What’s in a name?

Xmas_barbies_3       From Loretta:
      
      RevMelinda asks:  <<have you all blogged on character names and how you choose them? (my lamentable memory). You and Loretta both have heroines named Leila (my younger daughter’s name) and I bet all of you wenches have heroines (or villains) named Sophia (my older daughter’s name). I’d love to know whether your characters spring fully-named and formed from your brows or whether that’s a head-banging task too!>>
      I don’t remember whether we’ve blogged on character names or not–and it hardly matters.  As you’ve seen, we Wenches never hesitate to gang up on a question.
      I particularly like this question because it corresponds to one I got from a reader–a librarian–not long ago.  She wanted to know about my choosing the maiden name of Usignuolo for Lord Dain’s mother (in Lord of Scoundrels).  Being a librarian, she looked it up, naturally, and wasn’t sure why I chose the word for “nightingale” for a guy like Dain.  Nightingale_engrav Here’s my answer:
      “Somewhere (can’t remember where), I came across it as a Florentine name.  I would have made a list of names from that part of Italy.  Then, to decide among them, I consulted A Dictionary of Surnames by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges. It’s listed as an Italian cognitive of ‘Rossignol’, a French name explained thus: ‘nickname for a person with a good singing voice, or ironically for a raucous person.’  It was the ironical meaning that decided me on this name. I saw Dain as making a great deal of noise, from the time he was born.”
      (Oops, I just noticed I never answered her question about his nose, but I’ll get to that eventually, I hope.)
      The above is an example of the head-banging process.  As clearly as I saw this particular hero, it took me days of studying my various name compendiums (or is that compendia?  Ah, dictionary OKs both, whew.) to get his name.  With titled gentlemen, this can be a very involved process, on account of how, the higher up the nobility ladder they stand, the more titles they tend to have.  And he was a marquess.  Yet when I saw the right name(s) for him, I knew they were right.  OTOH, in the same book, the heroine’s name came quite easily.  She was Jessica Trent, right from the start, unlike some other heroines, who’ve gone through several names changes in the course of the manuscript.  Daphne, of Mr. Impossible, started out as Chloe, yet her brother was Miles Archdale from the get-go.  And Rupert was Rupert instantly.  I don’t know why.  It’s part of that mysterious side of writing.
      The heroes’ titles come from places, for the most part, as is normally the case with actual titled persons.  The Carsington surname, too, comes from a place–a body of water in Derbyshire, where the family has lived, presumably, for generations.  But I chose “Dain” because of its meaning and its associations–“nickname for a worthy and honourable citizen, or for a haughty and self-important one” per the Dictionary of Surnames, and words like “deign” and “disdain.”
      Layla Leila is another example of a name fraught with meaning.  It’s a name I’ve always loved, no matter how it’s pronounced or spelled.  For Captives of the Night, however, the name for me was associated with Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla, and the kind of emotion that song expresses, which for me corresponded to the intensity of feeling between my characters.  The name also corresponded to elements of the story itself:  the hero and heroine having to meet only at night.  According to Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of First Names, the names derives “Probably, through the Moors, from Arabic (‘darkness’ or ‘night’), it has been to some extent popularized by Byron’s Mohammedan child in Don Juan and by his unfortunate heroine in The Giaour.”
      This would make the name a bit modern for my heroine, though only by a decade or so.  I do try to avoid names that are too modern, just as I try to avoid too-modern terminology.  Luckily, the 19th C penchant for classical names–from history and mythology–offers lots of leeway in giving my characters interesting names.
      This is a topic upon which I could discourse endlessly.  Each book involves a long process of name-choosing–a process I am beginning now, as I assemble cast and plot for a new book.
      But names are interesting and fun, I think, for most of us.  We all choose them at one point or another–for our children, our pets, and–for those of us who write fiction–for our stories and sometimes, in the case of pen names, for ourselves.  And we all have preferences when we read:  some character names we love and some we don’t.  What about you?  How much do names matter?  What do you like and dislike in names, real or fictional?  Would a rose by any other name–say Daylily–smell as sweet to you?Wildflowersdaylily
      

64 thoughts on “What’s in a name?”

  1. Thanks for this topic! I, too, have wondered about names. Like, Why do so many heroes in romantic fiction have two last names? (Think St. John Rivers, or Clark Kent) Another thing about names:Most people read only the first and last letters, if they are sight readers. It drives me crazy when the characters all have names that start with the same letter and scan the same, so I have to slow way down so I can keep A-b-b-y from A-n-n-a and A-n-d-y. Jo has a great post on her website about common names in various eras- you can’t always be historically accurate or your characters will sound goofy- Think of Percy or Beulah, both good names in the 19th century, but not at all romantic to our 21st century ears. BTW, I am resigned to never seeing my name in Romantic Fiction- I like the names to be somewhat authentic!(LOL)

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this topic! I, too, have wondered about names. Like, Why do so many heroes in romantic fiction have two last names? (Think St. John Rivers, or Clark Kent) Another thing about names:Most people read only the first and last letters, if they are sight readers. It drives me crazy when the characters all have names that start with the same letter and scan the same, so I have to slow way down so I can keep A-b-b-y from A-n-n-a and A-n-d-y. Jo has a great post on her website about common names in various eras- you can’t always be historically accurate or your characters will sound goofy- Think of Percy or Beulah, both good names in the 19th century, but not at all romantic to our 21st century ears. BTW, I am resigned to never seeing my name in Romantic Fiction- I like the names to be somewhat authentic!(LOL)

    Reply
  3. Thanks for this topic! I, too, have wondered about names. Like, Why do so many heroes in romantic fiction have two last names? (Think St. John Rivers, or Clark Kent) Another thing about names:Most people read only the first and last letters, if they are sight readers. It drives me crazy when the characters all have names that start with the same letter and scan the same, so I have to slow way down so I can keep A-b-b-y from A-n-n-a and A-n-d-y. Jo has a great post on her website about common names in various eras- you can’t always be historically accurate or your characters will sound goofy- Think of Percy or Beulah, both good names in the 19th century, but not at all romantic to our 21st century ears. BTW, I am resigned to never seeing my name in Romantic Fiction- I like the names to be somewhat authentic!(LOL)

    Reply
  4. Thanks for this topic! I, too, have wondered about names. Like, Why do so many heroes in romantic fiction have two last names? (Think St. John Rivers, or Clark Kent) Another thing about names:Most people read only the first and last letters, if they are sight readers. It drives me crazy when the characters all have names that start with the same letter and scan the same, so I have to slow way down so I can keep A-b-b-y from A-n-n-a and A-n-d-y. Jo has a great post on her website about common names in various eras- you can’t always be historically accurate or your characters will sound goofy- Think of Percy or Beulah, both good names in the 19th century, but not at all romantic to our 21st century ears. BTW, I am resigned to never seeing my name in Romantic Fiction- I like the names to be somewhat authentic!(LOL)

    Reply
  5. The tendency towards ‘two last names’, Gretchen, is probably simply the American tendency to use surnames as forenames (even as female forenames). Many forenames in England started out as surnames, of course, so the process has been going on for quite a while, but it remains far less usual in British English.

    Reply
  6. The tendency towards ‘two last names’, Gretchen, is probably simply the American tendency to use surnames as forenames (even as female forenames). Many forenames in England started out as surnames, of course, so the process has been going on for quite a while, but it remains far less usual in British English.

    Reply
  7. The tendency towards ‘two last names’, Gretchen, is probably simply the American tendency to use surnames as forenames (even as female forenames). Many forenames in England started out as surnames, of course, so the process has been going on for quite a while, but it remains far less usual in British English.

    Reply
  8. The tendency towards ‘two last names’, Gretchen, is probably simply the American tendency to use surnames as forenames (even as female forenames). Many forenames in England started out as surnames, of course, so the process has been going on for quite a while, but it remains far less usual in British English.

    Reply
  9. I appreciate it when characters have the “proper” name for their time period. I’ll take a Henrietta over a Heather any day in historical fiction. Nothing takes you out of the story faster than having an Amber or a Tiffany wandering around Regency England!

    Reply
  10. I appreciate it when characters have the “proper” name for their time period. I’ll take a Henrietta over a Heather any day in historical fiction. Nothing takes you out of the story faster than having an Amber or a Tiffany wandering around Regency England!

    Reply
  11. I appreciate it when characters have the “proper” name for their time period. I’ll take a Henrietta over a Heather any day in historical fiction. Nothing takes you out of the story faster than having an Amber or a Tiffany wandering around Regency England!

    Reply
  12. I appreciate it when characters have the “proper” name for their time period. I’ll take a Henrietta over a Heather any day in historical fiction. Nothing takes you out of the story faster than having an Amber or a Tiffany wandering around Regency England!

    Reply
  13. St. John (pronounced Sinjin) has been a Christian name in England for a long, long time (hence St. John Rivers in JANE EYRE).
    I always think of the fab Peter O’Toole line from MY FAVORITE YEAR, “A rose by any other name would wither and die.”

    Reply
  14. St. John (pronounced Sinjin) has been a Christian name in England for a long, long time (hence St. John Rivers in JANE EYRE).
    I always think of the fab Peter O’Toole line from MY FAVORITE YEAR, “A rose by any other name would wither and die.”

    Reply
  15. St. John (pronounced Sinjin) has been a Christian name in England for a long, long time (hence St. John Rivers in JANE EYRE).
    I always think of the fab Peter O’Toole line from MY FAVORITE YEAR, “A rose by any other name would wither and die.”

    Reply
  16. St. John (pronounced Sinjin) has been a Christian name in England for a long, long time (hence St. John Rivers in JANE EYRE).
    I always think of the fab Peter O’Toole line from MY FAVORITE YEAR, “A rose by any other name would wither and die.”

    Reply
  17. Wonderful post Loretta! And wonderful question, RevMelinda. Thanks!
    Names are very important to me…up to a point. Like Maggie, I need the h/h names to be fairly authentic. But like Gretchen pointed out, Beulah just doesn’t cut it. Sets off the tune ‘sweet Beulah land’ every time I see the name. Very distracting.
    I also like it when a name matches the essence of the character. I will often research the meaning of the h/h names before I read the story. Don’t know why except that when I pick names for my characters, I always research the meaning first. And I suppose I assume that authors, a million times smarter than me, have done the same and therefore expect me to know this tidbit before I get started.
    But, like I said, names mean something to me… right up to the point where I change them. Yes, I confess, I mentally change the names of the characters in the stories I read. I’m one of those sight readers that Gretchen pointed out. In MJP’s PETALS IN THE STORM, I gave them each a letter, save the hero and heroine. (Hey, it was a big cast) And I did the same in Heyer’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY. What can I say? My memory capacity for names is very small, indeed. If I had the time, I’d tell the one about the day when I went to introduce my darling husband (then of three years) to an old girl friend… and couldn’t remember the poor man’s name.
    Nina, who is lucky she remembers her own name.

    Reply
  18. Wonderful post Loretta! And wonderful question, RevMelinda. Thanks!
    Names are very important to me…up to a point. Like Maggie, I need the h/h names to be fairly authentic. But like Gretchen pointed out, Beulah just doesn’t cut it. Sets off the tune ‘sweet Beulah land’ every time I see the name. Very distracting.
    I also like it when a name matches the essence of the character. I will often research the meaning of the h/h names before I read the story. Don’t know why except that when I pick names for my characters, I always research the meaning first. And I suppose I assume that authors, a million times smarter than me, have done the same and therefore expect me to know this tidbit before I get started.
    But, like I said, names mean something to me… right up to the point where I change them. Yes, I confess, I mentally change the names of the characters in the stories I read. I’m one of those sight readers that Gretchen pointed out. In MJP’s PETALS IN THE STORM, I gave them each a letter, save the hero and heroine. (Hey, it was a big cast) And I did the same in Heyer’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY. What can I say? My memory capacity for names is very small, indeed. If I had the time, I’d tell the one about the day when I went to introduce my darling husband (then of three years) to an old girl friend… and couldn’t remember the poor man’s name.
    Nina, who is lucky she remembers her own name.

    Reply
  19. Wonderful post Loretta! And wonderful question, RevMelinda. Thanks!
    Names are very important to me…up to a point. Like Maggie, I need the h/h names to be fairly authentic. But like Gretchen pointed out, Beulah just doesn’t cut it. Sets off the tune ‘sweet Beulah land’ every time I see the name. Very distracting.
    I also like it when a name matches the essence of the character. I will often research the meaning of the h/h names before I read the story. Don’t know why except that when I pick names for my characters, I always research the meaning first. And I suppose I assume that authors, a million times smarter than me, have done the same and therefore expect me to know this tidbit before I get started.
    But, like I said, names mean something to me… right up to the point where I change them. Yes, I confess, I mentally change the names of the characters in the stories I read. I’m one of those sight readers that Gretchen pointed out. In MJP’s PETALS IN THE STORM, I gave them each a letter, save the hero and heroine. (Hey, it was a big cast) And I did the same in Heyer’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY. What can I say? My memory capacity for names is very small, indeed. If I had the time, I’d tell the one about the day when I went to introduce my darling husband (then of three years) to an old girl friend… and couldn’t remember the poor man’s name.
    Nina, who is lucky she remembers her own name.

    Reply
  20. Wonderful post Loretta! And wonderful question, RevMelinda. Thanks!
    Names are very important to me…up to a point. Like Maggie, I need the h/h names to be fairly authentic. But like Gretchen pointed out, Beulah just doesn’t cut it. Sets off the tune ‘sweet Beulah land’ every time I see the name. Very distracting.
    I also like it when a name matches the essence of the character. I will often research the meaning of the h/h names before I read the story. Don’t know why except that when I pick names for my characters, I always research the meaning first. And I suppose I assume that authors, a million times smarter than me, have done the same and therefore expect me to know this tidbit before I get started.
    But, like I said, names mean something to me… right up to the point where I change them. Yes, I confess, I mentally change the names of the characters in the stories I read. I’m one of those sight readers that Gretchen pointed out. In MJP’s PETALS IN THE STORM, I gave them each a letter, save the hero and heroine. (Hey, it was a big cast) And I did the same in Heyer’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY. What can I say? My memory capacity for names is very small, indeed. If I had the time, I’d tell the one about the day when I went to introduce my darling husband (then of three years) to an old girl friend… and couldn’t remember the poor man’s name.
    Nina, who is lucky she remembers her own name.

    Reply
  21. Gretchen, you might have to settle for Margaret, the English version of the name from which Gretchen, Greta, etc. derive. Or you might appear as a countess from one of the northern countries. Don’t give up hope! Partridge says that many of “the old Anglo-Saxon names” “are ultimately of Common Teutonic origin.” I totally agree about the alphabet, and try to avoid repeating names that at a quick glance could be confused. This is another area where spreadsheets come in handy.
    AgTigress, Partridge lists a number of surnames that have been used as Christian names, saying they’re mainly given to males, and usually “for family reasons–to keep a fine old name alive…to flatter a wealthy relative, to show aesthetic appreciation of a euphonious or an etymologically interesting name, and so forth.” Yet it does seem more common in the U.S.–especially, I think, in the southern states, and in the north among the old Yankee families.

    Reply
  22. Gretchen, you might have to settle for Margaret, the English version of the name from which Gretchen, Greta, etc. derive. Or you might appear as a countess from one of the northern countries. Don’t give up hope! Partridge says that many of “the old Anglo-Saxon names” “are ultimately of Common Teutonic origin.” I totally agree about the alphabet, and try to avoid repeating names that at a quick glance could be confused. This is another area where spreadsheets come in handy.
    AgTigress, Partridge lists a number of surnames that have been used as Christian names, saying they’re mainly given to males, and usually “for family reasons–to keep a fine old name alive…to flatter a wealthy relative, to show aesthetic appreciation of a euphonious or an etymologically interesting name, and so forth.” Yet it does seem more common in the U.S.–especially, I think, in the southern states, and in the north among the old Yankee families.

    Reply
  23. Gretchen, you might have to settle for Margaret, the English version of the name from which Gretchen, Greta, etc. derive. Or you might appear as a countess from one of the northern countries. Don’t give up hope! Partridge says that many of “the old Anglo-Saxon names” “are ultimately of Common Teutonic origin.” I totally agree about the alphabet, and try to avoid repeating names that at a quick glance could be confused. This is another area where spreadsheets come in handy.
    AgTigress, Partridge lists a number of surnames that have been used as Christian names, saying they’re mainly given to males, and usually “for family reasons–to keep a fine old name alive…to flatter a wealthy relative, to show aesthetic appreciation of a euphonious or an etymologically interesting name, and so forth.” Yet it does seem more common in the U.S.–especially, I think, in the southern states, and in the north among the old Yankee families.

    Reply
  24. Gretchen, you might have to settle for Margaret, the English version of the name from which Gretchen, Greta, etc. derive. Or you might appear as a countess from one of the northern countries. Don’t give up hope! Partridge says that many of “the old Anglo-Saxon names” “are ultimately of Common Teutonic origin.” I totally agree about the alphabet, and try to avoid repeating names that at a quick glance could be confused. This is another area where spreadsheets come in handy.
    AgTigress, Partridge lists a number of surnames that have been used as Christian names, saying they’re mainly given to males, and usually “for family reasons–to keep a fine old name alive…to flatter a wealthy relative, to show aesthetic appreciation of a euphonious or an etymologically interesting name, and so forth.” Yet it does seem more common in the U.S.–especially, I think, in the southern states, and in the north among the old Yankee families.

    Reply
  25. Maggie, I do agree. Some names may actually be older than we think they are, yet the three you cited would strike me as far too contemporary for a 19th C story, and my suspension of disbelief would simply…unsuspend.
    Nina, there are so many terrific, historically accurate names that eventually one finds exactly the perfect name for the character. But maybe the reader doesn’t always think so? I’d love to hear some of your re-names for characters.

    Reply
  26. Maggie, I do agree. Some names may actually be older than we think they are, yet the three you cited would strike me as far too contemporary for a 19th C story, and my suspension of disbelief would simply…unsuspend.
    Nina, there are so many terrific, historically accurate names that eventually one finds exactly the perfect name for the character. But maybe the reader doesn’t always think so? I’d love to hear some of your re-names for characters.

    Reply
  27. Maggie, I do agree. Some names may actually be older than we think they are, yet the three you cited would strike me as far too contemporary for a 19th C story, and my suspension of disbelief would simply…unsuspend.
    Nina, there are so many terrific, historically accurate names that eventually one finds exactly the perfect name for the character. But maybe the reader doesn’t always think so? I’d love to hear some of your re-names for characters.

    Reply
  28. Maggie, I do agree. Some names may actually be older than we think they are, yet the three you cited would strike me as far too contemporary for a 19th C story, and my suspension of disbelief would simply…unsuspend.
    Nina, there are so many terrific, historically accurate names that eventually one finds exactly the perfect name for the character. But maybe the reader doesn’t always think so? I’d love to hear some of your re-names for characters.

    Reply
  29. I wish someone would create a good fictional Susan! The two most memorable ones from all my years of reading are Susan Pevensie who was eventually no longer a friend of Narnia and Susan the maid from late in the Anne of Green Gables series.
    In general, I like period-appropriate names and ones that aren’t so symbolic or (for heroes) so macho and lordly-sounding they don’t sound real to me.

    Reply
  30. I wish someone would create a good fictional Susan! The two most memorable ones from all my years of reading are Susan Pevensie who was eventually no longer a friend of Narnia and Susan the maid from late in the Anne of Green Gables series.
    In general, I like period-appropriate names and ones that aren’t so symbolic or (for heroes) so macho and lordly-sounding they don’t sound real to me.

    Reply
  31. I wish someone would create a good fictional Susan! The two most memorable ones from all my years of reading are Susan Pevensie who was eventually no longer a friend of Narnia and Susan the maid from late in the Anne of Green Gables series.
    In general, I like period-appropriate names and ones that aren’t so symbolic or (for heroes) so macho and lordly-sounding they don’t sound real to me.

    Reply
  32. I wish someone would create a good fictional Susan! The two most memorable ones from all my years of reading are Susan Pevensie who was eventually no longer a friend of Narnia and Susan the maid from late in the Anne of Green Gables series.
    In general, I like period-appropriate names and ones that aren’t so symbolic or (for heroes) so macho and lordly-sounding they don’t sound real to me.

    Reply
  33. Names are magic, aren’t they? I think of my process as rather like a super-saturated solution. I think about a character for a while, and when I find the right name, it’s like dropping something in the solution, and the character immediately crystalizes. I’ll learn more about the person as I write, but the essence, the spark of individuality, comes with the name.
    It’s mostly sound and sight for me. I may look up the meaning, but that’s not a factor in choosing the name. I do try to avoid using the same initials too often to avoid confusion, the there are times when a particular name seems right, and that it. Hence, in The Marriage Spell, the heroine is Abby and important secondary character is Ashby. Sorry about that!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  34. Names are magic, aren’t they? I think of my process as rather like a super-saturated solution. I think about a character for a while, and when I find the right name, it’s like dropping something in the solution, and the character immediately crystalizes. I’ll learn more about the person as I write, but the essence, the spark of individuality, comes with the name.
    It’s mostly sound and sight for me. I may look up the meaning, but that’s not a factor in choosing the name. I do try to avoid using the same initials too often to avoid confusion, the there are times when a particular name seems right, and that it. Hence, in The Marriage Spell, the heroine is Abby and important secondary character is Ashby. Sorry about that!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  35. Names are magic, aren’t they? I think of my process as rather like a super-saturated solution. I think about a character for a while, and when I find the right name, it’s like dropping something in the solution, and the character immediately crystalizes. I’ll learn more about the person as I write, but the essence, the spark of individuality, comes with the name.
    It’s mostly sound and sight for me. I may look up the meaning, but that’s not a factor in choosing the name. I do try to avoid using the same initials too often to avoid confusion, the there are times when a particular name seems right, and that it. Hence, in The Marriage Spell, the heroine is Abby and important secondary character is Ashby. Sorry about that!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  36. Names are magic, aren’t they? I think of my process as rather like a super-saturated solution. I think about a character for a while, and when I find the right name, it’s like dropping something in the solution, and the character immediately crystalizes. I’ll learn more about the person as I write, but the essence, the spark of individuality, comes with the name.
    It’s mostly sound and sight for me. I may look up the meaning, but that’s not a factor in choosing the name. I do try to avoid using the same initials too often to avoid confusion, the there are times when a particular name seems right, and that it. Hence, in The Marriage Spell, the heroine is Abby and important secondary character is Ashby. Sorry about that!
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  37. Actually, Georgette Heyer created a Tiffany in The Nonesuch, though she’s not the heroine, that would be her governess, Ancilla Trent. Now there’s a depressing name! Imagine being called “handmaiden” as in: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Plain Mary would be preferable.
    But to return to Tiffany: I read somewhere (actually, I thought it was here) that it’s a corruption of Theophania (the feast day that’s nowadays called Epiphany) and dates back to the middle ages.
    As for Susan: Jennifer Crusie is always going on about how her favourite heroine is Susan in Terry Pratchett’s books. I’ve never read them, so I can’t tell you anything about her, but you might check her out, Susan.

    Reply
  38. Actually, Georgette Heyer created a Tiffany in The Nonesuch, though she’s not the heroine, that would be her governess, Ancilla Trent. Now there’s a depressing name! Imagine being called “handmaiden” as in: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Plain Mary would be preferable.
    But to return to Tiffany: I read somewhere (actually, I thought it was here) that it’s a corruption of Theophania (the feast day that’s nowadays called Epiphany) and dates back to the middle ages.
    As for Susan: Jennifer Crusie is always going on about how her favourite heroine is Susan in Terry Pratchett’s books. I’ve never read them, so I can’t tell you anything about her, but you might check her out, Susan.

    Reply
  39. Actually, Georgette Heyer created a Tiffany in The Nonesuch, though she’s not the heroine, that would be her governess, Ancilla Trent. Now there’s a depressing name! Imagine being called “handmaiden” as in: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Plain Mary would be preferable.
    But to return to Tiffany: I read somewhere (actually, I thought it was here) that it’s a corruption of Theophania (the feast day that’s nowadays called Epiphany) and dates back to the middle ages.
    As for Susan: Jennifer Crusie is always going on about how her favourite heroine is Susan in Terry Pratchett’s books. I’ve never read them, so I can’t tell you anything about her, but you might check her out, Susan.

    Reply
  40. Actually, Georgette Heyer created a Tiffany in The Nonesuch, though she’s not the heroine, that would be her governess, Ancilla Trent. Now there’s a depressing name! Imagine being called “handmaiden” as in: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” Plain Mary would be preferable.
    But to return to Tiffany: I read somewhere (actually, I thought it was here) that it’s a corruption of Theophania (the feast day that’s nowadays called Epiphany) and dates back to the middle ages.
    As for Susan: Jennifer Crusie is always going on about how her favourite heroine is Susan in Terry Pratchett’s books. I’ve never read them, so I can’t tell you anything about her, but you might check her out, Susan.

    Reply
  41. Ingrid- Tiffany in the Nonesuch was actually a Stephanie, I believe, and Tiffany was her nickname. I am going to have to check- unless someone is near their copy and can look for us?

    Reply
  42. Ingrid- Tiffany in the Nonesuch was actually a Stephanie, I believe, and Tiffany was her nickname. I am going to have to check- unless someone is near their copy and can look for us?

    Reply
  43. Ingrid- Tiffany in the Nonesuch was actually a Stephanie, I believe, and Tiffany was her nickname. I am going to have to check- unless someone is near their copy and can look for us?

    Reply
  44. Ingrid- Tiffany in the Nonesuch was actually a Stephanie, I believe, and Tiffany was her nickname. I am going to have to check- unless someone is near their copy and can look for us?

    Reply
  45. I am fascinated by names–what they mean, when they were popular, and why. I don’t have a copy of Partridge and such, but “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana” is a great resource for baby-namers and the curious. It has sections on what names were popular in what decades, what’s hot today, and (my favorite) names that are “So Far Out They’re In.” (Perhaps Julia Roberts had that in mind when she named her daughter “Hazel”?)
    IMHO, one of the great things about romance novels is their ability to “renew” names that once would have seemed staid and unromantic. I love the idea of a heroine named “Beulah” and I’m sure that after I read Beulah’s story I would find the name fresh and lovely. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration with “Beulah”–but names like Phoebe, Daphne, Prudence, Helena, and Isabella (as well as Sophia and Leila), which I once dismissed as too weird or old-fashioned, are now among my favorites because they are among my favorite heroines!
    BTW, here in Oregon, they keep name statistics on the state web site: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/dhs/publichealth/chs/babyname/index.cfm. According to the site, there were 2 Leilas born in Oregon in 1996 (the year my daughter was born) and 6 born in 2005. Not much difference. However–there were 16 Sophias born in 1992 (my older daughter’s birth year) and _181_ in 2005! There are national statistics on the Social Security website, too: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames.

    Reply
  46. I am fascinated by names–what they mean, when they were popular, and why. I don’t have a copy of Partridge and such, but “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana” is a great resource for baby-namers and the curious. It has sections on what names were popular in what decades, what’s hot today, and (my favorite) names that are “So Far Out They’re In.” (Perhaps Julia Roberts had that in mind when she named her daughter “Hazel”?)
    IMHO, one of the great things about romance novels is their ability to “renew” names that once would have seemed staid and unromantic. I love the idea of a heroine named “Beulah” and I’m sure that after I read Beulah’s story I would find the name fresh and lovely. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration with “Beulah”–but names like Phoebe, Daphne, Prudence, Helena, and Isabella (as well as Sophia and Leila), which I once dismissed as too weird or old-fashioned, are now among my favorites because they are among my favorite heroines!
    BTW, here in Oregon, they keep name statistics on the state web site: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/dhs/publichealth/chs/babyname/index.cfm. According to the site, there were 2 Leilas born in Oregon in 1996 (the year my daughter was born) and 6 born in 2005. Not much difference. However–there were 16 Sophias born in 1992 (my older daughter’s birth year) and _181_ in 2005! There are national statistics on the Social Security website, too: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames.

    Reply
  47. I am fascinated by names–what they mean, when they were popular, and why. I don’t have a copy of Partridge and such, but “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana” is a great resource for baby-namers and the curious. It has sections on what names were popular in what decades, what’s hot today, and (my favorite) names that are “So Far Out They’re In.” (Perhaps Julia Roberts had that in mind when she named her daughter “Hazel”?)
    IMHO, one of the great things about romance novels is their ability to “renew” names that once would have seemed staid and unromantic. I love the idea of a heroine named “Beulah” and I’m sure that after I read Beulah’s story I would find the name fresh and lovely. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration with “Beulah”–but names like Phoebe, Daphne, Prudence, Helena, and Isabella (as well as Sophia and Leila), which I once dismissed as too weird or old-fashioned, are now among my favorites because they are among my favorite heroines!
    BTW, here in Oregon, they keep name statistics on the state web site: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/dhs/publichealth/chs/babyname/index.cfm. According to the site, there were 2 Leilas born in Oregon in 1996 (the year my daughter was born) and 6 born in 2005. Not much difference. However–there were 16 Sophias born in 1992 (my older daughter’s birth year) and _181_ in 2005! There are national statistics on the Social Security website, too: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames.

    Reply
  48. I am fascinated by names–what they mean, when they were popular, and why. I don’t have a copy of Partridge and such, but “Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana” is a great resource for baby-namers and the curious. It has sections on what names were popular in what decades, what’s hot today, and (my favorite) names that are “So Far Out They’re In.” (Perhaps Julia Roberts had that in mind when she named her daughter “Hazel”?)
    IMHO, one of the great things about romance novels is their ability to “renew” names that once would have seemed staid and unromantic. I love the idea of a heroine named “Beulah” and I’m sure that after I read Beulah’s story I would find the name fresh and lovely. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration with “Beulah”–but names like Phoebe, Daphne, Prudence, Helena, and Isabella (as well as Sophia and Leila), which I once dismissed as too weird or old-fashioned, are now among my favorites because they are among my favorite heroines!
    BTW, here in Oregon, they keep name statistics on the state web site: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/dhs/publichealth/chs/babyname/index.cfm. According to the site, there were 2 Leilas born in Oregon in 1996 (the year my daughter was born) and 6 born in 2005. Not much difference. However–there were 16 Sophias born in 1992 (my older daughter’s birth year) and _181_ in 2005! There are national statistics on the Social Security website, too: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames.

    Reply
  49. I could write an entire blog on just the comments on here without even going near Loretta’s! Despite the fact that I was aiming for Celtic names when I wrote my Magic books, my Leila happened to be the only dark-haired Malcolm, and she simply had to be Leila. Don’t know why beyond that. That name just brought the character forth, and once I hit on it, no other would do.
    A lot of “naming” of romance characters has to do with sight and sound and maybe even our own personal experiences with certain names. I have a hard time getting past “Greg” because of a boy I knew in school. The last name used as first name fetish also stems from this to a certain degree–there are only so many names in the English language that can sound romantic and manly and distinctive and all those things we aim for. But if we pull out a strong last name, there’s a whole new ball game in play.
    And I’ll try not to get into one of my early books where I pulled out the telephone book and found so many superb “A” names that I never went past that letter. “G”

    Reply
  50. I could write an entire blog on just the comments on here without even going near Loretta’s! Despite the fact that I was aiming for Celtic names when I wrote my Magic books, my Leila happened to be the only dark-haired Malcolm, and she simply had to be Leila. Don’t know why beyond that. That name just brought the character forth, and once I hit on it, no other would do.
    A lot of “naming” of romance characters has to do with sight and sound and maybe even our own personal experiences with certain names. I have a hard time getting past “Greg” because of a boy I knew in school. The last name used as first name fetish also stems from this to a certain degree–there are only so many names in the English language that can sound romantic and manly and distinctive and all those things we aim for. But if we pull out a strong last name, there’s a whole new ball game in play.
    And I’ll try not to get into one of my early books where I pulled out the telephone book and found so many superb “A” names that I never went past that letter. “G”

    Reply
  51. I could write an entire blog on just the comments on here without even going near Loretta’s! Despite the fact that I was aiming for Celtic names when I wrote my Magic books, my Leila happened to be the only dark-haired Malcolm, and she simply had to be Leila. Don’t know why beyond that. That name just brought the character forth, and once I hit on it, no other would do.
    A lot of “naming” of romance characters has to do with sight and sound and maybe even our own personal experiences with certain names. I have a hard time getting past “Greg” because of a boy I knew in school. The last name used as first name fetish also stems from this to a certain degree–there are only so many names in the English language that can sound romantic and manly and distinctive and all those things we aim for. But if we pull out a strong last name, there’s a whole new ball game in play.
    And I’ll try not to get into one of my early books where I pulled out the telephone book and found so many superb “A” names that I never went past that letter. “G”

    Reply
  52. I could write an entire blog on just the comments on here without even going near Loretta’s! Despite the fact that I was aiming for Celtic names when I wrote my Magic books, my Leila happened to be the only dark-haired Malcolm, and she simply had to be Leila. Don’t know why beyond that. That name just brought the character forth, and once I hit on it, no other would do.
    A lot of “naming” of romance characters has to do with sight and sound and maybe even our own personal experiences with certain names. I have a hard time getting past “Greg” because of a boy I knew in school. The last name used as first name fetish also stems from this to a certain degree–there are only so many names in the English language that can sound romantic and manly and distinctive and all those things we aim for. But if we pull out a strong last name, there’s a whole new ball game in play.
    And I’ll try not to get into one of my early books where I pulled out the telephone book and found so many superb “A” names that I never went past that letter. “G”

    Reply

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