September 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

From Hebrew (pronounced “JEE-hyoo”), meaning “he is Jehovah”.

Hieu, Iou, Yehu.

Jehu, Mr. Hancock’s page-boy, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

Jehu O’Cataract (1793-1876), pen name of American author and critic John Neal.



September 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

Unknown; possibly a combination of “Isabella” with “Susannah” or “Hannah“.

Ana, Ane, Ani, Ann, Anna, Anne, Anni, Annie, Anny, Hana, Hanna, Hannah, Hanne, Isa, Isanna, Isanne, Issie, Issy, Izzie, Izzy, Sanna, Sanne, Zana, Zanna, etc.

Isannah Lapham (called “Izzy“), Mrs. Lapham’s delicate and ethereally-beautiful youngest daughter, precocious, selfish, vain, and a skilled little actress, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

A Galaxy of the Unusual

August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Parents often search high and low for the most unique baby names they can find, hoping to set their little ones apart from the crowd, but this sometimes results in some, shall we say, strange choices, as we can see in the article linked in this post.

Parents of the world: Stop the madness! It really isn’t such an awful thing to share a name, and in fact can feel somewhat lonesome to be the only Dagobert or Jerusha around. You may not be doing your child any favors by bestowing that “unique” name upon them, as it could easily turn out to be less of a blessing and more of a curse. When in doubt, try the “esteemed profession” rule: Say the name you’ve chosen out loud, preceded by the words “Doctor”, “President”, or “Supreme Court Justice”. If it sounds suspiciously like a character from Idiocracy, you might want to reconsider your decision. . . .

Words You Won’t Believe Have Been Turned Into Baby Names


August 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Unknown; possibly a Russian variation of “Edna” or “Esther“.

See Edna, I suppose. Perhaps Etta or Ettie?

Etka (or Esther or Edna) Kroll Shaine — “Esther in Hebrew, Edna in English, and Etka in Russian” — Lily’s increasingly-senile grandmother in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).


July 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

A name of unknown origin used in the Arthurian romances (written in Norman French), and associated with the ideals of “purity” and “nobility”.

Um . . . Gal, maybe? Eh, maybe not . . .

Galahad, the rumored brother of Guinevere, one of the “irregular” children at Lily’s school, presumed to come from a “very well-educated if not sanitation-minded home”, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).


June 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

Unknown; possibly a nickname for someone with curly hair, or perhaps derived from the Gaelic last name “Curley”, ultimately meaning “in the shape of the god of thunder”.

Curley, Curlie, Kerley.

Curly, a local tennis champ who dates Lily’s mother, Rosie, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

Endangered or Extinct First Names

May 31, 2015 § 1 Comment

Here we have a couple of articles talking about first names which are disappearing (click here for some articles on endangered or extinct last names). Maybe it’s time to stage a renaissance? At the very least, these are some good resources for anyone looking for a name which has classic appeal, but is nevertheless unique in today’s world. As always, click through to the articles to see rankings, popularity peaks, and other information on the names!

25 Names That Are Going Extinct

“We started by crunching the numbers to find a list of baby names that were at least somewhat popular in 1950 (more than 1,000 per 1 million babies). Next, we tracked which of those names had nearly vanished by 2013.”

Baby Names on the Verge of Extinction

“These 15 names were given to only five babies each in 2013, the lowest number counted by the Social Security Administration. Once usage dips below that, they become the dodo birds of baby names.”

Cecil, Bertha and Gertrude — Britain’s ‘Endangered’ Names Revealed

“Many of the nation’s most traditional names are at risk of dying out according to a report released today by family history website Ancestry, which reveals forenames that have virtually disappeared over the last 100 years and many more that have become ‘endangered’.”

Baby Names on the [Australian] Extinction List

“Mums and dads, will you take one for the country and name your kids any of these to keep them from extinction?”

Names that made the various lists:

For boys: Arnold, Bernard, Bill, Bruce, Cecil, Clarence, Clifford, Cyril, Donald, Elmo, Ernest, Fred, Gary, Harold, Herbert, Horace, Ian, Icarus, Inigo, Leslie, Llewellyn, Neil, Nigel, Norman, Percy, Remus, Roland, Rowland, Sherwood, Sydney, Trevor, Waldo, Walter, Willie

For girls: Alpha, Ann, Barbara, Barbra, Bertha, Blodwen, Carol, Cathy, Cheryl, Claudine, Debbie, Debra, Dianne, Dolores, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ethel, Eveline, Fanny, Freda, Gail, Gertrude, Gladys, Glenda, Gwendoline, Helen, Hilda, Irene, Jackie, Jane, Janet, Janis, Jeanne, Jennie, Jill, Judith, Kay, Leslie, Lilian, Lizzie, Lynda, Marcia, Margaret, Margery, Marjorie, Marion, Marsha, Mary, Maud, Maureen, Mildred, Muriel, Nanette, Nellie, Pamela, Phyllis, Rhoda, Rhonda, Roberta, Sandra, Sandy, Sheba, Sheryl, Sondra, Sue, Thisbe, Vickie, Wanda, Winifred, Zelma

Some Declining U.S. Baby Names

April 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here you’ll find a link telling you all about the decade’s 15 fastest-declining baby names (names which are falling out of favor the quickest.) Will these be the next generation’s old-fashioned duds, like “Wilbur” and “Mildred” are today?

Names included are: Amanda, Amber, Danielle, Erin, Haley / Hayley, Jada, Jenna, Jennifer, Jessica, Jordan, Leslie, Marissa, Megan, Seth, and Shelby
Honorable mention: Cody, Courtney, Devin, Sean, and Trevor

Click through for more info about the names (like when they first became popular, and how high in the rankings they reached before their fall from grace):
The Decade’s Fastest Dropping Baby Names

Endangered or Extinct Last Names

January 28, 2015 § 1 Comment

The linked articles list some last names which are going (or have already gone) the way of the dodo, and discuss some of the reasons for their disappearance. Did you even know last names could go extinct? (Also, don’t you think some of these last names sound perfect for gnomes or hobbits?)

9 Last Names on the Brink of Extinction:
“Any last name with under 200 “bearers” is endangered, and we’ve found some which are even extinct. Do you have a rare last name on the verge of extinction? Or is your last name extremely common?”

Endangered last names:
Ajax, Edevane, Gastrell, and Slora

Critically-endangered last names (fewer than 20 bearers):
Berrycloth, Birdwhistle, Dankworth, Fernsby, Loughty, MacQuoid, Miracle, Relish, Sallow, Tumbler, and Villan / Villin

Extinct last names:
Bread, Bythesea, Bytheseashore, MacCaa, Puscat, Pusset, Pussmaid, and Spinster

10 English Surnames About to Go Extinct:

Names which have disappeared from England and Wales (extinct last names):
Chips, Harred, Hatman, Jarsdel, Nithercott, Raynott, Rummage, Southwark, Temples, and Woodbead

Names with fewer than 50 bearers through England and Wales (critically endangered last names):
Bonneville, Carla, Febland, Fernard, Grader, Gruger, Mirren, Nighy, Pober, and Portendorfer.

Names dying out the fastest in England and Wales, compared to the 1901 census (endangered last names):
Ashworth, Brook, Butterworth, Clegg, Cohen, Crowther, Greenwood, Haigh, Ingham, Kershaw, Nuttal, Ogden, Pratt, Sutcliffe, and William

Can you think of any other uncommon or vanished last names?
(Also, if you’re looking for endangered or extinct first names, try this post!)

Some Formerly-Popular Baby Names for Girls

January 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Here is an article about some names that were once top of the list in popularity for baby girls, but have since gone nearly extinct. What do you think? Is it time to resurrect some of these old-fashioned names? (Note: If you’re looking for good names for characters, remember that the young adults of any particular decade would be likely to have a popular baby name of ~20 years earlier. So, say, an Ethel born in the 1890s would be a “new woman” of the WWI years, or even a “flapper” of the 1920s!)

Bertha (popular in the 1880s)
Betty (popular throughout the 1930s)
Doris (popular in the 1930s)
Dorothy (popular in the 1920s)
Edna (popular from the 1880s through to the 1920s)
Ethel (popular in the 1890s through the early 1900s)
Florence (popular from the 1880s-1930s)
Gladys (popular around the 1890s-1910s)
Ida (popular in the 1880s)
Mildred (popular in the 1910s-1920s)
Minnie (popular in the late 1800s)
Tammy (popular in the 1960s)

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