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Posts Tagged ‘Hermione’

As 2011 draws to a close, I thought I’d take a look back at my top pick of names here at the Nook and elsewhere in Baby Name Blogland.

Today it’s the turn of  girls’ names at the Nook:

  • Amanita – I featured Amanita back in late August, and I still love it; it’s feminine, quirky, and very witchy. While some might be put off the thought of naming a child after a mushroom, Amanita muscaria is one of the most beautiful and evocative, and perhaps associated with fairies more than any other…
  • Betony – Betony was another of my August loves; it’s such a lovely herb, and as a name has a great contemporary ring to it.
  • CirceIjust love Circe, the mythological witch-Goddess and the name.
  • Elvy – Elvy only got a brief mention as a little used surname-as-first name, but I think it’s got a lot going for it. With the variants Elvey and Elvie, it slips in comfortably alongside all those lovely resurrected Victorian -ie names, many of which are already in favor in the UK (such as Evie, Millie, Maisie, etc) and others like Elsie and Edie on the rise. Unlike many of these, however, though it has the ring of a pet-form about it, and certainly can be used as a nickname for names such as Elvina and Elvira, Elvy is a bona fide name in her own right.
  • Fuchsia – Fuchsia’s such a stunning name, it has that same bright, slightly rebellious edge as names like Ruby and Scarlett
  • Guinevere – Queen Guinevere, Arthur’s May Queen is such a magnificent character with a name to match; why oh why isn’t it seen more?
  • Hermione – ah, Hermione, Hermione, Hermione! Probably my number one of the year; I can’t champion Hermione enough. I suggested her as a possible sibling for Peregrine in early December, and tipped her as the number one girl’s name in America in 2035. Grab her now, while she’s still such a rarity!
  • Hesper – another of my Harry Potter picks, but much less known, Hesper’s a step away from the familiar Hester, and only a couple of steps away from uber-voguish Harper. A discerning but contemporary choice.
  • Ishtar – Ishtar is another of those names which has had a number of mentions, but hasn’t really been properly featured in her own right yet. Ishtar is probably the most famous of the Goddesses of Mesopotamia—equated with Aphrodite and Ashtoreth, and it may be her name which lies behind Esther. In Egyptian texts, she appears as ‘Astar-Ḫūru. The etymology is unknown for certain; many theories abound, ranging from (rather far-fetched) connections with Eostre (see Easter) to a shared root with Aster, but evidence is too flimsy to say anything with absolute conviction. What can be said is that it is a most beautiful and evocative name.
  • Leveret – I love this unusual word-name, the little heard name for a baby hare. It oozes Pagan, witchy, Wiccan charm, and is one the source of the surname Leverett, which makes a nice variant.
  • Lilou – one of my Provençal finds, I think it gives a fetching, zingy twist on the ubiquitous Lily.
  • Merewen – A very soft, attractive Old English name.
  • Tigerlily – I just adore Tigerlily; it is a name bursting with life and color, and has considerable versatility. Would be a travesty for her not to make this baker’s dozen of mine!

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Matilda in Australia and her husband have a little boy with the beautiful name of Peregrine.

Their great passion is travel; they love the outdoors and also enjoy reading. Matilda found out she was expecting Peregrine when travelling, and when her husband encountered the name, they thought it was perfect for their child, as they like unusual, but long-established names with a history.

Peregrine, with its meaning  “traveler,” fitted the bill perfectly.

They are now expecting twins and would like help in finding a name which has a similar sort of background to Peregrine, or sounds harmonious with it.

I’m very flattered to be asked my opinion, and these are my thoughts.

There’s certainly a lot of names of Latin origin, like Peregrine, which would complement Peregrine beautifully, and if the search is widened to include Latin’s close partner Greek, then there are even more beauties to tempt the discerning parent to be:

Boys:

  • Aeneas (ǝ-NAY-ǝs/ǝ-NEE-ǝs) — Greek: ainê “praise.” The son of the Goddess Venus by a mortal, Aeneas according to Greek and Roman myth was one of the few Trojans to survive the Trojan war. The Romans believed he and his followers sailed from the smoking ruins to found a new home in Latium and was the direct ancestor of Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus. Virgil’s masterpiece The Aeneid chronicled that epic journey. In use since the 16th C, mostly in Scotland as an “English form” of Angus.
  • Felix — Latin: felix “auspicious” and “happy.” It was very common in the Roman world, and has also been used in the ESW since the 16th C. Seems to be rising in popularity at the moment, but at 122nd in the UK, and 331st in the US, I think it still falls in the not-common quality.
  • Hector — Greek: hektôr “holding fast.” The name of the champion of the Trojans. Although he was eventually killed by the Greek hero Achilles, he was held in high repute in the ancient world, considered an honorable, loyal, brave and noble man. Used since the 16th C, especially in Scotland, where it was used instead of the Gaelic Eachann (“brown horse”).
  • Octavian — English form of the Latin Octavianus meaning “belonging to the Octavius family (gens) “; the Octavii derived their name from octavus “eighth” from octo “eight” — a very auspicious number, associated with infinity. The two circles represent the joining of Heaven and Earth (or this world and the Otherworld, depending on your perspective). This was the Emperor Augustus’s name from the time of Julius Caesar’s death (and Octavian’s adoption as his heir in Caesar’s will) and the time he took the name Augustus on becoming emperor. Used from the 16th C, but always rare.
  • Philemon (FIL-ǝ-mǝn) — Greek: philêma “kiss.” Philemon and his wife Baucis entertained Zeus and Hermes as they traveled in mortal guise. As a reward they were blessed with long life and the gift that neither would outlive the other; at the moment of their death they were transformed into an oak and linden respectively. Philemon was used as a genuine given name in Ancient Greece, and has been found in the ESW since the 16th C. Although it begins with a “p,” like Peregrine, the initial sound is different, so I don’t think it’s a problen.
  • Ptolemy (TOL-ǝ-mee) — English form of the (Macedonian) Ancient Greek Ptolemaios. Ptolemy’s 2nd C Geographica is one of the most important sources of information on the geography of the Roman Empire to survive from the ancient world. It was only one of his works — he was a true polymath. Ptolemy was a very common name in the Greek world; it occurs in mythology and in history; another significant Ptolemy was the Macedonian general Ptolemaios Soter, founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt (to which Cleopatra belonged), and most of Egypt’s last pharaohs were also called Ptolemy. The only drawback of Ptolemy, in my view, is its origin; it derives from the Greek ptolemos, a variant of polemos “war,” and ptolemaios carries the meaning “belonging to war,” “hostile” and “enemy.” But this doesn’t have to be interpreted negatively — there are many things which are worthy to be hostile or an enemy of, including war itself, but also injustice, prejudice, intolerance, hatred, greed, etc., etc. And although it also formally begins with a “p,” that “p” is silent.
  • Rufus — Latin rufus “red.” Not just for red-heads :). The name can also be chosen for its positive associations with red. Like Felix, is definitely on the up at the moment, but still has a long way to go before it is in danger of falling out of the unusual category. Occurs as a nickname as early as the 11th C (a famous example being King William II — known as William Rufus), and as a genuine name from about the 16th.
  • Silvanus — Silas is very much coming into vogue at the moment, but I prefer Silvanus, the name from which it almost certainly derived. Silvanus is the Roman God of woods and wild places. Also used from the 16th C or so.
  • Theophilus — meaning “friend of (a) God/Divine Being,” Theophilus makes an interesting alternative to Theodore and, of course, shares the lovely short-form Theo. Used since the 16th C.

Girls:

  • Althea — the Greek name for the marsh mallow, from althos “healing.” A name from Greek mythology, used by 17th C poets (most famously by Richard Lovelace in “To Althea, from Prison” (1642), containing the famous lines: “Stone walls do not a prison make/Nor iron bars a cage.” A more unusual “long-form” of Thea.
  • Amabel — from the Latin amabilis “loveable.” Amabel has been used since medieval times, though it was quickly eclipsed by its simpler form Mabel. Amabel never quite died out and saw a slight revival in the 19th C, but remains a rarity.
  • Beatrix — Latin: beatrix “she who causes happiness.” Much talked about in name circles, Beatrix is still rare (Beatrice is the more popular spelling, but still uncommon, ranked 834th in the US and 116th in the UK last year).
  • Felicity — Latin: felicitas “happiness.” Felicitas is the Roman Goddess of happiness and good fortune. It’s a name full of cheerfulness and positivity. In use since the 16th C, it has only made it over the parapet in America in the last decade (due to a TV series of the name, which ran 1998-2002), though it has enjoyed a fair amount of popularity in Britain (and Australia too, I think) in the mid 20th C, but is currently still only in quiet usage, ranked 195th in Britain last year.
  • Flora — from the Latin flos “flower”; the name of the Roman Goddess of flowers. Another name used since the 16th C, particularly in Scotland, this time in place of the Gaelic Fionnuala. One of the best-known bearers was Flora Macdonald (1722-90), who famously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after his defeat in 1745, helping him “sail over the sea to Skye.” The related Florence is one of those names everyone seems to be watching at the moment, but Flora, although increasing, is still under the radar.
  • Hermione — I’ve featured Hermione a couple of times here at the Nook (here and here) and that’s because I think it’s such a beautiful and special name. Despite being catapulted to fame by Harry Potter, it’s not seeing very much use (yet). As essentially the feminine form of Hermes, one of whose spheres of influence was as the proctector of travelers, Hermione would make a nice choice for those for whom travel is important. It has been used as a genuine given name since the 17th C.
  • Ianthe (eye-AN-thee) — Greek: ia “violets” + anthos “flower.” The name of an Oceanid in Greek mythology. A favorite of the poets since the 17th C; Percy Bysshe Shelley called his daughter, born in 1813, Ianthe. Related are the equally attractive Ione (eye-OH-nee) and Iole (eye-OH-lee), both meaning “violet” and the 19th C hybrid of Iole and Ianthe — Iolanthe (eye-oh-LAN-thee).
  • Miranda — from the Latin mirandus “worthy of admiration.” I rather like Miri/Mirie as a pet-form.Used by Shakespeare for the heroine of The Tempest, the lovely noblewoman exiled since childhood with her slightly mad, wizard father on a magical island, which Caliban describes with exquisite beauty in one of my favorite Shakespearean passages:

… the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.

  • Oenone (EE-nō-nee/ee-NŌ-nee) — from the Greek oinos “wine.” The name of a mountain-nymph, the first wife of Paris of Troy.
  • Zenobia — although interpreted as “life of Zeus” in Greek, the name is probably from the Palmyrean form of Arabic Zaynab, the name of a fragrant flowering plant, as the original Zenobia was a 3rd C Queen of Palmyra who defied the Romans. Although she was ultimately defeated, she was said to have lived out her days in Rome as a respected philosopher and socialite. Used since the 16th C, but always a rarity. The American actress Tina Fey called her daughter Alice Zenobia in 2005, but it doesn’t seem to have impacted very much on the name’s use.

Non-classical names which I think also work well with Peregrine are:

Boys:

  • Diggory — A name of a knight in Arthurian Romance. The meaning is very uncertain; the traditional interpretation has it from Medieval French de “of” + egaré “lost,” but this is unlikely. Diggory is probably a much mangled French form of a name which was probably Celtic in origin. There is a legendary king of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall) called Dungarth (meaning “deep love”), who might conceivably lie behind the character. Diggory has been used since the 15th C, especially in Devon and Cornwall, and was used by C.S. Lewis in The Magician’s Nephew, for the hero, whose fantastical journey led to the creation of Narnia and the Wardrobe.
  • Faramond — Old German: fara ‘journey’ + munda ‘protection’.
  • Guy — Old German: witu “wood” or wit “wide” (encompassing the sense of “widely travelled” as well as referring to experience, knowledge, etc).
  • Jago (JAY-go) — the Cornish form of Jacob.
  • Jasper — Jasper is the English form of Caspar, one of the names attached to the fabled three “wise men” in medieval times. Its etymology is not known for certain, but most favor a derivation from the Persian khazāndār “treasurer.” Jasper has been used since the 14th C, and Caspar (the Dutch form) since the 19th. The vampire of the name in the Twilight series has put it in the spotlight, and it is increasing in use, but hasn’t yet reached the top 150 yet.
  • Ludovick — from the Latin form of LouisLudovicus — in orgin an Old German name meaning “loud battle” or “renowned warrior.” As with Ptolemy, the martial element may not immediately appeal, but there are many battles of a non-violent kind to be fought metaphorically in life. Shortens to the fabulous Ludo.
  • Matthias (mǝth-EYE-ǝs) — the Greek form of Matthew “gift of Yahweh.” Depending on your religious persuasion, you may or may not be able to see past the meaning, but it certainly sounds magnificent. A related name which presents the same dilemma is Ozias (ō-ZEYE-ǝs) “strength of Yahweh.”
  • Orlando — an Italian form of Roland dating from the Renaissance, when it featured in two of the most important works of literature of the period, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso. It also had an outing in Shakespeare, and has been used in the English-speaking world since the 17th C. It was actually at its most popular in America in the 1970s (reaching the dizzing heights of 247th place in 1975), and although Orlando Bloom has raised its profile, he doesn’t seem to have affected its use all that much. It remains uncommon.
  • Rafferty — The wild-card. Rafferty is an Irish surname, but can be considered the Anglicised form of the Gaelic names behind that surname, both bynames, one meaning “wielder of prosperity” — highly auspicious — the other “spring-tide” — full of the promise of new journeys to be taken. Its use as a given name without connection to a Rafferty is quite recent, but its roots are old.
  • Torquil

Girls:

  • Christabel — a literary creation of medieval times, a combination of Christ with the –bel ending of names such as Isabel. It returned to modest use in the 19th C thanks to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Christabel” (1816); his own granddaughter was named Christabel in 1843. The suffragette Christabel Pankhurst (1880-1958) is the most famous bearer.
  • Clemency — one of the Puritan names which was first used in the 17th C. With its attractive meaning, it remains a lovely choice.
  • Emmeline — a Norman-French name, starting out as a diminutive of the Germanic Amalia, from amal “work.” Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was the leader of the Suffragettes.
  • Estrella — a Spanish name used in the English-speaking world since the early 19th C. Its roots lie with the Germanic Austrechildis “Easter battle,” but it has long been associated with the Spanish estrella  “star.” Alfonso and Estrella (1822) is an opera by Schubert.
  • Imogen — the heroine of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, one of the few tragedies with a happy ending. Imogen is a princess who undertakes a physical and emotional journey to be reunited with the man she loves. It is generally accepted that the name arose as a misreading of the Celtic Innogen, meaning “daughter.”
  • Jessamy
  • Rosamund
  • Sabrina — don’t let the teenage witch put you off this gem!
  • Topaz — the wildcard in the girls. The name of the precious stone. It derives ultimately from the Sanskrit tapas “heat” and “fire.” It is one of the gem names adopted at the end of the 19th C. Borne by the wonderful character of Topaz Mortmain in Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle (1949).

So what does everyone think? What would you choose?

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Yesterday, I gazed into my crystal ball (a.k.a. the American SSA’s Popular Baby Name website), and predicted what boys’ names will be in the top 10 in 2035.

They were:

  1. Lucas
  2. Judah
  3. Jacob
  4. Rafferty
  5. Elijah
  6. Owen
  7. Silas
  8. William
  9. Indigo
  10. Joseph

My method is simple. How were today’s top ten ranked in 1985? And what names occupied those spots in 2010?

Today’s top ten girls’ names were ranked as follows in 1985:

  1. Isabella: Unranked (only 34 girls received the name in 1985)
  2. Sophia: 236 (in slight decline in 1985, though generally rising)
  3. Emma: 267 (rising)
  4. Olivia: 248 (in decline — but started to rise again in 1986)
  5. Ava: Unranked (only 132 girls called Ava in 1984, but it re-entered the charts again in 1986)
  6. Emily: 24 (rising rapidly)
  7. Abigail: 153 (rising)
  8. Madison: 628 (its first appearance in the rankings, prompted by the 1984 film Splash)
  9. Chloe: 564 (rising)
  10. Mia: 438 (rising)

And their 2035 replacements look like this (with a bit of tweaking)

  1. HERMIONE. Many people are pretty amazed to find out that not only was today’s darling Isabella not in the top 1000 in 1985, but only 34 baby girls were given the name at all. There were some interesting names in the same place in 2010, including Ara, Empress, Indiana, Mathilda, Saba, Wisdom and Zamora, but I can’t see any making the top 10 (Mathilda’s big sister Matilda might, but she is in the top 1000). There are one or two interesting possibilities among the names given to 35 little girls, such as Clarice, Lavinia and Polly; while another old classic Ursula was borne by only 32 girls in 2010, but it is lovely Hermione, given to only 37 baby girls in 2010 that gets my vote. I can’t help thinking it’s only a matter of time that the USA finally embraces her, and that she’s the one to watch from the bottom of this barrel.
  2. ELIZA. Jayda occupies the present 236th slot, but although she may rise quite high, I think her time in the sun will be over by 2035. Nearby, however, Eliza (240) is rising.
  3. ESTHER  is 267. She’s been away in the wilderness a while, but I think the tide is turning in her favor now.
  4. HARMONY. Ranked 248th is Cassidy, but she’s in decline. Harmony, however, is 249th, and rising…
  5. CLEMENTINE — 132 little girls were called Clementine in 2010. This beauty vanished from the top 1000 in 1953; in 1994, less than three girls received the name (if any at all), but since then, the numbers have generally been increasing.
  6. LEAH is 24. Like her predecessor Emily was, twenty-five years ago, she’s steadily rising. Will she have made the top ten by 2035? Perhaps.
  7. DAISY. Actually ranked 151 in 2010; 153rd was Makenzie, which is in decline and pretty unlikely to be in 6th place in 2035 now. Popular in the UK, Daisy, however, is on the rise again. Another possibility from the 150s is Vivian (158).
  8. ANNABEL is 628. She re-entered the top 1000 in 2000 and might well go places.
  9. ROSA is 564. She’s at her lowest yet, but surely the time is ripe now for her fortunes to change? They have already in Britain.
  10. ADELAIDE. In the 438th spot is Kadence, a doubtful top ten contender for 2035. Adelaide (434), however, is rocketing up the charts. Another possibility is Helen, languishing in the 437th spot. Its a long time now since she was in favor, and perhaps its her time to shine once more?

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Tonight sees the première of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. As I write, the stars are arriving in Leicester Square, London, and greeting the thousands of excited fans, who have been gathering all day (well, in truth, all week) in the hope of catching a glimpse of the faces we have come to know so well, the physical manifestations of J. K. Rowling’s magical characters.

And what better way to mark the occasion than to take a closer look at some of the Harry Potter names?

It would be impossible to start with anything other than Harry — the boy wizard who takes on the most terrible wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort — and wins. Harry is the Traditional English vernacular form of Henry, which has been in use as an independent name since the Middle Ages. Harris and Harrison are two surnames which derive from it, both now used as first names. J. K. Rowling’s Harry is not the only fictional Harry Potter caught up in magic;  The hero of the film Troll (1986) was also called Harry Potter.

As for Henry, its roots lie in Dark Age Germany. It is a combination of the Old German haimi ‘home’ and ricja ‘ruler’ and its earliest known form was Haimirich. This was Latinized as Henricus, from which the French Henri and Anglo-French Henry later evolved. Harry is very popular in the UK, in 3rd place in 2009. Given the popularity of the books and films in the US, it is surprising that it is in 658th place over there — and falling.

Hermione, on the other hand, has never made the top 1000 names in the US, though it has been used in the English-speaking world since at least the 18th Century. In the UK in 2009, it was place 370th — and climbing. While Harry is a firmly Germanic name, Hermione’s is Classical. In Greek mythology, Hermione was the daughter of Menelaus, King of Sparta and the infamous beauty, Helen of Troy. Her life, in contrast to her parents, was considerably less eventful. She married her cousin Orestes (after he murdered his mother as punishment for her murdering his father, and had a spell being chased around Greece by the Furies) and not much else is know about her. Her name, however, has rich meaning. It is formed from the name of the Greek God Hermes (the Roman Mercury). Most people know he is the messenger of the Gods, but his role goes far deeper than that. He conveys the souls of the dead to the underworld — a role arising from the fact he is also a God of boundaries, making him a male counterpart of Hecate. And the similarities don’t end there. There are distinct hints of magic about him, from his ‘magic wand’ – the caduceus – to his associations with the night. He was seen in ancient times as a protector of those on the fringe of society, both those who were only temporarily in that position (namely travelers) to those who resided there permanently, i.e. thieves, prostitutes – and Witches.  A very apt name, then, for a witch.

Ronald takes us to the Celtic fringe and medieval Scandinavia. It derives ultimately from the Old Norse Rögnvaldrregin ‘might’ and ‘counsel’ + valdr ‘ruler’. It has been used continually in Scotland since medieval times, and in the 19th Century, it became popular elsewhere in the English-speaking world. The pet-form Ronnie was popular as a name in its own right in the first half of the 20th Century — and then, of course, there’s Ron. Among the many real-life bearers is the Historian Ronald Hutton, well-known for his books on Paganism and Witchcraft. Ronald was in joint 848th place in the UK in 2009, along with such varied names as Abel, Armani, Cairo, Dewi, Hunter, Hussein and Stanislaw, though Ronnie was up in the 131st spot. In the US, Ronald was 342nd in 2010.

Albus is Latin and means ‘white’ — specifically ‘dead white’. It was regarded as a symbol of good fortune. Although now it will be forever associated with Albus Dumbledore, it has actually been in use since at least the 19th Century.

Severus is also Latin, unsurprisingly meaning  ‘serious’, ‘sober’, ‘strict’ ‘stern’ and ‘austere’. It has actually been used as a genuine name since ancient times; three Roman Emperors alone bore the name: Lucius Septimius Severus (145-211 CR), Marcus Aurelius Alexander Severus (208-235 CE) and Flavius Valerius Severus (fl. 306-07 CE). There are also a number of saints called Severus. It was first used as a given name in the English-speaking world in the 16th Century, though it is more widely used in Italy and Spain in the form Severo.

Sirius is well-known as the name of the brightest star in the sky. Bearing the scientific name Alpha Canis Majoris, Sirius is also known as ‘the Dog Star’ because of its place in the constellation Canis Major – one of the hunting dogs of Orion. It is the Latin form of the Greek seirios ‘the scorcher’, which comes from the verb seiraô ‘to be hot’ and ‘to scorch’, acquiring the name because it first rises at the hottest time of the year.  It, too, has also seen genuine first name use — the first examples appearing in the 19th Century.

Remus is an important figure in the legendary history of Rome. He and his twin brother Romulus were the founders of that famous city. Twin sons of Rhea Silvia and the God Mars, they were said to have been suckled by a she-wolf as babies — making it a good name for a werewolf. The brothers quickly fell out over which of them should give their name to their new city; Romulus settled the matter by killing Remus. In fact, both of the brothers’ names derive from the name of the city, rather than the other way around. Remus has been used as a real given name since the early 18th Century. Another famous literary Remus is Uncle Remus, the central character in Joel Chandler Harris’ Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation (1881), which is very much a thing of its time. Remo is used in Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Nymphadora is the feminine form of Nymphadorus – a genuine Ancient Greek male name. A shorter form of it – Nymphas – occurs in The New Testament. It comes from the Greek numphê ‘nymph’ and the verb didômi ‘to give’ – i.e. ‘given by a nymph/the nymphs’.

Bellatrix — such a good name for a bad witch! In Latin bellatrix means ‘female warrior’, and is the name of a star in Orion. In use for real since the late 19th Century.

Well, that’s all for now, folks. I plan another Harry Potter themed post to mark the cinema release next week, so watch this space!

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