Monday, April 29, 2013

Diverted by a Name: Jacquetta

Image via

I am currently reading a historical fiction novel based on English royalty in the 1400s. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory is the story of a woman who became a critical piece in what would be called the War of the Roses. Names in novels are always of interest to me, as are English royalty names, and in this book it is the main character's name that had me diverted. She was the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, queen consort to King Edward IV: Jacquetta of Luxembourg.

According to Behind the Name, Jacquetta is the British female diminutive of Jacques, which is the French form of Jacob or James. Other diminutives are Jacqueline (English and French) and Jacquette (French). While Jacqueline has been the favored version in the States, Jacquetta had been consistently recorded by the SSA from 1916 through 2002. The most Jacquettas were born in 1988 (55). Jacqueline is also declining in usage lately, but with the emergence of Etta as a given name and nickname, Jacquetta could be a fresh choice.

Behind the Name also lists Bine and Coba as alternatives to Jacquetta from other languages. Bine (ranked #79 in Slovenia) is Danish and short for Jacobine. Since Jacobine is pronounced yah-ko-BEE-nuh, I would think Bine is pronounced BEE-nuh. Coba is Dutch and short for Jacoba (ranked #341 in the Netherlands). And since Jacoba is pronounced yah-KO-bah, I would think Coba is pronounced KO-bah. There is also the Italian version, Giachetta, which is pronounced jah-KET-tah and is the female diminutive of Giacomo (James).

Another interesting note about the title character: Jacquetta of Luxembourg and her husband Richard Woodville, 1st Earl of Rivers, had 14 children. Their names were Elizabeth, Lewis, Anne, Anthony, Mary, Jacquetta, John, Richard, Martha, Eleanor, Lionel, Margaret, Edward, and Catherine.

What do you think of Jacquetta?


Friday, April 26, 2013

A Case for the Letter: M - Girls

Crochet Wall Letter M
Photo by NestingMagpie via Flickr

After going through the popular M boy names, the girls will take a little more time! There were 30 M boy names that reached the Top 200 in the decades since the 1880s. There are 75 M girl names in that same category. Let's get to it!

Some observations/questions:
  • Only three names have been consistently on top since the 1880s: Margaret, Maria, and Mary.
  • Several names dropped off the chart after making a jump in the previous decade: Mallory, Marcella, Marianne, Marsha, Meredith and Muriel.
  • The only name that fell out of the Top 200 and return after several decades is Madeline.
  • There are quite a few spelling variations of popular names included in the Top 200: Mabel/Mable, Mackenzie/Makenzie/Mckenzie, Madeline/Madelyn, Mae/May, Makayla/Michaela/Mikayla, Mamie/Mayme, Marcia/Marsha, Maria/Mariah, Marian/Marion, Marianne/Maryann, Marisa/Marissa, Mathilda/Matilda, Maud/Maude, Meagan/Megan/Meghan, Michele/Michelle, Mollie/Molly.
  • Mollie and Molly are the only variations that appeared in completely different decades. Mollie was the favored spelling in the late 1800s, while Molly is the favored spelling now.
  • There are also quite a few names that made an appearance in one decade only (not counting the 1880s or 2000s since we don't know if they appeared previously or will reappear yet): Mandy, Marisa, Maryann, Melody, Mercedes, Michaela, Mindy, and Myrna. 
  • Michaela entered with the highest popularity of its pronunciation in the 1990s (141) and then dropped off in the 2000s, while its spelling variations rose in popularity from the 1990s to the 2000s: Makayla (156 to 46) and Mikayla (169 to 139). 
  • The chart allows for some interesting visuals. For instance, you can obviously see the Mel- names enter in the 1950s: Melanie, Melinda, Melissa; with Melody added temporarily in the 1960s. Melinda has since dropped out of the Top 200, but Melanie and Melissa are still going strong. 
  • A similar visual with Megan: Megan entered in the 1970s and variations Meagan and Meghan entered in the 1980s. While Megan is still on the chart, the variations both fell off after the 1990s.
  • And finally, the ever-puzzling fall of Mary and, to a lesser extent, Margaret. Mary was at the top of the top for almost 100 years (and probably longer if records from pre-1880s were kept) and has fallen gradually since the 1960s. Margaret was near the top for about 60 years and has taken a fall since the 1940s, with a temporary gain in the 1980s, and could very well fall out of the Top 200 in the next decade or two. Maybe it’s not too puzzling if you consider over-use as a reason to seek out variety, but to hold the top for so long, Mary is a name to be respected and possibly renewed.
Which of these Top 200 names is your favorite? Can you think of any other M names that could enter the cart in the 2010s? Do you have any other observations?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rank and Title Names

Insignia of General of the Army (1944-1981) via Wikipedia

Some parents want to give their child a name with strength and authority. Or maybe they have a relative that they would love to honor, but his/her given name is not to their liking, so they honor the relative's job or status. Whatever the reason, parents have chosen to name their child a name with certain prestige and punch when they choose to go with a rank or title name.  

The following were names given in 2011 in the United States. (All of these were given to boys, with the few pink exceptions.)

Military Ranks:
Captain (19)
Chief (8)
General (15)
Major (196)
Trooper (14)

Religious Leaders:
Bishop (162)
Caliph (8)
Chancellor (14)
Deacon (354)
Messiah (53, 368)
Priest (15)

Royal or Government Leaders:
Agent (5)
Baron (130)
Duke (146)
Earl (114)
Governor (5)
Judge (17)
Justice (544, 502)
King (722)
Knight (36)
Marquis (331)
Master (8)
Prince (544)
Princess (301)
Queen (50)
Sheriff (6)

Description of the monarch:
Majesty (26, 21)
Noble (91)
Royal (34, 147)
Royalty (27, 11)


Do you see any issue in using these names? You Can't Call It "It"! has a great post and discussion in the comments about New Zealand banning certain names, including Baron, Bishop and Duke because of the confusion they may cause.

Which, if any, of these rank and title names would you use?


Monday, April 22, 2013

A Case for the Letter: M - Boys

the letter M
Photo by Cynthia Del Giudice via Flickr

In my previous "Case for the Letter" posts, I went a little overboard with information. I really enjoyed the research for them though, and want to continue producing the results. I found that the most interesting findings, to me, were the historical changes in the names that started with the letter. So, I'm going to stick with that and leave the rest out... for now.

The following is a chart of M boy names that have ranked in the Top 200 in the decades from the 1880s through the 2000s. It is fascinating to see how the names have gone up and/or down throughout the decades, as well as which names disappeared and appeared.

Some observations/questions:
  • Only three names have been consistently on top since the 1880s: Manuel, Martin and Michael (although Martin is threatening to drop).
  • Several names dropped off the chart after making a jump in the previous decade: Marshall, Merle, Mike, and Mitchell. What happened to make them drop so rapidly?
  • Several names dropped off the chart only to come back after a few decades: Mark, Matthew, Maurice (which dropped off again), and Max.
  • Spelling variations of popular names temporarily charted in a few decades: Marc, Mathew, and Micheal.
  • Max was a top name early on, and has made a reappearance recently, while Maxwell only recently showed up on top (and Maxwell ranks higher than Max).
  • Will Malachi and Micah suffer Malik's fate and fall off the chart when the 2010s are over, or will they climb higher?
  • Random thought... seeing Mack and Malachi next to each other makes me think that Mack could be a cute nickname for Malachi.

Which of these Top 200 names is your favorite? Can you think of any other M names that could enter the cart in the 2010s? Do you have any other observations?

The M girl names analysis will come in a few days.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Diverted by a Name: Honus

Photo via Wikipedia

Sorry... I'm on a baseball high. With the beginning of the season and then Jackie Robinson day, it's all around me right now. As I was perusing historical baseball names, I came across the best player in the dead-ball era besides Ty Cobb: Honus Wagner. I had heard of him before, but as a name lover, I was suddenly diverted. Where did Honus come from?

Johannes Peter Wagner was born in 1874 to German immigrants, Peter Johannes and Katheryn. He was called Hans as a child, but that turned into Honus, pronounced "HAH-nus". Honus is also a German term given to an awkward child, which Wagner was. Honus was also called Hans as well as John as an adult. Peter and Katheryn had nine children: Charles (Charley), Albert (Al or Butts), Louis (Ludwig or Luke), Honus, Caroline (Carrie) and William (Wilhelm?) are the only ones that survived.

Johannes is the German form of John. Pronounced "yo-HAH-nes", Johannes is one of MANY forms of John. Jan, Johan, Johann, Deshaun, Deshawn, Keshaun, Keshawn, Rashaun, Rashawn, Ioan, Ivan, Janko, Janek, Evan, Ian, Sean, Shane, Shaun, Shawn, Jean, Yanni, Yannis, Keoni, János, Eoin, Giovanni, Jonas are just some of the variants and versions of John in other languages.

Considering Honus Wagner's popularity in the early 1900s, I am a little surprised that there have not been any Honuses born as long as records have been kept. Maybe those who wanted to honor him used his full name instead of his nickname, or maybe there have been one or two throughout the years, just not enough to have been recorded by the SSA.

Other names of interest... Honus married Bessie Baine Smith and they had three daughters: Elva Katrina, who was stillborn; Betty Baine and Virginia Mae (Jennie). I'm wondering if Katrina was Katheryn's real name or if they used the German form of it to honor her. I also wonder if Mae was a family name, but I cannot find any further information. Elva is a new one to me. It could either be a variant of Alva or from the Gaelic name Ailbhe (pronounced AL-va).

What do you think of Honus? Do you have a favorite variant of John?

Thanks to for biographical information and Behind the Name.


Monday, April 15, 2013


Today is Jackie Robinson Day, celebrating the anniversary of the first African-American player to start a game in the major leagues. It happened on April 15, 1947, and this break in the color barrier is seen as a momentous event leading up to the civil rights movement in the USA. Jackie is a legend and the only player whose number, 42, is permanently retired by all major league teams. In recent years, all players and uniformed personnel wear the number 42 during games held on April 15 to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, and the same will be done today.

This past weekend, 42, a movie about Jackie Robinson's story was released in theaters. I have not been fortunate enough to see this movie yet, but as a fan of baseball, it is a must-see. As a fan of names, I cannot ignore the plethora of monikers contained in the film, both of the real-life characters and the actors who portray them.

Jackie - Jack Roosevelt Robinson was the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. Jack is very no-nonsense and common, but it's nice to note that his middle name was after Theodore Roosevelt, who died a few weeks before Jackie was born.

Rachel - Rachel Annetta Robinson is Jackie's wife. I love the first name, and Annetta is a great combo of Anne and Etta, with the latter being an up-and-coming name and nickname.

Branch - Wesley Branch Rickey was President and General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the one who signed Robinson to a contract. I wonder where Branch came from and guess it is a family name, but it passes well as a given name like other word names, such as Brick and Briar.

Pee Wee - Born Harold Peter Henry Reese, Pee Wee was nicknamed as a child after a small marble due to his skill in playing the game of marbles. He played with Robinson and was a great supporter of him. Pee Wee may not be great given name material, but what about Harold? It's not as popular nowadays as it was in the early 1900s, but it is a viable option for those who like the nickname Harry.

Leo - Leo Ernest Durocher was the manager of the Dodgers who supported Robinson's signing. Leo continues to rise in popularity and style.

Red - Walter Lanier "Red" Barber was the broadcaster of Dodger games. While Walter has never disappeared (ranking #375 in 2011), could it return to a top 10 name as it was in 1914?

Dixie - Fred "Dixie" Walker was a player on the Brooklyn team who was hesitant to play with Robinson. Used as a nickname for someone from the South, Dixie as a given name is more popular with the girls and is actually rising slowly in the ranks (#846 in 2011) since it re-entered the Top 1000 in 2007 after over 20 years of absence.

Ben - William Benjamin Chapman was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies who was against Robinson playing in the major leagues. Nothing too astonishing about William Benjamin, but could Chapman be considered among the likes of other surnames such as Campbell and Chandler?

Dutch - Emil John "Dutch" Leonard was a knuckleball pitcher for the Phillies who pitched against Robinson. While Emil is a fairly popular name in Europe (it is#1 in Norway and #10 in Sweden), it has failed to rank in the US since 1984. It ranked as high as #90 in 1881.

Ralph - Ralph Theodore Joseph Branca was a pitcher for the Dodgers and teammate of Robinson. The name Ralph is threatening to fall off the Top 1000 names in 2012, ranking at #953 in 2011. With the popularity of Wreck-it Ralph, could it make a slight rise?

Burt - Burton Edwin Shotton was Robinson's first permanent manager with the Dodgers. The name Burt does not excite me, but when I saw that his real name was Burton, my tune changed. Burton fell off the ranks after 1981 and does not seem to be coming back, even in the age of -on/-en names.

Clyde - Clyde Leroy Sukeforth managed Robinson's first major league game with the Dodgers. Did you know Clyde was a river name? It is a river in Scotland and somehow that makes it cooler.

Clay - Robert Clay Hopper was Robinson's minor league manager in the Dodgers organization. Clay and his formal buddy Clayton have been a steady presence in the Top 1000 in the US.

Happy - Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler was the commissioner of MLB at the time and approved the contract offered to Robinson. Happy, as a given name, has actually been used on both boys and girls over the years. Although, nowadays, I see it more as a dog name.

Wendell - Wendell Smith, a writer for the black weekly Pittsburgh Courier helped convince Rickey to sign Robinson. Wendell fell out of the Top 1000 after 1995, and reached its height in 1940.

Other notable factoids: Jackie was the youngest born to Jerry and Mallie Robinson; his older siblings were Edgar, Frank, Matthew "Mack", and Willa Mae. Jackie and Rachel had three children: Jackie Jr, Sharon and David.

Mallie caught my eye. Is the first syllable pronounced like Mallory or is it another spelling for Molly? It was ranked in the late 19th/early 20th century, but has recently been given to more girls since the 1980s, according to the numbers.

Now and look at the actors:

  • Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson)
  • Harrison Ford (Branch Rickey)
  • Nicole Beharie (Rachel Robinson)
  • Christopher Meloni (Leo Durocher)
  • Ryan Merriman (Dixie Walker)
  • Lucas Black (Pee Wee Reese)
  • Andre Holland (Wendell Smith)
  • Alan Tudyk (Ben Chapman)
  • Hamish Linklater (Ralph Branca)
  • John C. McGinley (Red Barber)
  • Toby Huss (Clyde Sukeforth)
  • Max Gail (Burt Shotton)
  • Brett Cullen (Clay Hopper)
  • Peter Mackenzie (Happy Chandler)

This is a great group of names and the top attention-grabber happens to the be the star of the show, Chadwick. Chadwick means "farm belonging to Chad" and was ranked from 1965 through 1996. It is a very handsome choice for parents who are looking for a longer version for or an alternative to Chad.

Which of these names stands out to you? And even if you aren't a fan of baseball, I encourage you to check out the movie 42. It's inspirational history at its best!

References from Behind the Name and Nancy's Baby Names.


Friday, April 5, 2013

That's Cheesy

Photo by cathou_cathare via Flickr

I love cheese. I'm not so sure I love it enough to purposefully name a baby after a cheese, but the name Bree is beautiful and sounds just like the cheese Brie (not to mention Colby is also a cheese). So... how many other possible baby names could we get from types of cheese?

Anari - a cheese from Cyprus
Areesh - an Egyptian cheese
Aura - a Finnish cheese
Brinza or Bryndza - a cheese from Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland
Caravane - a cheese from Mauritania
Cashel - an Irish cheese
Danbo - a Danish cheese
Domiati - an Egyptian cheese
Dunavia - a Bulgarian cheese
Harzer - a German cheese (pronounced hahrt-ser)
Jameed - a cheese from the Middle East
Kalari - an Indian cheese
Kasseri - a cheese from Greece or Turkey
Khoa - an Indian cheese; also called Khoya
Orda or Urda - a cheese from Macedonia, Romania and Hungary (pronounced oor-dah)
Palmita - a Venezuelan cheese
Panela - a Mexican cheese
Rodoric - a Belgian cheese
Roumy - an Egyptian cheese
Rubing - a Chinese cheese
Rushan - a Chinese cheese
Sakura - a Japanese cheese
Samsø - a Danish cheese (pronounced sam-so)
Sirene - a Bulgarian cheese (pronounced see-reh-neh)
Stilton - an English cheese
Tybo - a Danish cheese (pronounced tie-bo)
Vacherin - a cheese from France or Switzerland (pronounced vahsh-er-ahn)
Vurda - a Ukrainian cheese

Do you think any of these are wearable? I know naming your child after a cheese is a little out there, but the sounds of the names above could hold their own! Just don't tell people you got the name from cheese. :)


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To -eigh or Not To -eigh

Photo via Wikipedia

The -eigh letter grouping, generally pronounced "ee", is an alternate spelling to -y, -i, -e, -ee, -ie, or -ey. It's usually found at the end of a name, but can also be found in the middle. Maybe it's the added length or the way it looks, but people seem to either love it or hate it. I looked through the names given in 2011 and found the following variations:


All of the above were given to girls except the ones marked:
*Given to boys
**Given to both boys and girls

I also found these names, where the -eigh is not an "ee" sound but either an "ay" or "ie" sound:
Breighton (bry-ton) - given to boys
Creighton (cry-ton) - given to boys
Leighla (I'm guessing this is lay-la, but I suppose it could also be lee-la) - given to girls
Leighton (lay-ton) - given to both boys and girls
Peighton (pay-ton) - given to both boys and girls
Teighlor - (This could sound like Tyler or Taylor) - given to girls

All of the names, other than Creighton, have traditional spellings that do not include -eigh. I will put myself out there and say that I prefer the simpler versions. The one exception is Leigh, which I think looks prettier and more feminine than Lee. Other names with -eigh seem heavy to me. I can see how some like the weight it gives though, and that is why we have the variety in monikers that we do. People choose a name and spelling for their child based on personal preference. And I am going purely on the way a name looks and not on whether or not the baby was named after someone or if there is some sentimental reason in using the spelling.

What do you think? Do you like it? Does the -eigh spelling give off a certain vibe or is it just another creative way of presenting a name?