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Category: name meanings

hidingg

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks  at the sometimes hidden meaning of names –the associations that often go beneath and  beyond their literal meanings.

It’s easy to look up the meaning of a name.

Sure, they can be subject to debate.  Do Libby and Betsy really retain Elizabeth’s meaning?  But meanings are right there, a few keystrokes away for anyone with internet access.

It is much tougher to nail down associations.  The name Cecilia means blind, but my first thought is the Simon & Garfunkel song.  Caleb means dog, but all of the Calebs I’ve known have been cute little boys.

If meanings rarely change, associations are always shifting.  We forget a book or a movie, or a song falls out of fashion.  Bridget was once a generic term for a maid, but today it is a perfectly acceptable name for a daughter.

This week’s nine most newsworthy baby names all have strong positive associations, though none of them are in the US Top Ten – yet.

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Good Names with Bad, Bad Meanings

lame child

A visitor to our forums posed this question to the Berries: Would you give your child a name, a wonderful name that you truly love, if it had a negative meaning? How meaningful is the root meaning of a name, anyway?

The name in question was Kennedy, a name that has so much going for it: illustrious relatives, a stylish surname feel, a rhythmic sound, and growing popularity.

Some websites will try to tell you that Kennedy means “royal” or “loving” but it doesn’t.  It means “misshapen head.”  And that is the problem.

Or it’s the problem when, in fourth grade, the teacher decides to have the class do oral reports on their names: Where they came from, what they mean.  And poor “misshapen head” is forced to announce her name’s unfortunate meaning in front of the whole class.

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twinnames

One of our favorite twin names blogs ever was on distinct names that had shared meanings: Esme and Imogen, which both mean beloved, for instance, or Asher and Felix, which mean happy.

So we’ve decided to reprise the idea with a whole raft of new pairs of twin names.   As before, the idea is to choose names that are compatible yet clearly individual — no shared first initials or other overly-obvious links — yet that are joined in a more subtle way by a common meaning.

In the girl-boy pairs below, the girl’s name goes first as per Nameberry style; in single-gender pairs, the names are organized alphabetically.

Anoush and Eulalia – sweet

Balthasar and Rex – king

Celeste and Juno  – heaven

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Belle, Liv, Zo

Washington State berry Katy is a mother to three girls with meaningful names and spirited nicknames, a tradition she’d like to continue with her fourth child.  Can this berry find a name that fits her criteria and her sibset? Here is what she says:

“My husband Colin and I are expecting baby #4! We have 3 daughters, 6 year-old twins Isobel Rose & Liv Michaela, and a 3 year-old Zoie Grace. Isobel‘s name means pledged to God, Zoie and Liv‘s names mean life.

We don’t know the gender of the baby yet, but we’ve been searching for a name that has a meaning similar to Isobel‘s. We want to stay consistent. So far we’ve come up with Jack, Matthias, & Theodore (our favorite) for a little boy and for a little girl we found Elliot (our favorite), Libby, & Thea.

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Nameberry Nine: Meaning matters

Blue Ivy baby name

For this week’s Nameberry Nine, columnist Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain talks about the myriad sources of baby name meaning and inspiration, from family to philosophy to art to politics to nature.

Beyonce is a new mom! She and Jay-Z have yet to officially confirm their daughter’s appellation but based on celeb friends’ comments and Tweets, it seems almost certain that their little girl is named Blue Ivy.

Speculators have been mining the star couple’s family histories for possibilities, just like her own mother did when she turned a family surname into the future star’s unique appellation. It appears that Ivy might be a reference to the number four – IV. Shades of Harper Seven Beckham, anyone?

As for Blue, she wouldn’t be the first, certainly not in Hollywood. She could have play dates with Alicia Silverstone’s son, Bear Blu. Ella Bleu Travolta is old enough to babysit, and so is U2 guitarist The Edge’s daughter Blue Angel. And Cher’s son Elijah Blue, who started the whole Blue-as-name thing, is over thirty.

Some will probably dismiss this one as wacky, but with Violet and Scarlett in favor, why not Blue? Others might object that blue is a synonym for feeling low. But then there are blue skies and bluebirds of happiness, too.

The thing about unusual names is this: choices that we might dismiss as outlandish and unwearable are transformed when the parents reveal their thinking. Something tells me that, should Beyonce and Jay-Z share their rationale, this name could be nothing short of perfect.

Baby names with intriguing meanings seemed to be all over the place this week, along with a few choices that were just plain pretty.

Whitsun – Can a name be edgy and cool, and yet spiritually significant, too?  Thanks to Jodi for pointing to blogger Molly Piper and her family’s naming philosophy.  The Pipers choose names that are actual words with meanings that resonate for them.  Youngest son Whitsun’s appellation refers to Pentecost – White Sunday, fifty days after EasterWhit makes for a smart short form.

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