Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

As promised, here’s the second part of Welsh Flowers that have great name potential. Pronunciation at the end if you want to sound like you were born and bred in the Land of Song.

  • Gwaedlys — pink persicaria
  • Gwendon — bedstraw
  • Gwenith y gog — figwort
  • Gwenonwy — lily of the valley
  • Gwern — alder
  • Gwlithlys (g-LITH-lis) — sundew
  • Helogan — celery
  • Helygen — willow
  • Helyglys — lesser willowherb
  • Isop— hyssop
  • Lili Mai — lily of the valley
  • Ller — darnel
  • Llin — flax
  • Llwyfen (“LHOO-ee-ven”) – elm
  • Llyriad — broad-leaved plantain
  • Maglys — lucerne
  • Meillion — clover
  • Melenydd — hawkweed
  • Melyn euraidd — golden rod
  • Melyn Mair — marigold
  • Melenllys — greater celandine
  • Merllys — asparagus
  • Merywen — juniper
  • Mesen — acorn
  • Miaren — briar
  • Murlys — wall pellitory
  • Onnen — ash
  • Oren — orange
  • Pabi — poppy
  • Pansi — pansy
  • Pengaled -(pen-GA-led) – knapweed
  • Persli — parsley
  • Pren — tree
  • Pren Ceri — medlar tree
  • Pren Eirin — plum tree
  • Rhedyn — fern
  • Rhos Mair — Rosemary
  • Rhosmari (ros-MA-ree) — Rosemary
  • Rhosyn — rose
  • Saets — sage
  • Safri — savoury
  • Serenyn — squill
  • Siasmin — jasmine
  • Suran — common sorrel
  • Syfi — strawberries
  • Syfien — strawberry
  • Taglys — field bindweed
  • Tansi — tansy
  • Tegeirian (te-GAY-ree-an) — orchid
  • Teim — thyme
  • Tormaen — golden saxifrage
  • Tresi Aur — laburnum
  • Trilliw (TRI-lhee-oo) — pansy
  • Trydon — agrimony
  • Ywen — yew

Pronunciation notes:

  • “ae,” “ai,” “au,” and “eu” pronounced “eye”
  • “c” always hard, as in “cat”
  • “e” pronounced like “e” in “bet,” “set,” etc
  • “ei” pronounced “ay”
  • “f” ipronounced “v”
  • “ff” pronounced “f”
  • “g” always hard, as in “get”
  • “ll” see Extreme Welsh Names
  • “s” always “s,” never “z”; often “sh” before an “i”
  • “th” pronounced like the “th” in “thistle”
  • “y” in the last syllable is pronounced “i” as in “in”, but in most other syllables, is pronounced “uh.”

(In words of two syllables, stress is divided equally. In words of three, stress usually falls on the first syllable, unless otherwise stated.)

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I have been browsing one of my favorite raw-food recipe books today, and doing a little online shopping to replenish my cupboards. It struck me as I read how many of the wonderful, magical super foods which feature so highly in the raw-food world would make really delicious names…

So, without further ado, here’s my pick of scrumptious, magical super-food names:

Agave — a syrup made from the Agave plant, a native of Central America. An excellent sugar/honey substitute, as it has a much lower glycemic index than refined sugar, and because it is sweeter, less is needed. Its name is Greek: agauos “illustrious” and

Arame — a Japanese seaweed, full of calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, and, of course, iodine.  The kanji used to write it — 荒布 — mean “wild” and “linen.”

Avocado — one of nature’s finest; yes it contains a lot of fat, but it’s GOOD fat. Avocado was actually an old form of Spanish abogado “advocate”; representing a Spanish attempt to render the fruit’s original Aztec name: ahuacatl “testicle.”

Barleygrass — essentially a variant of Wheatgrass; I just think Barleygrass has more name potential. Much celebrated for their health-giving properties.

Cacao — raw cocoa powder, cacao butter and cacao nibs are two of the most wonderful things in the world: chocolate that’s good for you! :D. It is rich in anti-oxidants and phenylethylamine — the chemical responsible for making us feel happy (which is why so many of us love chocolate!) — not to mention all its minerals and other goodies.

Camu — alright, so the super food is camu camu, but one camu is probably enough for a name… A type of berry found in Brazil, it is rich in vitamin C, as well as numerous amino acids, iron, calcium, potassium and iron. I’ve only found it as a powder in Britain.

Chlorella — a highly nutritious algae. Its name comes from the Greek chlorus “green.”

Coconut — like avocadoes, coconuts are a source of good fat, and it is a “false economy” to cut from the diet if dieting. They are a rich source of protein and minerals, as well as essential fats. It is particularly good for veggies and vegans because it contains some important fats otherwise difficult to incorporate in the diet, such as Lauric acid. Its name derives from the Spanish and Portuguese coco “grinning face”  from cocar “to grin”– a reference to the appearance of a face on a coconut’s base.

Dulse — lovely seaweed. It has been a staple food of those living on parts of the coasts of Britain and the East coast of America for thousands of years. The word comes from the Irish and Gaelic duilseag and Welsh cognate delysg.

Flax — flax seeds (also called linseed) is highly nutritious and their oil, like hemp, is a good source of essential fatty acids.

Goji — gojis are quite familiar now, having been promoted on the health food scene for some years. Its name comes from its Chinese name — gǒuqǐ “goji plant.” They were first brought to Britain in the eighteenth century, and can actually be found growing wild in some parts — these wild, naturalized gojis tend to go by the vernacular name of wolfberry. Very nutritious, they are full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants. Apparently, the Chinese say that the only side-effect of eating too many gojis is laughing too much.

Hemp — hemp seeds contain the full spectrum of amino-acids and is a rich vegan source of Omega 3 and 6. (The seeds used for eating come from a different variety to the one used for marijuana, in case you were wondering!).

Kelp — a familiar seaweed. As good as the rest!

Lucuma — a Peruvian fruit. I would so love to eat one of these fresh! Lucumas have been valued in Peru for at least 2000 years, and are highly nutritious, as well as having a distinct but delicious taste.

Maca — I swear by maca; I’d say it was the best thing since sliced bread, but I think it is far, far, far better than sliced bread! It is a powder made from the root of the maca plant, once a staple of the Incas and now being grown in large quantities by native farmers in Peru once more. It is renowned for its ability to rebalance and detoxify the system. I just wish we could get the roots whole; apparently they use maca root in Peru like potatoes. I dream of trying the maca chips with chili sauce at a roadside stall there.

Mesquite — eaten as a food for thousands of years in Central America, it is now banned for human consumption in the EU because it has been labelled an “untested novel food.” Stupid, invasive law. If you live in America, treasure it.

Mulberry — one of our favoritest favorite berries. My Small Child and I love the late summer and autumn when the old mulberry trees start groaning with their lovely, juicy berries, so dark red, they are almost black. Yum, yum, yum. They are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, and iron, as well as being a great source of cancer and diabetes fighting anthocyanins.

Nori — another Japanese seaweed, often found in sheets, which make a fantastic alternative to tortillas/pittas etc for really nutritious, healthy wraps. Most people are probably most familiar with it from sushi. The kanji for it — 海苔 — combines “sea” + “moss.”

Pollen — bee pollen (also called bee bread) is definitely the bee’s kees. It is amazingly nutritious, highly regarded for its rejuvenative and healing properties. It’s also very yummy. The bees make it by packing pollen collected from plants together, mixing it with enzymes secreted by the bees themselves and nectar. The word “pollen” orginally meant “fine flour” and “fine powder,” deriving ultimately from Latin pulvis “dust.”

Spirulina — derived from a very nutritious algae, grown in Hawaii, called Arthrospira. This is from Greek arthron “joint” + speira “anything twisted” — the latter also, obviously, the source of Spirulina.

Suma — its alternative name of Brazilian ginseng hints at how fabulous this amazing food is. Most of us sadly only have access to the powdered root of what is a vine found in the rain-forests. Highly nutritious, many of those that eat it also do so because they believe it has as nourishing and healing an effect on the soul as it does on the body. Brazilians call it para todo “for all,” referring to the fact it is used as a cure-all.

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The paladin Oliver features in the French medieval epic the Song of Roland

Beginning Sneak Peek II is Oliver — the most popular boy’s name in the UK  for the 2nd year running in 2010, but only 88th in the US (though climbing quickly).


Oliver is usually derived from the Old French: olivier < Latin: olivarus ‘an olive tree’, but it is quite likely that its real ‘roots’ lie with OLAF. It was the name of one of the paladins (chief warriors) of Charlemagne, and was popular in medieval France and England. Diminutives: Ollie, Olly; Noll (historical). Bearers: Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of Britain during the Commonwealth; Oliver Goldsmith (1730-74), the Anglo-Irish playwright; Oliver Reed (1938-99), the British actor; Oliver Stone (b.1945), the US film director; Oliver Twist, eponymous hero Dickens’ novel of 1838; Oliver Haddo in Somerset Maugham’s The Magician (1908) – the character was modeled on Aleister Crowley, and Crowley himself used it as a pseudonym in a piece accusing Maugham of plagiarism.


The modern form of the Old Norse: Óleifr and Anleifrano ‘ancestor’ + leifr ‘relics’. It was a very popular Norse name, borne by six kings of Norway. Scots Gaelic: Amhladh – Anglicized as AULAY; Irish Gaelic: Amhlaoibh – Anglicized as Auliffe.


The olive has been cultivated for thousands of years for its fruit and the oil produced from it, which has been used for cooking, lighting and the cleansing of the skin since ancient times. According to Greek mythology, the olive was the gift of Athene to Athens, sprouting from her staff which she plunged into the Earth on the Acropolis. The olive was also associated with Olympia, where the victors’ crowns in its famous games were woven of olive leaves. Brides in Greece wore a chaplet of olive leaves – as such it was a symbol of both chastity and fertility. It has also long been a symbol of peace. It is ruled by the Sun and Fire. Latin: oliva ‘olive’, ‘olive tree’ and ‘olive branch’. Oliva was the name of an early and obscure Roman saint, and was adopted as a girl’s name in the Middle Ages. This became Oliff and Olive in the vernacular. It was re-embraced enthusiastically in the late 19th Century, along with other names of flowers and shrubs. Bearers: Olive Shreiner (1855-1920), the South African feminist, pacifist and writer, best known for The Story of an African Farm (1883). Olive (1850) was a novel by Dinah Craik.

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Well, this is it — tomorrow the last installment of Harry Potter hits the cinemas. Of course, we all know what happens — but it’s still pretty thrilling, all the same (yes, I am an unabashed Potter fan – and I’m off to see the film first thing tomorrow!).

Last week, I marked the première in London with a look at the names of some of the main characters. Today and tomorrow, I’m going to pick out some more of my favorites from J. K.’s Dickens-esque imagination. Today’s are all well-known characters, tomorrow’s will be  my favorites from the hundreds characters mentioned just once or twice — not an easy task, given just how many gems there are.

First up is Draco. I love Draco — the name, anyway. Pre-Potter, it would have made my list for consideration as a name for my Small Child — but even I would think twice about it at the moment. It’s still a strong contender for the next cat or dog!

Draco is the Latin for ‘dragon’, the name of a constellation, as well as the Latin form of the genuine Ancient Greek name Drakôn. The 7th Century BCE Athenian statesman Draco the Law Giver is so notorious for the harshness and severity of the laws he introduced, that he gave his name to the English adjective draconian. The ultimate source of the name and drakôn ‘dragon’, ‘serpent’, etc is a Greek verb meaning ‘to see clearly’; serpents and snakes were associated by the Greeks with clarity of vision, knowledge and prophecy. It is no coincidence that the most famous oracle in the Greek world was the Pythia, the famous oracle of Delphi. The name derives directly from Pythô — the source of our ‘python’ — the great pre-Greek she-snake or earth dragon slain by Apollo, who then took over the shrine.

Minerva has to follow — Minerva McGonagall really couldn’t have had any other name. Well-known as the Roman Goddess of wisdom, and counterpart of the Greek Athene, the origins of Minerva are obscure. It is probably simply the Latin form of Menrva, the Etruscan Goddess of wisdom and war, but whether the name is Etruscan or from another source is impossible to say. Too little is known about Etruscan to even establish what — if any — language group it belonged to. It is tempting, however, to link it to the Proto-Indo-European *men-mn- ‘thought’ and ‘mind’. Mina and Minnie are the obvious pet-forms — not that I could ever imagine Professor McGonagall answering to either!

Pomona follows naturally from Minerva — another Roman Goddess, this one of fruit and fruit trees. The name comes from the Latin pomum ‘fruit’.

I can never make up my mind whether I like Professor Sprout for the character — or because I just love Miriam Margoyles.

Next is Rubeus, a straight-forward name to explain — Latin: rubeus ‘red’, ‘reddish’ and ‘made of brambles’ (the Latin name for the bramble or blackberry is rubus). The bramble is very much associated with the wild and untamed, their vigorous growth means they’re often one of the first plants to colonize waste ground — quickly. It is a plant of paradoxes; loathed for its relentless spread, vicious thorns and untidy habit, but loved for its fruit. All of this suits Rubeus Hagrid — whom Rowling has herself likened to the Green Man — rather well!

I have to finish with Gilderoy, one of my favourite characters — and names — in the book. Forget Voldemort, Gilderoy is the one I love to hate… couldn’t you just imagine him on Celebrity Big Brother? Or, I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here? The name is one of Rowling’s best coinages — as good as anything Dickens came up with — oozing vanity and conceit. Believe it or not, Gilderoy is a genuine name, used in the 19th Century, particularly by the Romany — Gilderoy Scamp was King of the Gypsies in the early 20th Century. Dudley & Gilderoy; A Nonsense was a 1929 novel by Algernon Blackwood — and perhaps Rowling’s source of the name (and also of Dudley)? Or possibly she picked it up from the American expression higher than Gilderoy’s kite, which first occurs in Mark Twain, and derived from an old ballad about an 18th Century Highwayman of the name, who was strung up ‘like a kite’ upon his execution:

Of Gilderoy sae fraid they ware They bound him mickle strong, Tull Edenburrow they led him thair, And on a gallows hong; They hong him high abone the rest, He was so trim a boy. They ‘hong him high abone the rest’..

The same Gilderoy featured in Charles Whibley’s Book of Scoundrels (1897).

As for its origin, Gilderoy started out as a surname — though of uncertain origins. Some claim that is Huguenot, but this is an erroneous interpretation based on the seemingly French ending -deroy ‘of the king’. Gild ‘to gild’, however, is of Anglo-Saxon origin. Gilderoy is in reality a corruption of the Irish Gilroy, from the Irish Gaelic Giolla Rua ‘servant of the red-headed lad’. However, where fiction is concerned, its real mean is definitely less important than its apparent — and ‘gilding of the king’ definitely suits Rowling’s Lockhart best!

He is another strong contender for my next pet!

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I love burning essential oils — I find them more potent and pure than incense  — and smoke-free, which is a distinct advantage. The names, too, are rich and evocative. Of course, many essential oils share their names with herbs, but there are some which are found purely as essential oils, and they certainly make a good hunting ground for  wonderful names!

So here are some essential oil names. Most of these feature in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names, but there are a couple which I missed. Fear not! They’ll get an entry here at Nook of Names erelong!

Anise, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cajaput, Cardamon, Carrot Seed, Cedarwood, Chamomile, Cinnamon Leaf, Citronella, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Coriander, Cypress, Dill, Elemi, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Grapefruit, Helichrysum, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Lime, Litsea, Mandarin, Manuka, Marjoram, Melissa, Myrrh, Neroli, Niaouli, Nutmeg, Orange, Palmarosa, Parsley, Patchouli, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Pine, Ravensara, Rose Geranium, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Rosewood,  Sage, Sandalwood, Spearmint, Spikenard, Tagetes, Tangerine, Tea Tree, Thyme, Valerian, Vanilla, Vertivert, Violet Leaf, Yarrow, White Birch, Ylang Ylang.

If some of these essential oil names are a little ‘strong’, why not consider their botanical names?  One part or the other (or sometimes both) may have potential!

  • Benzoin — Styrax benzoin
  • Bergamot — Citrus bergamia
  • Black Pepper — Piper nigrum
  • Cajaput — Melaleuca cajaputi
  • Cardamon — Elettaria cardamomum
  • Carrot Seed — Daucus carota
  • Cedarwood — Cedrus atlantica
  • Clary Sage — Salvia sclarea
  • Clove Bud — Eugenia caryophyllata
  • Dill — Anethum graveolens (Anetha, maybe?)
  • Frankincense — Boswellia carteri
  • German Chamomile — Matricaria recutica
  • Ginger — Zingiber officinale
  • Grapefruit — Citrus paradisi
  • Lime — Citrus aurantifolia
  • Marjoram — Origanum marjorana
  • Niaouli — Melaleuca viridiflora
  • Nutmeg — Myristica fragrans
  • Parsley — Carum Petroselinum (tweaks to Cara Petroselina rather well!)
  • Peppermint — Mentha piperata
  • Pine Pinus — Pinus sylvestris
  • Roman Chamomile — Anthemis nobilis
  • Rose Otto — Rosa damascena
  • Rosemary — Rosmarinus officinalis (why not Rosmarina?)
  • Rosewood — Aniba rosaeodora (while rosaeodora has perhaps a bit much going on, Rosadora or Rosodora are food for thought!)
  • Sandalwood —  Santalum album (Santaly, perhaps?)
  • Spearmint — Mentha spicata
  • Spikenard — Nardostachys jatamansi
  • Tea Tree — Melaleuca alternifolia
  • Thyme — Thymus vulgaris
  • White Birch — Betula alba
  • Valerian — Valeriana officinalis
  • Vetivert — Vetiveria zizanoides
  • Violet Leaf — Viola odorata
  • Yarrow — Achillea millefolium
  • Ylang Ylang — Cananga odorata

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A couple of days ago, I mentioned the obscure name Orange in Born on the Fourth of July, and it quickly became apparent that it really deserved a post all of its own.

Believe it or not, the name Orange isn’t just a ‘freaky’ modern invention, the sort of thing a celebrity would pluck from their fruit bowl to ensure maximum publicity to surround the birth of their new baby (the world may scoff at yet another cooky celeb baby moniker, but it’s the Celeb who laughs all the way to the bank). Orange has been used as a given name since at least the Middle Ages – and is attested earlier as a name than as a fruit (which was first noted in the English Language in about 1400).

The earliest known recorded forms of the name are Orengia and Horenga, which are found in the Rolls of the Oxfordshire Curia Regis (King’s Court) in 1201 and 1204, and probably refer to the same woman. Orenga and Orenge are found in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1226, and the Bedford Assizes in 1247. By the end of the 13th Century, the name had passed into surname use; early forms were Orenge and Orrynge – which over time became Orange and Orringe.

The surname is almost certainly from the girls’ name rather than Orange in France. Of all the bearers of Orange as a surname recorded in Britain in the Middle Ages, only one contains to tell-tale de – a William de Orenge gets a mention in the Domesday Book in 1086. If all the Oranges descended from this family, you would expect to have found more examples of de Orange in the 12th and 13th Centuries. The place Orange was originally called Arausio, which seems to have been the name of a local Celtic God. It is probably derived from Proto-Celtic *arawar-/*arawan- ‘grain’.

What the source of the medieval girl’s name Orange is, is very uncertain. It may ultimately share the same roots as the fruit (i.e. a word meaning ‘pomegranate’, which comes, via Persian and Arabic and whatnot, from a Dravidian word meaning ‘fragrant’). It may just possibly be Celtic, perhaps sharing the same origin as Orange the place. Alternatively, it may have begun in Dark Age Europe as Aurantia, minted from the Latin verb auro ‘to gild’ (which also happened to strongly influence how the word orange developed in England and France). Aurantia isn’t attested until the early 17th Century, when it was coined as the Latin name for the orange, but it could plausibly have been coined earlier, directly from the Latin verb, as a name.

But it may be older still; there was a Roman cognomen Auruncus, which comes from the name of an old town in Campania, although, it is also, intriguingly enough, another form of the name of a Roman God Averruncus, a god of preventing harm. The feminine form is Aurunca or Auruncina. Auruncina is definitely attested in the Roman period. It’s a long shot, but it’s just possible the name survived during this period when only limited records survive, emerging in the 13th C as Orenga, etc.

Orange as a name mostly died out in the British Isles before the end of the Middle Ages, but it lingered on in use in Devon in particular; examples include the fabulously named Orange Persons and Orange Cross, baptized in Plymouth in 1620 and Tormoham in 1650 respectively. An Orange Light died in Ermington in 1641 – I kid ye not. Gems from the 1841 UK Census include an Orange Green and an Orange White, and the 1881 Census has men called Orange Blossom and Orange Lemmon. Cross my heart and hope to die.

It was towards the end of the 17th Century, that you find the first examples of Orange as a man’s name. A number were born in 1688, which is telling, as this was the year of the Glorious Revolution in Britain, when King James II was ousted by his daughter Mary and her husband Prince William of Orange. In 1692, William defeated James at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, sowing the seeds of the Troubles in Ireland which still persist to this day. Descendants of the Protestant settlers whom William encouraged to move to Ireland were called Orangemen, a name which survives as the nickname for members of the Orange Order, founded in 1796, by those who wanted Ireland to remain part of the UK. It seems a reasonable assumption, therefore, that a significant proportion of boys who were called Orange from the late 17th Century were named in honour of Protestant King Billy.

Nowadays, of course, Orange is firmly associated with four things – the fruit, the colour, Orangemen and the mobile phone company. This means that only the most adventurous parents are likely to use it as a name, despite its history, and despite all the positive connotations of the fruit and the colour. I find this quite sad, but such is the ebb and flow of the fortune of names, as in all things.

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