Tag Archives: Baby Names

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: 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.

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.