Here in America, we honor the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but what of the poor Scots? Their national saint’s celebration, St. Andrew’s Day, is all but ignored. This year it falls on November 30th, and so we thought we would rectify that omission with K.M. Sheard’s selection of some of her favorite uncommon Scottish names.
By K. M. Sheard of Nook of Names
Affrica — The Anglicized form of the Gaelic Oighrig, an ancient name. Its meaning isn’t known for certain, but most agree the most likely source is the Old Irish Aithbhreac. It is found in a number of other forms across the centuries, including Africa, Affreca and Effrick. One bearer was a Viking princess of the Isle of Man, who married John de Courcy, the twelfth-century de facto king of Ulster.
By K. M. Sheard of NookofNames.com
In keeping with the season, here is an offering of my favorite ghostly names:
Alexander. One of the ghostly children of Lucy M. Boston’s Children of Green Knowe, who lived and died during the reign of King Charles II. The most famous Alexander is, of course, Alexander the Great.
Banquo. The tragic figure of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who was murdered by his erstwhile friend. The origin is uncertain, but even the historicity of the man is questioned. It is quite probable he was invented by a sixteenth-century Scottish academic.
By K. M. Sheard, of NookofNames
There’s an old method of naming first recorded in use in the Old Testament.
It’s called homophony, and basically is the principal of choosing a name because it sounds like something which the bestower wants to commemorate. Or, putting it another way, the choice of name was inspired by something, which, in most cases is entirely unrelated to the name.
It works in all languages; amongst the biblical Hebrews, for instance, there was a period when names which had become long-established were chosen because of their resemblance to a word or words which suggested themselves during pregnancy or labor.
This is partly why the meaning of so many biblical names have gotten so muddled. It’s common in the OT for the mother to make some explanation as to why she’s naming a newborn such-and-such, and this explanation was often interpreted in the past as being the meaning of the name, when, in many cases, it’s actually homophony going on.
By K. M Sheard of Nook of Names
I have been musing about names which, on the surface, appear to be straightforward adoptions of English words, but are, in fact — in origin at least — entirely unrelated. The most popular name of this kind currently in use is Lily.
Lily — now almost exclusively associated with the flower (so much so that the Wikipedia entry entirely fails to mention its original roots) — actually arose in the Middle Ages as a short-form of Elizabeth — Lylie. This quickly developed its own pet-form — Lillian/Lilian, which has been treated as a name in its own right since at least the 16th Century. It didn’t see much use, though, until the latter 19th Century, when it rapidly became one of the most popular girls’ names across the English-speaking world. And, inevitably, it was usually shortened to Lily. Lily was also very popular in its own right in the early 1900s in the UK; in the US, however — where short and pet-forms often seem to be shunned in favour of the full form — Lily remained relatively rare.