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.
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.
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.
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 Banér 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.
Short form of Nicolette, this name means “victory of the people.” I love the nickname options: Coco, Lettie, Colly, Etta, even Cole.
Saint Colette is the patron saint for women trying to conceive, pregnant women and sick children. Born by a first time mother who was 60 years old, her birth was considered by her parents to be a miracle. Years later she was staying with a woman who was in labor, and it was literally killing her. Colette prayed and the lady, who lived and had a healthy baby girl, credited Colette for their survival. Colette also met a baby born deceased and wrapped him up and he came back to life. Certainly fitting stories for those expecting, especially those who are high risk or struggled to conceive.
Colette is also the more pen name of the French novelist who is best known for her novella Gigi. Her works often explored the struggles of trying to be an independent woman in a world run by men. In 1954 she was was nominated for a Noble Prize in literature. Very influential in her time, and still today, she is a great role model, as she was brave and never afraid to be herself.
Pauline is my Grandmother’s name, so I wouldn’t actually use it as a first name. But I would love for it to be our girl middle name next time around, so I thought it would be fun to see what I could dig up on it.
Obviously Pauline is the feminine form of Paul, meaning “small”. I love Paul as it’s my grandfather’s name (on the other side of my family). Also it would keep our accidental Beatles theme going via Paul McCartney.
Pauline Fossil is one of three sisters in the children’s novel, Ballet Shoes. An aspiring performer, this character would fit in with artsy namesake Lucille and Lennon.
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was an African-American writer. How cool, Elizabeth is also my Grandmother’s middle name. Her writing was typically romantic but also expressed her views on race and social issues.
I can’t tell you how much joy it would bring my kids if I ever used the name Abigail. They are obsessed with Abby Cadaby on Sesame Street. The meaning “Father’s Joy” is beautiful… and for some reason I found it surprising. Also surprising to me was that this name was known as a servant’s name for many years, due to her story in the Bible and several other classic books. It wasn’t until this last century Abigail has shaken that image… I also thought of it as almost snooty, so this was funny to me.
Besides a Muppet, Abigail is also the name of two first ladies, Adams and Fillmore. Abby Wambach is a gold medal Olympic athlete who actually grew up not far from where I grew up. Abby’s also the mother of Louisa May Alcott and the pen name for sister advice columnists (Dear Abby). Nick name Abbey is also a reference to the Beatles album Abbey Road, which is why my husband likes it and I’m trying to sell myself on it. (Not that he’s dead set on keeping our accidental Beatles theme going. But he thinks it’d be sort of cool if the name we chose ended up having a Beatles connection too.)
Jessamine is a rarely used flower name… but I can’t figure out why it’s so rare. It’s lovely!! And nickname Jessa is adorable! I don’t know which pronunciation I prefer, the English JESS-ah-min or French Jess-ah-MEEN. With the first I worry that people would hear Jasmine… and the 2nd, well we’re not French so I feel like that’s not the correct version for us..?
Jessamine Shumate was an artist from Virginia. Reading about her I am inspired by her painting called “Cookie Pan”. She accidentally burned a cookie pan. She scrubbed and scrubbed trying to get it clean. When she couldn’t she just said, whatever, I’ll paint it. That’s an attitude I want my child to have, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! I also love that she didn’t become a serious artist until her daughters were grown. Not because I think a woman can’t be both a mother and artist at the same time, of course. That would be inspirational as well. I just like that it’s something she always wanted to do and even though it took her a long time to get started, she did it! So many people get hung up on being too old to start new things, and that’s crazy. You never know how much longer you have, do what makes you happy no matter how long or short it may be!
Jessamine is a character in several books, none of which I’ve read. Though if this name becomes a finalist I will! Check Nameberry to see some of the books she’s a part of. I first encountered the name upon reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It’s not a character, but it was the first I’d heard mention of jessamine flowers, little Eva picking them! I thought, that’s a pretty flower name, I wonder if people use it as a name? And, sure enough! Anyways, since I read it in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and specifically in relation to the character Evangeline, I find Jessamine southern, sweet and innocent.
When I was growing up The Swan Princess was my very favorite movie. I wanted to be Princess Odette. I still love the name and the memory of my favorite movie makes my heart smile. And the connection to the ballet the movie is based off of, Swan Lake, makes it even better.
Odette means wealth and fortune. Besides it’s fictional namesakes, Odette Hallowes was a Works War II heroine. An Allied Intelligence Officer, she was imprisoned and spent time in a concentration camp, being tortured constantly but never gave any information or her true identity. She was incredibly brave, smart and full of energy and life.
Meaning lame or crippled to many, some historians think it was more likely to have originally meant enclosure. I like that definition better, so let’s roll with it.
Claudia was a character in the Babysitter’s Club books, which pretty much defined my preteen years. A model, actresses, a Catholic Saint, Claudia is certainly a familiar name, but also not overly popular, ranking in the 700s on the girl popularity list.
Lady Bird Johnson’s real name was Claudia Alta. She got her nickname because as an infant she was “pretty as a lady bird”. Her family began calling her lady so much that her real name became almost irrelevant. In school they would pick on her and call her bird, which if you watch It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia you will understand, this makes me laugh! Would it be weird if I had a Claudia and called her Lady Bird? I think its precious…. Moving on…. Wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird was much more then just the President’s wife. She was very smart and through her investments she made her and her husband millions of dollars. As first lady she was more involved than any wife had been up until then, which earned her both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. She worked to beautify our cities because “where flowers bloom so does hope.” She was also a big supporter of Head Start, a program that helps educate children in low income families.