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Unusual Names: On being named Shanti

shanti

by Shanti Knight

In my relatively short lifetime of  23 years, reactions to my name, both my own and those of others, have taken quite a journey. In the beginning, it was one that promised little more than mispronunciation. For the first year of my life, even my own grandpa called me “Shanty.” Before I traveled to the Netherlands, Japan, France, India, and many other places, I spent my childhood in a Midwestern town of 8,000, nestled between cornfields and tucked into the toe of Indiana’s boot.

I read an article recently about the power of our names, which said that name sounds, popularity and meaning can influence the paths we take in life. Shanti is a name that has attached me to a culture (it’s a vernacular and prayer word that means “peace” in Sanskrit and Hindi) with which, partly because of the name itself,  I feel a comfortable connection despite my own very different ethnic heritage of Irish, English and French bloodlines.

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Drew Brees Baby

While the country’s attention will be focused on football this Super Bowl Sunday, some of us may be more interested in another aspect of the action: The crazy names of the players, of course!  Nameberry’s new intern Robert Harclerode breaks down the most interesting names on both teams:

The Super Bowl has displayed a vast amount of talent and drama, but it has also showcased some of the most unique names on one of the biggest stages in all of professional sports.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers both boast their own separate historic franchises, as well as their own fascinating names within the Super Bowl’s past.  In Super Bowl I & II, which both ended in Green Bay victories, Bart Starr was named the Most Valuable Player. Other great Packers in those first Super Bowls include Forrest Gregg, Boyd Dowler, Elijah Pitts, Max McGee, Lionel Aldridge, and Zeke Bratkowski.

The Steelers also had their share of unique names that have won the Super Bowl MVP in the past such as Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw and Santonio Holmes.

Here are some distinctive names to listen for in this year’s Super Bowl showdown:

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Popular Baby Names

When we parse the annual Social Security list, we usually focus on the top names–what’s the new Number One, which names have made it into the Top 25, even the Top 100. But there are many names on the Popularity List that actually aren’t all that popular– certainly not commonly enough used  to deter parents who are looking for a distinctive name.

In the lower depths of the list, there are a number of neglected names that were given to fewer than 350 babies across the country last year, real hidden gems sprinkled among the more unusually configured Cloes, Alyvias and Jovanys.  These are appealing names that are recognizable to all, with real history and meaning, but which would still stand out in a crowd (or in a pre-school).

Among them are:

GIRLS

DIXIE — One of the most engaging of the saucy showgirl nickname names, with an added dash of Southern spice.

GIADA — An undiscovered Italian jewel (it translates as Jade) brought into the spotlight by celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.

JUNE — Springtime month name starting to come back into bloom.

JUSTINE –An elegant name with deep Latin roots and a righteous meaning.

LIBBY –The lost Elizabeth nickname, sounding so much fresher than Liz and Beth–not to mention Betsy and Betty.

LILIA — A charming, rhythmic, more exotic spin on the well-used Lily.

LIVIA –Not a chopped-off version of Olivia but an ancient Roman favorite used on its own.

MARIN — A shimmering water name, distinctive and sophisticated.

MATILDA — Sweet and feminine vintage classic, with a choice of appealing nicknames–Mattie, Tilda, Tillie; hasn’t caught on despite highly visible image of Matilda Ledger.

OLIVE — Quieter alternative to trendy Olivia; young heroine of Little Miss Sunshine, and pick of cool couple Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen.

SLOANE — Sleek executive name chosen by comedian Rob Corddry.

TAMARA –With both Russian and Hebrew roots, has a dramatic, creative image.

TESS — Has a lot more substance, strength and style than most single-syllable names; a good middle name choice too.

THALIA –One of the Three Graces, and the Muse of Comedy, in Greek mythology; does at the moment tend to be associated with single-named singer.

BOYS

AUGUSTUS –Old Roman name sounding less and less fusty, especially when softened by nicknames Augie or Gus.

CASSIUS –A Shakespearean name with the patina of antiquity, plus a choice of two cool nicknames–Cass or Cash.

CONRAD –A solid, serious name with literary cred.

CULLEN — Winning Irish surname name–but in danger of increased popularity via being the surname of Edward in the popular Twilight franchise.

DARWIN –Perfect for the son of scientists, but also appealing to any parent looking for a name with a stylish sound and historic significance.

FLETCHER –An occupational (arrow-maker) name with an abundance of quirky charm.

JENSEN — An attractive, rarely heard Scandinavian surname name, attached to both a spiffy car and a current TV teen idol, Jensen Ackles–there were only 192 baby Jensens born last year.

KILLIAN — Dynamic Irish saint’s name; only possible drawback is tie to the trendy brew.

LUCIAN — Adds a gloss of Continental elan to Luke and Lucas.

MAXIMO –Lively Latin route to nickname Max, meaning ‘the greatest’–sole caveat is a link to a video game.

REUBEN –A neglected Biblical boy, resonant and rich, belonging to the founder of one of the tribes of Israel.

REX — One of the few trendy x-ending boys’ names with a real–even regal–meaning.

SEAMUS — This Irish form of James has way more substance and spunk than the dated Sean.

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National Park Names

yosemite-national-park

Today, guest blogger SUSAN CHESNEY leads us through the name paths related to America‘s glorious national parks.

My family and I love nothing more than to visit as many National Parks as we can. We’ve been to twenty-six of them, from Acadia in Maine to the Everglades in Florida to Haleakala and Hawaiian Volcanoes. It’s amazing that we didn’t name our children after one–we were only thinking of classic names then (we did name our son Peter, which comes from the Greek Petros, meaning stone, as in Yellowstone)–because they are such a treasure trove of possibilities.  Not only the parks themselves but the waterfalls, mountains and beaches within them have distinctive names. The passion I feel for National Parks is captured so perfectly by the artful names given to these places. Who, for example, can say Shenandoah without crossing into the past, into less complicated times?

So here is a list of National Park-related names:

ACADIA
ALBERTA (falls–Rocky Mountain)
ANSEL (park photographer Ansel Adams)
ARCHER, ARCHIE (Arches)
ASH (mountain–Sequoia and Kings Canyon)
BRYCE
CAMERON (lake–Waterton-Glacier)
CANYON
CARMEN (mountain range–Big Bend)
CRUZ (bay–Virgin Islands)
DENALI
ECHO (lake–Acadia)
ELEANOR (lake–Yosemite)
ELENA (canyon–Big Bend)
ELIAS (Wrangell-St. Elias)
EMERALD (ridge–Mt. Rainier)
EVER (Everglades)
GUADALUPE
HALLE (Haleakala)
ISIS (temple–Grand Canyon)
JASPER (forest–Petrified Forest)
JOSHUA (Joshua Tree)
JUNIPER (canyon–Big Bend)
KATMAI
KENAI (Kenai Fjords)
KING (Kings Canyon)
KOBUK (Kobuk Valley)
LASSEN (Lassen Volcanic)
MARIPOSA (grove–Yosemite)
MESA (Mesa Verde)
MOAB
MUIR (naturalist John Muir who helped save Yosemite)
OLYMPIA (Olympic)
QUINCY (mountain–Gates of the Arctic)
RAINIER
ROYALE (Isle Royale)
SAGE (creek–Badlands)
SEQUOIA
SHASTA (mountain near Lassen Volcanic)
SHENANDOAH
SMOKY (Great Smoky Mountains)
STONE (Yellowstone)
SULLIVAN (bay–Voyageurs)
VERDE (Mesa Verde)
TIRZAH (peak–Mt. Rainier)
ZION

SUSAN CHESNEY, a graduate of Art Center College of Design, was the president of a graphics company for twelve years. She lives near Pasadena, California with her husband Kent, daughter Laura (son Peter lives nearby), dog Roxanne Louise and cat Moses Malone.

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