Tag Archives: Girl 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: Vera

I mentioned my love for Vera in a recent post about Lavender. It’s such a sweet name, I thought it deserved it’s own post. It’s sweet, simple and means faith in Russian or true in Latin and summer in Albanian!

This name has lots of history, let’s start with its musical history, as that will most interest my husband. It’s a Beatles name, one of the grandchildren in “When I’m 64”. Vera Lynn is a singer known as “the Forces’ Sweetheart” as she was popular during WWII and sang many songs for the troops and toured giving concerts specifically for them. At 100 years old, she is still active both musically and charitably. I could do a whole post on how awesome she seems. The Pink Floyd song “Vera” is a reference to her.

In the movies Vera-Ellen is an actress and dancer  best known for her role in White Christmas. Another actress, Vera Miles is best known as Lila from Psycho. In modern day the name also belongs to actress Vera Farmiga.

A lot of literary characters have been named Vera, including Vera Rostov in War and Peace. The first time I considered the name was while watching Cheers with Peter years ago, as it’s Norm’s often mentioned, never seen, wife.¬†

Vera Brittain was a writer, feminist and pacifist. She served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse during WWI, she also lost her fiance, brother and several close friends. This led her to feel very strongly against war, though she still volunteered to help provide for those serving in wars. Her books were typically at least somewhat autobiographical and show a very real picture of life during her time. 

Many associate this name with the designers Vera Wang and Vera Bradley. Though I don’t feel super strongly for or against their designs I find them to be inspiring namesakes as they are powerful business owners who followed their dreams. If my next daughter is half the fashionista as my first I’m sure she’d love to share her name with 2 designers.

This is as far as I’m going to go because holy cow, there is a massive list of influential Veras. If you want to see more check out the Wikipedia page.




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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.




Name of the Day: Sigrid

Meaning “beautiful victory” this name is currently common in Sweden and Norway, but hasn’t ranked in the top 1,000 in the U.S. since 1915. I love the sound of it, but I also love the nickname Siri and Sigi.

Sigrid Undset was a Nobel Prize winning writer. She is best known for her trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter , a historical novel that follows the life of a woman living in Scandinavia in the middle ages from birth to death.

Sigrid Ban√©r was a Swedish noble known for the letters she wrote detailing her family’s history. She also sponsored scholarships for students to study theology at Uppsala University. I imagine her to have been a very generous person because of this.

Sigrid¬†Peyerimhoff is a German chemist who has written over 400 articles, won several awards and is on the executive board of several professional societies. And let’s be honest, just being a woman in the field of chemistry is pretty bad ass.

Sigrid Hunke is a German author known for her work in religious studies. She was a Pagan Unitarian, a religion based on connecting with nature and personal spiritual growth, which I dig.

Sigrid Schultz might be my favorite Sigrid. An American journalist, she was arguably the best investigative reporter leading up to and during World War II. This is all the more impressive cosnidering before her no woman was even given such a job in the media. She wrote several books as well. Above all she worked hard to uncover the truth and present information as fairly as possible, but also made her beliefs known regarding those being unfairly persecuted.

More writers, artists, royalty, athletes and more, see the Wikipedia list of influential Sigrids here.