Modern Monikers

names to think about

Archive for the tag “girl names”

Literary Heroines

Literary names have so much meaning. Not just the names, but the characters. Sometimes a bad character can make a good name unusable. But a great character can make a plain name unforgettable. Here are some of my favorite literary protagonist names for girls. (None of these are from children’s books, that’s going to be a different list.)

Penelope – Odysseus’ ever-faithful wife in Homer’s The Odyssey, Penelope is a Greek name meaning, “weaver”. This is one of my favorite names and I love the reference. Penelope is a strong name made more friendly with the adorable nicknames, Penny, Poppy, and Nell. At #200, it is certain to gain in popularity after Tina Fey named her daughter, Penelope Athena.

Viola – In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Viola survives a shipwreck and disguises herself as a man in order to find work and her lost twin brother, Sebastian. Latin for “violet”, Viola as has certain musical flair, even though it has a different pronunciation than the stringed instrument.

Jane – An English name meaning, “God’s grace”, Jane is the name of Charlotte Bronte’s eponymous heroine character in Jane Eyre. She is determined and opinionated. Just the sort of heroine to look up to. As a variation of John, it can be the namesake of many names, like Jean, Joan, Janelle, Jeanette, etc. Also, the “plain Jane” connotations are not true for this sweet and spunky name. Also, at #384, Jane is neither common, nor popular, yet familiar.

Elinor – Jane Austen’s incredible Sense and Sensibility is my favorite. It’s just amazing. And Elinor is my favorite character. Sure, most people go for Pride and Prejudice or Marianne, but I have more in common with the proper and level-headed Elinor. Although more commonly spelled “Eleanor”, Elinor has a spunky, Welsh-type feeling to it. Meaning “shining, bright” it has some equally sunny nicknames in Ellie and Nora.

Josephine – Jo March. I wanted to be Jo March. She didn’t take “no” for an answer. She stood up for what she believed in and remained true to her heart. She wanted more for her life than what was expected of her. Josephine is the feminine variation of “Joseph”, meaning “Jehovah increases”. At #186, it certainly has increased in popularity over the past twenty years, but may start to level off soon. I adore the nicknames potential. From feisty Fifi to jovial Josie to precious Posey, Josephine gets a gold star in my book.

Scarlett – Scarlett O’Hara from Margaret Mitchell’s epic Gone with the Wind is the quintessential southern belle. A wealthy woman who is used to getting her way, Ms. O’Hara goes through intense hardship and comes out a survivor. Scarlett is an English name meaning “red”. Some parents spell it without the additional “t”, but I prefer to think that “scarlet” is the color and “Scarlett” is the name. While the intense Scar may not be the nickname you prefer, Scarlett lends itself to a plethora of familiar choices: Carlo, Cari, Lettie, Etta, Arlie, etc.


Floral Names for Girls

I can’t get over floral names. They are so sweet and feminine (and they age so well!). Of course, several sisters all with flower names seems a bit garden-y (a la Keeping Up Appearances). Here are my faves to add to your bouquet.

Fleur – The French word for “flower”, Fleur is sweet and simple. Of course, it has the potential to sound somewhat pretentious. To me, it makes a cheerful and unexpected middle choice.

Primrose – Some people just hate this name. But I can’t see why! Of English origin, Primrose means “first rose”. It would be wonderful for a first child and the earthy nickname Rosie brings down the prim and proper feeling.

Violet – I may be a bit biased, since it’s a family name, but Violet is gorgeous. (It’s also my favorite flower and color.) Some people may be a bit turned off by the Willy Wonka character, Violet Beauregard (“Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!”), but at #123 and still climbing, that may no longer be a concern. There are also references to Lemony Snicket, Downton Abbey, Pixar, and The Boxcar Children, as well as the name of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s daughter.

Amaryllis – A Greek flower name, Amaryllis always reminds me of the bossy little girl in The Music Man. But the simple nickname Amy makes it more down-to-earth. I also think this makes a great alternative to Lily and Mary.

Flora – Another name meaning “flower”, but with a decidedly different feel than Fleur. The Roman goddess of spring, Flora has a old-lady quality. She’s sweet yet spunky and would pair nicely with siblings like Grace, Millie, and Hazel. She hasn’t broken the top 1000 since the 1970’s, and she’s ripe for a comeback.

Marigold – First off, the nicknames Mari and Goldie make this a winner for me. Marigold has a certain sunny feeling. I’m really surprised this isn’t more popular. With all the Lily, Rose, and even Violet’s out there, Marigold makes a fresh, unexpected pick.

Iris – A Greek name meaning “rainbow”, Iris has a sweet, but serious tone. I think it makes a great double-barrelled name, as in Iris-Claire, Iris-Jane, and Mary-Iris. It’s also a fantastic middle choice. At #316 and slowly climbing, Iris could become popular. It has namesakes in writer Iris Murdoch as well as Jude Law’s celebrity baby.

Bryony – Could it be the new Brittany? No. But it does have the same kind of feel. Of Latin origin, Bryony means “to sprout”. It has many spelling variations including Briony, used in the novel, Atonement. I love the spunky nickname Bry and could be used to honor a Brian.


What do you think of these? Do you have some other off-beat favorites from the horticulture world?

Irish Faves for Girls

Even though St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I just can’t stop thinking about some of my favorite Irish names. Of course, these names may not be so easy to pronounce by just looking at them, but don’t let that ruin their charm.

Aoife (EE-fa)- This gorgeous Gaelic name, meaning “beautiful”, is one of my favorites. I think it makes a great, if uncommon, replacement for the super-trendy Bella.

Bridget – Also spelled “Brigid”, “Brighid”, “Brigitte”, etc., this lovely Irish name, meaning “strength, power” is just perfect. I has some great nicknames, from Bree to Biddy to Bridie, as well as a pop culture heroine in “Bridget Jones”. At #448 in SSA’s top 1,000 baby names, it isn’t too popular, yet remains recognizable.

Fionnuala (fin-OO-la)- Alright, this is a long shot, but I can’t help myself. This one has a ridiculous amount of spelling variations, from the simplified “Finola” to the long-winded “Fionnualagh” and everything in between. The meaning, “white shoulders” is somewhat odd, but the spunky nicknames, Finn and Nuala, are just too cute to pass up. She’s my guilty pleasure.

Maeve (mayv)- I love Maeve. Mae, Maevie, Maisie. I think Maeve could be the new Grace. Her meaning, “she who intoxicates” is certainly appropriate. I am just entranced by Maeve. And at #536, she’s not common, but not unheard of.

Moira (moy-rah)- Oh, I have a huge crush on Moira. It reminds me of Peter Pan when Wendy says her full name, “Wendy Moira Angela Darling”. I always feel like saying it with a British accent. Moira’s Irish meaning, “bitter” (it’s a variant of the uber-classic, Mary), is less appealing than its Greek one: “fate”. In Greek mythology, the Moirae (plural of Moira), also known as the Fates, are the keepers of the thread of life. They map out a person’s destiny and everyone, even the gods, bow to their will. Awesome.

Niamh (neev)- I know, the pronunciation makes no sense. But I love it. I could be the meaning (“bright”), it could be the simple one-syllable, it could even be the confusing pronunciation. Whatever it is, I think it’s gorgeous. But it may be better suited for the middle.

Sinead (shin-AID)- Despite the controvesrial namesake in Sinead O’Conner, I think Sinead is really pretty. Just say it out loud. Sinead. Ahhhh. So lovely. As a variant of John, Sinead means “God is gracious” and can be used to honor any bearer of a John variant (Jane, Ivan, Sean, Janet, Evan, etc.).

I just love these names, but I have a soft spot for monikers from the Emerald Isle. What are some of your favorite Irish names?

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