Gutsy Girls’ Names: Fearless female heroes from Alexandrine to Mae
Alexandrine Tinné was a Dutch explorer in Africa and the first European woman to attempt to cross the Sahara, in 1859. One of the more unusual names in the Alex family, Alexandrine has royal ties in several countries, and its variant Alexandrina was the first name of Queen Victoria.
- Alexandrine Tinné was a Dutch explorer in Africa and the first European woman to attempt to cross the Sahara, in 1859. One of the more unusual names in the Alex family, Alexandrine has royal ties in several countries, and its variant Alexandrina was the first name of Queen Victoria." >
- Born in 1875, Delia Akeley led expeditions to Africa, studying the ethnography of such reclusive tribes as the Forest People pygmies in the 1930s, and exploring the Tana River in a dugout canoe. Delia, which started as a short form of names like Adelia and Cordelia, has long stood on its own. Despite its Greek roots, Delia projects a lot of Southern charm." >
- Gertrude Bell was an English writer, traveler and archaeologist who explored the Middle East in the 19th century and played a major role in establishing the modern state of Iraq. Gertrude has been off the charts since the mid-sixties, but I can almost imagine a cute little Gertie making a modern comeback." >
- Freya Stark was the first European woman to enter parts of Iran, published many books on travel and put her knowledge of the Middle East to use in combating fascism. Freya, the name of the Norse goddess of love and beauty, is a Top 50 name in Scotland, England and Ireland, but only entered the US pop list in 2013." >
- Hester Stanhope led a life of adventure, sailing to Athens (where Lord Byron swam out to welcome her), then set out for Egypt (in men’s clothes), met with rulers, and was the first European to visit several cities. Hester has been on hiatus even longer than Gertrude, but she’s always had an aristocratic air in the UK, and just might follow cousin Esther back in the baby name game." >
- Royal Geographical Society in 1892, Isabella Bird became a household name for her explorations and writings about China, Korea, Morocco, Hawaii, Australia and India. Isabella, the Number 4 girls’ name in the country, has been riding a huge wave of popularity for several years—not coincidentally beginning with the birth of the Twilight franchise." >
- Everest in 1975, following the same route as Sir Edmund Hillary. Junko is a common Japanese name with several meanings. It is pronounced joon-ko." >
- Louise Boyd was the first woman to fly over the North Pole, in 1955, after starting her first Arctic exploration in 1926, later leading five expeditions to Greenland. Known as the “ice woman,” she repeatedly explored and photographed the Arctic Ocean. The vintage classic name Louise had been in the Top 1000 (sometimes in the Top 20) for over a century before dropping off the list in 1992; its plethora of appealing nicknames could just bring it back." >
- Mae C. Jemison was the first African American woman in space, a medical doctor on the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992. Sweet but spunky Mae is starting to attract a lot of attention again, especially in middle place. She’s now at Number 674 nationally and 68 on Nameberry." >
- Nellie Bly, born Elizabeth Cochran, was an internationally famous New York investigative and adventurous journalist who made a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days. Nellie would be a sentimental choice on its own, or as a nickname for Helen or Eleanor." >
- Marie) Octavie Coudreau was a French explorer and writer who was hired to explore and chart the Amazon region at the turn of the last century. Octavie is the pretty French version of Octavia, both of which relate to the number eight. It would make a unique possibility in the US." >
- Olive Murray Chapman filmed the cultures of Madagascar and Lapland in 1939. The quietly appealing Olive, while not as showy as her more popular sister Olivia, has been rising rapidly on the charts since being chosen by a few celebs, including Drew Barrymore: it’s not at Numner 291, and 79 on Nameberry." >
- Martin, Osa Johnson was an American adventurer, writer, photographer and documentary filmmaker, studying the wildlife and peoples of East and Central Africa, the South Pacific and British North Borneo in the first half of the twentieth century. Osa is one of several three-letter o-names that had some usage in the late nineteenth century, ranking at Number 615 in 1881." >
- Valentina Tereshkova was a Soviet cosmonaut and the first woman—and first civilian-- to fly into space in 1963, orbiting the Earth 48 times. The exotic Valentina entered the Top 1000 in 1994, and since then has shot up to Number 129; it was picked by actress Salma Hayek for her daughter." >
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on January 30th, 2015 at 4:18 am
Alexandrine is on my guilty pleasure list. A bit too syllable-heavy though.
on January 30th, 2015 at 5:53 am
I adore Alexandrine, Nellie, Osa and Valentina. I’d use Nellie as a nickname for Eleanor and Alexandrine as a middle name.
on January 30th, 2015 at 10:10 am
I really like Louise, Gertrude and Mae. Louise is my middle name as well.
on January 30th, 2015 at 11:31 am
I love the name list, but many of the namesakes read today as wealthy, white colonialists appropriating cultures. Nothing “bold” or “heroic” about that. It be similar to “Here’s my son, Cecil. After Cecil B. Rhodes. You know, Rhodesia?”
on January 30th, 2015 at 6:29 pm
I’m with Sweetchariot.
Also, “For obvious reasons, it doesn’t stand much chance of crossing cultures here” about Junko is super Eurocentric. Junko’s pronounced Joon-ko. It works perfectly well in the West. If people are worried about the “junk” association in English, they can spell it Joonko. But, seriously, I think people can handle it. We’re not a monoculture here.
on January 31st, 2015 at 6:52 am
In Ireland, Hanna, as well as Hannah has hit the top 100, most likely to Irish political liberator Hanna Skeehy Skeffington, Daniel has become hugely popular also due to one of Ireland’s greatest political liberators- Daniel O’Connell
on January 31st, 2015 at 10:30 am
I couldn’t care less whether or not these ladies “appropriated culture.” For god’s sake, stories of historical female explorers are rare enough. Do we really have to put them through a political correctness filter too? We wouldn’t have any ladies left to talk about.
That said, the comment on Junko was obnoxious. As daisychain pointed out, all you have to do is spell it Joonko.
on January 31st, 2015 at 11:14 am
@southern.maple: That comment has been removed.
on January 31st, 2015 at 6:50 pm
I agree wholeheartedly with @Sweetchariot. This is the most racist thing I’ve ever seen on Nameberry, and I’m frankly very astonished and disappointed. Some of these would be like naming your child Hitler, Andrew Jackson, or Leopold (after Leopold II committing genocide in the Congo).
Honestly, it would have been better to only have included Junko Tabei, Mae West, and Nellie Bly. They were/are gutsy, and they weren’t/aren’t colonialists.
Linda and Pam ought to take this down. I am utterly disgusted.
on February 2nd, 2015 at 12:05 am
I see both sides.
Women having bold adventures in distant places is good stuff to read. The idea of opposing someone of European and/or American ancestry visiting Africa seems to me a knee jerk reaction.
I was intrigued by Osa Johnson, but when I looked her up, she and her husband seem to have killed an awful lot of these animals which does not strike me as heroic so much as pathetic.
Pam and Linda are not racists. They are feminists and always looking for interestingly named or inspirational females. Not all of these women they find are going to be of unimpeachable character. Must everything be so black and white?
on February 2nd, 2015 at 6:52 pm
wow excuse my awful typo i meant Mae Jemison, not West
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.