How do you like your name, Sidra?

It’s another name interview! This one is with Sidra (pronounced see-druh), a 37-year-old from New York City.

What’s the story behind her name?

My mother named me. She told me she found my name in a baby name book. She had never heard of it before and liked the meaning of it, “star” (in Latin).

What does she like most about her name?

I like that my name is rare. In my school days there was never another ‘Sidra’ in my class. I like that I’m usually the first ‘Sidra’ someone has met and get many compliments on my name. A cool fact is that my name spelled backwards is another female first name: ‘Ardis’!

What does she like least about her name?

I dislike that people rarely pronounce it correctly (well the version of how it’s supposed to be pronounced for me). Most people see the S-i-d first and assume it’s pronounced as the name ‘Sid’ and call me Sid-druh (which is a pronunciation variation for some with my name). And I’m not fond of that pronunciation at all. Another thing I don’t like about my name is it’s often misspelled because of how it’s pronounced; some people think it’s spelled with a ‘C’. And if I’m talking to someone over the phone or in person, if I say my name for the first time, people often think I’ve said my name is ‘Didra/Deidra’ or ‘Tedra’’ because I guess those are more common. Or if not those names, it gets butchered completely and doesn’t sound like my name at all. I’ve sometimes had to joke that my name is ‘Didra’ but with an ‘S’ or it’s just like the Pokémon (Seadra) to make the pronunciation clearer for some.

Finally, would Sidra recommend that her name be given to babies today?

I’m in the middle. I would recommend that ‘Sidra’ be given to baby girls today because it’s different. But it would be weird if it ever became a popular first name. I lean also towards not recommending it be given to baby girls today because then it wouldn’t be as “special” if it were common. I like that there are not too many other women with the name ‘Sidra’ out there.

Thank you, Sidra!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

P.S. Here’s a post about Ardis (“Sidra” backwards), and here’s a long list of similar name anagrams.

Mystery Monday: Derl

Derl, baby name popularity graph, spike in 1930

Today’s mystery name, Derl, is one I’ve been trying to figure out for years.

It debuted modestly in the SSA data in 1929, then skyrocketed in usage the very next year. In fact, Derl was the fastest-rising name of 1930.

  • 1933: 19 baby boys named Derl
  • 1932: 27 baby boys named Derl
  • 1931: 36 baby boys named Derl
    • 5 born in TX, 5 in VA
  • 1930: 58 baby boys named Derl [peak usage]
    • 7 born in TX, 7 in OK, 5 in NC
  • 1929: 5 baby boys named Derl [debut]
  • 1928: unlisted
  • 1927: unlisted

The spelling Derle both debuted and saw peak usage in 1930 as well.

Despite my best efforts, I still don’t have any theories about this one. But I can offer a couple of clues:

  • The state-by-state SSA data suggests that Derl was used most often in the South.
  • The 1929 debut might mean that the event we’re looking for occurred in the later months of 1929 instead of in 1930.

Have any ideas about Derl?

P.S. Just for context, the somewhat similar names Dale and Darrell were both on the rise during the ’20s and ’30s.

How do you like your name, Emilia?

Time for another name interview! Today’s interview is with a 23-year-old from northern Poland named Emilia. Notably, her name at birth wasn’t Emilia, but one of the Polish forms of the name Margaret. Her middle name is Anna.

What’s the story behind her name?

As for my birth name, my Mum’s high school best friend was called my birth name, and they both promised each other that if any of them will have a daughter, she will call her the other’s name. At the same time, it was also my maternal aunt’s name. The friendship was pretty much gone by the time my Mum had me, but she kept the promise anyway.

My middle name Anna is my Mum’s first name – my Dad is Kashub and there is a tradition Kashubs have that a parent’s first name is the child’s middle name.

As for my current, legal name, I chose it mostly just because I’ve always loved Emilia, always felt like an Emilia, this name has strangely always resonated with me very much and I wanted to be an Emilia. Later on, as a teen, I read Emily of New Moon (whose name is Emilia/Emilka in the Polish translation) by L. M. Montgomery, and I found the character of Emily very relatable, felt a strong bond with her. I also learned that, coincidentally, when I was born, my gran had apparently suggested the name Emilia to my parents, which was a huge surprise to me, because – based on her offspring’s names – I would have never thought she could like Emilia. I was called Emilia by people I was close with since childhood, and I hated my birth name (perhaps not in general as a name but I hated it on myself) so it felt like the only natural thing to do – to change my name to Emilia.

What does she like most about her name?

I love the sound of Emilia. I like its softness, how girly it is, the general feel of it. I just feel a strong connection with it. I don’t know closely any other Emilia so that’s a plus too. I like the Emily of New Moon association, as well as that it travels well between different languages and is pronounced pretty much the same in each of them. I like how people always say it fits me, it confirms my great naming skills, lol. And there’s such a wide array of nicknames. Most of which I really do like. I am called Emi, Emilka, Emisia, Emis*, Emisha, Emiszon, Mila, Milka, Emilianna by Poles. Anglophone people usually just call me Emilia but sometimes I am also Emi or Emmie for them, and one person calls me Milzie which is so funny and adorable. A Finnish family I once knew called me Milla.

I like the classicness and classiness of my middle name and the connection to my Mum, and its huge feminine potential.

As a Catholic, the only thing I truly like about my birth name is my patron saint – Bl. Margherita of Castello.

[*The name “Emis” should have an acute accent over the s.]

What does she like least about her name?

I despise the nickname Emila. It’s just one letter’s difference but somehow it’s huge, and I don’t seem to be the only one for whom it makes a difference. Emila conveys a completely different feel to me than Emilia and has much less character, feels kind of shallow and superficial. But not too many people call me Emila and somehow it’s less embarrassing for me to ask people not to call me Emila than it was with my birth name to ask people not to call me my most despised nickname, perhaps because I chose Emilia, so I get to decide what I want to go by. It can get a little annoying when anglo-folks spell my name Amelia over and over (though I can’t blame people as they’re pronounced so similarly in English), but it’s not a huge deal as Amelia is a beautiful name as well. It bugs me a little that it’s very trendy currently for babies over here, but I can well understand why.

About Anna I dislike how popular it is both as a first and middle name, but since it’s only my middle name it’s not a big problem. I also have kind of mixed feelings about that both my sister and me have the same middle, don’t think it was particularly creative of our parents, and my sister isn’t impressed by it either, but on the other hand it’s a nice family connection, especially that, just as I said, Anna is so beautiful and after all neither of us can seriously imagine being named any other middle name.

As for my birth name, what I most disliked about it is that it just never felt like me. It’s not a bad name itself, it’s just not me. Can’t explain it better. Also, being blind, I had trouble during family gatherings when I felt confused whether people were talking to me or my namesake aunt. I cringed at all the nicknames. Another source of confusion was that my and my sister’s casual nicknames rhymed, so when someone called us from a distance, no one knew for sure, which one of us was being called. And, while it’s a pretty classic name, it generally has a bit of a dated feel, so the vast majority of namesakes I encountered were ladies born in the 60’s.

Finally, would Emilia recommend that her name be given to babies today?

Yep. As much as I don’t like the huge popularity of Emilia among baby girls, as I said I can understand it well. I think it has a lot of traits that a lot of parents are after in a baby name these days, at least here, but I guess in the English-speaking world too. It’s elegant, feminine, sophisticated, but sweet and with a lot of nicknames, and is international. And in the English-speaking world – a nice and still not that overwhelmingly popular alternative to trendy Amelia and Emma, and SO very common Emily.

Thank you so much, Emilia, for being so thorough!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

P.S. A week ago, the SSA released the latest U.S. baby name data, and we learned that Emilia was in fact one of the fastest-rising girl names of 2019!

Boy Names Like Simeon? (Five-Name Friday)

baby name request

It’s Five-Name Friday! Here’s today’s baby name request:

I love the names Simeon and Gideon, but DH doesn’t like Gideon and I’m afraid Simeon will always be called Simon. What other names have the same “flavor” as these?

Can you come up with five solid baby name suggestions for this person?

Here are the rules:

  • Be independent. Choose your five names before looking at anyone else’s comment.
  • Be sincere. Stick to legit recommendations you would offer a real-life friend.
  • Five names total in your comment. If you go over, I will delete the extras.

Which five baby names are you going to suggest?

[You can also send me your own 2-sentence baby name request using the contact form.]

How do you like your name, Christa?

It’s time for another name interview! This one is with Christa, a 50-year-old from western New York.

What’s the story behind her name?

My mother was reading a romance novel where the heroine’s name was Christa. Our family is also very German and Christa is a popular name there. Even with the Ch being more popular than the K in Germany.

What does she like most about her name?

How very unique it is, its meaning – servant of Christ – it really seems to suit me. When I try to think of any other names, none seem to fit.

What does she like least about her name?

I can never find anything kitschy with my spelling, it’s always with a K. Plus I am called – Christine, Christina, Crystal, Christie, Kristen, you get the idea. I also loathe the nickname Chris. It’s too gender neutral and I know way too many males with Chris. I hate when I am trying to type fast and spell Christams <— see that? LOL every darn time! LOL

Finally, would Christa recommend that her name be given to babies today?

Yes, I would recommend it! I am seeing an uptick trend in my name. It’s driving me crazy being out and about and hearing Christa yelled, because I automatically look. Never having heard my name out loud before. That being said it is a very beautiful name that is a bit timeless. Names like Brittany and Jennifer are very much ’70s and early ’80s names.

Thank you, Christa!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]