Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Not There Yet

File:Godward-Tranquillity-1914.jpg

Popularity turns a lot of people off. Many want to believe that their child's name is unique, but uniqueness is so very hard to come by when we talk about names. Somewhere, at some time or another, a person has had the same idea. However, by choosing a name outside the top 1000, even top 2000, we decrease the chance of a child having to share his or her name with a classmate, friend or neighbour. Still, sometimes it's nice and comforting to stick a little bit close to home and go with a name that has familiar elements that people recognise. Below are eight Greek names that are close in pronunciation or look to names that rank in the England&Wales chart. They aren't necessarily chart toppers but they are there nonetheless, and they are familiar.

Adelphie - A variant of Adelpha, it means 'dear sister'. It was unused in 2010 in England&Wales, although similar sounding Delphi (#2589) and Delphine (#2104) do make small appearances in the chart. It looks very much like a mush up of Delphi and on-the-rise Adele.

Aleta - It can also be spelt as Aletta, a variant of the Greek Aletheia, meaning 'truth'. Neither were used in 2010, although Alethea came in at #1731 with 16 uses. Interestingly, Aletta Jones was the first woman in the Netherlands to achieve a degree and become the first female doctor.

Evadne - The Latinised form of the Greek Euadne, it has no known meaning. Whereas Ariadne is being used here and there (12 times in 2010), Evadne is even more hidden, which is surprising considering that it has some very trendy qualities. You've got the popular E vowel, the strong V sound many are favouring, and you can easily get to the nickname Evie, which reached the top 10 as a first name in England&Wales. Evadne appears in one Greek myth as the daughter of Posidon and Pitane.

Haidee - Not exactly a Greek name, but rather a nineteenth century creation inspired by the Ancient Greeks. Possibly derived from 'aidoios', it means 'modest'. It fits somewhere between Heidi (#93) and Hayley (#365), but has a touch of darkness due to its similarities with the name of the Greek god of the underworld, Hades. Byron's Haidee was a beautiful Greek woman who found Don Juan after he was shipwrecked, and, of course, the two fell in love, with all the predictable tragic endings.

Niobe - A tragic mythological character (what else could she be?) with a rather pretty name. She famously boasted that her children were better than Leto's, and everything went pear shaped after that. Although her name has no known or established meaning, some have suggested that 'fern' is a possibility. If you prefer to stay away from the mythological dramatics, there is always Nubia (#5707), an Egyptian name with the meaning of 'gold', or Nuria (#2589), a Spanish name with religious links popular in Spain and Portugal.

ObelieOr Obelia comes from the Greek 'obeliskos' meaning 'obelisk', a tall structure of four sides that ends in a pyramid shape at the top. Usually, however, Obelie's meaning is given as a 'pointed pillar' which works just as well. Neither variants rank in England&Wales, the closest in sound and look that appears in the chart is Hamlet's Ophelia (#559).

Phemie - Brits love using nicknames as first names so Phemie should, in theory, at least make a small bleep in the charts. But it doesn't. It is Euphemia (#3156) and her more popular nickname, Effie (#634) which are being chosen by a few. Whereas Euphemia is heavy with religious connotation, Phemie is light and airy, much like Phoebe. Her meaning is also pleasant - the name comes from the Greek for 'good' and 'to speak' or 'well-spoken'.

Syna - Reminiscent in pronunciation to 90s Xena (#3156) - which we all now associate with a warrior princess, but that has Greek roots deriving from Xenia - Syna has a sweet meaning stemming from the Greek 'syn' or 'together'. In literature she has appeared in the novel and play The Tragedy of Macbeth Part II by Noah Lukeman. In it she is the daughter of Seyton, formerly Macbeth's employee. 

Images: Tranquility by John William Godward.