Colvin

August 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Perhaps from the Old Welsh name “Coluin”, meaning unknown; or from an old English and Scottish last name, derived from a French place name; or from the Irish “Mac Conluain”, meaning “son of the great hero”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Colleville, Colewin, Coluin, Colville, Colvine, Colvinus, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Middle name of 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 by Irene Hunt (1964; set during the American Civil War, 1861-1865).

Carey

August 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
One of those “last names as first names” that were once a quite popular way for a mother’s maiden name to be passed on to her sons, “Carey” (alternately spelled “Cary”) may be from an English place name, meaning “fort”; or a Welsh place name, meaning “stony island”; or a French place name from Normandy or Burgundy; or an Irish name meaning “descended from Ciardha (the Black)”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Carew, Cary, Carrey, Carye, Ceary, Crey, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Carey Kriszinski, Sheila’s overweight older brother, “forever working the meat slicer”, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

WRITERS:
Carey Parrish (b. 1967), American author and writer.
Carey Wilson (1889-1962), American producer, screenwriter, and voice actor.

Barry

August 7, 2015 § 1 Comment

ORIGIN:
Anglicized version of the Irish “Bairre”, ultimately meaning “fair-haired”, or “Berach”, meaning “sharp”; or from Welsh, meaning “son of Harry“; or possibly from the French place name “Berri”; or a diminutive of names like “Barney“, “Barrett”, “Bernard“, “Beruch”, “Finbar”, etc.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Bairrfhionn, Barrfind, Bairre, Barney, Barra, Barrie, Bary, Baz, Bazza, Bearach, Berach, Bernard, Berri, Berry, Beruch, Finbar, Finbarr, Finnbar, Finnbarr, Fionnbarra, Fionnbharr, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Barry, the name of more than one of the boys Lily dates, who perhaps not-so-coincidentally often have names which rhyme with her long-absent father, in Sleeping Arrangements, by Laura Cunningham (published 1989, set in the 1950s).

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!)

Lir

December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
The Irish version of the Welsh “Llyr”, meaning “the sea”. These were the names of the Irish and Welsh gods of the sea, respectively.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Lear, Leier, Leir, Leire, Leyr, Leyre, Lhyr, Llyr, Lur, Lyer, Lyr, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Prince Lír, the young hero in the fantasy novel The Last Unicorn (1968) by Peter S. Beagle.

Gwenny

September 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Variation of “Gwen”, or diminutive of “Gwendoline” / “Gwendolyn”, “Guenivere”, etc.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Gwen, Gwennie, Gwin, Gwinne, Gwinnie, Gwinny, Gwyn, Gwynn, Gwynne, Gwynnie, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Gwenny Carfax, Lorna’s stout-figured and stout-hearted Cornish servant and friend, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).

Dagonet

August 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Possibly from the Old English “daeg”, meaning “day”, or related to “dagon”, meaning “big fish”, or to “dague”, meaning “dagger”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Daegan, Dagan, Dagen, Dagget, Dagnet, Dagney, Dagon, Daguenet.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Sir Dagonet Balfour, of Balfour Hall, who wishes to make Keren Lemon a lady, in “The Farrier Lass o’ Piping Pebworth” (written in 1887, set circa 1600), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888), by Amélie Rives.

Robin

August 22, 2014 § 2 Comments

ORIGIN:
Medieval diminutive of “Robert“. For girls, usually a reference to the small, red-breasted songbird.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
For girls: Bobbie, Robbie, Robbin, Robinett, Robinette, Robena, Robenia, Roberta, Robina, Robyn, etc.
For boys: Bob, Bobbie, Bobby, Rab, Rob, Robbie, Robby, Robert, Roberto, Robi, Rupert, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Robin, the little boy whose illness prevents him from following the path laid out for him, but who manages to find the door in the wall nevertheless, in The Door in the Wall (written in 1949 and set sometime between 1327-1377), by Marguerite de Angeli.
Robin (Lord Robert of Amhurste), a brave and generous young man, in “A Brother to Dragons” (written in 1886, set in 1586), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888), by Amélie Rives.
Robin (Robert) Racket, a handsome and charming lad who steals the hearts of cousins Keren Lemon and Ruth Visor, in “The Farrier Lass o’ Piping Pebworth” (written in 1887, set circa 1600), from A Brother to Dragons, and Other Old Time Tales (1888).
Robin Snell (called “Bob“), the little schoolboy whose fight with young John Ridd is momentarily disrupted by news of the elder Ridd’s death, in Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackmore (written in 1869, set in the 1670s-1680s).

WRITERS:
Robin Ddu o Fon (c.1744-1785), Welsh poet also known as “Robert Hughes”.

Caddy

August 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Alternate spelling of “Caddie” / “Cadi”; diminutive of “Caroline” or “Catrin”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Cady, Caddie, Calleigh, Callie, Cari, Carla, Carrie, Carry, Kallie, Kari, Karla, Karrie, Karry, Keri, Kerri, Kerrie, Kerry, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
– Caddy Kennedy, a poverty-stricken little girl Ida Standish befriends in “May Flowers”, from A Garland for Girls, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887.

Guinever

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

ORIGIN:
Alternate spelling of “Guinevere“, the French version of the Welsh “Gwenhwyfar”, meaning “smooth and white” or “white-cheeked”.

VARIATIONS and NICKNAMES:
Gaenor, Gaynor, Genevra, Geneva, Ginevra, Guenevere, Guenievre, Guinevere, Gwen, Gwenevere, Gwenhwyfar, Gwenni, Gwennie, Gwenny, Gwenyver, Janelle, Jen, Jena, Jenae, Jenelle, Jenessa, Jeni, Jenifer, Jenna, Jenni, Jennie, Jennifer, Jenny, Jinelle, Jin, Jinessa, Jini, Jinifer, Jinni, Jinnie, Jinny, Yenifer, etc.

REFERENCES IN LITERATURE:
Guinever Mango, a little girl whose bout with the measles received far less attention from the local doctor than little Georgy Osborne’s case, a testament to the popularity of their respective mothers, in Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray (published in 1847-48, but set in the 1810s-20s).

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