Saturday, October 11, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Lisa Visser Fine Art

When we think of Halloween, we think of nighttime and shadows. It's black bats, black cats, black birds and black spiders. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend calling your child Black, names with dark meanings are a great way to give a nod to Halloween without being cheesy.

Sable fits the bill perfectly. It's dark and mysterious; attractive and strong - great for a boy or a girl. Sable is just that little bit different enough to get people's attention, but not weird enough to make them screw up their faces. And if you're looking for rare, look no further.

Pronounced SAY-bel, this name started as many names did, as a word name. Of Slavic origin, it comes from a small animal that was originally found in Russia, Poland and Scandinavia. It's fur has been highly valued since the early Middle Ages due to it's rich colour and glossy appearance. It is also a unique fur as it retains it's smoothness however it is stroked. The fur is how the word came to England, where it was a favourite among royalty. Henry VII was said to be a particular fan, decreeing that sable fur was only allowed to be worn by nobles.

It's unclear whether Sable originally meant black and was the name given to the animal because of the colour of their fur, or vice versa. It continued to be used as a name for black though, particularly in French and English heraldry.

Although I could see this as a name for either gender, so far it's usage has been mainly female. In the U.S. she charted sporadically until becoming a regular in 1984. It was further boosted by it's appearance as character Sable Scott Colby on 'Dynasty' spin-off 'The Colby's'. She was played by Stephanie Beacham, and in 1986 she boosted Sable to her highest position and one and only appearance in the US top 1000 to date. Other famous Sables include American jazz artist Sable Winters (love this name!) and American model and professional wrestler Sable.

It's not a name without it's problems - I could see a Sable being mistaken for Isabel a lot. And it rhymes with a lot of words, luckily most of them fairly innocuous though, such as table and cable. And hope that they don't have a long face, or kids could get quite creative with some stable jokes. But none of these are major red flags that should prevent a Sable from being quite happy with their name.

I have to admit to being strangely attracted to the intriguing Sable. Possibly it's due to its' sleek simplicity, or maybe its' noble mystique. Most likely it's both. What do you think?


  1. Okay, yes! This name is a wonderful color name for black. Midnight sounds better on a Pomeranian, Ebony is totally 1970, and Charcoal is, well, just too much for anything but a horse.

    Great pick!

  2. Really like Sable! Don't know if I'd use personal. Reminds me of an updated form of Mabel. :)

  3. My name is Winter Fawn. My parents were the typical 70's parents who wanted all their kids names to begin with one letter of the alphabet. My brother was Shawn Aron, my Sister Summer Rose. I would have been Sable Fawn, if I hadn't been born during a blizzard. Ironically, both name options invoke similar images. Side note, I love the Jazz singers name Sable Winters. Neat connection to my story.