Tag Archives: Baby Names

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 ūüėČ 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.

Name of the Day: Bayard

Meaning “bay colored” this name was used in a medieval poem for a horse that could change size to accommodate more or less passengers. In some areas it’s become a common synonym for horse. But not where I live, so I shall continue.

Bayard Taylor was a 19th century poet, novelist and travel author. His travels were many, and he did his best to fully immerse himself in the culture. This led to both literature about his journeys and inspired creative fictional pieces. His most well-known travel piece is probably his book on the gold rush, El Dorado. His 2nd novel Joseph and His Friend: a Story of Pennsylvania is considered the first gay novel in America. A smart, adventurous and talented man, he makes the perfect namesake.

Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist. Many consider him influential in gay rights as well. As an out of the closet gay man, he certainly spoke out in support of gay rights. However, he did not feel comfortable being known as a gay role model. He was outted on accident, he believes a person’s sexual preferences are private and he never had any intentions of letting the public know his. However, the public did know and in the last five years of his life he spoke out more about it. In 1982, since homosexuals had no way of marrying or solidifying their relationship legally, Bayard and his partner took an unconventional step; for themselves and to start discussion. Bayard adopted Walter, so that the law would recognize them as family. Walter was, of course a grown man, but his mother gave up her rights and a social worker had to approve Bayard as an acceptable care giver… the process seems ridiculous… but I wholly admire their desire to do something official! And they didn’t have other options.¬†¬†In 1986 (a year before his death) he made a speech in support of New York State’s Gay Rights Bill called “The New Niggers are Gays”. In his life he’d seen (and helped provide) many improvements in the treatments of African Americans in our society… but believed gays were now the most vulnerable group.

Bayard was a big proponent of non violence, having worked with Gandhi during his movement in India. He helped Martin Luther King Jr to fully understand the movement, and Martin then brought it more attention. He worked behind the scenes with Martin and many other civil rights leaders and organizers but was rarely a spokesperson. Because he was known to be gay and have a previous association with the communist party he wasn’t a very wholesome figurehead. The list of all that he worked towards for equality is so overwhelming I can’t begin to summarize it in a paragraph. If you’d like to read more, check his Wikipedia page.¬†Interestingly, Bayard was also an accomplished tenor who’s voice can be found on several albums from the 50s-70s.

I love the history of this name but I also love the nicknames Bay and Bear. I wish this name was used more. To appear on the social security list a name must be given to 5 or more babies in a year, Bayard was given to 5 boys in 2014 and has not reappeared since.




Name of the Day: Lavender

Peter doesn’t suggest many names. For girls he has suggested Janis (as in Joplin), Jane (after his grandmother), and now Lavender. I’ve considered this name before, but I’ve never given it serious consideration as I feel like it only fits certain types of people. I feel this way about a lot of nature names. I picture a delicate looking girly girl. Small with soft features in a pretty dress. But Peter disagreed and said he could picture it on pretty much everyone, so I decided to give it a shot. (I also gave Janis a shot despite it reminding me so much of the character on Friends. I somewhat warmed up to it. Now that Peter’s watching Friends he can get past the association though. Jane is lovely, I did not have to research to make myself love that one.)¬†

Lavender seems to be a much more common name in literature than in the real world. A good friend of the title character in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I love Roald Dahl and Matilda is definitely one of my favorites of his books. I tried to put Matilda on my list when I was pregnant with Lucille, but Peter wasn’t impressed. I think her best friend’s name is a good substitute.

In the Anne of Green Gables books Lavendar Lewis is the name of a sweet and eccentric older woman. Her tale is really endearing, she falls in love, they are young and stubborn and fight too much so they break up. Years later, when they’ve both calmed, they fall back in love and marry.

Lavender Brown is a Harry Potter witch. I’ve never read the books, I tried to figure out if she was a good character or not but it seems people love or hate her. Maybe someday I’ll read the books and decide for myself. Tolkien also named a hobbit Lavender, but I don’t think she’s a very significant character. (Ive only read The Hobbit so I’m not a Tolkien expert.)

I also recently read a book called “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender”. In the book Lavender is the surname of the mysterious family of characters. They’ve suffered a lot of heartache and Ava, the strangest of them all, seems to be the only one who wants to leave the tragedies in the past and go through life as a normal person. The end of the book is hopeful and over all I liked it quite a bit.

Sweet Lavender by Arthur Wing Pinero is a play from the 1800s in which Lavender and Clement find love and fight for it to be accepted. 

Lavender’s Blue is a very old folk song and nursery rhyme that has been recreated in several forms over the years. Read about its long history on Wikipedia. I haven’t listened to all the versions, but I really love the Burl Ives one¬†as it seems so old fashioned and nostalgic. Laura Wright’s version is lovely, her voice and the instrumentals are so captivating but also calming.

Lavender as a word means to wash, however flowers represent many things to those working with them. Roses for example usually represent love, forget me nots meaning is right in their name. Lavender stands for devotion. It is also very associated with serenity… maybe if I use this name my 3rd child will be the calm one?

I really have talked myself into liking the name quite a bit. It is romantic, artistic, and the more I say it the more natural it seems, which allows me to see it on many personalities. Here’s my remaining problem: nicknames. I’ve noticed that people have trouble calling people by a 3 syllable name if the emphasis is on the first syllable. They tend to just stop after syllable 1 or stick a y after it. My first thought when hearing Lav and Lavvy is lavatory… now I admit, after saying if a few times, Lavvy’s actually kind of cute. But I don’t want everyone she meets to think toilet right away. I don’t want her name to have to grow on people…. of course being a 3 syllable name, I can put together lots of other nicknames, I just don’t think they’ll come as naturally. I love Lady. And Vennie is cute.¬†I LOVE the name Vera, which Peter has rejected before… all the letters are there to use it as nickname, but the A is in the wrong order. Is it too much a stretch? I can’t decide… Val has all the right letters too, in reverse order. Van a is really pretty. We can’t use Lenny because we have a Lennon, but others certainly could. Or Larry or Andy if you like boyish nicknames. Lana. Vandy. Vendie, Lannie. Landy. Endy. Ven. Aven. Ugh, but with all these options, is she still destined to be Lavvy? I’m going to have to continue pondering this one….




Name of the Day: Malcolm

The name of 4 Scottish kings, an Australian prime minister and of course Malcolm X, this name is great for a boy you want to teach to be a strong leader. An old name, with lots of history, Malcolm is pretty uncommon, ranked at #410 in 2016.

I think for my generation the 2 immediate associations with the name Malcolm are Malcolm in the Middle and Malcolm X. Malcolm in the Middle was a fictional show about a gifted boy in a dysfunctional family.. it was funny. It was clean humor without being goody goody and boring. I think it’s a positive association. I have fond memories watching it with my brother on Sunday nights.

Moving to Malcolm X, the real life association. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge of Malcolm X from my public school education is very limited. I was taught that he was a civil rights activist, but resorted to violence and anger.. ¬†the educators of my youth presented Martin Luther King Jr as the good guy and Malcolm X as the bad guy. As an adult I obviously recognize that they can both be good while having different methods and different journeys. I wonder if my teachers truly thought of Malcolm X as a bad guy, or if they were just scared¬†to teach about his complex and murky history. To summarize my opinion, in case anyone reading this is realizing that their own education on the subject is lacking: Malcolm X had spent his life being treated unfairly. In looking for a fix to the solution, he presented ideas in a compelling manner, with good intentions. Though I disagree with many of his ideas, I can appreciate where they were coming from. By the time of his death has had reformed many of his ideas. He was more peaceful and loving. If given the chance to live a full life, he may have changed his position on other matters, too. He was young and excited and I think, like most young people, he expressed some of his feelings before properly exploring them. Overall, him and Martin Luther King Jr were on the same side, after their deaths, their widows were best friends.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth Malcolm is based of the real life Malcolm III of Scotland. The rightful heir to the throne, this reference combines royalty, leadership and literature in one.

Malcolm Young is one of the founding members of AC/DC, Malcolm Lowry a poet and novelist (best known for Under the Volcano), the list of great namesakes goes on and on… Lastly I think the nick name Mac is adorable!




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: 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: 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.