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Word Names: A Dozen of the Best for Girls

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The lovely Lemon, one of nameberry’s greatest treasures, guest blogs on her favorite word names.

I’d venture to say that many of the frequent posters on the Nameberry message boards consider themselves equipped with a “name-sense” of sorts, but for me it’s more of a “word-sense,” really.  After all, at their foundation, aren’t names actually just words – meaningful units of spoken language?  There’s something beautiful about language and, by extension, names.  So, when you’re out there, browsing through sites and books looking for “the” name, perhaps you should hit up a dictionary.  Here are a few word names you may not have considered before…

CadenzaCadence with an Italian flourish, literally.  Found in both instrumental and vocal music, a cadenza is an elaborate, oftentimes rhythmically free solo passage allowing for virtuosic display – the solo of all solos, if you will.  With its international flavor and striking Z, Cadenza is a great alternative to Cadence, Melody, and even the on-the-rise Aria.

Echo – A mythological name meaning “a repetition of sound,” Echo makes a lasting impression.  In Greek mythology, Echo was a beautiful but talkative mountain nymph who loved her own voice.  Unfortunately, she is most famous for her unrequited love of Narcissus, which resulted in her demise.  However, this short but striking name might be the ideal choice for your little chatterbox!

Fate – A short form of Lafayette meaning “faith,” this name’s about as modern as you’ll get in the virtue set!  Defined as “that which is inevitably predetermined,” one’s fate is his or her destiny.  In Greek mythology, The Fates – or Moirae – were those who controlled the thread of life for each mortal; as such, the name has a uniquely powerful energy.  Slightly unisex in sound, Fate is the perfect alternative to the classic Faith or the overdone Destiny.

Glory – You can’t get much more positive than a name meaning “great praise” or “absolute splendor,” can you?  Though Glory can take on a religious undertone, it also has a patriotic feel to it – think “Old Glory,” the nickname for the American flag.  Through the morning glory, one of September’s birth flowers, this one’s also got a natural, whimsical flair.   Methinks it’s the perfect name for a morning baby or one born on the Fourth of July.

Hosanna – Shouted by pilgrims in Jerusalem upon the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, Hosanna – a variant of the Hebrew Hoshana – is a cry for salvation.  However, beyond this liturgical context, the name can be taken as a declaration of praise or applause in any setting.  With its familiar Anna ending, Hosanna is primed and ready for major use.  If Susannah and Shoshana aren’t for you, consider this one!

Quince – Not to be confused with quints or the Spanish word for fifteen, this nature name is pronounced [kwins].  Literally the “apple of Cydonia,” quince is a small tree bearing yellowish fruit similar to apples and pears.  With its similarity to Quinn, Quince is the only name on this list that I count as wholly unisex – in fact, the most notable namesake is Quince Rudolph Galloway, an American painter.  A refreshing alternative to the growing-for-girls Quinn and the dated Vince and Lance, Quince shouldn’t be forgotten.  As a side note, quince sorbet is a great palate cleanser between courses!

Remember – At the least, this one’s hard to forget!  Defined as possessing the capabilities of memory or simply being mindful, Remember is one modern word name with a serious history.  Remember Allerton, easily the most famous Remember, came to America in 1620 aboard The Mayflower.  With a sassy nickname like Remy, it’s a wonder Remember hasn’t caught on yet.  But, if Remember is a little too Puritan for you, Ember presents a fiery alternative.

Tansy – This oft-invasive member of the Aster family has small, button-like yellow flowers that bloom in late summer.  With a history of purposes ranging from use as a contraceptive to use as a bug repellant, the tansy has long been forgotten in modern times.  However, its “immortal” meaning alone makes this a vivacious – and vintage – choice for a girl.  If Daisy’s too tame but Acacia’s too bold, Tansy might just be the happy medium you’re looking for!

Temple – With place name Tempe and virtue name Temperance gaining more familiarity, it seems that Temple – meaning “sanctuary” – would catch on, too.  At the most obvious, the word temple refers to any place of public worship.  For those who favor a more secular meaning, Temple can also be an architectural reference.  Literature buffs might recognize the name from the works of William Faulkner, whereas a more pervasive namesake might be Shirley Temple, the epitome of sugar, spice, and everything nice.  However, you might also know the name from a 2010 biopic, Temple Grandin, based on an autistic woman of the same name who advocates for autism and the humane handling of livestock.

Velvet – A soft and thick fabric symbolic of luxury and elegance, this name speaks both of the comforts of home and Old Hollywood glamour.  Who could forget the sweet 1920s story of The Velveteen Rabbit or National Velvet, a 1944 film starring Elizabeth Taylor as the determined young jockey, Velvet BrownEven if other textile names haven’t caught on – hello, Cotton Mather! – Velvet might have just the right amount of oomph to launch her to the top.

And, just because it’s 2011, I’ll throw in an extra-special eleventh name:

Diva – I’m anticipating looks of “she’s crazy!” with this one!  Yes, it is a bolder choice, especially in today’s world where diva is more than likely referencing a demanding celebrity.  But, if you think about it, Diva means “goddess,” a woman of outstanding talent and power.  At least one celebrity understood the message of the name – in 1979, Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa was born!  Now, I’m not saying you should take naming inspiration from Frank Zappa – actually, please don’t – but this name does have a certain sparkle to it.

For those of you wondering what my own favorite word name is, I’ll give you a hint – it’s not on this list!  But, I will say that I’ve got a three-way tie going for my favorite name here – Glory, Temple, and Velvet win out for me.  What about you?  Are you brave enough to take on the celebrity trend and use a word name for your child?

(And, in case you’re really dying to know, my #1 word name is Wren.  Why?  Because of the bird connection.  Because of the architect.  Because it contains the last three letters of my first name.  You know – stuff.)

Lauren Miller – better known to the nameberry community as Lemon – was the type of kid who didn’t want to stay home from school when she was sick because she’d miss the spelling bee.  Now, she’s whipping out her dictionary again to bring you some of the freshest and boldest word name choices for girls.  But, grab ‘em fast – with the Celebrity Baby Explosion of 2011 in full swing, it’s only a matter of time before these gems show up on the cover of UsWeekly.

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