Category: Baby Names

Name of the Day: Liza

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza”… anybody else sing this song on every road trip of their childhood? We had several other songs we’d sing on the 4 hour drive to visit my dad’s family, but Liza and George’s tale of a bucket was my very favorite.

I’m usually not to keen on nickname names instead of using the full name, but this is an exception, I think I’d prefer to name my daughter this simple nickname rather than Elizabeth (though I do find Elizabeth pretty too).

I think Liza is most commonly associated with Liza Minnelli, or as I like to refer to her as, Lucille 2 (if you haven’t seen Arrested Development, you should). The winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar, it’s hard to deny she’s talented. The daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, Liza was named after the song “Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away” by Ira Gershwin, which Judy sings beautifully. Like Judy Garland, Liza’s life has not been all sunshine and rainbows. Though their lives have been on display for the public and painted as glorious, the pressures of both their lives have resulted in drug abuse and failed marriages.

I remember reading many years ago about how Judy Garland had been pregnant earlier in life and though she was excited to be a Mother, those who wanted to ride her coattails to stardom forced her to get an abortion. (If I remember correctly, this happened several times.) I imagine Liza, being Judy’s first child, was a happy turning point in Judy’s life. Unfortunately, I don’t think having Liza changed her life as much as she hoped. But I love to think of the joy and hope that must have surrounded Liza’s earliest days.

“Me and Liza” is a lovely song by Rufus Wainwright. It’s actually about Liza Minnelli, who he’s a big fan of, but who seems not to be a fan of him. She has not appreciated his covers of Judy Garland’s shows. I think this song is Rufus’ way of saying he understands why she dislikes his work but he still likes her and would love to know her better.

In literature, Liza is a tragic character in War and Peace. Also the name of several foreign films, a hurricane and several lesser known actresses and singers. It’s a familiar name, but I’ve yet to meet one, so for me it’s the perfect mix of common and uncommon.




Name of the Day: Wilfred

Frederick used to be one of our favorite boy names until I realized I dislike it with our surname. And hubby agreed. But Wilfred would still allow the adorable nickname Freddie (which I think is a cute nickname for a girl too!), and the more I think about it, I think I like it even more than Frederick. I’m not crazy about the Rick part of Frederick, but I quite like the Wil part of Wilfred. Wil is a very handsome nickname and I’ve never understood why so many Williams go by Bill when Will is so much more sophisticated. Wilfy is another cute nickname.

Meaning desiring peace, Wilfred is a well known name, rarely used in the states. Throughout history, however, there have been many famous Wilfreds. Wilfred Greatorex was an accomplished television writer, several athletes also bear the name and Wilfred the Hairy was a count in modern day Spain back in the 800s.

Wilfred Gordon Bigelow was a heart surgeon who helped to create the artificial pacemaker and introduced the use of hypothermia in open heart surgery. Through both of these, Bigelow is responsible for saving countless lives!

Wilfred Trotter was another notable in the medical field. An outstanding surgeon, he was also very interested in the field of psychology. His major psychological works involved herd theory, and he was actually a big influencer of Wilfred Bion, who we will learn about in the next paragraph. He was also one of the first few people to see the genius of Sigmund Freud. As a surgeon he was both the surgeon of King George V and the person whom Freud himself turned to when he had terminal cancer.

Wilfred Bion was a very well-known and influential psychoanalyst who has been said to be the greatest mind known to psychology other than Freud. He was unafraid to do things differently and because of this was able to develop many new theories helping us to understand psychology, most notably relating to: our ability to learn from experience, group dynamics, how treatment during infancy affects an individual’s view on people and things during their adult years, and factors that push and pull individuals toward crime.

Wilfred Pickles was an English actor and radio celebrity. (We all know I love a good radio namesake!) He is best known for his radio show “Have a Go”, which co-starred his wife Mabel. The first radio game show in England, Mr. And Mrs. Pickles traveled the UK asking trivia questions to those they met and allowing them to win cash prizes. The show lasted 21 years and had a weekly audience of 20 million. Not only a symbol of success in the arts, Wilfred and Mabel are also a symbol of a loyal, everlasting love.

Wilfred Owen is credited as the greatest poet during the first World War. As a soldier he was relieved of duty after suffering serious injury, but despite the wish of those closest to him, enlisted again after he was healed. This decision was fatal, he was killed in action 1 week before the end of the war. His early life, under his mother’s influence, he was a devout member of the Church of England, but while attending university became upset by the church’s unwillingness to help those that needed it. This and his experience in the army were extremely influential on his poetry, which originally was influenced by romantic poets such as Keats and Shelley.

Wilfred Johnson was a Mafia enforcer turned FBI informant. He grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father, sometimes absent mother and a habit for getting in trouble at school. Eventually his rough life led him to organized crime, but while behind bars, those that claimed to provide for his family did not live up to their promise. This eventually made him switch his loyalty to the FBI. Once his cover was blown, the FBI wanted to put him in the witness protection program but he refused, leading to his murder. Though his story has a sad ending, I think his is a story that shows no matter what your past, you can still turn your life around.

Wilfred Wood is the name of both a Victoria Cross recipient and the first black bishop in England. Soldier Private Wood fought in the first World War and without any orders embarked on a mission that caused 140 enemies to surrender. Bishop Wood was influential not just within the Church of England but also helped raise awareness of racial issues and help unite the masses and bring equality throughout the country. In 2004 the public voted him the 2nd most influential black Briton in the nation’s history.

On the opposite end of the religious spectrum, Wilfred Cantwell Smith is a scholar, professor and author on religious studies most known for The Meaning and End of Religion in which Smith investigates how religions started, changed over time and what they mean to those practicing today. Very controversial but in my opinion very interesting and informative.

Sir Wilfred Stokes was made a knight for his invention of the Stokes Mortar, the first portable mortar, used a great deal in WWI. Any one else notice a lot of these Wilfreds are Englishmen during the first World war? Wilfred Thesiger was also made a knight, many years later in 1995. He was a travel writer, well known for his two books, Arabian Sands and The Marsh Arabs.

Wilfred originated from the name Wilfrid and I’m not even going to research those that had that name because, well, the above list is probably already more than anyone wants to read. My last reason for enjoying the name is it’s the name of a show that Peter and I enjoyed watching together. The title character is a dog, so, I admittedly wasn’t sure this was a positive association at first. But now that I know of so many great human nonfiction Wilfreds, I do not as strongly associate it with the dog character. And the show is HILARIOUS!




Name of the Day: Winifred

I don’t think there’s any hope of selling this name to Peter, I’ve brought it up in the past. But I think it’s beautiful and adorable, one of my very very favorites! So, I’m going to try.

Derived from Gwenfrewi, it means blessed peace or reconciliation. I love the nicknames Winnie, Freddie or just Win or Fred! It has a lot of pop culture associations including characters in Hocus Pocus, Tuck Everlasting, Angel, Once Upon A Mattress, Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, and more. Through these associations, it is a name most are familiar with, though probably most don’t personally know a Winifred.

According to the legend of Saint Winifred, when Winifred decided to become a nun she had a suitor. When she told him of her choice, he decapitated her. Of course, her head was reattached, her attacker swallowed by the ground and she went on to do lots of great deeds. This tale makes her the patron saint of unwanted advances… which I think is pretty powerful!

Winifred Brunton was an artist known best for the pieces she made depicting Egyptian pharaohs. This is because her and her husband went on archaeological digs and she based her art of the ruins that they found, making her artwork more realistic than anything seen before on the subject.

Winifred Atwell was a pianist from Trinidad that had great success in the UK and Australia. She was without question the most successful pianist of her time, which is all the more impressive considering she was a black woman. Unfortunately for us in the states, she was never well known here. She was supposed to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, but producers thought the audience would be confused by a British sounding black woman and never recorded the segment (though she did fly in for it). Despite this, Winifred claimed to have not suffered from racism in her own life, but was very outspoken about the issue in society. Particularly, she spoke about the treatment of the aborigines in Australia, the place she called home later in life. She also donated her time and talents to charity concerts to help the needy and orphanages.

Winifred Maxwell was an aristocrat who saved her husband from the death sentence. The guards let her in to say goodbye on the night before his execution, she dressed him in woman’s clothing and escaped. I think that tale is a great example of bravery and love!

Other famous Winifreds include a silent film star, the first woman to earn a PhD in mathematics, several writers, one of the founders of modern speech therapy, educators, politicians and more. It’s a magical name, and if you’re reading this and considering naming your daughter Winifred, please do it!




Name of the Day: Camilla

 

Well known in many cultures, but not terribly popular, Camilla is gorgeous without being overly frilly. Nicknames Milly and Cammie are sweet and feminine, while Cam is spunky and masculine. Milla and Mila make cute nicknames too.

Many people will associate this name with the Dutchess of Cornwall, for better or worse, but the truth is it had a long history before her. However, let’s focus on her first. Princess Diana was very loved around the world and as a result many see Camilla as the floozy other woman. I do not in ANY way approve of married couples having affairs, however, I think it’s very clear that the relationship between Charles and Camilla was quite complicated, as was the one with Charles and Diana. They all live in a very different world than I do, a world obsessed with social class, riches and the accomplishments of everyone’s ancestors. A world where, sadly, I don’t think marriage is often a result of love, but being a good fit in terms of boosting one’s social image or increasing one’s wealth… maybe that was Charles and Diana’s marriage, and maybe him and Camilla were truly in love. I don’t know. I’m not going to pretend to. I really don’t care too much about the royal family… but I will say that Camilla has done quite lot in terms of raising awareness for issues such as rape and poverty. And generally I approve of those who use their social influence to help the less fortunate.

Camilla Collett is considered the first Norwegian feminist. She believed women should have more roles in society, be prepared for success beyond an arranged marriage, should have a say in their own future and allowed to marry for love. These things may seem pretty obvious now but were radical ideas in the 1800s when she wrote of them, which is why she had to do so anonymously. I think she sounds like a total badass. (Funny how her beliefs can be related back to the Dutchess, yes?)

Camilla has not one but two strong literary associations. First she was a warrior in the Latin epic poem Aeneid. Raised by her father in the woods surrounded by shepherds, she was a huntress and another badass woman. She ran so fast that she didn’t break a blade of grass and could run across water without getting her feet wet.

In 1796 Frances Burney published Camilla:  A Picture of Youth. I haven’t researched much about this book because I want to read it and I didn’t want to accidentally stumble upon spoilers, but I think it is a love story and also a story about friendship and sisterhood. If I’m right it adds to the romantic vibe I get from this name.

So there you have it, totally badass, totally romantic, pretty and cute too! Camilla is an A+ in my book!




Name of the Day: Amos

Meaning “carried”, Amos is familiar but uncommon. In the Old Testament the book of Amos is one of the oldest of the books and is largely about greed, corruption and oppression of the poor. (Thank you behind the name for your always vast and helpful collection of name facts.) I find this to be particularly fitting in the current state of the world.

Besides the biblical Amos, Amos is also the birth name of Bronson Alcott, who went by his middle name and I wrote about in this post. It has musical ties through both Amos Lee and Tori Amos.

Known primarily for his Famous Amos cookies, Wallace Amos Jr. has also written 10 books, mostly  of the “self help” genre. Before starting his cookie business he was a talent agent, representing artists such as Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross and the Supremes. He has also worked to help adults learn to read through volunteering and through a television program he hosted in the 80s.

Other famous Amos’ include Olympians, inventors, actors and more. There are no nicknames I love for it… but that didn’t bother me since the name is only 2 syllables. It’s short, sophisticated but spunky and I also really like the way it looks!




Name of the Day: Marielle

A French diminutive of Marie, Marielle is exotic but approachable. My middle name is Marie, which is in honor of my aunt. Probably 80% of the people reading this consider Marie to be a family name, it’s classic! This would be a great way to honor someone named Marie without using the same name. (Though, I do find Marie lovely as well!)

Katia and Marielle Labèque are French sisters known internationally for their piano performances. Check out their performance Rhapsody in Blue on YouTube. They now own their own record label, and represent young artists from several genres. Though they have their own personal lives, they still live together, currently in a palace in Rome.

Marielle Goitschel skied in the Olympics, winning 5 medals, 3 of them gold. Another famous sister set, Marielle and her older sister Christine were the first sisters to compete in an individual Olympic event against each other. Their first event Christine won gold and Marielle silver, the 2nd they flopped the order of their victories. I guess with this association as well as the one above, Marielle is the perfect little sister name.

2 members of the French parliament are named Marielle, which I think makes the name more powerful and passionate. Marielle Houle is a well known Canadian criminal who helped her sick son commit suicide. Obviously, to some this would be a terrible association, but to some, this namesake represents a very loving mother. To learn more about these and other Marielles, check out Wikipedia.




Name of the Day: Evander

An ancient Greek name meaning “good man”. I think this name is strong and handsome… But worry it’s too associated with Evander Holyfield. He may be a lovely person, I don’t know. I have no interest in boxing, so with him being such a strong association for many, it’s probably not the perfect name for my son. But if boxing is your thing, I recommend it. And if it’s not but you think you can get past the Holyfield association, there have been other influential bearers of the name.

Evander of Pallene founded the city of Pallantium, which would later be Rome. He also started the Lupercalia festival, which rids the city of evil spirits, cleanses the villagers and making them healthy and fertile.

Evander is also the name of an ancient Greek philosopher, a sculptor and more. I love the nickname Van! LOVE!! Evan is another good nickname, as is Ander.




Name of the Day: Gilda

Gilda means sacrifice or value. It has 3 very strong associations, but I think all 3 are glamorous, classic and artsy.

Gilda is the name of a 1946 film starring Rita Hayworth. I love watching old Hollywood movies and wondering if my grandparents saw the film, how they liked it, etc. As someone who went to school for media studies, I find films from this time period so simple and endearing. I’d love a name that reminded me of any of them. This one in particular, though, I haven’t yet seen to be able to say if I like it better or worse than others. But I plan too.

Gilda Radner was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and most consider her to be the most talented and influential of the original cast. I know she was my mom’s favorite. Like many people who have brought so much joy and laughter to her fans, her life was actually quite tragic in many ways. She struggled with many eating disorders, her father died when she was young, had friends who abused drugs, of which she didn’t approve, and of course, she died at only 42 of ovarian cancer. However, her life also found her a great love in Gene Wilder. Their romance was cut tragically short when she lost her battle to cancer, but Gene continued to honor his late wife by raising awareness of ovarian cancer and providing support for those with cancer or a high likelihood of getting ovarian cancer.

Gilda is also the beautiful daughter of Rigoletto in the tragic opera Rigoletto. Her father shelters her from the public to protect her, but in truth this makes her naive and foolish and starving for any sort of affection. In the end she gives her life for a man she thinks she loves, despite knowing he is unfaithful and has lied to her.

I just love Gilda. It’s so simple, but uncommon, while still being familiar. I don’t think it needs a nickname, however Gildy, Gilly and G are all adorable.




Name of the Day: Thaddeus

I’m obsessed with the name Thaddeus. My husband has shot it down before and I’ve put off bringing it up again as I know he isn’t a fan if the “Th” sound, especially in the beginning of a name. But I love it too much to not even try.

Thaddeus means courageous heart or could be related to Theodore, so would mean Gift of God. Both amazing meanings. Thaddeus is the last name of one of Jesus’s 12 Apostles, Jude.

I love nicknames Tad, Thad, Taz, Ted and Deus. Let’s be honest, as a baby I’d call him Tadpole!

Thaddeus can be considered a musically inspired name for 2 reasons: Thaddeus “Thad” Jones was a jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader. Also the inventor of the telharmonium (an electric organ considered the first synthetic instrument) was Thaddeus Cahill.

Thaddeus Stevens was a Radical Republican who wanted to rid our country of slavery. When the freedom of slaves was clearly going to happen, he thought some of the slave owners’ land should have been given to the newly freed slaves. When Lincoln was killed and Johnson took his place, Stevens was disgusted by his unwillingness to put into law any protections for the newly freed slaves. Thus, he tried to get Johnson impeached, which, as we know, never happened. He also believed in, worked for and donated his own resources towards free public education to all.




Name of the Day: Indira

Meaning beauty or splendid in Sanskrit, this name belongs to the wife of Hindu God Vishnu. She is the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. (She’s also known as Lakshmi.) To me this name is extraordinarily feminine and powerful.

Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of India. To date, she is the only female to hold this position. Her father is the only prime minister who served longer than herself, a record she may have broken had she not been assassinated. In 1999 BBC did a poll which resulted in Indira being named “Woman of the Millennium.”

Indira Devi was an extremely courageous and passionate Indian princess. At 18 years old she broke of her engagement that her parents arranged to marry someone they didn’t approve of. Her parents continued to fight this wedding but eventually gave her permission, though they refused to attend it. She had 5 kids but before their 10 year anniversary her husband died. 2 of her children died while Indira still lived. So full of life herself, it’s sad how much tragedy found her family.

Indira Kadambi is an Indian dancer and choreographer. Indira Freitas Johnson is an Indian artist and nonviolence educator. Indira Naidoo is an Australian journalist. Many more influential Indiras can be found on this Wikipedia page.