Way Off the Grid: Baby names Hera, Evening & Forever

This week for her Nameberry 9 newsiest names, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel highlights some names that so unusual, they really off the grid!

Jacob and Sophia might still be on top of the US rankings, but any name nerd knows this for sure: names change.

Sometimes the changes are subtle.  In the late 1800s, Sallie was more popular than Sally.  In the 1950s, Kerry, Jimmie, and Lester were ordinary names for little boys, and their sisters were called Toni, Yolanda, and Marlene.

It’s easy to focus on the big stories – the headline-grabbing rise of Messiah and King, for example – but I like this quote from last week’s Oxford Dictionaries blog:

… it makes sense that we constantly adapt and expand our vocabulary to account for new concepts, events, inventions, etc. For example, we may invent new words, give existing words new meanings, or borrow words from other languages.

They were talking about words in general, but it rings true for names, doesn’t it?

If creativity and change are the hallmarks of our age, no wonder we’re discovering and inventing new names.

Speaking of innovation, the first Nameberry eBook launched this week.  So in celebration of Off the Grid baby names, here are nine choices that made this week’s baby name news, each of them just a little bit different.

Briseis – NFL star Reggie Bush is a new dad.  He and fiancée Lilit Avagyan have welcomed a daughter named Briseis.  It’s a Greek name, worn by a princess in ancient legend.  Word is that the couple discovered the name while watching the movie Troy.  There’s more than one possible pronunciation, but I’m partial to breh SAY ess. I’ve yet to hear Reggie say his daughter’s name in an interview – have you?     

Evening – If children can answer to Winter and Sunday, why not Evening?  Fewer than five girls received the name in 2012, but she recently appeared on a Swistle list.  If Eva and Evelyn are stylish, and Everly is on the rise, this word name seems like a stunningly different choice that would be easy to wear.

Forever – If Evening seems wearable, Forever strikes me as a little more challenging.  It makes this week’s list thanks to that wacky baby naming family, the Geldofs.  Peaches recently shared that new son Phaedra’s full name is Phaedra Bloom Forever.  Bloom is a nod to mom’s middle, Honeyblossom, while Forever just “sounds cool.”  Or maybe it sounds like the heroine of a Gothic novel.

Hera – She’s a goddess, a particle accelerator, and a key character in Battlestar Galactica.  Her Roman counterpart, Juno, has been catching on.  And yet Hera remains a rarity.  This write-up at Geek Baby Names has me thinking: doesn’t she seem like a perfectly wearable name in 2013?   

MelusineKelli profiled this one, a super-subtle mermaid name.  She could be great in the middle, or maybe a surprising formal name for Lulu.  Melusine has never been big, but a few women have answered to the name, along with Melusina.  I’ve also heard the two-tailed Starbucks siren referred to as a melusine. 

Maisie – The Henry James novel What Maisie Knew has been adapted for the big screen, more than a century after its original publication.  It’s hard to believe that sassy, sweet Maisie has never been terribly popular in the US.  Could that change?  She was featured on Friday’s slideshow for Off the Grid names.  And For Real Baby Names just spotted a birth announcement for Maisie Coy.  We’ve embraced Sadie and Hattie.  Could Maisie have her moment next?

TigerlilyLily is lovely, but Tigerlily is fierce.  I’ve seen birth announcements for the name smooshed together and also for Tiger Lily, like this one at Waltzing More than Matilda.  She’s the name of a princess living in Neverland in the original Peter Pan stories, and Michael Hutchence’s daughter had Tiger Lily as two of her middle names, too.

Waveland – The kids at My Name is Pabst always have killer stories behind their one-of-a-kind appellations.  Waveland is no exception – his full name is Waveland Sheffield, after the streets outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago.  No, the family doesn’t live in Chicago.  But hey, Wave is a great short form.

MayleeHat tip to Pam for this one.  She spotted singer Maylee Todd on NPR.  The name has promise, doesn’t it?  There are all of those great Mae names, plus Maylee is just one sound removed from Kaylee and Hailey.  She reminds me of Hunger Games name Maysilee, too.

Have you heard any new names recently?  How about unexpected revivals or imports?

Check out Nameberry’s brand-new book, The Nameberry Guide to Off-the-Grid Baby Names , at our store.

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26 Responses to “Way Off the Grid: Baby names Hera, Evening & Forever”

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bluesparrow5684 Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 2:43 am

know a Breseas.. It’s very wearable

Melusine Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 5:13 am

Noooo, not Melusine! LOL

I’ve used that for about 20 years now and though it’s become so “me” I would feel weird naming a daughter that, I still haven’t given up on the guilty pleasure of using it as a middle name. It’s been nicely off the radar for years. Ah well, it’s a gorgeous name, of course it deserves a mention.

missmargot Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 5:14 am

Hera is lovely and not a name I’ve considered before. Maisie is very popular in the UK and has been for a few years, it’s a sweet name.

Abby Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 5:35 am

Oh, Melusine – my apologies! But you’re right – it is a gorgeous name, and I think it would make a great middle.

MissMargot, Hera is a lovely, isn’t she? I wonder if we all think of the jealous Hera from myth and find her unwearable for that reason? But it hasn’t hurt Juno …

Melusine Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 6:36 am

Oh no need to apologise Abby, I’m just being stroppy! It’s natural to want to keep that one special name all to yourself, but that’s never going to happen..

I don’t think Melusine will be topping the charts any time soon anyway, so if there are a few more walking around, at least that beautiful name won’t go to waste.

Re: Juno, I think you may be onto something there. I do associate Hera with jealousy and unpleasantness (sending the snakes to kill Herakles etc) more than Juno. I also like the sound of Juno better. Plus there’s an adorable little girl in my daughter’s daycare called Juno and my best friend was considering it for her daughter as well. Hera also sounds like more of an adult-only name to me.

Melusine Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 6:38 am

Accidentally, unpleasant associations also rule out Briseis for me. I wouldn’t want to name my daughter after someone who’s passed around as a commodity – ugh.

Titus245Mama Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 7:15 am

I’m personally not that crazy about any of these, with the exception of (maybe) Evening. Maisie is cute, but sounds too nick-namey too me. If I wanted to get to Maisie, I’d probably give her a proper name like Miriam or Damaris.

I did know a little girl named Hera once. I didn’t know the name’s origins at the time, but it seemed perfectly wearable to me.

Mclevine Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 8:02 am

I quiet like Evening but not so sure about others..I like Hera but honestly can’t imagine it on a child.

GrecianErn Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 8:16 am

I like Maisie, it sounds like Macy/Maci… but I know too many pets named Maisie.

I think Hera is so cute… but jealous vengeful stepmother goddess or super cute little half robot girl? hmmm…. it’s a tough call.

I kind of love Waveland Sheffield. As a Cubs fan married to a super Cubs fan, this is cool. And I’ve never heard of the boy’s street name. I’ve heard of a lot of Addison Clarke(s) which are the other 2 streets at Wrigley.

freya55 Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 9:42 am

Another great Nameberry Nine, thanks Abby! I like Hera and Melusine is gorgeous. Evening is pretty awesome, it sounds like a Bond girl! I have to say, i think Phaedra Bloom Forever is just dreadful!

Abby Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 9:55 am

Interesting that Hera feels grown-up to so many. I haven’t heard that about many names. Often we dismiss them as “too cute” for a grown-up.

And Freya55, I think you’re dead on – Evening SHOULD be a Bond girl. 🙂

GrecianErn, now that you say that, I realize I’ve heard kids named Addison as a nod to the Cubs, too! I think Waveland is probably my favorite of the four names …

Titus245Mama, I love the idea of Damaris, nn Maisie. That really works!

Owlett Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 10:04 am

I prefer Evenine to Evening – it may be made up, but it feels a little more “name-y”

And Vesper “Evening Star” IS a Bond girl! LOL

MeleriHaf Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Melusine, I totally agree about Briseis. It’s pretty, but I wouldn’t want to find out that my name was the name of a girl who gets passed around as a prize of war. The feminist in me says she’s just too passive about her fate to consider her a good namesake.

Brigid16 Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 12:21 pm

I love Hera. And I’ve seen Melusine spelled “Melicien” before.
Minerva is one of my favorites, but my friends tell me the child would hate me and I’m not too fond of Minnie.

jpruitt76 Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I’m always surprised at how underused Maisie is (or Maisy/Mazie). I think it’s darling as a nickname or a standalone name.

AmeliaWilliams Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 3:36 pm

I love the idea of the name Tigerlily. I dunno if I’d ever be brave enough to use it, but it just sounds so…whimsically badass.

tintri Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 6:45 pm

No more talk about Evening! She’s been my lovely little secret for 12 years! 😉

Abby Says:

May 20th, 2013 at 8:30 pm

@AmeliaWilliams – Now that is a GREAT description of Tigerlily!

@Tintri – Oops! She is lovely. And Owlett, nice point about Vesper. 🙂 Evenine is gorgeous.

Gretel Says:

May 21st, 2013 at 4:19 am

I love the name Hera in and of itself, but the singularly unpleasant figure in Greek myth makes the name less appealing – I do agree the somehow (maybe it’s because of the movie) the name Juno seems to escape this baggage.
And, for reasons people have already mentioned, I find Briseis is unusable. I think a lot of the Greek deity/mythological names become problematic when you read their stories. Zeus/Jupiter is a serial rapist, for instance, as are other male gods…

Melusine, while not for me, is a beautiful, interesting name and I’d love to see it get more usage. Likewise, Evening is a striking word name that had never occurred to me before. Maisie is all nickname, IMO (as are Hattie and Sadie).

Not into Maylee or Forever. And I prefer Waverly to Waveland.

spotlightstarlit Says:

May 21st, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I’m welcoming to anyone willing to meet me at camp Tigerlily- though I hope it continues to remain way off the grid, even if it begins to gain respect among Berries. I cannot wait to have a Tigerlily and prove just how perfect a name it is.

The description above by @ameliawilliams is brilliant,

MerMaiden6 Says:

May 21st, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Tigerlily has the spot at the top of my “guilty pleasures” list. I have a clunky German last name that begins with L that doesn’t quite support its whimsical badass-ery (thank you, AmeliaWilliams, for hitting the nail squarely on the head with that!).

Evening also has a spot on my GP list, and I haven’t ruled it out as a potential middle.

Not sure how I feel about Forever, but Ever is another GP/middle spot contender!

splatsquillion Says:

May 22nd, 2013 at 1:37 am

Maisie is massively overused in the UK I think, or was maybe 10ish years ago. I got sick of hearing it screeched by chav mums in my Northern hometown. Negative associations for me, that one… Melusine is lovely but keeps changing to ‘Mezzanine’ in my head. Liking Vesper though! Goes well with my soon-to-be married name. Which is a pain in the bum to match names with, unlike my current. *scowls at sleeping fiance*

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

May 24th, 2013 at 2:37 am

LOVE Tigerlily! Am baffled but happy that suddenly it’s a name-nerd favourite.

Evening and Forever are fantastic (uh, but not together or as siblings), and would love to see a little Hera (or a big one).

marinadancel17 Says:

May 25th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I actually know a girl named Meili (may-lee). Its Hawaiian. She is a gorgeous girl and makes me think the name is too. I wonder if people would have pronunciation issues though…

CsprsSassyHrly Says:

July 20th, 2013 at 11:46 am

@marinadancel17 – I had trouble pronouncing Meili when I first saw it. My brain wants to pronounce it like Miley. But once I saw your pronunciation and that it was Hawaiian, it made sense to me, as my little non-Hawaiian niece was given the middle name Leilani and that is also Hawaiian with the -ay sound in it. It is a beautiful name if it’s pronounced may-lee and not like Miley.

Exact Briseis pronunciation, anyone? I keep playing it in my head as brih-sigh…

LeiAriel Says:

December 21st, 2013 at 8:03 am

I love Tigerlily!
The flower is known for it’s sweet fragrance, extreme hardiness, will grow just about anywhere, looks stunning in groups and does very well with crowding. It also symbolizes friendship, prosperity and wealth.Princess Tigerlily from Peter Pan is a loyal friend, brave, beautiful, loves dancing and having fun.
The color orange is associated with such traits as sociable, optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, self-confident, independent, flamboyant, extroverted, uninhibited, adventurous, the risk taker, creative flair, warm-hearted, agreeable and informal.

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