Posts Tagged With: Piper

Closet Chemistry: Amines and Esters

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 Amine last 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

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
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:
  • Amber
  • Aster
  • Clover
  • Demeter
  • Ember
  • Ginger
  • Grier
  • Harper
  • Heather
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Miniver
  • Piper
  • Skyler
  • Summer

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.

Categories: Chemistry Inspirations, French Words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

When Penelope Gets Popular

Paloma Faith may inspire you, from

When I originally penned the Clementine post, I never imagined doing a sequel post or even turning it into a series, but the fact of the matter is that the name Penelope is getting popular, and I’ve started to wonder about what alternatives are out there. This post started off as me pondering about what other names I could get Penny from (the final three being Typhena, Peony and Euphemia), but the original draft of such a post seemed like more should be said. An elaboration was in order, and a sequel was born. So, what other names could we use when Penelope gets too popular for our liking? Just to illustrate the fact that she has grown in popularity, here’s how she’s fared in the past few years:

2003 2004 2005 2006
Rank 583 565 562 678
Births 50 55 59 46
2007 2008 2009 2010
Rank 515 427 328 272
Births 72 99 135 181

A ranking of #272 is something to take note of, since she’s shot up from #678 in 2006 to where she is today. To start off with, it seems best to first approach this topic by asking what exactly are the kinds of names people are pairing the name Penelope with, either as sibling or middle names? A trip to the London Telegraph Birth Announcements was in order to find just that out, and it was an eclectic bunch of names to say the least; here is a cut-down version:

  • Annabel
  • Aurelia
  • Bróna
  • Clementine
  • Esther
  • Evelyn
  • Dorothea
  • Felicity
  • Florence
  • Georgina
  • Harriet
  • Hettie
  • Horatia
  • Jemima
  • Lucinda
  • Marissa
  • Muriel
  • Nancy
  • Orla
  • Scarlett
  • Serena
  • Willa

The names Clementine and Florence came up severeal times, whilst Lucinda also came up at least twice. There are some conflicting styles in the names, from the seldom heard Horatia, to the very Irish name Bróna. Since Florence is a clear favourite, it seems apt to kick off a list of suggestions with the younger Nightingale sister’s name: Parthenope. Like her sister before her, Parthenope was named after an Italian city, and like Penelope, she’s four-syllables. If long names are your preference, another four-syllable P name is Philomena, which shares Penelope’s Greek roots. Dorothea from the above list also shares this trait. Other four-syllable Greek names include:

  • Angeliki
  • Calliope
  • Cassiopeia (technically five-syllables)
  • Elisavet
  • Eugenia (modern Greek form: Evgenia)
  • Konstantina
  • Louiza
  • Ophelia
  • Paraskeve (Pah-rah-ske-vee)
  • Persephone
  • Theodora
  • Timothea
  • Zenovia/Zenobia

But you may have no Greek heritage, which means the above list may means nothing at all to you. Fear not, for there are other, more English-based, options out there. The current leader of the pack for me is Peony. She’s floral, like Lily, and could also shorten to Penny if your heart so desires. I’m astonisahed that only 9 of them were born in England&Wales in 2010, because she is such a pretty name. I first came upon her, myself, when reading a book which I can’t for the life of me remember. But what I can remember was that Peony wore trousers with different coloured legs. She was an eccentric child, to say the least. Another seldom used name in England&Wales in Tolulope, given to just 4 girls in 2010, whilst Temitope was given to 10 girls.

Another P name that I reckon will be rising fast here in the UK in the next few years is Paloma. We’ve already had pop act Florence&The Machine attributed to the rise of Florence, and there’s another similar artist in the UK right now called Paloma Faith. She was the goth girl, Andrea, in the first of the rebooted St.Trinians films, but has since embraced colour to the max. Her name is Spanish for dove. Another British pop act, Mika, has three sisters named Yasmina, Paloma and Zuleika.

Going back to 2000, Penelope was given to 35 girls that year, as was Henrietta. Other names ranking similarly to her, and also containing four syllables (within 45-25 births) in 2000, with their 2010 ranking/birth number in brackets after are:

  • Angelica (#531, 75 births)
  • Henrietta (#730, 50 births)
  • Ophelia (#559, 71 births)
  • Valentina (#521, 77 births)
  • Veronica (#452, 92 births)

As you can see, non of them have broken the Top 300 as Penelope has done, but they have all risen since 2000 and could rise further but maybe not as quickly as dear Penny. That leads us onto another point, one could simply use a nickname of Penelope instead. Aside from Poppy, which resides firmly in the Top 100, the nicknames are generally not as popular as their long form:

  • Nell – #390
  • Nelly – #747
  • Penny – #396
  • Petal – #3156
  • Piper – #719
  • Polly – #300
  • Posy – #4688

I would also suggest Pippa as a nickname for Penelope, but she’s also on the express train to popularity at the moment. I guess one could argue that Philippa is another great alternative choice, who has actually been going backwards in the past few years. Other vintage-sounding P names include Patience, Prudence and Pearl, and Pomeline is a name with Royal heritage.

To conclude, Penelope is a great name with some great alternatives should her popularity put you off. My line on popularity is the same as always, though: if your heart says go for it, just go for it regardless of how popular the name may be.

Categories: Girl Names, Nicknames | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Names of the Week: Drummer and Piper

Single Drummer Boy was released by Alesha Dixon, from

I don’t play an instrument, unless you count the triangle in a Year 2 nativity play. But like most of today’s youths, I wander about from place to place with headphones firmly in place. I’m currently formulating plans to start upping my game when it comes to going to see live shows. It’s just a shame most of the bands I listen to regularly are no longer active.

Katy Dill of No Big Dill has a quintet of wonderfully named daughters: Divine, Pearl, Olive, Azure and Clover, so you could forgive her for freezing when she welcomed baby #6 – a boy. He ended up being given the name Drummer Zion. Surprising, but not so when you think that Harper and Piper have both been given much love from those who name babies, specifically female ones, and the only other name I can’t think of in this musical category of -er names is Fiddler – which I can forgive you all for not embracing.

I view the drums as one of the more ‘accessible’ instruments, in that most could probably bang out a reasonable tune given an hour or so. James May recently proved that anyone can play the intro part of Smells Like Teen Spirit on a guitar tuned to open strum in his latest series of Man Lab. I’m sure it would take me much longer to figure out how to play a violin without shattering eardrums. That reminds me, Strummer is potentially another name in this category we could throw out there.

But really, how realistic is the usage of the name Drummer? Harper and Piper both have success in the surname market as well. Drummer is also a surname, but much less widespread in terms of use.

Turning to music once more. In 2010, Strictly Come Dancing judge Alesha Dixon released the song Drummer Boy, which didn’t fare particularly well in the UK Singles Chart. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t inspire the masses to embrace the name Drummer.

In terms of real life drummers, there have been times when the band’s drummer has taken the limelight. Phil Collins was the drummer for Genesis, and went on to release In The Air Tonight as his début solo single. He also wrote the soundtrack for TarzanDave Grohl, on the other hand, was once the drummer for Nirvana, but is now the lead singer/guitarist for Foo Fighters. I have a much graffitied poster of him up in my bedroom. Well, for the moment anyway, it currently looks like a tiger has taken a slash at it following the time I fell over with a coathanger.

There are some notable female drummers, though far and few between. For example, Mika  has a female drummer named Cherisse and Sandy West was the drummer for the all-female rockband The Runaways.

Shade’s Children is probably the only Garth Nix book I have read, and quite by chance it’s also the only time I’ve come across the use of Drum as a name, since it features a young male in it named Drum. Other main character names include Shade, Gold-Eye, Ninde and…Ella. Almost a full house of quirky name choices, but not quite. Drum was characterised as having immense physical strength, if I remember correctly. The way I see it, if we can name our daughters Viola, why can’t we at least name our sons Drum? He reminds me of the name Jack, in that they’re both short names which really stay in your mind.

You may hear people say that they are trying to drum up support for a cause, such as the recent Children in Need appeal. In this case ‘to drum up support’ could also be ‘to obtain support’. And if you were ‘to pipe up’ during a conversation, you’re basically making yourself heard.

Another comparison between the two names is that, like Drummer shortening to Drum, Piper can shorten to Pip – a name we’ve previously covered – or maybe even Pipe for those wanting to stay true to his musical background. is currently taking submissions for her annual Name Of The Year, of which many votes seem to be going to Pippa. I’ve nothing wrong with the name Pippa, and she’s certainly been growing in popularity here in Enlgand&Wales before the youngest Middleton sister hit the scene. We know this because Pippa overtook Philippa as the most popular name of the two in 2009, and she’s still rising. In 2010 she sat at #365, compared to Philippa’s ranking of #394.

You’d think with all the hype about the name Pippa, Piper could soon become ever more embraced by the masses, as she currently sits much further down at #719. Since it’s early days with Pippa, as we’ve not even yet to get the data for 2011 to see what effect the Royal Wedding has had on the popularity of her. Another name of lesser-impact, but similar sound is Peppa, as in the children’s TV character Peppa Pig, who has a little brother named George. She’s had quite the success in the preschool market, and it’s also worth noting the the genus name for Pepper is Piper.

The Pied Piper of Hamlyn is a famous association, but perhaps not a particularly nice one given that he abducted a whole village-worth of children. That said, the Jack the Ripper association has never hurt the popularity of the name Jack, but thereare plenty of other fabulous Jacks out there to counteract this.

Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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