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Category: vowel names

Artemis, Italy and Eve: Vowel Names

adam_and_eve

The Nameberry Nine by Abby Sandel

Let’s talk about vowels.

The letter A is wildly popular, #1 for girls and #2 for boys according to the most recent analysis at Nancy’s Baby Names. As I looked through this week’s birth announcements and baby name news, it seemed like the letter A is everywhere.

E trails a few places behind A, fifth overall for girls and eighth for boys.

It wasn’t always like this. Look at the data for the 1920s or 1950s. None of the Top Ten names for either gender start with a vowel. But in recent years, names like Andrew, Ethan, Emma, Olivia, Abigail, and Isabella have dominated the lists of most common names.

A has a strong lead, with Alexander, Ava, and Aiden in the current Top Ten. Our affection isn’t limited to the first letter of the alphabet.Owen, Eli, Isaiah, and Easton are all rapidly rising favorites for our sons.  For daughters, there’s Eva and Ella, plus lots of names with the Ev- and El- sound, and up-and-comers like Isla and Olive.

The vowel-centric names in the baby name news last week included:

Italy – Parents continue to search the map for meaningful, attractive place names for their children. Italy is an intriguing option. She’s part-Avery, part-Isabelle, and very much a destination with a positive vibe. For Real Baby Names spotted a birth announcement for Italy Margie Anne, but I think this is a gender neutral possibility.

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I-Initial Names: Eyes on the ‘I’s’

letter-i

Now that Isabella is #2 on the list of most popular girls’ names, Isaac and Isaiah are in the Top 50 for boys, and names like Isla are heating up, we’re wondering if the letter ‘I’ just might be in line to become the next vowel du jour, moving up on ‘A’ and ‘E’.

This didn’t seem a very likely prospect a few years ago, when, as recently as  1995, there wasn’t a single name starting with ‘I’ in the Top 100.  On the plus side, this means that there is a whole letter-full of neglected, waiting to be discovered, rediscovered and ready-to-be imported names.  And it’s a nice initial for a child to have, straight and strong and tied up with identity and ego.

The following girls names are the most fashion forward, either already being appreciated or else on the cusp:

IDA

ILANA/ILEANA

IMOGEN/IMOGENE

INDIA

INDIANA

INDIGO

INEZ

INGRID

IRELAND

IRENE

IRINA

IRIS

ISABEL/ISABELLE

ISABELLA

ISADORA

ISLA

IVORY

IVY

And some still not in  the mainstream:

IANTHE

IDRA

IGNACIA

ILIA

ILONA

IMAN

IMELDA

INGA/INGE

IOLANTHE

IONE

IPHIGENIA

ISABEAU

ISEULT

ISHBEL

ISIS

ISMAY

ISOLDE

IVANA/IVANKA

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U5

While A, E, I and O-starting names abound, increasing  in popularity all the time, poor little step-sibling vowel U tends to get neglected. Of course there are many fewer names starting with that letter, and even fewer that would appeal to the modern baby namer, but there are definitely a few that are at least worth a look, most of them with a touch of the exotic.

GIRLS

ULLA, ULA —  Seen in several cultures, this stong name (it actually means strong-willed in Norse), is sometimes used as a pet form of Ursula or ULRICA/ULRIKA.  Most recently associated with the leggy Swedish secretary character in The Producers.

UMA —  Thanks to Ms. Thurman almost a one-person name, this throaty, exotic appellation is a name of the Hindu goddess Parvati–which surely inspired her father, a renowned expert on Eastern religion, to bestow it on her.

UMBER —  A highly unusual color name, dark and mysterious, which could be used for either gender.

UMBRIA  —  Richly evocative, shadowy Italian place name–a neighbor of Tuscany known for its wines, olive oil and truffles.  Could be a possible replacement for the rapidly becoming overused Siena/Sienna.

UNA —  An ancient Irish name, also Anglicized as Oonagh or Oona, used by Edmund Spenser for the heroine of his classic The Faerie Queene; she’s the daughter of a legendary king and the quintessence of truth and beauty (it was for her that St. George slayed the dragon).

UNDINE  —  A German mythological water sprite, better known in its Ondine form.

UNIQUE  —  Not any more.

UNITY — One of the newly appealing, lesser used Puritan virtue names, with an admirable meaning.

URANIA —  One of the nine Greek Muses, whose special area was astronomy.  This one is not recommended, for obvious reasons.

URBANA — An unusual  possibility for a city girl.

URSULA —  Kids today will probably associate this martyred saint’s name with the campy, corpulent octopus sea witch in The Little Mermaid,  while others might tie it to  a character in Shakespeare‘s Much Ado Ursula Brangwen  in D. H. Lawrence‘s The Rainbow, novelist Le Guin,  60’s Bond Girl sex goddess Andress, or the character on Friends.  Novelist/style icon Plum Sykes chose it for her daughter, which puts it on trend alert.

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