Tag Archives: Uncommon Names

Name of the Day: Orwell

Orwell was our most likely boy name for baby #3 until about 22 weeks. It’s a name we still love and honestly he may still end up with, as I’m having trouble letting it go completely. But as of right now, it’s our runner up option.

Orwell is a surname of English and Scottish origin. The Scottish definition is boring (in my opinion), new village. But the English definition I LOVE. The branch of the river.

Orwell is not a common first name. In fact it has never appeared on the social security list. That means there has never been a year where 5 boys or 5 girls across the country were named Orwell. However, with sounds similar to Orson and Maxwell, and with so many other surnames commonly used as first names, I don’t think it feels out of place.

Orwell is most associated with George Orwell, author most notably known for Animal Farm and 1984. If you have never read anything by George Orwell, I highly recommend him. Especially in our current time of political uncertainty. George Orwell is a phenomenal namesake. Not only was he extremely smart and talented, he was also brave and never hesitated to stand up for his beliefs.

Orwell has great nickname options (not that it needs them, it’s so handsome on it’s own). O, Ori, Oreo, Wells, Olly. Paired with a J middle name I think OJ is adorable, though you may get the side eye at the playground from people who only associate the name with OJ Simpson.

As we were set on using this name for some time, and did share it with those that asked, I can speak to the downside of it. Though I consider George Orwell a very worthy  namesake, I thought it’s downside would be that it’s overly associated with George and I worried that’s super corny with a brother named Lennon, who already has a name very associated with an artist from the past. As an individual name, I don’t see it as a huge deal, and since he won’t spend his life being compared to his brother, I decided it was okay.

When sharing the name with others we found (in our social circle, at least) that people didn’t automatically associate it with George Orwell. Which would be great considering my above concern, except, with nothing to associate it with, people struggled to remember it. A lot of people would say “I remember it was like Orville, but it wasn’t.” Or if we said “you know, like George Orwell, the author” next time we saw them they’d say, “What are you naming him again? I remember you said it was after an author….” I decided that instead of trying to get people to remember via the George Orwell association I’d probably say “like if you’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks if you want your steak medium or well…. it’s the last 2 words, or well!”

I noticed my generation didn’t seem to have trouble remembering the name, I think we’re more used to uncommon names. Our children’s generation will be even more used to uncommon names so I doubt he’d have this problem with his peers. It’s just our parents generation. Therefore, I don’t think it should allow the name to be ruined as only his grandparent’s generation will refer to him as “that kid with the weird O name.” But I thought I should mention it as it did genuinely surprise me, we had “easy to remember” as a pro on our pro/con list!!

Moving “easy to remember” off our pro list isn’t what bumped this name to our runner up name. Rather, one day I thought of a name that was on our list of 15 names that we agreed on as possibilities pre pregnancy. I thought back to when it was eliminated as a possibility during my first trimester. Peter said it didn’t feel natural. I had been very sick for a long time so when he said “don’t you agree?” I said “I don’t know, nothing feels natural. I feel like death. If you don’t think it feels right, it’s off the list.” But one Friday, months later, I thought, but I have literally a dozen reasons this name is great for us! I should have fought for it. So I stated my case that night, Peter agreed we should use it for a couple days and see if it feels better now. After just a couple hours he said he liked it more and didn’t want to go back to Orwell. So we haven’t. 

So what’s the new name that fits our family even better? It’ll be announced when we meet him in May!! (I promise. Even if we meet him and go back to our original plan of naming him Orwell.)




Name of the Day: Darwin

Meaning “dear friend” I find Darwin to be such a sweet and warm name. I love the nicknames D, Dar and Winnie. And it ranks in the 800s for popularity, so a Darwin is unlikely to have classmates with the same name.

Most commonly associated with the naturalist Charles Darwin, this name is perfect for a family with a passion for science. Or a family without it, as he’s still an amazing namesake.

Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859. As this theory is still very controversial for those with certain religious beliefs, my biggest fear using the name was that it would be seen as an anti religious statement. However, I don’t think most would see it that way and frankly, those who do would be showing their ignorance as Darwin himself was very religious.

As I see it you can believe one thing with your head and another with your heart. Darwin’s theory was scientific, based on evidence and logic. You can agree with his findings and admire his determination in putting everything together in a logical sense without disregarding the creation story you believe in your heart and soul. I don’t think you need to understand why there may he a disconnect between the two. There’s often a disconnect between facts and feelings, how you logically see a situation and how you can’t help but feel about it. The world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey. And a lot that can’t be understood. But that doesn’t mean you dismiss it. I don’t think Darwin meant to insult any religious beliefs by connecting logical evidence to provide a different theory of origins.

Charles Darwin was obviously very smart, motivated and hard working. The biggest reason I consider Charles Darwin to be a worthy namesake though is his sense of justice. The reason Charles Darwin set out to prove evolution was to prove once and for all that all human beings have the same origin. This was for the purpose of racial equality. He thought proving that regardless of skin color we all have the same ancestors, would help us to live in harmony.

An uncommon name that symbolizes intelligence and social justice… what more can you ask for?




Name of the Day: Booker

Occupational surnames as first names are hot right now. I’m constantly meeting little boys named Mason, Carter, Cooper… But I’ve yet to meet one with my favorite occupational surname: Booker!

Meaning “maker of books”, it’d be such an appropriate name for a baby born into a literary crazy family, like ours. B and Boo are adorable nicknames. And in my family, where we affectionately tease each other with the least attractive versions of our names, I’m sure we’d call him Booger.

Booker T. Washington was an extremely influential and inspiring African American leader. Born into slavery, Booker and his family were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation when he was 9 years old. He believed highly that education and entrepreneurship could help his people to become equals with the whites. He was one of the founders of the National Negro Business League and is well known for his speech “Atlanta Compromise”.

Everything I’ve read about Booker T. Washington has led me to believe he was very hard-working and very eager to help others. He was one of the most notable black men of his time, and the last generation born into slavery who could speak from experience about that time in American history. I very much want to read his autobiography Up from Slavery.

In 2016 (numbers are not yet out for 2017) 58 boys were named Booker, making it the 2,269th most popular boy name. An uncommon choice that everyone will recognize and know how to spell and pronounce!




Name of the Day: Lorna

A literary name from R. D. Blackmore’s novel, Lorna Doone, it is believed he derived the name from the place name Lorne in Scotland. The book, like the name, is filled with beauty and abundant with splendid descriptions of nature. Truly, I loved the book. A love story packed with adventure and a surprise ending, it’s one of my favorite classic books. And Lorna’s character is very charming, though my favorite character is actually Ruth (another name I adore!).

More modern associations include Orange is the New Black character Lorna Muccio and Lorna Dane, aka Polaris, a member of X-Men. These associations make me surprised only 27 girls were named Lorna in the U.S. in 2016.

In real life, Judy Garland named her daughter Lorna (and she has a Liza, so she had impeccable taste in names.) Lorna Fitzgerald is a modern day actress. Named after the character and novel, Lorna Doone is a well known brand of cookies. Some may see that as an annoying association, but I like it. Cookie can be a funny nickname when she’s young.




Name of the Day: Reynard

An Ancient Germanic name meaning brave advice, this name has lots of spelling variations. I really like Rainard as it has the word rain in it, which I find peaceful and cleansing, but I struggle to find as much information about it being a legitimate spelling…So I’ll go on with Reynard as it’s the most common spelling… though it was still given to less than 5 babies last year.

Reynard is the name of a sneaky Fox (Fox could be a cool nickname) in which many many forklores have been based. These tales started in the middle ages and were popular in Germany, France, England and the Netherlands. In fact these tales were so popular that renard became the new word for fox in France (it used to be goupil.) Reynard’s stories often involve him out smarting the upper class authorities.

His first documented tale is a Latin poem from 1148 called Ysengrimus. Reynard is renamed Rossel in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The character was also used by the Nazi party in an Anti Semitic children’s book (not all the history of a given name can be good!). Disney’s Robin Hood was a fox to make him similar to Reynard. These are just a few of many many examples of Reynard’s many many appearances in pop culture over the years.

I found a modern day pop singer names named Reynard Silva… maybe he’s a big deal… I really don’t keep up with what’s currently hip. Whether a household name or not though, I think he’s pretty talented.

Paul Reynard was a French born artist and art teacher. Many of his paintings exist in the United States, including a mural at Harvard. He was also a very skilled stained glass artist.

 




Name of the Day: Amos

Meaning “carried”, Amos is familiar but uncommon. In the Old Testament the book of Amos is one of the oldest of the books and is largely about greed, corruption and oppression of the poor. (Thank you behind the name for your always vast and helpful collection of name facts.) I find this to be particularly fitting in the current state of the world.

Besides the biblical Amos, Amos is also the birth name of Bronson Alcott, who went by his middle name and I wrote about in this post. It has musical ties through both Amos Lee and Tori Amos.

Known primarily for his Famous Amos cookies, Wallace Amos Jr. has also written 10 books, mostly  of the “self help” genre. Before starting his cookie business he was a talent agent, representing artists such as Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross and the Supremes. He has also worked to help adults learn to read through volunteering and through a television program he hosted in the 80s.

Other famous Amos’ include Olympians, inventors, actors and more. There are no nicknames I love for it… but that didn’t bother me since the name is only 2 syllables. It’s short, sophisticated but spunky and I also really like the way it looks!




Name of the Day: Oswin

Oswin means “God’s Friend” which I find very sweet. Originally Oswine, it’s the name of a King in Deira. He ruled peacefully for seven years but then Oswiu, the king to the North declared war on him. Oswine refused to engage, but was ultimately betrayed by his friend and put to death.

This is pretty much all I can find on Oswin, sadly. So I’ll just add that Winnie, O and my favorite, Ozzy are all wonderful nicknames!