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This week for her Nameberry 9 newsiest names, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel highlights some names that so unusual, they really off the grid!

Jacob and Sophia might still be on top of the US rankings, but any name nerd knows this for sure: names change.

Sometimes the changes are subtle.  In the late 1800s, Sallie was more popular than Sally.  In the 1950s, Kerry, Jimmie, and Lester were ordinary names for little boys, and their sisters were called Toni, Yolanda, and Marlene.

It’s easy to focus on the big stories – the headline-grabbing rise of Messiah and King, for example – but I like this quote from last week’s Oxford Dictionaries blog:

… it makes sense that we constantly adapt and expand our vocabulary to account for new concepts, events, inventions, etc. For example, we may invent new words, give existing words new meanings, or borrow words from other languages.

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Mermaid Names: Beyond Madison and Ariel

mermaid names

Mermaid names have made it big in recent years.  There’s Madison, Darryl Hannah’s character from Splash.  Disney christened The Little Mermaid Ariel in 1989, and she and her princess friends are now found on little girls’ gear everywhere you look.

Beyond Madison and Ariel: Other Famous Mermaids 

CoraliaAn underwater realm in Flash Gordon, but also a name for a mermaid in a nineteeth-century ballet

Deema – From the new Nickelodeon series Bubble Guppies, about a group of preschoolers and their adventures with teacher Mr. Grouper

DianaFrom 2003 movie Mermaids, about a trio of fish-tailed sisters who set off to avenge the death of their merman father

JuneFrom 2003 movie Mermaids

LoreleiFrom German folktales, now better known as the given name of both Gilmore Girls – though mother and daughter spelled it Lorelai

MelodyAriel’s daughter in the extended Little Mermaid universe

MirandaIn a 1948 British comedy, a lonely fisherman catches the mermaid Miranda and the duo set off on a madcap tour of London

MollyAnother of the Bubble Guppies

Muirgen – An Irish story says that she was brought from the sea and baptized, and in some tellings, became a saint

NixieYet another name for a water-dwelling spirit

OndineA German water sprite who marries a mortal, but never gets her happily ever after.  In 2009, Colin Farrell played a fisherman who makes a surprising catch in the movie Ondine; Audrey Hepburn rose to fame playing Ondine on Broadway in 1954.

Oona – Another of the Bubble Guppies

SabrinaThe name of a water nymph in John Milton’s Comus, and an ancient Celtic river goddess, too

Thessalonike – Sister of Alexander the Great, said to have turned into a mermaid

UndineA variant of Ondine, but perhaps not as wearable

VenusFrom 2003 movie Mermaids, and known for posing on a shell in the Botticelli painting

Names That Would Fit a Mermaid

AvalonA medieval tale tells of three sisters growing up on the lost Isle of Avalon.  The eldest, Melusine, was cursed to spend one day a week as a mermaid.

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