“A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet” – Shakespeare.
Of course, I’m paraphrasing here. The actual quote is from Romeo and Juliet and is spoken by the latter, in reference to her falling in love at first sight with her mortal enemy. Personally I don’t think the Bard was paying much attention when he named his characters – I mean, Juliet Capulet?! But his choice of Romeo for her star-crossed lover has made its way into folklore. Now any time a guy becomes known for his ability to pull the ladies, he’s invariably called either Romeo or Casanova, that other slutty cat from the literary past.
Back to the present and the global news media is holding its breath, waiting for the announcement from Buckingham Palace of the name of the new prince. Ordinarily I wouldn’t give a shit, because I’m very cynical when it comes to royalty of any ilk, but I have to admit to feeling sympathy for anyone who has very little choice about what to name their offspring. As a member of the royal family you’re expected to fall in line with your ancestors and adhere to a stringent list of old-world British monikers. That’s why there have been so many Georges and James’ and an over-abundance of Henry’s. (Although I’ve noticed that after the fiasco of Henry the VIII, that name has fallen out of fashion somewhat, at least with the royals. Little wonder, the bastard kept beheading his wives). The media in Australia has, in true Aussie fashion, decided to take bets on the bub’s name. But I’m not a gambler at heart. In fact I loathe the Australian penchant to bet on anything from sport to two cockroaches skittering across a kitchen floor. I actively avoid the Spring Carnival and roll my eyes at the fuss made at fashions on the field. I also hate poker machines, I think you might as well just go and throw your money in the garbage. But it is interesting to see what names are available to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For instance, I didn’t expect Charlotte. I thought she’d wind up a Mary, Catherine or Anne, although her great-aunt still has dibs on that last one.
As a writer I have a special interest in what people name their children. What’s come into fashion, what’s fallen out of favour and why; and I try to consider what generation my characters are from and what the popular names were, so that I can figure out the best and most likely name – taking into account its meaning, of course – for my protagonists and antagonists. When I became pregnant with my first child, whom regular followers of my blog will know is a trans male, I didn’t really have any favourite girls names so my ex came up with Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos and disorder. He said he’d always wanted to call a daughter Eris. It took me a while to get used to the idea but when I did, I have to confess that I loved it, and still do. I prefer uncommon names, and tend to veer away from the Most Popular lists. My daughter’s name is Cameron Elise. At the time (the year 2000) the only female named Cameron that I knew of was of course Cameron Diaz. But I didn’t name her after the actress (the way my brother was named after Dustin Hoffman). I simply got the idea for the name from her. Is there a difference? I think so. Eris of course, in the fullness of time, became Alister. He asked me what I would have called him if he’d been born a boy. I said I was considering Alister but I hadn’t hit on a preferred spelling. His new second name, Ian, is in honour of his Pa, who died in 2007 of pancreatic cancer.
These days my favourite names tend to be taken from literature. For a girl I like Bronte, after the famous authors Charlotte and Emily, of course; and for a boy, Dante. I find it slightly odd that they’re similar in spelling and also that they’re French/Spanish, when I’ve never been a fan of the French language or accent. I also like Kyle and Harrison, although Harrison has become a tad too popular, and runs the risk of joining a list of names that I’d prefer to avoid like the plague. In fact, my disdain for overly-common names runs so deep that I have to hold my tongue whenever a friend has a baby and names it Joshua, Dylan, Zachary, Thomas, Lachlan, William, Oliver or Jack; or conversely, Emily, Olivia, Lily, Jessica, Ruby, Amber, Ashlea or Taylah. (No, that’s not a misspelling, one of my pet-hates is when people change the spelling of a common name to make it look exotic, oblivious to the fact that it actually just appears trashy and frivolous, the way Brittany, Tiffany and virtually anything with an i on the end did in the angsty, brooding ’90’s).
So, with my love of lists in mind, here are some favourite names of mine, and also some names that were popular in the past and have gone well out of favour. I mean, do you ever hear about anyone calling their kid Gary any more?! I have an uncle named Gary, but he’s in his mid 60’s, and the last Gary i heard of was Carrie Fisher’s beloved French Bulldog.
Adele, Arya, Bethany, Bronte, Cameron, Corrine, Danica, Drew, Elise, Eris, Freya, Gabrielle, Geneva, Helena, Holly, Imogen, Juno, Kendall, Lane, Millaine, Neroli, Paige, Phoenix, Quinn,, Regan, Riley, River, Sadie, Sapphire, Sasha, Talia, Tyler, Zara, Xanthe.
Adrian, Aiden, Brant, Brodie, Corin, Craig, Dallas, Dante, Drew, Eamon, Elijah, Fenris, Flynn, Gabriel, Harley, Harrison, Hayden, Jakari, Jared, Joel, Julian, Kyle, Logan, Lucas, Mason, Miles, Nicholas, Odin, Quinn, Rafael, Rhys, River, Sebastian, Taj, Vaughn, Wesley, Xavier.
Allen, Arthur, Barry, Brent, Brian, Bernard, Bruce, Christopher, Damian, David, Derek, Douglas, Evan, Ethan, Frank, Glen, Gary, Ian, Joseph, Keith, Kevin, Larry, Leslie, Mark, Michael, Matthew, Nathan, Neil, Neville, Owen, Patrick, Peter, Paul, Robert, Roger, Sean, Shane, Stephen, Terence, Wayne.
Audrey, Allison, Belinda, Catherine, Christine, Claire, Danielle, Deborah, Denise, Diane, Evelyn, Esme, Fiona, Gail, Geraldine, Gladys, Helen, Irene, Isabel, Jacqueline, Janine, Janelle, Janis, Karen, Kathleen, Kerry, Leanne, Linda, Margaret, Mary, Maria, Melanie, Melissa, Michelle, Nadine, Natalie, Nicole, Pauline, Penelope, Phoebe, Rachel, Raelene, Roslyn, Samantha, Sarah, Shauna, Tanya, Theresa, Tracy, Valerie, Virginia, Wendy, Yvonne.