Posts Tagged ‘Estelle’

To end the year, I thought I’d feature some of the most interesting names gathered Out There this year:

Unsurprisingly, given our shared outlook on things, Isadora Vega at Bewitching Baby Names has featured some absolute gems. But my favorites have to be:

  • Icie — sweet and simple, but very seasonal — and it has that a la mode “-ie”
  • Madrigal — I’m amazed this had passed me by until now, particularly as I sang in a madrigal group at school, and Abbey at Appellation Mountain featured it in 2008. Ah well. That’s the joy and pain of names! The word “madrigal” first entered the English language in the late sixteenth century as the name of a type of secular part-song for several voices, usually sung without accompaniment — and this remains its principal meaning today. The song had originated in Italy, where it was called a madrigale, and it derived ultimately from the post-classical Latin matricalis meaning “maternal,” “simple,” and “primitive,” deriving ultimately from mater “mother.” What a fabulous Pagan name, if there ever was one!
  • Ulalume — the title of an evocative poem by Edgar Allan Poe. Very otherworldy.
  • Virelai — a type of song or lyric poem originating in fourteenth century France. The usual British English form is Virelay, which is just as nameworthy. There’s also the Middle English Verelai and Verilay — although that is getting a bit close to Verily… not that that’s necessarily a bad thing…

Elea at British Baby Names and I also seem to share similar tastes. The wonderful names I’ve encountered there this year have been overflowing, but I warm to these most of all:

  • Argantel – Breton girl’s name meaning “generous silver.”
  • Argantlowen – Breton girl’s name meaning “joyful silver.”
  • Elestren – Cornish for “iris.”
  • Elowen – Cornish for “elm.”
  • Finlo – Manx name meaning “white/blessed Lugh,” or the Manx form of Finley “white/blessed champion.”
  • Gwenlowen – Breton name meaning “joyful white.”
  • Izambro – a wonderful Victorian rarity, which Elea found in the 1847 BMDs. It would seem to be a variant of Isambard.
  • Morgelyn – Cornish for “sea-holly”
  • Orixa – the name of a plant, Orixa japonica, native to China and Japan. It also happens to be an alternative spelling of the Yoruba Orisha, described by Wikipedia as “is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system.”
  • Zereth – another of Elea’s finds of 1847, Zereth is biblical and means “span.”

Abbey at Appellation Mountain‘s provided plenty food for thought as always, but these are the ones I think have the most Pagan hearts:

  • Katniss — a name from the Science Fiction teenage novel The Hunger Games; makes a fresh change from the usual sci-fi girls’ names.
  • Merrilees – a surname, borne by a British celebrity female chef called Merrilees Parker. Although it got a mixed reception at Appellation Mountain, I think it’s a great name, an interesting alternative to Anneliese.
  • Sequioia – the only Sequoias we get in the UK are in arboretums, but they are widespread and beloved in America, and best known as “redwoods.” They take their name from a Cherokee called Sequoyah, who invented a syllabary for writing Cherokee.

From Lou at Mer de Noms, I particularly warmed to:

  • Fortuné – the French form of Fortunatus.
  • Swansea – well, if Chelsea can be used as a name, why not Swansea?
  • Tellou — Lou’s French friend; in her case, it’s a pet-form of Estelle.

Zeffy at Baby Names from Yesteryear has also has many a gem. My favorites were:

  • Ardalion – a saint, particularly now revered, it seems in the Russian Orthodox Church; it is from the Greek ardalion “water-pot,” and “water-trough.”
  • Ozro – the marvelously named Bladen Ozro Capell (1897-1959) brought Ozro to my attention. Its a curious name, of uncertain derivation, and one I intend to investigate more thoroughly in the new year. Is it a form of the biblical Ozer, or Russian Ozero? Or does the fact it says Ozra on his gravestone offer a clue? We shall see!
  • Tiece — a medieval French woman’s name.

Dorcas at Names from the Dustbin likewise has many a gem; these are the ones which sparkled most for me:

  • Betzabel — I agree with Dorcas that this is probably a variant of Bathsheba, possibly Occitan or Provençal (since that’s where Elizabeth — the biblical Elisheba, which shares the same second element as Bathsheba turned into Isabel).
  • Creedence — apparently there’s a band of the name; and while I shy away from this spelling, I do think Puritan Credence has distinct possibilities.
  • Fenway – to what extenct Fenway is associated in America with the Red Sox outside Boston I honestly can’t say; but in the UK I doubt there are many that would make the connection.
  • Freelove – this Puritan museum piece didn’t have quite the same sentiments behind it as the 1960s take on it!

Kristen’s Marginamia is aways a visual feast as well as a treasure trove of distinctive, off-beat names. Narrowing down to just a few is difficult!

  • Boheme — I didn’t know Girl’s Gone Child until the names of her twins were announced, and it was at Marginamia I read about it first!
  • Luumu –Finnish for “plum”
  • Rosegold — we have Marigold, why not Rosegold? Especially for those with Welsh connections, as rose gold is particularly associated with the land of song (and Russia).
  • Spindle — immediately conjures images of fairy tales and spindle trees. I hadn’t considered it before, but when I saw it at Marginimaia, I thought, yup, that could work.
  • Valo — the beautiful name of one of Kristen’s daughters, meaning “light” in Finnish (and “eight” in Malagasy).
  • Verabel — seems to be just a combination of Vera and -bel; Verabel is best known as an American artisan jeweler.
  • Vrai — “true” in French. Gorgeous.

Rowan at Eponymia has also provided me with lots of name inspiration — it’s been a particular joy browsing all those Olympic lists! Again, there’s been so many interesting discoveries, but these are my picks:

  • Badou — a Gambian name; I think I like names ending in “oo” even more than those in “o”!
  • Cadeau — French “gift”; very much a “why not?” kind of name…
  • Crake  — best-known as the corn-crake today, the word was once used — and can still be found — as a dialect word in parts of the North of England meaning “raven.”
  • Draško — a Slavic name, arising as a pet-form of names with the element dorgu meaning “precious.”
  • Siarhei — the Belorusian form of Sergei.

Sarah’s For Real Baby Names is always a source of inspiration and delight, where I get many a thrill from seeing unusual names actually being used out there — for real — as well as joy in adding new names to my collection! These are just some the gems I’ve added this year from For Real:

  • Geo — presumably inspired by the use of the prefix geo- forming words like geography and geophysics, it defiitely falls into the “why not?” category, especially for Nature lovers and Gaiaists. The prefix derives from the Greek “Earth.” Geo also works as a short-form of George…
  • Monet — the surname of the great French impressionist; soft, cultural and still quite unisex. Nice.
  • Renegade — I do like a good “word name,” and I love this one. Makes a great alternative to Maverick.
  • Tutu — whether its the ballet skirt or the South African bishop commemmorated here (or even the class of a degree), I warm to Tutu; it’s got that same chirpiness as names like Lilou and Lulu, and particularly makes a great, quirky middle name.

And last, but by no means least, Anna at Waltzing More than Matilda introduced me to some of Australia’s quirky innovations:

  • Alira, Alirah — almost certainly an Australian take on Aleera, a name which featured in the 2005 film Van Helsing, which, for some reason, has recently captured the Australian imagination.
  • Colebee — I love the “-bee” ending! A suburb of Sydney, named after a nineteenth century Aboriginal guide.
  • Kirrily — an Ozzie innovation, probably in essence a variant on Kerry-Lee, but there are some nice Maori and Aboriginal options which may have inspired the spelling.
  • Taiga — actually Japanese, I love this name’s meaning and sound — pronounced both the Japanese and English ways.

What delights will 2012 bring? I can hardly wait! Happy New Year!

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Pagan Name of the Month here at the Nook explores a name in the US or UK top 100 which has plenty of Pagan umph.

This month, it’s the turn of the sparkling, seasonal Stella.

As most people know, Stella means “star” in Latin.

“Stella Maris,” meaning “star of the sea” in Latin, is a well-known title of the Virgin Mary — and widely believed to have originally been an epithet of the Goddess Isis.

Although, there is actually no document from Antiquity explicitly linking Stella Maris with Isis — we do know that the ancients used “Stella Maris” of the star Polaris, and it is likely as a title to have originally belonged to Isis.

It was Eusebius, writing in the fourth century, was the first to say that Mary was “Stella Maris” (although it is not actually recorded as a title until the ninth), and it is well-established that Mary acquited many of Isis’s attributes and associations after Christianty became the official religion of Rome.

Stella was first used as a given name in the seventeenth century, possibly inspired by Sir Philip Sidney’s use of it in his Astrophel and Stella (1591). The Stella of the sonnets is often identified with Lady Penelope Rich, first cousin twice removed of Queen Elizabeth I (and possibly even the Queen’s great-great niece — a question mark hangs over the paternity of Penelope’s grandmother, Catherine Carey, daughter of “the other Boleyn Girl,” Mary).

Sidney himself is virtually universally identified with the Astrophel of the poems, a coinage of Sidney’s own from the Greek astêr “star” and philos “lover.”

Stella was 85th in the USA in 2010, having risen rapidly since 1998 when it re-entered the top 1000.

It left it slighty over ten years earlier, having been dwindling slowly with the passing decades since its previous peak almost 100 years exactly; it was 55th in 1889.

In the UK, it was a much lowlier 372nd, with its use possibly influenced negatively at the present time by the popularity of the Belgian lager, Stella Artois.

Stella did, however, enjoy a fair amount of popularity in the UK in the late ninteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was at its most popular in the 1920s, reaching 81st place in 1924.

Amongst real and fictional bearers are Stella Mayfair, a witch in Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series (1990–94) and Paul McCartney’s daughter, designer Stella McCartney (born 1971).

Stella also lies behind Estrella, Estelle and Estella, as well as the more unusual French Étoile.

So, as you can see, if you want a Pagan Witch or Wiccan name that doesn’t scream Pagan, Stella makes a stellar name!

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This week is ‘Sneak Peek Week’ at Nook of Names. Each day, I shall be previewing the entry or entries for the names of five friends who first ‘put their hands up’ when I announced it on Facebook.

So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Estelle. It’s a good name to start with, as it demonstrates very well how one entry often leads to another — a name in capitals indicates that name has an entry of its own. And Estelle leads us on a journey that takes us to Rome and beyond…


A French name. It may be from an old form of French: étoile ‘star’ < STELLA. A comparative development of how the word étoile arose from stella can be seen in the development of Étienne from Stephen. However, another plausible option is that Estelle developed as a variant of ESTHER. The -er ending sits awkwardly in French, and the linguistics involved in a shift to -elle in French are slight. Certainly, the resemblance to the Latin stella, if not an archaic form of étoile (no coincidence, as stella and Esther are probably cognate anyway), may have encouraged the development. The name was rare in France before the 19th Century, being found only in Les Charentes and Provence – another hint that its origins lie in Esther; Provence was where Isabella developed from Elizabeth. Although it had become more widespread by the 2nd half of the 19th Century, Estelle’s use in France still largely postdates the publication of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1860-61), the heroine of which is Estella – which naturally became Estelle in the French version. Bearers: Estelle Masterson, a (shrewish mortal) character in the US film I Married a Witch (1942).


Latin: stella ‘star’. Stella was used by Sir Philip Sidney in his Astrophel and Stella (1591). Stella Maris meaning ‘star of the sea’ is now considered a title of the Virgin Mary, but it is likely that the title was originally bestowed upon the Goddess Isis. 17th Century. Bearers: Stella Mayfair, a character in Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches series (1990-94).


In The Bible, Esther was the name given to Hadassah when she entered the harem of King Ahaseurus. It is widely believed to have derived from the Old Persian stāra ‘star’. However, it may actually be from ISHTAR. Esthêr was the Greek form used in The Bible; the Latin forms were Esthera and Hestera, with Esther deriving from the former and HESTER from the latter. Both came into use in the 16th Century and quickly became confused with EASTER and each other. Variant: Esta (modern). Diminutive: ESSIE. Czech, Danish, Finnish, Italian, Portuguese: Ester, Finnish: Esteri, Dutch, French, German, Spanish: Esther, Hungarian: Eszter; Eszti (diminutive). Bearers: Esther Vanhomrigh (c.1688-1723), probably the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s VANESSA; Esther Forbes (1891-1967), the US writer among whose works was A Mirror for Witches (1928) about the Salem Witch trials. Esther (1689) is a play by Racine.

As you can see, Estelle’s journey doesn’t end with Stella and Esther – but that’s quite enough for today :).

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