Category: Spellings, Sounds and Initials
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Back in the 1930s and 40s, girls’ names ending in the feminissima French suffix “ette” were the cat’s pajamas. There were glamorous movie stars named Claudette, Paulette and Jeanette, and lots of little girls dubbed Annette and Nanette. But now a funny thing has happened on the way to the nursery: the final ‘e’ has disappeared and suddenly ‘ett’ is one of the hottest endings for boys.
In the recently released list of top names on Nameberry so far this year, there were three two-syllable ‘ett’ boys in the Top 45—Emmett, Everett and Beckett, while also high up on the national list were Bennett, Garrett and Barrett—and if you throw in the single syllable Jett, Rhett and Brett, and sharing the double ‘t’ Wyatt and Elliott, you’ve got the makings of a full soccer team.
When Americans think about chic European names, they tend to imagine the exotic, the elaborate, the intriguingly complicated and foreign.
Yet when Europeans think about chic names, they often these days mean the short and simple and sometimes even the Anglo-Saxon: Tom, Emma, Lou. Think of them as the baby name equivalents of a perfectly-cut bob or little black dress, elegant and always in style.
Short, simple names that are chic and popular in France, the Netherlands, and indeed throughout Europe include:
By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
Here’s something I overheard recently:
There’s something to that statement, isn’t there? Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade. Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference. They’re very different names.
Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar. Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too. After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.
Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.
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:
Amapola—This 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.
by Jeanette Soto
The name Jeanette was given to me by my young, hip parents during the infamous Chicago heat wave of 1987. The name had been out of fashion for over four decades and not coming back in style any time soon. The minute I learned how to spell it, I was frustrated by all the other people who couldn’t. One girl in grammar school insisted that it should be spelled with a ‘G’ because it sounded “too hard” to be spelled with a ‘J. Most often, people spell my name with one too many N’s or one to few T’s; misspellings include Jeannette, Janet, Jennet, Jenette, Jenet, Ginette and Ginet, but practically nobody gets it right.
Why did my parents give me a name that wasn’t just dated, but came with a slew of spellings? My mother’s excuse: Pregnancy amnesia, or brain fog caused by pregnancy hormones. It came over my mother at the time she was trying to remember the name she wanted to give me, so Colette Madeleine morphed into Jeanette Ashley.
What other names have Jeanette’s retro -ette ending and unusual style? Here, some choices: