Surprising Names: This week’s Nameberry 9

December 5, 2011 Linda Rosenkrantz

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel comes up with some eye-opening surprises–from Aaya to Lumi to Zarpessa.

There will always be new names.

It doesn’t seem possible, does it? With kids called Shiloh and Pilot and Boheme and Egypt, it would be easy to say that we can go no farther. Surely we’ve exhausted all the possibilities.

And yet, week after week, there are always names that surprise. I met a toddler called Zinnia yesterday, just in time for the bloom to appear on Nameberry’s list of best new flower names. Even those of us who spend our free time obsessively pouring over lists of names and offering up ideas on the Nameberry forums are probably taken by surprise by some of the things we hear – and not just once in a blue moon, but every week.

This week’s list is all about names that took me by surprise. They were brand new – at least to my ears.

Southern – After Nameberry predicted direction names, especially West, were headed up in 2012, I found myself wondering about South. South doesn’t feel wearable, but this descriptive spin on the direction has some appeal. It makes me think of railroads and the Allman Brothers and, okay, the liqueur, too. Still, this one is great in the middle spot. Sarah at For Real Baby Names found him in this combination: Cade Southern. Giddy-up!

Judson – While we’re below the MasonDixon Line, are you watching Hart of Dixie? The series is one part medical drama, one part city slicker in a small town. And the writers? I would love to know what they’ve named their kids! Characters answer to Brick, Lemon, Lavon, Wade, Didi, Magnolia, Emmeline, Polly, Laurette, and this one – Judson. He’s fresher than Jackson, and Judd seems like the kind of nickname that would be right at home with all those little cowboys.

TruittEver been Chik-fil-A? The Georgia–based fast food chicken chain was founded by a fellow called Truett Cathy. I’ve always found his name fascinating. Eponymia recently mentioned Truitt, noting that he fits in with Wyatt and other Western-inspired, and offers a completely masculine way to get to True.

Aaya – Syfy is set to debut a Peter Pan prequel called Neverland. It looks like Wendy is missing from the action, but a girl called Aaya does figure into some of their adventures. If one A is stylish, is three unstoppable? Names like Aaya have been heard before. There’s Ayla and Anya and Aaliyah, but this one is even more vowel-intensive.

Idalina – If you love Isabella and Annalisa, this one might be for you. Nomes e mais nomes mentioned Idalina, noting that it is most likely an elaboration of Ida. Filipa blogs in Portuguese, so maybe Idalina is old hat in Lisbon. In the English-speaking world, Idalina would be new – and staggeringly pretty.

Loreleia – Would you name your daughter after a mushroom? With Lorelei and Lorelai popping up everywhere, adding an –a doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. But Kay from Nook of Names found this one on a list of types of mushrooms, named in honor of biologist Lorelei Norvell.

Lumi – Are you following Elea’s advent calendar at British Baby Names? It’s great seasonal fun, and she’s uncovered some great names, too. Lumi is a Finnish name meaning snow, but to English speakers she probably conjures up images of light, thanks to her similarity to illuminate and luminous.

Pieta – Another For Real find, the Pietà is one of Michaelangelo’s masterpieces, and also the Italian word for pity. A pieta is any depiction of Mary holding the body of a crucified Jesus. The concept is sad, but the sound of Pieta is quite attractive. Perhaps the parents were searching for a feminine form of Peter, and liked the romantic sound of Pieta? The actual Italian is Pietra – a little different.

Zarpessa – Thanks to Charlotte for spotting this one. Model-turned-television-mogul Tyra Banks can now add another superlative to her resume. Ms. Banks is a New York Times bestselling author, thanks to the first installment in her series, Modelland. Zarpessa is one of the aspiring catwalk-walkers. She’s nouveau, but she’s strangely appealing, maybe because of her resemblance to Marpessa, a rarity from Greek myth. An oil tanker by that name went down off the coast of Africa in 1969, and sunk the name with it. Today that association has paled, and Marpessa feels possible again. Zarpessa feels almost impossibly extravagant.

Did you spot any interesting names this week?


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