Last week marked the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who‘, the highly anticipated special anniversary episode watched by avid fans (or Whovians) worldwide. The show captivated audiences from the start with its’ creativity and imaginative story lines that attracted viewers. The last of his race, the Doctor travels through time and space in his blue police box spaceship the TARDIS , regenerating each time he dies.
He travels with many different companions, many of whom are beloved by fans and have received their own spin-off shows, but the true heart of the show is the Doctor. With each regeneration the Doctor has the same memories but a distinct and different personality, meaning that each actor can put their unique stamp on the role, and all have become household names. If you’re a fan, perhaps you may like to honor your child with the name of your favorite Doctor.
In recent years, it seems that more and more writers are taking inspiration from classical mythology and medieval bestiaries. Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Supernatural and countless others are full of mythical creatures. This seems to be having an impact on parents, as many of these names are starting to see increased use on birth certificates.
Just in time for Halloween, here is a list of ten names inspired by mythical creatures that wouldn’t seem as out of place on the playground as you might at first think.
Cerberus – this three-headed dog (or hell-hound) seemed a lot less intimidating in Harry Potter when named Fluffy and guarding a trapdoor rather than the gates of the Underworld. The most commonly accepted pronunciation is SUR-ber-uss, meaning ‘formidable guard’ or some variation of this. Cerberus has never charted in the U.S, but it would be a very cool name for a boy.
Chimera – Pronounced ky-MEER– this one sounds like a smoosh of girls’ names Chiara and Mira. Thought to be a creature comprised of lion, snake and goat parts that breathes fire, it’s also used as a generic term to describe creatures that are composed of various animal parts. Despite the grim creature association, it has a pretty sound and could make a good girl’s name.
Dragon – Dragons capture our imagination like few other creatures, with depictions ranging from fiery vengeful beasts to wise advisers and companions. Dragon has only ever charted as a boy’s name, probably because on a boy it comes across as positive, conjuring images of strength and might, whereas calling a female a dragon is generally meant to be a slight, that her anger and “fiery” nature are uncontrollable.
For many name nerds there are two things that are usually pretty high on their want list when choosing names. One is that the name isn’t too “trendy” – so that it won’t seem too dated in years to come and instantly mark someone as a child of a particular decade. Another is that it’s not “too” popular.
In the 1930′s, one name that completely broke both of these rules was Shirley, thanks largely to child mega-star Shirley Temple. The name was already very well recognised, positioned at #9 in America, when Shirley Temple‘s first films were made. The attention this young girl brought to the name gave it such a boost that Nancy of popular blog Nancy‘s Baby Names points out that Shirley had the second biggest jump (in numbers of girls given the name) ever from 1934 to 1935, which saw it go from #4 to #2 when 42,353 American girls were given the name. That’s a lot of Shirleys.
Like your names with a bit of a magical, mystical flair? Then how about taking some inspiration from Cirque Du Soleil, a company for whom magical and mystical is all in a day’s work. Below are some of the top picks just from the titles of their shows, although the shows are also rich with great character names if this list gives you a taste for a Cirque du Soleil inspired name.
Alegría – Oh so very close to Allegra, it’s almost surprising this hasn’t found it’s way on to the name charts considering the current love for alternate spellings and embellishments. Both Alegría and Allegra are Italian names meaning ‘cheerful, joyous’. The added benefit of this spelling is that it’s a nice step away from the medication.
Every year names move up and down, on and off the US Social Security Administration (SSA) charts of popular names. A name will appear on the charts if it has been given to more than four babies of one gender in that year. Usually when a name enters the lists, it enters for one gender first and takes some time to chart for the other one (if it ever does).
Take the now unisex name Cameo for example. Cameo first entered the girls chart in 1957. But it wasn’t until 1979 – more than 20 years later – that it started to chart for boys too. It also charts more irregularly for boys than it does for girls.
So it’s fair to say that it takes quite a special name to simultaneously enter both the boys and the girls charts for the first time in the same year. There is something about it that has captured the imagination of parents, who think it has a sound and feel that could work for either gender.