Tag Archives: Nature 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 😉 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: 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: Oisín

Meaning little deer, this Irish name is pronounced osh-een or ush-een. I love that it sounds sort of like ocean.

Oisín is known in Irish legends as the son of Finn mac Cumhaill and Sadbh, the greatest poet in Ireland and a great warrior. In his most famous tale he falls in love with a fairy woman, Niamh of the Golden Hair. They lived together for 300 years in the land of the young. When he decides to visit his old home, the 300 years catch up with him an he dies, never returning to Niamh.

James Macpherson published a series of poems in which Ossain (based off legendary Oisín) is the narrator. Osheen is a 3rd acceptable spelling, and probably the one that would cause the least amount of confusion.




Name of the Day: Jessamine

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.



Name of the Day: Sylvester

Meaning “of the forest”, Sylvester was my great grandfather’s middle name. I’m aware most people will associate it with a cartoon cat and Sylvester Stallone, but as neither of those are bad associations, I think it’s worth consideration. Let’s see who else has had the name.

Sylvester Churchill was a distant relative of Winston Churchill. Born in Vermont in 1783, he is a war hero in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. He also published a weekly newspaper called The Vermont Republican.

Sly Stone (birth name Sylvester) is a Rock an Roll Hall of Famer, the front man in Sly and the Family Stones. The band was very influential for soul, funk and psychedelic music.

Also the name of several popes and saints.

Nick names Silly, Sly and Ves are all adorable!