New Feature: Best Baby Names

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There’s a new page added to Waltzing More Than Matilda called Best Baby Names – you can find it at the top of the website next to About/Contact.

It’s a collection of those names which have received a rating of 75% or more from the public, and also those names which were judged to be the best of their particular name list.

A more accurate title would probably be Top Rated Baby Names, but I wanted something that would stand out and be easy to find.

I thought the list might be interesting reading, and be a helpful resource for those looking for a baby name that would likely gain widespread approval (or even those wanting to avoid a name that most people like!)

So far the list has the names from 2013, with this year’s names to be added early in 2015. As for the names from 2011 and 2012, don’t worry, I have plans for them, but you will have to be patient.

If your favourite name isn’t on the list, that may be a good thing, as it might mean you can have it all to yourself. But if your favourite name has never been featured on the blog, you can always request it to be covered, and find out if other people like it as much as you do.

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Celebrity Baby News: Ricky and Rianna Ponting

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Former cricket champion Ricky Ponting, and his wife Rianna, welcomed their third child on September 24, and have named their son Fletcher William. Fletcher Ponting joins big sisters Emmy, aged 6, and Matisse, aged 3; Matisse’s birth was featured on the blog.

(Photo of Ricky, Rianna, Emmy and Matisse from the Herald Sun)

 

Shortened Names for Boys – 2

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Alby
Can be an Anglicised form of the Irish name Ailbhe, a unisex name which is also Anglicised to Alva and Elva. In Ireland particularly, Alby seems to have been used for girls quite frequently. In Australia, Alby is almost always understood as a short form of Albert, and is accepted as a boy’s name: it seems to be more familiar in Australia than in other English-speaking countries. A famous namesake is Albert “Alby” Lowerson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Battle of Mont St. Quentin on the Western Front during the First World War. Adventure travel film-maker Alby Mangels, who made documentaries in the 1970s and ’80s, is originally from the Netherlands and his birth name is Albertus. Alby was fairly common as both a full name and a nickname in the late 19th century, and is currently having a revival, being around the 200s. It can also be spelled Albie, and this spelling is around the 500s.

Bobby
Pet form of Bob, which is short for Robert; it can also be used as a short form of Roberta, although far more common as a male name. Bobby has been used as an independent name since the 18th century, and is one of those names which seem part of our childhood, as it is such a popular name for characters in books for small children. There’s also the nursery rhyme, Bobby Shafto, and the sweet story of Greyfriars Bobby, the wee Scottish dog who stayed by his master’s grave for years and years. It has a fun meaning in Australia, because in old-fashioned slang, a bobby dazzler is something which is excellent or awesome (it’s probably from Northern English dialect, where bobby meant “well-presented, cheerful”). This year radio host Tim Ross welcomed a son named Bobby Arrow. A bouncy, breezy little name with vintage style, Bobby is around the 300s.

Charlie
Unisex nickname for either Charles or Charlotte. Charlie has been used as an independent name since the 17th century, and as a female name since the 18th century, where it seemed to have a particular usage for girls in Scotland. The big Scottish connection to this name is of course Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Jacobite pretender to the throne, who has remained a figure of romance in some eyes, and appears in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Waverley. It’s interesting that he seems to have inspired the use of Charlie as a girl’s name. There’s tons of famous Charlies, including actors Charlie Chaplin and Charlie Sheen, and musicians Charlie Parker and Charlie Watts, not to mention Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie Townsend from Charlie’s Angels. Charlie has charted for boys since the 1950s, and began rising in the 1990s before joining the Top 100 in the early 2000s. It’s currently #20, and fairly stable. As a girl’s name, Charlie joined the charts in the 1990s, and made the Top 100 in 2011. Although it’s not on the Top 100 for girls now, if you add it together with Charli and Charlee, it makes #71.

Freddie
Pet form of Fred, short for Frederick or Frederic, and related names, such as Frederico. It can also be used as a pet form of Alfred, as in the English actor Alfred “Freddie” Highmore, who played Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It also seems to be used as a nickname to match a surname starting with F, such as with English cricketer Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, and rugby league player Brad “Freddy” Fittler. One of the most famous namesakes is Freddie Mercury, lead singer of rock band Queen; he was born Farrokh Bulsara, and had used the nickname Freddie since his school days. An independent name since the 18th century, Freddie is very popular in the UK, yet doesn’t chart at all here as a full name; neither does the variant spelling Freddy. It’s a bit puzzling since we’re fine with so many other boyish short forms, but Freddie is an insouciant charmer that I feel will win a few hearts yet.

Jimmy
Pet form of Jim, short for James. Jimmy has been used as an independent name since the 18th century, and is a more modern form of the medieval Jemmy. Famous namesakes include American president Jimmy Carter, actor Jimmy Stewart, rock star Jimmy Page, singer Jimmy Buffet, comedy hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, and comedian Jimmy Carr. Musical Australian Jimmys include Jimmy Chi, who wrote the Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Day, Jimmy Barnes, lead singer of rock band Cold Chisel, and Aboriginal singer and actor Jimmy Little. Jimmy entered the charts in the 1950s at #344, and peaked in the 1990s at #233. It hit its lowest point in 2009 at #474, and since then seems to have been climbing steeply, although still around the 200s. This is a cheery underused modern classic that still has a touch of Everyboy about it.

Kit
Unisex nickname which can be short for the boy’s name Christopher, or the girl’s name Kitty (a pet form of Katherine). Kit is historically much more common for boys, and as an independent name, dates to the 18th century for both sexes. One of its most famous namesakes is American frontiersman Kit Carson, while British actor Kit Harington plays popular character Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, and British writer Kit Pedler created the Cybermen for Doctor Who. In Australia, Kit Denton was a writer and broadcaster who wrote the novel The Breaker, about Breaker Morant; he is the father of comedian and television host Andrew Denton. Media personality Chrissie Swan welcomed a son named Kit in 2011. A cute meaning is that a kit is a baby animal in many species, including rabbits and foxes, and is the name for a group of pigeons. This is a cool and casual name that works well as either a first or middle name.

Lenny
Traditionally a pet form of Leonard, although these days it is often used as a pet form of the fashionable Lennox. Some famous men named Lenny include rock singer Lenny Kravitz, and comedians Lenny Bruce and Lenny Henry. Australian namesakes include AFL star Lenny Hayes from St Kilda, who just retired this year, NRL player Lenny Magey from the North Queensland Cowboys, crime novelist Lenny Bartulin, and Len “Lenny” Pearce from Justice Crew, who was featured as a celebrity dad on the blog. There are famous Australian female Lennys too – Olympic badminton player Lenny Permana, who was born in Indonesia, and children’s author Lenny Pelling. Lenny has been chosen as a baby name by Australian celebrities AFL footballer Michael Firrito, and comedian Mick Molloy, and is used as a nickname for Lennox by radio host Ryan Fitzgerald and racing driver Jason Bright. A favourite in Australia (France is the only country where it’s more popular), Lenny is around the 100s, and could easily go Top 100.

Monty
Short for names such as Montgomery or Montague; surname names where the Mont- part is from the French for “mountain”. Monty became very well known as the nickname of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who served with distinction in both world wars, but is especially famous as the decorated commander of the successful North African campaign in the Western Desert during World War II; Viscount Montgomery spent part of his childhood in Tasmania. His nickname was the inspiration for the British comedy group Monty Python, who found it amusing, and in their turn, Monty Python inspired the character of Dr Montgomery Montgomery, or Uncle Monty, a snake researcher in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Field Marshal Montgomery is rumoured to be behind the phrase the full monty, meaning “everything, the works, the whole kit and caboodle”, although it may actually refer to a complete suit from tailors Montague Burton (the phrase is familiar from the film, The Full Monty). Very much in line with British trends, Monty is around the 400s.

Ollie
Usually seen as a short form of Oliver, but could be a nickname for Olivia or Olive as well, and is sometimes used as a surname-based nickname, such as Australian composer Ian “Ollie” Olsen. Other famous Australians named Ollie include celebrity chef Ollie Gould, who was named Young Chef of the Year in 2013, and Ollie McGill, who is in the band The Cat Empire. Famous sporting namesakes include Ollie Wines, who plays for Port Adelaide in the AFL, Ollie Hoskins, who plays for the Western Force in Super Rugby, and Ollie Atkins, who used to play for the Waratahs in Super Rugby, and is currently signed with Edinburgh. Ollie has a connection with sports, because in skateboarding, an ollie is an oft-used trick where both rider and board jump into the air without the use of hands. It is named after its originator, Alan Gelfand, whose nickname is Ollie. An Australian sporting connection is Olly the Kookaburra, one of the mascots of the 2000 Sydney Olympics – his name was short for Olympic, and he symbolised the Olympic spirit. Ollie is around the 300s, and is in line with British trends, while having a strong Australian feel.

Zeke
Short for Ezekiel, a Hebrew name meaning “God strengthens”; it has more history of use in the United States, where the name Ezekiel has been far more common. It’s well known from popular culture, such as the Big Bad Wolf in Disney cartoons, skater boy Zeke Falcone from Disney sitcom Zeke and Luther, and baking-obsessed basketballer Zeke Baylor in High School Musical. Zeke is the name of the farmhand in The Wizard of Oz movie, who is also in the role the Cowardly Lion (this might explain why some people see Zeke as a “cowpoke” name). Famous Australian namesakes include former Olympic snowboarder Zeke Steggall, the brother of alpine ski champion Zali Steggall, and DJ Zeke Ugle. Zeke was also the nickname of Corporal Roy Mundine, an Indigenous soldier who served with distinction in the Vietnam War, and was severely wounded in the line of duty. Fictional namesakes include the teenage boy whose drawings on his magic electronic pad come to life on cartoon Zeke’s Pad, and the character Zeke Kinski from soap opera Neighbours. This is a cool alternative to Zack in line with American name trends, and is around the 400s.

(Picture shows Zeke from Zeke’s Pad, a Canada-Australia co-produced animated TV show)

Vote For Your Favourite Names

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Results are in from the late winter votes on names from the Birth Announcements.

There were convincing wins for twins Frankie Joy and Rosie Winter, and for Mabel Florence in the girls’ names. Jasper Arthur Claude made it by a single vote, and sisterly sibset Estella, Josephine and Lucinda was a runaway success, absolutely smashing the opposition.

These new polls will remain open until early November. To vote, use the pull-down menu on each subject heading, and select one option under each heading before pressing submit.

Wondering how names get nominated? You simply leave a comment under a Birth Announcement entry, made on Fridays, expressing your appreciation. You can also use Twitter, Facebook or email.

Odette and Raphaelle

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Triplets
Esther Beech, Betty Frances and Miles Alban

Girls
Aliyah Jewel (Maya, Aidan, Jai)
Annabelle Violet (Hamish, Daisy, Sunny)
Archer Willow
Aubrey Mabel (Sage)
Brooklyn Ava (Edison, Tahlia)
Emilia Danica
Georgia Quinn
Hasini (Harshil)
Imogen Eloise (Chloe, Emma)
Jamila Judi
Juliette Daisy (William, Charlotte)
Kiara Lee (Charnae)
Liesl May (Connor)
Lillibel Pixie Grace (Sunny, Elke, River)
Lotti Jean
Lucy Rheta (Jackson)
Malaika Nina
Mia Clelia Bani
Millie Eve
Odette Alexandra (Adeline, Everleigh, Tallulah)
Olivia Wynter (Oscar Bear)
Raphaelle Clementine (Wolfe)
Seerat (Sukhmann, Sargi, Japji, Samreen, Justin, Armaan)
Tianna Olivia (Ayla)
Violet Elizabeth

Boys
Arthur Paul
Charles David
Cohen Jack
Corbin Jarvis
Ezekyal Thomas George (Jye, Bailee, Izaiyah, Nahriya, Jhett)
Flynn Ryder (Eve)
Grayson Alistair
Hamish Bevan
Jake Rowan
James Lewis Emmanuel
Jett Ross (Koby)
Johnnie Callan (Indih)
Jordan Gregory
Jude Edward
Kydon Jeffrey
Lachy Leonard (Nate)
Lakyn
Myles Keith
Nash William (Dempsey)
Oliver Charles (Blake)
Samson James
Sebastian Luca
Spencer Luis
Ted Peter
Van John Robert

Thank you to Brooke from Baby Name Pondering for her contributions from the Herald Sun. 

(Picture shows a family of black swans on Lake Spencer in Manchattie Park, Bathurst, in New South Wales; photo from the Mudgee Guardian)

Name Update: They Did a Complete Revamp

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Ashleigh and Dylan were interested to know if it would be legal to name their baby Duke, and also had several other names on their baby name short list.

However, Ash writes that they spent so long looking over their name list that in the end, none of them seemed right at all. A week before their son was born, they scrapped the list entirely, and started from scratch.

There was a name that Ash had liked for a boy as soon as she found out she was pregnant, but Dylan wasn’t keen. However, when they started their search anew, it was the first name he suggested, as in the intervening time, Dylan started to like the sound of it.

So when their son arrived a couple of weeks ago, his name was

VINCENT COREYVINNIE“,

little brother to IMOGEN.

I’m so glad Ash and Dylan had the courage to scrap their list and start again – there’s no point sticking with names you no longer like, and much better to change your mind before than have baby name regret after. And isn’t it great that Dylan had a change of heart? It shows that just because your partner says no to a name, it doesn’t always mean that’s their final answer.

Congratulations Ash and Dylan! I think Vincent is really handsome, and makes a great brother for Imogen.

 

Famous Name: Sheila

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September 9 marked the 119th birthday of Sheila Chisholm (named Margaret, and always known by her middle name). It was a century ago that Sheila left Sydney for her grand tour of Europe. A striking beauty with short auburn hair, lovely complexion, and big hazel eyes, she had grown up on a sheep station in country New South Wales, and was an accomplished horsewoman, and daring swimmer, popular as a good dancer with a sense of humour.

Once arrived in England, Sheila barely had time to “come out” for her first London Season before war was declared, and she headed off to Cairo to nurse wounded soldiers. During the war, she married the eldest son of a Scottish earl, Lord Loughborough (“Luffy”), and became a fixture of smart London society in the Prince of Wales set, admired for her languorous beauty, calm presence, and exotic colonial background.

Her marriage deteriorated, as Luffy was a gambling addict and unfaithful (both were considered acceptable for a man of his class). Sheila also took lovers, amongst them Prince Albert, known to his friends as Bertie. Bertie was entranced by Sheila as soon as they met, and the two became inseparable. King George V naturally wasn’t thrilled, and demanded that Bertie end it: his obedience was rewarded with a dukedom, and he soon married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Bertie later became King George VI, the father of the present queen.

Sheila also received attention from married Russian prince Serge Obolensky, American billionaire Vincent Astor (Serge was his brother-in-law), and film star Rudolph Valentino. However, after her divorce she married English baronet Sir John Milbanke (“Buffles”), and continued her ascent in society. She threw lavish parties, and was friends with celebrities like actor Fred Astaire, socialites Lady Diana Cooper and Wallis Simpson, and writers Noel Coward, Nancy Mitford, and Evelyn Waugh (she gave Waugh the idea for The Loved One).

In the post-war years, after being widowed, she not only became a millionaire businesswoman in the travel industry, but married an exiled Russian prince who was the cousin of her old flame, Obolensky. Sheila was very happy in her marriage to Dmitri Romanoff, so ended her amazing life as a princess.

Sheila’s biography, by journalist Robert Wainwright, is called Sheila: The Australian beauty who bewitched British society. Just published this year, the author has hinted of a possible TV deal – “It’s Downton (Abbey) meets Neighbours“. Keep an eye out!

Sheila is an Anglicised form of the Irish name Síle or Sìle, a medieval Gaelic form of the name Celia (although often understood as a form of Cecilia). It has several variant spellings, including Sheelagh and Shelagh. Rather confusingly, the name Sheila has historically been hyper-Anglicised to Julia.

The name Sheila has a special place in Ireland’s history, because in the patriotic traditions of the 17th century, it was one of the allegorical female names used to stand for Ireland (like Erin and Kathleen). In ballads, Sheelagh is a feminine personification of Ireland, a sovereignty goddess who is wasting away as she lacks a royal suitor. In political pamphlets, Sheelagh was a lady whose health suffered due to the violence inflicted on her by “Mr Bull”.

According to folklore, Sheelah was the name of St Patrick’s wife, or in other traditions, his mother. Irish communities celebrated St Sheelah’s Day on March 18: some say it was a day to sober up, while others saw it as a chance to continue the celebrations. St Sheelah’s health was to be drunk in whiskey, and the shamrock was worn on her day also. St Sheelah’s Day has been associated with snow storms, and in many stories she becomes an old crone, who quarrels with St Patrick and puts a spell of bad weather on the country out of spite. This makes St Sheelah seem more of a weather goddess than anything else – she is certainly not very saintly!

Another Irish connection to the name is the mysterious Sheela na Gig – grotesque carvings of a naked woman displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are all over Europe, but particularly in Ireland; they are often found on churches, and like gargoyles, their hideous appearance is said to drive away evil spirits. The name Sheela na Gig is usually translated as something like “Sheela showing her vagina”.

It is thought that Sheela na Gig represents a Celtic pagan goddess, perhaps a divine hag, or fertility figure. It is hard not to be struck by the coincidence of a “hag” named Sheela and the crone-like St Sheelah, and many note the similarity in sound between Sheela and the Gaelic word sidhe (pronounced SHEE), referring to a race of fairy-like beings who are the remnants of gods and goddesses. All very evocative and enigmatic.

Another riddle is how the name Sheila became Australian slang to mean “woman, girlfriend”. The first use of the slang dates to 1822, and the usual explanation is that Sheila was a common Irish name, and so widespread amongst Irish emigrants to Australia that it became a de facto term to mean “Irish woman”, the female equivalent of Paddy for an Irish man.

However Dr Dymphna Lonergen, an academic who specialises in the Irish language in Australia, notes that this makes little sense. Sheila isn’t a common Irish name, and not even a single woman called Sheila was transported to Australia in the 18th century. There were much larger numbers of Irish emigrants to Britain and America than to Australia, and Sheila never became a generic term for an Irishwoman there – in the US, the term for an Irishwoman is Biddy, short for Bridget.

She suggests that the term derives from Irish slang, where Sìle was used as a derogatory term for a man judged to be weak or effeminate, overly fond of female society and domestic pursuits, or a homosexual (this last sense is a “taboo” word, or underworld slang). Presumably the slang quickly became transferred from “womanish men” to actual women.

Whether the word remained derogatory is still up for debate! However, Robert Wainwright says that the phrase “good looking sheila” dates to the 1920s – the time when Sheila Chisholm first became well known in society. Could this stunning, vivacious Australian woman have inspired its use? If so, it seems like a great compliment.

The name Sheila was #236 in the 1900s, but joined the Top 100 in the 1910s at #83. It peaked in the 1920s at #67, and by the 1930s was already out of the Top 100. It hasn’t charted since the 1950s, and can be seen as a “trendy” name of the 1910s and ’20s (the time when Sheila Chisholm was most in the Australian society pages, and before sheila became widely used slang).

Although it’s often thought as very Australian, the name Sheila enjoyed more popularity in the United States, where it was Top 100 from the 1940s to the 1970s, and peaked higher at #50. It only left the charts in the late 2000s. In the UK, it was far more popular still, and Top 100 from the 1920s (when Sheila Chisholm entered the social scene) to the 1960s (when she died), and peaked at #6 in the 1930s. Last year 10 baby girls in England/Wales were named Sheila, a number which has held steady since 1996.

Disappointed that nobody much in Australia seems to have been named Sheila since around the ’50s? Fear not, because modern variants of Sheila abound here, such as Shayla, Shaylah, Shailah, Shyla, and Shylah, influenced by names like Kayla and Skyla. If they were all added together as one name (even though they sound different), Sheila would be somewhere in in the 100s, so not really that rare at all.

(Portrait of Sheila Chisholm by Cecil Beaton, held by the National Portrait Gallery in London, courtesy of the Rosslyn Family Estate)

Name Update: Decision Time

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A short time ago, Charlotte and Jake had a nameless baby daughter, and a name list that threatened to get longer and longer, after their chosen baby name, Elsie, was derailed by a family feud.

However, since having their story on the blog, there has been some definite progress. Both Jake and Charlotte shared their published story with their families, and now feel there is at least some understanding of what they’ve been through.

Charlotte read through the article on unregistered babies: as you could probably tell from her story, she is a very gentle and soft-hearted person who was upset to think of any baby going without an identity. She is now absolutely determined that her daughter will not be registered even one day after the deadline.

Charlotte also realised that without family intervention, she would have been happy to call the baby Elsie. She began to wonder if her daughter was always meant to be called Elsie, but she deliberately turned herself off the name in order to please other people.

Charlotte and Jake have cut their name list back to just two choices:

Elsie Josephine – the name they originally chose at the hospital

Mabel Birdie Rose – the name they began calling their daughter when they came home

They feel that these are the only two authentic options available to them, and they are very interested to know what people think.

Charlotte and Jake already have an older daughter named Olive, and their surname begins with R and ends in D eg Randalwood.

Celebrity Baby News: Miguel and Sascha Maestre

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Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre, and his wife Sascha, welcomed their second child on September 19 and have named their son Morgan Miguel. Morgan Maestre joins big sister Claudia.

Miguel was born in Spain, and first began cooking when he was 21 and moved to Scotland; this is also where he learned to speak English. He moved to Australia in 2004, and has worked at some of Sydney’s premier kitchens; he now runs Apertif on Potts Point with fellow chef Manu Feildel, and has his own catering company, as well as writing cookery books. He is well known from his many media appearances, including Channel Ten’s The Living Room, and has been a guest judge on MasterChef Australia and Junior MasterChef. Miguel became an Australian citizen last year, and took part in the The Pledge video series, celebrating 65 years of Australian citizenship.

Sascha is an Australian, and first met Miguel in Scotland, where she was working as a waitress in Edinburgh. She and Miguel were married in 2010.

(Photo shows Miguel, Sascha, and Claudia)

Celebrity Baby News: Jude and Lynette Bolton

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Former AFL star Jude Bolton, and his wife Lynette, welcomed their second child on September 11, and have named their daughter Piper. Piper Bolton joins big sister Siarra, aged 2; Siarra’s birth was covered on the blog.

Jude played for the Sydney Swans, and retired at the end of last season. Since retiring, he has taken on a role in Channel Seven’s coverage of AFL, and was also a celebrity crew member on Perpetual Loyal in the 2013 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

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