About Two Names: Knight & Dae
October 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
This post is really about the more common use of ‘night’ and ‘day’ in our baby names, with two recently trending spelling variations. One is darkness, the other is light, but both combine to illustrate the beauty of nature, and of life. There are plenty of inspired choices on both ends of the spectrum!
Names like Prince and especially King are on the rise, and so is the more accessible alternative – Knight. R&B artist Kelis and rapper Nas welcomed son Knight in 2009. Knights are well known for their valour, strength and bravery, they are protectors. While first an English surname, it’s use has been appearing more often lately as a first name.
A few months after the birth of Knight Jones, Nicole Richie and Joel Madden welcomed son Sparrow James Midnight. His second middle name mirrored big sister Harlow Winter Kate in that nature was represented. Yet the ideas contrast in that winter is very white, and midnight is very black.
Playing with bird names (Birdie’s been big the past few years, the Richie-Madden’s have Sparrow), Veruca Salt rocker Nina Gordon welcomed daughter Ivy Nightingale in 2006. Nightingales are well-known for their birdsong, popularized in literature, especially poetry (Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale“). In 1821 (published 1840), Percy Bysshe Shelley compared a poet to a nightingale in his “A Defense of Poetry.” A lovely choice for a modern musician or artist, but also progressive and perhaps best suited as a middle name. Florence Nightingale was a pioneering 19th Century English nurse who came to prominence during the 1853-56 Crimean War.
Do you think names like Knighton and Knightley, which pull off masculinity with ease despite Kiera Knightley’s obvious femininity, are likely on the heels of this trend? What about plain old Night?
We’re also fond of Day names – and two very recent additions to the trend have both been Daes. French-Monegasque celebrity chef Alain Ducasse – who owns five-star restaurants all over the globe and who prepared the menu at Prince Albert II’s royal wedding to South Africa’s Charlene Wittstock this past July – welcomed daughter Dae on October 16th in Monte Carlo. Alternately Dai, it means “beloved” in Hebrew and Welsh. Just three days later in Seattle, Olympic Champion swimmer Megan Quann Jendrick welcomed son Daethan, her first child with husband Nathan.
It seems obvious why the Jendricks went with Daethan, because it rhymes with Nathan, but if they were going to essentially create a name for that reason, they could have gone with Vaithan or Hathan. But we’re already familiar with ‘day’ names, and Daethan sounds a lot like established Dayton. Of Old English origin, Dayton is a place name, either for “Day’s settlement” or “David’s settlement.” Originally a surname, it’s popularity as a first name exploded through the 1990s, climbing to the US Top 600 (where it’s basically leveled) between 1993 and 1998. Considering the meaning, it’s interesting to note that British Formula One racing champion David Coulthard and wife Karen welcomed son Dayton Minier (Karen’s surname) in 2008.
Crooner Tony Bennett’s son is named Dae, born in 1955. Dae is short for Daegal – a name of Scandinavian origin that means “dweller in a dark stream” and has found some traction in the English-speaking world.
“Day” is common, too – from days of the week names (Sunday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Friday), to just Day. Dutch TV presenter Vivian Reijs welcomed daughter Day in 2004, country singer Dierks Bentley welcomed daughter Evalyn Day, called Evie, in 2008, two years after NASCAR reporter Danielle Frye welcomed daughter Emerson Daye in 2006.
In 2001, British comic David Baddiel welcomed a daughter, Dolly Loveday (followed a few years later by son Ezra Beckett). At first glance, Loveday feels overdone. It’s original form, Old English Leofdaeg/Lief Tag, from leof (beloved, precious) + daeg (day) is thought to have existed in Britain as early as the 7th Century, and Loveday is merely an anglicized form. Loveday was a common English medieval Christian name, which has now become confined to Cornwall, where it still survives in occasional use. The name was originally bestowed on boys or girls on a Love Day, a day appointed for a meeting between enemies and litigants with a view to an amicable settlement. The name is now only given to girls. Names like Dayna are more established, and trending down on the heels of Dana, which peaked in the 1980s.
What about Daley? It’s unisex, if possibly more girly. Daya? (It’s Hebrew for “bird of prey” like an eagle or falcon.) Is Daisy close enough phonetically to fall in?