Category: Nephele

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Beatrix Potter names beyond Peter Rabbit

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By Nephele

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is a beloved children’s picture book author and illustrator whose stories have an enduring charm that will no doubt continue to delight readers well beyond our twenty-first century.
Her popular stories have made their way from the printed media into animated adaptations for television (The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends), and ballet (The Tales of Beatrix Potter).  Films have also been made depicting her life, the most recent one being the 2006 movie titled Miss Potter and starring Renée Zellweger.

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Steampunk Baby Names: Victorian tech

posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author

By Nephele

What is steampunk?

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction that presents an alternative future or universe in which modern-day type inventions and conveniences are propelled by steam or inventive clockwork mechanisms.  Dirigible airships are also iconic to steampunk.

Although the steampunk movement emerged in the 1980s, there have also been novels, movies, and television series which are today identified as steampunk (or containing steampunk elements) that predate the actual coining of the term.

The steampunk movement has inspired an entire subculture consisting of enthusiasts who meet at steampunk conventions and who tend to dress in fabulous fashions that meld a futuristic look with nineteenth century Victoriana.  Much of steampunk fashion incorporates goggles (the apparent badge of the Victorian scientist/adventurer).  Steampunk jewelry features clockwork motifs.

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posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author

By Nephele

The character names to be found in the comical, light operas of Gilbert & Sullivan, for the most part, represent names that Victorian society either found to be fancifully appealing (as in the fairy names from Iolanthe) or absurdly amusing (as in the faux Japanese names from The Mikado). By comparison, some G&S character names may seem a bit mundane to us.

But viewing a rousing performance of The Pirates of Penzance could do much to redeem such names, as one finds oneself charmed by the dutiful and beautiful Mabel, or one cheers the “piratical maid of all work,” Ruth, who is later transformed into a feminist swashbuckler in her own right.

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Jewish Baby Names: Happy Passover!

By Nephele

As Passover approaches, a look at some of the names found in Jewish culture.

Yiddish names have a rich history, rooted in an older generation of Jewish people belonging to the Ashkenazic (from Germany and Eastern Europe) community. The Yiddish language evolved during medieval times from High German (influenced by Hebrew and some eastern European languages), and the word “Yiddish” itself literally means “Jewish.” Genealogists familiar with old U.S. Federal Census records will have noticed many a census record where the census taker recorded an immigrant’s language as being “Jewish” when it more properly should have been recorded as “Yiddish.”

While many fondly associate Yiddish names with their beloved grandparents and great-grandparents, Yiddish is nonetheless making a comeback. California‘s San Francisco Bay area is home to Der Bay, a widely circulated Anglo-Yiddish newsletter of events, and such movies as Fiddler on the Roof and the animated An American Tail (both featuring Yiddish-named characters) are fondly familiar to mainstream America.

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posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author

by Nephele

Word names!  Some people love them, others hate them.  Word names probably started gaining in popularity due to hippie subculture, which especially latched on to appealing words taken from nature.  So I wondered:  “What are the most popular word names in common use today?”

To answer my own question and determine what these most popular word names are, I ran an Excel program to select names from the latest available U.S. Social Security Administration’s baby names lists (2012) that also matched with words in the official lexicon used for the multi-player word game “Words with Friends.”

Below I have listed the 100 top word names of 2012 for both girls and boys combined.  The accompanying definitions for these names may hold a few surprises!  These definitions are not, in every case, based on the actual etymology of the names, but rather on definitions given by the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the English-speaking world.  Some of these definitions are historical or obsolete or somewhat esoteric, but they are all actual definitions that make these names “legitimate words” for playing Words with Friends.

Be warned!  Some of these dictionary definitions may change your views on various names — either for better or worse!

Mason – “to build with stone or brick.” (18,856 boys; 80 girls)

Ava – “at all.” (15,418 girls; 19 boys)

Alexander – “a cocktail.” (15,105 boys; 28 girls)

Logan – “a stone balanced to permit easy movement.” (12,390 boys; 676 girls)

Benjamin – “benzoin.” (12,695 boys; 13 girls)

Abigail – “a lady’s maid.” (12,585 girls; 13 boys)

Joseph – “a woman’s long cloak.” (12,404 boys; 15 girls)

John – “a toilet.” (10,505 boys; 11 girls)

Carter – “one that carts.” (9,202 boys; 243 girls)

Jordan – “a type of container.” Historically, “a chamber pot.” (7,734 boys; 1,408 girls)

Angel – “to support financially.” (6,975 boys; 1,381 girls)

Hunter – “one that hunts.” (7,967 boys; 205 girls)

Henry – “a unit of inductance.” (8,006 boys; 9 girls)

Lily – “a flowering plant.” (7,889 girls; 10 boys)

Jack – “to raise with a type of lever.” (7,877 boys; 9 girls)

Riley – “angry.” (4,786 girls; 2,861 boys)

Harper – “a harpist.” (7,154 girls; 414 boys)

Charlotte – “a dessert.” (7,418 girls; 5 boys)

Grace – “to give beauty to.” (7,304 girls; 9 boys)

Amelia – “congenital absence of an arm or leg.” (7,191 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Victoria – “a light carriage.” (6,814 girls; 9 boys)

Parker – “one that parks.” (5,323 boys; 1,015 girls)

Chase – “to pursue.” (5,648 boys; 84 girls)

Anna – “a former coin of India and Pakistan.” (5,552 girls; 5 boys)

Cooper – “to make or mend barrels.” (5,156 boys; 102 girls)

Savannah – “a flat, treeless grassland.” (5,143 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Genesis – “an origin.” (4,280 girls; 75 boys)

Serenity – “the state of being serene.” (4,180 girls; 7 boys)

Stella – “a formerly used coin of the United States.” (3,964 girls; 6 boys)

Maya – “the power to produce illusions, in Hindu philosophy.” (3,926 girls; 7 boys)

Morgan – “a unit of distance between genes.” (3,377 girls; 433 boys)

Cole – “a plant of the cabbage family.” (3,752 boys; 12 girls)

Autumn – “a season of the year.” (3,745 girls; 8 boys)

Max – “to reach the upper limit.” (3,663 boys; 15 girls)

Bailey – “an outer castle wall.” (3,387 girls; 121 boys)

Faith – “to believe or trust.” (3,497 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Jasmine – “a climbing shrub.” (3,348 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Sawyer – “one that saws wood for a living.” (2,724 boys; 540 girls)

Violet – “a flowering plant.” (3,252 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Molly – “a tropical fish.” (3,232 girls; 8 boys)

Miles – “units of distance.” (3,229 boys; 10 girls)

Trinity – “a group of three.” (3,201 girls; 32 boys)

Aria – “an elaborate melody for a single voice.” (3,201 girls; 18 boys)

Maxwell – “a unit of magnetic flux.” (3,187 boys; 8 girls)

Timothy – “a European grass.” (3,071 boys; 5 girls)

Piper – “one that plays on a tubular musical instrument.” (3,038 girls; 16 boys)

Maria – “the dark areas on the surface of the moon or Mars.” (3,012 girls; 6 boys)

Colin – “the bobwhite.” (3,001 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Paisley – “a patterned wool fabric.” (2,903 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Ruby – “of a deep-red color.”  (2,875 girls; 7 boys)

Victor – “one who defeats an adversary.” (2,852 boys; 8 girls)

Jade – “to weary.” (2,714 girls; 56 boys)

Jesse – “to jess; to fasten straps around the legs of a hawk.” (2,670 boys; 78 girls)

Destiny – “the fate or fortune to which one is destined.” (2,688 girls; 12 boys)

Jake – “all right, fine.” (2,659 boys; 6 girls)

Roman – “a metrical narrative of medieval France.” (2,552 boys; 10 girls)

Charlie – “a fool.” (1,518 boys; 1,041 girls)

Axel – “a jump in figure skating.” (2,464 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Grant – “to bestow upon.” (2,455 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Alan – “a large hunting dog.” (2,273 boys; 11 girls)

Gage – “to pledge as security.” (2,246 boys; 8 girls)

Aliyah – “the immigration of Jews to Israel.” (2,240 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Tanner – “one that tans.” (2,164 boys; 57 girls)

Mark – “to make a visible impression on.” (2,186 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Tucker – “to weary.” (2,026 boys; 11 girls)

Ariel – “an African gazelle.” (1,720 girls; 292 boys)

Conner – “one that cons.” (1,894 boys; 10 girls)

Aurora – “the rising light of the morning.” (1,890 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Peter – “to diminish gradually.” (1,844 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Emery – “a granular corundum.” (1,474 girls; 361 boys)

Willow – “to clean textile fibers with a certain machine.” (1,806 girls; 14 boys)

Rowan – “a Eurasian tree.” (1,138 boys; 678 girls)

Daisy – “a flowering plant.” (1,774 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Melody – “an agreeable succession of musical sounds.” (1,770 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Hazel – “a shrub.” (1,768 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Summer – “the warmest season of the year.” (1,762 girls; 5 boys)

Graham – “whole-wheat flour.” (1,706 boys; 9 girls)

Ivy – “a climbing vine.” (1,677 girls; 14 boys)

Spencer – “a trysail; a type of sail.” (1,518 boys; 145 girls)

Griffin – “a mythological creature.” (1,639 boys; 17 girls)

Harmony – “agreement.” (1,603 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Drake – “a male duck.” (1,532 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Chance – “to risk.” (1,489 boys; 30 girls)

Amir – “a Muslim prince or governor.” (1,455 boys; 20 girls)

Drew – “past tense of draw.” (1,227 boys; 232 girls)

Zander – “a freshwater fish.” (1,446 boys; 7 girls)

Ana – “a collection of miscellaneous info on a subject.” (1,437 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

King – “a male monarch.” (1,423 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Hope – “to have a desire or expectation.” (1,410 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Luna – “an alchemical designation for silver.” (1,404 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Troy – “a system of weights.” (1,376 boys; 7 girls)

Dean – “the head of a faculty.” (1,369 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Jasper – “a variety of quartz.” (1,339 boys; 25 girls)

Dominick – “one of an American breed of chickens.” (1,348 boys; 6 girls)

Lyric – “a lyrical poem.” (1,075 girls; 262 boys)

Martin – “a small bird.” (1,333 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Hector – “to bully.” (1,319 boys; 0 or less than 5 girls)

Sienna – “a brown pigment.” (1,317 girls; 0 or less than 5 boys)

Cash – “ready money.” (1,302 boys; 6 girls)

Lane – “a narrow passageway.” (1,216 boys; 75 girls)

And now for some more name fun!  I had mentioned that word names were big in hippie subculture.  If you would like to discover your “hidden hippie name” through the art of anagramming, click on the following link:

Nephele is the alias of an obsessive anagrammatist who for more than a decade has provided unique name makeovers for people on numerous Internet forums. Despite the popularity of Nephele’s anagrams, she is not prepared to give up her day job in an undisclosed public library in New York.

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