Unsurprisingly, given our shared outlook on things, Isadora Vega at Bewitching Baby Names has featured some absolute gems. But my favorites have to be:
- Icie — sweet and simple, but very seasonal — and it has that a la mode “-ie”
- Madrigal — I’m amazed this had passed me by until now, particularly as I sang in a madrigal group at school, and Abbey at Appellation Mountain featured it in 2008. Ah well. That’s the joy and pain of names! The word “madrigal” first entered the English language in the late sixteenth century as the name of a type of secular part-song for several voices, usually sung without accompaniment — and this remains its principal meaning today. The song had originated in Italy, where it was called a madrigale, and it derived ultimately from the post-classical Latin matricalis meaning “maternal,” “simple,” and “primitive,” deriving ultimately from mater “mother.” What a fabulous Pagan name, if there ever was one!
- Ulalume — the title of an evocative poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Very otherworldy.
- Virelai — a type of song or lyric poem originating in fourteenth century France. The usual British English form is Virelay, which is just as nameworthy. There’s also the Middle English Verelai and Verilay — although that is getting a bit close to Verily… not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…
Elea at British Baby Names and I also seem to share similar tastes. The wonderful names I’ve encountered there this year have been overflowing, but I warm to these most of all:
- Argantel – Breton girl’s name meaning “generous silver.”
- Argantlowen – Breton girl’s name meaning “joyful silver.”
- Elestren – Cornish for “iris.”
- Elowen – Cornish for “elm.”
- Finlo – Manx name meaning “white/blessed Lugh,” or the Manx form of Finley “white/blessed champion.”
- Gwenlowen – Breton name meaning “joyful white.”
- Izambro – a wonderful Victorian rarity, which Elea found in the 1847 BMDs. It would seem to be a variant of Isambard.
- Morgelyn – Cornish for “sea-holly”
- Orixa – the name of a plant, Orixa japonica, native to China and Japan. It also happens to be an alternative spelling of the Yoruba Orisha, described by Wikipedia as “is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system.”
- Zereth – another of Elea’s finds of 1847, Zereth is biblical and means “span.”
Abbey at Appellation Mountain‘s provided plenty food for thought as always, but these are the ones I think have the most Pagan hearts:
- Katniss — a name from the Science Fiction teenage novel The Hunger Games; makes a fresh change from the usual sci-fi girls’ names.
- Merrilees – a surname, borne by a British celebrity female chef called Merrilees Parker. Although it got a mixed reception at Appellation Mountain, I think it’s a great name, an interesting alternative to Anneliese.
- Sequioia – the only Sequoias we get in the UK are in arboretums, but they are widespread and beloved in America, and best known as “redwoods.” They take their name from a Cherokee called Sequoyah, who invented a syllabary for writing Cherokee.
From Lou at Mer de Noms, I particularly warmed to:
- Fortuné – the French form of Fortunatus.
- Swansea – well, if Chelsea can be used as a name, why not Swansea?
- Tellou – Lou’s French friend; in her case, it’s a pet-form of Estelle.
Zeffy at Baby Names from Yesteryear has also has many a gem. My favorites were:
- Ardalion – a saint, particularly now revered, it seems in the Russian Orthodox Church; it is from the Greek ardalion “water-pot,” and “water-trough.”
- Ozro – the marvelously named Bladen Ozro Capell (1897-1959) brought Ozro to my attention. Its a curious name, of uncertain derivation, and one I intend to investigate more thoroughly in the new year. Is it a form of the biblical Ozer, or Russian Ozero? Or does the fact it says Ozra on his gravestone offer a clue? We shall see!
- Tiece — a medieval French woman’s name.
Dorcas at Names from the Dustbin likewise has many a gem; these are the ones which sparkled most for me:
- Betzabel — I agree with Dorcas that this is probably a variant of Bathsheba, possibly Occitan or Provençal (since that’s where Elizabeth — the biblical Elisheba, which shares the same second element as Bathsheba turned into Isabel).
- Creedence — apparently there’s a band of the name; and while I shy away from this spelling, I do think Puritan Credence has distinct possibilities.
- Fenway – to what extenct Fenway is associated in America with the Red Sox outside Boston I honestly can’t say; but in the UK I doubt there are many that would make the connection.
- Freelove – this Puritan museum piece didn’t have quite the same sentiments behind it as the 1960s take on it!
Kristen’s Marginamia is aways a visual feast as well as a treasure trove of distinctive, off-beat names. Narrowing down to just a few is difficult!
- Boheme — I didn’t know Girl’s Gone Child until the names of her twins were announced, and it was at Marginamia I read about it first!
- Luumu –Finnish for “plum”
- Rosegold — we have Marigold, why not Rosegold? Especially for those with Welsh connections, as rose gold is particularly associated with the land of song (and Russia).
- Spindle — immediately conjures images of fairy tales and spindle trees. I hadn’t considered it before, but when I saw it at Marginimaia, I thought, yup, that could work.
- Valo — the beautiful name of one of Kristen’s daughters, meaning “light” in Finnish (and “eight” in Malagasy).
- Verabel — seems to be just a combination of Vera and -bel; Verabel is best known as an American artisan jeweler.
- Vrai — “true” in French. Gorgeous.
Rowan at Eponymia has also provided me with lots of name inspiration — it’s been a particular joy browsing all those Olympic lists! Again, there’s been so many interesting discoveries, but these are my picks:
- Badou — a Gambian name; I think I like names ending in “oo” even more than those in “o”!
- Cadeau — French “gift”; very much a “why not?” kind of name…
- Crake – best-known as the corn-crake today, the word was once used — and can still be found — as a dialect word in parts of the North of England meaning “raven.”
- Draško – a Slavic name, arising as a pet-form of names with the element dorgu meaning “precious.”
- Siarhei — the Belorusian form of Sergei.
Sarah’s For Real Baby Names is always a source of inspiration and delight, where I get many a thrill from seeing unusual names actually being used out there — for real — as well as joy in adding new names to my collection! These are just some the gems I’ve added this year from For Real:
- Geo — presumably inspired by the use of the prefix geo- forming words like geography and geophysics, it defiitely falls into the “why not?” category, especially for Nature lovers and Gaiaists. The prefix derives from the Greek gê “Earth.” Geo also works as a short-form of George…
- Monet — the surname of the great French impressionist; soft, cultural and still quite unisex. Nice.
- Renegade — I do like a good “word name,” and I love this one. Makes a great alternative to Maverick.
- Tutu — whether its the ballet skirt or the South African bishop commemmorated here (or even the class of a degree), I warm to Tutu; it’s got that same chirpiness as names like Lilou and Lulu, and particularly makes a great, quirky middle name.
And last, but by no means least, Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda introduced me to some of Australia’s quirky innovations:
- Alira, Alirah — almost certainly an Australian take on Aleera, a name which featured in the 2005 film Van Helsing, which, for some reason, has recently captured the Australian imagination.
- Colebee — I love the “-bee” ending! A suburb of Sydney, named after a nineteenth century Aboriginal guide.
- Kirrily — an Ozzie innovation, probably in essence a variant on Kerry-Lee, but there are some nice Maori and Aboriginal options which may have inspired the spelling.
- Taiga — actually Japanese, I love this name’s meaning and sound — pronounced both the Japanese and English ways.
What delights will 2012 bring? I can hardly wait! Happy New Year!