Category: flower names
Nature names from the botanical world, including flower names like Daisy and Lily and tree names such as Maple and even spice and fruit names such as Sage and Plum, have become both more visible and more fashionable over the past handful of years.
But there’s another group of nature names that hint at their earthly roots rather than state them so plainly, a secret garden of baby names that reference plants and flowers in their original meanings. One of the best things about these names is that they’re more even-handed than many botanical names in their gender identity, with several excellent masculine choices plus others that work equally well for boys or girls.
If you love nature names but also value subtlety, one of these secret garden names may be right for you.
Here in Washington DC, I’m convinced that while we’re quite daring with our children’s given names, every single girl is sharing the same middle: Rose. I’d rather see Rose in the first spot, like Charlotte’s younger daughter in the Sex in the City series. But Rose came in at a frosty #337 in the 2010 rankings. You’re more likely to meet a girl called Esmeralda, Fatima, or Leilani.
What explains the rise of a suddenly-everywhere middle name? Yes, many of us have grandmothers named Rose. But we also have grandmothers named Jean, Joan, and Ruth, and those names aren’t nearly as popular. At a recent baby shower, the guest-of-honor had chosen Rose for a daughter’s middle name. So had the other expectant mom in the room, and one of the brand new parents had already named her daughter Amelie Rose.
This undiscovered beauty, which means ‘sparkling,’ was named for the shepherdess heroine of a pastoral epic by Virgil. A bulb-grown bloom also known as the Winter Lily or Jersey Lily, the name Amaryllis was revived in the eighteenth century. One namesake Amaryllis--cellist Amaryllis Fleming-- was both the daughter of painter Augustus John and half-sister of James Bond-creator Ian Fleming.
The other day we offered eight fresh choices for boys, and now it’s the girls’ turn—girls’ names ranging from a rare botanical specimen to a nostalgic nickname to an undercrowded place name.
1–Acacia—This 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. 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. There is also an eponymous fantasy novel, Acacia. Caveat: just don’t think about the other name of the Acacia tree—the Golden Wattle.
2–Amabel—Not 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 Christie’s Appointment with Death, and heard as well as among the English aristocracy. 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 it’s gotten.
With Rose beginning to wilt from overexposure as a middle name, this might be a good time to look at other roseate options—including the somewhat neglected Rose-as-a-first name itself. Several of these names have Germanic roots that have nothing to do with the flower, but they all now project the floral scent of the rose.
Rose—Rose, the fragrant symbol of England and matriarch of this family, predates the other flower names that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century; it was a Top 30 name from 1880 through 1932, when more elaborate and exotic forms of the name came into the picture. It still ranks quietly at Number 337, just about where it’s been for decades. Appearing in vehicles ranging from Titanic to The Golden Girls to Harry Potter, to a million old songs, its image has been rejuvenated by younger recent bearers like Rose Byrne and Rose McGowan.
Rosa—The soft and lovely Rosa, an upscale British favorite, as well as a Spanish and Italian standard, was a Top 60 name in the US at the turn of the last century. The written form of Rose in old Latin documents, Rosa has been used as a name from the beginning of the nineteenth century. Notable namesakes include French painter Rosa Bonheur and Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks; Rosa Dartle is a character in David Copperfield. The change of the final vowel gives it a lot more substance and flow than Rose.
Rosabella is a smoosh name formed in the nineteenth century to mean beautiful rose, and it could become a new member of the Bella bunch. Others are Rosalba, meaning white rose, and Rosella—which is also the name of a colorful parrot.