Category: Family Names
I spent much of last winter devouring a book called A Dictionary of English Surnames, by Reaney and Wilson, which presents family names used and recorded in England dating from back to when surnames first started being documented there (after the Norman Conquest in the eleventh century) up to the present day.
I was surprised and delighted by the meanings and/or origins of so many of the entries, several of which seem to cater neatly to the modern desire for creative first names, interesting nicknames, and offbeat ways of honoring relatives or other important people. In addition, their deep roots and historic usage give them a gravitas that other unusual names sometimes lack.
Here are some of my favorites:
Parents have been naming babies after other people since they started naming babies. No other naming tradition has endured and thrived across so many different cultures and time periods. The exact approach varies — many Jewish families, for example, name babies after deceased relatives, and WASPs often name the firstborn son after the father — but the basic idea remains the same.
We asked you, a few weeks ago, what you thought of cross-gender namesakes for kids born today. But a super-hot thread on the Nameberry forums made us curious about you, our beloved Berries. Were you named after someone?
It doesn’t have to be a relative. Maybe you were named after Isabel Allende, Rosa Parks or Amedeo Modigliani! Nor does it have to be your first name — we’re certainly interested in your middle name as well. We want to know it all!
We’re also curious about how you feel about your namesakes. Do you feel a kinship with them? Have they influenced your own behavior?
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Wow! I think this might be the biggest and greatest month for berry baby name announcements yet! In fact, they were so numerous and with so many great backstories, that I couldn’t use all of them in full, and so I invite you to go over to the Baby Announcement Forum and check them out. You’ll find Eliza and Elodie and Elowen and two Heros among the girls and Orion and Otto in the boy column, and many other happy surprises.
And we also have some multiples:
Here’s the complete list of submissions:
By Melissa Willets
In the 1970s, Melissa was the third most popular name for girls in the country. So naturally, my parents named me Melissa, and thus, not a year went by without me being one of several girls with my name in my class. In case you can’t tell, I hated it.
So, when it came time to name my first daughter, I was determined to pick a baby name that no one else her age would share. I can proudly report that Dana has never met another little girl with her name, as it was far more popular in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.
The fact that my name strongly influenced my baby name choice made me wonder how other parents’ names might inform their decisions.
They love surname names, but can’t agree on the right one for their December daughter.
The Name Sage replies: