Category: river names
By Nile Cappello
My name is, without a doubt, one of my most defining characteristics. Yes, I am loud, outspoken, slightly (or more than slightly) obnoxious, extremely determined (read: stubborn), and quite a few other things — but with a name like Nile, I wouldn’t have to be any of these to stand out.
Most people tell me they have never met someone named Nile. They also ask me if I was born in Egypt, conceived on the Nile River (ew), or am Egyptian. My co-worker said before my first day she was convinced I would be a tall, dark, Egyptian goddess. I am not. I am small, pale, blonde, and overwhelmingly white.
Although my name was clearly inspired by the river in Egypt, I’m actually named after my grandfather Neil. In a time when made-up names like Jazlyn and “creative” spellings like Madilyn and Joslyn litter the Top 1000 list, I’m thankful to have a bit of history and familial significance behind my name.
Not long ago, a couple I know—both serious swimmers—asked me if I could help them come up with a girl’s name that related to water. They didn’t want any site-specific water names —no actual names of oceans or rivers or seas, no Hudsons or Niles for them– but something with the feel or sense or literal meaning of water.
I put together a relatively short list for them of water-related words and names whose meanings reference water. Here’s a considerably expanded version of those water names, with some, of course, more usable than others. (By the way, my friends chose to name their daughter Tallulah, in large part because they loved its meaning—“leaping water”)
So if you’re a swimmer, a surfer, a snorkeler, a fisherperson, or just someone who likes to walk in the rain, here are some possible approaches.
1. FIND A WORD RELATED TO WATER:
Some months back, we ran a blog about the names of rivers in Western Europe, and we promised to follow it up with one on English and Irish waterways. Well here, at last, it is.
The landscapes of the British Isles and Ireland are traversed by rivers, some as long as the Thames and the river Shannon, some flowing across national borders, from England to Scotland or Wales, while others are much smaller streams.
Not surprisingly, most of these names are less lyrical than the French and Italian examples, more simple and straightforward. A sizable number of them already exist as people names—Amber, Tamar, Perry, Douglas –while the rest are possible crossovers. Of these, some sound decidedly masculine (Dart, Dewey), while others could conceivably be used for girls.
We think and talk a lot about place names–countries like China, states like Georgia, cities like Dallas, even boroughs like Brooklyn. And we also think and talk about nature names, of flowers and trees. Well there’s one category that merges the two together, and that’s river names.
I was planning to put together a list of interesting river names worldwide, but I came upon so many intriguing and unusual possibilities in Western Europe alone, that I decided to save our own country, England and Ireland and others farther afield for some time in the future. Some of those listed here are major waterways like the Seine, others are much smaller streams; and some run through more than one country. And I’m sure you’ll notice that there are those that sound decidedly masculine (Arno), while others could be possible girls’ names (Adaja).
Not surprisingly, some of the most appealing names come from the French countryside:
And here are some Latinate choices from Italy, Spain, and Portugal:
DANUBE (which is shown in the illustration)