August 21, 2015 § 1 Comment

Hebrew, meaning “stone of help”.

Ben, Bennie, Benny, Eb, Ebb, Eben, Eben-ezer, Ebeneezer, Ez, Eez, etc.

Ebenezer Carron (called “Eb“; b. 1843), Jethro’s cousin, a hot-headed young man who joins Tom in running off to enlist in the Union Army, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).

Ebenezer Beesley (1840-1906), Anglo-American composer and hymn-writer.
E. (Ebenezer) Cobham Brewer (1810-1897), English lexicographer and writer.
Ebenezer Cooke (c.1665-c.1732), English poet and satirist.
Ebenezer Elliott (1781-1849), English activist and poet.
Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1754), Scottish minister and writer.
Ebenezer Forrest (fl. 1774), English attorney, dramatist, and writer.
Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860), English poet.
Ebenezer Landells (1808-1860), English artist, children’s book writer, illustrator, and publisher.
Ebenezer Joseph Mather (1849-1927), English philanthropist and writer.
Ebenezer Porter (1772-1834), American minister, translator, and writer.
Ebenezer Prout (1835-1909), English composer, teacher, and writer.
Ebenezer Rhodes (1762-1839), English artist, editor, poet, publisher, topographer, and writer.
Ebenezer Platt Rogers (1817-1881), American author and minister.
Ebenezer Sibley (1751-c.1799), English astrologer, physician, and writer.
Ebenezer Syme (1825-1860), Scottish-Australian journalist and publisher.
Ebenezer Thomas (1802-1863), Welsh poet and teacher who also published under the pen name “Eben Fardd”.


A Poem for Catherine (or Katherine)

February 18, 2015 § 5 Comments

(From A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and from Living Authors1823; edited by Joanna Baillie)

by “F—-“.

AND can his antiquarian eyes,
My Anglo-Saxon C despise?
And does Lord Harcourt, day by day,
Regret th’ extinct initial K?
And still, with ardour unabated,
Labour to get it reinstated?—
I know, my Lord, your generous passion
For ev’ry long-exploded fashion;
And own the Catherine you delight in,
Looks irresistibly inviting,
Appears to bear the stamp, and mark,
Of English, used in Noah’s Ark;
“But all that glitters is not gold,”
Nor all things obsolete, are old.
Would you but take the pains to look
In Doctor Johnson’s quarto book,
(As I did, wishing much to see
Th’ aforesaid letter’s pedigree),
Believe me, ‘t would a tale unfold,
Would make your Norman blood run cold.
My Lord, you’ll find the K’s no better
Than an interpolated letter,—
A wand’ring Greek, a franchis’d alien,
Deriv’d from Cadmus or Deucalion,
And, why, or wherefore, none can tell,
Inserted ‘twixt the J and L.
The learned say, our English tongue
On Gothic beams is built and hung;
Then why the solid fabric piece
With motley ornaments from Greece?
Her letter’d despots had no bowels
For northern consonants and vowels;
The Norman and the Greek grammarian
Deem’d us, and all our words, barbarian,
Till those hard words, and harder blows,
Had silenced all our haughty foes,
And proud they were to kiss the sandals
(Shoes we had none) of Goths and Vandals.
So call we now the various race
That gave the Roman eagle chace,
Nurtur’d by all the storms that roll
In thunder round the Arctic Pole,
And from the bosom of the North,
Like gelid rain-drops scatter’d forth—
Dread Odin’s desolating sons,
Teutones, Cimbrians, Franks, and Huns;—
But hold, ‘t would try Don Quixote’s patience,
To nomenclate this mob of nations:
Whose names a poet’s teeth might break,
And only botanists could speak,
They at a single glance would see us
Rang’d in the system of Linnæus;
Would organize the mingled mass,
Assign their genus, order, class,
And give, as trivial, and specific,
Names harder still, and more terrific.
But since our Saxon line we trace
Up to this all-subduing race,
Since flows their blood in British veins,
Who led the universe in chains,
And from their “sole dominion” hurl’d
The giants of the ancient world,
Their boasted languages confounding,
And with such mortal gutturals wounding,
That Greek and Latin fell or fled,
And soon were number’d with the dead;
Befits it us, so much their betters,
To spell our names with conquer’d letters?
And shall they rise and prate again,
Like Falstaff, from among the slain?
A licence quite of modern date
Which no long customs consecrate;
For since this K, of hateful sound,
First set his foot on British ground,
‘Tis not, as antiquaries know,
A dozen centuries ago.—
That darling theme of English story,
For learning fam’d and martial glory,—
Alfred, who quell’d th’ unsurping Dane,
And burst, indignant, from his chain;
Who slaves redeemed, to reign o’er men,
Changing the faulchion for the pen,
And outlin’d, with a master’s hand,
Th’ immortal charter of the land;
Alfred, whom yet these realms obey,
In all his kingdom own’d no K,
From foreign arms, and letters free,
Preserv’d his Cyngly dignity,
And wrote it with a Saxon C.
—This case in point from Alfred‘s laws
Establishes my client’s cause;
Secures a verdict for defendant,
K pays the costs, and there’s an end on’t.
The suit had linger’d long, I grant, if
Counsel had first been heard for plaintiff;
Who might, to use a new expression,
Have urg’d the plea of dis -possession,
And put our better claims to flight,
By pre-, I mean pro scriptive right,
Since that which modern times explode,
The world will deem the prior mode.—
But grant this specious plea prevailing,
And all my legal learning failing;
There yet remains so black a charge,
Not only ‘gainst the K’s at large,
But th’ individual K in question,
You’d tremble at the bare suggestion,
Nor ever more a wish reveal
So adverse to the public weal.

Dear gentle Earl, you little know
That wish might work a world of woe;
The ears that are unborn would rise,
In judgment ‘gainst your lordship’s eyes
The ears that are unborn would rue
Your letter patent to renew
The dormant dignity of shrew.
The K restor’d takes off th’ attainder,
And grants the title, with remainder
In perpetuity devis’d,
To Katherines lawfully baptiz’d.
What has not Shakspeare said and sung,
Of our pre-eminence of tongue!
His glowing pen has writ the name
In characters of fire and flame;
Not flames that mingle as they rise
Innocuous, with their kindred skies;
Some chemic, lady-like solution,
Shewn at the Royal Institution;
But such, as still with ceaseless clamour,
Dance round the anvil, and the hammer.
See him the comic muse invoking,
(The merry nymph with laughter choking)
While he exhibits at her shrine
The unhallow’d form of Katherine;
And there the Gorgon image plants,—
Palladium of the termagants.
He form’d it of the rudest ore
That lay in his exhaustless store,
Nor from the crackling furnace drew,
Which still the breath of genius blew,
Till (to preserve the bright allusion)
The mass was in a state of fusion.
Then cast it in a Grecian mould,
Once modell’d from a living scold;
When from her shelly prison burst
That finished vixen, Kate the curst!

If practice e’er with precept tallies,
Could Shakspeare set down aught in malice?
From nature all his forms he drew,
And held the mirror to to her view;
And if an ugly wart arose,
Or freckle upon nature’s nose,
He flatter’d not th’ unsightly flaw,
But mark’d and copied what he saw;
Strictly fulfilling all his duties
Alike to blemishes and beauties:
So that in Shakspeare’s time ’tis plain,
The Katherines were scolds in grain,
No females louder, fiercer, worse:—
Now contemplate the bright reverse;
And say amid the countless names,
Borne by contemporary dames,—
Exotics, fetch’d from distant nations,
Or good old English appellations,—
Names hunted out from ancient books,
Or form’d on dairy-maids, and cooks,
Genteel, familiar, or pedantic,
Grecian, Roman, or romantic,
Christian, Infidel, or Jew,
Heroines, fabulous or true,
Ruths, Rebeccas, Rachels, Sarahs,
Charlottes, Harriets, Emmas, Claras,
Auroras, Helens, Daphnes, Delias,
Martias, Portias, and Cornelias,
Nannys, Fannys, Jennys, Hettys,
Dollys, Mollys, Biddys, Bettys,
Sacharissas, Melesinas,
Dulcibellas, Celestinas,—
Say, is there one more free from blame,
One that enjoys a fairer fame,
One more endow’d with Christian graces,
(Although I say it to our faces,
And flattery we don’t delight in,)
Than Catherine, at this present writing?
Where, then, can all the difference be?
Where, but between, the K, and C:
Between the graceful curving line,
We now prefix to -atherine,
Which seems to keep with mild police,
Those rebel syllables in peace,
Describing, in the line of duty,
Both physical, and moral beauty,
And that impracticable K
Who led them all so much astray—
Was never seen in black and white,
A character more full of spite!
That stubborn back, to bend unskilful,
So perpendicularly wilful!
With angles, hideous to behold,
Like the sharp elbows of a scold,
In attitude, where words shall fail,
To fight their battles tooth and nail.—
In page the first, you’re sagely told
That “all that glitters is not gold;”
Fain would I quote one proverb more—
“N’eveillez pas le chat qui dort.”
Here some will smile, as if suspicious
That simile was injudicious;
Because in C A T they trace
Alliance with the feline race.
But we the name alone inherit,
C has the letter, K the spirit,
And woe betide the man who tries
Whether or no the spirit dies!
Tho’ dormant long, it yet survives,
With its full complement of lives.
The nature of the beast is still
To scratch and claw , if not to kill ;
For royal Cats, to low-born wrangling
Will superadd the gift of strangling.
Witness in modern times the fate
Of that unhappy potentate,
Who, from his palace near the pole,
Where the chill waves of Neva roll,
Was snatch’d, while yet alive and merry,
And sent on board old Charon’s ferry.
The Styx he travers’d, execrating
A Katherine of his own creating.
Peter the Third—illustrious peer!
Great autocrat of half the sphere!
(At least of all the Russias, he
Was Emperor, Czar of Muscovy)—
In evil hour, this simple Czar,
Impell’d by some malignant star,
Bestow’d upon his new Czarina,
The fatal name of Katerina;
And, as Monseigneur l’Archévêque
Chose to baptize her à la Grecque,
‘Twas Katerina with a K:
He rued it to his dying day:
Nay died, as I observ’d before,
The sooner on that very score—
The Princess quickly learnt her cue,
Improv’d upon the part of shrew,
And as the plot began to thicken,
She wrung his head off like a chicken.
In short this despot of a wife
Robb’d the poor man of crown and life;
And robbing Peter, paid not Paul;
But clear’d the stage of great and small,
No corner of the throne would spare,
To gratify her son and heir,
But liv’d till threescore years and ten,
Still trampling on the rights of men.—
Thy brief existence, hapless Peter!
Had doubtless longer been, and sweeter,
But that thou wilfully disturb’dst
The harmless name she brought from Zerbst.
Nor was it even then too late,
When crown’d and register’d a Kate;
When all had trembling heard, and seen,
The shriller voice, and fiercer mien—
Had’st thou e’en then, without the measure,
That Russian boors adopt at pleasure,
On publishing a tedious ukase,
To blab to all the world the true case,
By virtue of the Imperial knout
But whipt th’ offending letter out—
She, in the fairest page of fame,
Might then have writ her faultless name,
And thou retain’d thy life, and crown,
Till time himself had mow’d them down.


January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Anglicized version of the Celtic “Cailean” or “Coilean”, or a diminutive of “Nicholas“.

Cailan, Cailean, Cailin, Calan, Calum, Coilean, Col, Colan, Cole, Coley, Collin, Collins, Colombe, Colombo, Colombano, Colson, Columbanus, Colyn, Kolman, Koloman, etc.

– Prince Colin, one of Princess Alison Jocelyn’s three brothers, in the fantasy novel The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

– Colin Campbell (1859-1928), Scottish actor, director, and screenwriter.
– Colin Dann (b. 1943), English author.
– Colin Dexter (b. 1930), English author.
– Colin Douglas (b. 1945), pen name of Scottish novelist Colin Thomas Currie.
– Colin Fletcher (1922-2007), Welsh outdoorsman and writer.
– Colin Forbes (1923-2006), pen name of English author Raymond Sawkins, who also wrote under the pen names “Harold English”, “Jay Bernard”, and “Richard Raine”.
– Colin Greenland (b. 1954), English author.
– Colin Harvey (1960-2011), English author and editor.
– Colin Henry Hazlewood (1823-1875), English playwright.
– Colin Higgins (1941-1988), Australian-American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.
– Colin Kapp (1928-2007), English author.
– Colin MacInnes (1914-1976), English journalist and novelist.
– Colin Mackay (1951-2003), Scottish novelist and poet.
– Colin McDougal (1917-1984), Canadian author.
– Colin McEvedy (1930-2005), English author, historian, and scholar.
– Colin Morton (b. 1948), Canadian poet.
– Colin Thiele (1920-2006), Australian author and educator.
– Colin Turbayne (1916-2006), Australian philosopher and writer.
– Colin Ward (1924-2010), English activist and writer.
– Colin Watson (1920-1983), English author.
– Colin White (1951-2008), English historian.
– Colin Wilson (1931-2013), English philosopher and writer.


October 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Old French, meaning “bay-colored”.

I don’t know. Bay? Yardie? No, not Yardie, that’s silly.

– Bayard, the horse Brother Luke and John-go-in-the-Wynd share on the journey to escort Robin to Sir Peter’s castle, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.

– Bayard Taylor (1825-1878), American critic, poet, translator, and travel writer.
– Bayard Veiller (1869-1943), American director, playwright, producer, and screenwriter.


October 4, 2014 § 7 Comments

From the Old English “Aelfraed”, meaning “elf-counsel”.

Aelfraed, Al, Alf, Alfie, Alfredo, Avery, Fred, Fredde, Freddie, Freddy, Fredo, etc.

– Alfred, one of the boys Robin plays with during his stay at St. Mark’s, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.

– Alfred Andersch (1914-1980), German writer, publisher, and radio editor.
– Alfred Austin (1835-1913), English poet.
– Alfred Bester (1913-1987), American author and writer.
– Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), French dramatist, novelist, and poet.
– Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), French playwright, poet, and novelist.
– Alfred Döblin (1878-1957), German doctor, essayist, and novelist.
– Alfred Hartmann (1814-1897), Swiss writer.
– Alfred Hayes (1911-1985), English novelist, poet, and screenwriter.
– Alfred Edward (A.E.) Housman (1859-1936), English poet and scholar.
– Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), French writer.
– Alfred Kazin (1915-1998), American critic and writer.
– Alfred Kerr (1867-1948), German-Jewish critic and essayist.
– Alfred Lansing (1921-1975), American journalist and writer.
– Alfred Henry Lewis (1855-1914), American editor, journalist, lawyer, novelist, and short story writer.
– Alfred Lichtenstein (1889-1914), German writer.
– Alfred Masson-Forestier (1852-1912), French writer.
– Alfred Neumann (1895-1952), German writer and translator.
– Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), English playwright, poet, and short story writer.
– Alfred Ollivant (1874-1927), English novelist.
– Alfred Perlès (1897-1990), Austrian writer.
– Alfred Reynolds (1907-1993), Anglo-Hungarian writer.
– Alfred Percy Sinnett (1840-1921), English author, journalist, and Theosophist.
– Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), English poet.
– Alfred Williams (1877-1930), English author and poet.

– From “Epistle to Earl Harcourt, on his wishing her to spell her name of Catherine with a K“, by an unknown poet (“F—-“), found in A Collection of Poems, Chiefly Manuscript, and from Living Authors (1823), edited by Joanna Baillie: “Alfred, who quell’d th’ unsurping Dane, / And burst, indignant, from his chain; / Who slaves redeemed, to reign o’er men, / Changing the faulchion for the pen, / And outlin’d, with a master’s hand, / Th’ immortal charter of the land; / Alfred, whom yet these realms obey”


October 4, 2014 § 6 Comments

English form of the Greek “Matthaios”, from the Hebrew “Mattityahu”, meaning “gift of the Lord”.

Mads, Maitiu, Makaio, Mat, Mateo, Mateu, Matfey, Mathew, Mathias, Mathieu, Mathis, Matias, Matko, Mats, Matt, Matteo, Matteus, Mattheus, Matthias, Matthieu, Matthijs, Matti, Mattie, Matty, Matvei, Motya, Thijs, Tias, etc.

Brother Matthew, one of the monks at St. Mark’s, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
Matthew Benjamin Creighton (called “Matt“), Ellen’s husband and Jethro’s father, a well-respected farmer of integrity and compassion, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).
Matthew Colvin Creighton (1850-1852), one of the three young Creighton boys who died of “paralysis” the year Jethro was born, in Across Five Aprils.

– Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), English poet and critic.
– Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Welsh minister and religious writer.
– Matthew Josephson (1899-1978), American author and journalist.
– Matthew Lewis (1775-1818), English dramatist and novelist.
– Matthew Wren (1629-1672), English politician and writer.


September 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

From the Greek name “Phoibe”, meaning “bright and pure” or “the shining one”, after a goddess associated with the moon.

Febe, Phebe, Pheobe, Phoibe.

Phoebe, the doddering old woman who serves as a sort of housemother at John Ridd’s school, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).

– Phoebe Cary (1824-1871), American poet.
– Phoebe Gilman (1940-2002), Canadian-American children’s book author and illustrator.
– Phoebe Palmer (1807-1874), American evangelist and writer.
– Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1909-1976), American mystery author who also wrote under the pen names “Freeman Dana” and “Alice Tilton”.


August 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Diminutive of “Dorothy“, “Isadora”, “Theodora”, “Dorcas“, “Doris”, “Dolores”, etc.

Dede, Dee, Ditte, Dittie, Ditty, Dodie, Dody, Doll, Dollie, Dolly, Dolores, Dorcas, Doreen, Dorelle, Dorene, Dorete, Doretta, Dorie, Dorinda, Dorine, Doris, Dorit, Dorita, Doro, Dorota, Dorothea, Dorothy, Dorte, Dorthe, Dory, Dosia, Dot, Dottie, Dotty, Feodora, Isadora, Isidora, Teodora, Theodora, etc.

Great Aunt Dora, Etka’s kid sister, “maybe the most affectionate woman who ever lived”, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).
Dora Robson, a good-humored, slightly snobbish Boston girl in “That Little Smith Girl” from Nora Perry’s A Flock of Girls and Boys (1895).

Dora Acuña (1903-1987), Paraguayan journalist and poet.
Dora (Doralina) Alonso (1910-2001), Cuban journalist and writer.
Dora Birtles (1903-1992), Australian novelist, poet, short story author, and travel writer.
Dora d’Istria (1828-1888), pen name of Hungarian activist and writer, the duchess Helena Koltsova-Massalskaya.
Dora Gabe (1886-1983), Bulgarian essayist, poet, short story writer, translator, and travel writer.
Dora Read Goodale (1866-1953), American poet and teacher.
Dora (Dorothy) Greenwell (1821-1882), English poet.
Dora Heldt (b. 1961), German novelist.
Dora Maar (1907-1997), Argentinian muse, painter, photographer, and poet.
Dora Malech (b. 1981), American poet.
Dora (Dorothy) Montefiore (1851-1933), Anglo-Australian activist, poet, and writer.
Dora Levy Mossanen (b. 1945), American novelist.
Dora Pavel (b. 1946), Romanian journalist, novelist, poet, and short story writer.
Dora Russell (1894-1986), English activist and writer.
Dora Oake Russell (1912-1986), Canadian editor, educator, and writer.
Dora Jessie Saint (1913-2012), English novelist who published under the pen name “Miss Read”.
Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866-1918), Irish poet and sculptor.
Dora (Theodora) van der Meiden-Coolsma (1918-2001), Dutch children’s book author and columnist who also published under the pen name “Constanze Hazelager”.
Dora Van Gelder (1904-1999), Dutch-American occultist, theosophist, and writer.
Dora Wasserman (1919-2003), Ukrainian actress, director, and playwright.


August 26, 2014 § 4 Comments

Germanic, meaning “bright” or “famous”, possibly related to the name of a goddess of animals and weaving.

Berchta, Berhta, Berta, Berthe, Bertie, Bertille, Bertina, Birdie, Perchta, etc.

– Bertha Antoinetta Mason, Mr. Rochester’s unfortunate wife in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.

– Bertha Behrens (1850-1912), German novelist.
– Bertha Southey Brammall (1878-1957), Australian writer.
– Bertha Henry Buxton (1844-1881), English novelist and children’s book writer.
– Bertha M. Clay (1836-1884), pen name used by English author Charlotte M. Brame.
– Bertha Eckstein-Diener (1874-1948), Austrian historian, journalist, and writer who also wrote under the pen name “Helen Diner”.
– Bertha Frederich (1825-1882), German novelist who wrote under such pen names as “Georg Dannenberg” and “Golo Raimund”.
– Bertha Harris (1937-2005), American novelist.
– Bertha Damon (c. 1883-c. 1976), American author, editor, humorist, and lecturer.
– Bertha Harmer (1885-1934), Canadian educator, nurse, and writer.
– Bertha Runkle (1879-1958), American novelist and playwright.
– Bertha Muzzy Sinclair (1871-1940), American writer who wrote under the pen name “B.M. Bower”.
– Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914), Austrian novelist and pacifist.

Mary Ann

August 25, 2014 § 1 Comment

Alternate spelling of “Marian” or “Marianne“, combining “Mary” with “Ann” / “Anne“.

Manon, Marian, Mariana, Marianne, Marie, Marieanne, Marielle, Mariette, Marion, Marise, Mary, Maryann, etc.

Mary Ann Wilson, Jane’s shrewd, observant, and witty friend at Lowood Institute, in Jane Eyre, 1847, by Charlotte Bronte.

– Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880), English novelist and journalist who wrote under the pen name “George Eliot”.
Mary Ann O’Malley (1889-1974), English novelist and traveler (also known as “Cottie Sanders”) who published under the pen name “Ann Bridge”.
Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893), American activist, editor, journalist, and publisher.

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