Category: literary baby names
Today we’re celebrating the natal day of William Shakespeare, and in his honor we thought that instead of reiterating the usual list of familiar major characters—Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice and Benedick et al—we’d pay our tribute to the Bard of Avon with the less obvious names of some of the more obscure, less Shakespearean-sounding characters.
One of the great mysteries of baby-naming is how a name comes seemingly out of nowhere to become a fashionable, popular choice.
But unlike other, far more complex Irish names, Finn has tremendous crossover potential. It’s also kind of Scandinavian, sort of fishy, easy to spell and say, plus has several attractive relatives: Finnian, Finnegan, Finlay.
And it’s been chosen by such high profile couples as Ed Burns and Christy Turlington for their son, while Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn named their daughter Finley, a version also chosen by Lisa Marie Presley for one of her newborn twin girls.
Once you dissect all that, it’s easy to see that Finn‘s popularity hardly came from nowhere. And it’s a name that’s unlikely to fade away again anytime soon.
For more names from Irish mythology, check out our new book, Cool Irish Names for Babies.
First there was the era of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, then there was the second (Kennedy) coming of Camelot, and now it’s been suggested that we might conceivably be entering a third, this seems like a good time to look back at the names of the original Knights, their fair damsels and their cohorts.
We look at these names through the prisms of several sources: Sir Thomas Malory created the image of the castle and court of Camelot in his 15th century Le Morte d’Arthur, then Lord Tennyson composed the popular and influential Idylls of the King, and then the 1960 Broadway musical and film Camelot was based on T. H. White’s tetrology The Once and Future King.
From these varied interpretations, here are some of the Arthurian names that could still work today:
ARTHUR–King Arthur was the legendary leader who led the defense of Britain against the Saxon invaders. His name, of Celtic origin and unknown meaning, most popular a century ago, is showing signs of a revival.
BALAN and BALIN –two brothers who accidentally killed each other in a duel
BLANCHEFLEUR — the pretty floral name of the sweetheart of Percival.
GALAHAD — One of the three achievers of the Holy Grail, renowned for his purity and gallantry, to the point where his name symbolizes these chivalrous qualities so strongly it precludes use for a modern boy.
GERAINT –A character in Welsh folklore as well as Arthurian legend, probably most famous via the Welsh tale Geraint and Enid. Might not be the easiest name for a 21st century lad.
GILLIMER –An unusual name found in Mallory‘s version.
LIONEL — One of the few Arthurian names to survive in contemporary times. Could be due for a revival.
PERCIVAL– One of two knights who accompanied Galahad on the quest for the Holy Grail. A name that has become sissified over the years.
TRISTAN — A Round Table Knight as well as the star of the Tristan and Iseult romance; has been growing in modern popularity since the 70s. We recently met a girl Tristan too, so it can make kind of an updated Kristen.
TURQUINE — a rogue knight. Definitely not a good guy.