name list

Names from Treasury of Indian Tales, Books I and II

I recently checked out just about every book of Indian stories and folktales I could get from my public library. One of the story collections I found was Treasury of Indian Tales, which my library had in two volumes (Book I and Book II). The first volume was originally published in 1967 and the second in 1969, although the copyright page says that both have been reprinted many times and the books I had were definitely later editions. Both volumes are written by Shankar. The first is illustrated by Debabrata Mukerji and the second by Anil Vyas. They are published […]

Names from 1923 movies

The other day, I found myself wondering how names of characters (in books, movies, tv shows, etc.) differ from the real names of people from the time and place the story is set. I was especially interested in the process of choosing character names for a contemporary story – I feel like those names should tell us something about how the writers think about their present moment, but in a different way than baby names from the same year would. I decided to look at names from 1923 movies, and how those differ from the names of the actors portraying […]

Distinctive international names

A topic I see pop up on baby name websites pretty frequently is multicultural names, or names that work in multiple languages. It makes a lot of sense that this is a popular category of names – choosing a name that contains common sounds and syllables can be a great way to give a child a connection to their heritage while making sure the child and all of their relatives can confidently and easily pronounce the name. However, this strategy produces a sort of “Modern Vaguely International Style” of short, vowel-heavy names (think Maya, Hana, Kai), and leaves behind a […]

Name suggestions from a toddler

Are you struggling to name your baby? Let my toddler help you. Here are some name suggestions I got when asking my kid, “What should [Friend] name her baby? Oh, she says she doesn’t like that one, do you know any more names?” An interesting side effect of gathering content for this post is that now my toddler seems to feel responsible for naming our friend’s baby, and will occasionally offer totally spontaneous suggestions, or ask me if the baby has a name yet. Hopefully this means I am raising a future name nerd! Some of these name suggestions have […]

8 Anglo-Saxon names that should be as popular as Edward and Edith

One of the things that always strikes me about Anglo-Saxon names is the way you’ll be immersed in a sea of unfamiliar, foreign names and then suddenly there’s an Emma or an Edmund or something else that sounds perfectly normal. What makes one name last while another fades away? I would guess that the main factor is that our sense of what sounds and names are appealing changes as time goes by, but I also think historical narratives have an influence. If a name was never borne by someone well-known enough to make it into the historical record, then it’s […]

English word names

Let’s talk about English word names, by which I mean “names for people that are also regular English words,” not “names of words in English.” There are plenty of languages where personal names are almost always regular vocabulary words, but English is not one of them. English speakers are used to name meanings being several steps removed – for example, you might see that Margaret “means” pearl, because the English name Margaret came from the French name Marguerite which came from the Latin name Margarita which came from the Greek word margarites which means pearl (and which probably was borrowed […]