Posts Tagged ‘Orange’

It’s the Winter Solstice tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Summer Solstice in the Southern — I’m not jealous, really, I’m not).

That is to say, it’s the shortest day, or — as my mum used to say — the longest night.

And whatever your religious persuasion, or none, there’s something special about it.

It marks the very deepest, darkest moment of winter — that’s the bleak bit.

But it means from now on, the days gradually start to lengthen again. The ever turning wheel of the year has shifted, and we’re on our way back to the warmth and light. Yippee!

However, for a few days, each side of the Solstice, to the naked eye, the sun appears to rise and set in the same places — hence the name, from the Latin sol “sun” + sisto “to stand still.”

Of course, we know today that the reason why the sun grows weaker and the days shorten after the Summer Solstice is because the Earth goes round the sun, spinning on its axis, which is on an angle.

But for most of human history (and prehistory) most humans thought it was the sun doing the moving, rising in the East, setting in the West.

As the Winter Solstice approached, they thought the sun was dying; the Sostice marked the point when the sun was reborn, to strengthen and grow until it reached the peak of its power at the Summer Soltice.

No wonder this period is marked with numerous festivals, frequently of light.

Chief among them in the pagan Roman Empire was Sol Invictus — “The Unconquered Sun” — whose birthday was celebrated on December 25.

It is no coincidence that it shares December 25 with Christmas, only celebrated on that date since the fifth century.

December 25 is the first date after the Solstice when the sun stops seeming to “stand still” and the day is discernibly a little longer.

The word “Christmas” actually dates only to the twelfth century. Prior to that, the festivities which took over Sol Invictus were called Yule (the earliest Old English form known is geohol), almost certainly the name of the Germanic pagan festival celebrated at this time.

The ultimate source of the word “yule” is uncertain, but it is either cognate with, or derived from the Norse jól and is, most likely, connected with “jolly,” though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation about which came first.

The original Norse festival of Jól was celebrated between the 20th and 31st December.

Yule and Yuletide are still used generally as an alternative name for Christmas, as they have for centuries, but it is the preferred name for the season by most Pagans of all persuasions, who usually use it now for the Solstice, rather than December 25.

Druids, however, will often call the Solstice Alban Arthan, which was first recorded by Iolo Morganwg.

So, what names for a Winter Solstice baby?

  • Aglaia — Greek aglaios “splendor”; one of the Graces
  • Alban — Welsh “solstice”; identical to the name of the saint, and quite probably sharing the same roots in the Common Celtic *albiyo- “upper world” and “white.”
  • Amaterasu — Japanese 天  “heaven,” “sky” and 照 “shine”; the name of the Japanese Goddess of the sun
  • Amber — one ancient belief was that amber was the solidified light of the setting sun on the sea.
  • Anwu — Igbo “sun”
  • Apollo — God of the sun
  • Arevik — Armenian name meaning “sun-like”
  • Arthan — An Old Welsh word meaning “winter”, connected by Iolo Morganwg with arth “bear.”
  • Arthur — Druids see Arthur as symbolic of the sun and equate him with the winter solstice.
  • Arun, Aruna — In Hindu mythology, Aruna is the charioteer of the sun.
  • Aster
  • Aten — Egyptian “disc of the sun”; the name of an Egyptian God, considered an aspect of Ra.
  • Aurinko — Finnish “sun”
  • Bay — one of the herbs traditionally added to a seasonal mulled wine
  • Cam — the Romani word for “sun” (and “to love”)
  • Cardamon — a spice added to mulled wines in the Middle Ages
  • Cerah — Malaysian “sunny” and “bright”
  • Chrysogon — Greek khrusogonos “gold-born”; Grisegond is an old variant
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrine — used since the eighteenth century as the name of a type of yellow topaz; it is believed to radiate the energy of the sun
  • Clove — one of the most important ingredients of a mulled wine
  • Cressida — derives ultimately from the Greek mythological Chryseis, meaning “(daughter) of Chryses” — a male Greek name from khrusos “gold.”
  • Day
  • Diell — Albanian “sun”
  • Eguzki — Basque “sun”
  • Enya — in the Native American language of Papai, enya means “sun.” The Irish Enya originated as the Anglicized form of Eithne used by the Irish singer-songwriter Enya; Eithne is an old form of Áine, the name of an Irish Goddess, whose name means “heat” and “light”.
  • Frankincense — an ancient resin, used as an incense since ancient times, and used for purification in Pagan temples. It is considered to be ruled by the Sun even today, and the Ancient Egyptians used it particularly in the worship of the sun God Ra.
  • Geola — Old English form of YULE
  • Gold — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Grian — an Irish Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Günay — Turkish girl’s name combining güneş “sun” + ay “moon”; Aygün is a variant
  • Haru — Japanese boy’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight”; Haruki, another boy’s name, combines it with 輝 “radiance, shine” or 生 “life,” while the girl’s name Haruko combines it with 子 “child.”
  • Heliodorus, Heliodora — Greek “gift of the sun”
  • Heliostásio — Modern Greek “solstice”
  • Helius — Greek God of the sun; his name means “sun”
  • Heuldro — Welsh “solstice”
  • Heulwen — Welsh haul “sun” + (g)wen “white,” “blessed” and “pure”; used since the late nineteenth century
  • Hina — Japanese girl’s name: 陽 “sun,” “sunlight” or 日 “sun,” “day” + 菜 “vegetables”
  • Honey — associated with the sun since ancient times
  • Iolo — although unrelated, Iolo (with its feminine form Iola) has a very similar ring to YULE…
  • Jólnir — a byname of Odin. Old Norse: jól “YULE”
  • Jolie — French jolie, feminie of joli “pretty,” derives from, or shares the same origin, as the Old Norse jól “YULE”
  • Jolly — sharing the same origin as JOLIE, if you find this too light, why not consider the “long-form” Jolyon, a form of Julian, deriving ultimately from Julius? Although, like Iolo, not related to Yule, the similarities are there…
  • Jua — Swahili “sun”
  • Kem — Romani “sun”; a variant of CAM
  • Khurshid — Old Persian “shining sun”; the name of an angel in Zoroastrianism associated with the sun
  • Light
  • Lucius
  • Lucy — English form of Lucia, the feminine of LUCIUS. St Lucy’s day was celebrated in many parts of Europe last week on the thirteenth; until the switch over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, St Lucy’s used to fall on or around the Solstice.
  • Lux — Latin “light”
  • Maeve — Usual modern form of the Irish name Medb, which derives from the Common Celtic for MEAD (cognate with mead itself)
  • Matahari — Indonesian “sun” (from mata “eye” + hari “day”)
  • Mead — a beverage made from HONEY, dating back to ancient times; probably the unofficial official Pagan drink, especially for the Solstices; it shares honey’s associations with the sun.
  • Midwinter — a word used of the Solstice since Angl0-Saxon times
  • Mithras — the Greco-Roman God of the mystery religion of Mithraism, popular with Roman soldiers. His worship arrived from the East in the first century; he is identified with Sol Invictus, and his birthday was also celebrated on December 25.
  • Mull — “mulled wine,” from the verb “to mull” meaning “to warm.” The Island of Mull gets its name from a Gaelic word meaning “bare,” also quite appropriate for the season, since all is bare (the cognate Welsh word is used of bare, “bald” hills).
  • Myrene — an Amazon in Greek myth; Greek: murinês “sweet wine.”
  • Myristica — botanical name for NUTMEG, meaning “fragrant”
  • Naran — Mongolian name meaning “sun”
  • Natalia — from the Latin natale “bitth”; these days, associated with the birth of Jesus, but is just as appropriately applied to the rebirth of the Sun, as celebrated at Sol Invictus; Natalie and Nathalie are the popular French forms, and Natasha, the Russian pet-form.
  • Noel — Anglo-Norman noel “Christmas” from Latin natale —  see NATALIA
  • Nutmeg — another spice often added to a mulled wine
  • Oenone
  • Orange — oranges, being round and, well, orange, are often associated with the sun
  • Oriana — coined by Elizabethan poets in honor of Queen Elizabeth I, from Latin orior “to rise,” used specifically of the rising sun.
  • Orinda — another poetic invention coinage from orior (see Oriana above), this time of the seventeenth century.
  • Orun — Yoruba: òrùn “sun”
  • Phaëthon — Greek “shining”; the name of a son of Helius, famous for almost crashing the chariot of the sun
  • Phanes — a primeval Greek God, associated with MITHRAS; his name derives from the Greek phainô “to bring light.”
  • Phoebe
  • Phoebus — Greek: phoibos “bright” and “radiant”; epithet of Apollo
  • Ra — the Egyptian God of the Sun, whose name means “sun”
  • Ramesses — The name of a famous Pharaoh, meaning “RA/the sun bore him.”
  • Ravi — Sanskrit “sun”
  • Renaissance  — French “rebirth”; generally used since the nineteenth century of the cultural “rebirth” at the end of the Middle Ages, its basic meaning is simply “rebirth” and could be used as a name with reference to the rebirth of the sun at the Winter Solstice
  • René, Renée — French forms of RENATUS
  • Renatus, Renata — Latin “reborn”; used of the rebirth of the sun
  • — Chinese 日 “sun,” “day”
  • Samson — Hebrew: “child/man of SHAMASH”; Sampson is a common variant
  • Saulė — Lithuanian Goddess of the sun, whose name means “sun”; Saulenė is a variant
  • Shamash — major Assyrian God; his name means “sun” in Akkadian
  • Shams — Arabic “sun”
  • Shemshi — Swahili “sun”
  • Sherry — rolled out across the land at this time of year, particularly to leave out for Santa…
  • Soare — Romanian “sun”
  • Sol — Latin “sun”; Norse Sól meaing “sun” is the name of the Norse Goddess of the Sun
  • Solar
  • Solaris — Latin “of the sun”
  • Soleil — French “sun”
  • Solifer, Solifera — Latin “sun-bearing”
  • Soligena — Latin “sun-born”
  • Solstice
  • Solveig — Old Norse sól “sun” + veig “strength”
  • Sonne — German “sun”
  • Sorin — Romanian name, usually derived from SOARE
  • Sorina — feminine of SORIN
  • Sounia — epithet of Athena, from Sounion in Attica, which may, possibly, derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *su(w)en- “sun”; Latinized as Sunia
  • Stella
  • Sulien — Old Welsh name, probably meaning “sun-born”
  • Sun
  • Sunčana — Croatian name from sunče “sun”
  • Sunday — could be interpreted as referring to the Solstices as well as the day of the week
  • Sunlight
  • Sunna — Goddesss of the sun in Germanic tradition.
  • Sunniva — Old English: Sunngifu “sun-given”
  • Sunny
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Sunshine
  • Surya — Sanskrit “sun”; the Hindu God of the sun
  • Svarog — Slavic God of the sun; Slavic: svar “bright”
  • Tesni — Welsh name deriving from tes “sunshine” and “warmth”
  • Wassail — originally a salutation used when passing a cup to a guest; from the Old English wes hāl “be in good health”; in time it came to be used of the drink too, especially the spiced ale drunk during the twelve days of Christmas
  • Wine — another popular beverage of the season, especially mulled
  • Winter
  • Yáng — Chinese  陽 “sun,” “positive”
  • Youko — Japenese girl’s name: 陽 “sun” + 子 “child”
  • Yule — of course. Also the fab variant Yul. Yule was actually used as a given name in medieval times (with a feminine form Yula), surviving for some time on the Isle of Man in the form Jole.

With Yule and Sol Invictus to celebrate, I’ll be back at the Nook when the mead’s worn off…

A bright and blessed Solstice, Yule, Alban Arthan and Christmas one and all. 🙂

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In Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names: For Pagans, Witches, etc, etc, I recommend that when you’re in the process of choosing a name, you keep your eyes peeled and look for inspiration everywhere. I happen to be in the middle of choosing some new paint colors for my bedroom and hall, and while pondering whether to plum for Arsenic or Faded Malachite, Chartreuse or Garden City, it struck me that some of the names which the paint companies have come up actually have great potential as names for other projects too…

Some really are quite weird, like Crew Cut Cream and Elephant’s Breath, whil many are very humdrum, standard colours, like plain Cream and Beige, but there are some absolute gems. A great many do actually feature in The Book, but not all, by any means (I’ll leave you guessing which!), and some are definitely better suited to pets than people (I’ll leave that to your discretion!).

The colors below are all the part or full name of paints currently on sale in the UK, manufactured by Crown Paint, Craig and Rose, Dulux, Farrow and Ball, Fired Earth and Little Greene — only a tiny fraction, therefore, of all the paints out there. If you’re stuck for a name for someone or something non-commercial (many of these names are registered, so you couldn’t use them for a retail product), you might find more than what you were after down your local DIY store!

Absinth, Absinthe, Aconite, Acorn, Acre, Adriatic, Adventurer, Alabaster, Alizarin Earth, Almond, Alouette, Amber Gris, Amber Spirit, Amethyst, Andaman Sea, Antimony, Antique, Antique Earth, Apple, Apple Mist, Apple Tree, Apricot, Aqua, Aqua Source, Aquamarine, Archive, Arctic Grey, Armagnac, Armoise, Arsenic, Ashes of Roses, Aspen Silver, Aubusson, Avantgarde, Babouche, Bamboo Leaf, Bamiyan Blue, Barley, Basket, Basswood, Beauty Queen, Beauvais, Beeswax, Belladonna, Berber, Berry, Bespoke, Bianco, Biscotti, Black, Blazer, Blossom, Blue Ashes, Blue Ciel, Blue Grass, Blue Gravel, Blue Monday, Blue Moon, Blue Mosel, Blue Reflection, Blueberry, Bone, Bone China Blue, Bonnet, Botanic, Box Tree, Brassica, Brinjal, Brioche, Bronze Red, Brown Sugar, Burgundy, Burnt Juniper, Buttermilk, Button, Caenstone, Café au Lait, Calamine, Calico, Calke, Calluna, Calvados, Cane, Canton, Canvas, Carbon Blue, Carnaby, Carragheen, Cascade, Cashmere, Celadon, Celebrity, Celestial Blue, Chalk, Chalk Violet, Chamois, Champagne, Charcoal, Charleston, Chateau, Chelsea Girl, Chemise, Cherry, Chestnut, Chic Shadow, Chiffon, China, China Clay, Chocolate Chaude, Chocolate Comtesse, Chocolate Fondant, Chocolate Suede, Chrome, Chromium, Churlish Green, Cinder Rose, Cinnabar Red, Cirrus, Citrine, Citron, Clay, Clay Pale, Clove, Clunch, Coastal Glow, Cobble, Cochineal, Cocoa, Coffee, Copper Canyon, Copper Mine, Coral, Coral Flair, Coraline, Cord, Cornfield, Cornflower, Cornforth, Cotton Field, Cotton Twill, Coumarin, Cream Silk, Crimson Kiss, Crimson Silk, Crochet, Custard, Cyan, Daffodil, Damson, Day Dream, Dazzle, Dead Salmon, Deep Ivy, Delicate Cream, Denim, Desert Wind, Diamond Dust, Dimity, Dorset Cream, Dragon’s  Blood, Dragonfly, Dramatic, Dream Time, Drummond, Dusted Damson, Eastern Light, Eau-de-Nil, Echo, Ecru, Enamel Green, Espresso, Essential, Etiquette, Etoile, Etruscan Red, Euphoria, Expectation, Fairy Dust, Faithful, Fallow, Fawn, Fawn Suede, Felt, Festival Orange, Fine Silk, Firefly, Fireside, First Dawn, First Frost, First Light, Flake, Flame Red, Flamingo, Flawless, Flawless Faun, Folly, Footprint, Forest Pine, Free Love, Fresco, Frosted Dawn, Frothy Coffee, Full Moon, Gallery, Gamboge, Garden, Garnet, Gauze, Gentian Violet, Gentle, Genuine, Gesso, Glass Samphire, Gold Dusk, Gold Leaf, Gold Sparkle, Golden Glow, Golden Silk, Golden Suede, Granite, Graphite, Grey Lace, Gypsum, Hague, Hammock, Happy Daze, Hardwick, Hay, Heavenly Haze, Hedgerow, Hemp, Herb Garden, Hessian, Hollyhock, Honesty, Honey, Honey Cream, Hound Lemon, Incarnatino, Incarnadine, Incense, India, Indigo, Innocence, Intense Aqua, Ivory, Ivory Lace, Ivory Pearl, Ivory Shimmer, Ivory Suede, Jack Black, Jade White, Jardin Vert, Jasmine Shimmer, Jersey, Jet Black, Juniper Ash, Just Plum, Lady Jayne, Laguna Bay, Lait, Lake, Lancaster, Lapis, Lavender, Lemon Pie, Lemon Punch, Lichen, Lido Blue, Lilac Echo, Lime Green, Lincoln Green, Linen, Linnet, Liqueur, Lola Plum, London Stone, Lotus, Lulworth, Lunar Falls, Lupin, Luscious Lime, Mackintosh Mauve, Madder Red, Mademoiselle, Magnolia, Mahogany, Maison Blanc, Malachite, Malm, Malt, Mambo, Manna Ash, Marble, Marine Blue, Marram, Mascarpone, Mean Mustard, Mellow Green, Mellow Sage, Melon Sorbet, Menthe, Mercury, Mezereon, Middleton, Midnight Kiss, Milliner, Mimosa, Mineral Mist, Mink, Mint Whisper, Mirage, Mischief, Mizzle, Mocha, Mojito, Moonlight Bay, Moonstone, Morning Light, Morris Blue, Mortlake, Moulin Rouge, Mulberry, Mushroom, Natural Wicker, Nickel, Nordic Spa, Normandy Grey, Northern Lights, Nursery Rhyme, Nutmeg, Oak Apple, Oak Fern, Ocean Ripple, Ochre, Olive, Opal, Ophelia Plum, Orange, Orange Aurora, Orangerie, Orangery, Orchard Pink, Orchid Leaf, Orchid White, Osborne Maroon, Oxford Blue, Oxygen, Oyster, Pacific Breeze, Palatine, Pale Citrus, Pale Gilt, Pale Gold, Pale Hound, Palest Blue, Palladian, Palm Honey, Papyrus, Parchment, Parfait, Parma, Parsley, Parthenon White, Pashmina, Passion Flower, Pavillion, Pea Green, Peachblossom, Pearl, Pearl Ashes, Pebble, Pelt, Penny Black, Perfectly Taupe, Perfume, Periwinkle, Persian Rose, Pewter, Pigeon, Pink Sugar, Pitcairn, Platinum, Plum Suede, Plummett, Polar Blue, Polished Pebble, Pompadour, Porcelain Blue, Porphyry Pink, Portland Stone, Powder Blue, Prairie Gold, Pretty Pink, Primrose, Primrose Yellow, Pumice, Purity, Purple Heart, Purple Pearl, Purple Pout, Quince, Ra Ra Red, Race, Radicchio, Raspberry, Raspberry Bellini, Raspberry Diva, Raw Earth, Rebel, Red Dark, Red Earth, Red Ochre, Redcurrant, Regal Blue, Regency Fawn, Regent Green, Ringwold, Rocky, Rodeo Drive, Rolling Fog, Roman, Roman Ocher, Rosaraie, Rose Mallow, Rose Pink, Rosy Cheeks, Royal Gala, Ruby Starlet, Rusling, Russet, Safflower, Sage Green, Sahara Star, Sail White, Salix, Sanctuary, Sand, Sapphire, Saracen, Sari, Sash Red, Satin Bow, Satin Jade, Savage, Saxe Blue, Saxifrage, Saxon, Scarab, Scarlet Ribbon, Scooter Red, Sea Blue, Sea Lavender, Secret Shell, Sepia, Serpentine, Serrano Red, Seville Orange, Shell, Sienna Earth, Silica, Silk Gown, Silt, Silver Heather, Silver Lustre, Silver Mine, Siren, Skimming Stone, Sky Blue, Sky High, Skylon Grey, Slate Grey, Smalt, Smock, Smoke Blue, Smoky Mist, Smoulder, Snowdrop, Snowfall, Soft Peach, Sorbet, Soya, Spire, Spring Blush, Stargazer, Starling, Starlight, Steel, Stock, Stone, Stony, Straw, Striking, Stucco, Sudbury, Summer Lichen, Summer Pudding, Summer Yellow, Sumptuous Silk, Sun Yellow, Sunday Best, Sunlight, Sunrise, Surpar Red, Sweet Almond, Sweet Cicely, Sweet Pink, Tallow, Tan Suede, Tanner, Tapestry, Taupe Suede, Teal Tension, Tempting, Terra Cotta, Terra di Sienna, Terre, Thai Sapphire, Tibetan Gold, Timeless, Tiramisu, Toffee Apple, Travertina Crema, Trellick, Triomphe, Truffle, Tudor Rose, Tufa, Tundra, Turquoise, Tuscan Earth, Tuscan Olive, Tuscan Red, Tuscany, Tusk, Twiglet, Tyrian Rose, Ultramarine, Umber, Urban Obsession, Vanilla, Vellum, Velvet, Velvet Plum, Venetian Red, Verd Antique, Verdigris, Verdilith, Verditer, Vert de Terre, Violet Slate, Vivid, Walnut, Wasabi, Wax Myrtle, Weald Green, Welcome Pale, Weld Yellow, Welkin Blue, Wellbeing, Wheatgrass, Wharf, Whisper of Pashmina, Whisper of Snowfall, Whisper of Sunrise, White Mist, Wild Olive, Wild Primrose, Wildwood, Willow Tree, Wimborne, Winchester Green, Wind Chime, Windsor Blue, Winterbloom, Woad Blue, Woodbine, Zangar, Zenith Blue, Zinc

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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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A number of boys were called George Washington in 1776 after the great American hero of Independence.

It’s Independence Day today on the other side of the Pond, and to celebrate, I thought I’d explore the names given to babies the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed. Using the records available online at FamilySearch (a great genealogical resource provided by the Church of Latter Day Saints), I waded through over 1000 records to take a snapshot of what newly independent Americans were naming their offspring in 1776. Unsurprisingly, the commonest names were John, Joseph, William and James for boys, and Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, Hannah and Ann(e) for girls — but what was surprising was that  these names didn’t dominate quite as much as expected. It turns out, there was a lot of variety in naming practices in America in 1776.

There were some absolute gems — names which might have just stepped out of the pages of Charles Dickens — or even Harry Potter. Abigail Root, Alpheus Dodge, Amaziah Rice, Betsey Boon, Eliphalet Whittlesey, Gamaliel Pardee, Hephzibah Crouch, Howel Stocking, Ichabod Tuttle, Olive Doolittle, Permilia Pettingale, Polly Griswold, Sabrina Craft, Tryphena Blodgett and Zadock Steel would all have been perfectly at home on a shopping trip up Diagon Alley…

Most of the names fell into distinct categories (I have standardized spellings):

  • Classic ‘English’ names — names which had gone over with the first settlers, having been in use for centuries back in Blighty before that: Agnes, Alice, Allen, Amy, Arnold, Barbara, Catherine, Charles, Christopher, Dorothy, Edmund, Edward, Frances, Francis, George, Gilbert, Giles, Henry, Justin, Lawrence, Leonard, Lucy, Mabel, Margaret, Margery, Martin, Miles, Millisent, Nicholas, Olive, Oliver, Parnel, Ralph, Richard, Robert, Roderick, Roger, Rosie, Stephen, Sybil,  Ursula, Walter.
  • Pet-names — Alison, Betsey/Betsy, Betty, Cate, Dilly, Dolly, Fanny, Katy, Lina, Molly, Nancy, Patty, Polly, Sally. Some people think that using short or pet-forms of names as given names in their own right is a new phenomenon – but it’s not, as this list shows; Alison was first used independently of Alice in the Middle Ages.
  • Biblical names — probably the largest category. As well as the familiar Bible names, the late 18th Century Americans were just as cheerfully trawling through the dustiest corners of the Old Testament to find obscure names for their children as they do today. All of these featured, a great many of them more than once. Aaron, Abel, Abiah/Abijah, Abiel, Abigail, Abner, Abraham, Abram, Achsah, Adonijah, Amasa, Amaziah, Amos, Andrew, Ard, Ariel, Asa, Asahel/Asael, Asaph, Asenath, Azariah, Azubah, Barnabas, Bathsheba, Benajah, Benjamin, Benoni, Beriah, Bernice, Beulah, Bithiah/Bethiah, Caleb, Cyrenius, Cyrus, Dan, Daniel, David, Deborah, Dorcas, Ebenezer, Eleazar, Eli, Eliab, Eliakim, Elias/Elijah, Eliasaph, Eliel, Elihu, Eliphalet, Elisha, Elizur, Elkanah, Enos, Epaphras, Ephraim, Erastus, Esther, Eunice, Ezra, Festus, Gad, Gamaliel, Gershom, Gideon, Hephzibah, Hezekiah, Hiel, Hiram, Huldah, Ichabod, Isaac, Isaiah, Israel, Ithiel, Jabez, Jacob, Jared, Jason, Jedediah, Jehiel, Jemima, Jephthah, Jerah, Jeremiah, Jeremy, Jerusha, Jesse, Joanna, Job, Joel, Jonathan, Josiah, Judith, Julius, Justus, Keturah,Kezia, Lemuel, Levi, Lois, Lot, Lucius, Lydia, Mahalah, Malachi, Marah, Marcus, Martha, Mehetabel, Merab, Micah, Michael, Miriam, Moses, Naomi, Nathan, Nathaniel, Nehemiah, Noadiah, Noah, Obadiah, Oren, Orpha, Ozias, Pelatiah, Persis, Philetus, Phineas/Phinehas, Phoebe, Rachel, Rebecca, Reuben, Reumah, Reuel, Rhoda, Ruah, Rufus, Ruhamah, Ruth, Salah, Samuel, Sapphira, Selah, Seth, Shadrack, Shubael, Silas, Simeon, Simon, Solomon, Susannah, Tabitha, Talitha-cumi, Tamar, Thaddeus, Thomas, Timothy, Tryphena, Vaniah, Zachariah, Zadok, Zebulon, Zelotes, Zenas, Zeruiah. Phew!
  • Puritan names — Charity, Deliverance, Desire, Freegrace, Freelove, Friend, Grace, Mercy, Patience, Prudence, Relief, Submit, Temperance, Thankful. Vine.
  • Names from the Classical World — Aeneas, Alethea, Alpheus, Augustus, Aurelia, Chloe, Cynthia, Darius, Doris, Drusilla, Flora, Irene, Juliana, Lavinia, Lucretia, Minerva, Parthenia, Penelope, Philo, Philomela, Phyllis, Polyxena, Roxana, Selina, Silvia, Sophia, Statira, Thalia, Urania, Zeno. A number of the names in the biblical list are also of Greek or Roman origin, but in most cases, their use in 18th Century was due to their appearance in the Bible – which is why they’re on that list, not this.
  • Names from literature — Clarinda, Clarissa, Fidelia, Horatio, Lorinda, Lucinda, Matilda, Miranda, Orinda, Sabrina, Violetta.
  • 18th Century fashionistas  — Ada, Amelia, Anna, Charlotte, Frederick, Harriet, Matilda, Theodosia.  Most of these were actually in existence before the 18th C, but it was in this century when they came into their element.
    Surnames – Alvan, Arbus, Avery, Bemsley, Bradford, Briggs, Buckley, Calvin, Chauncey, Chester, Church, Clark, Clarry, Denison, Dudley, Elvin, Grant, Gordon, Halsey, Hazard, Howard, Howel, Hubbard, Johnson, Leaman, Lewis, Lothrop, Montgomery, Moore, Palmer, Payson, Percy, Prentice, Roswell, Royal, Rue, Russell, Salmon, Selden, Sheldon, Sterling, Wait, Ward, Warren, Warriner, Wells, Willis, Wilson, Woodruff. A pet bugbear of many people today is the use of surnames as first names – but it is an old practice, as these names demonstrate.
  • Children of the Revolution — George Washington, Freedom, Independence, Liberty, Joy — and Lament? Lament may belong in the Puritan category, but Little Lament Hall was born on July 12, and I can’t help wondering whether his parents had not been quite so pleased about the Declaration! Perhaps Rue belongs here too!
  • Unique names — these gems and marvels may be scribal errors rather than genuine names, as I have not been able to verify them.  Ammarilla, Ammedilla, Ason, Azara, Bani, Barna, Beraliel, Clarine, Cylinda, Darkis, Dency, Elafan, Elazander, Etrania, Farazina, Finance, Heman/Himan, Hubbil, Ketchell, Lodamia, Lorain, Lowly/Lowley, Luanna, Lurannah, Lurany, Milete, Orange, Orra, Permilia, Philena, Prua, Rena, Sabin, Sabra, Salem, Saniel, Sule, Susa, Vienna, Welthy, Willeborough, Willibee, Zebriah.

And what about children actually born on the 4th July 1776? Not that many actually. Bethiah Gray, Charles Loomis, Gideon Cruttenden, Ruah Weed,  Selah Scovill – and (how could there not be?) Independence Booth!

Happy Independence Day!

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