Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This follows on from Less Commonly Used Girls Names. The names are from the bottom of the popularity charts in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, and in each case, the name was used less than ten times in 2011.

There seems to be a lot of musical references in this entry, so I’ve linked relevant names to YouTube videos of the person performing.

Atticus

This Roman name means “man from Attica” – Attica being the area of Greece surrounding the city of Athens. This name wasn’t uncommon in the ancient world; there is a Platonist philosopher called Atticus, and there is also a Saint Atticus, a soldier who died a martyr by being burned at the stake. However, today it is most associated with Atticus Finch, the principled lawyer and loving single father in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch, who defends a black man on a rape charge in a small Southern town during the 1930s, is considered a folk hero in legal circles. In the 1962 film adaptation, Atticus is played by Gregory Peck, who was a civil rights activist; Peck won an Academy Award for his performance, and in 2003 the American Film Institute voted his character the greatest hero in American film. It is that decent, understated heroism of Atticus Finch that makes him such a beloved character in literature and film. The character has inspired the names of both a clothing line run by musicians and an alternative rock band. It’s a hip choice which has been burning up the US popularity charts since 2004.

Bryn

Bryn is a modern Welsh name which means “hill”; as well as being a man’s name, it is also a common place name in Wales and England. A famous person with this name is Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel, a bass-baritone best known for his roles in the works of Mozart and Wagner. Apparently he applied to study music in Cardiff, but was so annoyed when they assumed he was a woman that he ended up studying in London instead. Bryn Terfel, whose first language is Welsh, is a patron of Welsh language and culture, and hopefully by now everyone in Wales recognises his name as male. Even though Bryn isn’t a common name in Australia, I don’t think it would seem too out of place either, as there are several boy’s name beginning with Br-, such as Brent and Brody. It looks rather like a cooler version of Irish Brian, which may have a similar meaning.

Corbin

Corbin is an English surname which started as a nickname based on the Anglo-Norman word for “raven”. It may have been given to someone who had raven-black hair, although less flattering possibilities also come to mind. Corbinus, the Latinised form, is found as a first name in the Domesday Book, so it has a long history of use. Despite being an old English name, this tends to be thought of as a modern American one, because it’s been solidly Top 500 in the US since the late 1980s. This may be because of television actor Corbin Bernsen, who began playing lawyer Arnold Becker on LA Law in 1986 and remained on the show until it finished in 1994. Another famous namesake is Corbin Harney, an elder and shaman of the West Shoshone people. He devoted his life to spreading a message about the dangers of nuclear energy, and the environmental issues facing the world. You may also know the name from Corbin Bleu, who was in High School Musical. This name is apparently so unusual in Australia that the article the information came from described it as a “bizarre” choice, although it seems a perfectly nice, normal name to me.

Denim

The fabric denim was originally called serge de Nîmes, after the French city where the tough cotton material was originally made by the Andre family. This was eventually shortened to denim. Denim is inextricably linked with jeans, which began life as sturdy clothing for workers, and then became fashion icons which symbolised teen rebellion. Today they are worn by pretty well everybody. Denim is an interesting name choice; it’s not really a “bad boy baby name” like Axe or Vandal, because while denim is worn by rebel icons like rock stars and bikers, it’s also worn by suburban mums and little kids. Also fabrics are usually thought of as girls names, like Velvet and Paisley, but denim is tough and hard-wearing. It’s definitely an ambiguous sort of name – one that, like the fabric, may grow with the person better than you’d expect. It’s also a soundalike with the surname and place name Denham.

Jagger

This English surname originated in Yorkshire, and means “hawker, carrier”, the word jagger being Yorkshire dialect for someone who carries a pack or load. It is claimed that most people with this surname are descended from a single family who came from Staniland, near Halifax. There was a high concentration of people named Jagger in Yorkshire, compared to the rest of England. The most famous person with this surname is undoubtedly Sir Michael “Mick” Jagger from The Rolling Stones, whose mother was born in Australia. I don’t know if this is correct, but Mick Jagger is said to be distantly related to Joseph Jagger, the 19th century British engineer famous for being “the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo”. Joseph Jagger was indeed from Halifax in Yorkshire. The name Jagger is almost always given in relation to The Rolling Stones frontman, and may have been given a boost in 2011 from the Maroon 5 song, Moves Like Jagger, which is a tribute to Sir Mick. The number of baby boys named Jagger went from 5 to 8 in Queensland last year.

Naiche

Naiche was the last hereditary chief of the Chiricahua band of Apache Native Americans. He was an ally, protege and relative by marriage of Geronimo, the famous Apache leader and war chief. Naiche and Geronimo successfully went to war together in the 1880s, but Naiche ended up being imprisoned. Although he had resisted the process of being moved onto an “Indian Reservation”, eventually he was forced to give in, and ended his days on an Apache reservation in New Mexico. He lived only six years after moving there, and his descendants are still on the reservation. The name Naiche means “meddlesome one, mischief-maker” and it can apparently be pronounced NAY-chee, but I’m not sure if that’s the correct Apache pronunciation, or even whether it depends on which Apache accent you’re using. Naiche is for sure a very unusual name in Australia, but it has a fascinating namesake, and actually sounds slightly like Nate and Nathan. Pronunciation and spelling seem like they would be an issue.

Occy

Occy is the nickname of Australian surfer Marco “Mark” Occhilupo. Occy is short for his Italian surname, which means “eyes of the wolf”. At the same time, it is a play on the Australian word occy straps, short for octopus straps – those stretchy cords which are used by surfers to tie their surfboards onto their car’s roof rack. Mark Occhilupo was a precocious teenage surf god of the 1980s who lost his way for several years as his life spiralled out of control. In the mid-1990s, he made a comeback, and stunned everyone when he won a world title in 1999 at the age of 33. He considered retiring in 2005, but realised he still had a lot left in him. Now aged 45, he only competes part-time, but this year he made it into the final four of the Telstra Drug Aware Pro semi-finals, defeating top-ranked surfers to do so. Mark, also dubbed The Raging Bull, is an inspirational sporting icon who teaches us that mature experience can be more important than youthful talent, and that things are never over until you give up. Although Occy is a nickname and a slang term, it means so much more.

Pax

Pax is the Latin word for “peace”, and the Romans recognised a goddess of this name who symbolised peace, and was associated with the spring. The word pax also means “treaty, accord”, and the Pax Romana is the name given to the two-century period (approximately 27 BC to 180 AD) of stability and minimal military expansion in the Roman Empire. For the Romans, peace wasn’t about everyone holding hands and singing Imagine together in a field of daisies – it described that period during war when all your opponents had been thoroughly beaten and were no longer able to resist. It denoted ultimate military victory, rather than co-operation and unity. Today we see peace rather differently, and the name is probably given with the modern concept in mind rather than the ancient Roman one. In 2007, Angelina Jolie adopted a son from Vietnam and named him Pax Thien. Pax may be the name of a goddess, but this one has very much gone to the boys, as it fits so well with popular male names such as Max and Jax.

Veer

Veer is an Indian name meaning “bravest of the brave” in Hindi. Veer (“valour”) is one of the nine rasas of ancient Hindu philosophy. These emotional states are repositories of energy drawn from our life force, and by learning to master these energies, we gain emotional balance. The rasa of Veer stops us from running away from our problems, and instead face them head on; it also gives us the courage to not allow adversity to defeat us, but to get up after a fall, and continue on. It also allows us to have the healthy confidence and self-esteem needed to achieve in life. Veer Teja Ji is an Indian folk hero and saint, and the highly successful 2004 Bollywood film Veer-Zaara is about the star-crossed romance between Indian Air Force Squadron Leader, Veer Pratap Singh, and a wealthy Pakistani woman, Zaara Haayat Khan. Veer has a very positive meaning, and looks the same as the English word veer, meaning “to swerve”. It’s also a homonym of the English name Vere, so both sound and spelling are familiar to English-speakers, and it seems a very usable heritage choice.

Ziggy

Ziggy is a nickname for Germanic names such as Sigmund, but in practice is used for a variety of names starting with Z. It is famous as the name of pop star David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Bowie based the name on a London tailor’s shop called Ziggy’s that he saw from a train one day. The surname Stardust was taken from American country and western singer Norman Carol Odom, a weird novelty act billed as The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Norman appealed to Bowie because he had a crazy band of misfits who barely understood music, and was unconsciously hilarious. The character of Ziggy was based on pioneering English rocker Vince Taylor, who modelled himself on Elvis Presley. Like so many after him, drugs proved his downfall, and he ended up believing he was the son of God, and existing solely on eggs. Bowie got to know him, and was impressed by his magnificent repertoire of dottiness. So Ziggy Stardust was a mixture of fashion, madness, outsider art, and rock and roll excess. Ziggy is also the nickname of Bob Marley’s son David, although in his case it was a drug reference. Cute name, with a solid musical background.

(Photo shows David Bowie’s final performance as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, 1973)

Advertisements