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Category: obscure names

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One of my favorite poems, for reasons that will soon be obvious, is called “Mourning the Dying American Female Names,” by Hunt Hawkins.  You can read the whole poem here, but I’ll give you a few choice lines:

Many names are almost gone: Gertrude, Myrtle,

Agnes, Bernice, Hortense, Edna, Doris, and Hilda,

They were wide women, cotton-clothed, early rising.

You had to move your mouth to say their names,

and they meant strength, speak, battle, and victory.

While many of the names Hawkins mourns do indeed seem to be dying, a few he goes on to mention  — Ada, Florence, and Edith– are stirring back to life.

But then there are the new names headed toward obscurity, my own among them.

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Question of the Week:

Would you use an unusual name that, though legitimate, is one that most people wouldn’t have heard before?

For example, Matt Lauer and his Dutch-born wife named their second son Thijs, a name rarely heard outside The Netherlands, with a bewildering-to-most pronunciation (it’s TICE).  Would you use a name of another ethnicity that’s unfamiliar here?

Would you dig back into ancient history for a name that hasn’t been used in centuries, like Gretchen Mol’s Ptolemy (shown) or Cate Blanchett’s Ignatius?

Would you shy away from a name that required a lot of explanation or embrace its individuality?

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