The other day we offered eight fresh choices for boys, and now itâs the girlsâ turnâgirls’ names ranging from a rare botanical specimen to a nostalgic nickname to an undercrowded place name.
1–AcaciaâThis a a pretty and delicate botanical name that has hardly been heard in this country, though it ranked as high as Number 273 among girls’ names in Australia, where the Acacia is a common flowering shrub, in 2008.Â Acacia has a heritage that dates back to ancient Egyptian mythology, in which it was considered the tree of life due to the belief that the first gods were born under a sacred Acacia tree.Â There is also an eponymous fantasy novel, Acacia. Caveat: just donât think about the other name of the Acacia treeâthe Golden Wattle.
2–AmabelâNot to be confused with Annabel (though it well might be), the lovely Amabel has been around since medieval times, and has appeared in a number of British novels, including Agatha Christieâs Appointment with Death, and heard as well as among the English aristocracy.Â Amabel gave birth to the shortened form Mabel, which has a much brasher image, and we think a name that means lovable, deserves more love than itâs gotten.
3–FabiolaâAn Italian name hardly heard on these shores, Fabiola has an admirable heritage attached to the sainted fifth century Roman widow who founded the first Western hospital, in which she attended the sick pilgrims who flocked to Rome.Â A rhythmic name with a beginning that ties it to the present love of word names like Fable and Story and an ending that could lead to some creative nicknaming.Â Bonus: Fabiana and Fabienne are other fab Fab choices.
4– FenellaâThereâs Finella and Fionnuala and Finola, and Fiona, (all of which mean âwhite shoulderâ), but the one weâre suggesting here is the unusual but accessible Fenella, which is the Scottish form.Â Fenella became well known in Britain via the character in Sir Walter Scottâs novel Peverel of the Peak, but she has yet to be discovered here. Â Fenella carries a whiff of the licoricey scent of fennel– and there are all those âellaâ nicknames at her disposal.
5– FlorrieâIf youâre looking for a charming but forgotten nickname name, hereâs one that hasnât been around since 1913âit was actually in the US Top 600 in the 1890s, and especially well used in Scotland.Â Florrie has a lot going for itâitâs floral and furry and was the kind of name used for baby dolls at the turn of the last century. The English singer who goes by the single name Florrie was born Florence Arnold. As a pet name of both Florence and Flora, Florrie beats Flo, and as a nickname name so old it sounds new, it beats Laurie. Bonus: Flossie is Florrieâs Bobbsey Twinsâ name-cousinâthough there is that possibility of âDonât forget to floss, Flossie.â
6–Rhonwen Though Irish names have long been popular in America, Welsh names are just beginning to be noticed and we see them as a wave of the future. Â Â In medieval Welsh poetry, Rhonwen is called “the Mother of the English Nation,âÂ and Rhonwen Baganes was a heroine of Welsh folklore. Â A soft and gentle name, Rhonwenâs meaning—slender and fair–evokes the image of a lovely, light-haired girl.Â Other appealing âwenâ choices include Aelwen, Arianwen, Branwen, Bronwen. Gwendolen, Olwen and Tanwen. Just donât be tempted to change the âwenâ to âwynâ, which would transform it into a male name.
7–SaskiaâArt aficionados will recognize this name as the frequently-painted attractive young wife of Rembrandt.Â Though it has the Russian feel of the more common Sasha, Saskia is a Dutch name of unknown derivation.Â And while it is fairly well used among girls’ names in the UKâas in the actress Saskia Reeves, who is the daughter of a Dutch motherâSaskia has never reached the Top 1000 in the US.Â We think it has a rich, warm and friendly ethnic appeal and is worth thinking about.
8–VeniceâA beautiful city and a lovely name, Venice is for the most part an unexplored location appellation.Â It calls to mind both the magnificent cittĂ on the Adriatic, but also Californiaâs Venice Beach, hip home to celebs ranging from Julia Roberts to the creators of South Park. Bonus: Venetia and Venezia are two other gorgeous Venetians.