Happy Easter! I hope you're all enjoying a lovely Bank Holiday weekend.
This month started with my sister's hen do. While away, I shared a room with her friend Jen who (once she found out about this blog) was happy to tell me her name story. "I hate my name," she said. "When you hear what my sisters are called you'll understand why."
Jen was born in the late 80s and got the standard, highly popular names "Jennifer Lauren." Nothing unusual about that. But Jen is the middle of three sisters, and it's her siblings' names that causes her name envy.
Her elder sister: Philippa Storm
Her younger sister: Cassandra Olivia
"Can you imagine what is like being Jennifer Lauren when you have sisters named Philippa Storm and Cassandra Olivia?" she asked me. And, to be honest, I could straight away empathise. There is nothing wrong with the name Jennifer Lauren, but in comparison to her siblings, it feels lacking to Jen.
Of course, it's hard to predict in advance which names are going to become commonplace in later generations and which will remain unusual. I also told Jen about Jennifer's descent from alluring Guinevere which adds an extra element to it.
March seems to have been the month that the media kept bombarding me with stories about Irish model Vogue Williams: from the news that she and Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews are engaged, to news of her pregnancy. She's never really been on my radar much before, but with all this attention, I'm wondering whether her striking fashion-grounded name (very apt for a model!) will see more use.
Vogue is already on the rise in England and Wales, though still rare. It first ranked in 2013 with 3 births (#5742), rising to 10 births (#2464) in 2014, 15 births (#1865) in 2015 and 22 births (#1472) in 2016.
Speaking of models, March introduced me to "real-curves" British model Iskra Lawrence when she featured on the BBC lifestyle documentary Super Skinny promoting a positive body image message. You can watch Iskra (full name Iskra Arabella) explain where her name comes from here:
Her parents chose the Slavic word iskra (и́скра) "spark" for its symbolic meaning to them. I definitely think this fits perfectly on the Vibrant Russian list.
Iskra has never ranked in the official data for England and Wales as it has not been given to more than two children in any given year.
The surname Foxon stood out to me in March as an untapped name with huge potential. With its surname -on ending like fashionable Mason, Harrison and Jackson, and its similarity to nature-inspired Fox -- which is on a steep upward curve and now ranking #521 -- you can see its appeal.
Despite the cool 'x', Foxon actually has nothing to do with foxes. Instead it derives from the patronymic surname "Folk's son". The not uncommon medieval name Folk (Folke, Fulke, Fulk) derives from the Old Germanic name Fulco meaning "of the people."
Do you ever click on the Google Doodles? I love finding out about interesting people from them, especially if they have an interesting name to boot. Last last Google Doodle of March 2018 celebrated the 153rd birthday of Anandi Gopal Joshi, India’s first female doctor. Having graduated from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1885, she became the first Indian women to obtain a degree in western medicine and was praised in her own time for her achievement. There is even a crater on Venus named "Joshee" in her honour.
Anandi's name (sometimes listed as Anandibai) is a feminine form of the Hindi name Anand meaning "happiness, bliss" in Sanskrit. With its strong namesake, upbeat sound and beautiful meaning, I can see Anandi having wider potential.
Anandi has only ranked once in the official data for England and Wales: in 2013 when it was given to three girls (#5742). It may have been used in other years, but the official data only shows names given to more than two children in any given year.
If you follow my weekly roundup of birth announcements every Sunday you'll know that there are often some fascinating gems to be found. But how I wish I had the space to put the parents' names! Sometimes they are even more intriguing than the children.
Take little Maximilian announced in the paper's this week. His parents are Jonathan and Rhealine. Rhealine's parents are from the Philippines. A quick internet search shows that Rhealine is not unique to the Philippines or Malaysia, but to me, it is an interesting elaboration of Greek name Rhea.
Its amazing how different cultures and countries can take a name and make it their own. Sturdy Irish Cillian has been transformed into stylish Kylian in France and you can find several French and Belgian footballers and other celebrities answering to the name. It currently ranks at #86 in France having first ranked in 1995, swiftly entering the top 100 2001 and reaching a peak of #38 in 2007.
I absolutely love these records from the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés c.823. It's a feast of Frankish names. My favourite on the list is Aurisma (listed as Auresma in the record entry) which derives from the Proto-Italic*auzōs "to shine, dawn" and the Latin superlative suffix -isma.