Saturday, December 28, 2013


Photo courtesy of Genie Leigh Photography

"On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming"

Hopefully you all had a fun and relaxing Christmas day holiday! I didn't quite manage to get my twelve days of Christmas completed in time for Christmas day. But it's often thought that the twelve days actually starts on Christmas day, culminating with the twelfth day feast and celebrations on January 5th (the eve of the twelfth day) so technically I'm ahead of myself.

Drums are a part of the percussion family, believed to be some of the oldest musical instruments after the human voice. They can play rhythm, melody and harmony, and have long had an important role in almost every type of music, from military marching bands to rock, and have hence been a central part of celebrations. Percussion instruments and drums in particular are often referred to as "the heartbeat" of a musical ensemble. This could explain why they also appear in another of my favourite carols, 'The Little Drummer Boy'. All he has to offer him is the music he plays on his drum, so if looked at in terms of a "heartbeat" it's like saying all he has to offer the baby Jesus is his heart, and that he will do his best for him. It's an extremely sweet and pure sentiment.

The name Drummond doesn't actually share a whole lot with the percussion instrument other than its first syllable (which makes for quite a cute nickname). It's a Scottish surname which originated as a place name meaning 'ridge' or 'lives on the hilltop'. As a given name, Drummond is hardly a mover and shaker in the baby name world. You very rarely see it discussed on forums and chances are good that you've never met one as there has only been four times when it registered on the SSA charts in the U.S after being given to just 5 boys each year.

Yet there is something I find very attractive about Drummond. It's kind of preppy but not in an in-your-face kind of way. It manages to feel somewhat earthy too. And I love the idea that the drum feels like a heartbeat - it makes Drummond a somewhat sentimental choice.

The main problem with using it in Australia though is that there is a well known chain of golf stores called Drummonds. I'd still consider using it though - people would fast run out of names if we avoided everything that appeared on a storefront or packet.

So I guess that completes 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'! What I've really enjoyed about these posts is that there are so many different ways to look at things to come up with a name you love that has a link to something you find special. If you're looking to honour something (or someone) you love, it's always interesting to see what we can come up with when you think outside the box.  Or not - sometimes you don't have to go very far at all to find a name you love with meaningful associations.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


"On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven pipers piping"

'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is supposedly based a twelfth night game, and twelfth night festivities generally included feasts, dancing and music. Hence, after all the birds have been eaten and the ladies are ready to dance and the lords ready to leap, all that's missing is the music. And so we have the pipers (and the drummers, but that's the next post ;-)).

The obvious name here would be Piper, a name I adore. However I've previously had a look at Piper here, and as the names I've chosen so far seem fairly heavily weighted towards the girls side I decided to take the opportunity to go with another boys name. Although technically Hamlin could work for either gender, it just seems to be preferred for males.

Before I get ahead of myself though, the inspiration for today's choice comes from one of the most legendary pipers there is - the Pied Piper of Hamelin. If you're unaware of this tale, 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' is the story of a German town called Hamelin that became so overrun with rats that they hired a man in colourful (pied) clothing to rid the town of their rat infestation. The piper had an almost magical talent with his pipe, and when he played it the rats were so entranced that they followed him and his pipe to a river, where they all subsequently drowned and died. But when the piper went to the town officials for his payment of services rendered they refused to pay him. So he played a different tune on his pipe that caused the children of the town to leave with him, and they were never seen again.

It's unknown whether the Piper actually exists, although it is accepted that something happened in the history of this town (most likely in the 1200's) that meant the loss of large numbers of children. Theories include that it was the Plague, and the piper represents Death; or that it was caused by large numbers of people emigrating to the East. The Wikipedia entry for this is actually interesting reading if you want to know more.

Of course, with such a tragic story associated wit the name, many people are put off using this place name for a child. The slightly different spelling puts in more in the league of surname names than place names - such as actor Harry Hamlin. Although the pronunciation (ham-len) and the meaning (it's a German name meaning 'little home lover') are the same with both spellings. Some people however have not let this - or the fact that it contains the problematic ham - deter them. It as been given to more than 5 boys in a single year in the U.S eleven times since 1880. That is the Hamlin spelling, Hamelin has never appeared on the SSA charts.

One of the appeals of this name is that this is one of a few boys names ending with the 'lyn' sound. Yet it manages to retain a decidedly masculine sound, maybe because there aren't any girl names starting with 'Ham'. It's reminiscent of Hamlet or Hamilton, but somewhat humbler sounding.

If it's a piper reference you want, it's definitely strong with Hamlin. Just maybe a little too strong for many people's liking, especially for a first name. It's a shame, as it's a nice, masculine sounding in a not-in-your-face kind of way name with a sweet meaning that could be a good, solid name if given a chance.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Photo courtesy of Mali Workman Photography

"On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten Lords a-leaping"

Well, if the ladies got to dance, then why shouldn't the men also? Apparently only men could partake in leaping type dances. These dances possibly originated as a war dance, to get men limber and worked up before a battle, or as a fertility ritual to encourage healthy crops. Such dances then became a part of the entertainment between courses at feasts, although as this became better known as entertainment it was no longer just for the Lords of the land.

Which brings us to Laird, a Scottish name meaning 'Lord of the land'. Pronounced LAYRD, it was a title of sorts in Scotland that can be traced back further than the 15th century. It comes from the same origin as the English word Lord, but technically a Laird isn't the same thing as a Lord, as anyone who owned an estate could call themselves a Laird whereas Lord is a noble title.

You'll most often hear Laird in as a surname, or as "Laird of X". It's not used as a given name in Scotland (that would be far too confusing) but it does see use in the U.S. It first appeared in 1888 when it was given to just 5 boys. More recently we've seen Laird on big-wave pro-surfer Laird Hamilton, and Sharon Stone bestowed this name on her son in 2005. In 2012 Laird was given to just 24 boys, positioning it at #4173 on the charts. Pretty rare indeed.

Yet Laird feels like it has the making to go much further. It's a nicely different alternative to many of the one syllable boys names that are so popular. It's more subtle than Prince or King, it still caries an air of nobility but without the pretentious sound. And some even feel it has a bit of an urban cowboy feel - Nameberry listed it as a "bookish cowboy" name just a few months ago. I tend to agree, as personally I think that it feels quite rugged and roguish. There are a lot of boys named Hamish and Lachlan here in Australia, and Laird could be a solid alternative Scottish name.

Incidentally, if you're not in love with Laird (unfortunately it does sound a little too close to lard for many people's comfort) you could always buy your son a Lairdship instead. It's not that hard to buy a small plot of land and receive paperwork confirming your new status - just try here or here. The money goes towards conversation of the land and estate, and it's a great gift idea for the person who has everything. Or maybe a great way to tell your little Laird that he is indeed an actual Laird.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Gingerbread Tutu Dress
from Mya Papaya Boutique

"On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing"

I was watching a recent episode of 'Glee' tonight where Mr Schue has a discussion with Sue about what a great dancer Ginger Rogers was. She was able to lead her dance partner backwards in high heels. I don't know how true that actually is, but her dancing made her a star overnight and a screen legend. It also seemed very fitting as a Christmas name. Gingerbread men, houses and even villages are a popular treat at this time of the year, so this spicy name could be a cute seasonal name.

It is the ginger (pronounced JIN-jer) root that is used as a spice for culinary and medicinal purposes. It's a hot, fragrant spice, and  ginger is often a term used in English that means 'spirit, spunk or temper'. This was probably the meaning that Geri Halliwell had in mind when she adopted the name Ginger Spice while in the group The Spice Girls. It may have also been a reference to her red hair, as people with red hair are often called "gingers" in reference to the red colour that some types of ginger has.

This reference is what leads most red heads to advise against calling a red-headed child Ginger. There are a lot of jokes out there about red-heads (there's even a website dedicated to them), and the colloquial term "red headed stepchild" refers to someone who is treated less favourably than others. So calling a red-haired child Ginger can seem like a double whammy.

This also leads to another comment that Gingers say they hear a lot - many people call their cats, dogs or even horses Ginger, in reference to their red coat. Not great, but at least it means that people think of the name fondly if they associate it with their beloved pets.

There is indeed plenty of love for the name Ginger out there. It was actually a top 1000 name for girls in the U.S from 1933 to 1989, peaking in 1971 at position #187. The popularity of Ginger Rogers (birth name Virginia) would have helped with this. Another famous Ginger during this period was the movie star character that was shipwrecked with Gilligan on the 60's TV show 'Gilligan's Island'.

Together with Ginger Roberts, they gave this name a glamorous air. This impression endures, although the before-mentioned Spice Girl updates this image with an added  feeling of fun and spunk. Main characters named Ginger in the childrens' shows 'As Told By Ginger' (2000-2009) and 'Zeke and Luther' (2009-2012) give it some freshness and youth. And if your first thought when you hear the name is of Gingerbread, you may also feel this name has a certain sweetness to it. Cute nicknames Ginny or Gigi also work well with Ginger.

Ginger may have taken on some negative connotations since the hey day of Ginger Rogers, but it would be nice to see this dancing ladies' name on the rise again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Photo Courtesy of Milk & Honey Photography

"On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids-a-milking"

Whenever I think of milk maids, I picture an attractive Swiss girl with long blond plaits who loves to yodel. I put this down to some very effective Swiss chocolate advertising on television when I was a child in the 80's. But of course milk maids were an actual thing, and existed in plenty of countries other than Switzerland. A milk maid was a girl or woman who milked cows and then turned that milk into cream, butter and cheese.

There aren't a lot of famous milk maids - probably because it's not particularly glamorous work. But there is one famous milk maid in literature, and that is the main character Tess in Thomas Hardys' 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'. It is when working as a milkmaid at Talbothays Dairy that Tess makes her best friends, and she and her husband Angel fall in love.

Tess is a name I have been fond of since primary school, when one of my friends was named Tess. Most of my associations with the name are due to her, and for this reason I find it to be a pretty and sweet yet spunky and fun little name. And for some reason I always think of Jemima when I hear this name - Tess and Jemima would be gorgeous as sisters.

This name is thought to have originated as a diminutive of the Greek name Theresa. As Theresa means 'to harvest' or 'harvester', so too does Tess. But although it started as a diminutive, it certainly holds up on it's own these days. There are plenty of characters called Tess in movies, TV and literature. In the U.S it has been a top 1000 name since 1983, although it's position at #997 in 2012 means it looks likely this name will slip out of the top 1000 this year.

Why would this be? Well, there's a slight problem with some words that start with Tess. Say Tess tickles out loud and you'll see what I mean.

However there are also cute nicknames a Tess can use, such as Tessie or Tessa. And if you're not not a fan of Tess as a "formal" name, other suggestions besides Theresa that I've seen include Tesla (my favourite pick), Therese, Contessa, Terry and even Destiny.

Tess is a cute little name, simple and free from fanciful adornments. If you like your names short and pretty why not consider Tess?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Photo courtesy of Merrifield Phototgraphy

"On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans-a-swimming"

As much as I love the idea of Swan as a name, I thought I'd take a detour from the bird names on this one. So instead I have for you a name that many people immediately associate with a white swan.

Odette is the main character in the Tchiachovsky ballet 'Swan Lake'. She is a princess who was turned into a white swan by an evil sorcerer, doomed to remain a swan during the day and only return to human form at night. Only true love can save this Swan Queen and her followers (fellow humans afflicted with the same curse), but the path to true love proves rocky and ultimately both she and her suitor die so they can be together eternally.

Pronounced oh-DEHT, Odette has French and Old German origins and means wealthy. She was quite popular in France in the 1900's to 1930's, which is why many famous Odettes are French. It's much rarer to see it used these days, both in France and the U.S, but it still retains that feeling of French chic and mystique.

For better or worse, it also seems that the name Odette is inextricably linked to swans. The 1994 animated movie 'The Swan Princess' (based on 'Swan Lake') and it's several sequels also used Odette as the name of the main princess character. She also has literary connections as Odette de Crecy, the wife of Charles Swann in Proust's 'A la Recherche du Temps Perdu'.

This association has had quite an influence on people's impression of the name Odette. Many people describe the name Odette as romantic, strong, graceful, peaceful, beautiful, elegant and feminine.

However Odette doesn't strike all people this way, mainly because of its' sound. It reminds some people of dead or death, some of odour, some of the dog Odie from the 'Garfield' comics, odd, the term OD (for overdose), the word debt, or owe debt, or even old debt, and all are possible sources of teasing. And others will say they just don't see the appeal, that it seems aged.

I tend to think of Odette as a prettily timeless name though. If you're of a similar mind and aren't deterred by the several possible sound associations, you will find that an Odette would also receive plenty of compliments on their name. And if you feel Odette might be a bit on the "fancy" side for a cheeky little girl to wear, a cute and spunky nickname is a possibility. Detty, Dottie, Ettie, Etta are all fun options. Or maybe you could even call her your little swan.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


"On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese-a-laying"

The reason why I've picked Alaya would possibly be a source of teasing for this name too. I can just imagine  taunts of "hey Alaya, what 'cha layin'?" But I hate to look at potential problems before properly considering the beauty in a name first.

Alaya (pronounced ah-LAY-ah) is one of those names that when I first heard it a couple of years ago, I couldn't understand why I hadn't heard of it before that. It's very reminiscent of names like Layla and Ayla - it's soft and lilting and feminine. It's pronounced pretty much how it appears, which makes it easy for people to say and is a good choice if you yourself disliked having to explain how to say your name and want to avoid this for your child. And I do so like girl's names that start and end in A.

Some sources say that Alaya is a modern American invented name. But this doesn't seem to be the case, instead it is apparent that it it a variant of either Alaia or Aliya, or perhaps both. From these, Alaya has a few different origins and meanings. In Basque it means 'joyful', in Hebrew it means 'to ascend', in Arabic it means 'lofty, sublime' and in Swahili it means 'exalted'. Alaya has a similar meaning for Buddhists, as one of the eight consciousnesses. The alaya-vijnana is the base consciousness that the other seven evolve from. Taken together, it seems that if you are looking for a name relating to a higher point or power - as Kim Kardashian and Kanye reportedly were thinking when they chose North - Alaya would be a strong contender.

Alaya first appeared on the SSA charts in 1979, and made it's way into the U.S top 1000 in 2009. In 2012 it was #813, which puts it in that comfortable middle ground of not super obscure but not super common.

Alaya is a pretty, underused choice with some pretty inspirational meanings. It would make a lovely name for a girl, no matter the time of year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


"On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold rings"

This line of  'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is special for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the melody and the time signature of this line is different - it's twice as many beats as the other lines and offers carolers a slight chance to catch their breath when they are getting to the last few verses of the song. The other is that it is possibly the only gift that is an inanimate object (well, objects to be precise).

I say possibly, because there are a couple of claims that this line actually refers to birds too, which would make the first seven gifts all birds. Some say that the five gold rings really represent the gold rings found on the neck of the ringed pheasant bird. Others say it is a mis-interpretation and that the line was originally "five goldspinks", which is an old name for a Goldfinch. Others argue though that an illustration from the first known 1780 English publication clearly shows the rings as jewellery. The song most likely pre-dates that and had French rather than English origins, so a lost in translation interpretation is possible, but is something that may never be able to be proven definitively.

Whichever interpretation you use, all have the gold in common. This song isn't the only connection that Gold has to Christmas and Jesus either - one of the gifts from the wise men is gold, and Jesus is often depicted with a gold halo. Christmas carol 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' contains the lines "Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore". And the colour is often dominant in Christmas decorations. So the pretty name Golda would make for a lovely festive season baby name.

Golda is thought to be both an English name (derived from the word Gold) and Yiddish. Its most famous bearer is Golda Meir, who became Israels' fourth Prime Minister in 1969.  It's one of those names that people have very divided opinions on. For some it is a family name that is generations old. This can make it seem dated and homely, or maybe familiar and charming. For other, some will see it as a simple, understated and elegant name, while others will find it garish and flashy, akin to people naming their children Diamond or Precious, for example.

I tend to fall more on the side of understated and stylish. Many of the precious metals and gemstone names are very "sparkly" by nature, such as Sapphire and Emerald. Both of which I also really like. But Golda feels like it sits more comfortably with vintage beauties such as Pearl, Opal and Ruby. It's not overly surprising then that Golda and Pearl peaked in usage in the U.S. in the 1890's, Opal and Ruby in the 1910's and Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond and Precious in the 1990's. From that point of view, it is a name from a different era.

Yet that is not a bad thing. Clearly there is still love out there for gemstone and precious metal names. It does mean that at the moment a young girl with this name is rare. However, Ruby is on the way up again - it's super popular here in Australia - and Pearl has recent celebrity baby endorsement. So it's not crazy to think that Golda may also be in for a revival soon.

If you're in agreement with those who find it sweet, elegant and understated, then Golda could be the Christmas name for your shining little girl that you've been looking for.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Photo courtesy of Kristen Privett Photography

"On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, four colly birds"

Like many other people, I always thought this line of the carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' was four calling birds. Don't ask me what I thought calling birds were, maybe I just thought they were particularly loud and vocal birds. Anyway, a colly bird is a European blackbird, which were considered a delicacy in Medieval times. Which helps to make a little more sense of why a king would want four-and-twenty blackbirds baked into a pie in the nursery rhyme 'Sing A Song of Sixpence'.

People usually associate blackbirds such as crows and ravens with Halloween more so than Christmas. For example, Rook was one of the names I profiled just this October. So I thought that since people often think calling birds rather than colly birds, a name that is also not instantly recognisable as a blackbird - such as Brannon - would be fitting.

Brannon (pronounced BRAN-un) is thought to be a variation of the name Brandon, which means 'gorse hill' in Old English or 'sorrow' in Irish. It's also possibly a variant of Bran. There's an old 8th century Irish legend called 'The Voyage of Bran', and since Brannon was the name of Brans son it's thought the name could simply mean 'son of Bran'. Another meaning (Possibly Gaelic or Celtic) given to Bran though is 'raven'. It's also a name from Welsh mythology in the form of Bran the Blessed. It would be this origin that George R.R. Martin had in mind when he named one of the younger Stark sons Bran (Brandon) in his 'Song of Ice and Fire' series (a.k.a. 'Game of Thrones' on television). Without spoiling too much, this Bran has the gift of sight, and is thought to be the foretold three eyed crow. The crow reference makes Bran a very fitting name for the character.

Long form Brannon is one of those names that grows on you the more you say it (well, at least that's true for myself). It's more often heard as a surname - chances are you've never met a Brannon, but they're out there. It's charted in the U.S every year since 1960, just in small numbers. In 2012, it was given to just 35 boys.

One of my favourite things about Brannon is that it is familiar sounding but different, and has a similar feel to some other rising Irish/Gaelic names such as Ronan, Declan, Callan and Cillian. It also has a bit of a tough guy feel to it if you like that in a name, maybe due to its similarity in sound to Cannon. But without the weapon/name word appearance, which is a plus.

Brannon would be a fresh way to honour a Brandon or similar in your family tree, if Brandon feels a little dated for you or you just want to put your own stamp on it. It's also worth considering if you like Bram but want a more substantial name on the certificate - and you're not keen on options such as Bramwell. For that fact, it's a great alternative if you like Bran but want to minimise the cereal references, which tend to make Bran a little undesirable by itself (even though I love the sound of Bran as a name).

A couple of warnings though - be prepared for a Brannon to be mistaken for Brandon. A lot. And while some girls were given this name from the seventies though to the nineties, they do tend to be mistaken for boys when people first hear their name. Probably a lot more so that a Riley or Bailey would, which can be very annoying.

But if these things don't deter you, Brannon has all the makings of a good name. It could even be a way for you to bridge the gap between your love of Halloween and your love of Christmas. Brannon definitely deserves a place on more peoples' short lists.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jeanne, Coco and Lucie

"On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three French hens"

There are plenty of birds that make for pretty names, but hens and chickens don't really make that list. Instead, I thought I'd look at the names of three famous French women. But how to choose? If you look at French history three are a lot of women who have done great things. So back to those three French hens. Some say that the carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' is actually full of religious symbolism, the three French hens representing the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. Although this theory has been debunked, I thought I'd look at some women who display these virtues.

She's better known as the heroine Joan of Arc, but her actual name was Jeanne (pronounced ZHAHN). Her name means 'God is gracious' and she was devoted in her faith to both God and the French people. Both Jeanne and Joan have a long history of use in the U.S., although Joan has been much more popular, probably because she is more intuitive for non French speakers to pronounce properly, whereas Jeanne would more likely be pronounced like a pair of denim pants. Neither are very popular currently (Joan peaked in 1949), but there's no denying that Jeanne D'Arc remains an inspirational figure.

Coco Chanel came from very humble beginnings to become one of the most iconic designers and influential people of the 20th century. Born Gabrielle, it's thought that she adopted the name Coco in her earlier years as an entertainer. It's said to be inspired either by one of two popular songs she was associated with, or as an allusion to her being considered a cocotte (a French term for a kept woman). When it turned out her voice was not strong enough, Coco turned to fashion and achieved her hope of fame through design instead.

For a long time people inspired by Coco Chanel were much more likely to use Chanel - a French name meaning 'dweller by the canal' - as a name for their child. It's been a top 1000 name much more often than not since the 70's, the decade when the designer passed away. Coco on the other hand was seen as nickname only territory, a name only suitable for pets. The tide is slowly turning on that though, largely helped when Courtney Cox chose Coco for her daughter in 2004. She chose it because it was a nickname of hers when she was a child. With an example to look to, it seems a lot less silly and a lot more chic these days. It's still a long way from the top 1000 in the U.S. but things are looking up for this cute, spunky nickname come birth name.

Many French women were quite active members of the French Resistance during World War II, working for the benefit of their country. Lucie Aubrac was one such woman. She was a Resistance leader and founder of the underground newspaper 'Liberation'. Lucy has long been the much more popular spelling in the western world, but this French variation certainly has its charm. Lucie covers a lot of styles - it's old fashioned yet modern sounding, soft and girlish yet strong and assertive, sweet yet sassy. Meaning 'light', Lucy is a top 100 name, while Lucie is still slowing inching her way towards the top 1000 in the U.S.

Jeanne, Coco and Lucie all have alternatives that have so far proven to be more popular in the U.S. to date. But as we become more of a global community our search for and acceptance of different names becomes much wider. Maybe one day these three French "hens" will overtake their more popular counterparts.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


"On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two turtle doves". 

Yes, it's a little obvious to go with Dove on this one, but it's a pretty sounding, current feeling name that I've been thinking about profiling for a while anyway, so why mess with it.

Dove is a name that I feel like people are talking about more than they actually are. And definitely more than they are using it. It's been in and out of the U.S. SSA charts (for girls) since they started keeping records in 1880, occasionally popping up for boys too, but not getting very far. Bird names in general have been getting some attention lately which helps to make Dove feel current. But there are a few factors preventing it from living up to its' potential.

Part of Dove's strengths as it names are probably also the weaknesses that have prevented this name from gaining much ground. The bird itself has long been associated with peace, love, pacifism, innocence, honor and friendship. These are all positive attributes, however they also carry connotations of purity and gentleness, making Dove feel like a somewhat passive name. It can be hard to imagine a soft, peaceful image on most children, and therefore Dove possibly lacks some of the spunkiness that many look for in a name. The fact that there is a skincare brand with this name, or that as a word name it could also be confused with the verb dove (as in I just did a dive) also doesn't help.
Dove Cameron

That doesn't mean that it is unwearable though. Young actress Dove Cameron is one of the 7 baby girls to be named Dove in 1996. Her pale hair, delicate features and clear skin give her a somewhat angelic look that works well with her name. And she's set to become a Disney starlet, which means she currently has a squeaky clean image. She's playing dual roles of twins Liv and Maddie on the creatively named TV show 'Liv and Maddie'. Which presents another slight problem with using Dove - as it's a rare name, if she becomes a star people will immediately associate the name with her. Which is fine if she remains a good role model, but not so great if she were to become the next Lindsay Lohan.

On the upside, if you like what this bird represents but aren't too keen on using it, there are plenty of other names to choose from that mean dove instead, such as:

  • Aloma, Columba, Jemima, Jemma, Jonati, Paloma, Yona, Yonina and Zurita for girls; and
  • Callum, Coleman, Colm, Culver, Jonah, Jonas, Palomo and Tor for boys. 

I really like the sentiment behind this name, and although I think it is a sweet and pretty name it's probably better suited to a middle position as a sweet, quirky, unexpected choice. And of course, one with a subtle Christmas connection, great for a December born baby.


Photo courtesy of Molly Wassenaar Photography

What do you think when you hear the name Perdix? I'm guessing you're probably not thinking of the Christmas Carol 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', but that is the inspiration for todays' name.

To backtrack a little, I was reading a post at new name blog 'A Blooming Garden of Names' about the name Pyrus. I love this name! It's very rare and a super cool sounding nature name - and this blogger has given it to her son. Pyrus is a genus names for pear trees and shrubs, and one of the reasons she chose Pyrus (besides her love of nature names) was for it's association to 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', as her son was born at this time of the year. So I thought I'd take some inspiration from her and try to get in a name for each of the twelve days of Christmas before Christmas day.

And so back to Perdix. The line that inspired Pyrus is also the inspiration for Perdix - "a partridge in a pear tree". I'm not really a fan of Partridge or Pear as name possibilities, although interestingly, Pear appeared on the U.S SSA lists in 1923 when it was given to 6 girls that year.

Instead I thought I'd look a little into the story of the partridge. Legend (in Greek mythology) goes that the partridge first appeared when Daedalus threw his nephew Perdix off the sacred hill of Minerva (or a tower in many versions) in a jealous fit of rage. His grandmother the goddess Athena saved him mid-fall by turning him into a partridge, and branded Daedalus with the image of a partridge so he would never forget his crime.  It is thought that the bird avoids heights and is mainly a ground dweller because it is still mindful of that ill-fated fall. These origins are also reflected in the large number of partridge genus names that have Perdix in them.

Due to the above story, Perdix (pronounced PER-diks)  is considered a boys name meaning 'partridge'. Some versions give the nephew a different name, and say that Perdix was actually the name of Daedalus' sister, and hence it is a girls name meaning 'sister of Daedalus'. I'm not sure how this explains the fact that so many partridge genus' have Perdix in their name though, so I'm inclined to out more faith in it being a boys name. Really though, you could probably use Perdix for either gender.

This is a good pick if you are looking for a rare, never charted, little known mythological name. Nameberry this week also name Greek names as one of the top 12 naming trends for 2014, so Perdix would be right on trend without getting lost amongst the more popular Greek choices.  And I wouldn't be overly concerned about the dix sound in this name - the Dixons and Dixies of the world show that this needn't be a problem.

What do you think? Is Perdix wearable? I tend to think it could be, or maybe even Perdyx or Perdixx if you like your ends-in-X names to have a little more "oomph" at the end.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Vanessa Hudgens plays Cereza in 'Machete Kills'

I spotted this gem in the movie 'Machete Kills' recently. Yes, strange place for some naming inspiration. But not quite so strange when you consider the large impact that 'Columbiana' had on the name Cataleya in 2012.

Cereza is a rare one indeed. Pronounced seh-RAY-zuh it is the Spanish word for cherry. I'm not sure how popular it is as a name in Spain or Mexico, but in the U.S. it has never charted. It's kind of surprising when you consider that the name Cherry has been used for girls almost every year since 1880, and Cerise (French for cherry, pronounced seh-REESE) since 1951. Maybe there's a less than flattering association with this word in the U.S. that I'm not aware of that has prevented parents from using it, or maybe it just hasn't gotten enough exposure to turn it mainstream.

This is one of those names that has two contrasting images. For one, the Aji Cereza (cherry pepper) is a small red pepper that is native to Peru, which makes one think of things being spicy and fiery. On the other hand, when people think of cherries they tend to think of something that is small, cute and sweet. A girl with this name could be either, or both at once, which is maybe what writers were thinking when they named this character for 'Machete Kills'. In this movie the character of Cereza is played by the young and beautiful Vanessa Hudgens - so it's likely that the casting choice alone will get people noticing this name.

Besides 'Machete Kills', there is also a character called Cereza in the video game 'Bayonetta'. This Cereza is a young girl who is raised to be a witch. Also known as the forbidden child, she too is a girl of contrasts because she is the daughter of both light and dark.

Another positive point for Cereza for me is that it seems like a great not-too-obvious Christmas related name. Here in Australia Christmas is of course in Summer, and it's rare for many Australian families to have a Christmas Day without some fresh, juicy cherries on the table.

Cereza could be a sweet, exotic and very unexpected choice for your baby girl, and one we may see make it's first appearance on the SSA lists in the next couple of years.