Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rise of The Golden Girls

'The Golden Girls' - Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia and Rose
played by Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty and Betty White

You probably remember a show from the eighties called 'The Golden Girls'. 'The Golden Girls' was about four “previously married” women living together in Miami. While they often seemed mismatched, the success of the show lied in the strong bonds of friendship these ladies shared, epitomised by the shows iconic theme song 'Thank You for Being a Friend'.

The show struck a chord with many people, and was extremely popular. The dynamic between the four ladies has often been replicated in movies and shows, and is thought to be the inspiration behind 'Sex and the City' and 'Girls'.

Although the ladies had some great names (on and off screen), while 'The Golden Girls' was airing from 1985 to 1992 people were rather unlikely to want to name their sweet babies after characters in a show about mature ladies, or the actors that played them. They would have seemed a little fusty in a world of Jennifers and Ashleys; Jessicas and Amandas.

But you know a show has started picking up some retro cool cred when you hear teen characters Summer and Anna on hit teen show 'The O.C.' bonding in a bathroom over the fact that one of them has always felt like a Blanche and the other has always identified with Rose. And since retro vintage names are now rising again, there's every reason to believe that the names of both the actors and the characters they played will soon be big on the name charts.

Sophia was Dorothy's mother, the oldest of the group and the usually funny voice of reason that could often be relied upon to offer advice. Sophia is a Greek name meaning (quite aptly) 'wisdom'. It's a friendly feeling name that has just that bit more exotic sophistication than it's counterpart Sophie.

Pronounced soh-FEE-ah, this is undeniably the most successful name (currently) on this list. While the show aired she was hardly an unpopular name, and was ranked in the 200's in America. But in 2006 Sophia hit the top 10, and was the number one name for girls in America in 2011 and 2012. She's also a top 100 name if Canada, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and England, so she has a lot of international appeal.

Sophia was played by actress Estelle Getty, Estelle coming from the Latin stella, meaning 'star'. Pronounced eh-STEHL it is most popular in Quebec and has a real charm to it – an almost French feel. Is also has some cute nicknames, such as Telly, Essie, Elle or of course Stella.

Stella itself has been a top 100 name in America since 2010, and E names in general have been getting a lot of attention in recent years. The signs are good that Estelle is a possibility to enter the top 100 itself in coming years. Indeed, in 2012 Estelle re-entered the American top 1000 for the first time since the 60's, as did variant Estella.

Rose was the bubbly, sweet, naïve optimist of the group. While the others often found her inexperience and outlook on life to be juvenile, they were very protective of her and valued her ability to help them see the good in the world.

Rose has had a long reputation of being a go-to middle name, but it's actually had more use as a first name than this reputation might suggest. Since America started keeping name records in 1880 the lowest it has ever ranked was #391 in 1997. A simple, elegantly beautiful name, Rose has been rising again in recent years.

While Betty White has had a long and busy career, her portrayal of Rose has earned her a soft spot in many people's hearts. And because she is still quite busy starring in 'Hot in Cleveland', she is arguably the first person people think of when they hear the name Betty. There are of course many other Betty's in pop culture, such as cartoon Betty's from 'The Flintstones', 'Betty Boop' and 'Betty & Veronica', TV's 'Ugly Betty' or pin-up legend Betty Grable to name a few. A little girl named Betty would have plenty of role models to look up to.

The name Betty started as a diminutive of Elizabeth, meaning 'God is my Oath'. She was hugely popular about a century ago – in America she was ranked 2nd most popular name from 1928 to 1934. I find it hard to imagine her reaching such heights again though – in 2012 she was dropping, ranked at #1578. She might need just a bit longer to gain the same kind of cool factor as her counterparts.

But my favourite thing about Betty, apart from it's cute as a button sound? If you're a fan of the movie 'Clueless', Betty was slang for an attractive stylish and confident girl – or to put it another way, a hot chick.

Dorothy was the dry witted, realistic teacher looking for love. Dorothy has a lot in common with Betty – there are tons of Dorothy;s both fictional and real, and she was also the number 2 name in America for several years. From 1920 to 1927 to be precise – she actually lost her position to Betty.

Unlike Betty though, Dorothy has been on the rise again in recent years, climbing slowly to #922 in 2012. Dorothy is a Greek name meaning 'gift of God' and comes with a slew of possible nicknames such as Dot, Dolly, Dora, Doro, Dodie, Thea, Tia and Dory/Dori which help to give this name a fresher image for todays' parents.

Bea (born Bernice) Arthur had a very distinctive look, and like her character Dorothy was very witty.

Bea feels like it is often overlooked as a given name, and despite being a fairly consistent presence in the American charts it hasn't been in the top 1000 since 1910. Pronounced Bee, it's much more likely to be used as a nickname for Bernadette, Beatrix or Beatrice. All of these names increased in popularity in 2012 in America, taking Bea with them.

Bea itself derives from Beatrice and hence Beatrix, a Latin name meaning 'she who brings happiness'. It's a short spunky name for people who love one syllable names that you don't hear everyday.

Blanche is another great one syllable name that has long been overlooked. It's an old French name meaning 'white', but because it was often used as a nickname for a person with blond hair it is sometimes thought to mean 'blonde'. Pronounced BLANCH, it's most popular in Quebec, where it is ranked #339.

Blanche in 'The Golden Girls' owned the house they lived in, and was the sexually adventurous, man-hungry socialite of the group. She was also somewhat of a southern lady, and together with the character Blanche from Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' has given the name a southern belle image.

In America Blanche was a top 100 name until 1920, and a top 1000 name until 1965. In 2012 it was ranked just #11350, which was actually a rise on 2011. How much this name will rise over coming years remains to be seen, but it's perfectly poised to rise with the current love for vintage beauties.

Rue McClanahan (born Eddi-Rue) plays Blanche. Despite the fact that she was pretty much a household name, her name didn't really catch on and was almost forgotten about. Then came something called 'The Hunger Games', which featured a young heroine named Rue. And we all thought “wow, that's different” forgetting that it was actually a name we were all familiar with.

There is a subtle charm to Rue. In English it is a word meaning 'regret', in French it means 'street' and it's also a herb. So it's equal parts word name, French flavour and calming nature reference.

'The Hunger Games' put Rue back on the American charts in 2010 after a 30 year absence. It was most popular in the first half on the 1900's, but never made it anywhere near the top 1000. In 2012 it was given to 32 girls, the most ever in one year. This might be the highest it gets, but hopefully not. It'd be great to see this sweet name get more use.

I'm going to call these names the “Golden” eight. All of them are great names poised to increase in popularity in 2013. Well, except for Sophia – it's hard to get much higher than #1! Which one is your favourite?

Saturday, May 25, 2013


For many Americans, the name Delta probably feels a little stale, bringing to mind images of actress Delta Burke of the 80's TV series 'Designing Women'. But for Australians, Delta is fresh, synonymous with the young, talented judge of the Australian series of 'The Voice', Delta Goodrem.

Delta Goodrem first became an Australian household name appearing on 'Neighbours' as young aspiring singer Nina in her late teens. The show was a springboard for Delta to release her debut album 'Innocent Eyes', which became the highest selling Australian album ever and gave Delta the record of having five singles from her debut album to reach number 1 on the Australian charts.

Since then Delta has released three more albums and has been the only female judge on both of the Australian seasons of 'The Voice'. And while her personal life has often attracted just as much attention as her professional career, this has never been more true than while she has been on 'The Voice'. A simple change in her hairstyle was the main story in the gossip pages of the 'Herald Sun' Melbourne newspaper two days in a row last week.

But all this does bring a lot of attention to the name Delta. Delta (pronounced DEHL-tah) originates from the Greek alphabet - it is the equivalent of the letter D. It also represents the letter D in the NATO phonetic alphabet, and the symbol for Delta is also a mathematical symbol. But perhaps the closet you can get to a meaning is when it is used as a place name - a delta is a land form at the mouth of a river, which I guess makes Delta and place and a nature name.

Delta is a pretty common word. It appears on cars, companies, sororities, computer games, a radio station, an airline, special police operations in America and Norway, and multiple towns and other locations. The Delta Blues music style also got its name from the Mississippi Delta region it originated from. And yet Delta is by no means a common name. It's not in the top 100 anywhere in the world,and in America in 2012 it was given to just 16 girls, giving it a position of #7486. It was much more popular at the beginning of the 1900's, peaking at #723 in 1893. It is perhaps because of this and the iconic, southern style of the Delta Blues that can leave people feeling that Delta is a laid back, old school southern charm type of name.

Yet Delta has quite a chameleon-like feel to it. I don't think that it will ever be a super popular name. But it's somewhat of an alternative modern classic - a name that could weather the test of time and still look fresh in the future. As Delta Goodrems' popularity increases, people will definitely be giving Delta a second look.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Australia 2012 Top Baby Names by State

I cam across something today that I thought was a great idea - a map of the American 2012 most popular names by state. So for a bit of fun I thought I'd create my own version for Australia. It may not be quite as polished as the original, but I think they came out OK!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The New Unisex Names

Both Mathai (pictured above) and Music entered the charts in 2012

Every year names move up and down, on and off the US Social Security Administration (SSA) charts of popular names. A name will appear on the charts if it has been given to more than five babies of one gender in that year. Usually when a name enters the lists, it enters for one gender first and takes some time to chart for the other gender (if it ever does). 

Take the now unisex name Cameo for example. Cameo first entered the girls charts in 1957. But it wasn't until 1979 – more than 20 years later - that it started to chart for boys too. It also charts much more irregularly for boys than it does for girls.

So it's fair to say that it takes quite a special name to simultaneously enter both the boys and the girls charts for the first time in the same year. There is something about it that has captured the imagination of parents, who think it has a sound and feel that could work for either gender.

In 2012 there were five such names to enter the charts, which are:

IREOLUWA - Given to 11 girls and 8 boys in 2012
Also written IreOluwa, apparently it is pronounced ee-ray-o-LOO-wah. I've never actually heard it in person though, so if this is wrong feel free to correct me in the comments below!

Ireolewa comes from the Nigerian language of the Yoruba people, consisting of Ire, meaning a 'blessing or positive thing' and Oluwa meaning 'God', hence this name most likely means 'blessing from God'. Many Yoruba names contain the element Oluwa, and Ireoluwa is quite similar to Oreoluwa, which means 'gift of God'.

This is quite an appealing sounding name with a beautiful meaning – but may seem disrespectful if your family/child is not of Nigerian or even African descent. A great option if you are though.

KENTLEE - Given to 5 girls and 6 boys in 2012
In recent years we've seen almost every spelling of Kinley, Kinsley, Kenley, and Kensley imaginable. Then came Kentley and Kentleigh. I guess it was only a matter of time before people branched out a little more and came up with Kentlee. Another smoosh, Kent means 'edge' and 'Lee' means 'meadow', so Kentlee would mean 'meadow's edge'.

As a name, this is not quite as soft sounding as it's predecessors. It does however have quite a modern, surname-y feel to it that is quite popular at the moment. However it is likely to get slightly lost in this group of similar sounding names. Interestingly, Kentley has also charted for the both genders in the last couple of years, but the Kentleigh spelling has so far been reserved for girls only.

MATHAI - Given to 10 girls and 8 boys in 2012
If you missed the second season of 'The Voice' in America, you may not know where the inspiration for the name Mathai comes from. Sharon Mathai – known only as Mathai – is a singer from Texas who was born in Queens to Indian parents. She made it to the top ten on 'The Voice' as a member of Adam Levine's team after a strong performance of Adele's 'Rumour Has It' in the blind auditions , and has recently released her debut single 'Once Again'.

Mathai is pronounced mah-TIE, and it's easy to see why parents are attracted to it for both boys and girls. Nickname Matty is popular for both genders, as is the name Tye/Ty/Thai. It's quite an attractive sounding name. If Mathai's career takes off the way the judges on 'The Voice' think it will, we could be seeing a lot more of this name.

MUSIC - Given to 6 girls and 6 boys in 2012
I find it fairly amusing that with all the time I've spent pondering about musically related names, I missed the most obvious one – Music. It's fabulous in it's simplicity, and I'm surprised it hasn't appeared on the charts before now considering the popularity of word names. Could be a very cool name to have.

ZIKORA - Given to 6 girls and 10 boys in 2012
The last name on this list is also a Nigerian name, this time from the Igbo people. Zikora is actually an abbreviated form (or nickname) for the longer names Zikoranachidimma, Zikoranachukwudimma or Zikoranaudodimma. The first two of these mean 'show the world that God is great', while the third means 'show the world that peace is great', so Zikora would have both of these meanings.

I'm not sure how this one is pronounced, although it's likely zi-KOR-ah, which is quite spunky sounding. Especially with that Z sound. Since it's more of a nickname than a “traditional” African name, it's one that could possibly also work well for people without an African background.

Overall it's a pretty cool list of new entrants – I can see why they appealed to parents of both boys and girls. Now only time will tell if these name will be a flash in the pan or will have real staying power.

Friday, May 17, 2013


'Taurus' by Lynnette Shelley

I noticed this one recently on a boy who had been entered in the 2012 Bonds Baby competition, and was immediately struck by it. It has what I tend to think of as a 'Hunger Games'-esque feel about it - one part recognisable Latin, one part futuristic sci-fi. And is just generally a pretty cool name.

The word Taurean (pronounced Tor-EE-an or TOR-ee-an) is most instantly recognisable as the description for someone born under the sign of Taurus. Taurus is Latin for 'bull', Taurean most likely meaning 'bull like'. The bull is also the symbol for the star sign, which is an earth sign, and falls between the (approximate) dates of May 20 - June 20. It is thought to represent the Egyptian sacred bull - which symbolised fertility and growth - and Greek God Zeus' tendency to take the form of a bull when among mortals on Earth.  According to astrology Taurean signature traits are dependability, persistence, loyalty, patience and generosity - not bad traits to hope for in a child!

While many will automatically associate Taurean with the star sign, fans of the shows 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Caprica' will also recognise it as a race of people from the colony of Taura on the planet Tauron (both of which would also make pretty cool names). The Adama family is the most featured Tauron family in these shows, as William Adama is the commander of the Battlestar Galactica. For another science fiction reference, there is also a Taurean system in the 'Star Trek' world, which included a female only inhabited planet called Taurus II.

Taken as a group of names, Taurus has seen consistent use for boys in the US since 1967, and if you meet any female Taurus's they were most likely born in the 70's. Taura has been much more popular for girls, never charting for boys, while Tauron has never charted in the US. Taurean however has been consistently more popular than Taurus, first appearing in the charts in 1981 for both boys and girls. Although it dropped off the girls chart within a few years, it has appeared in the boys chart every year since it entered. It's highest position was #554 in 1983.

I love that Taurean is a strong, earthy sounding name, yet slightly less overt than Bear, Tiger, Wolf or the like. It could be used to honour a loved one born under this star sign, a favourite sports team with a bull as their mascot, or even someone who works on Wall Street, where the charging bull bronze sculpture is a landmark. Or if you love the idea but want something even subtler, Bewitching Names recently did a great post on Taurus inspired names.

The only problem I see is that a person named Taurean would always be asked if they are a Taurus. And I can't decide if it's too cheesy for a Taurus to have this name, or if it would be stranger to have this name if Taurus wasn't your star sign. What do you think?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Armie Hammer stars as 'The Lone Ranger', due out July 2013

I'm loving occupational names at the moment, and I know I'm not the only one. Just look at the top 100 boys names in the US, Australia or the UK and you'll find options such as Mason, Carter, Hunter, Cooper, Archer and Dexter. Overwhelmingly, most of the occupational names that have been adopted for use as given names tend to be hands-on trades, and ones that are quite rare today. On boys they sound masculine but approachable. On the occasions they are bestowed upon girls they are ironic and preppy-cute.

One underused option if you like this style of name is Ranger. French name Ranger (pronounced RAYN-jer) is yet to chart at all in the US for girls. For boys it had been slowly creeping up in use, but it experienced a bit of a spike last year - from #3330 in 2011 to #2780 in 2012. 

One possible reason that it is still relatively underused is because Ranger is still a commonly recognised job. It actually means 'forest guardian'. And whether it be a park/forest ranger like 'Yogi Bear's Ranger Smith, or a law enforcement role such as 'Walker, Texas Ranger', most people have a perception of what "ranger" means. But we encounter so many more Ranger references in everyday life that there is no need for this name to be pigeon holed with a certain image. Other references include:
  • Fictional hero 'The Lone Ranger'
  • Special Military Units in several countries
  • A class of warriors in 'Babylon 5'
  • A Generation 1 Elite Guard in the cartoon 'Transformers'
  • Sports teams, from baseball to Gaelic football to ice hockey to women's basketball
  • Bounty Hunter Carlos "Ranger" Manoso, character in Janet Evanovich's 'Stephanie Plum' novels
  • Fictional superhero team the 'Power Rangers'
  • Boys scouts and girl guides; and
  • Trackers and Warriors from Tolkien's Middle Earth - Aragorn being a prime example

The great thing about these references is that they are almost all positive - there are a lot of heroes and "good guys" in the above list! It's a great name if you want a hero name without actually naming your child Hero. This cool option is likely to spike in use even more after the release of the big screen version of 'The Lone Ranger' later this year. If you love Ranger and want to be ahead of the trend, now is the time to use it.

Baby Name Pondering at Waltzing More Than Matilda

Happy Mother's Day to all the current and expectant mums out there!! I hope you're enjoying a lovely day today, no matter what you are doing.

Recently I had the pleasure of doing an interview with the lovely Anna Otto, a fellow Aussie name blogger at Waltzing More Than Matilda. As a more experienced blogger than myself, Anna has been quite supportive and encouraging, and it was a real honour to be asked to do an interview with her. Waltzing More than Matilda always has the latest news on celebrity baby names, particularly local Australian celebrities, and also does some great, in-depth profiles about Australian names, whether it be a great Australian historical figure or place name. Which often happen to overlap. I've learnt quite a few interesting but little known facts about Australian history reading her blog.

The post is available here if you'd like to learn a little bit more about myself. Thanks Anna!

And again, Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Baby Name Pondering and the 2012 SSA Lists

Photo courtesy of Teri Yover Photography

We name nerds are going crazy at the moment, because the SSA 2012 name data has just been released! Even though I'm from Australia, I have to admit to a real fascination with the SSA data. IT's much more comprehensive, not to mention the sheer variety of names to discover. Here's a couple of fast facts to show what I mean:

  • For newbies, the SSA lists include all names that were given to five or more children of one gender that year.
  • In 2012 the girl's list covers 1,743,626 baby girls and includes 19,380 different names. This is 166 fewer names than the 2011 list, despite covering 1216 more children. Is this the start of a shrinking of the almost fantastical variety of girls names? Probably not.
  • The boys 2012 list has 14,162 names, covering 1877705 baby boys. This is also fewer than the 2011 list by 
  • 96 names - but then again, there were 2928 fewer births included in the 2012 list.

Now, you'll see much talk about what names in the top 1000 were the biggest movers (Arya for girls, Major for boys), but it's outside the top 1000 that we really see some big mover and shakers. Maybe because (for girls) to go from position 1000 to 1 is a difference between a name being given to 250 girls or given to 21,695 girls, whereas the 2000th name would only have to be given to 152 more girls to get to position 1001. Which shows just how popular a name has to be to get to the top 10.

So, since a lot of the names I've featured on here fall outside the top 1000, I thought it would be a bit of fun to look at how the names I profiled in 2012 fared in 2012.

 Looking at the girls list, I'm excited by how many increased in popularity. I'm pretty sure that if Sutton continues its current path, she'll be a new entry to the top 1000 in the 2013 list. I am however a bit surprised to see Lawson climbing so much for girls, admittedly because I most often think of it as a boys name. Maybe the tide is changing for this name? It's definitely catching up to the boys.

Easily the most exciting thing about this list is that 'Hunger Games' name Finnick has burst into the charts for the first time. As a character that first appears in the second book, we are yet to see this character on the big screen. But with hype already building for the next movie 'Catching Fire', which is due out this November, Finnick stands to gain a fresh wave of fans. Katniss also entered the charts for the first time in 2012 at position 9,329. In real numbers, Katniss was given to 12 girls and Finnick to 9 boys, so it'll be interesting to see if they manage to gain more ground over 2013.

I didn't do a table for them, but several names appeared on both the boys and girls lists above. Of these, Matisse was easily the biggest mover for both boys and girls. Dresden, Sutton, Lawson and Hunter also increased in popularity for both genders. Cameo was a big mover for girls, but dropped off the boys list altogether. And Mitchell fell for both, dropping off the girls list.

Finally, for the truly rare names - those I've featured but didn't make it onto either the boys or the girls list in 2012. Admittedly, I have had some real flights of fancy at times so some aren't all that surprising.

The ones that have appeared at least once in the past are Florinda, McKaley and Yarrow. The rest are:

  • Alcide (Although Alcides is ranked 10,751 for boys )
  • Boo
  • Fillion
  • Mockingbird
  • Musidora
  • Obsidian
  • Raviva (I'm sure this one will appear in the 2013 list though!)
  • Six (but Sixto appears at #6,215 on the boys list)
  • Thackery
  • Titanium

Well I guess that just about covers it! Have you had a look at the 2012 data yet? How did your personal favourites fare? And what surprises did you find? If you're expecting a 2013 baby, will the results influence your naming choice?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Wisteria is a beautiful but rarely used floral name that could be due for resurrection. 2011 was the first time in over 30 years that the name was given to five or more girls in the U.S., when seven girls received this as a name. Yet she feels like she could fit right in with today's trend for vintage feeling, frilly up and coming flower monikers. She could easily be a fashionable sister to a Primrose, Marigold, or Magnolia.

The wisteria (pronounced wi-STEER-ee-uh) is a climbing vine with gorgeous pale purple blue flowers. The name shares some sounds with the words whimsical, whisper and wishful, which helps to evoke a delicate, soft, light and almost magical feel when you hear it. This makes it a lovely name for a girl, especially one who believes in fairies and fairy tales. 

Wisteria also comes with some very cute nickname options. My personal favourite is Wish, but I've also seen Ria, Terry, Whis and Wisty suggested. Wisty in particular was chosen by author James Patterson as a nickname for his character Wisteria Allgood in the novel 'Witch and Wizard', so carries a literary reference for mystery lovers.

There are just two things you might want to keep in mind (and avoid - please) if you are considering using Wisteria:
  1. Don't be tempted to use the alternate spelling of Wysteria. It's just a little too close for comfort to hysteria, meaning uncontrolled excitement, anger or panic.
  2. Resist the urge to use Lane, Layne or Laine as a middle name. Maybe you are a 'Desperate Housewives' fan, maybe not, but there is no need to give a child the same name as the fictional street where the show was set.

If you can get around these two minor potential pitfalls, Wisteria is a great special yet not 'weird' name that many girls would love to have and make her own.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


As a Gladiator, Spartacus would have used a Cestus

When I first heard this word (pronounced KEHS-tiss) I immediately thought what a great boys name this would make. It has a great sound - reminding me of the upstanding values elicited by Justice, combined with the strong powerful imagery of the bird Kestrel. Looks wise, the C gives it a slightly softer edge. When you add it all up, there's just something quite attractive about Cestus.

I'm almost reluctant then to say where I heard this word. It was on the first episode of 'Deadliest Warrior', and episode when they pitted a Gladiator against an Apache. It's a weapon that was used by Gladiators. It also tends to make appearances in video games such as 'God of War: III' or 'Vindictus' as an optional weapon .

If it sounds Latin, that's because it is. Cestus comes from the Latin verb caedere, meaning 'to strike', and as such cestus means 'striker'. As a weapon, the cestus was an ancient battle glove made of leather strips, but with metal plates, studs or spikes in them for more damage. Kind of like a cross between today's boxing glove and brass knuckles. It's this meaning and weapon association that helps to make me think of this name as a boy's name, rather than a girls name.

Not all sources agree though. Although Cestus has never charted in the US (so it's hard to see how it's most commonly used), several sources on the Internet claim that Cestus is a girls name. I'm unsure if the pronunciation is the same though, as it feels as if it would make more sense as a girls name if pronounced SESS-tuss.

According to these sources, the word has Greek origins and as it means 'belt or girdle', the meaning of the girls name Cestus is 'Aphrodite's girdle'. Greek mythology says that Aphrodite had a magic girdle that was made for her by her husband Hephaestus that made her completely irresistible. Likewise, the Marvel Comics superhero Venus (Aphrodite's Roman name) also had a magic girdle named Cestus. In the comics, Cestus gave the wearer the power to enchant anyone a love slave, and "to neutralize or transform all weapons of war".

Cestus also carries some sci-fi planetary geek cred - both in the 'Star Wars' and the 'Star Trek' franchises. In 'Star Wars' there is a planet called Ord Cestus, usually referred to as just Cestus. In 'Star Trek', Cestus III was also a planet, located in the Cestus system. In the 'Star Trek' universe, the Cestus system was named after the weapon because from space the asteroid belt surrounding it looks like metallic studs against the orange background of the planet.

I'm almost surprised we haven't seen this used as a name more (or in my case, at all). The dual meanings could be the issue - is it a fierce fighting weapon, or a pretty fashion accessory? Personally, I prefer it for a boy, and would likely even consider alternative spellings Kestus or Kestice to help with any confusion over it's pronunciation. None of these three spellings have ever appeared in the SSA charts, so who's to say what's "correct". How would you use it?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NZ's No-No Names List

You're Thinking of Naming Me What, Now?

New Zealand has some of the world's most famous naming laws. In 1995 a new Births, Deaths and Marriages and Relationships Registration Act was passed, outlining a set of rules around acceptable names for New Zealanders.

Now, you've probably heard about the parents who wanted to name their daughter "Talulah Does The Hula From Hawaii" but were turned down. But you may not have known that this was actually their daughters name until she was nine years old. It wasn't until 2008 that a family court judge ordered that her name be changed because he felt that the name was "embarrassing" and "makes a fool of the child".

Some of the main no-no's in New Zealand are:

  • Names that are too bizarre or too offensive. Anal and Lucifer have been rejected for this reason
  • Names that are unreasonably long
  • Names that might imply that a child holds an official title or rank. Remembering that New Zealand is part of the British ruled Commonwealth, this includes Duke and Princess, as well as Justice and alternative spellings Justus and Juztice
  • Stand alone letters that appear to be initials but don't stand for anything, such as CJ or MC. This might explain why we are starting to see phonetic versions such as Ceejay and Emcee in birth announcements.
  • Names with numbers in them, such as the infamous Number 16 Bus Shelter, or other proposed names 4real and 2nd.
  • Symbols for Roman numerals, such as I, II, III (you get the picture)
  • Names that are punctuation (if you were wondering, no, it is not OK to call your child "*"), or using a backslash or brackets to indicate a second or middle name

And in case you find it hard to believe that parents would actually want to give their children such seemingly silly names as "," or V8, New Zealand officials this week released a list of names that have been rejected since 2001 - and how many times they have been denied. Happy reading!

using brackets around middle names:4
using back slash between names:8
Queen Victoria:1
C J :1
Roman numerals III:1
. (full stop):1
Mafia No Fear:1
* (star symbol):1
S P:1
L B:1
Queen V:1

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands and wife Queen Máxima at the inauguration ceremony 

Seems that Max names for girls have been appearing in all sorts of places. First there was Max Black, the sassy waitress-slash-cupcake-mogul-wannabe lead character in the hit sitcom '2 Broke Girls'. Then who can forget when Jessica Simpson controversially named her baby daughter Maxwell Drew. Today though, it was a different Max in the news - the new Queen of The Netherlands, Máxima.

 Máxima was born in Argentina, and married the then Prince Willem-Alexander in 2002. Willem-Alexander was crowned King of the Netherlands yesterday (30th April 2013) when his mother - Queen Beatrix - abdicated from the throne. This makes him the first King The Netherlands has had since 1890. Máxima herself also has royal lineage, as a descendant of two Kings of Portugal and a Peruvian Incan Emperor. Together they have three daughters, Princesses Catharina-Amalia (pronounced Katerina), Alexia and Ariane.

Before marriage Máxima was an investment banker, and she is now involved heavily in helping immigrants integrate into Dutch culture, with a special focus on helping immigrant women to enter the Dutch workforce. She's also one of the few royals in the world to openly support gay marriage. I'm sure there will be people in the world who look to her as a role model, and it's likely the recent inauguration of her husband will spark interest in the name Máxima.

While this could be pronounced MAHK-see-mah, with the Spanish accent it's actually more like MAH-see-mah, a much prettier sound. And less like a Nissan car. Máxima is a great way to get to the spunky nickname Max, without giving your daughter a "boys name". Because although Max and Maxwell are occasionally given to girls, they are far more popular for boys, with Max ranking #96 for boys in America in 2011. It's also a nice, classier sounding alternative to the "usual" Max girls name Maxine.

Máxima comes from the same Latin source as Maximus, meaning 'greatest'. It's still quite a rare name in the western world, peaking in America in 2011. When it was given to just 8 girls. And the variant Massima has never charted in America. I'd almost consider Máxima to be one of those names that is so far out it's in. It's just the type of name that could be embraced by the "hipster" crowd. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one climb as the attraction of the nickname Max continues to build with parents, as I think it's the pick of the bunch.

The King and Queen with their daughters