Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Apple a Day

photo courtesy of www.photosbymonika.com
Gwyneth Paltrow had no idea how much controversy she was about to cause when she named her daughter Apple back in May of 2004. "That's not a name" was the most common judgement on people's lips, and her daughters name is now held up as an example on all "Most Bizarre Celebrity Baby Names" lists. So why did Gwyneth and her husband Coldplay front man Chris Martin choose the name Apple? To paraphrase from her interview with Oprah Winfrey at the time, they felt that apples are sweet, wholesome, biblical and lovely. They proposed "Is it really so different from the other nature/ noun names out there that are commonly used, such as Rose, Lily or Ivy?" I find this logic a little hard to argue with these days, considering the many word names on the rise. Yes, an apple is a fruit, but people mustn't dislike fruit names too much, because we're now seeing Plum and Lemon regularly mentioned as possible names.

So what other options are available if you too love the imagery of the clean, fresh, sweet apple but don't want people thinking you've copied a weird celebrity baby name?

Well, today's post was actually inspired by a girl who recently started at my work who is named Gala, which brought to my mind Royal Gala Apples. This particular Gala apparently got her name after her mother saw an advertisement for an event on the side of one of the trams that Melbourne is famous for. Gala is an established name with origins in French (meaning 'enjoyment'), Russian (meaning 'calm') and Hebrew (meaning 'spring'). Salvador Dali's wife was named Gala. Like the apple that Gwyneth named her daughter for, Gala is a rather sweet, uplifting name.

If you're going to be inspired by an object, let's face it, an apple isn't the worst thing out there. If you're still not sure, other possible apple inspired names include:

Ashmead - apple variety
Beacon (English) - means 'signal light', is an apple variety
Borromeo - Saint Charles Borromeo is the patron saint of apple orchards
Braeburn - apple variety
Calville - apple variety
Connell (Irish) - from Conal, which means 'strong as a wolf', is an apple variety
Coster (Old English) - from a large medieval variety of apple that no longer exists called a costard
Creston (English) - means 'town on the crest', is an apple variety
Crispin (Latin) -  means 'curly-haired', is an apple variety
Dayton (English) - means 'place with a dike', is an apple variety
Falstaff (English) - a Shakespearean name, and an apple variety
Grove (Nature name) - means 'grove of trees', is an apple variety
Hazen (English) - variation of Hayes, meaning 'hedged area', is an apple variety
Jonwin - apple variety
Laxton - apple variety
Malus (Latin Botanical) - name given to crab apple trees
Nehou - apple variety
Orin (Hebrew) - variation of Oren, meaning 'dark-haired', is an apple variety
Pendragon (English) - means 'from the enclosed land of the dragon', is an apple variety
Pippin (German) - apple variety
Pommeroy (Old French) - means 'apple orchard', pomme is the french word for apple
Rubin (Hebrew) - variety of Rueben, meaning 'behold, a son, is an apple variety

Almata - apple variety
Ambrosia (Greek/Roman) - means 'food of the gods', is an apple variety
Ariane (Italian) - means 'most holy', is an apple variety
Avalon (Celtic) - means 'island of apples'.
Cybele (Greek) - means 'mother of all gods', is an apple variety
Fearn - apple variety
Florina (Latin) - means 'flourishing, prosperous', is an apple variety
Garland (word/place name) -
Jubilee (Hebrew) - means 'ram's horn', is an apple variety
Junami - apple variety
Lodi - apple variety
Melrose (English) - originally a boys name, meaning 'bare moor/barren heath', is an apple variety
Meridian (American) - means 'middle, centre', is an apple variety
Novaspy - apple variety
Pinova - apple variety
Pomona (Latin) - means 'apple'. Pomona was also the Roman goddess of fruit trees
Reinette (French) - means 'little queen', is an apple variety
Rubinette - apple variety
Sansa (Sanskrit) - means 'praise, invocation, charm', is an apple variety

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Baby Anders, courtesy of clickbysuzanne.com
I was doing some channel surfing today when I came across a re-run of 'MacGyver'. Remember MacGyver, that oh-so-cool guy who could make a fission rocket out of duct tape, some paperclips and a piece of rope? It was one of the best shows of the 80's and the star of the show was Richard Dean Anderson. All three of his names are good, strong options for boys. But let's look at his name slightly differently - what do you think of Anders?

Anders (pronounced AAN-ders) is most commonly used in Scandinavian countries. It is Greek in origin, with versions of this name in other languages being Andrew, Andre, Andreas and Andrei. The name means 'strong and manly', which is a good meaning to bestow on a young boy. Be aware though that the word anders actually translates to 'different' or 'else' in Dutch or German, which can be a cause of teasing in those countries.

Just as there is a rich history of the use of Andrew (He was one of Jesus' first disciples, and is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland and Greece), Anders has seen a lot of use. Just some examples are:
  • Anders Celsius, the Swedish astronomer that the Celsius scale is named after
  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark and 12th Secretary General of NATO
  • Anders Jarryd, Swedish tennis player
  • Anders Zorn, Swedish painter
  • Anders And, the Swedish name for Donald Duck
  • Anders Holm, actor who plays Anders Holmvik on American comedy 'Workaholics'
  • Anders Peina, character in Stephen King's 'The Eyes of the Dragon'
  • Anders, a mage in the video game series 'Dragon Age'

However, as with any popular name, not all Anders have done positive things. In 2011, Anders Breivik bombed a government building in Oslo, then went on a shooting spree killing 69 people. But don't let one bad example put you off this name. Otherwise there would never be another child named Jack, Charles, Robert or Ted. And it would be sad never to meet another Anders, as it is a cool name with an inspiring meaning - a great alternative to Andrew in the Western World.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse
Unfortunately, next weeks episode of 'True Blood' means the end of another great season of this show, and a long wait until season six starts in June 2013. So in honour of the ending of another season, I thought it a fitting time to look at the interesting name of the main character - Sookie Stackhouse.

Sookie is pronounced as SOO-key (sounds like cookie). 'True Blood' has created a lot of interest in this name - website www.parenting.com reports that Sookie has been one of the most searched girls names on their site in 2010 and 2011. However this so far does not seem to be translating to actual use, as Sookie is yet to crack the top 1000 in America and certainly doesn't rate a mention in Australian charts.

Sookie is an unusual names that has been used not only in 'True Blood' which is based on the Charlaine Harris novels, but also in 'Gilmore Girls' in the form of kooky chef Sookie St James, and as the name of Claire Danes' character in the movie "Igby Goes Down". For those familiar with the name through these characters, you possibly think that Sookie is a cute name, slightly left of centre but quite lovable. Sookie is thought to originate from Susanna or Susan, and all three mean "Lily".  Of course, the name Lily is a top 10 name in America and England, and a top 20 name in Australia. So there is a possibility that maybe people will start to look to Sookie as an alternative to the wildly popular Lily.

So why hasn't Sookie taken off the way the names from that other big vampire franchise - Twilight - have? Isabella and Jacob shot up the charts once those movies went into production, and let's face it, vampires are hot right now. Here's what I think are the main factors that have contributed to it's less than stellar performance on the charts:
1 - it's similarity to a certain 'Jersey Shore' "celebrealty" called Snooki. The similarity is far too close for comfort, with most parents wanting to keep any comparisons to this controversial character as far away from their daughters as possible (with good reason!)
2 - in Australia, "sookie" - or the more elaborate "sookie-la-la" - is another word for a crybaby. You're just asking for your daughter to be the butt of jokes if you give her the name Sookie in Australia.
3 - people tend to see Sookie as more of a pet name, both figuratively and literally. Yes, on sites such as www.babynames.com where you can upload photos of your precious little ones you don't see photos of happy children, just cute little puppy dogs.

Sookie may be one name that's best left to the world of movies and TV, where people don't get teased for their names unless it's an important plot line. Or if you really want to use it, stick to Susanna with the nickname Sookie instead. It's a shame. I can fully understand why you'd want to name a daughter after the brave, intriguing Sookie Stackhouse.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Eliza Dushku as Echo in Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse'

We've been watching season one of Joss Whedon's 'Dollhouse' this weekend, which has inspired me with today's name - Echo.

Echo is interesting to me because it has a slightly mystical feel. It fits right in with the 'O' sounding names that are extremely popular at the moment. It has a familiar sound, yet is not a word that pops up in many conversations. And it's almost never heard as a name.

However even though it is right at home with current trends, it is by no means a word that has been redeployed as a name option for today's parents. Echo however is a famous name from Greek mythology. Echo was originally the name of a talkative wood nymph who was in love with her own voice. Legend is that she displeased Zeus's wife Hera by consorting with Zeus, and distracting Hera while Zeus strayed with other nymphs (as he often loved to do). When Hera discovered Echo's treachery, she took away Echo's ability to use her beloved voice, leaving her with only the ability to repeat other's words. Hence the word Echo came from the name, and not the other way around.

In more modern times, there was an English post-punk band in 1978 called Echo and the Bunnymen, there is a German music award called ECHO, Toyota makes a car called the Echo, and echo is the abbreviation for an Echo cardiogram (a cardiac ultrasound). And of course today's inspiration, the main character on the short lived 'Dollhouse' as portrayed by Eliza Dushku.

The name Echo comes with the drawback of being an easy target for teasing. A child with this name could expect to have their name repeated often - no nickname would be needed. They would however have a very beautiful, distinctive name that would make them hard to forget in a crowd.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I'll just start this post by saying that I really do recognise it's not the best idea to name your child after an alcoholic beverage. But I have to admit that Midori is one of my guilty pleasure names. If I ever were to temporarily lose my sanity, I could very well end up with a daughter named Midori.

As alcohol names go, Midori (pronounced mi-DOHR-ee) is one of the better ones, maybe because it is actually an established name in Japan where Midori means 'green'. It's been used for generations in Japan without becoming super popular, and is the name of Japanese figure skater Midori Ito and Violinist Midori Goto. Both ladies are extremely accomplished in their fields - Midori Ito was the world champion in her sport in 1989, and a silver medallist at the 1992 Albertville Olympics. Midori Goto is an internationally renowned violinist who was seleceted to be a UN Messenger for Peace in 2007.

For those unfamiliar with the drink, Midori is a brand of melon liqueur, and was named for it's bright green colour. It is also the key ingredient in my favourite cocktail, the Japanese Slipper. For the uninitiated, a Japanese Slipper consisits of 1 measure of Midori, 1 measure of Cointreau and 1 measure of lemon juice. Although I personally prefer cranberry juice, which ruins the lovely green colour but makes for a less sour drink. I digress though.

The main problem generally with alcohol inspired names is that they are viewed as 'lower class' or more succinctly - 'stripper names' (Brandy anyone?). This has not been helped with the rise of names such as Chablis, Moet and Tequila, which often can't be associated with anything but alcohol. Recently I read a heartbreaking story from Britain on how names such as Chardonnay and Champagne are not only branding children as coming from a lower socioeconomic background, but are also preventing them from being adopted due to laws prohibiting adoptive parents from changing childrens names. If you're interested, you should check it out at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2140586/Scandal-babies-parents-wont-adopt-theyre-called-Chrystal-Chardonnay.html

But not all alcoholic drinks are off limits for names - Bailey is a top 100 name for girls in the US, and also a common boys name here in Australia, despite being a very popular liqueur. Not to mention main ingredient of a shooter with a somewhat racy name.

As a name Midori sounds fresh and slightly exotic to many people. With the meaning 'green' it is a great name for people looking for subtle colour names, or a name associated with my favourite season - Spring - a time of year when the world is lovely, green, and starting to bloom.

I think Midori is just a popular TV character away from shaking off it's alcoholic associations and become a widely acceptable name. Those brave enough to get on board early may soon find themselves congratulated for being ahead of a trend, rather than having a flight of fancy after having a couple too many at the cocktail bar on a Friday night.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Baby Berkeley courtesy of Jam Photography
So I think I caught one of my work colleagues off-guard today when he was showing me an email from one of his customers about a billing issue (fun stuff, I know) and I exclaimed "Oh! What an interesting name he has!" Probably happens to all of us at some point, right?

The exclamation-worthy name is Berkeley. My first question was, is this guy American? I thought maybe he was named after the university. Then I noticed he had quite a British sounding last name, and bingo! Yes, this Berkeley is in fact British.

Berkeley is an old English name meaning 'where birches grow' or 'from the birch tree meadow'. I feel like this is one of those Old English names that really sounds quintessentially British, and by that I guess I mean "upper-crust-British-sounding". I also love nature names that don't necessarily sound like nature names, so Berkeley has two big ticks in my book.

Of course, there is no escaping the fact that the word Berkeley is synonymous with the prestigious university in California. If you're American or living in America it would be hard to name your child Berkeley without people thinking you were being a little pretentious. And thinking you were even more pretentious if you actually went to school there. So if you did and you really, really loved your time there, this would be best as middle name material only.

Luckily I'm in Australia, and could probably get away with using Berkeley as a first name with only a few raised eyebrows. Or maybe the question "Isn't that the dog from Sesame Street?" (whose name is Barkley :-)). That said, Berkeley could be a great name for either a boy or a girl.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Here is Australia, it is currently the middle of winter, and this year it feels like it's been a long one. But Winter can be very beautiful, and some of the names inspired by this season are some of the coolest (sorry the pun) around. Frost and Winter both have their charms. But my favourite - and perhaps the most fun - is Snow.

Snow is one that has been getting a lot of attention lately, most often as a middle name but also occasionally as a first. There are a few TV shows and movies using this name recently that have contributed to the recent popularity of Snow as a sweet and interesting nature name. Not one but two Snow White movies were released this year - "Mirror, Mirror" and "Snow White and the Huntsman". Both had very beautiful Snow Whites, and superstar powers playing the evil queen in the form of Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron, respectively. As a side note, Charlizes character has the gorgeous name Ravenna, one I may look into in more depth at another time. And it's Charlizes birthday today - Happy Birthday Charlize Theron!

On TV, Ginnifer Goodwin portrays yet another Snow White in "Once Upon A Time". It's arguably Ginnifer's Snow White character that is doing the most to raise the profile of Snow as a name. Ginnifer's Snow is delicate, caring and sweet, but brave, independent and strong. She is one of the most pivotal characters of the show, with the love between her and Prince Charming and the acute feeling of her loss as she is trapped in the 'real' world providing one of the most compelling story lines of the show.

With the strong connection to Snow White, many could be forgiven for thinking that Snow could only work as a girls name. But Snow could work equally well for a boy. One character waving the flag for a boy Snow is Jon Snow from "Game Of Thrones". Jon is a pivotal character throughout the show and the books. The bastard son of one of the most noble houses of the land, Jon has been raised to respect and uphold the values of his father, the great Eddard Stark. He has grown learning how to be a member of the nobility, while forever being denied the benefits and position that being a Stark would bring. Yet he remains steadfast and loyal to his brothers, and shows many qualities befitting a good and noble leader. His quiet strength lends a great deal to the appeal of being a Snow.

These great examples on the screen help to imbue the name Snow with highly valued characteristics such as tenacity, strength, honour and compassion in many people's minds. Combine these perceived qualities with a word used to describe one of the most beautiful and magical things nature has to offer and you have one special name. No wonder Snow is starting to become a name favoured by parents looking for a sweet but strong, crisp and beautiful nature name.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What's Your Style?

What is your individual naming style?
Sure, there are names you like and names you don't like, but have you ever given any thought to what your overall naming style is?

One website has devised a quick and simple test to try and help parents figure out what their naming style is. As a guide, they break naming down into seven different categories, defined as:

Modern Eccentric: You like totally unusual names. you don't mind if your child is the only person he or she ever meets with the name you chose. You like names that could be considered exotic or cutting-edge. You probably don't have a hang-up about spelling names creatively. A few names that fall into this category include Aaliyah, Hadley and Willow for girls; Atticus, Hudson, and Phoenix for boys.

Modern Unusual: You like modern-sounding names. None of these old-fashioned names for you! Newly coined names and ambigendrous names are probably trends you like, such as Aubrey, Mackenzie and Scarlett for girls; and Cooper, Greyson and Xavier for boys.

Modern Conservative: You want your children to have names that are not too crazy or wild. You tend to like modern and up-to-the-minute names, and don't care if your child has classmates with the same name. You probably don't want your child to run the risk of teasing by having a name that's too outlandish, or too old-fashioned. Girls names include Chelsea, Lauren and Savannah, boys include Austin, Jake and Spencer.

Classic Conservative: The names you like are gentle and accepted and stand the test of time. Perhaps you like to honor family members in your children's names. You probably don't like strange spellings, or anything too exotic, unusual or weird. Examples include Abigail, Elizabeth and Katherine for girls; Edward, Jonathan and Matthew for boys.
Classic Outmoded:You prefer names that probably belong to your friends and family. You are most likely male (for some reason, guys like this category better than gals). While these are the names of an older generation than is being named right now, they could be considered cutting-edge in some circles. You may like Caroline, Elaine and Nancy for girls; and Bruce, Dennis and Keith for boys.

Classic Unusual: You prefer names that have a history. These are fashionable classics that have come back into use after several generations of quiet slumber. A few names that fall into this category include Charlotte, Madeleine and Olivia for girls; and Harry, Finn and Oscar for boys.

Classic Eccentric: You prefer names that have a history. Perhaps you like names with historical connections or meaning. Although your favorite names may be considered stuffy and old-fashioned by some, to you they sound fresh and new and are ready for dusting off and being plunged into the new name pool. You're inspired by names such as Arabella, Beatrice and Evangeline for girls; and Augustus, Emmett and Thaddeus for boys.

I did this fun test myself a couple of months ago, and was told that I like:
Modern Conservative - 25%
Modern Unusual - 20%
Classic Unusual - 20%
Classic Conservative - 15%
Modern Eccentric - 10%
Classic Eccentric - 10%
Classic Outmoded - 0%

Fair enough. I was a bit surprised conservative was near the top, but when I thought about it it's probably about right.

But even more interesting was that I did the test again today, and even though I thought I had picked fairly similar responses, it seems my tastes have changed a little over the last couple of months. This time I got:
Modern Unusual - 25%
Classic Unusual - 20%
Classic Eccentric - 20%
Modern Eccentric - 15%
Modern Conservative - 15%
Classic Conservative - 5%
Classic Outmoded - 0%

Which I guess just goes to show a couple of things. One, that sometimes (as when we do personality profiles) answers and results can vary depending on your recent experiences or even what mood you are in that day. And that two - our tastes in names can change over time. Sometimes rapidly, sometimes longer. Are the names you like now the same as last year, or when you were in high school, or when you were naming your pets and dolls in primary school? Probably not. But I think sometimes that's how we know if we're onto a winner - if you've managed to love the same name for years and years, you're probably onto a good thing.

Why not take the test yourself for a bit of fun - it can be found here at http://www.namenerds.com/uucn/namequiz.html

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I recently stumbled across the beautiful name Xyla mentioned on an old Nameberry.com thread, and it stuck with me. I love how lyrical it sounds.

People may think this is a made up name, but Xyla is actually a variant of the Old Greek name Xylia, and means 'woodland' or 'of the wooded land'.

One super cute Xyla - courtesy of
Like all names, there are both pros and cons to naming your daughter Xyla.

Con - immediate association with Xylophone. But if you're into music, you might not mind this.
Pro - your daughter would have a unique initial - not many girls names start with X
Con - if you ever plan on having a boy named Xavier it could be too matchy-matchy. And if you had more children and wanted to keep a "starts-with-X-pattern" you could really struggle
Pro - it's a fresh alternative to the now super trendy Isla. Isla was #18 here in Australia in 2011, which is a bit too popular for my liking. Besides, I was never a huge fan of Isla anyway, I much prefer Xyla.
Con - a quick Google tells me there is a brand of weight loss foods called Xyla, due to its use of a sweetener called Xylitol. I've never heard of it here in the merry old land of Aus, but doesn't mean it will never come here.
Pro - did I mention how pretty it is?

Xyla is a pretty but spunky name that sounds modern but has historic roots. Whether you feel that the pros outweigh the cons for this name is up to you. I'm definitely leaning towards yes.


Nathan Fillion as Captain Mal Reynolds in "Firefly"

With surnames on the upswing, I'm surprised that Fillion has gone under the radar. It hasn't even been getting mentions on forums as a flight-of-fancy "why not?" name.

The inspiration for this name comes from the charismatic actor Nathan Fillion. Nathan is best known these days as the lead character Rick Castle in the ABC show "Castle". But he has quite a slew of roles on his resume, including mainstream shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and the Whedon cult classics "Buffy" and "Firefly".

So what else does Fillion have going for it? Well, other than being a surname, it is sounds very similar to Finn, another name that is very hot right now. It could also be a fresher alternative to the well loved classic Filip/Phillip. And the nickname of Fil helps to make this name sound less strange and foreign, and more like a little-known but familiar-feeling classic.

It could also be an option for parent looking for names with French roots. The word Fillion derives from the Old French word 'fils' meaning 'son', and was used for the youngest son in a family.

Because Fillion means son, and is so evocative of boys names Finn and Phillip, first instincts are to use this as a boys name. But I think it could work well for a girl too. After all, a Filly is a young female horse. This could be a subtle choice for a longer, modern sounding girls name with a cute nickname (Filly) for horse-loving parents.

So because it seems that no one else has said it yet, I say "why not?" to Fillion. It would be a truly unique choice.