Friday, February 28, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Unposed Kids

Like many people, I hadn't heard of the name Brahminy (pronounced brah-MUH-nee) before - until I saw it as the name of a newborn twin girl in a 2012 birth announcement. It wasn't love at first sight, but I was very very intrigued. I couldn't quite decide if I liked it or hated it, but it got stuck in my head. And admittedly, I have a track record of eventually falling in love with something that I can't quite decide if it's pretty or ugly. And the more I thought about Brahminy, the more I rolled the name around in my head, the more I realised I was hooked.

A quick Google will show that this is definitely a nature related name. There's a Brahminy sea turtle, Brahminy blind snake, Brahminy Starling (also known as a Brahminy Myna bird), Brahminy Duck and a bird called the Brahminy Kite. The Brahminy Kite is the best known of these. It's a medium sized bird of prey common to tropical Asia and Australia that is primarily a coastal bird - preferring mangrove swamps and estuaries - although can also be seen over forests and along rivers. Australian author Colin Thiele who is best known for the stories 'Storm Boy' and 'Blue Fin' also wrote a story titled 'Brahminy: The Story of a Boy and a Sea Eagle' in 1995.

In many of the areas it inhabits the Brahminy Kite is thought to be a symbol of swift action, precision, elegance and efficiency. It is also said to be a guardian against the occurrence of misfortune. To the Iban of Malaysia, it is better known as the Bird-God of War - its presence is an omen to guide them in major decisions such as warfare and house building. The Malaysian island of Langkawi is also named after this bird. In Indonesia the Brahminy Kite is the official mascot of Jakarta, where it is known as Elang Bondol. And in India it is also one of the contemporary representations of Garuda, the sacred bird of the god Vishnu (another being the Phoenix).

It is this Indian association with Vishnu that it is thought it's name originates from. There the word Brahmin refers to someone from the Hindu priest, artists, teachers and technicians caste (also known as as a varna or pillar of society). The Brahmin priests were engaged in attaining the highest spiritual knowledge, and is responsible for religious rituals. This meaning for Brahmin was later borrowed by writer Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1860 to describe old wealthy New England families of British Protestant heritage to highlight their exclusive, upper class nature and position of power. So to some, Brahminy may feel like it has a bit of an upper crust air to it.

Brahminy has great potential as a name. It's rich with meaning and symbolism, and has a popular sound and rhythm - a three syllable name ending in the "ee" sound. We've seen this pattern many times, in past favourites like Dorothy, Beverly, Tiffany and Stephanie, and in current rising names like Bellamy, Waverley and Avery. Brahminy fits in well alongside these fresh up-and-comers, but unlike them is virtually unheard of. Which makes it a good choice if you want a name that fits in but stands out, that is unique without being made up.

It's airy and light yet feels grounded and substantial - what do you think, does Brahminy have the makings of a great name?


  1. I think I had a similar reaction - on one hand I thought it was cool and interesting, on the other I couldn't decide if it was actually attractive. I think I'm still conflicted! But hats off to the parents who chose it.

  2. I like this much better than Bodhi, which has been in the news lately. It reminds me of Briony. I would LOVE to see Brahminy on a kid in real life.