Category: Baby Names

Name of the Day: Ernest

Meaning “serious”, this name is probably considered terribly out of fashion to many. Most. But I find it nerdy enough to be cool! I would swoon if I met a little boy named Ernest, it’s just so sweet and unexpected. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname Ernie, which I feel is inevitable. But the nickname could grow on me. (I didn’t like the nickname Lulu either and now it’s my daughter’s primary nickname!) I also like Ernesto, and think Nesto would be a sweet nickname.

My primary association with the name is the Oscar Wilde play, The Importance of Being Earnest.  A comical play that pokes fun of social obligations, and life’s general priorities, especially regarding love and marriage.  I love that this play is purely satire, just lighthearted and fun!

Another strong association is Ernest Hemingway. A Nobel prize and Pulitzer prize winner, Hemingway is one of the 20th century’s most notable writers. Another Pulitzer prize winner is Ernest Poole.

Ernest carries a lot of literary cred, but it’s also a popular name amongst athletes. A basketball hall of famer and several Olympic medalists answer to Ernest. A saint, a few actors, politicians, and a notable explorer as well as physician.




Name of the Day: Kipling

According to behind the name, Kipling (which originated as an English surname) means Cybell’s cottage… I can’t figure out who Cybell is though!  If I were to use the name I’d want to so further research on that. (Please comment if you have any knowledge.) But on the bright side, I love cottages. My grandparents had a cottage on a lake and many of my happiest childhood memories took place there.

This name is most associated with Rudyard Kipling, writer of The Jungle Book, as well as many other works. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, the first person who wrote in English to receive the honor, and also the youngest to receive it. He was 42.

I adore the nickname Kip and think Kipling sounds rather sophisticated as well! Win-win.




Name of the Day: Marla

The name Marla, like Marlene, refers to the biblical character Mary Magdalene. One of Jesus’s followers, many believe she was the first to see him resurrected. I was always under the impression she was a reformed prostitute, but that is up for debate. I personally like that theory about her because it makes her story one of overcoming personal situations. A symbol that you can change no matter what’s in your past.

My husband likes the suggestion of Marla because of Marla Hooch in  A League of Their Own. That movie is a favorite in his family, my father-in-law particularly loves it. So the name makes him think of childhood and family memories.

Fight Club also has a Marla. Fight Club is a book and movie I studied in college, and discussed in depth with my brother. So this association is actually more nostalgic for me.

Marla Olmsted is a painter who’s abstract work gained attention around the world when she was 4 year’s old. Of course, once she received a lot of fame people began questioning whether it was really her work or if her father was helping her. She is now 17.

Marla Maples is one of Donald Trump’s ex-wives and an actress. She may be a lovely and talented person, but I haven’t seen her in anything so I can’t really judge that. The Donald Trump association isn’t a great one for me. So, for our family, this is a strike against the name. But I’m sure for some it’d be one more reason to love the name.




Name of the Day: Lorna

A literary name from R. D. Blackmore’s novel, Lorna Doone, it is believed he derived the name from the place name Lorne in Scotland. The book, like the name, is filled with beauty and abundant with splendid descriptions of nature. Truly, I loved the book. A love story packed with adventure and a surprise ending, it’s one of my favorite classic books. And Lorna’s character is very charming, though my favorite character is actually Ruth (another name I adore!).

More modern associations include Orange is the New Black character Lorna Muccio and Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, a member of X-Men. These associations make me surprised only 27 girls were named Lorna in the U.S. in 2016.

In real life, Judy Garland named her daughter Lorna (and she has a Liza, so she had impeccable taste in names.) Lorna Fitzgerald is a modern day actress. Named after the character and novel, Lorna Doone is a well known brand of cookies. Some may see that as an annoying association, but I like it. Cookie can be a funny nickname when she’s young.




Name of the Day: Magnus

Meaning “great” in Latin, it is rumored that it became a Scandinavian name under rushed, uninformed circumstances: King Olaf Hardaldsson’s illegitimate son was born while he was away. Born prematurely and not breathing, they made a poet his godfather and did a hasty baptism, as they did not expect the child to live long. He named him after the king’s role model, Karlas Magnus, not realizing that Magnus meant “The Great” and wasn’t part of his name. The boy went on to not only survive, but become very strong, and the King of both Norway and Denmark. Whether his name was a misunderstanding or not, he was a real person, best known as “Magnus the Good.”

Magnus the Good was the first of 7 King Magnus’ to rule Norway. 4 Kings of Swede, 1 in Livonia and 4 Dukes were also named Magnus. Also a Roman usurper, Roman consul a prince, and a bishop. Certainly a powerful and regal history!

Saints include Magnus of Anagni, a hepard who donated all his earnings to the poor. Magnus of Avigon is the patrol saint of those selling fish.

And of course more down to earth notables have the name as well including many musicians, scientists and athletes.

Besides being so handsome as a formal name, it has the most adorable nicknames. Maggie and Gus.




Name of the Day: Roscoe

Derived from a place name, Roscoe is used as both a first and last name and means “doe wood”. I believe there are 15 Roscoe towns and villages in the US.  It was only given to 63 boys last year, which I find incredible! It’s so handsome, why are people not using it?

With the name Otis I just linked to a bunch of youtube videos of artists with the name… it seemed to resonate with my husband, so let’s try that approach again!

Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbucke, a silent film star who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Bob Hope. Other actors include: Roscoe Karns who comically starred in 150 films, Roscoe Orman (Gordon on Sesame Street), Roscoe Born, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alan Roscoe.

Outside the arts, there have been many influential politicians and accomplished athletes bearing Roscoe as a first or last name.  Several professor and scientist Roscoes have contributed research advancing the scientific world. It’s also the name of several war heroes and the first ever direcor of the CIA. Roscoe Pound is one of history’s most influential legal scholars. Roscoe Nicholson is one of the earliest advocates for conservation of forest life in the US.  Will Roscoe is an author and activist who’s works largely involve rights of the LGBT community.




Name of the Day: Florence

I adore the name Flora!! For years I’ve been pushing it on Peter, constantly insisting it’s perfect because it’s my great grandmother’s name (Florence) and his great grandmother’s name (Cora) combined. I’ve had no luck. But this week I found out, he does like Florence! And that’s even better in my book. Because Flora is still a nickname option, as is Flo. But it ads other great options Ren and Flossy! And Florence is beautiful, sophisticated, historical and exotic. And (like Flora) I love it’s nature inspired definition, flowering/blooming. (As a side note, I also like Florentia, the original version of the name.)

If you didn’t know my great grandmother, you likely associate the name with Florence Nightingale. She’s well enough know that I don’t think I need to write about her accomplishments. The founder of modern nursing, she was selfless, strong and would make the perfect namesake for any child!

In the arts: Florence Ballard was a founding member of Motown and the Supremes! Florence Lawrence is often referred to as the “First Movie Star”. She appeared in over 300 films.  Florence La Badie and Florence Turner were silent film actresses. Florence Mills “The Queen of Happiness” was a cabaret singer, dancer and comedian! Florence Price is the first African American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Florence Welch is the front-woman in Indie rock band Florence and the Machine. And of course Florence Henderson was the Mom on the Brady Bunch.

In other areas: Florence Kelley is a political reformer who worked for childen’s and worker’s right. Florence Newton is the most known “witch” of the Irish witch trials. Other Florences include A first lady, a Vietnam war protester who set herself on fire, several writes, athletes and some politicians.




Name of the Day: Miriam

The meaning of Miriam is quite disputed. In our culture most consider it a Hebrew name that is the first variation of Mary. Mary and Miriam have several theories regarding their origins. The most published definition is “bitter” but I believe it’s actually “beloved”. If Miriam were originally a Hebrew name bitterness would apply as “mr” in Hebrew is bitter. “yam” is sea. So in Hebrew the name means sea of bitterness. However, there is evidence (inscriptions in the pyramids) that the Egyptians had used the names before the Hebrews. It was adopted by the Hebrews to fit into the Egyptian culture. (Similar to if if someone immigrated to America today and named their child Sofia to fit in with our culture.) Many Egyptian names back then included “mr” as it means loved. Another possible Egyptian translation is “Mirror of God”.

Though I don’t consider Miriam to be Hebrew in origin, it’s history in the Bible and Torah is significant. As Moses’ sister she led the women out of Egypt and taught them the Torah, just Moses did for the men. From the time she was a very young girl she also assisted in delivering babies and sparing the lives of the boys that the Pharaoh decreed were supposed to be killed. When her father and other men began divorcing their wives for fear of having male sons, Miriam convinced them to remarry. She also told her parents that they’d give birth to Moses, who would save them all and she’s the one who saved him by putting him in a basket and then helped the Pharaoh’s daughter care for him when he was found. Though I was brought up Catholic, I am no longer part of organized religion. However, I do still find certain stories and characters in holy texts inspirational. Miriam is definitely one of my favorites! In recent decades Miriam has been seen as a symbol of feminism within Jewish communities.

Miriam Makeba was a singer, activist and, well… pretty much everything. Known by some as Mama Africa her life is extremely fascinating and inspiring. She wasn’t expected to survive birth, spent the first 6 months of her life living in a jail, her father died when she was young and she was married at 17 to a man who beat her. None of this stopped her from achieving international fame, but fame got her exiled from her home in South Africa, where her family still resided. It was at this point she began speaking out about the white minority government in Africa. There’s no way I can do justice to her in this blog post. She was talented, brave, confident and she also provided the world with amazing music. She stayed true to herself and her culture instead of trying to fit into the mold of the successful artists of the time. By exposing the world to her African style, she opened their minds to discuss moral and political issues as well. She spoke to the United Nations twice and was involved in many political movements and performances. She says she didn’t sing about politics, she sang about the truth and of her own life.

Miriam Leslie was an author, publisher, aristocrat and woman’s suffrage supporter. She was born to a noble family but was never given much in terms of “love and merriment” as she said herself. In the late 1860s the editor of Frank Leslie’s Lady’s Magazine became ill. She volunteered to take over the job while forfeiting the salary to the sick editor. When he died, she took over permanently and this of how she came to marry Frank Leslie. When Frank died she took over the magazine, immediately making it more successful. When she died she left her money to Carrie Chapman Catt for the woman’s suffrage movement.

Speaking of publishing, Miriam Goldberg also took over her husbands publication, Intermountain Jewish News. Under her leadership the paper began to take controversial stands. Miriam believed in presenting all sides of the issues that they covered, something I feel very strongly should always be done.

Miriam Rivera is a transgender TV personality that has starred in several reality shows and has been a pioneer for the transgender community. Her courage to be herself has helped normalize lives of transgender people to those who have no similar experiences within their own lives. She has never had gender the reassignment surgery because she loves and accepts her body as is. (I’m not at all against gender reassignment surgery, I think each individual should have the body they ate most comfortable in. But I do think her acceptance of herself is inspiring.)

Miriam Yalan-Shteklis was a talented children’s poet who’s works taught lessons without preaching, didn’t always dissolve adults of all blame (as most literature for children do) and showed children expressing a wide range of emotions, not just a happy ending. Similarly, Miriam Roth wrote books now considered children’s book classics and was a pioneer for preschool education in Israel. Several other Miriams have also had success writing for adults. Miriam Ben-Porat was the first female Supreme Court Judge in Isreal and the first female State Comptroller, a role in which she was extremely successful and had a very positive influence. Several other singers, Olympic athletes and actresses bear the name. So, I’d definitely there are very strong feminine role models associated with this name, a big perk for me when choosing names!

Miriam is also the name of the title character in a short story by Truman Capote. Is the story any good? I don’t know. What’s it about? I don’t know. I didn’t read anything about it because Truman Capote is one of my favorite writers so I’d like to read the story very soon.

Adorable nicknames include: Mira, Miri, Mim, Mia, Ria, Mimi… and Meerkat!




Name of the Day: Reynard

An Ancient Germanic name meaning brave advice, this name has lots of spelling variations. I really like Rainard as it has the word rain in it, which I find peaceful and cleansing, but I struggle to find as much information about it being a legitimate spelling…So I’ll go on with Reynard as it’s the most common spelling… though it was still given to less than 5 babies last year.

Reynard is the name of a sneaky Fox (Fox could be a cool nickname) in which many many forklores have been based. These tales started in the middle ages and were popular in Germany, France, England and the Netherlands. In fact these tales were so popular that renard became the new word for fox in France (it used to be goupil.) Reynard’s stories often involve him out smarting the upper class authorities.

His first documented tale is a Latin poem from 1148 called Ysengrimus. Reynard is renamed Rossel in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The character was also used by the Nazi party in an Anti Semitic children’s book (not all the history of a given name can be good!). Disney’s Robin Hood was a fox to make him similar to Reynard. These are just a few of many many examples of Reynard’s many many appearances in pop culture over the years.

I found a modern day pop singer names named Reynard Silva… maybe he’s a big deal… I really don’t keep up with what’s currently hip. Whether a household name or not though, I think he’s pretty talented.

Paul Reynard was a French born artist and art teacher. Many of his paintings exist in the United States, including a mural at Harvard. He was also a very skilled stained glass artist.

 




Name of the Day: Zinnia

The name of a flower, Zinnia has been used rarely as a girl’s name over the years. In fact, it was most popular in 2015 with 120 girls being given that name… but none of those slackers have done anything to make them significant figures yet 😉 I LOVE the name though, and I think I can make a strong case for it despite it’s lack of historical namesakes.

In general I love nature names. I believe I’ve mentioned before, however, most nature names remind me of a delicate, soft spoken child, and I don’t feel they fit a large variety of people. I don’t feel this way about Zinnia. As the name of a flower, I think it would still fit the small framed, shy girl previously mentioned. But the Z gives it extra spunk, making it fit the energetic child equally well. And I think it also has a more robust sound, making me associate it less with someone who is very frail and allowing me to picture it on all body types.

The zinnia flower was named for German botanist Johann Zinn. So, in a way, it has German roots. I pitch German names to Peter often as I’m 75% German but they almost always sound too harsh to him. In Germany the surname Zinn refers to someone who works with Tin. This makes me smile as my grandmother collected tins and started me on the same collection as a child.

Johann Zinn himself was not just a botanist but an anatomist. He was the first to provide some detailed anatomy of the human eye. He died at just 31, so nobody knows what contributions he could have made had his life been longer. Carl Linnaeus created the zinnia flower and named it after Johann. Linnaeus himself seems to have been rather interesting.

All flowers have their own meanings. Zinnia’s are an easy flowering plant and bloom longer than most other flowers, they therefore symbolize endurance. Then of course people like to assign different meanings to different colors within types of flowers. According to Pioneer thinking zinnias represent thoughts of friends. Mixed color zinnias mean thoughts of an absent friend. A yellow zinnia represents daily remembrance. White zinnias represent goodness. A scarlet zinnia is for constancy (matching what I said earlier about endurance) and a magenta Zinnia symbolizes lasting affection.

Though I can’t find any real women who have been influential with the name Zinnia, there have been characters with the name. Zinnia Wormwood is the mother in the movie Matilda. A pretty terrible character, but a great movie based off an even better book (in the book I don’t think Roald Dahl gave the mother a first name, I could be misremembering, I haven’t read it in years.) Zinnia is the name of one of the daughters in the 90s British TV series The Darling Buds of May, based off a novella by H. E. Bates. Zinnia is the main character is Chasing Redbird, a 1991 children’s novel.

This name makes me think of my husband and his love for gardening. I like the idea of naming my last child after something in nature. This world is so much more than just the people in it. The simplicity and beauty of a flower is inspiring to me.