Category: Scottish baby names
Here in America, we honor the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but what of the poor Scots? Their national saint’s celebration, St. Andrew’s Day, is all but ignored. This year it falls on November 30th, and so we thought we would rectify that omission with K.M. Sheard’s selection of some of her favorite uncommon Scottish names.
By K. M. Sheard of Nook of Names
Affrica — The Anglicized form of the Gaelic Oighrig, an ancient name. Its meaning isn’t known for certain, but most agree the most likely source is the Old Irish Aithbhreac. It is found in a number of other forms across the centuries, including Africa, Affreca and Effrick. One bearer was a Viking princess of the Isle of Man, who married John de Courcy, the twelfth-century de facto king of Ulster.
When it comes to Celtic baby names, it’s easy enough to research the history of Irish and Scottish names, and also to check out the most popular names of the year. But what names are parents in those countries using for their kids right now? How many of the names have brogues and burrs and how many would as easily be found on announcements in the US and UK.? Are there any fabulous first/middle combos that we’d be surprised to see on our local birth cerificates?
I’ve been scouring some Irish and Scottish newspaper birth announcements and picked out some of the most striking discoveries—including some of the most noteworthy sibsets. All these babies were born during the last couple of months.
The other day we offered eight fresh choices for boys, and now it’s the girls’ turn—girls’ names ranging from a rare botanical specimen to a nostalgic nickname to an undercrowded place name.
1–Acacia—This a a pretty and delicate botanical name that has hardly been heard in this country, though it ranked as high as Number 273 among girls’ names in Australia, where the Acacia is a common flowering shrub, in 2008. Acacia has a heritage that dates back to ancient Egyptian mythology, in which it was considered the tree of life due to the belief that the first gods were born under a sacred Acacia tree. There is also an eponymous fantasy novel, Acacia. Caveat: just don’t think about the other name of the Acacia tree—the Golden Wattle.
2–Amabel—Not to be confused with Annabel (though it well might be), the lovely Amabel has been around since medieval times, and has appeared in a number of British novels, including Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, and heard as well as among the English aristocracy. Amabel gave birth to the shortened form Mabel, which has a much brasher image, and we think a name that means lovable, deserves more love than it’s gotten.
We’ve been keeping a pretty close watch on English and Irish birth announcements, but it’s been a while since we’ve checked out the Scottish.
Traditional Scottish names still prevail—for boys lots of Calums and Callums, Finlays, Camerons, Lewises and Murrays, along with Jacks, Gabriels, Charlies and Aarons. For girls, Charlotte, Chloe, Eva, Leah and Lily seem to be particular favorites, as are increasing numbers of little Maisies and Daisys. And nickname names continue to flourish for both boys and girls.
So here, from across the country—Arbroath to Berwick to Perth to the Isle of Lewis, are some of the more interesting names and combinations that have been announced in Scottish newspapers over the past two months, together with some of their sibs.
Feeling that geographical names have become kind of ho-hum? It’s true that many people have tired of Paris and some of the over-visited names from the American West like Cheyenne, Sierra, Dakota and Dallas. But that’s no reason to write off the whole category—we can renew our passports and look a bit farther afield for some fresher, more interesting and exotic choices from the global atlas.
ELANORA –This name of an Australian suburb is used as a girls’ name in that country
IBIZA (ih-BEETH-a)—Another interesting island name, though a little bit lispy
ISCHIA (IS-key-a)—An Isla-like Italian island name
LILLE — (LEELE) –We’ve seen the growing popularity of double-L names, now here’s a French city with three of them
LIXA –An old Portuguese city with a modern-sounding name
LULEÅ — A city on the northern coast of Sweden; birthplace of the founder of the Nordstrom department store chain
LUZA – A Russian town on the Luza river—but too much like loser?