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3 kings

A selection of boys names that have been searched for several times to reach the blog. I chose names from different backgrounds that aren’t on the Top 100.

Ari

This little name has several origins. It is a Hebrew name meaning “lion”, an Armenian name meaning “brave”, a Scandinavian name from Old Norse, meaning “eagle”, an Albanian name meaning “bear”, a Maori name meaning “clear, visible”, or an Indian name meaning either “sun-like” or “free from sin”. It is also a Finnish form of Aaron and Adrian, a Kurdish short form of the name Arian, meaning “Aryan”, and is commonly used as a short form of any name begining with Ari-, such as Aristotle. There have been quite a few characters named Ari in popular culture, starting way back in the 1950s, with Ari Ben Canaan as the hero of Leon Uris’ novel Exodus, about the founding of the state of Israel; based on Israeli military leader Moshe Dayan, in the movie he was played by Paul Newman. This simple multicultural name is rising like other Ar- names such as Archer, Arlo and Arthur, and is #135 in Victoria.

Balthazar

Variant of Belshazzar, the Hebrew form of the Akkadian name Bel-sarra-usur, meaning “Ba’al protect the king”. Ba’al is a Semitic title for any god, meaning “lord, master”, and in the Old Testament, the early Hebrews used the term to apply to the God of Israel. Later the term became seen as a heretical one, with a clear divide drawn between the Hebrew Yahweh and the Phoenician Ba’al. In Christian legend, Balthazar is the name given to one of the Magi – the three wise men who followed a mysterious star to visit the baby Jesus, bringing him gifts. The story appears in the New Testament, but no name (or even number) is ascribed to the Magi in the Bible. According to some traditions, Balthazar was an Arabian or Ethiopian scholar who brought the gift of frankincense to symbolise Christ’s role as a high priest. He is usually depicted as middle-aged and dark-skinned. One story is that Balthazar later converted to Christianity and was ordained a bishop; like the other Magi, he is regarded as a saint. Usually pronounced BAL-ta-zar in Australia, this is a seriously cool Christmas name.

Dragan

Slavic name meaning “precious, dear one”. It is usually pronounced DRAH-gahn, although I have heard people give it the same pronunciation as the word dragon. This reminds me that there is a sympathetic character named Dragan in the novel, Girl With a Dragon Tattoo; in the American film version, he is played by Croatian actor Goran Višnjić. Dragan Roganović is the real name of award-winning Serbian-Australian DJ Dirty South, and unfortunately the name has had a bit of bad publicity in Australia due to accused Serbian-Australian war criminal Dragan Vasiljković “Captain Dragan”, currently imprisoned in Australia awaiting extradition to Croatia. Despite this, Dragan is an attractive heritage choice with a very sweet meaning.

Kalani

Unisex Hawaiian name meaning “the sky, the heavens”. It’s a name often connected with surfing, because of Hawaiian surfers Kalani Robb, Kalani Chapman, Kalani Vierra and Kalani David, and young Australian surfer Kalani Ball. Mark Gasnier, former NRL player for the St George Illawarra Dragons, welcomed a son named Kalani two years ago. These are all guys, but surfer Kalani Miller, girlfriend of Kelly Slater, is a reminder that it’s a girl’s name as well – in fact, Kalani seems more common as a girl’s name in Australia, making #570 for girls in Victoria and not ranking as a boy’s name. Then again, Victoria is not famous for its surf culture – in northern New South Wales or Queensland, boys named Kalani may be more common. It’s a great name for either sex.

Leander

Greek name meaning “lion man”, featured in the tragic tale of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower in Sestos, on the European side of the Dardanelles, while her lover Leander was from Abydos, on the other side of the strait. Leander swam across the Hellespont every night to be with Hero, while she lit a lantern at the top of her tower to guide his way. Their love affair lasted all through the summer nights, but winter weather proved an obstacle to swimming. Desperate to be with his sweetheart, Leander braved the icy waters and was drowned during a storm, while the savage winds blew out Hero’s lantern. The distraught Hero plunged from her tower into the waves to join him in his watery grave. The story has inspired many writers, including Ovid, John Donne, Christopher Marlowe, and John Keats. Lord Byron recreated the swim by crossing from Sestos to Abydos, a distance of just over 1 km, which he turned into a poem; although he did it in May, according to his poem it was still difficult and he ended up with a chill. Leander was obviously made of sterner stuff. This is a handsome and romantic name with a very masculine meaning.

Mandela

The surname of inspirational world leader Nelson Mandela, his surname the name of his grandfather, the son of a king. Mandela was a lawyer and prominent campaigner against the apartheid government when he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against the state. He served more than 27 years, released in 1990 after an international campaign had lobbied the South African government on his behalf. He joined negotiations to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections, becoming South Africa’s first black president. Deeply loved in his own country, where he was called Tata, or “father””, he was a respected figure on the world stage. He received more than 250 awards and honours during his lifetime, including the Nobel Peace Prize; he was appointed Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia in 1999. His passing this month at the age of 95 after a long illness has only highlighted the global reverence he attained. This is a worthy namesake whose name I have seen given to a boy – a name that Africa has given to the world.

Oisin

Anglicised form of Oisín, an Irish name translated as”young deer”. In Irish mythology, Oisín was a warrior and the greatest poet in Ireland. He was the son of the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill, and a woman named Sadbh, who had been turned into a deer by a malevolant druid. Fionn caught Sadbh as a deer, and she turned back into a human; all was well until the druid caught up with her and made her a deer while she was still pregnant. Sadhbh returned to the wild, and gave birth to Oisín while in deer form – hence his name. Eventually Fionn got to meet his son, and Oisín joined dad’s band of warriors. Oisín’s most famous adventure is when he fell in love with a fairy queen named Niamh, who took him to live in the Land of Youth. Although he thought he only lived with her for three years, three centuries passed in Ireland during his absence. Acording to some tales, Oisín lived long enough to meet Saint Patrick and tell him of his exploits. Oisín, or Ossian, is the narrator of the famous poem series by Scottish author James Macpherson, who made the Gaelic myths so popular in the 18th century. Pronounced OSH-een or USH-een, this a popular name in Ireland and would be well-received in Australia.

Remy

Anglicised form of Rémy, French form of the Latin name Remigius, meaning “oarsmen”. Saint Remigius was a 5th century Gallo-Roman bishop, a highly-educated man of noble blood. According to tradition, he converted and baptised Clovis, the King of the Franks. Clovis was baptised on Christmas Eve; such was his status that 3000 Franks were baptised that day with him. Because of this story, Saint Remigius is credited with France becoming a Christian country, and there are numerous places named Saint-Rémy his honour, as well as Saint-Rémy being a French surname. The name can also be spelled Rémi, and in France the second one is more popular. In Australia, both Remy and Remi are unisex, and roughly even for both sexes (Remy – 19 girls and 14 boys in Victoria; Remi – 11 boys and 7 girls). Although some get upset about Remy and Remi being used for girls, the names could just as easily be short forms of Remigia – the feminine form of Remigius. In Australia, they are usually pronounced RAY-mee or REH-mee.

Wyatt

English surname derived from the personal name Wyot, the medieval form of the Old English name Wigheard, meaning “brave in battle”. The Wyatt family were a prominent one in Britain; the Tudor poet Thomas Wyatt was one of their number. Sir Francis Wyatt was another, and he became Governor of Virginia, so the surname became well known in the United States as well. As a first name, Wyatt is famous because of Western lawman Wyatt Earp, who was Deputy Marshal of Tombstone in Arizona, and is known for the Gunfight at the O.K. Corall, in which three outlaw cowboys were killed. Wyatt was never injured in a gunfight, adding to his mystique, and after his death he gained legendary status as the toughest and deadliest gunman in the West. The name had a boost from popular culture through the television series Charmed, where Wyatt Halliwell was the son born to Piper and her White-Lighter husband Leo; the baby was named from his father’s earthly surname, and seems like a play on the word white, in the sense of “good, angelic”. Wyatt is #252 in Victoria.

Zayd

Arabic name meaning “abundance, growth, increase”. This name is important in Islam, because Zayd ibn Harithah was from an Arabian tribe, and after being abducted, sold into slavery while only a young boy. He was eventually sold to one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad, and when she married, she gave Zayd to Muhammad as a wedding present. The Prophet became very fond of Zayd, even calling him “the beloved”. One day Zayd’s grieving family managed to track him down, and Muhammad asked him to choose his fate; Zayd told his family he did not want to leave his owner. Zayd’s family accepted his choice, and Muhammad legally adopted him as a son, making him a free man. After Muhammad received his divine revelations from the angel Gabriel, Zayd was one of the first converts to Islam, the only one of Muhammad’s companions who are mentioned by name in the Qur’an, and the first Muslim to be killed fighting for Islam on foreign soil. The name can also be spelled Zaid, and elaborated as Zayden or Zaiden – which fits right in with the -ayden trend. Zayd is #650 in Victoria, while Zaid is #648.

POLL RESULT: People’s favourite names were Ari, Leander and Remy, and their least favourite were Dragan, Kalani and Mandela.

(Picture shows the Magi travelling to see the infant Jesus)

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