Sunday, 1 January 2012

Name in the Spotlight: Ariadne


I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season. I unfortunately couldn't post anything for a while as we had relatives in every nook and cranny of the house. I can thank my very hyper, slightly tipsy cousin for today's Name in the Spotlight. She mentioned in conversation that her favourite name is Arianne. I seem to be hearing a lot of 'ARI' names at the moment. The most used in England and Wales in 2010 were the following:

Ariana  #390 (Arianna was at #538)
Aria #773
Arya #840
Ariella = #1013
Arissa = #1013
Arina #1294
Arianne = #1731 (Ariane was at #1910)
Ariel = #1731 (Arielle was at #1815)
Arifah #2104 (Arifa was at #2235)
Ariba #2392
Arianwen #3533

Although I'm hearing a lot of 'ARI' names being mentioned, they're not being used all that much in England and Wales. The most popular, although it does not technically fit the criteria I've mentioned, is Arabella. In 2010, it held the 228th spot. While looking through all these names one stood out, Ariadne (pronounced ar-ee-AD-nee). She may not be as popular as Arabella or as familiar as Ariel, but she has a long history dating back to Ancient Greece.

Ariadne appears in Greek mythology as the daughter of King Minos of Crete. The myth goes that Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and helped him kill the Minotaur by providing him with a ball of thread, so he could find his way out of the labyrinth, and a sword. But things did not last between them. It is said that she went on to marry Dionysus, the God of wine and revelry. Ariadne herself received the status of a goddess in Crete.

Her name is made up of the Cretan Greek elements of 'ari' (most) and 'adnos' (holy). While 'most holy' is its most commonly accepted meaning, if the name derives from Arihagne, then it would be more appropriate to see its meaning as 'utterly pure'.

If you were to choose this name, you wouldn't be alone. Although nowhere near the top 100, or even 1000, Ariadne was given to 12 baby girls last year in England and Wales, putting it at number 2104. It was also used throughout history. Looking at some records we find Ariadnes dating back to 1844, and there might have been even earlier ones, of course.

Ariadne may not be all that popular, but its Latin form of Ariadna has found favour in Spain. Last year it ranked at #28, and was at its most popular in 2009 when it reached the 26th spot with 1676 baby girls being given the name. Its other forms of Ariane and Arianna have also done well in countries such as France and Italy respectively, making this a name that would work well in different languages and nations.

Finally, I wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful New Year.