One of my favourite books ever is "The Glass Slipper" by Eleanor Farjeon. The copy I have is a hand-me-down from my mother - who got it as a present from her Sunday School - which increases the charm of this book ten fold for me.
One of the most memorable and intriguing things in this re-telling of the classic Cinderella tale is the unusual monikers bestowed upon the two wicked Stepsisters - Araminta and Arethusa. These names were most likely created by the author, as upon checking the original Grimm Brothers version I found that they never actually named the sisters, just described them as "fair in face but foul at heart".
|Cinderella's Wicked step-mother and step-sisters Araminta and Arethusa|
As a name, Araminta is currently enjoying much more popularity than Arethusa. It is unknown exactly where this name comes from - some say it is a cross between Aminta (Greek name meaning defender) and Arabella (Latin for yielding to prayer); while others say it was invented by British writers William Congreve in his play "The Old Bachelor" in 1693 and Sir John Vanbrugh in "The Confederacy" in 1705. However as it is also thought that these two colleagues may have known an Araminta, so its origins remain sketchy.
In this book Araminta is known as Minty to her sister, a nickname that people either seem to think is cute and funky, or too reminiscent of toothpaste and chewing gum to be usable. For those, Minta, Minnie or even Mindy might be better options. Either way, this name seems to be on trend with the lacy girls names that are currently on the rise.
Arethusa is much less well known, but just as pretty. In Greek mythology Arethusa was a nymph who turned into a fountain after Alpheus tried to seduce her and she sought the protection of Artemis. From this, the meaning of her name is water bearer. For those that also like poetic connections, "Arethusa" is also the title of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Arethusa was called Thusy (I presume pronounced Thoosey) in this book, which is perhaps a nickname best avoided. If you need a nickname, Aretha might always be an option.
I think both are great names, but probably not ones I'd use as first names as they're not quite my style. Maybe as adventurous middles though :-) What do others think? Are there some gems from your favourite books that you'd secretly love to use?