Posts Tagged With: Minerva


Minerva McGonagall, from

Minerva has always been a name I’ve wanted to talk about, but it was only after browsing through Pottermore that I was finally pushed to start typing this post up.

For those who don’t know, Pottermore is a site that give you all kinds of background detail on various things from the Harry Potter ‘verse, and I stumbled upon a piece that mentions the reasoning behind Professor McGonagall’s first name, and the reaction to it:

The birth of the young couple’s first child, Minerva, proved both a joy and a crisis. Missing her family, and the magical community she had given up for love, Isobel insisted on naming her newborn daughter after her own grandmother, an immensely talented witch. The outlandish name raised eyebrows in the community in which she lived, and the Reverend Robert McGonagall found it difficult to explain his wife’s choice to his parishioners. 

Point of fact, McGonagall has brothers with the perhaps less outlandish names of Malcolm and Robert.

It may come as no surprise that one of my favourite Harry Potter characters is McGonagall, because she just read very well and rather reminded me of a teacher from my schooling years. My school may not have had a Dumbledore, or a Snape for that matter, but we certainly had a McGonagall. And a Trelawney.

The other place I know a Minerva from is another book series I seem to mention every week: Artemis Fowl. It features boy genius Artemis, who in book 5 comes up against his devious female counterpart: Minerva Paradizo, who has a younger brother called Beau. 

In Roman Mythology, Minerva was the Roman Goddess of wisdom and warfare. The name also possibly relates to the Latin mens, which means wise/intellect.

Despite the popularity of the character, Minerva does not rank in England&Wales, but here’s where things get interesting because she has previously ranked; she was at #4688 in 2010 with 4 girls given the name. Her peak was at #3422 in 2009, when she was given to a grand total of 6 girls. She first hit the ranks in 1999, the year the 3rd Harry Potter book hit the shelves ( fun fact: it was released on my sister’s 3rd birthday!)

Suffice to say however, she’s not all that popular a name. Indeed, she may still be considered an outlandish name these days, just as she was amongst the [fictional] early 20th century Scots of the village McGonagall hails from.

Keeping with the stats, what I really want to mention is the unsurprisingly fact that the highest ranking Min- name here in 2011 was Minnie, at #552. The other Min- names to rank were:

  • Mina, #959
  • Minahil, #1295
  • Minal, #2025
  • Minaal, #2432
  • Mindy, #2636
  • Minna, #3185
  • Minnah, #3549
  • Minha, #4049
  • Min, #4764
  • Minka, #4764
  • Minsa, #4764
  • Minni, #5785

But sadly no Minerva.

Categories: Name Profile | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Artemis Fowl

One of the book covers for Artemis Fowl, from

I promised this post, and have duly been digging around ever since. The Artemis Fowl series of books are written by Eoin Cowlfer and first came to a Waterstones near you back in 2001. The last one is making an appearance later on this year, and I’m sure I’ve heard talks about turning the series into a film too. Think you should be getting excited about The Hunger Games becoming a film and the potential naming inspirations? I’m apparently already thinking ahead of the game by the looks of it given that this series of books has been described as the new Harry Potter – and that’s one series of books which put several names on the map. Of course, Mr. Cowlfer prefers to refer to the series as Die Hard With Fairies. Nevertheless, here’s a quick look at some of the more notable names from the books.

Artemis Fowl revolves around the antics of a teenage mastermind by the name of Artemis – a male teenage mastermind. It may seem odd to those with preconceptions that Artemis is a female name – the character himself mentions the gender dispute a few times – but Artemis was good enough to be given to one of Alex James’ twin sons. During the books, Artemis takes on an alter-ego named Orion, who is almost his exact opposite – notably being carefree and optimistic. Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunting, whilst Orion is the name of a legendary Greek hunter.

Another fascinating name from the Fowl family is Angeline – the name of Artemis‘ mother (his father is also called Artemis). It’s a French variation of the name Angela, which ultimately means messenger.

At one stage in the series, Artemis came face to face with what one could describe as his female equivalent – it may therefore come as no surprise that her name also has links with mythology, Minerva; the Roman goddess of war and wisdom. Minerva has a brother named Beau and parents named Gaspard and Penny.

One of the main villains who makes frequent appearance throughout the series is a narcissistic pixie genius (in other words, the pixie equivalent of Artemis) by the name of Opal. But she isn’t truely like Artemis, given that Cowlfer has described her as being an insane, power-mad pixie. She first appears alongside a character named Briar, whom we mentioned last weekend.

A rivalry exists between Opal and good-guy centaur Foaly – who also happens to be married to a lady centaur named Caballine. I take Foaly to be a play on the English word foal, and as for Caballine – another English word meaning of or pertaining to a horse.

A main character I’ve yet to mention is a spirited elf by the name of Holly. The name Holly is hugely popular in England&Wales – she was actually the most popular name given to girls born in December 2010 – but she ranks at #25 when the whole year is taken into account. Her mother was called the equally botanical Coral – who could see somewhat of a revival in the wake of sister Coraline.

Categories: Book Names | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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