Well, it’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? I think it’s time for another round of Names I’m Loving!
Noor- I discovered this striking Arabic name while reading the tragic story of Noor Almaleki, a young woman in Arizona who was a victim of “honor killing.” Here is a link to the story. The name means “light” and can also be spelled Nur, but I think Noor looks prettier in writing. Not sure if it would work outside of the Muslim community, but it’s a gorgeous and definitely unusual name.
Aarti- Something about double-A names for girls really strikes me. Aarti is the name of a Hindu ritual and a devotional song, and also means “the highest love for God” in Sanskrit. It can also be spelled Arathi or Arti. I also love that this name could be “Americanized” as Artie, which I think is an adorable name for a girl. Again, not sure if this one would work outside its community of origin, but I’m all for breaking boundaries!
Quincy- originally a surname derived from the Latin Quintus, meaning”fifth.” Could be a namesake for sixth president John Quincy Adams, if you’re a fan. Me, I just like the sound of it.
Azucena- Gorgeous Spanish name meaning “madonna lily.” This name was featured on Appellation Mountain at my request, which you can read here.
Eloise- Did anyone else read the Eloise books by Kay Thompson when they were a kid? They were about a mischievous little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel. I recently rediscovered this name, which ultimately originates from an old Germanic name of uncertain meaning. It’s a fresh-sounding alternative to the sometimes-dated Louise.
Marina- When I mention this name, a lot of people say they don’t like it because it makes them think of a marina where people moor their boats. That’s exactly the reason I love it! It evokes the image of a quaint little marina with cheerfully painted little boats everywhere just waiting to be taken out on the bright blue ocean on a sunny day. Or, at least it does for me. Fittingly, the name originates from the Latin Marinus, which means “of the sea.”
Briar- While admittedly this has a prickly image, coming from the English word for a thorny plant, it has an alluring and unusual sound to it. Also, if you’re a Disney buff, there is the Sleeping Beauty connection. Princess Aurora’s alias while she was in hiding was Briar Rose, which is gorgeous.
Ramona- Pretty and funky name that ultimately comes from a Germanic name derived from words that meant “advice” and “protector.” A band called Ramona Falls (check them out here) opened for a concert I saw recently, and helped me to rediscover this name. The Beezus and Ramona connection can be good or bad depending on your opinion of the book and/or the recent movie adaptation. Ramona is also the title of an 1884 novel by Helen Hunt Jackson.
Paraskevi- Pronounced “pa-ra-skev-EE,” it is a Greek name coming from the word for “preparation.” This is also the word for Friday in modern Greek. Admittedly, this probably has little allure outside of the Greek community, but since I am a member of said community, it works for me!
Margot- A lovely French short form of Margaret, and so much more alluring from the original. Can be pronounced “MAR-go,” “mar-GO,” or “MAR-git.” Personally, I like “mar-GO.”
Daphne- The name of a nymph in Greek mythology who was turned into a laurel tree by her father to escape the amorous pursuit of Apollo. Fittingly, the name means “laurel” in Greek. With it’s unusual and pretty sound, it would wear well on a modern girl. Famous bearers include: Daphne Blake, the Scooby Doo character, famous for her purple dress, green scarf, and being a “damsel-in-distress,” and Daphne du Maurier, British author of Rebecca and various other stories and plays. There is also a city called Daphne in Alabama.
Miriam- Has a pretty and unusual sound to it. What else sounds like Miriam? It is the original Hebrew form of Mary, and in the Old Testament it is the name of Moses’ older sister. Not a huge fan of the nickname Miri, as it makes me think of the godawful movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno (if you haven’t seen it, don’t waste your time). I met a Miriam with the nickname Mimi, which I think is adorable.
Bijou- Means” jewel” in French, and is pronounced “bee-ZHOO.” Okay, okay, it kind of sounds like the name of someone’s fluffy little yappy dog, but it has grown on me recently. The -ou ending is really cute, and Bee could be a cute nickname. I don’t really see it aging well, though, so it would probably be better off as a middle name.
Mirabelle- What a gorgeous rhythm it has! Also really went up in my book after I found out it wasn’t a mere splicing of a random syllable with the suffix -belle, but actually derived from the Latin word mirabilis, meaning “wonderful.” Mira is also a beautiful nickname.
I don’t have very many new boy names this time. I’m a lot more picky when it comes to boys’ names, unfortunately.
Rupert- So inherently British, I love it (even though it is actually a Low German form of Robert). It is a bit clunky, but then again, stuffy old-fashioned names are in these days, right?
Garrett- I actually fell in love with this when I was about ten after seeing the animated Warner Bros. film Quest for Camelot, in which it was the name of the male lead. I rediscovered it after seeing the movie Going the Distance (GREAT movie by the way, rent it!), in which it was also the name of the male lead. It comes from an English surname derived from the name Gerald or Gerard. Good idea if you have a Gerald or Gerard that you want to honor, but just can’t bring yourself to try and resurrect either of those (horrendous in my opinion) names.
These are some names that I’ve been liking a lot lately (meaning I use them for characters in stories or games, put them on future baby name lists, etc). Feel free to leave your thoughts on them or request a feature on other names.
Nicolette- I love this French diminutive of Nicole much more than the much more popular original. It’s cute without being cutesy, and I love the boyish nickname Nico.
Marisol- This Spanish combination of Maria and Sol (the Spanish word for sun) is beautiful and evocative and would work well on any girl, regardless of heritage.
Lavinia- Though to be of Etruscan origin, this unique and ancient name would work well on a modern girl. I also love the nickname Vinnie for a girl.
Rosario- A fresh alternative to other names beginning in “Rose,” and a great pathway to the cute nickname Rosie. It means rosary in Spanish and comes from a title given to the Virgin Mary (Nuestra Senora del Rosario). Rosario Dawson proves that it can work with non-Hispanic surnames.
Lourdes- This name of a French town where a young girl supposedly had a vision of the Virgin Mary has a pretty sound and an evocative meaning. Personally I prefer the Spanish pronunciation, “LOOR-des.”
Linden- the name of a sweet-smelling flowering tree that is a great alternative to the trendy London and the outdated Linda. I knew a girl in high school with this name.
Hortensia- Ever heard of the phrase, ‘So out it’s in?’ This kind of epitomizes it for me. Thought to have been derived from the Roman word for garden, it has a clunky-pretty sound that really appeals, at least to me,
Araminta- Very popular in Britain, I think it could cross the pond very easily and has a lot of potential. It is of unknown meaning and origin, and was Harriet Tubman’s real name. It has a pretty sound, and the “mint” sound gives it a nature connection.
Severine- Although the “sever” sound is a little bit off-putting, and it comes from a Roman family name that meant “stern,” this French name has a lot of appeal. The -ine ending would allow it to easily fit in with more popular names, but its very low popularity in the US makes it a great stand-out choice. There is also the etymological connection with the Harry Potter series’ Severus Snape…
Magnolia- This pretty flower name stands out without being too out-there. The nickname Maggie is also cute.
Beatrice- I used to despise this name, but it has slowly grown on me. It is a little clunky, and some may say old-fashioned, but I prefer vintage. Bea is also a cute nickname.
Carmel- Coming from the title of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Carmel, it is a very old name with no relation to caramel candy. It is pronounced “car-MEL,” and is also the name of a town in California. Very pretty and evocative name for any girl.
June- Another old-fashioned name I think is ready for resurrection. The transitional month between spring and summer- what could be more beautiful?
Audrey- Every time I hear this name, I think of Audrey Hepburn and her classic beauty and style. It’s a diminutive of a long-forgotten Old English name, but works perfectly on its own. A timeless classic that would work for any girl.
Louise- Another vintage charmer that I think is ready to go back into the naming pool. And would you believe that this pretty French-flavored name ultimately came from the German Ludwig? Also love the nickname Lou.
Iona- This name of a Scottish island is very pretty and evokes images of rugged Scotland while remaining simple enough for American tongues to pronounce.
Scarlett- So many connections. Gone With the Wind, Scarlett Johansson…the list goes on. The name ultimately comes from a a kind of cloth, but also has a strong color connection. Very strong choice.
Lilou- A diminutive of Lily, and currently one of the most popular names in France. I try to ignore the Fifth Element connection, but that may be a positive influence for some people. It’s very cute without being prissy and would adapt well any culture.
Chanson- Means song in French, and would traditionally be pronounced “shahn-SOHN,” but of course this is impractical here. “CHAN-son” doesn’t sound too bad, and would fit in with more popular names like Jason, Jackson, etc.
Tadhg- First heard this a while back in an Irish movie called The Secret of Roan Inish (which is a fantastic film by the way). Pronounced “Tieg,” it means poet in Irish. No doubt it would be met with serious pronunciation/spelling issues here in the US, but I love the sound and feel of it.
Roux- Pronounced “roo,” it means redhead in French, and was the name of Johnny Depp’s dashing gypsy character in the movie Chocolat. It’s cute but would age well, and the spelling is half of the appeal.
Dexter- Clunky-nerdy names seem to be the thing lately, and I fully embrace the trend. Dexter has a nice sound to it, and isn’t too high on the popularity list either. It means skilled in Latin. I also quite like the nickname Dex.
Kingsley- Means “king’s wood” in Old English, and is also a sound-alike to the word “kingly.” What could be more appealing? Also has a Harry Potter connection for all you nerds out there (of which I am proudly one).
Demetrius- Ultimately comes from the Greek goddess Demeter, which gives it great appeal, and was also the name of several kings and saints. With a long history and an appealing sound, it’s a prime name candidate with Demi or Dimitri as nickname options.
Eamon- I also heard this Irish form of Edmund, pronounced “AY-mun,” in the movie The Secret of Roan Inish. Familiar-sounding without being overly popular, it has a pleasant, warm feel to it.
Lucien- I must admit, the movie Underworld first made me fall in love with this French form of Lucius. The French pronunciation, “loo-syahn,” is beautiful, but, unfortunately, impractical here. “LOO-shin” is nice, and very respectable. The name itself is a little bit “bad-boy,” but that’s part of its appeal.
Stanton- I am usually not a very big fan of “surname-names,” but this one stands out in a good way. Stan would make a good nickname.
Tucker- What was I saying about surname-names? I like this one mostly because it comes with the nickname Tuck, and does not sound ridiculous as many surname-names do.
As I said with the girls, this is only a small sample of my favorite names, as the entire list is far too long to include on here. Again, keep in mind that my tastes are very widespread, sometimes strange, and subject to change. Enjoy!
1. Tobias- My all-time favorite boy name. This was the first name, male or female, that I ever really fell in love with. This took place way back in elementary school, when the Animorphs book series was popular. One of the characters, a boy trapped in the body of a hawk, was named Tobias. I’ve loved the name ever since. I don’t think it has ever been a very commonly used name, and yet it doesn’t feel outdated or geezer-ish. Just don’t come near me with the nickname “Toby” – I can’t stand it!
2. Adrian- A lot of people write this off as “too girly,” but I think its very masculine, as it comes from the name Hadrian, as in Hadrian’s Wall. Also, the only Adrian I know is a man, so that sways my opinion. It’s a modern-sounding name with a lot of history behind it perfect for any boy.
3. George- For me, it’s a family name, with at least 10 known Georges floating around my family tree. I’ve heard people say it’s old-fashioned, but it never has been for me, and hey, aren’t old-fashioned names coming back in? I think it would be a great name for any 21st century boy.
4. Elijah/Elias- Both of these names come from the same root, so I am grouping them together. Elijah is more familiar and contemporary-sounding, but I actually prefer the Greek version, Elias (pr. ee-LEE-ahs). It may be hard on American tongues, though, so Elijah is more practical.
5. Liam- Great, strong Irish name that is actually a short for of William, but definitely works as a stand-alone name. It is simple and easy to pronounce, yet not too high on the popularity list, making it a perfect candidate.
6. Phineas- I first heard this name in high school while reading the book A Separate Peace, and instantly loved it. The character went by the nickname Finny, which I think is adorable and could easily be shorted to Finn later in life. One of my trifectas: attractive name, cute nickname, alternative more grown-up nickname.
7. Byron- This is actually my uncle’s name. I’ve always loved it, with its poetic connections and its contemporary feel. I see a namesake in the making, although probably a middle name since I dislike the tradition of naming children after immediate family members.
8. Oliver- There’s just something about this name. It’s quirky, yet has a classic, lyrical feel to it. Since I can’t stand Dickens, I ignore the Oliver Twist connection and continue to adore this name.
9. Wesley- Another name that gets flak for sounding too feminine. I heartily disagree- it’s a surname-name that, despite the -ley ending, has a masculine feel to it. I also love the nickname Wes.
10. Orion- (pr. oh-RIE-in) I love this constellation name for a boy. Though quite an unusual name, it retains a familiar feeling due to its similarity to the very popular Ryan. It stands out from the crowd the way a navy suit does in a sea of black ones- noticeable, but not in-your-face neon.
11. Jasper- Unfortunately, the Twilight craze may have ruined this name. But I liked it a long way before Twilight was even a twinkle in the crazed tweens’ eyes. It has a lot of pizzazz to it while remaining dignified, a quality that is sometimes hard to find in a boy’s name.
12. Sebastian- I think this one has finally detached itself from The Little Mermaid connection, though I would like it either way. I knew a guy with this name who went by “Seabass,” which I thought was very funny. Personally, I like the French nickname Seba, or Bas.
13. Angelo- The popular boys’ name Angel sounds effeminate to me. Angelo has always stood out much more to me and since so many cultures use the version of the name, it would work for any boy.
14. Samson- I’ve always preferred this name over Samuel as a way to get to the nickname Sam. It has a long history and is not, in fact a “surname name.” It comes from the Hebrew Shimson, which is thought to have meant “sun.”
15. Jesse- I really can’t explain why I like this name. It just speaks to me. It has a long history, both good and bad, and is definitely a legit choice for a boy.
16. Felix- I never associated this with Felix the Cat until people started telling me so. I think it is an offbeat and strong name that could work well on a modern boy. And besides, I love cats .
I thought it fitting to start out with some of my own favorite names. Keep in mind that my list (yes, I do have a list- I am that much of a name nerd) extends to over 300 names, so this is just a small sample of my absolute favorites. Also keep in mind that my tastes are very widespread, sometimes strange, and subject to change.
1. Anastasia- My all-time favorite name, and funnily enough, also a family name. I say it “ah-nah-stah-SEE-ah,” because that is how it is pronounced in Greek and how I grew up saying it. I know “anna-STAY-shuh” is much more popular, but I definitely prefer it this way- it sounds much prettier. If I ever have a daughter, I will name her Anastasia. I like the nickname Tasia (Tah-SEE-ah) for it, but actually the nickname Nastia has kind of grown on me (Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin’s real name is Anastasia). Although it would surely be met with pronunciation problems.
2. Aurora- I have loved this name since I can remember. It’s so beautiful! It means “dawn” in Latin, and is also reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis, the beautiful light phenomenon observed in the North Arctic Circle. A really cute nickname for it is Rory.
3. Rose- Although this is a very common middle name, it is rarely heard as a first name these days. I think it’s gorgeous, and the images it evokes are definitely positive. It’s one of the rare one-syllable names that is decidedly feminine.
4. Eleanor- I gave my “flour baby” way back in 8th grade this stunning, classic name. I love all the history it has, and the many different people and things it brings to mind (i.e. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elinor in Sense and Sensibility). I like Ellie as a nickname.
5. Ophelia- Though it brings to mind Shakespeare’s tragic character in Hamlet, I find this to be a beautiful name. The Shakespeare connection adds to its mystique. I actually like the Spanish pronunciation, “oh-FEH-lee-ah” better than “oh-FEEL-ee-uh,” but of course that is not practical. I can’t think of any good nicknames for this one.
6. Agnes- Yes, it’s clunky and old-fashioned, but I think it’s definitely ready for a comeback. I kind of like the sound of it, in the way I like the sound of German and Chinese, two of the harshest languages on the planet. I also love the nickname Aggie. The French pronunciation, “ahn-YES,” is beautiful, but again,impractical.
7. Georgia Holly- I don’t usually combine names, but these just seem to fit together so well, in an offbeat kind of way. Georgia has a family connection for me, and Holly is just a name I love. They pair well together, yet the pairing seems fresh and unexpected.
8. Violet- Despite its growing popularity and trendy-ness, I am still in love with this name. It has vintage charm as well as a very direct flower connection that make it absolutely adorable.
9. Phoebe- I’ve loved this ever since I read the book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech in 7th grade. It’s a timeless and cute name that would age well.
10. Arabella- I guess I’ve fallen victim to the “-bella/-belle” craze. But unlike the extremely overused Isabella/Isabelle/etc, Arabella retains its freshness and hint of Italian flavor. Gorgeous name.
11. Luna- I loved this even before Harry Potter’s Luna Lovegood, but she made me love it even more. It’s a quirky and cute name that would work on a girl of any age without seeming pretentious or trendy.
12. Delilah- Despite the ringing of Tom Jones’ “Why, why, whyyyyy, Delilah?” in my head every time I hear this name, I still love it. It maintains old-school charm but has modern flair, and I love “Lilah” as a nickname.
13. Cordelia- I have no idea why I like this name. Perhaps it’s because it’s so inherently feminine. It isn’t the most attractive-sounding of names, but it has a certain charm and beauty to it. And call me crazy, but I actually think “Cordie” would make an adorable nickname.
14. Isis- Egyptian mythology nerd, here! But seriously, even without the connection to the Egyptian goddess, you have to admit Isis is a beautiful name. It’s very unique without seeming made-up, and with thousands of years of history behind it, it is definitely a great candidate for modern girls.
15. Cassandra- Nothing can ruin this name for me. Not the story of the disbelieve Trojan prophetess of the same name, nor the girl I knew a while back that hated me. I still think this is a beautiful, timeless, feminine-without-frills name. And I love the nickname Cassie, or even Sandra!
16. Melissa Honey- Another of my rare first and middle name combinations. This one requires some explanation. Melissa, a name which I have always loved, means “bee” in Greek. Honey seems to go naturally with it. I’ve recently thought that Honey would make a cute name, but not a wearable one. So I compromised by sticking it in the middle, and it goes perfectly with Melissa! I can just imagine a mother calling her daughter “My little Honey Bee!”
I hope this wasn’t too long and boring. I’ll have my favorite boys’ names up soon!
I’m Lea, and I’m a “name nut,” or whatever it is they’re calling those of us who peruse baby name books when we’re several years away from even thinking about pregnancy. I’ve been wandering around other name blogs and thought I’d start one of my own. More to come!