Name Spotting: Oceana

OceanaLast week I took Fiona to the hair salon for her back-to-school hair cut. While waiting for Fiona’s turn in the chair, I started looking at the hairstyle books in the waiting area.

In a book of children’s hair styles titled Passion Kids Volume 8, one of the models stuck out. All of the kiddies were adorable, but this girl was striking with dark hair, long dark eyelashes and blue-grey eyes.

And then I was pleasantly surprised to see that she had an equally striking name: Oceana.

No name seemed more fitting for this beautiful child with eyes that could almost be described as aquatic-colored.

Oceana is a feminine form of Oceanus, a name featured in UBN’s Names from the Mayflower. According to Nameberry, the variation Oceane (oh-she-ANN) is very fashionable in France.

Oceana has always been rare. It has never been in the US top 1000. There were only 25 newborn girls named Oceana last year.

The more literal Ocean is slightly more popular, but still uncommon, given to 62 girls and 85 boys last year.

This nautical name might seem whimsical, but when compared to names like Brook and River, it is a real possibility on a modern child.

 

Reader Q&A Poll: Is Lennon Masculine or Feminine?

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A few months ago I decided to reach out to the UBN email community and ask what they felt was the most difficult aspect of naming a baby. Their answers to that question were eye-opening.

I decided this question would be a great followup email to new members once they join the community. I set the email to automatically go out to new members, and have been pleased with the feedback so far.

One reader mentioned some concerns she has with the boy and girl name she picked for her expectant baby–gender unknown.

She likes names that start with L, and had picked Lachlan for a boy and Lennon for a girl. She mentioned the following concerns:

  • Does Lachlan seem feminine?
  • Is Lach (pronounced LOCK) a good nickname for Lachlan?
  • Could Lennon be mistaken for “lemon” or is it “too out there”?

Since I’m aware of Lachlan’s popularity on boys in Australia, I believe Lachlan is all-boy, and I feel confident that I stand with the majority on this.

But the name that stood out as causing gender confusion to me is Lennon. As I read her question, my thought *wasn’t* “Is Lachlan too feminine?” my thought *was* “Is Lennon too masculine?”

Lennon reminds me of two things:

  1. John Lennon
  2. The nicknames Len and Lenny–both masculine names to me.

For girl names, Lainey, Laney or Lane seem like good fits for this reader’s preferences (modern L-names).

But perhaps this is just me? I have seen Fallon on a girl and that name has a similar style to Lennon. Perhaps Lennon would make a good unisex name? I’m not sure what the consensus is.

And that is why I decided to ask readers: Do you think Lennon is more feminine, masculine or unisex? And if you have any suggestions for this reader, feel free to leave them in the comments. 

 

Photo Credit: MrJamesAckerley via Compfight cc

Reader Q&A: An Unwanted Nickname

You called me what?!?!?

You called me what?!?!?

Today’s reader Q&A comes from Elizabeth who picked a wonderfully unique name for her daughter, Philomena.

Unfortunately, she didn’t realize a possible nickname that has been picked up by some of her relatives.

When relatives start using a nickname for your child that you don’t like, how can you get them to stop?

Watch below to find out.

Readers: Do you have any other suggestions for avoiding unwanted nicknames?

*And* would you like your baby name question featured on a Reader Q&A video?

Submit your question by email through the contact page.

Don’t miss the next Reader Q&A Video. Submit your email address below to get updates.






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Spotlight On: Euphemia

euphemia-background-modified

Before discovering Euphemia, I assumed if Effie had a long form, somehow it wouldn’t do the short form justice.

Effie’s appeal lies in its ability to be sweet and smart, homey and exotic, old-fashioned and modern, like a cross between Millie and Ione.

And when a nickname has that many selling points, I can understand why some people skip over the formal version and make the diminutive the baby’s official name.

But I’m one of those people who isn’t satisfied with just a good nickname. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting a good nickname to have an equally good formal version.

As it happens, Effie can have a few formal versions.

Of Effie’s many possible long-forms, Josephine, Fiona, and even Elizabeth, the most natural is Euphemia, a name sounding almost like the words “ephemeral” or “euphemism” .

The name means something like “well-spoken”. Other possible meanings are: “to speak well” or “fair speech.” The eu prefix is Greek for good, new or well.

And this eu prefix may be the name’s modern downfall.

Eu-name such as Eugene, were fashionable at one point, but have been out of fashion for a while.

Euphemia even visited the bottom of the top 1000 over a century ago. It peaked at #770 in 1881. Its last year in the top 1000 was 1903.

Eu-names are hard to find on babies born in 2014. And yet the FEE sound, also found in top girl name Sophia and fashionable Fiona (#209 and rising) could make the name a slight possibility.

There’s also the Greek origins, found in just outside the top 10 Chloe and fashionable Daphne (only at #420 but rising) and Phoebe (#303).

The similar Seraphina may not be in the top 1000 yet, but as a celebrity baby name (thanks to Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck who used the Serafina spelling for their second daughter) the name has loads of potential.

And these Greek names all have a fashionable digraph, the ph, also found in top girl name Sophia.

Euphemia has much in common with another Spotlight name, Phaedra.

Euphemia may not be appreciated by the mainstream yet, but it deserves a place on UBN.

In fact, Euphemia could revive other eu-names, such as these:

Eudora
Eudoria
Eugene
Eugenia
Eugenie
Eula (or Eulah)
Euna
Eunicia
Eura
Europa
Eustace
Eustacia

There is also the Eufemia variation.

Perhaps a parent has to be pretty bold to name their daughter Euphemia (or Eufemia) in 2014. Neither spelling can be found in the US Social Security data, meaning there were fewer than 5 born in the entire US in 2012.

But if you like Euphemia, I feel the name is a managed risk, and I would use it.

For those not quite ready to take the risk and use it as a first name, Euphemia has the same four-syllable stress on the second syllable pattern as Elizabeth, making it a great middle name.

But note the first African-American woman mathematician, born Martha Euphemia Lofton, rarely used Martha. Other notable Euphemia’s include a Christian saint, and an anime character, Euphemia li Britannia.

Euphemia’s credentials can give it some familiarity and manage its risk-factor.

Being a baby name pioneer means appreciating eu-names when the rest of the country is still in love with el-names, but US parents will rave about eu-names eventually. I can feel it.

And Euphemia could lead the way.

Readers: What do you think of Euphemia?

Photo Credit: G.OZCAN via Compfight cc

Name To Watch: Wilhelmina

Supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper

Supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper

Wilhelmina may seem impractical. For one thing, it is impossible to spell.

Could a name like Wilhelmina zoom up the baby name charts?

Maybe five years ago I would have scoffed at that possibility.

But the baby name tide may be turning.

The top baby girl names in America are very different from Wilhelmina.

Look at these names in the top 100 and see if you can spot what they have in common:

  • #3 Isabella
  • #4 Olivia
  • #23 Amelia
  • #49 Arianna / #74 Ariana
  • #73 Gianna
  • #91 Aria

Besides all ending in A, they are all heavy on vowels and mostly stem from Romance language such as Spanish or Italian. (Although Amelia is actually a variation of the German Amalia and German isn’t a Romance language, it’s a Germanic language.)

Names from consonant-heavy Germanic languages, the most widely spoken being English and German, were seen as fusty and frumpy by Americans for the past few decades.

Wilhelmina is considered a German name making it very different from names that were sought after in recent decades.

In recent decades, the sought after names were the lovely, lyrical, liquid sounding names from Romance language, especially for girls. Names like in the above list.

This wasn’t always the case. At one point Germanic names were fashionable among Americans. Some Germanic names that were popular during the Victorian era include Bertha (which peaked at #7 in the 1880s) and Gertrude (peaked at #22 in 1906).

American parents may be ready to welcome these names back into nurseries and pre-schools.

But I don’t think Bertha and Gertrude will be among the newest wave of Germanic names to hit the top 1000 within the next decade.

Well… OK… Gertrude may have potential with cute nicknames, Gertie and Tudy.

Cute nicknames aside, I believe the newest hot Germanic names will include Greta (one of UBN’s first Watch List Names), Otto (another Watch List Name) and now:

Wilhelmina

Wilhelmina is the feminine form of Wilhelm, a German variation of William.

While overlooked for many years, dismissed as being perhaps too consonant-heavy, from 1880 (the earliest year baby name stats are available) until around 1900, Wilhelmina ranked in the 200’s. The name declined through the early 20th century, left the top 1000 in 1953, and has yet to return.

But I feel the name has a shot to re-enter the top 1000 within the next few years.

There are two reasons I believe this.

  1. Within the past year, Wilhelmina became a minor celebrity baby name, the youngest daughter of 90’s teen idol Taylor Hanson and his wife Natalie.

    The Hanson’s other daughter was given super-breakout name Penelope, which has come back in a big way, rising almost 300 places in a five-year span from #409 in 2007 to #125 in 2012. This indicates that the family knows name fashion.

  2. Wilhelmina is gaining popularity on parenting site BabyCenter.

BabyCenter has its own baby name rankings separate from the official US Social Security rankings, and if a name ranks higher with BabyCenter, that is a good sign it could climb the Social Security list within the next year or two.

On BabyCenter, Wilhelmina ranks at #393 for 2013, and has risen the past couple of years.

Wilhelmina’s birth numbers in the US show a promising upward trend the past four years. But considering that the birth number had been stagnant until recently, these birth numbers don’t suggest that Wilhelmina will likely hit the top 1000 next year.

Year # of Newborn Girls
2002 21
2003 18
2004 14
2005 19
2006 15
2007 31
2008 23
2009 28
2010 41
2011 54
2012 63

 

Generally a girl name must have about 250 births—give or take—in any given year to make the 1000th place on the Social Security list. That means Wilhelmina’s birth numbers would have to almost quadruple to put it in the top 1000 next year.

Nevertheless, Wilhelmina has the makings of a fashion star. First there are the wide choices of nicknames: Wilma, Willa, Willy, and Mina.

Then there is Wilhelmina’s four syllables, something it has in common with mega-hit name Isabella, and rising-star Cecilia.

Wilhelmina has earned a place on the UBN Watch List Report, a list of names I add to yearly and track every year.

To get the latest Watch List Report (and get on the list to receive the next Watch List Report, the one which will have Wilhelmina) become an UBN email follower by submitting your name below.

As an UBN email follower, you will also get updates on names ahead of the curve and other stuff I don’t share on the UBN blog.

 






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Resources:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/508379/Romance-languages
http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/romancelanguage/a/050611-Romance-Languages.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_languages