Monday, August 12, 2013


A figure European legend that is still seen commonly on the logo of a coffee chain, Melusine is an update of previous Mel- names with a deep root in history.

Melusine (pronounced: mel-U-si-ne or mel-U-seen) is a feminine spirit of fresh waters in Folklore and appears much like a mermaid with wings. Most commonly used as a heraldic symbol rather than a name is of Germanic origin meaning “hard worker”. The story of Melusine starts in fact with her mother Pressyne was come upon by the King of Albany who was persuaded to marry him as long as he didn’t look upon her as she birthed or bathed their children. She would go onto to birth triplets, Melusine being the oldest. The King broke his promise and Pressyne fled the Kingdom, taking her daughters with her to Avalon. Melusine would later seek revenge on her father for his broken promise and locked him in a mountain. Her mother was furious and condemned her that every Saturday she would take the form of a serpent or mermaid (depending on the rendition). Later on, Raymond of Poitou came upon Melusine and proposed marriage which she accepted with conditions. He broke the promise and saw her as part-serpent/mermaid. He would later expose this in front of his court in which she took on the form of a dragon and flew away.

Melusine can be seen as bit of a dark figure but I personally don’t see it that way. She is a choice that fits along with other mermaid like names and those of mythology easily. The heraldic image of Melusine is found on the logo of Starbucks Coffee chain. The legend of Melusine is also heavily ingrained in the Philippa Gregory novel ‘The White Queen’ and its adaptation of the same name. The story centers itself around Elizabeth Woodville who was Queen of England to King Edward IV who in the novel is supposedly descended from Melusine through her mother’s line.  

Over variations of the name include Melusina and Melisande. None of the three variations have ever been popular in the US, with the three names not having recordings of any births. Though the stats show 5 and above births for the year, it could be possible that there is a Melusine out their somewhere in the states it is unlikely though in Europe I would suggest that it has been used though sparingly.

It makes for an interesting choice and would fit alongside other mythological names like Penelope and Cassandra as well as fitting alongside other aquatic based names. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Firstly, I want to apologise for being so absent on the blog. Life gets in the way sometimes but hopefully I will now be back at a more consistent updating rate.

Jaina Solo from Star Wars
Jaina is a name some of you might not be familiar with but by 2015, I am pretty sure that this name could gain in popularity. With two massive blockbusters in the works that could possibly use characters with the name Jaina, this might be the female name to watch.

Jaina is of Hebrew Origin and means ‘God is gracious’. It is a modern variant of the more common name Jane. It is also a term to designate a follower of Jainism, an Indian religion and philosophy as well as being the site of the Pre-Columbian Mayan Civilization that is now the state of Campeche, Mexico. It is not an unheard of name, though it is uncommon with only 74 females were given the name in 2012, which is actually down from the year before where it was given to 101 females. Here are some stats from the last five years:

  • 2008 = 73 females
  • 2009 = 106 females
  • 2010 = 86 females
  • 2011 = 101 females
  • 2012 = 74 females

The name sticks around that number of births and while there was quite a dip in the last year in terms of its own personal number, I believe it will rise in the coming years, though especially in 2015 and here is why. Star Wars Episode VII will be released in 2015 and with it brings a host of new characters. With the recent casting call sheets, it would seem that the movie will be following the Expanded Universe and a main character of the EU is Jaina Solo, the only daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia and could very well be seen as the next-generations version of Luke Skywalker and in the books is even named the Sword of the Jedi. The next trilogy could very well be based around her and her twin brother Jacen.

Jaina Proudmoore from World of Warcraft
Another movie announced for a possible release in 2015 is Warcraft, which is based on the World of Warcraft multi-player video game. A main character in the series who I would assume would be in the film would be Jaina Proudmoore who is a leader and powerful sorceress in the series who would do anything to save her people, even lay down her own life. I am not as familiar with Warcraft as I am with Star Wars but this Jaina, like the one in Star Wars is independent, strong and believes in laying down her life for the greater good. They are noble characteristics one wouldn’t mind instilling in a daughter and Jaina is much more accessible than her current counterpart of Katniss in The Hunger Games.

Overall, I see Jaina rising, especially from 2015 on-wards if the new Star Wars trilogy does base it around the Solo Children and if Warcraft is a success (because video game adaptation don’t do well typically but this could be in the vein of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones and it does have a good director so I am hopeful). 

Saturday, January 19, 2013


A name created by J.M Barrie for his classic tale ‘Peter Pan’, Wendy peaked back in 1970 at number #28 but has managed to stay in the Top 1000 till this date. As literary names continue to influence baby names and with such a classic tale such as ‘Peter Pan’, I doubt that Wendy would ever not be given to a baby but it seems the love for this name is dwindling out.
Wendy Darling

Wendy was created by Barrie for his play from his nickname ‘fwendly’ that was bestowed upon him by a young friend. The nickname means ‘friend’ and whilst many literary names don’t have actual meanings, I think it can be said that this name can take on the meaning of ‘friend’ which is a nice meaning to have. The name could also be an interesting nickname for Gwendolyn other than the typical Gwen which will give the name the additional meaning of ‘white, fair, blessed’.

The name is currently sitting in the US Top 1000 (though the current list is of 2011) at #677 with 413 girls given the name and 5 boys given the name as well. The name is also ranked #246 in France, though going down, and #470 in the Netherlands, though it entered the charts for the first time in 2011.

As for me, I quite like the name Wendy, it brings up images of the tale and about a girl who came around to believe in fairies and learnt it was okay to grow old but to never fully grow up but unfortunately, in America, Wendy seems to be past it’s used by date. Many see it as a mum name, which is explainable when looking at where the name peaked but as an Australian, I can honestly say I have never met a mum with that name and it might be seen as fresh and exciting for cultures other than American. For me, it fits in with names like Betty and Hattie rather than Susan and Barbara and I think it would be darling (pun noticed as I typed it out) on a little 21st century girl. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Taken From The Movies: Clara Bow

In a new segment at Histornamia and inspired by this post over at Nameberry from last November, I shall be taking a look back at some screen legends and the characters they played on screen. In honour of the fact that my Clara Bow biography finally came in the mail, I shall be starting with her. The original ‘IT’ Girl, Clara was a star of the silent-films and was in over 50 films between the years of 1922-1933. She was also used as inspiration for Berenice Bejo’s wonderful performance as Peppy Miller in 2012’s Oscar Winning, The Artist as well as staring in the only other silent film to win Best Picture, the 1927 Wings (yes, only two silent films have ever won best film at the Oscars). Also of note, she was the inspiration behind Betty Boop.

As well as the characters below, Clara played characters with names typical from the period like Helen, Molly, Norma, Ruby, Gladys, Stella, Nancy, Clara, Cynthia, Dorothy, Mary, Lila and Alice (among others).

Here are eleven character names that Clara portrayed on screen:

Clara Bow
Orchid (from the 1924 lost film, Grit) – in Clara’s seventh film, Grit, Clara played Orchid McGonigle. Pronounced ohr-KID, it is a rare exotic flower name. While it would make an interesting choice it does come from the Latin ‘orchis’ and Ancient Greek ‘orkhis’ which unfortunately means ‘testicle’. If the meaning is overlooked and technically, most people would think of the pretty flower, it would make an interesting name choice. In 2011, 6 baby girls were given this name.

Grizette (from the 1925 lost film, Kiss Me Again) – in this other lost film from 1925, Clara played Grizette. A variation of the word Grisette, the name refers to a French working class woman from the last 17th century. In 1964, a French dictionary described it as ‘a woman of lowly condition’. This type of woman is found in many French operas and musicals, including La Boheme and Les Miserables as the character of Fantine is this type of woman.

Lolly (from the 1925 lost film, The Keeper of the Bees) – in another lost film of Clara’s (though a trailer exists from this one), Clara played Lolly Cameron. A sweet inspired name, it would be more likely to be found as a nickname rather than a given name. It is a diminutive of Laura which means ‘bay laurel’ though it could be used as a nickname for many a name including Talullah or Dolores.

Prudence (from the 1925 film, My Lady of Whims) – in this film from 1925, Clara plays Prudence Severn. A virtue name meaning ‘caution’, this is a name that would more likely be found on a birth certificate than the ones above. It has puritan charm but beware of the ‘prude’ connotations. Prue is an excellent nickname and it seems that parents like this name as well as in 2011, 80 baby girls were given the name.

Kittens (from the 1926 film, Dancing Mothers) – in this 1926 film, Clara played Kittens Westcourt. Probably along with ‘Bubbles’ to be the least likely to be given to a child, though would make a cute nickname, is Kittens. Obviously taken from the baby cats, Kittens does give off a sweet connotation though, might make an interesting middle or nickname.

Betty Lou (from the 1927 hit film, It) – in the film that made Clara a true ‘It’ girl and star, she played Betty Lou Spence. This was Clara’s biggest hit and the name Betty means ‘pledged to God’ (and ranked #3 in the year of the movie’s release) and Lou means ‘renowned warrior; (and ranked #304 in 1927). In 2011, Betty was given to 163 babies while Lou was given to 16 but also has the virtue of being a celeb-baby name as the name of Heidi Klum and Seal’s youngest daughter.

Hula (from the 1927 film, Hula) – in this film directed by Victor Fleming (best known for Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind), Clara played Hula Calhoun. More commonly associated with a ‘hoop’ or the banned baby name from New Zealand (Talullah does the Hula in Hawaii), Hula could make an interesting name on its own. The only meaning I could find was Native American for ‘eagle’.

Bubbles (from the 1928 lost film, Red Hair) – in this film Clara plays Bubbles McCoy. Indeed a rare name, Bubbles is a word name and is probably most associated in today’s culture by three other things – a) Michael Jackson’s chimp, b) one of the Powerpuff Girls and c) one of the fish-tank fish in Finding Nemo. Has possibility as a nickname.

Trixie (from the 1928 lost film, The Fleet’s In) – in this lost film Clara played Trixie Deane. A diminutive of Beatrix, Trixie contains the meaning of ‘she who brings happiness’. Fitting it with celebrity baby name Dixie, in 2011 the name was given to 7 baby girls as a given name.

Pepper (from the 1930 film, Love Among the Millionaires) – in one of her ‘talkie’ films, Clara played Pepper Whipple. Recently given to a celeb-tot and the girlfriend of Iron Man, Pepper is a name in the spotlight. With the meaning of ‘berry’, Pepper is a name for those who like Saffron and Sage. In 2011 it was given to 116 baby girls, much I think from the influence of Iron Man and I think it could grow thanks to the Avengers, but we will have to find out in May if that is correct.

Nasa (from the 1932 film, Call Her Savage) – in her second last film, in this ‘talkie’ Clara plays Nasa Springer. Today we associate the name with space travel, Nasa could make an interesting space tribute instead of Nova or Stella. I can’t currently find a meaning to the name though I have found that it comes of Japanese origin. If anyone has any more information please bring forth as I would be fascinated to know. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In Retrospect: 1880 - Names Given To Eight Children

Firstly, I must apologise for being away from the blog for so long, it was one of those times when life just got in the way. In any case, I am back and I thought that the best thing for me to get back in the swing of blogging was another installment of In Retrospect. This time we are looking at names given to eight children in 1880.

For boys, names being used in modern times like Reese, Benedict and Archer appeared on eight boys in 1880 while for girls, Millicent, Leslie, Margery, Faye, Elena, Camille and Bernadette were given to eight girls. Boys names on girls were here in this section as well with Thomas, Walter and Ray given to eight girls in 1880.

Here is my selection of names Given to Eight Children in 1880:


Arizona – (pronounced: ah-reh-ZONE-uh) is a place name derived from Papago Indian origin and means ‘little springs’. It peaked on the charts two years later before the state was named as such. In 2011, it was given to 53 baby girls which may be in part thanks to the state itself but also due to the popular American model, Arizona Muse.

Inga – (pronounced: ING-gah) is a name of Scandinavian and Old Norse origin and is the feminine form of Inge. With the meaning, ‘guarded by Ing’, it is a sister to the more popular name Ingrid which was given to 305 baby girls, Inga has not charted since 1914 and in 2011, was given to 21 girls.

Kattie – (pronounced: CAT-ee) is on Greek origin and is another short form of the classic girls name Katherine, and it has the meaning of ‘pure’. It has the vintage feel to the name while also being a nickname that works as a name that is becoming popular. Be aware of the possible ‘catty’ associations with your child if you name it as such. It last charted in 1940 and in 2011, it was given to 25 baby girls.

Lavinia Swire in Downton Abbey
Lavenia – (pronounced: LAH-vin-ee-ah) is a variant of the name Lavinia which is of Etruscan origin and is taken from Roman Mythology with a meaning unknown. The Lavinia is legend was the daughter of a King and the ancestor of the Roman People. It was a popular name during the Victorian era. In 2011, less than 5 or none at all were given the variant as a name while 39 were given the original spelling. I can see it rising, maybe not dramatically, due to the character of Lavinia on Downton Abbey. The original spelling was also the middle name of Ava Gardner, whose name is now ranked #5 in the USA. For a more subtle tribute to the actress, this might be an option.

Magnolia – (pronounced: mag-NO-lee-ah) is a name of English origin that is a flower name. The Magnolia was named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol and already has two nice nicknames, Maggie or Nola, and the character, Magnolia, in the musical Show Boat also goes by the names Noa and Nollie. It has a Southern Belle feel to it and was last ranking in 1940 where it placed #815 before never charting again. In 2011, it was given to 185 baby girls and the amount has been steadily rising in the last few years and I can see it making the Top 1000 in the next few years. So if you are looking for a flower name that is unique enough without being completely uncommon, this is a possible choice.

Media – (pronounced: ME-dia) is a variant of the name Medea and is of Greek Origin and has the meaning of ‘ruling’. This would make an interesting name, though I think the original spelling would be better if you fear the first being pronounced wrong. Surprisingly, both versions of this name, despite a rise in popularity of Greek names, was given to less than five or no babies at all in 2011.

Orilla – (pronounced: OR-il-lah) is a variant of the name Orela and is of Latin Origin with the meaning of ‘announcement from the Gods’. It has a similar feel to Arella (given to 18 girls in 2011), Ariella (449 girls in 2011), Oriel (5 girls in 2011) and Ariel (1426 girls in 2011) but despite that, the name was given to less than 5 or no babies at all in 2011. It seems to be a name lost back in the 1880s but could make a revival along with other names that have a vintage past.

Rowena – (pronounced: ro-EE-na) is a name of Welsh origin and means ‘famous friend’. The name has not charted since 1963 but it does have literary cred thanks to Rowena Ravenclaw in the Harry Potter series and the heroine in the tale Ivanhoe. Its old fashioned charm could win people over. In 2011, only 15 girls were given the name which surprised me due to it being a name in Harry Potter. Despite it being in rare use, you can guarantee that at least people will have heard of it at the same time.

Tabitha – (pronounced: TAB-i-tha) is a name of Aramaic origin that means ‘gazelle’. It is currently in the Top 1000 but reached its peak in 1978 at spot #126. The name is currently on its way out, now ranked at #676, a few spots lower than what it was in 1880 (though in 2011, 413 baby girls were given the name). It does have celeb-baby power behind it with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick choosing it for one of their adorable twin girls and it also has ‘Tabby’ as a quick go to nickname. Also, it was the name of the daughter in TV’s Bewitched.

Zona – (pronounced: ZOH-na) is a name of Latin origin that means ‘belt, girdle’. It last ranked in 1941 before disappearing from the Top 1000 and in 2011, only 7 girls were given the name. For all the star gazers out there, Zona would fit in with Stella and Luna as it is the name of the stars that make up the belt in the constellation of Orion, and for all the literary lovers, the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in drama was novelist and poet, Zona Gale.


Silent Film Star, Buster Keaton
Buster – (pronounced: BUS-ter) is a name of English origin that denotes a person who ‘breaks things’. Maybe not a thing that you would encourage a child to do, but Buster could have its charms with people who like nicknames. Definitely the most famous bearer of the name was the incredible silent film-star and director, Buster Keaton, though Buster was not his birth name. Actor Jonny Lee Miller, who currently plays Sherlock Holmes in Elementary, gave his son the name Buster a few years back. The name has not charted since 1957 but peaked back in 1909, before Buster Keaton was even making films. In 2011, 14 boys were given the name Buster, though I would presume that more pets, especially dogs, were given the name than baby boys.

Crawford – (pronounced: KRAW-ferd) is a name of English origin that is common a surname that was derived from a place name meaning a ‘ford where crows gather’, the name has not charted in the US since 1951. In 2011, the name was given to 33 baby boys but I would say that you would most likely hear this name as a surname, not a given name, but since surname-names are making it, this name I am sure has a chance to be used.

Ephraim – (pronounced: EE-free-im) is a name of Hebrew origin that means ‘fruitful, fertile, productive’. Also a Biblical name, Ephraim was the second son of Joseph and founder of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name has literary cred thanks to appearing in Dickens’s Little Dorrit, in Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield and dare I say it, even in the Twilight series. It is also the name of one of the seven brothers in one of the most beloved musicals of all time, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The name last ranked however in 1914 and in 2011 it was given to 169 boys, and after looking a few years before this, it seems that the name is being less used ever year. However, it continues to lurk just under the Top 1000 (last year’s #1000 was Ethen which was given to 192 boys), with Biblical names in more popularity, the name might just need a celebrity endorsement to crack the Top 1000 once more (and wouldn’t it be interesting if it cracked it in 2014?)

Harlan – (pronounced: HAHR-len) is a name of English origin that comes from a surname that means ‘hare land’ in Old English. The brother name to Harlean, it last ranked in 1982. It does also lend itself to the name Harlem. In 2011, it was given to 159 boys as well as 15 baby girls.

Hayes – (pronounced: HAZE) is a English surname-name of Old English origin that means ‘hedged area’. It came back to the Top 1000 in 2009 and currently sits at number #776 with 286 boys given the name. Also, 16 girls were given the name in 2011. The name has Presidential pedigree and celeb-baby rights as Kevin Costner gave to the name to his son.

Jonah – (pronounced: JO-na) is a name of Hebrew origin that means ‘dove’. For Australians, I think the name is remembered in connection with a character off Summer Heights High that is anything but peaceful. Jonah Hill is currently an actor who has probably helped the name rise in popularity, it currently ranks at #144. The name has Biblical credit as well and would be a less popular choice than Jacob.

Marquis – (pronounced: mahr-KEE) is a name of Old French origin that means ‘nobleman, lord of the borderlands’. A name currently ranked #697 in the USA, Marquis is a name in the vein of Prince, Earl and Duke as names that are given to stations in nobility, lower than a Duke but higher than and Earl or Baron, it is a slightly more subtle choice in making your child feel like nobility. In 2011, 331 baby boys were given the name.

Orange – (pronounced: Oh-rinj) is a name of English origin that means what it says, ‘orange’, whether you take that to be the citrus fruit or the colour orange. It last ranked in 1901 for boys, and never ranked for girls, but with children being named after numerous other fruits, the name could be possible, but preferably as a middle name or match it with a more common name. In 2011, less than 5, or none at all, baby boys or girls were given the name Orange.

Rutherford – (pronounced: RUH-ther-ford) is a name of Old English origin meaning ‘catlle-crossing’ but is probably best remembered as the name of the 19th President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes. A name that would fit well with Wellington, the name has not ranked since 1905. In 2011, the name was given to less than 5, if none at all, baby boys.

Shelby – (pronounced: SHEL-bee) is a name of Latin origin that means ‘estate on the ledge’. It last ranked in 1999 for boys and has instead found its way within the Top 1000 for girls, currently placed at #218 though the name is not slowly moving down the list. Always more popular for girls, ranking as high as #33, compared to the boys peak at #386, Shelby would make a unique choice for a son today. In 2011, 42 baby boys were given the name Shelby. 
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