Vinny

September 17, 2015 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
Diminutive of names such as “Vincent” or “Lavinia“.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
For girls: Lavina, Lavinia, Lavena, Viney, Vinie, Vinnie.
For boys: Vin, Vince, Vinn, Vinnie.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Vinny (Lavinia) Lyte, Johnny’s proud and determined mother (and Merchant Lyte’s niece), once the “wildest and handsomest girl in Boston”, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).

Lavinia

September 17, 2015 § 2 Comments

ORIGIN:
Unknown; possibly Etruscan; the name of Aeneas’ wife in The Aeneid.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Lavina, Lavena, Viney, Vinie, Vinnie, Vinny.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Lavinia Lyte (called “Vinny“), Johnny’s proud and determined mother (and Merchant Lyte’s niece), once the “wildest and handsomest girl in Boston”, in Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (written in 1943; set during the years leading up to the American Revolutionary War, 1773-1775).
Lavinia Lyte, Merchant Lyte’s daughter, a beautiful, spoiled, jaded, rich girl who gets what she wants no matter who suffers by it, in Johnny Tremain.

WRITERS:
Lavinia R. Davis (1909-1961), American children’s book author and novelist, who also published under the pen name “Wendell Farmer”.
Lavinia Derwent (1909-1989), pen name of Scottish author and broadcaster Elizabeth Dodd.
Lavinia Dock (1858-1956), American activist, author, and nurse.
Lavinia Greenlaw (b. 1962), English novelist and poet.

QUOTATIONS:
– From Titus Andronicus (c. 1594), Act II, scene 1, by William Shakespeare: “She is a woman, therefore may be woo’d; / She is a woman, therefore may be won; / She is Lavinia, therefore must be loved.”

Isannah

September 12, 2015 § 1 Comment

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

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
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.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
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).

Hig

September 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Unknown; possibly a variation of “High” or diminutive of “Higgins” or some such, but really, I’ve no idea.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
. . . I’ve got nothing.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Hig Phillips, a wealthy farmer infamous in the area for hiring a substitute to go to war for him, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).

Lafe

September 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Possibly an Anglicization of the Old Norse “Leif”, meaning “heir” or “descendant”, or a diminutive of “Lafayette”, a French last name, meaning “son of Lafay” (“Lafay” being a place name meaning “near the beech tree”).

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Lafay, Lafaye, Lafayette, Lafee, Leif, Leiv.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Lafe Edwards, proprietor of a saloon in Newton, which falls prey to Guy Wortman’s band of troublemakers, in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).

Etka

August 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

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

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
See Edna, I suppose. Perhaps Etta or Ettie?

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
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).

Galahad

July 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

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

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Um . . . Gal, maybe? Eh, maybe not . . .

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
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).

Curly

June 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
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”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Curley, Curlie, Kerley.

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

Drinn

December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Unknown. Possibly related to an Arabic word for a particular type of wild grass or grain, or to a Germanic word, meaning “inside”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Dirin, Dirini, Dren, Drini, Drin, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Drinn, the miserly and mean-spirited leader of the villagers of Hagsgate, in the fantasy novel The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

Selma

December 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
Unknown origin; possibly a shortened form of “Anselma”, a feminine form of the Germanic “Anselm”, meaning “divine helmet” or “protection of the gods”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Anselma, Ellie, Elly, Elma, Salma, Sellie, Selly, Selmah, Selme, Zellie, Zelly, Zelma, Zelmah, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Selma, the Nathanmeyer’s maid, in The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather (written in 1915 and set in the 1890s).

WRITERS:
– Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940), Swedish author and Nobel Prize winner.

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