 2010 data.

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