From the novel I Shall Wear Midnight (2010) by Terry Pratchett:
[T]he coach door opened again and one dainty good touched the flint. It was her: Angelica or Letitia or something else out of the garden; in fact Tiffany knew full well it was Letitia, but surely she could be excused just a tiny touch of nasty in the privacy of her own head? Letitia! What a name. Halfway between a salad and a sneeze.
Names do matter, and sometimes they say something whether we want them to or not. Just the other day, a caller from Arizona, after a long conversation about a column, commented that my name, Bob Ray, “must be a redneck Texas name.” He obviously didn’t know my race.
Even a mistake in a name can stick with you for a lifetime, as my late friend Ossie Davis discovered. Ossie, a great actor and director who died in 2005 at 87, was born in Georgia. When the nurse asked his parents for a name, his mother said, “R.C.” The nurse wrote “Ossie” on the birth certificate, he said.
Until recently, most sportswriting has omitted diacritical marks. The reason for that isn’t out of disrespect or wanton cruelty. Rather, it is because of educational chauvinism and ignorance. […] Many schools don’t teach the use of diacritical marks — mine didn’t — so it is implicitly chauvinist. Names without diacritical marks are normal, according to these institutions. We graduate from these schools having learned this. Then some of us become sportswriters who retrofit people’s names to fit what we were taught. Sportswriting by and large omitted those accents from players’ names until very recently, including here. Sportswriters rarely asked players how to properly write and pronounce their names. Unsurprising, given the past and current demographics of sportswriters.
I say all of that to point out that our failure to use diacritical marks isn’t necessarily malicious, just ignorant.
Non-Jewish parents in Germany are picking names straight out of the Hebrew Bible for their newborns, and they might not even know it.
But few non-Jewish parents actually know the meaning of such names — they just like how they sound, according to Frauke Rüdebusch, a linguist with the Society for the German Language, which has put out an annual list since 1977.
According to Rüdebusch, a survey done several years ago showed that most people chose names based on how they sounded rather than their origin.
With a name like Ryder, practicing golf at a young is no accident. Ryan Carlson says, yes, his son’s name is inspired by the Ryder Cup, but he didn’t expect he’d be such a natural. Shortly after he began to walk, Ryder began swinging a plastic golf club, quickly learning how to hit balls.
From an article about baby names by a writer named Josanne:
In my case it can be mildly tiring because I am constantly having to explain that there is no “i” in Josanne, (simply because the most common spelling and pronunciation is Josianne) – one person had even asked me if I was sure I was spelling it right and asked me to check my own ID card. True story.
Intuitively, most Indians recognise that names like “Shubham” and “Rishabh” are younger and more modern, while those like “Om” and “Shashi” are older.
A quote about jazz musician Red Norvo from the book American Musicians II: Seventy-One Portraits in Jazz (1986) by Whitney Balliett:
Norvo isn’t my real name. I was born Kenneth Norville, in Beardstown, Illinois, in three thirty-one oh-eight. […] I got the name Norvo from Paul Ash, in vaudeville. He could never remember my name when he announced me. It would come out Norvin or Norvox or Norvick, and one night it was Norvo. Variety picked it up and it stuck, so I kept it.
(Red also had a strong opinion about the name of his instrument: “Please don’t call it a vibraphone. I play the vibraharp, a name coined by the Deagan Company, which invented the instrument in 1927 and still supplies me with mine.”)
Q: I would guess that [the parents who] named [their daughters] Khaleesi in the spirit of empowerment. And yet the character has taken this rather dark turn.
A: I know! It doesn’t take away from her strength, though — it doesn’t take away from her being an empowered woman.
I think that, when you see the final episode, they’ll see there is a beginning and a middle and an end to her as a character. I think that there are people that will agree with her, because she’s a human being.
And Khaleesi is a beautiful name. [Laughs] It’ll all be forgotten in a minute! You know, and people will just go, “Oh, what an unusual name, how fabulous,” and the child will say, “Yes, yes. My parents just really liked the name.”
The cover art of the single “My Sharona” actually features Alperin posing in a revealing tank top and tight jeans. For some time, she was famous in her own right. […] “I remember going on tour, and seeing sometimes people dress up. And I’d say, ‘What are you dressed up as?’ And they would say, ‘Sharonas.’
From the book Edgar Cayce on Vibrations: Spirits in Motion (2007) by Kevin J. Todeschi:
[T]he readings suggest that the soul often has an impact upon the consciousness of the parents as they are in the process of naming their offspring. In addition to that, the readings contend that an individual’s name may carry some similarity from one incarnation to the next, as the name often embodies the overall vibration and consciousness of the individual.
Boh means little boy or son, Kamaji means old boiler man, Yubaba means bathhouse witch, and Zeniba means money witch. The heroine Chihiro means a thousand fathoms or searches, while her worker name, Sen, just means thousand.
Laurette Taylor was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in New York in 1884. Her birth name was Loretta Cooney. Laurette was also a character played by actress Molly Lamont in the film Scared to Death (1947).
Lavolia was a character played by actress Etta McDaniel in the film Magnificent Brute (1936).
Leatrice Joy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Louisiana in 1893. Leatrice Joy Gilbert (Leatrice Joy’s daughter) was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1924.
Leontine Dranet was an actress who appeared in 2 films in the 1910s. Leontine was also a character name in multiple films, including The Closing Net (1915) and The Shielding Shadow (serial, 1916).
Lita Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in California in 1908. Her birth name was Lillita MacMurray. Lita was also a character name in multiple films, including Bachelor Apartment (1931) and The Girl from Monterrey (1943).
Lorna Gray was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Michigan in 1917. Her birth name was Virginia Pound. Lorna was also a character name in multiple films, including Traffic in Souls (1913) and The Butterfly Girl (1921).
Luana Walters was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in California in 1912. Luana Patten was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1938. Luana was also a character played by actress Dolores del Rio in the film Bird of Paradise (1932).
Lucile Watson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1950s. She was born in Canada in 1879. Lucile Browne was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Tennessee in 1907. Lucile was also a character played by actress Marguerite Snow in the short film Lucile (1912).
When I do historical research, I sometimes come across the name “Lettice.” It always reminds me of lettuce, the leafy salad green, but of course that’s not the source.
The source is Letitia (Lætitia), which comes from Latin and means “joy” or “gladness.” In England during the Middle Ages, various forms/spellings of Letitia emerged, and one of those forms was Lettice.
English noblewoman Lettice Knollys (b. 1543) was an early Lettice. Her husband Robert Dudley was close to — and had nearly become the husband of — Queen Elizabeth (before his marriage to Lettice).
Later Lettices include English actress Lettice Fairfax (b. 1876), English writer Lettice Cooper (b. 1897), and English socialite Lettice Lygon (b. 1906).
A modern example would be English violinist Lettice Rowbotham (vid), who introduced herself on Britain’s Got Talent a few years ago by saying: “I’m Lettice, like the salad.”
The name Lettice is more common overseas than it is in the U.S., but it does see usage here — enough to have popped up in the SSA’s dataset several times (as recently as 1969).
What do you think of the baby name Lettice? Would you use it?
Looking for a rare girl name with a retro feel? Here are dozens of ideas. All came straight from very old films that were released from the 1910s to the 1940s.
This post is part of a series of posts featuring female names from early cinema. I’m going backwards, so the other lists so far are U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. The names below are the second half of the T-list (Ti- to Ty-). The first half has the Ta- to Th- names. Enjoy!
Tiare was a character name in multiple films, including The Leopardess (1923) and The Moon and Sixpence (1942).
Trixie Trixie Friganza was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Kansas in 1871. Her birth name was Delia O’Callahan. Trixie was also a character name in multiple films, including Falling Leaves (short, 1912) and The Good Bad Girl (1931).
Tsakran was a character played by actress May Robson in the film Turkish Delight (1927).
Tsuru Tsuru Aoki was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Japan in 1892.
Tui Bow was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in New Zealand in 1906. Her birth name was Mary Lorraine Tui.
Tuila was a character played by actress Conchita Montenegro in the film La Melodia Prohibida (1933).
Tula Belle was a child actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Norway in 1906. Her birth name was Borgny Erna Bull Høegh. Tula was also a character name in multiple films, including The Vengeance of Najerra (short, 1914) and Kongo (1932).
The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).
Victorian Era Female Names
Victorian Era Male Names
Abigale / Abby
Almira / Almyra
Ann / Annie
Dorothy / Dot
Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy