Category: color names
It’s the first day of fall…the air is getting crisper, the days are getting shorter…the moment to think about the names of autumn.
Unlike spring, summer, and even winter, fall is not a season that immediately brings a bonanza of name possibilities to mind. But when you think about it, there are almost as many autumn blooms as there are springtime ones, there are harvest deities, and a palette-full of fall colors, among other options.
So if you’re expecting a fall baby, and are looking for a name reflecting the season of their birth, there are lots of colorful choices to consider, beginning with:
The autumnal flowers and shrubs:
- Adonis (blue)
- Belle of the Night
- Susan (black-eyed)
Trees known for their brilliantly colorful fall foliage:
To guest blogger Kaitlin (Greyer) and others who share her synesthesia, every name has a distinctive color, shape and texture; a fascinating condition she describes for us here.
It seemed an unlikely place for this to happen.
As I recall, I was fifteen years old – sitting in the booth of a local Burger King with my mother as we picked at our burgers and fries, too hot to really eat anything; it was mid-June or July. I had just begun to dabble in my name obsessions, collecting baby name books when I could find them cheap and carefully recording list after list in blank notebooks. It was no surprise to my mother, then, that the unique name of the clerk – Turquoise – had caught my eye. The sound of this name sent a jolt of crimson color straight to my brain. As we sat in the back of the store, talking quietly, I turned to my mother and said:
“Mom, do you ever, like, see a color in your head when you hear a word or a name?”
She paused. Then: “Yes,” she said. “I named you Kaitlin because it’s bright yellow and it makes me think of sunshine. It’s a happy color; I wanted you to be happy.”
“But Kaitlin isn’t yellow,” protested my fifteen-year-old self. “It’s pale lavender and grey, the color of a pearl.” She nodded. “I guess our colors are different.”
This is how it began. We started with her name, my name, the names of my father, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins, comparing our respective colors for each. Mom told me about the colors of her current favorite names and the colors of the names she’d considered for me. It developed into a special connection between us, as well as a sort of game: whenever we checked out at a department store or restaurant, we would make special note of the name tag of the person waiting on us. As soon as they were out of earshot, we’d each blurt out a color. “Jane” was chartreuse or eggplant, “Michael” pumpkin or scarlet. Gradually, we discovered that her colors were just that – colors, as though suspended in water or hanging in the air. My colors, on the other hand, had depth. I have a sense of whether a name moves left or right, up or down in my head, or whether it is static. If the name has a dimension, I can describe that, too: some names, like Ella, are two-dimensional, a sheet of colored paper. Others, such as Oliver, are domed; some are even complete spheres. Most names have a texture, often best compared to fabrics, but Christopher is smooth and shiny like the skin of a fruit, and Lydia is sandy and cratered, akin to the face of the moon.
Spring baby names are a fresh bunch, and if poets and songwriters can draw inspiration from springtime, why not baby namers? The fresh, green, uplifting season offers plenty of ideas. So here is our annual tribute to spring baby names, starting with the name of the season and its months:
SPRING – The mid-century actress Spring Byington, who played the grandma on a television show of my youth, was one of my early influences in the world of baby naming. I’d never heard of anybody named Spring, but the whole idea was intriguing. If you could name a baby Spring, why not….well, just about anything else? Still an unusual, sprightly choice, and a lot more acceptable now than it was in the 1960s.
MARCH, APRIL, and MAY – May (or Mae, or Mai for that matter) is definitely the most fashionable of these choices, lovely as a first name or a middle. March is the only one of the three that might work for boys, and makes an adventurous first or middle for girls. April (or Avril or Abril) feels a bit tired.
Original names from around the world that mean spring:
BAHAAR – Hindi, for girls
CAROUN – Armenian, for girls
CERELIA – of Latin origin, for girls
GEN – Japanese girls’ choice
HARUKI – Japanese for boys; Haruki Murakami is a wonderful novelist
JAREK – Slavic boys name that can stand alone or be a diminutive for any name that starts with Jar-
KELDA – Girls’ name with Norse origins
PRIMAVERA – Italian, for girls
RABIAH – Arabic girls’ name
VASANT – Sanskrit boys’ name
VERNA — another Latin girls’ choice.
Just a few years ago, it might have been fair to say that Winter was the season least friendly to names, while now it seems to offer the newest choices for the adventurous baby namer. Why? Two reasons: Nicole Richie choosing Winter as one of the middle names for her high-profile little girl Harlow, and January Jones, beauteous star of noteworthy new show Mad Men.
WINTER is the season name that’s seen the least amount of use over the years, yet one that holds the most potential for boys as well as girls. Variations include WINTERS, WYNTER, and (please don’t) WINTR. Translations of the seasonal name include the French Hiver (pronounced ee-vair), Italian INVERNO, and in Spanish, INVIERNO. In Dutch and German, it’s still Winter and and in Swedish, the comical-sounding (to the English speaker’s ear) VINTER.
In mythology, winter was said to be caused by DEMETER in grief over the loss of her daughter PERSEPHONE, consigned forever to the underworld (but rising again as a baby name, with or without the pronunciation of the final long e).
DECEMBER, still a highly unusual month name yet certainly a usable one, means ten. Other versions you may want to consider: DECIMA, name of the Roman goddess of childbirth; DECEMBRA, DECIMUS, or DECIO. December’s flower is the narcissus or holly, suggesting the names NARCISSA (difficult at best) and HOLLY (already a bit worn at the edges). December gem TURQUOISE can work as a name, as can AQUA or its Turkish equivalent FAIRUZA. Red, however, seems more suitable as December’s color, which leads you to a whole spectrum of great names, from SCARLETT to CRIMSON to RUFUS and RORY.
This blog is adapted from our most recent book, Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby
When people look for baby names online, they often put in a search for “unique names.” Some of them are trying to find names that are unusual and distinctive, but some really do want to give their child a name that’s truly one-of-a-kind, something that nobody else has.
A recent newspaper story claimed that one of the reasons for this is because modern parents want their child to be “Googleable,” to have a name that’s different enough that it will pop out online. And some parents say they won’t settle on a name until they find out whether its url is available.
Of course, as soon as you give your child a “unique” name, it all but guarantees it won’t be unique anymore since someone will almost inevitably poach it. We were tickled to find, for instance, that someone posted on our website bulletin board that she’d named her son Knox, a name that wasn’t in our or any other baby-naming book – months before Angelina and Brad chose it for their newborn son, launching it on the track to widespread use.
When we asked visitors to our website to tell us what they’d named their babies, we never expected their answers to provide such a trove of highly unusual – yes, even unique – names. Some of these turn gender on its ear, some twist spellings in different ways, some reintroduce ancient or ethnic names or transform place names or surnames, and some are conjured from parents’ fertile brains.
Now here is where you would ordinarily expect to find a long list of distinctive, never-heard-before names. But that would be against the spirit of this style. So you’ll just have to find–or create–one of your own.
For more of our ideas on unusual names, check out Beyond Ava & Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby