Sunday, April 27, 2014


Bellamy Blake, portrayed by Bob Morley on the CW TV show 'The 100'

Bellamy is an interesting one. I started seeing this name pop up quite regularly in forums maybe a year or a little more ago. It felt like it came out of nowhere, and suddenly it was on everyone's favourites list.

Admittedly I didn't see the immediate appeal, possibly thrown by the fact that it was most often discussed as a boys name, when to me it felt more feminine. Possible nicknames all felt girly - Belle, Amy, Mimi and Bella. It's hard to escape the fact that the Bella sound is extremely popular for young girls these days. It also has the familiar three syllable, ends with Y sound and flow seen on so many other girly faves, such as Emily, Natalie, Serenity, Kimberly and Trinity (all top 100 names in the U.S).

But of course names following this pattern aren't entirely unpopular for boys too. Anthony, Zachary and Jeremy all spring to mind, not to mention unisex options such as Avery, Kennedy and Mackenzie.

And now recently there are two new TV shows featuring a male Bellamy - and suddenly I see its' masculine appeal.

Bellamy is best recognised as a surname of Norman (Old French) origin. Coming from the words beu/bel for 'good, fair, handsome' and ami meaning 'friend', it has been interpreted by different sources as having meanings such as 'my good friend', 'handsome friend' and 'good-looking companion'. Which are all pretty much different ways of saying the same thing.

There are plenty of people bearing this surname, including:
  • Pirates Charles and "Black Sam" Bellamy, 
  • 18th century Dutch poet Jacob Bellamy, 
  • American actor Ralph Bellamy, 
  • author of the U.S Pledge of Allegiance Francis Bellamy, 
  • Canadian Judge Denise Bellamy, 
  • American pop and country music duo 'The Bellamy Brothers'; and
  • the fictional family in the 70's British TV show 'Upstairs, Downstairs'
And this is just a small sample.

Despite it's widespread use as a surname, it took a lot longer for Bellamy to make the transition to given name. It barely made the U.S SSA charts for girls in 1993 and 1996, given to just five girls each year. Then in 2003 she was given to 23 girls, and she's been present on the charts since.

It's hard to pinpoint anything that happened in 2003 to give Bellamy the boost it needed to become a steady presence on the charts. At the time English band Muse (fronted by Matt Bellamy) had released their third album, the top selling 'Absolution'. American actor Bill Bellamy was starring on TV show 'Fastlane', and actress Bellamy Young was appearing on TV Western Crime show 'Peacemakers' and 'American Dreams'. She was born Amy Young, but adopted Bellamy in order to join the Screen Actors Guild, who already had another Amy Young registered.

Then in 2009 Bravo aired a reality show called '9 By Design', featuring designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz and their children, including twin daughters Bellamy and Tallulah. Bellamy's name was chosen because her parents love France, and even spent their honeymoon there. Subsequently 2010 saw another leap in popularity of the name.

Maybe 2014 will be the year that sees Bellamy chart for boys too. Those two male Bellamy's I mentioned earlier? One is 'Resurrection' Immigration and Customs Agent Martin Bellamy, played by Omar Epps. Being a Federal Agent, he's primarily referred to as Bellamy on the show. The other is Bellamy Blake, a main character on TV show 'The 100'. He's played by young Australian actor Bob Morley, and helps to give the name a youthful, bad boy edge. I also love the alliteration of his name - Bellamy is a name that really lends itself well to alliteration for some reason.

It's equal parts soft and flowy, yet solid and spunky, with a stylish feel. On trend but not trendy. Bellamy is a well balanced name that lends itself well to either boys or girls if you're looking for something familiar feeling but not weird.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Work of Heart Photography

It feels like not too long ago, we were talking about how vintage flavoured nickname names ending in "ie" are making a comeback. Ellie, Sadie, Gracie and Allie were all in the U.S top 200 in 2012, while current Nameberry favourites include Maisie, Elsie, Millie, Evie, Hattie and Edie. Names such as this were so popular in the early 1900's that it might have felt like all the good "ie" names had been used. But it seems this wasn't necessarily the case. Meet Indie - one of the freshest "ie" nickname names to appear in recent years.

As the top names for the different Australian states were being released recently, I was following Anna's analysis posts at Waltzing More Than Matilda. At first, I was intrigued to note that Indigo is rising as a girls name in multiple states. But then I noticed Indie. Also quietly moving up the charts, and possibly indicative of a future trend for girls names containing "ind".

In 2013 Indie entered the Australian top 100 for the first time at #94. In the U.S it first charted in 1959, but the highest it has ever climbed there (so far) is #3017 in 2011. For girls, Indie is the most popular spelling, ahead of Indi and Indy, while for boys Indy is by far the most popular variant.

So why the higher popularity in Australia? It's likely that in 2013 Indie benefited from the 'Home and Away' effect, in much the same way that Brax and Braxton did in 2012. This time the character was Indigo "Indi" Walker, played by Samara Weaving. The character had been on the show for a few years, leaving in November 2013, so perhaps the news of her departure brought her name to the forefront of people's minds. Or maybe people admired Aussie action hero Chris Hemsworths' choice of India Rose for his daughter in 2012.

This assumes though that Indie has to be "inspired" by a different, longer name, when it's actually a perfectly spunky name in its own right. And that assumption probably isn't too far wrong. Most baby naming sources say it is a form of India, a place name likely meaning 'river' or 'from the river Indus'. Some say it's from Indigo, an Greek colour/word name meaning 'Indian dye'. Or maybe Indiana, meaning 'land of the Indians'. Or even Indira, a Sanskrit name meaning 'beauty'. The allure of simply using Indie is that it could possibly mean any - or all - of these things.

My first thoughts are of Indiana Jones and "indie" movies, songs and artists, so Indie feels like a confident, free spirited, adventurous and smart person to me. Others may think of  the colour Indigo, and think of an Indie as a spiritual, intuitive and relaxed personality. With so many different possible sources and associations, an Indie could be many things. Plus it's a great compromise if you love the sound but can't decide between two great, similar choices, or don't feel quite confident using Indigo or India.

But then again, maybe you think Indie is super cute - but suitable only as a nickname. Good news is there are plenty of options for a formal name. So as a final note, here's a list of "formal" names that all lend themselves to Indie as a nickname.










Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ten Buddhism Inspired Names - from Anicca to Zen

Photo courtesy of Beloved Photography

In recent months I have covered a couple of names with connections to Buddhism. The first - Avici (adapted to Avicii) - was adopted as a stage name for a young Swedish DJ whose star is currently on the rise. The second was Bodhi, a rising, relatively well-known option that was recently bestowed on two celebrity babies.

This got me thinking about names with Buddhist connections. In times when some are attracted to bold, energetic names like Dash and Blaze; or weaponry associated names like Colt and Cannon, it makes sense that others would be drawn to names with peaceful, spiritual meanings and connections.

Such names can create a great first impression. If balanced against feeling a little too “new agey” or “hippie” (sorry Dharma and Karma), they can set other people at ease, making their wearer seem friendly, relaxed and approachable. Less overt than traditional virtue names, they still hint at an attitude that the wearer can aspire to.

I need to preface this list by saying that I am not (and have never been) a Buddhist, so my knowledge of Buddhist terms that would make for great names is by no means exhaustive. However, I've chosen ten in particular that feel very usable - other than Bodhi and Avici. I'd love to hear further suggestions in the comments below.

Anicca is a term meaning 'inconstancy' or 'impermanence', referring to the Buddhist teaching that all things are in a constant state of change – an inevitable cycle of birth, growth, decay and death. Pronounced uh-NIK-uh, visually and verbally Anicca doesn't seem very far removed from names such as Anita or Annika, which makes it feel quite usable, particularly for a girl.

Most people would recognise Arya as the name of the young rebellious tomboy daughter of the Stark family in 'Game of Thrones'. The show has certainly boosted its popularity as a girls name. But Arya actually has a history as a name used by both genders, and skewed male in the U.S until 2010. Arya (or Ariya) means 'noble' or 'exalted' in Sanskrit, and is frequently used in Buddhism to describe some of the main tenets – mainly the Four Noble Truths (catvary arya satyani) or The Noble Eightfold Path (arya marga).

Kathina is a Buddhist festival that is held at the end of Vassa, the three month rainy season retreat for Theraveda Buddhists. It is a time of giving, for people to express their thanks to monks by bringing donations – particularly new robes - to the temples. It is rarely used as a name, but is seen as a girls name. It feels like an exotic blend of Katrina and Katherine and would make for a spiritual, celebratory name.

The lotus is an important Buddhist icon, as Buddha is typically depicted sitting on a lotus. It is symbolic of the path from ignorance to enlightenment, as it rises from the mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the sunshine of enlightenment. Pronounced LOH-tuhs, as a flower name it is definitely one of the more exotic and rarer choices. It is also a luxury sports car brand, which seems quite at odds with it's Buddhist symbolism. But that does little to detract from the elegant beauty of this name.

Lyrical sounding, it's pronounced mah-huh-YAH-nuh and is one of the main branches of Buddhism. It comes from the Sanskrit words maha meaning 'great' and yana meaning 'vehicle'. Mahayana is a more liberal type of Buddhism, and the most popular. Followers believe that anyone - not just monks and nuns - can attain enlightenment. It has never charted in the U.S as a name, but Mahayana would be a very pretty choice for a girl.

Nirvana literally means 'blown out', as in a candle, which when applied to a Buddhist context refers to “the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion and delusion have been finally extinguished”. Buddhists aim to reach this state of mind or consciousness to be free of individual desires or suffering. The name was chosen by Kurt Cobain for his rock/grunge band, who said that he wanted a beautiful, nice and pretty name. It seems namers agree with this impression, as Nirvana has only ever been bestowed on girls in the U.S. If Haven, Elysia or Nevaeh are on your list, this is another worthy option to consider.

Perhaps due to it's short length, Om has to date been used as a boys name in the U.S. Om is sometimes referred to as the sacred syllable, used as a mantra when meditating. It means 'creation' in Sanskrit, and as a representation of the three most important deities in Hindu religions – Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma – it ultimately refers to the essence of life. It may be short, but it is loaded with meaning and has a relaxing sound.

You may recognise Samsara as the title of a visually poetic 2011 Documentary. It means 'continuous movement' or 'cyclic existence', often translated as 'the circle of life'. By following the Buddhist path, one can liberate themselves from the endless cycling through the six realms, but one must first understand the nature of Samsara in order to be liberated from it. Samsara has a lovely, liquid velvet feel to it, pronounced suhm-SAHR-uh. It's rare use has so far been for girls, which may have been influenced by the fact that it is also the name of a perfume by Guerlain. Familiar nicknames Sam or Sara and it's similarity to Samara makes it easier to wear.

The Vedas are the most ancient and important of Hindu sacred literature, believed to be an eternal revelation of divine origin. Veda (pronounced VEY-duh or VEE-duh) means 'knowledge' or 'wisdom' – Theravada is the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism, meaning 'the Teaching of the Elders'. Veda has a long history of use as a girls name in the U.S, particularly popular at the beginning of the 20th century accompanied by Vida and Vera. It has a vintage feel and spiritual quality.

Zen is synonymous with calmness and tranquillity. Many people most immediately associate it with Buddhism. Meaning 'absorption' or 'meditative state', Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that advocates the use of sitting meditation for realising Buddhist truths such as no-self, emptiness, and the uncreated mind. Zen has been getting some small use in the U.S in recent decades and is so far proving to be more popular for boys than girls. This name has a fantastic energy – it feels unexpected, yet cool and stylish.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Top Australian Names for 2013

The final results for the top names in Australia for 2013 have been released this week. That makes it a perfect time for a fun little graphic, so like last year, here is a graphic representation of the top names across all of the Australian states in 2013. If you're interested in how this compares against 2012, you can see last years maps here.

Apologies for my not-quite-polished graphics!

If you're after a more detailed state by state analysis, Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda has done a great job discussing these as each state released their data over the last few months.

Mark McCrindle Research has also released a report detailing the results of the 2013 data, and the implications for baby names in Australia in 2014. It also includes a list of the top 100 names for our neighbour New Zealand - definitely worth a look if you are naming an Australian or New Zealand baby in 2014.