Saturday, October 1, 2016

Barely Used Girl Names: Harriet, Guinevere & Persephone [Part Five]

If you're reading this, you've made it to part five in this series featuring barely-used girl names. We are well below the #1300s now, which makes these names rather uncommonly used in the US.


Harriet (179 births - #1314)  Harriet is the feminine form of Harry, and a sister name to Henriette. These all come from Henry which, of course, comes from the German Heimirich and Heinrich meaning "home ruler". Harriet has been in use in the US since 1880 on record. It was in the Top 1000 until 1971. While it declined for a while, it is inching back up the chart.

Clover (178 births - #1319)  This quirky name comes from the wild flower. It is derived from the Old English clafre . While unusual, this name dates back to 1897 in the US for women. It has never been close to ranking in the Top 1000, but it is inching upward now. Would you consider it?

Roxanne (178 births - #1324)  Roxanne is the French and English form of the Greek Ρωξανη (Roxane) which was taken from the Persian or Bactrian name روشنک (Roshanak) meaning "bright" or "dawn". Roxanne first popped up at 1906 and was most popular in 1954. It left the Top 1000 in 2001, except for 2013. Could it gain more popularity?

Linnea (177 births - #1330)  This comes from the name of a flower known as the twinflower. It is a Swedish name that honors Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus. He named the flower after himself. The name first landed on the charts in the US in 1894. It was popular enough to enter the Top 1000 from 1942-1955, but it hasn't had a top spot since then.

Guinevere (176 births - #1336)  Guinevere comes from the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar. It comes from the elements gwen meaning "fair, white" and sebara meaning "magical being". The Cornish form of this name is Jennifer. Guinevere first charted in 1912 but it has never been in the Top 1000. It is more popular now than it has ever been.

Luella (176 births - #1337)  Luella is a varient of Louella which is just a combination of Lou and Ella. Lou comes from Louis, a form of Ludovicus and Ludwig ultimately meaning "famous battle". Ella comes from the Germanic Alia and alja meaning "other".  Luella has been around since 1880 but left the Top 1000 in the 1950s. It is back on the rise now, though.

Persephone (175 births - #1350)  The only thing that may be keeping this name down is its potential meaning. It comes from the Greek pertho meaning "to destroy" and phone meaning "murder". A very dark name for the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. The name popped up in the US in 1962. In the past decade, Persephone has started gaining some attention and is slowly inching toward the Top 1000.

Flora (173 births - #1362)  Flora comes from the Latin flos meaning "flower" and was the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring. Flora is rather vintage. It was most popular in 1920. While it hasn't quite caught on again now, it is starting to slowly gain attention.

Octavia (173 births - #1364)  This name is the feminine form of Octavius meaning "eighth". In ancient Rome, she was the sister of emperor Augustus and the wife of Mark Antony. As a name, Octavia has been in the US since 1880, but it didn't join the Top 1000 until 1971 with its best year being 1987. It left the charts again by 1999 but looks like it could regain some greater usage soon.

Arlene (170 births - #1376)  Arlene comes from Arline whose meaning and origin is mostly unknown. It's possible that Arline was invented for a character in the 1843 opera "The Bohemian Girl" by Michael William Balfe. Both names did well in the 1920s through the 1940s or so, but Arlene was much more used than Arline. Arlene left the Top 1000 in 2006 but Arline faded away back in the 1950s.

Which of these names do you like most? Which do you think might reenter the Top 1000 first?

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