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Category: quirky names



cemetery pic

Our star intern Hannah Tenison wanders through some New England graveyards and makes some fascinating discoveries of some great historic baby names.

I recently moved to the Hartford, Connecticut area for the summer, and one of my favorite things about this state is its long history, because it yields so many fantastic antique baby names!  The area is not only beautiful, with green rolling hills and lush forests, but chock-ful of historical, peaceful cemeteries, as well.  As many a name nerd knows, cemeteries are ripe with fresh possibilities, and the older they are, the more likely one is to find truly rare names.

With this in mind, I set out to comb the best cemeteries in my neighborhood for the most unique and undiscovered gems. In my quest, I noticed some strong preferences for virtue, occupational, and Biblical names, as well as names referencing ancient historians or philosophers. For girls, anything long and feminine was game, and the “l” sound was particularly popular. For boys, parents seemed fond of either distinguished sounding appellations ending in the fusty “us,” or jaunty, oh-so-cute names with prominent “o” sounds.

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Hurricane Names: Oddballs on the Lists

Baby Holding Teddy Bear

Reflecting upon recent hurricanes, Nameberry’s newest intern Deanna Cullen delved into “the eye of the storm,” so to speak, and returned with a flood of information on the hurricane naming process.

Mother Nature gives birth to a whole set of little terrors each hurricane season, so it’s only natural that we have a set of names by which to reprimand them- six sets of names, actually.

You don’t have to be a Weather Channel enthusiast to know that hurricane names are, by design, short, distinctive male and female names, listed in alphabetical order each year . What you may not know, however, is who is responsible for naming the hurricanes and why odd names like Gaston and Virginie made the 2010 list.

Since 1979, there have been six lists in rotation for Atlantic hurricane names, each established and maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

A sanity check for all of you who may have thought “I swear I remember a hurricane with that name before…:” You’re right. Each list is repeated every seventh year, so this year’s list will reappear in 2016.

An exception to the rule. If a storm is so deadly or catastrophic that its continued use would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity, the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected by the WMO committee to replace it. Katrina, Floyd, and Ike? All gone.

So how are new names decided upon by the WMO? Just like any proud mother and father, a lot of thought goes into naming a newborn.

The committee takes into consideration the public’s response toward a name.  While a child with a complicated name may become exasperated by teachers’ constant mispronunciation of their names, a complicated hurricane name could have more catastrophic consequences. Thus, hurricane names should be easy to recall and on the shorter side.

The popularity of the first letter in a name is also a factor in the naming process. Current lists exclude Q, U, X, Y, and Z due to the dearth of names starting with those letters (Though hurricane names from 1958 included Udele, Virgy, Xrae, Yurith, and Zorna.)

The committee also considers ethnic names. Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, much like many of our country’s immigrants, have ties with European nations. Thus, the names may be French, Spanish, and English, in lieu of the  major languages bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

Here are some hurricane names that really stand out (and haven’t made it into the Top 1000 in the last ten years), whether their respective hurricanes have been but a blip on the radar or otherwise.

On this year’s list:

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I remember how, when I first read the novels of Evelyn Waugh and the plays of George Bernard Shaw, a whole new universe of names opened up for me. A world of sophisticated, eccentric, kind of uppity and veddy veddy Victorian and Edwardian  British names, many of which I had never heard before, but instantly became enamored with.

The comic novels of Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse and the plays (and novel) of Oscar Wilde and Shaw are still a good place to start if you’re looking for a name with a certain elegance, gentility, swank—and sometimes a bit of quirkiness as well.


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posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author

By Nephele

Now that the Social Security Administration has released its annual baby names listings beyond the top 1,000 (including all names that had at least five occurrences in any given year), names researchers can better track the influence of popular culture on our names.

For example, a girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Greidys” – with an astonishing count of 186 baby girls having been given that name in 2009.  Its variants “Greydis” and “Greidy” also appear for the first time on the 2009 list, again in the astonishing numbers of 100 and 25 occurrences respectively.

Another girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Chastelyn” with 150 occurrences.  Its variants “Shastelyn” and “Chastelin” also appear for the first time in 2009, with 34 and 33 occurrences respectively.

While we may expect new names to appear on the SSA lists each year, these new names generally don’t have more than a dozen occurrences, if even that.  Why are the names “Greidys” and “Chastelyn” (with their variants) suddenly so prominent in their first appearance on the SSA list?

Our Latin friends can answer that question easily enough.  These names shot to popularity with those who watch the Spanish television network Univision’s reality TV show called Nuestra Belleza Latina * (which translates into “Our Latin Beauty”).  The winning contestant in the show’s third season (2009) was a Latin beauty from Cuba, named Greidys Gil.  Another popular contestant was Chastelyn Rodriguez from Puerto Rico.  And thus were two new names embraced by American moms (or dads!) in search of baby names.

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British Baby Names: The Latest Crop


Every few months, about as often as I allow myself to relish a hot caramel sundae and with about the same amount of delicious anticipation, I dip into the London Telegraph birth announcements to see what the upper-crusty British baby namers are up to.

And as with that sundae, the results rarely disappoint.  There are always plenty of eccentric three-name combinations, lots of charming sibsets, and a collection of names not often heard in my neighborhood of New Jersey.

One trend asserting itself in this collection: R names, with a raft of children (far beyond those mentioned here) called Rory, Rufus, Rupert, Rex, and Rowley, and on the girls’ side, Ruby, Rose, Rosemary, Rosalind (and Rosalyn) and Romilly.  R is a letter that’s seemed dowdy for quite some time — blame all those Baby Boom Roberts and Richards — and is due for a resurgence.

The best of the recent British baby names are, for girls:

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