About A (Not-So-Bad) Name: Ryker

January 9, 2013 § 8 Comments

Star Trek: TNG's Commander Riker is one of few modern references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Star Trek: TNG‘s Commander Riker is one of few pop culture references to trendy, modern boys name Ryker.

Following my last post regarding name negativity, I’ve decided to take things a step further by going out of my way to highlight the positives in the names singled out in the aforementioned Deadspin article as evidence that American baby names are “getting even worse.”

The Not-So-Bad series of posts will no doubt feature names you’ve probably balked at before, but let’s keep one thing in mind, here. These aren’t hypothetical names, names from books, or lists of interesting choices – these are names that people out there actually wear. Real people. With feelings.

The first one I’ll cover is a name that’s actually been gaining massively in popularity, and isn’t just a unique selection by one adventurous parent. Ryker is, as far as I’m concerned, a true name of the future with a long Low Country heritage. It’s already nearly inside the US Top 300, after beginning it’s climb from 1000 in just 2003. The name Ryan is commonplace and has been for decades. Tucker, Parker, etc. had their biggest moments in the late-90s and early 2000s, and from those trends modern usage of Ryker was born.

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My Favourite Names of 2012

January 1, 2013 § 10 Comments

Baby3-300x200

I may have failed myself with blogging this year (so many real life changes!) but it’s one of my resolutions for 2013 to be better. Much better. I owe it to myself, because I truly enjoy maintaining this blog. Of little credit to me, my blog’s popularity grew this year with many thanks to the lovely ladies at Nameberry for hosting my political names guest post in the spring, with great appreciation to Abby at Appellation Mountain for highlighting my post on Malala this fall, which proved to be my biggest post of the year, and with ongoing affection for Anna at Waltzing More Than Matilda, whose site continues to be my most consistent referral source, links wise, and she is far and away my top commenter. And of course, I’m grateful to each and every one of you who reads, comments, and shares the posts you love. You guys inspire me, full on, and your support is not taken for granted.

To close out 2011, I compiled my favourite names from overall trends of the year, and though I haven’t blogged as much as I should have, I’ve paid attention in 2012. A few of these names earned posts of their own this year, but many didn’t, so bear with me. And you know the drill – please don’t leave without sharing your own favourites from the past twelve months.

Happy New Year to you and yours, and let’s all look forward to a big year of names in 2013. What traditional names will be bestowed upon the royal baby? Will baby Kimye get a K name? Will Biblical boy names make a comeback or fall even further out of favour? So many questions, so bring it on!

This year’s list of names looks nothing like last year’s (well it might, if you’ve read enough of this blog to catch on to the name biases I try not to have):

Koa. I love to travel, but this year I only made it to one place – Hawaii. So it seems fitting that the first name on my 2012 year end list is a Hawaiian name-on-fire. Simple enough to feel familiar, yet exotic enough to stand out, nature name Koa, which sounds like Biblically “unfashionable” Noah, kept trending for boys in 2012. Australian marathon swimmer Ky Hurst welcomed a son named Koa in November.

Aoife. This Irish name, pronounced EE-fah, was bestowed upon the daughter of Irish-born pop singer Una Healy of The Saturdays, and her English rugby star boyfriend Ben Foden in March. It means “beautiful,” and was suggested to the couple by Healy’s father. (Adorable Aoife’s middle name is the Latin name, Belle, which means her parents gave her a name that means “beautiful beauty.”)

I find Irish Gaelic names to be too challenging to use, personally, despite some Irish heritage in my family tree, but this one stood out this year in a crowded pack of selections more easily read by my North American sensibilities. And Healy wasn’t the only celeb to honour her Irish heritage with her baby name – How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan welcomed her second daughter in May, and named her Keeva Jane (an Americanized spelling of Caoimhe). Alternately pronounced Kev-ah, it means “gentle, beautiful beloved,” the feminine form of Kevin.

(more after the jump)

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About A Name: Romy

October 5, 2012 § 13 Comments

Romy Schneider

Aside from Rafael, there’s another R name I’ve been seeing a lot of lately – this one for the girls and much more notable in the English-speaking world. Romy has been bestowed on four celebrity babies so far in 2012, a spike in use after languishing in the wings for decades – always well-liked, but never exceptionally popular. Are Romy’s fortunes changing?

The name Romy is of Latin origin, a diminutive of Rosemary, which means “dew of the sea.” The lovely picture brings nature to mind, and retains a refined quality despite it’s nickname origins. Romy is also considered a cousin name to Roma, an Italian name which first found use in the late 19th Century, perhaps en vogue to the ancient city of Rome, named Roma by Evander in his daughter’s honour. Romy has been particularly popular in Germany in the second half of the 20th Century.

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About A Name: Raffi

September 29, 2012 § 3 Comments

(c) Raffi via Twitter

I’m sure that many of you are scoffing at this post. To some, the name Raffi is too weird, and to others, it’s just a nickname, not a real name. Truthfully, it’s both and neither all at the same time, but it might have some legs of late as trends go.

This August, upon the internationally-reported death of Kavna, a beluga whale at the Vancouver Aquarium, I discovered through Twitter that the whale, who lived in my backyard and whom I’d seen at the aquarium dozens of times, was the inspiration behind my all-time favourite children’s song, “Baby Beluga.” The classic known worldwide was written by Raffi Cavoukian, a Cairo-born Canadian folk singer-songwriter turned child activist of Armenian descent who has been regarded as the most well-known children’s performer in the English-speaking world. In my youth, the name Raffi was synonymous with him. His mother named him for the poet Raffi (born Hakob Melik Hakobian, Raffi was his pen name), one of the most important contributors to Armenian culture and identity in the 19th Century. A well-known phrase in Armenia states, “There are no Feddayines (Armenian freedom fighters) who have not read Raffi.”

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Canada’s Olympic-Inspired Names

September 25, 2012 § 5 Comments

(c) August 4, 2012 – Jean Lavac / Postmedia Olympic Team: Rosannagh “Rosie” MacLennan smiles with her gold medal, won in women’s trampoline at London 2012.

I may have been in exile, but I have been reading the blogs when I could – I caught these posts over at Waltzing More Than Matilda this summer, and it inspired me to do one of my own. (I believe Anna created three posts, at least, to highlight Aussie success in London, and I won’t need that many, to be honest.)

Canada, of course, didn’t have the success that Australia or Britain did at the London 2012 Summer Games. That narrows the field of focus somewhat in creating a post of names to inspire Canadians as our athletes travel cross-country this week on the government’s official “Olympic Tour.” (And yes, for the record, though I live in a Commonwealth country, I did not fully learn the lyrics to “God Save the Queen” until these Games, considering how often it played for Britain’s gold.)

The first Canadian to inspire from this summer’s Olympic Games is Rosannagh MacLennan (often called Rosie, perhaps in part to mitigate the confusion over how to pronounce Rosannagh – is it row-ZAE-nah or row-ZAN-ah?) Toronto resident MacLennan was Canada’s only gold medalist in London. She claimed a record score in women’s trampoline to top the podium on August 4th, the one and only time that “O Canada” played from the winner’s podium this summer. An old-fashioned choice, it gains some modern cool points for the Celtic spelling, with the ‘silent G.’

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The Rider Named Ryder

May 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

(c) AFP: Ryder Hesjedal celebrates his underdog victory at the Giro d’Italia cycling race on May 27, 2012 in Milan.

Vancouver Island cyclist Ryder Hesjedal has burned up the headlines across Canada this week, making us proud by becoming the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Tour cycling event when he captured the Giro d’Italia trophy this morning. And one of my favourite tweets about the win? A non-Canadian who had been watching the Giro daily, live from Italy, commented regarding the athlete whom no one had pegged as the possible winner:

“I just realized that rider Hesjedal is Ryder Hesjedal. #duh”

He and nearly everybody else, within Canada included (cycling’s popularity is growing here, and Hesjedal could be the new star to elevate it!) Before he won the second most prestigious cycling race in the world, Hesjedal’s best finish was 6th overall at the 2010 Tour de France, and he won the 12th stage of the 2009 Vuelta a Espana.

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August Kopff’s 68 asteroids (Part Two)

February 19, 2012 § 2 Comments

I finally finished part two of August Kopff’s list of asteroids, each with it’s own unique, usually female, name. There were some interesting selections, loaded with various meanings, in Part One, and the next batch of names is no different. Though these lists look for the trends in the names of asteroids attributed to one German astronomer in particular and take a ton of energy, I’ve decided that it would leave me feeling like I left something unfinished if I didn’t finally complete the project (and I’ve still got two more parts to go).

Unique (or at the very least, mythological) names are no problem for Mr. Kopff. So on to part 2, a prolific period for Kopff, and plenty more gems:

613 Ginevra (October 11, 1906)
It’s not confirmed why Kopff chose Ginevra for his next discovery, with some speculating that he chose the name in honour of Guinevere, wife of King Arthur. Like his previous selection, Jenny, it’s Welsh (and Italian) for “fair and smooth.”

It’s a beautiful and exotic name, especially popular these days in Italy. Italian footballer Alberto Gilardino gave it to his daughter, born 2007. It’s also the name of Italian heiress and socialite Ginevra Elkann. It’s popularity could easily expand to English speaking countries, especially thanks to the Harry Potter series. Ron Weasley’s little sister Ginny, who eventually marries the boy wizard, is really Ginevra.

614 Pia (October 11, 1906)
This asteroid was probably named for the Pia Observatory in Trieste, northern Italy, the private observatory of the German astronomer and moon researcher Johan Nepomuk Krieger. His research was of great assistance to Kopff and his team in Germany.

This name has survived well past it’s association with singer/actress Pia Zadora, a star in the 1980s who won two Golden Globes. It’s a sweet and simple feminine name meaning “pious” in Latin, and the phonetic similarity to popular choices like Mia and Leah keeps it relevant.

(more after the jump)

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