My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.
One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:
As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”
It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?
My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).
We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.
The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:
Dido’s duet with Eminem…”Stan,” [was] a collaboration which she never imagined fans would connect to her son’s moniker.
“Stanley was actually our favorite name, coincidentally both of our favorite names. He could never have been called anything else to be honest,” Dido shares. “I’m so stupid, I didn’t think anyone would make the connection.”
Proud of her choice, Dido jokes the name game in her family is always a fun affair. “It’s fine,” she says of her final decision. “I was named after a crazy queen who threw herself on a fire.”
I’m 26 years old and I can probably count on two hands the number of times a person has gotten the pronunciation of my name right on the first go — a surprising minority, considering it has the word “less” right in it. Whenever someone does get it right, my jaw drops, because these moments are few and very far between — I often consider hugging the person for making me feel so normal. But the other 99 percent of the time, people get my name wrong.
The beginning of this capital story [The Opened Shutters] was not with Tide Mill, however, but with the name Thinkright Johnson. Like certain persons whose appearance before Mrs. Burnham’s mind’s eye has compelled her to write about them, this New Englandish appellation gave birth to a book. Thinkright Johnson–Thinkright Johnson; the name haunted Mrs. Burnham for days and weeks, “till I knew that the only way I could have any peace was to write something about him.”
Clara is my 2-year-old Wheaten terrier and one of several dogs in my neighborhood with a name that sounds as if it came from a shuffleboard tournament on a golden-years cruise. Among her pals, Fern is red-nose pit bull, Alfie is (mostly) a black lab and Eleanor is a mix of Bernese mountain dog and poodle.
This pack has led me to conclude that whereas we look back to remote centuries when giving children trendy names like Emma, Sebastian, Julian or Charlotte, we name our dogs after our grandparents.
This means that future generations of dogs should be prepared to be called the mom-and-dad names of today. Names like Kimberly, Jason and Heather.
The country nowadays is full of children burdened with grotesque names. Are we to ban them? If you forbid Cyanide, should you permit Chardonnay? A further complication is that the little girl is a twin, and her mother wanted to call her twin brother Preacher. This too Lady Justice King forbade because, although Preacher ‘might not be an objectionable name’, ‘there was considerable benefit for the boy twin to be in the same position as his sister’ and for both to be named, as was proposed, by their half-siblings. We are not told what names the half-siblings want. I do hope it is something kind and simple, like Jack and Jill.
Rachida Dati reacted angrily after journalist Eric Zemmour criticised her choice of name for seven-year-old daughter Zohra.
He said it was unpatriotic because it did not come from an official list of French Christian names.
He added: “I consider that by giving Muslim first names, you are refusing to accept the history of France.”
“Do you find it scandalous to give your mother’s name to your children?” [Rachita Dati] asked, in a vigorous defence of her choice of name.
“I loved my mother. I have a little girl, and I called her after my mother. Like millions of French people do every day.”
From the 2013 book The Lahu Minority in Southwest China: A Response to Ethnic Marginalization on the Frontier by Jianxiong Ma:
When a baby is born, his or her name is decided by the birthday tiled by the twelve zodiac days together with gender, so he or she will normally be named Za Birthday for male or Na Birthday for female. For example, if two babies were born on the rat day (fa ni) and the ox day (nu ni) respectively, if they are boys, their names should be Zafa and Zanu, but if they are girls, their names should be Nafa and Nanu, and so on. […] In general, there are about 45 names that can be used in the village for individual persons, even though the very basic names total 24, twelve days for both male and female members.
(The extra baby names used by the Lahu are essentially replacement names used in case of childhood sickness. These replacement names also follow specific formulas.)
A few weeks ago, The Stir posted a list of 20 pairs of baby names for girl-boy twins.
The problem with their list? Each matchy-matchy name-pair started with the same first letter.
Yes, most parents gravitate toward patterns when it comes to naming twins. This has been confirmed by at least one study and is easy to see when you peruse the (now discontinued) lists of popular twin names.
So I thought I’d improve upon their list by separating the pairings and giving each of the 40 names a new, non-matchy partner — different first letter, different ending, different number of syllables.
Hazel & Hugo
Emma & Evan
Madison & Mason
Taylor & Tyler
Vivienne & Val
Ava & Alexander
Chloe & Caleb
Sophia & Samuel
Eva & Ethan
Penelope & Pax
Savannah & Sebastian
Lily & Luke
Dylan & Dean
Naomi & Noah
Imogen & Isaac
Juliette & James
Christina & Christian
Grace & Gavin
Avery & Aiden
Claire & Clive
Hazel & Benjamin
Emma & Charles
Madison & Liam
Taylor & Grant
Vivienne & Phillip
Ava & Carl
Chloe & Gabriel
Sophia & Owen
Eva & Jack
Penelope & Duncan
Savannah & Zane
Lily & Cash
Dylan & Matthias
Naomi & Joseph
Imogen & Grey
Juliette & Simon
Christina & Thomas
Grace & Dominic
Avery & Beau
Claire & Julian
Hugo & Adelaide
Evan & Sabrina
Mason & Aria
Tyler & Addison
Val & Edie
Alexander & Daphne
Caleb & Lydia
Samuel & Hannah
Ethan & Amelia
Pax & Kira
Sebastian & Gemma
Luke & Maya
Dean & Harper
Noah & Abigail
Isaac & Johanna
James & Tabitha
Christian & Veronica
Gavin & Bree
Aiden & Katrina
Clive & Odette
Not only are the pairs in the middle and on the right smarter choices in terms of child development, but they’re also less likely to cause embarrassment and/or confusion. Unlike, say, Christina and Christian.
What are your favorite non-matchy baby names for girl-boy twins?
P.S. Hate to nit-pick, but…the Stir post also included several bogus definitions. Caleb means “devotion to God”? Nope, Caleb means dog.
My favorite baby name stories tend to be those that I find most memorable. Several of them (e.g., Aku, Karina, Maitland) even taught me something new. In a few cases, it’s not the original story I like so much as something that happened later on in the tale (as with Georgia, Salida, Speaker).