Posted in Alternative Names, Ancient Paganism, Baby Names, Classical Mythology, Druid Names, Heathen Names, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names, Magical Names, Names, New Age Names, Pagan Names, Pagan-friendly, Paganism, Unisex Names, Unusual Names, Wiccan Names, Witch Names, tagged Aglaia, Alban, Amaterasu, Amber, Anwu, Apollo, Arevik, Arthan, Arthur, Arun, Aruna, Aster, Aten, Aurinko, Aygün, Áine, Bay, Cam, Cardamon, Cerah, Chryseis, Chryses, Chrysogon, Cinnamon, Citrine, Clove, Cressida, Day, Diell, Eguzki, Eithne, Enya, Frankincense, Günay, Geola, Gold, Grian, Grisegond, Haru, Haruki, Haruko, Heliodora, Heliodorus, Heliostásio, Helius, Heuldro, Heulwen, Hina, Honey, Iola, Iolo, Jólnir, Jole, Jolly, Jolyon, Jua, Julian, Julius, Kem, Khurshid, Light, Lucia, Lucius, Lucy, Lux, Maeve, Matahari, Mead, Medb, Midwinter, Mithras, Mull, Myrene, Myristica, Naran, Natalia, Natalie, Natasha, Nathalie, Noel, Nutmeg, Oenone, Orange, Oriana, Orinda, Orun, Phaëthon, Phanes, Phoebe, Phoebus, Ra, Ramesses, Ravi, Rì, Renaissance, Renata, Renatus, René, Renée, Sampson, Samson, Saulenė, Saulė, Shamash, Shams, Shemshi, Sherry, Soare, Sol, Solar, Solaris, Soleil, Solifer, Solifera, Soligena, Solstice, Solveig, Sonne, Sorin, Sorina, Sounia, Stella, Sulien, Sun, Sunday, Sunia, Sunlight, Sunna, Sunngifu, Sunniva, Sunny, Sunrise, Sunset, Sunshine, Sunčana, Surya, Svarog, Tesni, Wassail, Wine, Winter, Yáng, Youko, Yul, Yula, Yule on December 21, 2011 |
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It’s the Winter Solstice tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Summer Solstice in the Southern — I’m not jealous, really, I’m not).
That is to say, it’s the shortest day, or — as my mum used to say — the longest night.
And whatever your religious persuasion, or none, there’s something special about it.
It marks the very deepest, darkest moment of winter — that’s the bleak bit.
But it means from now on, the days gradually start to lengthen again. The ever turning wheel of the year has shifted, and we’re on our way back to the warmth and light. Yippee!
However, for a few days, each side of the Solstice, to the naked eye, the sun appears to rise and set in the same places — hence the name, from the Latin sol “sun” + sisto “to stand still.”
Of course, we know today that the reason why the sun grows weaker and the days shorten after the Summer Solstice is because the Earth goes round the sun, spinning on its axis, which is on an angle.
But for most of human history (and prehistory) most humans thought it was the sun doing the moving, rising in the East, setting in the West.
As the Winter Solstice approached, they thought the sun was dying; the Sostice marked the point when the sun was reborn, to strengthen and grow until it reached the peak of its power at the Summer Soltice.
No wonder this period is marked with numerous festivals, frequently of light.
Chief among them in the pagan Roman Empire was Sol Invictus — “The Unconquered Sun” — whose birthday was celebrated on December 25.
It is no coincidence that it shares December 25 with Christmas, only celebrated on that date since the fifth century.
December 25 is the first date after the Solstice when the sun stops seeming to “stand still” and the day is discernibly a little longer.
The word “Christmas” actually dates only to the twelfth century. Prior to that, the festivities which took over Sol Invictus were called Yule (the earliest Old English form known is geohol), almost certainly the name of the Germanic pagan festival celebrated at this time.
The ultimate source of the word “yule” is uncertain, but it is either cognate with, or derived from the Norse jól and is, most likely, connected with “jolly,” though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation about which came first.
The original Norse festival of Jól was celebrated between the 20th and 31st December.
Yule and Yuletide are still used generally as an alternative name for Christmas, as they have for centuries, but it is the preferred name for the season by most Pagans of all persuasions, who usually use it now for the Solstice, rather than December 25.
Druids, however, will often call the Solstice Alban Arthan, which was first recorded by Iolo Morganwg.
So, what names for a Winter Solstice baby?
- Aglaia — Greek aglaios “splendor”; one of the Graces
- Alban — Welsh “solstice”; identical to the name of the saint, and quite probably sharing the same roots in the Common Celtic *albiyo- “upper world” and “white.”
- Amaterasu — Japanese 天 “heaven,” “sky” and 照 “shine”; the name of the Japanese Goddess of the sun
- Amber — one ancient belief was that amber was the solidified light of the setting sun on the sea.
- Anwu — Igbo “sun”
- Apollo — God of the sun
- Arevik — Armenian name meaning “sun-like”
- Arthan — An Old Welsh word meaning “winter”, connected by Iolo Morganwg with arth “bear.”
- Arthur — Druids see Arthur as symbolic of the sun and equate him with the winter solstice.
- Arun, Aruna — In Hindu mythology, Aruna is the charioteer of the sun.
- Aten — Egyptian “disc of the sun”; the name of an Egyptian God, considered an aspect of Ra.
- Aurinko — Finnish “sun”
- Bay — one of the herbs traditionally added to a seasonal mulled wine
- Cam — the Romani word for “sun” (and “to love”)
- Cardamon — a spice added to mulled wines in the Middle Ages
- Cerah — Malaysian “sunny” and “bright”
- Chrysogon — Greek khrusogonos “gold-born”; Grisegond is an old variant
- Citrine — used since the eighteenth century as the name of a type of yellow topaz; it is believed to radiate the energy of the sun
- Clove — one of the most important ingredients of a mulled wine
- Cressida — derives ultimately from the Greek mythological Chryseis, meaning “(daughter) of Chryses” — a male Greek name from khrusos “gold.”
- Diell — Albanian “sun”
- Eguzki — Basque “sun”
- Enya — in the Native American language of Papai, enya means “sun.” The Irish Enya originated as the Anglicized form of Eithne used by the Irish singer-songwriter Enya; Eithne is an old form of Áine, the name of an Irish Goddess, whose name means “heat” and “light”.
- Frankincense — an ancient resin, used as an incense since ancient times, and used for purification in Pagan temples. It is considered to be ruled by the Sun even today, and the Ancient Egyptians used it particularly in the worship of the sun God Ra.
- Geola — Old English form of YULE
- Gold — associated with the sun since ancient times
- Grian — an Irish Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”
- Günay — Turkish girl’s name combining güneş “sun” + ay “moon”; Aygün is a variant
- Haru – Japanese boy’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight”; Haruki, another boy’s name, combines it with 輝 “radiance, shine” or 生 “life,” while the girl’s name Haruko combines it with 子 “child.”
- Heliodorus, Heliodora — Greek “gift of the sun”
- Heliostásio — Modern Greek “solstice”
- Helius — Greek God of the sun; his name means “sun”
- Heuldro — Welsh “solstice”
- Heulwen — Welsh haul “sun” + (g)wen “white,” “blessed” and “pure”; used since the late nineteenth century
- Hina – Japanese girl’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight” or 日 “sun,” “day” + 菜 “vegetables”
- Honey — associated with the sun since ancient times
- Iolo — although unrelated, Iolo (with its feminine form Iola) has a very similar ring to YULE…
- Jólnir — a byname of Odin. Old Norse: jól “YULE”
- Jolie — French jolie, feminie of joli “pretty,” derives from, or shares the same origin, as the Old Norse jól “YULE”
- Jolly — sharing the same origin as JOLIE, if you find this too light, why not consider the “long-form” Jolyon, a form of Julian, deriving ultimately from Julius? Although, like Iolo, not related to Yule, the similarities are there…
- Jua — Swahili “sun”
- Kem — Romani “sun”; a variant of CAM
- Khurshid — Old Persian “shining sun”; the name of an angel in Zoroastrianism associated with the sun
- Lucy — English form of Lucia, the feminine of LUCIUS. St Lucy’s day was celebrated in many parts of Europe last week on the thirteenth; until the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, St Lucy’s used to fall on or around the Solstice.
- Lux — Latin “light”
- Maeve — Usual modern form of the Irish name Medb, which derives from the Common Celtic for MEAD (cognate with mead itself)
- Matahari — Indonesian “sun” (from mata “eye” + hari “day”)
- Mead — a beverage made from HONEY, dating back to ancient times; probably the unofficial official Pagan drink, especially for the Solstices; it shares honey’s associations with the sun.
- Midwinter — a word used of the Solstice since Angl0-Saxon times
- Mithras — the Greco-Roman God of the mystery religion of Mithraism, popular with Roman soldiers. His worship arrived from the East in the first century; he is identified with Sol Invictus, and his birthday was also celebrated on December 25.
- Mull — “mulled wine,” from the verb “to mull” meaning “to warm.” The Island of Mull gets its name from a Gaelic word meaning “bare,” also quite appropriate for the season, since all is bare (the cognate Welsh word is used of bare, “bald” hills).
- Myrene — an Amazon in Greek myth; Greek: murinês “sweet wine.”
- Myristica — botanical name for NUTMEG, meaning “fragrant”
- Naran — Mongolian name meaning “sun”
- Natalia – from the Latin natale “bitth”; these days, associated with the birth of Jesus, but is just as appropriately applied to the rebirth of the Sun, as celebrated at Sol Invictus; Natalie and Nathalie are the popular French forms, and Natasha, the Russian pet-form.
- Noel — Anglo-Norman noel “Christmas” from Latin natale — see NATALIA
- Nutmeg — another spice often added to a mulled wine
- Orange — oranges, being round and, well, orange, are often associated with the sun
- Oriana — coined by Elizabethan poets in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, from Latin orior “to rise,” used specifically of the rising sun.
- Orinda — another poetic invention coinage from orior (see Oriana above), this time of the seventeenth century.
- Orun — Yoruba: òrùn “sun”
- Phaëthon — Greek “shining”; the name of a son of Helius, famous for almost crashing the chariot of the sun
- Phanes — a primeval Greek God, associated with MITHRAS; his name derives from the Greek phainô “to bring light.”
- Phoebus — Greek: phoibos “bright” and “radiant”; epithet of Apollo
- Ra — the Egyptian God of the Sun, whose name means “sun”
- Ramesses — The name of a famous Pharaoh, meaning “RA/the sun bore him.”
- Ravi — Sanskrit “sun”
- Renaissance – French “rebirth”; generally used since the nineteenth century of the cultural “rebirth” at the end of the Middle Ages, its basic meaning is simply “rebirth” and could be used as a name with reference to the rebirth of the sun at the Winter Solstice
- René, Renée — French forms of RENATUS
- Renatus, Renata – Latin “reborn”; used of the rebirth of the sun
- Rì — Chinese 日 “sun,” “day”
- Samson – Hebrew: “child/man of SHAMASH”; Sampson is a common variant
- Saulė — Lithuanian Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”; Saulenė is a variant
- Shamash — major Assyrian God; his name means “sun” in Akkadian
- Shams — Arabic “sun”
- Shemshi — Swahili “sun”
- Sherry — rolled out across the land at this time of year, particularly to leave out for Santa…
- Soare — Romanian “sun”
- Sol — Latin “sun”; Norse Sól meaing “sun” is the name of the Norse Goddess of the Sun
- Solaris — Latin “of the sun”
- Soleil — French “sun”
- Solifer, Solifera — Latin “sun-bearing”
- Soligena — Latin “sun-born”
- Solveig — Old Norse sól “sun” + veig “strength”
- Sonne — German “sun”
- Sorin — Romanian name, usually derived from SOARE
- Sorina — feminine of SORIN
- Sounia — epithet of Athena, from Sounion in Attica, which may, possibly, derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *su(w)en- “sun”; Latinized as Sunia
- Sulien — Old Welsh name, probably meaning “sun-born”
- Sunčana — Croatian name from sunče “sun”
- Sunday — could be interpreted as referring to the Solstices as well as the day of the week
- Sunna — Goddesss of the sun in Germanic tradition.
- Sunniva — Old English: Sunngifu “sun-given”
- Surya — Sanskrit “sun”; the Hindu God of the sun
- Svarog — Slavic God of the sun; Slavic: svar “bright”
- Tesni — Welsh name deriving from tes “sunshine” and “warmth”
- Wassail — originally a salutation used when passing a cup to a guest; from the Old English wes hāl “be in good health”; in time it came to be used of the drink too, especially the spiced ale drunk during the twelve days of Christmas
- Wine — another popular beverage of the season, especially mulled
- Yáng — Chinese 陽 “sun,” “positive”
- Youko — Japenese girl’s name: 陽 “sun” + 子 “child”
- Yule — of course. Also the fab variant Yul. Yule was actually used as a given name in medieval times (with a feminine form Yula), surviving for some time on the Isle of Man in the form Jole.
With Yule and Sol Invictus to celebrate, I’ll be back at the Nook when the mead’s worn off…
A bright and blessed Solstice, Yule, Alban Arthan and Christmas one and all.
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Posted in Alternative Names, Baby Names, Classical Mythology, Fiction, Llewellyn's Complete Book of Names, Names, Unusual Names, tagged Aeneas, Althea, Amabel, Beatrix, Caspar, Christabel, Clemency, Diggory, Emmeline, Estrella, Faramond, Felicity, Felix, Flora, Florence, Guy, Hector, Hermione, Ianthe, Imogen, Iolanthe, Iole, Jago, Jasper, Jessamy, Louis, Ludo, Ludovick, Mabel, Matthias, Miranda, Miri, Octavian, Oenone, Orlando, Ozias, Philemon, Ptolemy, Rafferty, Roland, Rosamund, Rufus, Sabrina, Silvanus, Thea, Theo, Theophilus, Topaz, Zenobia on December 12, 2011 |
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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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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 Louis — Ludovicus — 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.
- 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.”
- 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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