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posted by: waltzingmorethanmatilda View all posts by this author
international baby names

By Anna Otto, Waltzing More Than Matilda

There’s a lot to be said for having a name that is familiar in many countries. It makes travel and working overseas just that little bit easier, and if you have a particular cultural background, it’s nice to know that relatives in your country of origin will easily be able to spell and pronounce your child’s name. Even if your child never leaves their native shores, we live in a global village, and they will most likely meet, study, and work with people from other countries.

To me, a name with high international recognition needed to be popular in as many regions as possible, so that as a mimimum, it needed to be Top 100 in the English-speaking countries of Australia, New Zealand, England/Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Canada, and the USA. It also needed to be popular in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.

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1914alice

At the beginning of the year, we like to flip back the calendar a hundred years to see what the baby name landscape looked like a century ago. 1914 was a year in which World War I was in full swing, the year that President Wilson officially established Mother’s Day, Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth made their debuts, and saw the births of Dylan Thomas, Jonas Salk and Joe DiMaggio.But the babyname universe was relatively calm, as we can see by looking at the stable top dozen girls’ names. Here, they are, in order of their 1914 popularity, and what their status is today:

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palindromes (1)

If you’re looking for a name with perfect symmetry and balance, nothing could fit the bill better than a palindromic appellation, meaning one that reads the same backwards and forwards. Granted, that’s a pretty limited field, and a lot of the choices begin and end with the letter ‘a’ with only one consonant in-between, but there are a few others as well. Here are the most usable:

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Classic Girls’ Names: The Ann Clan

anne

By Linda Rosenkrantz

There are few names that have given birth to as many variations as Ann, the simplest and softest of the classic girls’ names.  But while others like Mary and Margaret and Elizabeth have spawned almost unrecognizable progeny—from Daisy to Bessie to Peggy to Polly—most of the Ann derivatives have stayed pretty close to their mother name.

Yet Ann herself is an offshoot, coming from Hannah, a Hebrew name meaning ‘grace,’  who in the Old Testament is the mother of the prophet Samuel. This version was taken up by the Puritans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and remained a commonly used name in the Jewish community for several generations.

Anna is the Latin form widely used in countries across the world, while Ann was originally the English spelling and Anne the French. St. Anne was the traditional, non-biblical name of the mother of the Virgin Mary, which explains its popularity among Christians—and is the name of several saints.  In more modern times, the affection felt for the character Anne Shirley in the childhood classic, Anne of Green Gables, also contributed to the spread of this spelling.

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classicgirl

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks at the “quiet” classic baby names  and measures how they stand in the new popularity ratings. 

 There were dozens of stories in the baby name news last week, but they all shared a common theme: the Social Security Administration’s release of the 2012 baby name data

We talked about Titan and Briggs, Landry and Geraldine.  About how Jacob remained number one, but only if you didn’t tally up the many spellings of Aiden, Jackson, and Jayden.  Television’s influence was clear – Arya and Aria, Litzy, Major, and Jase.  Movies, sports, and music shaped our choices, too, as did faith.  Nevaeh’s little brother might just be called Messiah.

But what about the quiet classics, the names that rise and fall, but still appear in nearly every generation?  Hemlines change.  We graduated from the party line to the iPhone, the horse to the Prius.  And yet these names remain, worn by men and women, boys and girls of every age.

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