Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jasper’

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?

Read Full Post »

My Small Child’s Halloween costume yesterday is today’s inspiration.

Originally, she planned to be a little Victorian ghost, but after a visit to Disneyland, Paris, back in September, she changed her mind, and decided to be the bride from the Phantom Manor.

So, in keeping with the season, here are some of my favorite ghostly names:

Alexander. One of the ghostly children of Lucy M. Boston’s Children of Green Knowe (1954), who lived and died during the reign of King Charles II. The most famous Alexander is, of course, Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). Greek: alexandros “defending men.”

Araminta. Although not actually a ghost, Araminta “Minty” Cane travels in time and appears as a “ghost” to a boy in the eighteenth century, in Helen Cresswell’s children’s novel Moondial.

Banquo. The tragic figure of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, who was murdered by his erstwhile friend. The origin is uncertain, but even the historicity of the man is questioned. It is quite probable he was invented by a sixteenth-century Scottish academic.

Caspar. The perennial “friendly ghost,” first introduced to the world in 1945. Caspar started out as the Dutch form of Jasper, but has long been established in the English-speaking world too.

Claudia. A child-vampire, and later ghost, of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

Elly and Blair. Elly Kedward is the name of the “Blair Witch,” a woman supposedly hanged for witchcraft at Blair, Maryland, in the eighteenth century. Elly is usually a short form of Eleanor or Ellen, but Elly Kedward is actually an anagram of Edward Kelley — the sixteenth century ceremonial magician and alchemist. Personally, what would put me most off Blair itself, is not the spooky connotations lent by The Blair Witch Project but by its association with our former British PM Tony Blair. Far too scary.

Elvira. The dead wife in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit (1941), summoned by Madam Arcati. “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark” has added perhaps a bit too much color to poor old Elvira these days.

Emily. The “Corpse Bride” of Tim Burton’s film.

Erik. The “Phantom of the Opera.” Today, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is the definitive version everyone thinks of, but it actually began as a 1910 novel by Gaston Leroux (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra). Technically, of course, Erik is not actually a ghost, but his heart was in the right place…

Hamlet. Probably the most famous literary ghost of all time, Hamlet’s father — also called Hamlet — is pivotal to Shakespeare’s play. The late medieval English name Hamlet is a pet form of Hamon, from the Old German haimi “house” and “home”; but Hamlet in the play is used for the medieval Danish Amleth, which is probably a form of Olaf.

Helena. Helena Ravenclaw is the reclusive “Grey Lady” of Ravenclaw House, in Rowling’s Harry Potter tales. The original Greek Helenê means “torch,” but as far as Helen of Troy’s name is concerned, this may be coincidental — but certainly, the Ancients used to interpret the name as meaning “shining.”

Herbert. The young man killed in W. W. Jacobs’  classic 1902 short story The Monkey’s Paw, brought back to life by the second wish… Herbert is a Germanic name meaning “bright army.”

Jacob and Marley. With his clunking chains and grey, transparent palor, Jacob Marley typifies the classic Victorian image of the restless ghost, when he appears to Scrooge on Christmas Eve to warn him to mend his ways.

Linnet. Linnet Oldknow is another of the ghosts of Green Knowe. A “linnet” is a type of small songbird, but as a name, its roots probably lie ultimately with the Welsh Eluned.

Marty. Marty Hopkirk is the ghostly partner of a detective agency — Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), of the classic Sixties British television series and its remake of ten years ago. Marty is the friendlier, less formal form of Martin, which derives ultimately from Mars, the name of the Roman God of war.

Melanie. The ghostly bride of Disneyland, Paris’ Phantom Manor. From the Greek, meaning “black.”

Peter and Quint. Is Peter Quint a ghost — or not? He is one of the former employees that the governess thinks she sees and grows increasingly fraught about in Henry James’ masterpiece ghost story The Turn of the Screw.

Sam. Sam Wheat is the ghostly hero of the massive 1990 film Ghost. Usually short for Samuel, Sam could also be used as a short form of Samhain (although Samhain is pronounced “SOW-en”).

Simon. Sir Simon de Canterville is Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost, who fails miserably to scare an American family from his family home. In America, Simon falls very much in the class of “British names”; something which many Brits are quite surprised about, as over here, it is seen as a very “normal” name, at its most popular in the Sixties and Seventies.

Toseland. Another of the Green Knowe children, Toseland is a family name of the Oldknow family. The ghost of the name has the nickname Toby, while the living one goes by Tolly. Toseland is a village in Cambridgeshire, close to where the author of the Green Knowe books used to live.

Over to you. What are your favorite “ghost” names?

Read Full Post »

This morning, I read a post over on Waltzing More than Matilda about a baby called Jasper, and it got me musing about names which, on the surface, appear to be straightforward adoptions of English words, but are, in fact — in origin at least — entirely unrelated. The most popular name of this kind currently in use is Lily, and after yesterday’s Harry Potter Premier! post, it seems the perfect name to put a spotlight on today.

Lily — now almost exclusively associated with the flower (so much so that the Wikipedia entry entirely fails to mention its original roots) — actually arose in the Middle Ages as a short-form of Elizabeth — Lylie.  This quickly developed its own pet-form — Lillian/Lilian, which has been treated as a name in its own right since at least the 16th Century. It didn’t see much use, though, until the latter 19th Century, when it rapidly became one of the most popular girls’ names across the English-speaking world. And, inevitably, it was usually shortened to Lily. Lily was also very popular in its own right in the early 1900s in the UK; in the US, however — where short and pet-forms often seem to be shunned in favour of the full form — Lily remained relatively rare.

Like all names that enjoy great popularity, a time came when it started to be considered ‘over-used’, and, as people began to neglect it in favour of new darlings, it became associated with a particular generation. Thus, it came to pass that, by the 1960s, Lily and Lillian had ended up firmly in the ‘old Biddy’ category. I had an aunt of the name, and I’m afraid that even now, I struggle to associate Lily with anything other than alarming encounters with yellow dentures in a plastic mug, rows of granny pants and surgical stockings strung over a bath to dry, and a very particular kind of smell — one which didn’t bring lilies to mind..

Lily’s turning point in the US was in 1963, with an episode of Western TV series Wagon, called ‘the Lily Legend’. It boosted Lily from 983rd place in the Social Security Administration‘s ranks of that year to a dizzying 951st. The following year, Lily’s real saviour came along — Lily Munster in the TV sit-com The Munsters, which enjoyed its first run between 1964-66. Re-runs of this classic comedy over the following decade and a half are almost certainly responsible for keeping Lily hovering around the 1000th mark, rather than sinking still further. Further Munster spin-offs of various kinds, flower-power in the 70s, and the love of all things Victorian — which began in the 70s and flourished in the 80s — triggered the start of Lily’s complete rehabilitation, and it has been on the up in the US since ever since. In the late 90s and early 00s, it received a further massive boost — and gained what is now probably its most famous association  — from Harry Potter, as the name of Harry’s devoted mother, Lily Potter. It can be no coincidence that it was in 2002 — following the release of the first Harry Potter film at the end of 2001 — that the name first leapt into the top 100 in the US.

There is a little irony to all of this. For, in 1960 — the year that the fictional Lily Evans Potter was born — Lily had sunk about as far as it could go in Britain; only 34 little girls in England and Wales were really given the name Lily (and no, none of them was an Evans!). In 1965, it had sunk to just 10. Then, in 1966 — the year the film Munster, Go Home!  was released — it shot up to 59. It wasn’t all plain sailing after that — it dithered a bit until the early 80s, when, like in the US, it really began to take off. But Harry Potter has unquestionably influenced Lily’s astronomical rise in the UK in the last ten years, as much as elsewhere. In 1996, the year before the first Harry Potter was published in the UK, Lily was 83rd — it actually fallen two places from the previous year. In 1998, the year after publication, it had leapt to 62nd and by 2001, it was 36th. In 2002, it went up to 29th (and this is all without taking into account the different spellings, which would place the name considerably higher still).

I don’t usually go in for such in depth tracking of a name’s popularity — but Lily’s history is interesting because its reversal in fortune can be traced so clearly to two distinct products of popular culture. Yet Lily is one of those names held up as ‘traditional’ and ‘normal’, etc by those who like to knock more unusual or innovative names brought to a wider audience by some media source or other. They are entirely unaware — or conveniently forget — that Lily, like most of the names currently in vogue, is just as much a product of media influence and fashion as any other.

Lily is still a great name — not everyone has a smelly Auntie Lily to tarnish it for them — and I for one find it a bit sad that it is only a matter of time — and probably not very long from now either — that the arbiters of fashion will brand it ‘over-used’ and ‘out-dated’, and it will be promptly popped back into the reject bin for another sixty or seventy years. Ah well. Such are the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Lily Munster and Lily Potter will still remain, keeping it ever young in fantasy, until the next generation of baby Lilys come along.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers

- shop7 - shop7 - shop7 - shop7 - price5