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Category: Spanish baby names

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Just as names move in and out of fashion so do sounds and initial letters.  In the 70s and 80s, J-names ruled, from Jennifer and Jason to Jessica and Joshua, and then came the Ms –Michael, Matthew, Melissa, Megan, the Bs—Brianna, Brittany, Brandon, the Ks—Kayla, Kimberly, Kelsey, and the still continuing As and Es—Ashley, Amanda, Ava, Emily Emma.

But what did they replace?  If you want proof of how an initial can fall totally out of favor, all you have to do is look at the performance record of the letter P.

In the last year counted, you have to scroll the Social Security list all the way down to #60 to find a single name beginning with that letter—the girl’s name Peyton—and for boys it isn’t until #124 that you get to Preston.  When P-names were in their prime, in 1950, you would have found nine names in the Top 60—Peter, Patrick, Philip, Paul, Peggy, Phyllis, Paula, Pamela and Patricia, none of which is found in the Top 100 today.

I’m not saying Phyllis is necessarily ready for her comeback (though those boys’ names could be), but there are certainly other P-names worthy of trying to resuscitate the reputation of that lost letter.  Such as:

GIRLS

PALOMAPaloma is one of the loveliest options, and among the best bets for success.  Meaning ‘dove’ and thus symbolizing peace, it’s both gentle and dynamic.  A similarly appealing Latin name is PALMA, namesake of the charming city on the island of Majorca.

PATIENCE and PRUDENCE – Two virtue names projecting calm and—well—patience and prudence.  And the latter has the great nickname Pru plus a Beatles song for lullaby time.

PATRICE – The French unisex version of Patrick/Patricia gives either of those old standards a touch of Gallic flair and sophistication.

PATSY – Saucy, spunky nickname name that hasn’t been heard for so long that it’s beginning to sounds fresh.

PAULINA/PAOLINAPAULINE is sweet; these Spanish and Italian versions are stylish and exotic.

PEARL – Definitely regaining some of its old luster.

PENELOPE/PENNYPenélope Cruz has single-handedly revved up the appeal of this former frump; Penny is its cute retro nickname.

PERSIS –A distinctive New Testament choice for the intrepid baby namer.

PETAL and POSY—Rather than choosing the popular Rose, Lily or Daisy, you could go for one of these more unusual generic flower-related options.

PHILIPPA – Whereas Philip feels dated, its female counterpart, which has never gained much traction in the US, sounds interesting and new. Plus it has that bursting-with-energy nickname PIPPA.

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It’s not really so surprising that the names of dances would be strikingly rhythmic and melodic, but when I started to look into it, I was somewhat taken aback by the sheer number and variety—and by how many of them could conceivably be seen as baby names.

The following list cuts across time and space, from Italian Renaissance peasant dances and  stately minuets to complex international folk dances to Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers to 1960s line dancing to 1980s Brazilian zouk.

ABHIA—a ceremonial dance done by southern Sudan tribal women around a mango tree

ABRAXAS—a serpentine ritual dance of the Greek Gnostics to the deity of that name

ALEMANDER—folk dance performed in Germany and Switzerland

APARINA—a Tahitian dance for 60 men and women sitting in four rows

BARYNYA—a lively Russian folk dance; also the name of several Russian folk dancing ensembles

BEGUINE—a rhythmic native dance of Martinique, famous here via the Cole Porter song Begin the Beguine

BLAIZE—a dance around a fire done in early Britain to mark the two solstices

BOSTON—the original name of the American Waltz, introduced in that city in 1834

BRANSIE—an old French follow-the-leader dance

CALATA—an Italian town dance done in triple time

CARINOSA—Philippine dance of love

CARIOCA—a version of the samba choreographed by Fred Astaire for a duet with Ginger Rogers in Flying Down to Rio

CEROC—a simplified version of modern jive dance

CHACONNE—a slow, solemn dance of Spanish or Moorish origin; also a popular social dance in 17-18th century France

CHULA—a traditional dance from Portugal and southern Brazil; also means beautiful in Spanish

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Mardi Gras Names: Baby names from the bayou

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To celebrate New Orleans’s triumphant Super Bowl victory, as well as today’s Shrove Tuesday launch of  Mardi Gras, here is the fascinating blog created for us last year by guest blogger Elisabeth Wilborn of ”You Can’t Call It It.”  Elisabeth is a writer, artist, and mother who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

An inspiration for everything from vampires to voodoo, from zydeco to the Krewe of Zulu, Louisiana has been a colorful melting pot of divergent cultures for centuries.  Cajuns from Canada, Creoles and others of HaitianAfrican, Italian, Spanish, or Native American descent, all come together to form a mélange of backgrounds, and in point of fact, names.  Most share a history of French language and Catholicism, even if it’s not by blood. While these may not be the choices in use today in the Bayou, they have been culled from historical documents, maps, and folklore from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries.  The majority are either French proper, or my favorite, Frenchified.  Still more trace their roots to Classical Greco-Roman civilization, deep Southern culture, or are somewhere farther afield and include a curious preponderance of the letter Z.

So come on!  Allez-y! Chew on these names (and some maque choux), prepare to bare all for those beads, and laissez les bon temps roulez!

LADIES

Acadia- The word Cajun itself has its origins in Acadian

Adelaide

Alexandrine

Alma

Alzophine

Ambrosine

AmelineEmeline

Arzilla

Avoyelles- This Cajun Parish might be picked up as a first name, piggybacking on the current Ava and Ellie love

Beatrice

Belle

Berangere

BernadetteA much beloved Catholic saint, and one of the prettiest songs in the native New Orleans Neville Brothers repertoire

Cezelia

Clotille

DelphineWhile Delphine is a lovely and lilting name, Delphine La Laurie was a famous socialite and sadist who tortured her slaves

DixieUsed to refer to the South at large, this may have originated in New Orleans on the ten dollar bill, upon which a local bank printed “dix”, the French for ten.

Dolucila

Elva

Ernestine

EugenieNapoleon’s first love

EulaEulalie

Evangeline- An epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow recalling the 1755 deportation of Acadian Canadians to the newly Spanish Louisiana

Ezora

Geraldine

Gertrude

Ghislaine

Heloise

Ida

JosephineNapoleon’s (second) love

Leonie

Lougenia

Magnolia- The state flower of Louisiana

MahaliaMahalia Jackson is a gospel and blues singer from the area, with a name worth borrowing

MarieMarie Laveau was a reknowned Voodoo Queen who was visited by slaves and owners alike

Maude

Maxzille

Melba

Mellette

MinervaMinnie

Oatha

Odilia

OlaOlla Mae, Olima

Onezie, Onezime

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Place Names: New Destinations

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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.

FOR GIRLS

AILSA  –  Ailsa Craig is the name of a rocky island off Scotland, and Ailsa has long been used as a Christian name–as all of us namberryites well know

ÁLORA–  A picturesque Spanish town near Malága, overlooking citrus orchards and olive groves

ANDORRA  –  A small country located in the Pyranees—could work as an updated Andrea

CORTINACortina d’Ampezzo is one of the most famous and beautiful ski resorts in Italy; a more feminine namesake for Courtney?

ELANORA –This name of an Australian suburb is used as a girls’ name in that country

ELBA—The Italian island best known as the site of Napoleon’s exile; possible update of Ella?

GENOA –Picturesque birthplace of Christopher Columbus, native version is GENOVA; a possible newer path to the Gen nickname

IBIZA  (ih-BEETH-a)—Another interesting island name, though a little bit lispy

ISCHIA (IS-key-a)—An Isla-like Italian island name

JAVA — This Indonesian island name was recently used by Lost hunk Josh Holloway for his daughter

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

LUCERNE –A Swiss canton and lake name, with the possibility of a Lucy nickname

LUZA – A Russian town on the Luza river—but too much like loser?

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Exotic Lite: Boys’ Edition

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We recently looked at girls’ names popular around the world yet exotic-sounding in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, and today we turn to the boys’ version of this kind of name.

If you’re looking for a name for your son that has an international flavor yet is not too obscure or difficult to understand and pronounce, you might want to consider these choices.

ALESSANDRO – A top name in Italy, makes Alexander both softer and sexier to the American ear.

ALEXEI – Russian spin on Alex or Alexander popular there, pronounced Alex-ay or (less popular) Alex-ee. Down side: Its similarity to the very popular girls’ name Alexa.

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