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Category: Mad Men

Fourteen Shades of Elizabeth

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The royal and biblical Elizabeth accounted for approximately a quarter of all girls’ names in early Britain, and when she emigrated to Colonial America, close to the same percentage of all girl babies were christened with that name— sometimes even more than one in a family. So it’s no wonder that numerous nicknames would pop up to distinguish among all the Elizabeths– several of which would go on to be used as independent names.
Of course Elizabeth itself is a wonderfully elegant classic, but here are some of the most appealing variations on the Elizabethan theme.

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In the Nameberry 9 this week, Appellation Mountain‘s  Abby Sandel discovers some forgotten classics and some interesting  new possibilities among the newsiest names.

It’s been a quiet week for celebrity birth announcements.  If Uma has named her daughter, she isn’t telling.  Reese isn’t due for a while, and neither is Tori.

But there’s no such thing as a quiet week in name news.  Influences are everywhere, and this week’s announcement of the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award nominees got me thinking about the small screen, and the many names boosted by a TV series.

Of course, it isn’t a straight line.  It often takes years to tell which names will have long-term influence, and which will fade away.  Kimora and Miley are sliding.  Others are holding on strong – Alexis is still solidly established in the US Top 50 decades after Dynasty left the air.

It isn’t that we name our children after television characters, not exactly.  And yet the connections are impossible to deny.  Could it be that a popular series is one of the best ways to convince parents that a new name is mainstream, and worthy of consideration?

Most of this week’s newsiest names have a link to the small screen:

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What To Name Your Winter Baby

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At Nameberry, plummeting temperatures mean just one thing: it’s time to revisit our annual survey of winter-related names.

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 the hit 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 DecioDecember’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.

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No Expiration Date on Names

expiredmeter2If you’re looking for some eye-opening  name moments, try browsing  through some vintage name books and you might be surprised to discover just how dramatically perceptions of some  names have changed over time.  In some cases what we think of as perfectly valid current choices have actually been written off as dead and gone.  Today’s popular Ava, for instance, was rarely thought worthy of inclusion  in most name books, even fairly recent ones.  But one generation’s dusty skeleton can be reborn as another’s darling baby boy or girl, so it’s a risky business to write off a name (at least post-Etheldred period),  as can be seen from the comments below about some names we love today:

 ABIGAIL – turned into a cant term for a lady’s maid, and thenceforth has been seldom heard even in a cottage  (1884)

DEBORAH – has acquired a certain amount of absurdity from various literary associations which prevent ‘Deb’ from being used except by the peasantry (1884)

CHLOE –  its main use has been by pastoral poets   (1945)

ESME – is now sometimes given to girls   (1945)

MATILDA —   among the most disliked names for girls   (1967)

SOPHIA – went out of fashion in the 19th century   (1945)

VICTORIA – is now almost obsolete  (1945)

COLIN — by the 16th century was regarded as a rustic nickname and it gradually died out altogether  (1945)

CONNOR –  now survives mainly as a surname  (1945)

ELIJAH—it died out in the general 19th century deline of biblical names, but not before it had established its shortening to be Lige (1979)

Masculine names like HARRY, JACK and SAMUEL are rarely used for babies today   (1950)

ISAAC, ABRAHAM — names from the Old Testament are disappearing  (1967)

JONAH – most everywhere regarded as sissy  (1967)

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New Routes to Old Nicknames

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OK, here’s a thought. Suppose you find yourself beginning to really like some of those classic mid-century nicknames like the ones you’ve been hearing on shows like Mad Men and in movies like Revolutionary Road, but you don’t really care for the names they’ve been traditionally attached to. Some of them mght be too Grandma or pa, some of them overused in the recent past. As in ‘Don? Maybe. Donald? No, thanks.’ So what we’ve done here is put together a list of some possible, more contemporary and/or interesting and/or less widely used alternatives that manage to hold on to the desired nickname.

ALBYALBANY rather than Albert

ALEXALEXIO rather than Alexander

ANNIEANNABEL rather than Ann

ARTARTEMAS rather than Arthur

BENBENEDICT rather than Benjamin

BETHBETHEL rather than Elizabeth

CALCALLUM rather than Calvin

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