To kick off the new year, let’s check out a new batch of name quotes!
First, the story behind Edson — the birth name of late soccer legend Pelé — from the book Why Soccer Matters (2015):
When Dondinho met my mother, Celeste, he was still performing his mandatory military service. She was in school at the time. They married when she was just fifteen; by sixteen she was pregnant with me. They gave me the name “Edson” — after Thomas Edison, because when I was born in 1940, the electric lightbulb had only recently come to their town. They were so impressed that they wanted to pay homage to its inventor. It turned out they missed a letter — but I’ve always loved the name anyway.
(“Dondinho” was the nickname of Pelé’s father, João Ramos do Nascimento.)
…and, regarding the nickname Pelé:
Growing up, I hated that damn nickname. After all, it was a garbage word that meant nothing. Plus, I was really proud of the name Edson, believing it was an honor to be named after such an important inventor.
(The nickname did come in handy, though. He “started thinking of “Pelé” almost as a separate identity” in order to cope with his sudden celebrity. “Having Pelé around helped keep Edson sane,” he said.)
Keyvar Smith-Herold of the class of 2022 at DeMatha Catholic High School smiled as he explained the inspiration for his name, noting that his father Vincent Smith works as a locksmith.
“That’s why ‘Key’ is in our names,” he said, shedding light on the origin of his first name and that of his twin sister, Keydra, and also their older brother Keyden, a 2018 DeMatha graduate.
From the book The Gender Challenge of Hebrew (2015) by Malka Muchnik:
Most Hebrew proper names, especially those used in recent decades, consist of existing words and therefore have specific meanings. This fact helps us see the ideas associated with male or female names, and serves as evidence of what is expected of them.
(The author listed several female names associated with flowers and gemstones — such as Rekefet, meaning “cyclamen,” and Bareket, meaning “agate” — then continued…)
Even more suggestive are female names denoting personal qualities, such as Yaffa (‘pretty’), Tova (‘good’), Aliza (‘joyful’), Adina (‘delicate’), Ahuva (‘beloved’), Metuka (‘sweet’) and Tmima (‘innocent’).
As opposed to them, we find male names which have the form of a future verb, and from this we can infer the expectations from them: Yakim (‘he will establish’), Yarim (‘he will raise’), Yaniv (‘he will produce’), Yariv (‘he will fight’), Yiftax (‘he will open’), Yig’al (‘he will redeem’), Yisgav (‘he will be great’) and Yizhar (‘he will shine’).
Aleta Embrey’s older brother loves to say that her name came from the funny papers. And it did, specifically “Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur,” which still runs in The Washington Post.
“Queen Aleta of the Misty Isles is a major figure in the comic strip,” Aleta wrote. “My dad liked the name.”
It is a lovely name, much better than being named, say, “Olive Oyl.”
From Kenneth Whyte’s book Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (2017), which describes the naming of Herbert Hoover (who was born in 1874 to Quaker parents Jesse and Hulda Hoover):
Hulda had shown [her sister] Agnes a bureau drawer full of handmade clothes prepared for the baby, all of them suited for a girl, to be named Laura. Several decades later Agnes recalled that the newborn, a boy, was “round and plump and looked about very cordial at every body.”
Naming the child was a problem as Laura, obviously, would not do, and the mother had no alternative in mind. Another sister reminded Hulda of a favorite book, Pierre and His Family, a Sunday school martyrology set among the Protestant Waldenses of Piedmont. The hero of the story is a spirited boy named Hubert who is dedicated to his Bible and longs to become a pastor. Hulda’s sister remembered Hubert as Herbert, and the baby was called Herbert Clark Hoover. He shared his father’s middle name.
Halloween is almost here, so it’s time to take a look at the curious name Vulnavia, which was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1970s:
1976: 6 baby girls named Vulnavia [debut]
Where did it come from?
A pair of campy British horror movies: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again! (1972).
In the movies, Vulnavia was the beautiful, mute assistant of Dr. Anton Phibes (played by Vincent Price).
The spectator never learns anything about Vulnavia; she exists to serve her master (as both murderous assistant and dancing-partner), but also to look fabulous, strike poses, and wear a string of outlandish designer gowns that might make Cleopatra Jones green with envy.
At the end of the first film, Vulnavia (played by Virginia North) was burned to death in an acid shower. The second film was going to feature a different assistant, but the production company “wanted to retain the name of Vulnavia,” so Vulnavia (this time played by Valli Kemp) was resurrected, unharmed, for the sequel.
The origin of Vulnavia’s name was never explained, but it was reminiscent of the name of Dr. Phibes’s deceased wife, Victoria.
So…if the movies came out in 1971 and 1972, why did the name show up in 1976?
By the mid-1970s, both movies were out of the theaters and playing on late-night television. This brought enough attention to the name Vulnavia for usage to creep up over the SSA’s five-baby threshold. (A few babies born earlier in the ’70s did get the name as well, though, according to records.)
What are your thoughts on the name Vulnavia?
Benshoff, Harry M. Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.
Hallenbeck, Bruce G. Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914–2008. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.
Looking for baby names that are associated with purple — including baby names that mean “purple”?
If so, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected dozens of options for you in this post.
Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color purple represents…
Symbolism of purple
What does the color purple signify?
In Western cultures in particular, purple can be symbolic of:
The color came to be identified with royalty and nobility during ancient times. In those days, creating purple dye for fabric was laborious and time-consuming, so the dye was very expensive. As a result, only the wealthy could afford to wear purple-colored clothing.
Top baby names associated with purple
Determining the top names in a category isn’t difficult when you’re working with a well-defined category, like PH names. When it comes to names that have a connection to the color purple, however, we need to account for the fact that certain names have a stronger connection than others.
With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color purple:
Now here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The word violet refers to any flowering plant of the genus Viola — particularly the fragrant species Viola odorata — or to any similar-looking flowering plant. By extension, it also refers to the bluish-purple color of these flowers.
Violet is currently the 35th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word iris can refer to several things, including flowering plants of the genus Iris, the name of which comes from the ancient Greek word for “rainbow.” The showy blooms of these plants come in a variety of colors (as the name suggests), though we often think of irises as being shades of purple.
For instance, did you know that all of the irises in Vincent van Gogh’s various paintings were once purple? His irises now appear blue only because the red pigment he used to create the purple has faded over time.
Iris is currently the 107th most popular girl name in the nation.
The name Violeta is a form of Violet used in Spanish, Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and other languages.
Violeta is currently the 893rd most popular girl name in the U.S.
The name Violette is a form of Violet used in French.
Violette is currently the 1,033rd most popular girl name in the nation.
The word amethyst refers to a purple variety of the mineral quartz. (The ancient Greeks thought that amethyst — perhaps due to its wine-like color — would prevent drunkenness, so they called it amethustos, meaning “not intoxicating.”) By extension, the word also refers to the purple color of these crystals.
Amethyst will only form in quartz that: (a) contains trace amounts of iron, and (b) is exposed to low-level gamma radiation. The radiation will oxidize the iron, and thereby change the crystal’s color from clear to purple.
Amethyst is currently the 1,148th most popular girl name in the U.S.
More names associated with purple
Ready for the rest?
All the names below are associated with the color purple. The names range from traditional to unusual, and their associations range from strong to slight.
Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.
Amaranth flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Amaranthus is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words amarantos, meaning “unfading,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
Aster flowers are often purple. The genus name Aster, derived from the ancient Greek word aster, meaning “star,” is a reference to the shape of the flower head.
Aubrieta flowers are commonly purple. The genus Aubrieta was named in honor of French botanical artist Claude Aubriet.
Azalea flowers are sometimes purple. The (obsolete) genus name Azalea is derived from the ancient Greek word azaleos, meaning “dry.”
Banafsha is a Persian feminine name meaning “violet.”
Betony flowers are usually purple. “Betony” is the common name of plants in the genus Stachys.
Bíbor (pronounced BEE-bor) is a Hungarian masculine name based on the word bíbor, meaning “purple.”
Bíborka is a feminine form of Bíbor.
Bora is a Korean feminine name meaning “purple.” (Though the name has appeared in the U.S. data, this probably reflects the usage of the identical Albanian name, which means “snow.”)
Fjóla (pronounced FYOH-lah) is an Icelandic and Faroese feminine name meaning “violet.”
Fjólar is the masculine form of Fjóla.
Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes purple. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
Haze (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “Purple Haze” [vid] — the title of the song by Jimi Hendrix. “Purple Haze” was the opening track of the iconic album Are You Experienced (1967).
Heather flowers are usually purple. “Heather” is the common name of plants in the genus Calluna.
Honesty (besides being a vocabulary word) is the common name of the plant species Lunaria annua, which has flowers that are frequently purple. The common name is likely a reference to the translucence of the seed pods.
Hyacinth flowers are often purple. The genus Hyacinthus was named for the plant’s association with the myth of Hyacinthus (who was one of the lovers of Apollo in Greek mythology).
Giacinta is the Italian feminine form of Hyacinth.
Giacinto is the Italian masculine form of Hyacinth.
Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese feminine form of Hyacinth.
Jacinto is the Spanish and Portuguese masculine form of Hyacinth.
Ianthe, which means “violet flower,” is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words ion, meaning “violet,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
Ione (pronounced ie-OH-nee) is also based on the ancient Greek word ion, meaning “violet.”
Iona could be considered a variant of Ione, though more often it’s a reference to the Scottish island of Iona.
Jacaranda flowers are purple. The genus name Jacaranda is derived from a Tupi-Guarani word meaning “fragrant.”
Lavender flowers are typically purple. “Lavender” is the common name of plants in the genus Lavandula. The genus name is derived from the Latin word lividus, meaning “bluish,” and/or the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash” (due to aromatic lavender being used in washing and bathing).
Lilac flowers are frequently purple. “Lilac” is the common name of plants in the genus Syringa.
Lila is the Swedish form of Lilac, though the name also has other possible meanings (e.g., “play” in Sanskrit, “night” in Arabic).
Liila is the Finnish form of Lilac.
Lupine flowers are often purple. The genus name Lupinus is derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning “wolfish” (from lupus, “wolf”).
Magenta is a reddish-purple color. A French chemist first synthesized magenta-colored dye in the late 1850s, and the color was eventually named “Magenta” in honor of the French-Sardinian victory at the Battle of Magenta (1859).
Murasaki is a Japanese feminine name meaning “purple.” Originally it referred to the gromwell plant, the root of which was used to make purple dye.
Orchid flowers are sometimes purple. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
Phoenix refers to the mythical bird, but the name of that bird was based on the ancient Greek word phoinix, meaning “purple” or “crimson.”
Plum fruits are commonly purple. Plum trees are part of the genus Prunus.
Porphyrios was an ancient Greek name derived from the word porphyra, meaning “purple dye, purple.”
Porphyrius is the Latinized form of Porphyrios.
Porfirio is the modern Spanish masculine form of Porphyrius.
Porfiria is the modern Spanish feminine form of Porphyrius.
Porfiriy is the modern Russian masculine form of Porphyrius.
Purple, which can also be traced back to the ancient Greek word porphyra, is rarely used as a given name…though I did spot a girl named Purple in Los Angeles’ baby name data a few years back.
Rebecca is part of “rebeccapurple” — the name of the shade of purple with the hex value #663399. The color name pays tribute to Rebecca Meyer, the daughter of web design pioneer Eric Meyer. Rebecca, whose favorite color was purple, passed away on her 6th birthday (in mid-2014). The biblical name Rebecca is ultimately derived from the Semitic root r-b-q, meaning “to tie” or “to secure.”
Sigalit is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “violet.”
Sumire (pronounced soo-mee-reh) is a Japanese name that can mean “violet,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
Temenuzhka is a Bulgarian feminine name meaning “violet.”
Thistle flowers are usually purple. “Thistle” is the common name of various prickly plants, most of which are in the Asteraceae family.
Twila may be based on the English word “twilight.” During twilight, the sky can turn various shades of purple.
Tyrian (pronounced TEE-ree-uhn) is part of “Tyrian purple” — the name of the expensive purple dye used during ancient times that I mentioned earlier. The source of the dye was a type of sea snail found in the Mediterranean, near the city of Tyre (now part of Lebanon). The city name can be traced back to the Hebrew word tsor, meaning “rock,” as the settlement was originally built upon a rocky formation.
Verbena flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Verbena is derived from the Latin word verbena, which referred to the leaves, twigs, and branches of specific plants (like laurel, olive, and myrtle) that were used during religious ceremonies.
Vernonia flowers are typically purple. The genus Vernonia was named in honor of English botanist William Vernon.
Viola is based on the Latin word viola, meaning “violet.” In fact, the genus Viola includes many (though not all) violet flowers.