Category: baby name Lily
It is with great sadness that we report the death of one of our most treasured contributors, K. M. Sheard. Kay ran the delightful website, Nook of Names, and was the author of a giant, encyclopedic compendium of name information, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names, which we have found to be an invaluable resource.
In tribute to the memory of Kay, here again is one of her characteristic Nameberry blogs–with its unique mix of scholarship and humor, first published in 2013.
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.
Lately I’m wondering: is all this talk about baby names changing the names we use?
A century ago, parents could draw inspiration from the newspaper, the Bible, literature, music, and anything on the family tree. There was room for creativity, but actual data gathering would have been difficult.
Today a few keystrokes will tell you how many girls were named Isabella last year, or whether hundreds of random strangers think that Ethan Alexander is a good name for your son. No wonder an expectant mom actually grimaced when I asked her if they’d chosen a name yet.
With all of this information, could it be that trends will accelerate? Will we talk ourselves out of using great names? I’ve heard of dozens of parents deciding against their top choice for fear that Stella is the next Ava. Or maybe they’re desperately searching for a name just like Logan, but much less popular, without actually being too unusual.