How Do You Like Your Name, Fiona?

Ready for another name interview? This one is with Fiona Isabella, a 38-year-old from Germany.

What’s the story behind her names?

I was born to British / Australian parents but both have Scottish ancestry, so they decided to go with Scottish names for all their children. Back in the days without internet, they relied on books and word of mouth for inspiration. In fact, my dad kept several letters from relatives that he and my mum wrote to when expecting me. The letters are full of lists of Scottish names, written in traditional cursive handwriting by some ancient relative – ‘Fiona’ is clearly circled. With regards to my middle name, I was the third generation to receive Isabella, (although my mum got Isobel, which she finds ugly). Therefore I have continued this tradition for my first daughter.

What does she like most about her name?

I have lived in many countries and with many languages yet my name is easy for people to say. I have been pleasantly surprised to meet people with the name, whose parents are not native English speakers (to be precise, French, German and Mandarin speakers). I also like that most people recognise it as Scottish, giving me a heritage link.

What does she like least about her name?

When I lived in Australia I didn’t like the way the Australian accent gave it a very nasal ‘o’ sound, and also people’s tendency to assume I preferred ‘Fi’.

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

Yes, I feel like it is ageless: feminine and elegant, but fresh. For those looking for a less-used name, I think it is a good alternative to Anna. In terms of sibling sets, I think it blends well with male surname names.

Thank you, Fiona!

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

Thankful & Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of the holiday, I present to you a mother and daughter with an appreciative pair of names: Thankful and Grateful.

These two were part of the late-18th century Gould family of Winchester, New Hampshire. The family consisted of husband Thomas Gould (born in 1753), wife Thankful Gould (b. 1751), and their three children: Grateful Gould (b. 1783), Thomas Gould (b. 1785), and Sylvia Gould (b. 1789).

I don’t know why their first daughter was named “Grateful” as opposed to “Thankful,” but I’m grateful she was, because I had fun spotting these names in the records. :)


Ibis, Iris, Isis, or Ivis?

African sacred ibis

After reading something about ibises recently, I wondered: Has “ibis” — which is a lot like both the flower-inspired name Iris and the goddess-inspired name Isis — ever been used as a baby name?

Turns out it has! Not very often, though. The name Ibis has appeared in the SSA data on and off since the 1960s, typically registering as a girl name. I don’t think many of these babies were named with the bird in mind, though; “Ibis” seems to be a variant spelling of “Ivis” in Spanish-speaking families.

So, which of those four (very similar) names names do you like best?

Which baby name do you like best?

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The Three Olavis

olavi, running, finland, name
The three record-breaking Olavis (July 11, 1957)

While reading about the 1,500-metre run for yesterday’s post on Kipchoge Keino, I discovered an interesting name-related fact: In the summer of 1957, three Finnish runners named Olavi (pronounced OH-lah-vee) — all running the same 1,500m race in Turku — all broke the 1,500m world record.

The record had been 3 minutes and 40.6 seconds, set by a Hungarian runner (named István) in 1956.

The photo-finish winner of the Finnish race was Olavi Salsola, with a time of 3:40.2. In second was Olavi Salonen, who technically finished with the same time. In third was Olavi Vuorisalo, who (at 3:40.3) was just a tenth of a second behind the first two Olavis.

The new record didn’t last long, though, because the very next day a Czechoslovakian runner (named Stanislav) clocked in at 3:38.1.

The Finnish name Olavi, which popped up in the U.S. data a handful of times in the 1910s and 1920s, is a form of Olaf, which evolved from an Old Norse name comprised of the words anu, meaning “ancestor,” and leifr, meaning “descendant.”

Do you like the name Olavi? (Do you think it might be a good substitute for the trendy name Oliver?)

Sources: Three Finnish Runners All Break World Record for 1,500 Meters at Turku, 1500 metres world record progression – Wikipedia, Olaf – Behind the Name

How do you like your name, Miranda?

It’s another name interview! This one is with Miranda, a 22-year-old from Missouri.

What’s the story behind her name?

There isn’t really a story behind it, my parents just liked it.

What does she like most about her name?

Because I’m a writer, I like to warn people of their “Miranda writes” — anything you say or do could end up in a story!

What does she like least about her name?

I’ve never loved my name but I don’t dislike it either. One thing that was annoying about it when I was a child is that my first grade teacher would tell us to write our names on our papers and then move on to explaining what to do before I had finished writing all seven letters of my name. I also get a lot of misspellings (Maranda and Meranda most commonly) and even some mispronunciations. More recently, I dislike the association with Miranda Sings.

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

Not yet. It feels too 80s/90s to me to be given to a child. Maybe in time. If anyone is considering using the name Miranda, I would suggest having a nickname ready since the name is kind of long. I like Randi, it just never really caught on.

Thank you, Miranda!

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