Friday, May 23, 2014

Questionable Girls' Word Names

Original Photo Courtesy of
Mali Workman Photography
I came across a BuzzFeed post today that I thought would be a fun one to share. It's a list titled '127 Questionable Words That Would Actually Be Nice Names For Girls'.

It's a sentiment that can cause many creative namers to stumble. It feels like I've often seen people on forums say that they've fallen in love with AnnaLee, or Annaleigh, or maybe even Auralee (OK, that was my own one-time musing), only to despair that they could never use it when they realise how it sounds when said out loud.

But not all people feel the same - or maybe they just don't realise the association. So here are the names from the BuzzFeed list that have all charted at least once in the U.S. for girls (plus a few thoughts for fun).

5. Anally - demonstrating the importance of Googling something before you use it as a name.
17. Envy (charted for both) - not one of the more flattering or inspirational "virtue" words.
20. Vanity - ditto for this one.
24. Deny (but for boys only) - maybe these were meant to be little Denny's?
36. Acura - I had to Google this one - it would probably be just fine in countries outside the U.S. Even if it does sound as if you are searching for a medical miracle.
37. Shandy (both) - well, if Brandy and Candy are OK.....
44. Anime - for real fans.
48. Every - longer than Ever, less frilly than Everly, and a twist on Emery.
52. Flavia - this probably shouldn't have made the list as it actually IS an Ancient Roman name.
55. Surely - is this a question? At least it's more assertive than #86 on this list.
56. Mania - this is just crazy.
64. Quora - because your daughter is the answer to your questions.
65. Marijuana - were you high?
66. Coma (both) - some very suggestive jokes spring to mind, mainly about slipping into one.
74. Any - did you mean Amy?
76. Epiphany - this is actually quite pretty.
79. Australia (both) - as an Australian, this is flattering. But a little strange.
81. Veranda - a cross between Veronica and Miranda leaves you with a porch.
86. Kinda - can't help but think her sister is named Maeby.
87. Haiti - personally I prefer Heidi, but then it wouldn't be a place name.
91. Millennia - one guess as to which years this name charted.
93. Chutney - and Relish. Yum, but no thanks.
109. Shady (both) - Eminem fans? Or maybe a sister to Veranda. Or a misspelled Shandy.
112. Margarine - no, it's not a pretty twist on Marjorie. And too many possible jokes about spreading.
113. Aetna - a little sickly sounding.
116. Daily (both) - you're having a child, not a newspaper.
123. Vanilla - so sweet! So very sugary sweet.
125. Dairy - I don't want to know what her middle name is, but it better not be cow.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Everett vs Everest

Photo Courtesy of Rachael Spiegel Photography

It's a problem that many namers face at some stage. You love two very, very similar names. You can't use both, but how do you choose one over the other?

I often have this problem when deciding on names to feature on the blog. The particular example that springs to mind is Audra. I was seriously debating between Audrey ( a beautiful classic) and Audra. But Audra (to me) is just that little more spunky, a little more unexpected. So Audra it was. Likewise, I wrote about Bram because I love it. But occasionally I wonder if Bran wouldn't make for the better name. For me it comes down to associations. For Bran there's the cereal, but then there's also Bran Stark from 'Game of Thrones'. But I've read the books and he is admittedly not one of my favourite characters. As a lover of horror though, I love the connection Bram has to Bram Stoker's Dracula. So Bram definitely has the edge for me.

Which brings me to the two subjects of this post. Everett and Everest. These two are very high on my personal list of potential names for possible future sons. They probably are for a lot of people. Yet it's pretty obvious that they are far too similar to use both. So lets compare them head to head in a "Name Battle" I'll include my thoughts, but you may feel differently!

Origin, Meaning & Associations
These could easily be three separate headings, but I often find these things to be so intertwined that it's helpful to consider them together.

Everett - It's an Old English name, from the German Everard meaning 'strong as a wild boar'. It's also a place name with towns named Everett in the US and Canada, and an ice covered mountain range called the Everett Range in Antarctica.

Everest - Unclear. Some say it's of Old English origin, possibly derived from Everett. It's also possibly derived from the French "Evreax", a town name in Normandy that was transferred into use as a surname after the Normans invaded England. Or maybe from the French Evariste, itself a version of the Greek name Evaristus, meaning 'well pleasing'. Then of course there is Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, which cements Everest as both a place and a nature name. Overall, it's origin and meaning may not be definitively certain, but the possibilities are rich.

Famous Namesakes 
Because sometimes it's helpful to know if someone has (or is likely too) put a negative spin on your name. Or if your child will have someone or something to be inspired by.

Everett - Most examples that spring to mind are surnames, or even middle names. Examples of these are aplenty - actors Rupert Everett, Thomas Everett Scott and Darren Everett Criss; former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop etc. First name bearers are a little rarer, such as Former US Senator Everett Dirkson or 'Citizen Kane' actor Everett Sloane. Fictional examples of Everett as a first name are not unusual though, such as George Clooneys character Everett McGill in the movie 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' or Everett Hitch, a gunslinger played by Viggo Mortensen in 'Appaloosa'.

Everest - Can you call a mountain a namesake? Mount Everest was named for Sir George Everest, but not because he discovered it. The name was actually suggested by Sir Andrew Waugh, the then British Surveyor General of India, to honour his predecessor. This was a somewhat controversial move, as it ignored the names already used by the Tibetans and Nepalese, reportedly because their borders were closed to foreigners at the time making it hard to gather local names. Another argument was that since there were many local names, one could not be chosen over the others. George Everest himself objected naming the mountain Everest as it couldn't be written in Hindi or pronounced by the local Indian population.

Want some more recent celebrity buzz? George Lucas and Mellody Hobson named their daughter Everest in August 2013.

Pronunciation & Nicknames
Some people fall in love with a name for it's nicknames. Others aren't too fussed. But if it matters to you....

Everett - Pronounced EV-er-et or Ev-ritt. My personal favourite nickname and reason I first looked at Everett is nickname Rhett (or Rett). It's adorable. There's also Ev, Evie, E, Ever, Eveready. It's also worth noting here that some bearers report that people have trouble pronouncing their name, with the most common misunderstandings being Evert, Evan and - funnily enough - Everest.

Everest - Pronounced EV-eh-rest (although mountain namesake George Everest pronounced it EEV-rist). Possible nicknames include Ev, Evie, E, Ever, Rest, Mountain.

Popularity is an point that can divide or decide. Some want a name that is popular because it means it is familiar and well liked, others prefer a name that is rare and will make their child stand out in a crowd.

Everett - Everett is a bit of a throwback name. Peaking at #81 in the U.S in 1906, it's not unusual for people to have a grandfather or great grandfather with the name. It never really got unfashionable as such, as it has never left the top 1000 and it's "low point" was just #647 in 1995. It has bounced back rapidly in recent years though, gaining 25 places in 2013 to attain a position of #189. Which for many equates to well liked but not over-used.

It's also getting fairly regular use for girls, but nowhere near as much as for boys.

Everest - Everest first charted for boys in 1914, and popped up sporadically after that until 1994, when it became a regular on the SSA lists. It has been very slowly climbing in recent years, charting at #2660 in 2013. Everest has also started charting for girls in recent years - but in contrast to the boys, was ranked at #13,515 in 2013.

But perhaps more importantly - have you ever met an Everest?

Feel & Impressions
These are the things that often attract us most strongly to a name. What feelings does it evoke for you? What characteristics or traits do you envision someone with this name having? And do you like those things?

Everett - To me Everett exudes southern charm, without being too syrupy. It's distinguished, but not snobby. The Ever part conveys a sense of reliability and dependability. An Everett seems steady, down to earth - fun and adventurous without being too rash or impulsive.

Everest - I'm a sucker for a name with a nature connection, and this is a good one. Mountains feel earthy and make you think of strength and constancy. Add a bit of snow to their peaks and they are beautiful, majestic. And Mount Everest itself is a symbol of great achievement amongst mountain climbers - dangerous and difficult, but the ultimate challenge. Which makes it something of an aspirational name.

Its a hard choice - for me they're both so charming, slightly preppy, and yet approachable and earthy. If I were looking for a first name, I'd go with Everett. It may be more popular (which I'm not really a fan of personally), but I love that nickname Rhett, and it does hit the middle ground of recognised but not too common. Plus my surname is pretty heavy on the "S"s, so a name with an "S" sound at the end isn't great for everyday use. However for a middle name I'd choose Everest over Everett in a heartbeat. I love the symbolism, and it's just the right degree of unexpected and quirky - qualities that I feel are great for the middle position. And just to clarify, I'm talking in terms of use for a boy. Using Everett for a girl isn't something I'd personally consider, although Everest? Maybe....

How about you - what arguments would you add, and which (if either) would you be more likely to choose?

I'll be making name battles such as this a semi-regular (i.e. one or two a month) feature from now on, so let me know if there are any very similar names you'd like to see go head to head in future posts!

Friday, May 16, 2014

10 Useful Facts about the 2013 SSA Data

 To make it to the SSA lists, a name must be given to 5 or more children of the same gender in that year. Using this criteria, the 2013 lists cover the names given to 1,871,467 bouncing baby boys and 1,736,630 darling new girls.

 Despite there being more than one hundred thousand more boys than girls, over five thousand more girl names (19,114 names) make the list than boy names (13,958 names).

 Compared to the number of names that made the lists in 1880, in 2013 the range of boys names has increased by 1319% and girls by 2029%.

 Sophia kept her #1 crown, despite being given to 1,083 fewer girls in 2013 than 2012. She accounts for 1.214% of girls on the list.

 Noah toppled the mighty Jacob, but was bestowed on 809 fewer boys in 2013 than Jacob was in 2012. Noahs born in 2013 account for just 0.967% of all boys on the list.

 At the other end of the spectrum, 1927 boy names and 2,693 girl names only just made the cut (given to only 5 boys or girls each). 

 By number of births Sadie and Jase experienced the biggest leap in use - while Isabella and Ethan decreased the most.

 By rank the biggest risers in the top 100 were Sadie and Jase; in the top 1000 it was Daleyza and Jayceon, for the complete lists the winners were Tahiry and Jaceyon.

 The biggest decreases by rank were experienced by Makayla and Kayla for girls and Brandon for boys in the top 100, Kenia and Bently in the top 1000, and Yuritza and O'Neil overall.

♣  Since June 2012 I've featured 378 names, both alone and in themed lists. Of those, 108 names did not chart in 2013! Most of them are perfectly usable - and some are fantastic gems. So if you're after a truly unique and rare name, Baby Name Pondering is the place to be!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The 2013 New Unisex Names - Chikamso, Harbour & Khymani

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up at dusk

It's an exciting time of the year for name enthusiasts - the time when the SSA releases the name data for the previous year. Sure, I'm an Australian, not an American, but the SSA lists still hold an immense attraction for me. So many more names, so much new data to get me pondering.....

Which then leads the name blogger to a massive conundrum - what to do with the new wealth of information at hand. And how to look at it in a way that hasn't already been done by my fellow bloggers? Abby at Appellation Mountain has given a great "highlights" overview, NameFreak has covered names new to the top 100, Name Candy the fastest rising names new to the top 1000, and Nancy's Baby Names the biggest debuts for both boys and girls in 2013. Names For Real has even managed to compile a top 10 list when you combine spellings - which is no easy task! All are interesting reads, and I'm sure we'll see many more over the next few weeks.

One of the posts I did last year that I really enjoyed was The New Unisex Names - a list of those names special enough to simultaneously debut for both girls and boys in 2012. There were just five, and it was interesting to learn about names from cultures I am largely unfamiliar with, plus word names, celebrity names, and spelling variations I hadn't considered. So I wanted to do the same for the 2013 names. And the three contenders for 2013 manage to deliver on all of those aspects.

CHIKAMSO - Given to 5 girls and 8 boys in 2013
Showing how much I still have to learn about the world of names, when I first saw Chikamso I thought it might be of Asian origin. I learnt however that Chikamso is a Nigerian name from the Igbo (or Ibo) people. For people looking for a strong Igbo name that honours God this could be a good choice, as it means 'God I follow' or 'I am following God'. Possible nicknames include Chi - which is also an Igbo name reportedly meaning 'God' or 'spiritual guardian' - or the more commonly suggested Kamso. Or dare I suggest Kamzo?Kamso itself has never charted, but seems like it would be a cool and spunky nickname for either gender.

HARBOUR - Given to 7 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At first I was surprised that this hadn't charted before. After all, I was sure I'd seen it in birth announcements. Then I realised what I had missed. Seeing Harbour on the U.S charts is a little strange because this is the British spelling (also used in Australia) of Harbor. Is it possible that these were all bestowed by parents from countries where Harbour is the accepted spelling? Possibly. Or maybe it's just a personal preference. For example, here in Australia we use the spelling Honour. But if I were using it as a name, I'd hands down choose the spelling Honor. For some reason I just think it looks more attractive. Like Harbor and now Harbour, both Honor and Honour have charted in the U.S, although Valour is yet to chart alongside Valor. Maybe next year.

Spelling intricacies aside, Harbour is of course a word name. Conceptually though, it can also be seen as something of a virtue name. It's a haven, a place to find protection from stormy weather. It's also a viable option if you want a name associated with water, or perhaps sailing. Or maybe there is a particular harbour location that holds a special meaning for you. While online it seems that many feel it is better suited for a boy, it's strong yet soft sound makes it an appealing option for either gender.

KHYMANI - Given to 5 girls and 5 boys in 2013
At one point last year I started making a list of the many names with a similar sound to this - and there are quite a few. Kymani is the most popular spelling, given to 58 girls and 253 boys in 2013. Others already charting are Kimani, Kamani, Kemani, Khamani, Keymani, Keimani, Camani, Kaimani, and Kmani; so it seems that this is simply a new variant. 

So, where did this name come from, assuming that Kymani as the most popular spelling is the "original" form? Well, the interesting thing about the SSA records it that punctuation such as hyphens are usually omitted from the records, so it's very possible that many Kymanis are actually Ky-Manis. As in Ky-Mani Marley, son of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley and successful reggae musician in his own right. Ky-Mani (and hence Kymani and Khymani) is said to be an East African name meaning 'adventurous traveler'. At which point I must admit I personally didn't see the attraction of the name until learning what a cool meaning it has. I love it - it strikes me as a modern day aspirational name, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one.

Kymani first charted for girls in 1995 and for boys in 1997, while Ky-Mani Marley released his first album 'Like Father Like Son' in 1996. I can't say I love this new Khymani variant, which feels as if parents may have been influenced by the 'Game of Thrones' nouveau title-come-name Khaleesi for the "KH" spelling. As they say though variety is the spice of life, and the additional "H" does seem to lend some additional exoticism to the name.

There we have it - three new worthy names to receive the honour of entering the charts for both genders in the same year. So how did the 2012 unisex entrants perform in 2013? 
  • Ireoluwa climbed 733 places for girls in 2013 and 1972 places for boys 
  • Kentlee fell 1583 places for boys, but climbed 2615 places for girls
  • Mathai didn't chart at all for girls, and fell 3914 places for boys 
  • Music is a one hit wonder to date, as it didn't chart for boys or girls in 2013; and
  • Zikora also fell off the both charts (which I'm surprised by as I thought this one would be going places - it has such a great sound!)

Hopefully this years unisex entrants fare better in 2014 - do you think they have staying power?