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Category: invented names

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invented glinda

By Angela Mastrodonato, Upswing Baby Names

With names, as with other subjects, once I learned my assumptions were wrong, I was put in my place.

Pre-kids, I was a name-snob who openly expressed disdain for invented names, grouping all invented names with experimental spellings, and modern word-play creations such as Abcde (ab-si-dee) and La-A (la-dash-ah).

And then shortly after my daughter was born, I discovered I had unintentionally given her an invented name.

No, I didn’t invent the name. The name was invented by an author, and they seem to have a knack for inventing great names. One author known as a master-namer is Shakespeare.

My daughter’s name, Fiona, was first used (and believed to have been invented) by Scottish poet James Macpherson in the 18th century.

Other established names invented by authors are Janice and Vanessa. Certain there must be more author-invented names, I set out to find them.

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oprah

This week, Abby Sandel of  Appellation Mountain serves up some invented baby names that came about through accident or misunderstanding, but which are accepted as the real thing today.

Wednesday, May 25 is a big day for the small screen.  After twenty-five years as the reigning queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey will broadcast her last show.  She’s not headed from retirement – far from it.  Ms. Winfrey commands a media empire, from her own television network to magazines to Harpo Productions, responsible for everything from feature films to satellite radio shows.

The story about her given name is well known.  Born in rural Mississippi, her aunt chose the name Orpah from the Book of Ruth, and that’s the name recorded on her birth certificate.  But Orpah never really stuck, and family and friends morphed the Biblical obscurity into a whole new name, destined for greatness.

Oprah isn’t the only name formed by a happy accident.  Sometimes they’re actual errors made by the officials responsible for issuing birth certificates.  Basketball player Antawn Jamison was supposed to be named Antwan – the phonetic spelling of Antoine – but his parents decided they liked the mistake.

Invented baby names get a bad rap, but there are a surprising number of mistakes, flukes, and misinterpretations that have led to some well-established names.

GIRLS

Annabel – She first appears in medieval ScotlandAmabel, Mabel, and other names based on Amabilis – an early saint’s name from the Latin for lovable – were common.  Annabel appears to be either an error in recording, or possibly a sign that creative baby namers have been at work for centuries.

Aveline – Parents are rediscovering her as something of an Ava-Adeline smoosh, but she was used in medieval England, either from the Germanic element avi – desired, or possibly from the Latin avis – bird.  She’s also the forerunner of Evelyn.

CoralineNeil Gaiman’s heroine was originally called Caroline.  The author explained that he mis-typed the name in an early draft and decided it suited his character.

ImogenWilliam Shakespeare’s Cymbeline is loosely based on a real-life king of the Britons.  King Cymbeline has a daughter called Imogen – except that Shakespeare almost certainly called her Innogen, from a Gaelic word for maiden.  Despite references to Innogen in the Bard’s notes, Imogen is used almost exclusively today.

Jade – She’s an ornamental stone and a popular choice for daughters in recent decades.  The Spanish name was originally piedra de ijada – stone of the flank.  It was thought that jade could cure ailments of the kidneys.  In French, piedra de ijada became l’ejade, and the English interpreted it as le jade.  Jade has been the English name for the stone since the 1600s.

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hungergames 4

This week, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel leads us through the world of The Hunger Games, introducing us to its population of fantastically named characters.

Even if you haven’t read the books, you’ve probably heard of The Hunger Games.  The trilogy has topped the bestseller lists, and buzz about the upcoming movie adaptation has been constant for the past few months.

It is the tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who overthrows a cruel and despotic government. Katniss Everdeen becomes the unlikely heroine after she is chosen to fight to the death in a televised game controlled by the all-powerful Capitol.  It’s part Greek myth, part reality TV.

Author Suzanne Collins is quite the storyteller, and she’s a masterful namer of characters.  Katniss sounds like a smoosh of classics like Katherine and Frances, but the name is borrowed from an edible aquatic plant.  Sagittaria, the plant’s Latin name, comes from its arrow-shaped leaves.  And wouldn’t you know it?  Katniss saves the day through her extraordinary skill with a bow and arrow.

Even if you’re not into sci fi, the series is worth a read for the names alone.  In Collins’ post-apocalyptic future, some familiar choices have endured, while other names have been sourced from the past.  Many are new, drawn from the changed world in which her characters live.  Each of the outlying Districts has a certain specific style. 

This list includes minor characters and villains, and they range from the perfectly wearable to the truly out-there.

FELLOW CONTESTANTS & PAST CHAMPIONS

Brutus

Cato – A willing contestant, from wealthy District 2.  In the more affluent Districts, children often train for the Games, hoping for a chance to win riches and glory.

Cashmere

Cecilia

Clove

Gloss

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New Surname Names for Boys

beckham-and-sons-2

The grooviest type of new names for boys are the surname names, either the real – Carson, Hunter, Porter – or those that simply have a surname look and feel, such as Drake or Deacon.

Okay, okay, I know there are people with the surnames Drake and Deacon, Gunner and Ryder, but I don’t think that’s why those names are popular.  It’s more that they aren’t conventional first names that’s important, I think, than that they fit any other kind of mold.

In terms of names that convey the new masculine image, the huge surnameish trend is interesting because it makes boys’ names in some ways more formal and traditional than they were before.  What sounds more imposing, after all:  Jefferson or JeffJacoby or plain old Jake?

It may be the move away from family names – when’s the last time someone you know named their baby a junior? – as well as from religious and ethnic strictures is what makes these new names for boys so appealing to parents.  Names like Fletcher and Hayden convey the aura of family lineage and power without any of the nasty obligations: no endless Thanksgiving dinners or visiting Uncle Theodore in the nursing home to make sure you sew up your inheritance.

Rather, you can wear these faux family names as lightly as a Ralph Lauren sweater.  And on a similarly shallow note, the surname trend is partly inspired by celebrities and their characters who are often called by their last names: Beckham (a big winner in the 2008 popularity poll), Chandler, and Donovan, for instance.

While these names are all prominent on the 2008 popularity list for boys, many are of course used for girls too.  In the past, once a name crossed to the girls’ side, many parents abandoned it for boys, but that’s not happening as much today — a positive development, we think.  For a closer look on surname names and gender identity, see our blog on unisex names.

REAL SURNAMES

Beckham
Blake
Brennan
Bryson
Carson
Chandler
Clay
Cohen
Cole
Dawson
Donovan
Fisher
Fletcher
Grady
Grayson, Greyson
Griffin
Hayden
Hudson
Hunter
Jackson
Jacoby
Jagger
Kane
Landon
Lennon
Lincoln
Logan
Maddox
Marley
Mason
Nolan
Parker
Pierce
Porter
Quinn
Reid or Reed
Riley
Ronan
Rowan
Tanner
Tucker
Weston

FAUX SURNAMES

Braxton
Brock
Caden, Kaden and bros
Colton and Colten
Corbin
Dallas
Dalton
Dane
Deacon
Devin
Drake
Easton
Gunner
Jaxon
Jett
Kade
Keegan
Kelvin
Kingston
Kobe
Kyler
Maverick
Paxton
Peyton
Reese or Reece (or the Welsh Rhys)
Ryder
Ryker
Rylan
Sage
Slade
Talon
Tate
Trace
Trey
Trip or Tripp
Wade
Zayden et al

Tomorrow, new boys’ names imported from around the world.

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NAMES OF THE NEW WEST

cowboy names

Names from television and movie Westerns sometimes got a lot more adventurous than Josh and Jesse.In fact, Westerns are responsible for reviving scores of antiquated classics that might otherwise have disappeared completely, along with introducing unconventional animal and word names as firsts.Some Western character names from the classic shows and movies of the 50s and 60s that sound fresh and new, if a bit quirky, today:

ABELIA
ABIHU
ALBEN
AMELITA
AMOS
ARTOLA
ASH
AXEL
BARKER
BARN
BEAR
BO
BODIE
BOONE
CICERO
CLAY
CLEM
LAMBERT
LINUS
MOSS
NEWLY
PERCY
QUINT
RUFUS
THAD
WADE
ZEBULON

The newest Western names draw heavily on the place itself, or on Western-themed words.Some choices that have been used in the post-Bonanza world:

Boys

AUSTIN
DALLAS
DENVER
HOUSTON
MAVERICK
RIO
ROPER
RYDER
WEST

Girls

ARIZONA
CHEYENNE
NEVADA
SCOUT
SHILOH
SIERRA

Either

CANYON
DAKOTA
LARAMIE
PHOENIX
RENO

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