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Category: Girl Names

What makes a name a name?

Kid portrait

By Abby Sandel, AppellationMountain

What makes a name real?

To think bigger, what makes a word real?  That’s the question raised by English professor and language historian Anne Curzan in her TED talk.

They’re long-standing questions, but the speed of our modern age means that change happens fast.  Imagine a name like Nevaeh catching on before MTV, or Jayceon before YouTube.

Curzan points out that dictionaries are written by people, people who are listening very carefully to how the general public uses words.  So tweet and defriend make the cut.

The same thing happens with baby name books and websites.  Nevaeh wouldn’t have appeared in the 1980s, but she’s firmly installed today.  And while Jayceon might be too new to appear in print, the fast-rising variant can be found on most of the major baby name sites.

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posted by: Abby View all posts by this author
medieval

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Names from the Middle Ages are fascinating. They’re often quite similar to those parents love today, but tend to be almost entirely overlooked.

Nameberry has long had the Coolator. I would call this the Medievalizer, except that sounds like a torture device.

Instead, this is a list of the 2013 US Top Ten for girls, with suggestions for parents looking for something just a little different – or maybe something that would be right at home in the eleventh century.

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abby:elle

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

When it comes to naming a daughter, imagination reigns.  From Hollywood birth announcements to literary powerhouses, blog babies to the most random of name spottings, a great name can come from anywhere.

This week’s potential seismic name influence?  Disney’s big screen retelling of Sleeping Beauty.  This time, we’re getting the villain’s side of the story in Maleficent.  Angelina Jolie might make the two-horned headdress look elegant, but I doubt she can sell her character’s name to future parents.  Maleficent is too downright evil!  But plenty of other choices associated with the big summer film could get a boost.

On a sad note, this was also the week the world said farewell to the towering Maya Angelou.  If Francis has gained currency as a hero name, could the widely admired writer’s names – first and last – be next?

Together, they point towards some of the most interesting sources for naming daughters in our age: myth, fable, and literature, much of it ancient and well-worn, but some of it modern, even newly invented.

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zola

By Linda Rosenkrantz

I’ve long loved Lola, and lately I’ve been crushing on Viola and Finola–which inspired me to take a look at what other ola names there are, and was pleased to find that there are lots of options, coming from several different ethnicities. As opposed to the diminutive ina-ending, ola‘s long o-sound gives her a certain strength combined with femininity that is really appealing. So here come the ola girls:

AmapolaThis rarely heard name is of Arabic origin and means ‘poppy’—in fact there was a hugely popular Big Band-era hit song called ‘Amapola, my pretty little poppy.”  The Greek name Anatola is related to the ancient Turkish place name Anatolia.

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posted by: Nick View all posts by this author
hazelx

By Nick Turner

In 1970, the novel Love Story captured America‘s imagination with the tale of a wealthy Harvard jock who meets a girl from the other side of the tracks. It was soon followed by a movie of the same name — a tear-jerker that became the top box-office draw of the year. The American Film Institute has named Love Story one of the ten most romantic movies of all time, but its biggest legacy may be solidifying Jennifer‘s status as the top girl’s name of the 1970s and early-’80s.

The heroine of the book and movie (played by Ali McGraw) was named JenniferJenny” Cavalleri. And in addition to being a wisecracking beauty, she had terminal leukemia. (I’m not spoiling anything here. The very first line of the movie is: “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died?”) .

Apparently America‘s response to watching a tragic girl fall in love and die was, “Hey, cool name.” Jennifer supplanted Lisa as the most popular name in the United States in 1970 and didn’t relinquish its grip until 1985.

Forty-four years later, America is obsessed with another cancer-stricken girl: Hazel from the novel The Fault in Our Stars.

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