Thursday, November 29, 2012


Yarrow - could it be the next Katniss or Rue?
One year when I was in primary school, a girl called Yarrow transferred to my school one year. I remember being enchanted by her name. Not only had I never heard it as a name before, I had never heard the word before. I'd consider this to be a Katniss/Rue 'Hunger Games'-esque style name - a cool sounding name that is rarely used, and is derived from a relatively common plant that has practical uses.

If you also haven't heard of Yarrow before, it's a flowering herb with feathery leaves and white or pale lilac flowers. It is said that it was discovered and/or used by Achilles, who would carry it on the battlefield to help treat the soldiers' cuts, wounds and abrasions. Hence, some of Yarrow's many aliases include Herbe Militaris, Knight's Milfoil, Soldier's Woundwort and Staunchweed. It's Binomial name is actually Achillea millefolium, named after Achilles.

Yarrow has often been thought to have magical as well as medicinal properties. The Chinese think it is a lucky plant that can be used for divining the future, brightening the eyes and promoting intelligence. It is said to grow around the grave of Confucius. Similar beliefs can be found in British customs, and Yarrow was one of the herbs used in Saxon protection amulets. It is not just positive magical properties that it is associated with though. Yarrow was thought to be used by witches in the middles ages for their spells. For this reason it has also been recognised by the names Devil's Nettle and Devil's Plaything.

White Yarrow Flowers
I've always fancied Yarrow to be a soft, gentle sounding name, but maybe that's just me. It's easy to say because it's basically arrow-starting-with-a-Y. This makes it familiar feeling, yet it's still a very rare name. Yarrow is a unisex name, which is typical of many other nature names which are usually considered to be unisex. The "OW" ending is pretty cool and also fairly gender neutral. Personally I prefer it as a girls name probably because my first introduction to the name was on a girl. But I can see how it could also suit a boy, with it's arrow sound and connections to the battlefield.

While I see most of the above points as positives, I can't help thinking that many of these things are the same reasons it hasn't caught on as many other nature names have. Perhaps people dislike it's soft, androgynous sound and past connections to battles and witchcraft. But if you're willing to look past that, you have one unique and charming name.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

League of Legends - The Ladies

'League of Legends' Champion Lux, The Lady of Luminosity
My husband started playing an online game a couple of months ago called 'League of Legends'. I'm assuming it's pretty good because he spend a fair bit of time playing it. Anyway, as anyone who has played any fantasy/adventure/fighting based computer games knows, they are a fantastic source for names. Some are well known, some are fantastical and new, and all take on a different light when they're busy kicking some ass.

'League of Legends' is no exception. Not only does it contain some great name inspirations, but the characters also have cool titles to introduce them so you know what they're all about. Because there are so many, today I thought I'd profile just the ladies of 'League of Legends' (or LOL to it's regular players). I've featured my top three, with the rest listed below so you can decide what your top three would be. I hope you find them as cool and inspiring as I do!

Cassiopeia - The Serpent's Embrace
Cassiopeia is a name from Greek mythology, pronounced kass-ee-o-PEE-ah or kass-ee-OH-pey-uh (my husband's preferred pronunciation). In mythology, Cassiopeia was a very beautiful but vain and arrogant queen of Ethiopia, and the mother of Andromeda. Cassiopeia and Andromeda were so boastful about their beauty that they upset Poseidon, who set to destroy Ethiopia by flooding. Cassiopeia and her husband sought to appease Poseidon by chaining Andromeda to a rock, where she was later rescued by Perseus. To ensure Cassiopeia did not go unpunished, she was cast into the heavens, and remains the name today of one of the great constellations.

I love Cassiopeia because it sounds exotic, and is a different and interesting way to get to the familiar nicknames Cass and Cassie. I also love it's connections to Greek mythology and astronomy, and it means 'she whose word excels'. Plus this was my husbands pick of the bunch!

Sona - The Maven of the Strings
Sona makes the top three because a friend of ours who plays the game absolutely loves this character. And I mean loves it - she has even talked about getting a tattoo of this character. Sona (pronounced so-nah) is an Indian/Sanskrit name meaning 'golden'. It may sound like a submarine navigation system, or similar to an electronic brand name, but the more often I say this name the more I like it. It's cute and perky. And I find the meaning of golden quite endearing - it's like a subtle way of letting your child know everyday how precious they are to you.

Karma - The Enlightened One
Choosing a third name was harder, because there were a few I could have easily chosen for this spot. In the end it was Karma though, because I have to admit that this name has long held a fascination for me. I love it but tended to think it might be just a bit too "new agey". That was in the 90's, when 'Dharma and Greg' was on the TV, giving Dharma/Karma a hippy-dippy reputation. I have a feeling that it wouldn't seem so strange by today's naming standards though, and 'My Name is Earl' has helped to make karma seem less mystical and more of a common day concept.

Karma (pronounced KAR-mah) is a Hindi/Sanskrit concept meaning 'fate or destiny'. It could be a fresher alternative to Destiny, which has been a top 100 name in America for the past 18 years. Karma does of course come with it's good associations and bad ones (bad karma, karma's a b**ch) which you would need to consider first. But I'd love to see this one popping up on birth announcements, even if it was as a middle name.

The Others:

Ahri - The 9 Tails Fox
Akali - The Fist of Shadow
League of Legends Champion
Annie The Dark Child and her Bear Tibbers
Annie - The Dark Child
Ashe - The Frost Archer
Caitlyn - The Sheriff of Piltover
Diana - The Scorn of the Moon
Elise - The Spider Queen
Evelynn - The Widowmaker
Fiora - The Grand Duellist
Irelia - The Will of the Blades
Janna - The Storm's Fury
*Jinx - The Loose Cannon
*Kalista - The Spear of Vengeance
Katarina - The Sinister Blade
Kayle - The Judicator
LeBlanc - The Deceiver
Leona - The Radiant Dawn
*Lissandra - The Ice Witch
Lulu - The Fae Sorceress
Lux - The Lady of Luminosity
Miss Fortune - The Bounty Hunter
Morgana - Fallen Angel
Nami - The Tidecaller
Nidalee - The Bestial Huntress
Orianna - The Lady of Clockwork
Poppy - The Iron Ambassador
*Quinn (and Valor) - Demacia's Wings
*Rek'Sai - The Void Burrower
Riven - The Exile
Sejuani - The Winter's Wrath
Shyvana - The Half-Dragon
Sivir - The Battle Mistress
Soraka - The Starchild
Syndra - The Dark Sovereign
Tristana - The Megling Gunner
Vayne - The Night Hunter
*Vi - The Piltover Enforcer
Zyra - The Rise of the Thorns

*added 15th Feb 2015

Friday, November 23, 2012

Great Sibsets - Archie & Harry

Prince Harry......with a puppy! Too cute!
Today's sibset is inspired by an old workmate of mine. Anita and her husband Fraser moved here to Australia a few years ago from Scotland in the U.K. One of the reasons for the move was because they thought Australia would be a great place to raise a family (which I totally agree with, of course!), and they are now the proud parents of two beautiful boys. Big brother Archie is now 2 years old (almost 3), and Harry was born at the start of this year.

Archie and Harry are both such charming names, and complement each other extremely well. They're popular both here and in the U.K. While the names are firm favourites in the UK, and quite popular here in Australia, they are still to be embraced in America. In 2011 Archie was #24 on the England and Wales charts, while Harry took the number 1 position. In Australia Archie was #39 and Harry #40, and in America Archie was #1910 and Harry was #709 in 2011.  So if you live in the US and are a fan of British-sounding names, here are two great options you can get behind before everyone else discovers how great they are too.

Archie comes from the Teutonic name Archibald, and means 'bold, noble'. It could be a great alternative to Archer, a top #500 name in the US and number #12 in Australia. Anita tells me that Fraser suggested  Archie's name for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he was inspired by the soccer player (yes, I realise it's football to almost every other country in the world, but we have something here called Aussie Rules Football) Archie Gemmill. Archie Gemmill had a great career, but is best remembered for scoring the winning goal against the Netherlands in the 1978 FIFA world cup. The goal made him a national hero in Scotland, and was even mentioned in the cult film 'Trainspotting'. Which brings us to their second reason for choosing Archie - as Scots, it struck them as a great name to honour their Scottish roots.

Harry was also inspired by a famous figure - Prince Harry. Anita tells me he was a bit of a last minute pick (which is an understatement to say the least - she was still looking at baby naming books while she was in labour), but just seemed right as she is a bit of a royalist at heart and has always had a soft spot for Harry and his older brother William. Harry was traditionally a nickname for Henry, a German name meaning 'estate ruler'. Henry has been the name of many Kings of England, and is actually the birth name of Prince Harry. But somehow Harry seems to suit his cheeky but charming personality so much better. Of course there is also that incredibly famous Harry Potter, and the irrepressibly cute Harry Styles from British boy band sensation 'One Direction'. So the great thing is that with so many great Harry's to look up to people won't necessarily assume that you had the boy wizard in mind if you should choose to use Harry.

I love that both are nicknames that have become accepted as great names in their own right. They give off a warm, friendly and approachable vibe that makes them great picks that work extremely well together. And I know I'm not the only one who thinks so. I realised the other day that the celebrant who married me and my husband also has boys name Archie and Harry. It's definitely a winning combination.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


McKaley Miller as Rose in 'Hart of Dixie'
I spotted this gem in the credits of 'Hart of Dixie'. McKaley Miller is the young actress who plays Rose Hattenburger on CW's 'Hart of Dixie'. Although only 16, she is already building an impressive body of work, having done 5 movies (with another one coming out next year) and playing recurring characters in 3 TV shows - 'Wizards of Waverly Place', 'The Gates' and of course 'Hart of Dixie'.

I'm almost surprised that more people haven't caught onto this name. It shares elements with several other names that are very hot right now, such as:

  • McK-anything. McKenna/MacKenna and McKenzie/MacKenzie are pretty hot in the US right now. In 2011 they charted at #239 and #135/#68.
  • Kaylee. This original spelling was #36 in America in 2011, but with plenty of alternate spellings out there such as Kayley, Kaylie, Kayleigh and Kailee the popularity of this name is potentially much higher than that.
  • Michaela. OK, at #409 in the US in 2011, it may not be everyone's idea of a hot name. But it is in the top 1000, and this feminine variation of Michael has spawned Mackayla (#56) and Mckayla (#734), so it is a sound liked my many people.

It stands to reasoning then that McKaley could be poised to take off for people who love any of the above options (or even all of them) but are looking for the next fresh alternative. It's perky, cool sounding; and is different but not too different in today's naming landscape.

As an invented name, there isn't really an accepted meaning for McKaley. Kaley comes from Kaylee, which comes from Kayla. Kayla is an Arabic/Hebrew name meaning 'laurel/crown', while Michaela means 'who is like God', so either could be considered as a possible meaning for McKaley. But then again maybe you fall in love with a name for the sound, not it's meaning. If you fall into that camp, McKaley has a lot going for it. It certainly caught my attention.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

True Blue

While things are cooling down in the northern hemisphere, things are warming up down here in Australia. Today we've had a beautiful blue sky, so I've been inspired to write a follow up to my previous post about the colour purple with one about blue names.

Blue is one of my favourite colours, and shot to stardom as  a baby name option when Beyonce and Jay-Z bestowed in on their little girl earlier this year. It caused some controversy, and I have to admit I was one of those people that thought the media had gotten the name wrong - surely it was Ivy Blue, not Blue Ivy right? But when you think about it, Blue is quite an attractive option for a name. It has many positive meanings and associations.

Blue symbolises youth, spirituality,inspiration, sincerity and peace
Dark blue is the colour of truth and moderation
Turquoise blue provides protection, health, confidence and strength
Blue has a soothing, calming effect and encourages feeling of communication and peace
Blue represents heaven, and is the colour of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven

So many things are associated with blue that a list of them all could be incredibly long, so like I did with purple I've again just listed "official" shades. Enjoy, and feel free to add your suggestions for blue names in the comments!

Amparo                                          Cyan                                     Nile
Alice                                              Danube                                  Oxford
Azure                                             Delphinium                             Patriot
Bluebell                                          Denim                                    Periwinkle
Blueberry                                        Dodger                                  Phthalo
Bluebird                                          Duke                                     Royal
Bluejay                                           Dusk                                      Sapphire
Bondi                                             Eton                                       Saxony
Brandeis                                         French                                   Sky
Cambridge                                      Ink                                         Steel
Carolina                                          Iris                                         Teal
Celeste                                           Klein                                     Tiffany
Cendre                                            Lake                                     True
Cerulean                                         Majorelle                               Turquoise
Clematis                                         Maya                                     Ultramarine
Cobalt                                            Mazarine                               Vallarta
Columbia                                        Midnight                                Xenon
Cornflower                                      Monaco                                Yale
Corydalis                                        Navy                                      Zaffre

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Imogen Poots
Imogen is a recent crush for me. I think one of the things that pushed it from being a slight interest to being a major interest was my husband. We were watching a movie one night ('Chatroom', to be exact), when my husband turned to me and asked "who is that actress?". He recognised her from 'Fright Night' and '28 Weeks Later', and when I replied that it was Imogen Poots, he surprised me by saying "Imogen. That's a nice name". Which was cool because it was one of the first names he showed a genuine interest in within the first couple of months of me starting this blog.

I like to pronounce Imogen as 'IM-oh-jen', which is it's original spelling and pronunciation. However in America it is just as often spelled Imogene and/or pronounced  'im-oh-GENE'. There is also a bit of debate as to the origins of Imogen. Most agree that it is a form of Innogen, mistakenly changed to Imogen due to a printer's error when printing William Shakespeare's play 'Cymbelline'. Or it could have been a deliberate choice by Shakespeare to change it, as possibly he thought it looked and sounded softer and prettier.  The theories as to where Innogen comes from is where opinions differ. One theory is that it is a Greek name from the Greek words 'inno' for beloved and 'gen' meaning child, giving us the meaning of 'beloved child'. Another is that Innogen is a Celtic name from the word 'inghean' meaning maiden, and 'maiden' is the most commonly quoted meaning for Imogen. I've also seen it said that in Hebrew Innogen means 'image of her mother'. Quite possibly it's all three, as names sometimes spring up in a few different places at once. All are great meanings, so why be restricted to just one?

People who haven't heard it before think Imogen is exotic and modern, even though it has been in use for a long time. Other descriptions I've seen of Imogen include strong, independent, intelligent, lovely, refined, classy, original, and that it sounds like "imagine". A lot of these impressions are based on some of the famous bearers of this name, such as Imogen Cunningham. Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer whose portraits, botanicals and industrial landscapes were widely acclaimed. Her work was sometimes considered controversial, but she is considered to be one of the greatest figures in American photography with a career spanning more than seven decades.

Imogen has been fast gaining in popularity in Australia, reaching position #20 in 2011. It's also popular in England and Scotland, but has never entered the top 1000 in America. In fact, most years fewer than five girls were given the name, but since 1995 the name has slowly been climbing. It will likely remain slow to climb, as many Americans feel it is a hard one to use as accents in some areas make the name sound a lot less attractive than it does in England or Australia. But consider the plethora of cute nickname options you could turn to. There's Immy, Im, Imo, Imio, Gen, Genny, Ginny, Midge, Mo, Imza, Imsky, Imzi, Mog, Idgie, Em, Emmy, and Emzy - plenty of easy to say options to suit whatever personality your Imogen might have.

Imogen is a gorgeous name that I'm sure we'll see a lot more of in the future. Would you consider using it where you live?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

J Names For Boys

Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow - two great J names
I recently read a great post at Nancy's Baby Names about the most popular first letters for boys and girls in 2011. It's an interesting read, especially as it seems the top 8 letters for boys and girls haven't changed since 2010, but the order has.

Turns out that for he last three years running, names starting with "J" have topped the list for boys names. And not by a small margin either. It got me to thinking, what "J" names would top my list? What "J" names are topping everyone else's lists? So here is a quick profile of five of the most popular and interesting (in my opinion) J names for boys.

JACK - Australia's top "J" boys name of 2011
As an Australian, I can vouch for the appeal of this name. It's conjures images of an honest, straightforward, easy going guy who would be everyone's mate. It just feels like an Australian name. We have the union jack on our flag, a jackeroo is widely considered our equivalent of a cowboy, and when Burger King came to Australia they changed their name to Hungry Jack's. 'Whispering Jack' was our nickname for one of our favourite Australian entertainers, John Farnham, and the name of his best selling album in the 80's.

In 2011 it was our 6th most popular boys name. England, Wales, Scotland and New Zealand also feel the strong appeal of Jack, as it tops the charts in their countries. In America Jackson is much more popular than Jack, although both are top 100 names. Jack started as a nickname for the name John (meaning God is gracious) but has made the transition to a given name in it's own right.

JEX - favourite new cool name?
OK, I have to admit that since I first saw Dax Shepherd's name in the credits of 'Without A Paddle', I have had a big crush on his name, which has extended to pretty much all three letter ends in "X" boy's names. Jax is cool, but it makes me think of video games. Jex is better, because it has a slightly "British upper crust" feel too it for me. Maybe due to a character called Jed that I liked on British TV show 'Bedlam' last year. And it's slightly edgier than Jett, if you believe that's possible.

JUPITER - favourite GP "J" name
I'm guessing this one appears on many guilty pleasure lists, because it would take a brave person to use it. Only 7 boys were given the name Jupiter in America in 2011.

Jupiter is not just a planet, it's also the name of the Roman King of the Gods and god of sky and thunder (the Roman equivalent of Zeus). Due to it's God connection, most people tend to consider Jupiter to be a boys name, and as such in America it has never been given to more than 5 girls in any one year.   With other god names such as Atlas on the rise, and night sky names such as Orion on the rise, Jupiter stands a chance of transitioning from just a little too quirky to uber-cool in the not too distant future.

JACOB - most popular boys name of 2011 in America
Yes, not just America's favourite "J" boy name, but America's top boy name. Full Stop. For the last 13 years. And in the 6 years before that it was a top 10 name. In fact, the lowest Jacob has ever charted was #368 in 1962.

I can see the appeal. It's a sturdy, manly biblical name, with the nickname Jake conveying the dual images of all-American boy-next-door or the bad boy. A Jacob (or Jake) could be a true chameleon. Seems it's meaning of 'supplanter' hasn't hurt this Hebrew name's image at all, and sexy young werewolf Jacob will probably ensure the name remains popular for many years to come as 'Twilight' fans start having little boys of their own.

Not one for people who don't like popular names, but otherwise a solid choice.

JAYNE - most intriguing crossover name
Usually we see "boys" names stolen for the girls. This is one that went the other way, but rarely. Jayne as a boys name came to my attention through the cult TV show 'Firefly'. If you're not familiar with it (which would quite frankly shock me) 'Firefly' is an almost legendary Joss Whedon TV series which spawned the hit movie 'Serenity'. I say legendary because it was not a big rater when it aired on TV and only lasted one season, but has developed a huge cult following since it went off air. The TV show aired in 2002/2003, but the following movie wasn't made until 2005 due to demand from the fans. The show centres on a dilapidated spaceship and it's eclectic crew and passengers. One of the main characters was Jayne, played by Adam Baldwin. I always assumed that Jayne was his last name, but watching the 'Firefly' ten year reunion special tonight I realised that it was his given name, with his full name being Jayne Cobb.

Jayne Cobb was an awesome character. He was a mercenary, tough, gruff and loved his weapons. But there were moments of comedy and tenderness in him that were ultimately endearing. I had at first thought that maybe this character would have triggered a small spate of little boy Jayne's. Not so though. It was most popular for boys in the years 1984-1986, when it was given to a total of just 17 boys.

Rarer than rare with a cool, tough namesake, Jayne could be worth considering.

JUSTUS - just 'cos
Just because I love the look and the sound of it. It sounds just like Justice, a cool name we can't use here is Australia because it could be confused with an official government position. It also looks very similar to the established, tried but true Justin. Which is nice, but a little boring to me.

Justus is a Latin name meaning 'fairminded, upright, honest'. There were three men named Justus in the bible, so this could be a up and coming alternative to Jacob, if you're looking for one.

With "J" names being the most popular for boys, I'm sure most people have at least one on their potential names list. What would be your pick?

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The latest Wizard of Oz sequel - called 'Dorothy of Oz' - is due out in 2013
Dorothy will be voiced by 'Glee' star Lea Michele
Dorothy is a special name for me, as it was the name of my paternal grandma. To many people that’s all it is, a “grandma” name, meaning they think it is old fashioned and not cool or spunky enough for a child of today. But as other names once considered as “grandma” names are being dusted off and resurrected, Dorothy may soon be on the rise.

In 1922 when my grandma was born, Dorothy was the second most popular name for girls in America, a position held from 1920 to 1927. Unfortunately there is no data for it’s popularity in Australia at the time, but it’s likely it was somewhat similar. In the U.S., since 1880 it has only been out of the top 1000 a handful of times – in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. While Dorothy is far from a popular name currently, it has always held some attraction to parents.

One of the most famous Dorothy’s of course was Dorothy Gale, the girl with the ruby slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ that every little girl pretends to be at least once. Being such a popular name there are plenty of other examples to look to, such as the characters of Dorothy in ‘The Golden Girls’ or ‘Jerry Maguire’, Dorothy the Dinosaur, or real life examples American figure skater Dorothy Hamill, poet Dorothy Parker, actress Dorothy Dandridge, and writer Dorothy West, to name just a few.

In Australia, it was a different fictional Dorothy that caught our imaginations – pint sized Dot of ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’. The book ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ was about a five year old girl who gets lost in the Australian bush and is befriended by a kangaroo, amongst other bush animals. The book was written in 1899 by Ethel Pedley and later made into a movie in 1977. The movie was a combination of animation and live action, and spawned eight sequels between 1981 and 1994.

Dot is one of the many cute nickname options for a little Dorothy, with other traditional options being Dottie and Dolly. Incidentally, my grandma went by Dot herself as her family had a cow named Dolly when she was growing up and she didn’t want to go by the same name as a cow (can’t really blame her). Newer nickname options also being used today are Dora, Doro, Dodie, Thea, Tia and Dory/Dori, which help to give Dorothy a fresher, updated image.

The name Dorothy was derived from the Greek name Theadora, another option if you have a Dorothy in the family that you’d like to honour but aren’t keen on the idea of Toto or big green dinosaur references. Both have a beautiful meaning, which has probably contributed to Dorothy’s enduring appeal. Dorothy means ‘gift of God’. And I certainly like to think that’s what my Grandma was.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Great Sibsets - The Averys

Mother Nicole Avery with her children Moss, Eamonn, Mable, Stirling and Magnus
Today an article in my local paper - The Herald Sun - caught my eye. Not for the story, but for the enchanting names of the children in the family in the accompanying photo. The family's children are named Moss (13), Eamonn (11), Mable (8), Stirling (6) and Magnus (3). Each is a great name in its own right, so let's have a quick look at each of them.

Moss - One of the great nature names that works for boys and girls. Moss has the same “oss” sound as the very popular Forrest, and the very cool Frost, but without the abrupt “t” ending. It’s that little more cutting edge. You just need to get people to think of it in terms of legendary race car driver Stirling Moss, rather than lichen growing on a tree.

Eamonn – Eamonn and Eamon (Eamonn is the original spelling, but Eamon is more popular) have had a bit of a jump in popularity in Australia since swimmer Eamon Sullivan came to our attention after winning a gold medal, a silver medal and breaking a Commonwealth record at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. Eamonn (or more popular spelling Eamon) is an Irish variation of Edmund. It means ‘rich protector’ and is pronounced AY-mon. Despite it’s similarity to other mega popular favourites Aiden and Ethan, Eamon is yet to appear on the top 100 in Australia or top 1000 in the US, so currently remains a great alternative if you’re looking for a less popular name.

Mable – I have to say that Mable (or Mabel) is a name that is slowly growing on me. As it seems to be with a lot of people, as Mabel has been slowly moving up the US charts in the last few years and should crack the top 1000 in the next year or two if it continues the way it has been. Mabel (pronounced MAY-bel) is an English name derived from the Latin Amabel and means ‘lovable’. And lovable it is. I actually prefer the less popular Mable spelling, maybe because it has the word “able” and looks so similar to Fable, which I also love. As a nature name fan though, I’d probably be more likely to lean towards Maple myself.

Stirling – Is an English name meaning ‘genuine, of high quality’. I personally prefer the original spelling of Sterling for a couple of reasons. 1 - I think it looks nicer. And 2 - Stirling, with Moss, in the same family, is a little much. I wonder if they are fans of the racing driver, or just thought the names sounded good together without realising the connection. At least they are not in order, or even sequential. Apart from that small quibble, I really like the name. It sounds a little bit posh, a little bit tough, and the "ing" ending sets it apart from pretty much all other popular names, male or female.

Magnus – this name is all quiet strength to me. Like his siblings, Magnus is not a hugely popular name now, but is slowly climbing. Magnus is a Latin name meaning ‘greatest’. It’s been a popular name for Scandinavian royalty and is in the top ten in Denmark and Norway. It has appeared in some popular tales such as in Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’, Charles Dickens’s ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’. But it could be said that it is also benefiting from ‘The Hunger Games’ phenomenon. Many of the characters in this series have been given Roman/Latin names such as Cato, Flavius and Darius, so this could have sparked a renewed interest in related names such as Magnus.

All five are great names, and I like that while there isn’t really a pattern they seem to have the same vibe. Possibly a little heavy on the M’s, but the effect is diluted by having the M names interspersed with the others, so it’s not overpowering. The result overall is utterly charming. What do you think – have the Avery’s made great choices? Would you have done the same?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Makybe Diva

Makybe Diva's historic 3rd Melbourne Cup win in 2005
Today's post is inspired by two things. One, The Melbourne Cup is on today. In case you hadn't heard, it's one of the biggest horse races of the year, and a very big deal in Australia. And as I live in Melbourne I also get the luxury of a public holiday today so I can enjoy the race  - we're off to a BBQ with friends later today, which is the usual way to commemorate the day if you're not actually at the track today.

My second inspiration is the smoosh name, by way of Abby at Appellation Mountain. Abby has recently commented on her Facebook page that she's spotted an Emmylou, and that a post on name smooshes remains one of her favourites on Nameberry.

Which got me to thinking about one of the most successful name smooshes I've seen on a Melbourne Cup champion - Makybe Diva. Makybe Diva became the first ever horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times, which she did in years 2003, 2004 and 2005. I won't go into the history of the Melbourne Cup, as Anna did a great job of this recently at Waltzing More Than Matilda when she profiled the first ever winner of the Cup, Archer. But needless to say, it was a big deal to win it three years back to back, and a statue has been erected in the owners home town to commemorate this achievement.

Makybe Diva is owned by a tuna fisherman in my home state of South Australia named Tony. Tony is the one who gave Maybe Diva her name, which he designed by taking the first two initials of five of his female employees and creating a name. Thus MAureen - KYlie - BElinda - DIanne - VAnessa became Makybe Diva (pronounced mah-KY-bee DEE-vah). I think he was very lucky, as I've tried to do this before when creating team names and it does't usually work out so smoothly!

This was a slightly unusual way to name a horse, as it has generally been tradition to name a horse based on the name of their Sire (father) and Dam (mother). However it is not totally outside the rules - yes, there are rules for naming a racehorse, the same as there is for naming a child. In Australia, a brief overview of the rules are:

1. The maximum length of a name is 18 characters, including spaces.
2. Names can't be repeated for 20 years
3. Rude, offensive or racist words are not allowed.
4. Names can't promote a public company
5. Numbers up to 25 are not allowed, due to potential confusion for race callers. Eg One, Two, Three or First, Second, Third are not allowed.
6. But numbers is used in conjunction with other words, such as First Love will be considered
7. Letters must be spelt out. Eg Pea Kay. A & I are acceptable as a single letter as part of a horse's full name.
8. Names will not be considered if single letters are expected to be pronounced. A name must be pronounceable as words and understandable to the general public. Eg RUFIRST will not be considered, however, AREYOUFIRST will be considered.
9. Combinations of first name & surname (eg.,John Smith) will not be considered. Two first names will be considered (eg., John David)

It's interesting to see how race horse names are policed, but makes sense .

Whatever you're doing today, have a good one and try to catch the race at 3pm Melbourne time. I drew #14 Green Moon in our sweepstakes at work, which isn't a favourite to win but I guess anything can happen!

Monday, November 5, 2012


Up and coming young actress Ophelia Lovibond
Today's name is inspired by a recent trip to Ikea. You know how everything has a name, and most of those names seem a little strange and crazy if English is the only (or main) language you speak. Well, on this trip I bought a blanket with the name Ofelia, which seemed to suit the light and fluffy white blanket perfectly.

Ofelia (pronounced oh-FEEL-ya) is the Spanish/Italian version of Ophelia, and is mainly used in Spanish speaking countries such as Argentina, Chile, or Mexico. It is also a Portugese name, with the slightly different pronunciation of oh-FEH-lyah (thanks Zeffy!). It means 'who assists or who helps', as the original name derives from the Greek word ofeleia, which has this meaning. Ofelia is also a Saint name, used in memory of Danish Roman Catholic Martyr Saint Ofelia. St Ofelia's name day is recognised in Italy as February the 3rd.

Most people recognise the name Ophelia as the character from Shakespeare's 'Hamlet', written in 1600, although it's first use was reportedly in the poem 'Arcadia', written in the 15th century by Jacopo Sannazaro. Shakespeare's Ophelia was quite a tragic figure. A young noblewoman from Denmark, Ophelia is presented as a potential wife for Hamlet. However she is treated very poorly by Hamlet, and eventually goes insane and drowns herself.

A lot of people have been put off using Ophelia/Ofelia for their daughters due to the tragic demise of Shakespeare's character, and fears of their children being taunted with lewd "I feel 'ya" comments. However these perceptions are wearing off, and examples of people who bear this name include:
  • Dr Ofelia Zepeda, American poet and intellectual
  • Spanish actress Ofelia Guilmain
  • Mexican actress Ofelia Medina
  • British actress Ophelia Lovibond
  • First mixed race model in America, Ophelia DeVore
  • Cousin Ophelia in 'The Addams Family'
  • O (short for Ophelia), main character in 2012 movie 'Savages', played by Blake Lively
  • Ofelia, main character in Guillermo Del Toro's dark 2006 movie 'Pan's Labyrinth'

I quite like Ofelia/Ophelia. It has a classic, stately feel to it, and cool nickname options Fee, Lia or O add a bit of spunk to it. As you've probably guessed, the Ophelia spelling is currently more popular in America. It's been on the rise in the past couple of years after dropping out of the top 1000 in 1959, and in 2011 was ranked #1864, given to 107 girls. Ofelia on the other hand has actually been a more consistent performer on the charts, lower than Ophelia but with fewer dramatic rises and falls in popularity. It ranked #3368 in America in 2011, given to 48 girls.

I like both variations, and personally feel that Ophelia looks more aristocratic, while Ofelia feels a little more approachable and friendly. So I'd probably lean more towards Ofelia. But maybe that's just me. What do you think?

Happily snuggled up in the Ofelia blanket
Photo courtesy of Lauren Rutherford Photography

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Name Lore

Photography by Glow Portraits, crown available at etsy

A couple of weeks ago I met a guy called Lor. Yes, that's his real name, not a nickname. The story behind his name as he tells it is that his "hippy" dad was determined to name him Lord Michael. When he went to get the name registered, he was of course told that you can't give a child the name Lord in Australia. Because Australia is part of the Commonwealth and ruled by the Queen we cannot use names that are official titles. So of course his dad just crossed out the "D" and triumphantly handed back the paperwork. And just like that, a baby boy was given the unusual name of Lor Michael. 
This has gotten me to thinking about Lor names in general. I quite like the sound, and one of my first thoughts was that Lore would actually be quite a cool name. It would fit in well with some of the other bookish names such as Story, Fable, Saga and Legend.

But if you like a bit more "substance" (i.e. length) to your names, I'd have to say that my top boys pick is Lorcan and my top girls pick is Lorelei.

Lorcan (pronounced LOHR-can) is an Irish/Gaelic name meaning 'little fierce one'. I think it sounds as if it stepped off the pages of a fantasy novel, and could end up giving Aidan a run for his money if given a chance and the right attention. One of the two most recognised Lorcans is Lorcan Ua Tuathail, an Irish saint who lived from 1128 to 1180. He is the patron saint of Dublin, and was also known as St Laurence O'Toole. The other well known Lorcan is actor Peter O'Toole's son, Lorcan O'Toole (also an actor). Apparently he was going to be given the name Luke, until his father had a dream in which he was told his name should be Lorcan. Lorcan is also dad Peter's second middle name.

Like many other girls (I suspect) I fell in love with the name Lorelei when watching 'The Gilmore Girls'. Before then Lorelei had always seemed like a much to fanciful name, especially considering it's origins. Lorelei (pronounced LOH-re-liy) is derived from the German name Lurlei which is a combination of the words luren (to watch) and lei (a cliff or rock). There is a legend that Lorelei was a beautiful siren who sat upon the rocks and lured sailors to their death, much like the sirens encountered by Odysseus in his journey. Hence the variation Lorelei is said to mean 'alluring temptress'.

While this may have been true of the Lorelei played by Marilyn Monroe in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', Lorelei Gilmore and her daughter Lorelei "Rory" made the name seem much warmer, friendlier and down to earth. And infinitely more usable.

Here are a few more names starting with or containing Lor that you might like.

         GIRLS               BOYS        
Annelore                                Bachelor
  Clorinda                               Chancelor
 Clorissa                                 Colorado
  Delora                                   Explorer
Elora                                     Florean
Flora                                     Florent
 Florence                                Florentino
Florinda                                    Florian
Glory                                    Halloran
Lorena                                     Lorand 
Loretta                                    Lorant
   Lori                                      Loretto
Lorice                                        Loric
Lorikeet                                  Lorimer
Lorinda                                    Lorin
  Lorna                                      Loring
Lorraine                                     Lorne
Mallory                                    Lorren
 Melora                                    Lorenzo
Sailor                                      Lorrenz
Saylor                                      Naylor
Taylor                                       Tylor
Valora                                       Valor

Then there are also those that have the Lor sound, such as Laura and Laurence, but that would mean I'd be here all night :) What would be your top Lor names?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Matilda Magazine is here!

If you haven't checked it out yet, make sure you stop by Matilda Mag. What is Matilda Mag you ask? It's the first ever online magazine devoted solely to baby names. The first issue came out last week and I have to say I was pretty impressed - creators Sarah (of For Real Baby Names) and Kate (of Name Soiree) have done a fantastic job. There's plenty of variety in the first issue, which includes articles from some of my faourite baby name bloggers. But you should read it yourself to find out who they are!

While you're at their website, make sure you check out the Matilda Mag blog. Partly because I'll be doing weekly guest blog posts there! I'll be profiling names inspired in some way by nature. This weeks name is Laurel, one that I've had the biggest crush on lately.

And if you still want more, you can also check them out on Facebook. If you're into names (and you probably are if you're reading this), I think you'll really love Matilda Magazine.