Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Diverted by a Name: Galadriel

Galadriel via Wikipedia

I saw The Hobbit today. There is such a treasure-trove of names in all of J.R.R. Tolkien's stories, I could write a thousand posts (and I know a ton has already been written). Not only are there a lot of names in his novels, there are quite a few wearable ones. Names that would be unique but not overly weird. Names that are strong and names that are beautiful. I personally would have loved to have used Éowyn for a daughter. The only thing a parent would have to overlook is the obvious connection to the books. Do you think any of Tolkien's names could become popular outside of the books, like Wendy did after Peter Pan? I wonder that, especially about the name that had me diverted today... Galadriel.

Galadriel means "maiden crowned with a radiant garland" in Sindarin, one of the languages spoken by the elves in Tolkien's Middle-earth. Her character is a royal elf and described as the fairest of her kind. She does not appear in the novel, but she shows up like a ray of light in the movie The Hobbit, just as she did in the The Lord of the Rings movies. The character makes the name stick out, and the sound, similar to Adrienne and Ariel, makes it wearable. The possible nickname Adriel is growing in popularity as a given name, mostly given to boys but to girls as well.

The following is a list of the occurrences Galadriel appeared in the records:

1969 - 5
1970 - 5
1971 - 8
1972 - 8
1973 - 7
1974 - 5
1975 - 9
1976 - 10
1977 - 11
1978 - 9
1979 - 9
1980 - 11
1981 - 10
1990 - 6
2000 - 10
2001 - 7
2002 - 7
2003 - 15
2004 - 11
2006 - 5

The Lord of the Rings novels were published in 1954-1955. Peter Jackson's movies were released in December of 2001, 2002, and 2003. The movies could be the reason for the increase in Galadriels born in 2003 and 2004. But there were other years of 10 or 11 girls given the name, so while the movies might have had a slight impact on exposing the name to parents, the true inspiration must have come from the original source.

Admittedly, Galadriel has a more distinctive sound than other usable Tolkien names, such as Arwen (given to 117 girls in 2003, 166 girls in 2004 and 149 girls in 2005) or Éowyn (given to 64 girls in 2004 and 2006, and 69 girls in 2005). But I think for those parents who are looking for a unique and beautiful name, with a Middle-earth twist, Galadriel is one that should be considered.

Another name to keep an eye on is Thorin. In The Hobbit, Thorin is the name of the dwarf leader and a likable one at that. It has been given to more boys than Galadriel has been given to girls over the years--27 boys were given the name in 2011, the most in a year so far--and maybe we'll see even more in the coming years due to The Hobbit in the theaters. The nickname and growing popularity of the given name Thor could also help the name soar.

Thanks to Behind the Name and Nancy's Baby Names.


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