How popular is the baby name Geoffrey in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Geoffrey and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Geoffrey.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Geoffrey

Number of Babies Named Geoffrey

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Geoffrey

How to Pronounce French Names – Anaïs, Étienne, Guillaume, Hélène

how to pronounce French names like anais, etienne, helene, guillaume

At first glance, Guillaume always looks like gobbledygook to me. It’s the French form of William — that much I know — but it takes a few seconds for me to remember that it’s pronounced ghee-ohm, not not gwill-awm or gwee-awm.

And it’s not just Guillaume that trips me up. I find many other French names (Étienne, Edwige, Anaïs, etc.) equally tricky to pronounce.

So for those of us who struggle with French names, here are some simplified rules of French pronunciation, plus names to illustrate each rule.

This list is far from comprehensive, and my pronunciations are just approximations, but hopefully my fellow non-French speakers out there will find it helpful nonetheless.

Rules of French Pronunciation + French Names

The vowel combination “AU” is pronounced like a long o.

  • Paul, in French, is pronounced pohl.
  • Margaux, a French form of Margaret, is pronounced mar-goh.

The letter combination “CH” is typically pronounced sh.

  • Charles, in French, is pronounced shahrl.

The six consonants “D,” “P,” “S,” “T,” “X” and “Z,” when at the end of a word, are typically silent.

  • Arnaud, the French form of Arnold, is pronounced ar-noh.
  • Denis, the French form of Dennis, is pronounced de-nee (remember the Blondie song?).
  • Lucas, in French, is pronounced loo-kah.
  • Louis, in French, is pronounced loo-ee (think Louis Vuitton).

They’re not always silent, though. Here are some exceptions:

  • Alois, the French form of Aloysius, is pronounced ah-loh-ees.
  • Anaïs, a French form of Anna, is pronounced ah-nah-ees.
  • David, in French, is pronounced dah-veed.

The pronunciation of “Ë” (E with a trema) is like the e in the English word “bet.”

  • Gaël and Gaëlle are pronounced gah-el or gai-el.
  • Joël and Joëlle are pronounced zhoh-el.
  • Maël and Maëlle are pronounced mah-el or mai-el.
  • Noël and Noëlle are pronounced noh-el.

The pronunciation of “É” (E with an acute accent) is somewhere between the ee in “see” and the e in “bet.”

  • Noé, the French masculine form of Noah, is pronounced noh-ee.
  • Salomé, in French, is pronounced sah-loh-mee.

The consonant “G” is soft (zh) when followed by “E” or “I” but hard (gh) otherwise.

  • Georges, the French form of George, is pronounced zhorzh.
  • Guy, in French, is pronounced ghee.

The consonant “H” is silent.

  • Hélène, the French form of Helen, is pronounced eh-lehn.

The vowel “I,” and the forms Ï, and Î, are all pronounced ee.

  • Loïc, a French form of Louis, is pronounced loh-eek.

The consonant “J” is pronounced zh.

  • Jacques, the French form of Jacob, is pronounced zhahk.

The letter combination “LL” is typically pronounced like an l.

  • Achille, the French form of Achilles, is pronounced ah-sheel.
  • Lucille, the French form of Lucilla, is pronounced loo-seel.

But in some cases “LL” is pronounced like a y.

  • Guillaume, the French form of William, is pronounced ghee-yohm or ghee-ohm.

The vowel combination “OI” is pronounced wah.

  • Antoine, the French form of Antony, is pronounced an-twahn.
  • Grégoire, the French form of Gregory, is pronounced gre-gwahr.

The vowel combination “OU” is pronounced oo.

  • Lilou is pronounced lee-loo.

The consonant “R,” when at the end of a word, is typically pronounced.

  • Clair, the French masculine form of Claire, is pronounced kler.
  • Edgar, in French, is pronounced ed-gahr.

When the “R” is preceded by an “E,” though, it is not pronounced.

  • Gauthier, the French form of Walter, is pronounced goh-tee-yay or goh-tyay (remember Gotye?).
  • Olivier, the French form of Oliver, is pronounced oh-lee-vee-yay or oh-lee-vyay (think Laurence Olivier).

The letter combination “TH” is typically pronounced like a t (which makes sense, since “H” is silent).

  • Thibault, the French form of Theobald, is pronounced tee-boh.

The letter combination “TI” is sometimes pronounced like an s or sy.

  • Laëtitia is pronounced lay-tee-sya.

The consonant “W” is pronounced like a v.

  • Edwige, the French form of Hedwig, is pronounced ed-veezh.

And finally, just a few more French names that I tend to have trouble with.

  • Anatole is pronounced ah-nah-tohl.
  • Étienne, the French form of Stephen, is pronounced eh-tyen.
  • Geoffroy, the French form of Geoffrey, is pronounced zho-fwah.
  • Ghislain and Ghislaine are pronounced either ghee-len or zheez-len.
  • Ignace, the French form of Ignatius, is pronounced ee-nyas.

*

Those aren’t too hard, right?

That’s what I tell myself…and then I come across Guillaume in the wild and my mind goes blank all over again. :)

If you know French and would like to add to the above (either another rule of pronunciation or a more precise pronunciation for a particular name) please leave a comment.

If you’re not a French speaker, here’s my question: Which French name gives you the most trouble?

Sources: Beginning French Pronunciation, French e, è, é, ê, ë – what’s the difference?, Google Translate

P.S. Interested in seeing how popular the French names above are in the U.S.? Here are some popularity graphs: Alois, Achille, Anaïs, Anatole, Antoine, Arnaud, Clair, Denis, Edwige, Étienne, Gaël, Gaëlle, Georges, Grégoire, Guillaume, Guy, Hélène, Ignace, Jacques, Laëtitia, Lilou, Loïc, Lucille, Maël, Maëlle, Margaux, Noé, Olivier, Salomé, Thibault.


Male Names in the Domesday Book

Male Names in the Domesday Book

I listed all the female names in the Domesday Book a while back, so today I thought I’d complete the project by listing all the male names.

The male names below appeared in the Open Domesday database just once, except where noted. (For the record, I overlooked entries in which one person’s name was used to refer to another person, e.g., “Aelfric’s uncle.”)

The most-mentioned name within each letter group is in bold.

If you make it all the way to the bottom, your reward is a top ten list. :)

A

  • Abba (2)
  • Abbud
  • Abel
  • Abraham
  • Acard (2)
  • Acwulf
  • Adam (4)
  • Adbrei
  • Adelard
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  • Adelo
  • Adelulf (3)
  • Adelund
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  • Aelfric (88)
  • Aelgeat
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  • Aelod
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  • Aelsi
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  • Aethelhelm
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B

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C

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D

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  • Dunnic
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  • Durand (12)
  • Dynechaie

E

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F

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  • Fulcran
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  • Fursa

G

  • Gamal (9)
  • Gamalbarn
  • Gamalkarl
  • Gamas
  • Gamilo
  • Garthulfr
  • Garwine
  • Gelder
  • Genred
  • Genust
  • Geoffrey (48)
  • Gerald (5)
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H

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I

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J

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Y

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And now it’s time for the…

Top Ten Male Names

Which male were mentioned most often in the Domesday book? The #1 name was William, followed by Robert and Ralph:

1. William (166)
2. Robert (127)
3. Ralph (124)
4. Aelfric (88)
5. Alwin (76)
5. Hugh (76)
7. Roger (73)
8. Godwin (72)
9. Walter (64)
10. Godric (59)

Though the names in the book aren’t necessarily representative of name usage in England overall, it does make sense than William took the top spot. The Domesday Book was created a couple of decades after the Norman Invasion, at a time when the name William was very fashionable, thanks to William the Conqueror.

First Names from King Henry III’s Fine Rolls (1200s)

Henry III of EnglandI’ve got some 13th-century English names for you today!

They come from the fine rolls of King Henry III (1216–1272). The fine rolls were basically financial records. King Henry III wasn’t the first to keep them, but they “expand[ed] considerably in size and content during Henry’s reign.”

The Henry III Fine Rolls Project has translated the fine rolls from Latin to English, if you want to check them out.

Even better for our purposes, though, is this nifty database of given names in the Fine Rolls of Henry III, which shows us the most-mentioned male names and female names in the rolls.

(These lists aren’t the same as the single-year, society-wide baby name popularity lists we’re accustomed to — they cover a wide range of birth years, and a small segment of society — but they do give us a general idea of which names were the most popular during the 1200s.)

Of the 8,423 male names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. William (1,217 mentions)
  2. John (669)
  3. Richard (495)
  4. Robert (434)
  5. Henry (376)
  6. Ralph (365)
  7. Thomas (351)
  8. Walter (346)
  9. Roger (337)
  10. Hugh (297)
  11. Geoffrey (261)
  12. Simon (218)
  13. Adam (200)
  14. Nicholas, Peter (180 each)
  15. Gilbert (157)
  16. Alan (110)
  17. Phillip (109)
  18. Reginald (88)
  19. Stephen (83)
  20. Elias (66)
  21. Alexander (65)
  22. Osbert (52)
  23. Eustace (44)
  24. Andrew, Matthew (42 each)
  25. Ranulf (40)

Other names on the men’s list: Hamo, Fulk, Payn, Waleran, Drogo, Engeram, Amfrid, Ratikin, Walkelin, Bonefey, Fulcher, Hasculf, Herlewin, Joldwin, Lefsi, Marmaduke, Orm, Albizium, Cocky, Deulobene, Gwenwynwyn, Markewart.

Of the 1,314 female names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. Alice (140 mentions)
  2. Matilda (138)
  3. Agnes (76)
  4. Margaret (69)
  5. Joan (62)
  6. Isabella (60)
  7. Emma (37)
  8. Beatrice (34)
  9. Mabel (33)
  10. Cecilia (32)
  11. Christiana (30)
  12. Hawise (29)
  13. Juliana (27)
  14. Sibyl (25)
  15. Rose (21)
  16. Sarra (16)
  17. Helewise (15)
  18. Avice, Eleanor, Eva, Lucy (14 each)
  19. Leticia (13)
  20. Felicia (12)
  21. Isolda, Margery, Petronilla (11 each)
  22. Ascelina, Edith (10 each)
  23. Phillippa (9)
  24. Amice, Elena, Katherine, Mary, Sabina (8)
  25. Basilia, Muriel (7)

Other names on the women’s list: Albrea, Amabilia, Eustachia, Idonea, Egidia, Millicent, Amphelisa, Avegaya, Barbata, Comitessa, Frethesenta, Wulveva, Alveva, Dervorguilla, Deulecresse, Elizabeth (just 1!), Flandrina, Oriolda.

See any names you like?

Source: The Henry III Fine Rolls by David Carpenter

Need Two Cat Names? Try Gib and Tib

Cat Names Gib and Tib

Looking for a pair of cat names?

During the last centuries of the Medieval era, the most common cat names were Gib (hard G) and Tib.

Typically, Gib was used for male cats and Tib for female cats.

Gib is a diminutive of the name Gilbert. Tib is either a play on Gib or a short form of Tibert, as in Tibert the Cat, a feline character found in Reynard the Fox stories.

Geoffrey Chaucer mentions a cat named Gibbe in his The Romaunt of the Rose, written in the late 1300s.

The play Gammer Gurton’s Needle, written during the 1550s, features a (female) cat named Gib:

My nee’le, alas! Ich lost it, Hodge, what time Ich me up-hasted
To save the milk set up for thee, which Gib our cat hath wasted.

The name Gib was so ubiquitous that male cats were called Gib-cats. We might still be using that term today if not for “The Life and Adventures of a Cat” (1760), a popular tale that featured a cat named Tom. Tom inspired the term Tom-cat, which eventually replaced Gib-cat.

Sources:

Spelling Tip for Creative Baby Names – Hard G vs. Soft G

Gordana Gehlhausen was a contestant on Project Runway this season. Before the season began, I assumed her first name would be pronounced with a hard G, like Gordon. I was wrong. She pronounces her name with a soft G. I wonder how many other people also got it wrong?

Typically, when the letter G is followed by E, I or Y, it’s soft. Otherwise, it’s hard. Gentle and giant have soft G’s, while gargoyle and gurgle have hard G’s.

The rule can also be applied to names. Geoffrey and Gillian have soft G’s; Gavin, Goldie and Gus have hard G’s. (Exceptions like Gertrude and Gideon do exist.)

If you want to personalize a name that features the letter G, or substitute a G for a J, pay close attention to the vowels that follow. Taking an E out of George turns the name into a geological formation. Forcing a G into James gives you Games. (And playing Games with baby names is usually not a good idea.)

Unique Baby Names from Literature

The was originally the round-up post of a 31-post series on literature names for National Book Month. I’ve since condensed all of those individual posts into this one post.

I picked many of these names because they were either popularized by literature or first used as given names in literature:

Amanda

Amanda is based on the Latin gerundive amanda, which means “she who must be loved.” It was used as a name in Europe starting in the mid-17th century. In literature, Amanda perhaps first appeared in the comedy Love’s Last Shift (1696) by English playwright and actor Colley Cibber (1671-1757).

Amaryllis

Before Amaryllis was a plant, it was a name: Amaryllis was created by the Latin poet Virgil (70-19 BC) for a shepherdess in his pastoral Eclogues. Amaryllis is based on the Latin word amarysso, which means “to sparkle.”

Take ashes, Amaryllis, fetch them forth,
And o’er your head into the running brook
Fling them, nor look behind: with these will
Upon the heart of Daphnis make essay.
(Eclogue VIII)

Amory

Amory Blaine is the main character in This Side of Paradise (1920), the successful debut novel of American writer Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Many believe that Fitzgerald modeled the wealthy, handsome protagonist after himself (at least in part).

Atticus

Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) features Atticus Finch, respected lawyer and father of the book’s protagonist, Scout. Lee named Atticus after Roman eques Titus Pomponius Atticus.

Belinda

Belinda was a character in The Provok’d Wife (1697), a comedic play written by English architect and dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh (c.1664-1726). Belinda may have been based on the Italian word bella, which means beautiful. It was later used by Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock (1712).

Beren

The romance between Beren and Lúthien was first told in prose in The Silmarillion, by writer and Oxford professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973).

Therefore at the last he yielded his will, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.
(The Silmarillion, Chapter 19)

A romantic sidenote: The name Beren is engraved on Tolkien’s gravestone, while Lúthien is on the gravestone belonging to Tolkien’s wife, Edith.

Binx

John Binkerson “Binx” Bolling is the film-obsessed main character of The Moviegoer (1961), a National Book Award-winning novel by American author Walker Percy (1916-1990).

Cedric

Cedric was created by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) for his novel Ivanhoe, which was written in 1819 but set in the 12th century. The name was probably inspired by that of Cerdic, the legendary founder of the Kingdom of Wessex.

Clarinda

Clarinda was coined by English poet Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) in The Faerie Queene.

Goe now, Clarinda, well thy wits aduise,
And all thy forces gather vnto thee;
(The Faerie Queene, Book V, Canto V)

Two centuries later, Robert Burns (1759-1796) addressed several poems to ‘Clarinda.’

Fair Empress of the Poet’s soul,
And Queen of Poetesses;
Clarinda, take this little boon,
This humble pair of glasses:
(Verses To Clarinda)

Cosette

French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885) created the orphan Cosette for his novel Les Misérables (1862).

Les Misérables the musical, which debuted in London in October of 1985, has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

UPDATE: The latest Les Miserables movie comes out Dec. 25, 2012.

Dorian

Dorian Gray, whose portrait ages while Dorian himself does not, was invented by Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) for the gothic horror novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde may have borrowed the name from the ancient Hellenic tribe the Dorians.

Dulcinea

Dulcinea del Toboso is a fictional character who’s referred to (but does not appear) in Don Quixote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).

Eglantine

Eglantine is another name for sweetbrier, a pink-flowered plant native to Britain and northern Europe. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) first employed Eglantine as a given name, using it for Madame Eglantine in his Canterbury Tales:

Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
And she was cleped Madame Eglentyne.
(Prologue, lines 118-121)

Geraldine

Geraldine was originally an adjective that referred to Ireland’s FitzGerald dynasty. It was first used as a name by English aristocrat Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547).

Honsdon did first present her to mine yien:
Bright is her hewe, and Geraldine she hight.
(Description and praise of his loue Geraldine.)

Geraldine was later popularized by Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s poem Christabel.

Yet he who saw this Geraldine,
Had deemed her sure a thing divine.
(Christabel, Part II, Stanza 11)

Holden

Holden Caulfield is the cynical, sensitive teenage protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye (1951), written by reclusive American author J. D. Salinger. Holden also appears in several of Salinger’s short stories. Holden was the second-best fictional character of the 20th century, according to Book magazine.

Imogen

Imogen is the name of the king’s daughter in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Cymbeline, King of Britain (c.1609). The prevailing theory is that Imogen was actually meant to be Innogen — a name based on the Gaelic word inghean, meaning “girl, maiden” or “daughter” — but it was misspelled and the mistake was never corrected.

Jancis

The character of Jancis Beguildy was created by English romantic novelist Mary Webb (1881-1927) for her book Precious Bane (1924). Jancis is a modern blend of the names Jan and Francis.

Kilgore

Kilgore Trout regularly appears in books by Kurt Vonnegut. (And in other books, like phone books.) The character of Kilgore may be based on Theodore Sturgeon, or may be a parody of Vonnegut himself.

Lesley

Lesley is a variant of the name Leslie, which is derived from a Scottish place name. Lesley-with-a-y is interesting because it was first used by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) in his poem/song Saw Ye Bonie Lesley (1792).

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects, we before thee;
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o’ men adore thee.
(Saw Ye Bonie Lesley, Stanza 3)

Lestat

Lestat de Lioncourt is a character in The Vampire Chronicles, a series of novels by Anne Rice. Rice “thought Lestat was an old Louisiana name.” She learned later that the name she was thinking of was actually Lestan.

Lucasta

Lucasta was first used by English poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1658). It’s a contraction of Lux Casta (Chaste Lucy), Lovalace’s nickname for a woman he’d been courting.

If to be absent were to be
Away from thee;
Or that when I am gone,
You or I were alone;
Then, my Lucasta, might I crave
Pity from blustering wind or swallowing wave.
(To Lucasta, going beyond the Seas)

Miranda

The name Miranda was invented by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) for a character in The Tempest. Miranda is based on the Latin word mirandus, which means “admirable.”

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan and
A prince of power.
(The Tempest, Act 1, Scene II)

Uranus’s small moon Miranda, discovered in 1948, was named after the Shakespearean character.

Mirielle

Mireille is the French title of Provençal poem Mirèio (1859). The poem was written by French writer Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914), who shared the 1904 Nobel Prize for Literature with José Echegaray y Eizaguirre. Mistral probably derived ‘Mirèio’ from the Provençal verb mirar, which means “to admire.”

Orinthia

Orinthia was used by Nobel Prize-winning Irish-British playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) in his play The Apple Cart (1929). In the play, King Magnus refers to his mistress as “Orinthia.” When the mistress discovers that Magnus did not invent the name especially for her, she becomes angry. He responds:

Well, one poet may consecrate a name for another. Orinthia is a name full of magic for me. It could not be that if I had invented it myself. I heard it at a concert of ancient music when I was a child; and I have treasured it ever since.
(The Apple Cart, Interlude)

At that “concert of ancient music,” Magnus must have heard the old English ballad The Pilgrim of Love, which–according to the Catalogue of Ballads at Oxford’s Bodleian Library–begins “Orinthia my béloved, I call in vain…”

Pamela

Pamela was created by English writer Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) for The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. The name was probably derived from the Greek words pan (all) and meli (honey). A century and a half later, Samuel Richardson‘s first novel–named Pamela in honor of Sidney’s heroine–was published.

Quoyle

Quoyle is the main character in E. Annie Proulx‘s The Shipping News (1993), which won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and happens to be one of my favorite books. The novel was inspired by The Ashley Book of Knots, and, aptly, “quoyle” is an Old English spelling of coil.

Selima

The name Selima was first used in literature by English writer and scholar Thomas Gray (1716-1771). He used it as the name of a cat. Neither the name nor the cat were Gray’s inventions, though. Selima the cat had belonged to fellow Englishman and writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797).

Shirley

The male name Shirley became feminized with the 1849 publication of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley. Previously, Shirley had been a surname and, before that, a place name.

She had no Christian name but Shirley: her parents, who had wished to have a son…bestowed on her the same masculine family cognomen they would have bestowed on a boy, if with a boy they had been blessed.
(Shirley, Part 2, Chapter XI)

Sula

The rebellious Sula Peace, who becomes a pariah in her socially conservative Ohio town, is the main character of Toni Morrison‘s novel Sula (1973). Sula may be short for Ursula, a Latin name meaning “little bear.”

Vanessa

Vanessa was invented by Irish author Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) as a pseudonym for his friend (and perhaps lover) Esther Vanhomrigh: “van” comes from Vanhomrigh, and “essa” is based on a pet form of Esther.

While thus Cadenus entertains
Vanessa in exalted strains,
The nymph in sober words intreats
A truce with all sublime conceits.
(Cadenus and Vanessa)

Vanessa was later used as the name of a genus of butterfly.

Wendy

Though Scottish writer J. M. Barrie (1860-1937) didn’t invent the name Wendy, he did popularize it with his character Wendy Darling. For Barrie, the name was inspired by a young acquaintance (the daughter of poet William Henley, 1849-1903), who mispronounced the word friend as “fwendy.”

“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Wendy Moira Angela Darling,” she replied with some satisfaction. “What is your name?”
“Peter Pan.”
(Peter Pan, Chapter 3)

There are many other interesting literature names out there. Did I miss any particularly good ones?