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Category: unusual place names

TennesseePostcard

The revelation of Tennessee as the name of Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth’s baby boy came as something of a surprise to the celebrity babies‘ name-watching world—but perhaps it shouldn’t have been, what with other recent starkids named Alabama, Indiana and Arizona.  And a simple Google search will tell you that though Reese was born in New Orleans, most of her childhood was spent in Tennessee, her mother’s native state, explaining why it was meaningful to her.

Although the name Tennessee’s two notable most namesakes, playwright Williams (born Thomas) and country singer ‘TennesseeErnie Ford, are male, Tennessee actually had some popularity as a girl’s name in the late nineteenth century, appearing in the Top 1000 five times between 1880 and 1890.  It reached as high as Number 580 in 1884—though granted that accounted for only fourteen girls—the same year that Missouri, Nevada and Florida were also on the girls’ list.  (The nickname Tennie, on the other hand, reigned for more than forty years.)

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catalina-island-vintage-travel-poster

A few blogs back, we talked about lake names, and what an evocative word that is. Another, similarly appealing word is island, calling up images of calm, peaceful, isolated places surrounded by the sea.  We’re not suggesting you name your baby Island (though Isla comes close), but here are the Nameberry Picks of 15 favorite island names.

  1. Aranthe Aran Isles are a group of three islands off the Irish coast, at the mouth of Galway Bay, known for uniquely-patterned sweaters and the iconic 1934 documentary, Man of Aran.  Aran would make a nice Irish-accented name, but would it be confused with Aaron?  ‘Fraid so.
  2. Catalina—Santa Catalina is one of the California Channel Islands and is a popular tourist destination for Angelinos and others.  A Spanish version of Catherine that is more delicate and feminine than the English one, Catalina has been rising in popularity since the late eighties.
  3. Cayman—the Caymans consist of three islands in the western Caribbean south of Cuba. Peaceful and beautiful, they are also a major offshore banking hub.  The name Cayman would fit right in with Cayden & Co.
  4. Corsica, famed as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, is a mountainous Mediterranean island, part of France but closer to Tuscany than the French coast.  The name could be thought of as a Cora-elaboration with a feminissima ‘ica’ ending.

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Place Names: New Destinations

cortina1

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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