Challenge: Elvendork is unisex!

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This idea sprang from the challenge by a friend, which a second and then a third friend took up, and passed on to me.  I may have done it a little differently.  The original challenge was to list your favorite names for each sex for each letter, but as this second friend pointed out, a name can’t be your favorite if you’ve just discovered it.  Poor memory that I have, I was enjoying pouring over lists of names on BehindtheName.com (whenever I quote, I quote from this site) to remind me of names I’d seen before, spark ideas, and occasionally to uncover a new name.  I sort of took this as a challenge to name nonexistent children of mine.

A

Atticus

Atticus is what I’ve decided I’d like to call my first son.  It is entirely after Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  The name means “from Attica,” which is a region in Greece.  I’ve decided my child need not be Greek to bear the name.  I don’t think Atticus Finch was Greek.

Aubrey

It’s hard to beat any name that means “elf power,” though Alana and Althea both made a go of it while I was trying to write this list.

B

Benjamin

Brandon, “from a surname which was derived from a place name meaning “hill covered with broom” in Old English,” and linked in my mind to both Susan Cooper’s and George R. R. Martin‘s Bran, is a close second, but Benjamin is a fantastic name.  “From the Hebrew name בִּנְיָמִין (Binyamin) which means “son of the south” or “son of the right hand”. Benjamin in the Old Testament is the twelfth and youngest son of Jacob and the founder of one of the southern tribes of the Hebrews.”  My son will (I hope) be a son of the South.

Brianne

Brianne is the feminine form of Brian, which I now associate with Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore (so there’s that).  “The meaning of [Brian] is not known for certain but it is possibly related to the old Celtic element bre meaning “hill”, or by extension “high, noble”.”  I can call her Bri.

C

Callum

Cameron is a close second, but the Scottish Callum, meaning “dove,” has just the ever so slightly cuter nickname “Cal” instead of “Cam,” and the meaning “dove” is better than “crooked nose.”  This was a difficult battle of the names, though.  I like them both.

Catelyn

Catelyn, George R. R. Martin’s spelling of Catlin or Katelyn but a spelling that I prefer to others I’ve seen, comes from the same root as Katherine, a name whose meaning is under contention.  It might come from the “Greek αικια (aikia) “torture”; or it could be from a Coptic name meaning “my consecration of your name.  In the early Christian era it became associated with Greek καθαρος (katharos) “pure.””

D

Daniel

From the Hebrew name דָּנִיֵּאל (Daniyyel) meaning “God is my judge.”  Daniel was a Hebrew prophet whose story is told in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. He lived during the Jewish captivity in Babylon, where he served in the court of the king, rising to prominence by interpreting the king’s dreams.”  I like the nicknames Dan and Danny and Daniel itself does roll off the tongue.

Danae

From Δαναοι (Danaoi), a word used by Homer to designate the Greeks.  In Greek myth [she is] a princess of Argos and the mother of Perseus by Zeus, who came to her in the form of a shower of gold.”

E

Emrys

“Welsh form of AMBROSE. Emrys Wledig (or Ambrosius Aurelianus) was a Romano-British military leader who fought against the invading Anglo-Saxons in the 5th-century. Tales of his life were used by the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth to create the character of Merlin, who he called Merlinus Ambrosius or Myrddin Emrys.”  That’s right.  This is Merlin, but you won’t know it… unless you’re a fan of the BBC television show, which I am, but I knew the name before the show began and have the fanfiction to prove it.  It means “immortal,” which is the only thing I dislike about this name.  It seems to tempt fate just a little too much.

Elinor

Mostly, I like the diminutives “Elle,” “Ellie,” “Ella,” “Nell,” “Nellie, “Lenora,” “Nelda,” “Nonie,” “Nora,” “Norah”….  All of these are great names.  If I name this nonexistent child “Elinor,” we can just wait to see which name she takes.  It comes “from the Old French form of the Occitan name Aliénor.”

F

Finn

I love the name Fabian, but you just can’t do anything with it, and no kid will want to go by Fabian.  So I’ve chosen Finn and want to state that I am not a Gleek.  Finn comes from the “Irish fionn (older Irish finn) meaning “fair” or “white”.”

Felicia

Feminine form of the Latin name Felicius, a derivative of FELIX.” which means “lucky, successful.”  “In England, it has occasionally been used since the Middle Ages.”  I’d probably call her “Lecia.”

G

Gabriel

Gareth is a great name and when I first looked it up on a less reliable site, it was cited as meaning “strong spear.”  According to BehindtheName.com, the meaning of Gareth is unknown.  Gabriel however is “from the Hebrew name גַבְרִיאֵל (Gavri’el) meaning “strong man of God”.  He was an archangel, a messenger, The Patriot‘s son, and the son of one of my favorite art teachers.  But it is a warrior’s name, and that frightens me.

Georgiana

I like names with nicknames.  Gemma has none, really.  Georgiana can be Georgie if she likes or Anna.  Georgiana, apart from being the sweet sister of Mr. Darcy, is a feminine form of George, “from the Greek name Γεωργιος (Georgios) which was derived from the Greek word γεωργος (georgos) meaning “farmer, earthworker”, itself derived from the elements γη (ge) “earth” and εργον (ergon) “work”.”  One of the most famous Georges is a dragon-killer. I like dragons, but I like the strength of George too.

H

Henry

Henry is a lovely name.  Hank and Hal are not bad nicknames.  But if once he becomes Harry, it’s all over.  “Nasty, normal name,” Petunia Dursley thinks, and I don’t want to be the Harry Potter fan who named her son Harry.

Hagia Sophia

I’ve always secretly thought that Hagia Sophia or even just Hagia flowed wonderfully from the tongue.  Someone ought, I think, to keep me from naming my children after famous monuments.  But maybe not.  It sounds so pretty, Hagia.  Also, it means “holy.”  Hagia Sophia would be “holy wisdom.”  I’d probably call her Sophie.

I

Ivan

Newer form of the old Slavic name Іѡаннъ (Ioannu), which was derived from Greek Ioannes.”  It comes from the same route as John, which when followed to its roots means, “YAHWEH is gracious.”

Inara

This is a name invented by Joss Whedon for the television show Firefly.  She is maybe not the best role model for a young woman, so I should probably avoid using the name, but it is pretty.

J

James

My gosh, the choice between James and Jonathan!  Jamie or Johnny?  Jem or Jon?  Then there’s Nathan, if he likes Nathan, or Nate.  All of these are wonderful choices, but I prefer the nicknames for James over Jonathan, though Jonathan has more nicknames and the Biblical Jonathan has the better story.  James is the “English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya’aqov” or Jacob.  The meaning of the name Jacob is under debate, but may mean “holder of the heel” or “supplanter” or “may God protect.”  Jem is, I should mention too, the son of Atticus Finch.

Jolene

I’ve always liked the name Jolene since Dolly Parton’s country song.  Jolene comes from the nickname Jo, that can be a nickname for any number of J names.

K

Keagan

I could never name my son Keagan now.  I already have a son named Keagan.  He’s my protagonist’s best friend.  But it is one of favorite names on the planet.  It’s an alternate spelling of Keegan, which comes from an anglicized Irish surname that means “descendent of Aodhagán.”  When I first looked it up on a different, less reliable site, it said the meaning was “fire.”  I’m sure there’s some connection to fire in the name’s history somewhere… maybe….

Karianne

With a K, the name Karianne tips its hat to a friend of mine.  I will call her Kari (pronounce Kare-ee) or Kari (pronounced Kar-ee) or Anne or Annie.  Kari goes back to Katherine, the meaning of which was cited earlier.  Anne comes from Hannah, “from the Hebrew name חַנָּה (Channah) meaning “favour” or “grace”.”  So the name would mean what?  “Pure grace or favor”?  “Torturous favor or grace”?  “My graceful consecration of your name”?  Oh well.  It sounds pretty.

L

Luka

My favorite variant of “Luke,” the “English form of the Greek name Λουκας (Loukas) which meant “from Lucania”, Lucania being a region in Italy. Saint Luke, the author of the third Gospel and Acts in the New Testament, was a doctor who travelled in the company of Saint Paul. Due to his renown, the name became common in the Christian world (in various spellings). As an English name, Luke has been in use since the 12th century. A famous fictional bearer was the hero Luke Skywalker from the ‘Star Wars’ movies.”  Also, a mouse in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series.  The variant seems to be mostly Eastern European, mostly Balkan.

Lila

For this one, you can blame a philosophy professor of mine.  Lila is the creative force in the universe according to Buddhist tradition.  It is a Sanskrit word meaning “play” or “amusement.”

M

Malachi

If I named my son Malachi, and I called him, Mal, could I separate the nickname from “bad in Latin”?  He could be Chi.  “From the Hebrew name מַלְאָכִי (Mal’akhiy) meaning “my messenger” or “my angel”. This is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament, the author of the Book of Malachi,”

Miriam

“Original Hebrew form of MARY. It is used in the Old Testament, where it belongs to the elder sister of Moses and Aaron.”  “The meaning [of Mary] is not known for certain, but there are several theories including “sea of bitterness”, “rebelliousness”, and “wished for child”. However it was most likely originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry “beloved” or mr “love”.”

N

Noah

I’ve liked the name Noah longer than the name Nathaniel.  Noah also means “rest” or “comfort,” while Nathaniel comes down to “God has given.”  Both are good meanings, but rest and comfort just sounds peaceful….

Natalie

From the Late Latin name Natalia, which meant “Christmas Day” from Latin natale domino.”

O

Oliver

Oliver is winning this one because Owen has no nicknames, and I like the nickname Ollie, though I have a hard time picturing a young boy who would put up with Ollie for too many years.  Oliver is “from Olivier, a Norman French form of a Germanic name such as ALFHER [“elf army or warrior”] or an Old Norse name such as Áleifr (see OLAF [“ancestor’s descendent”]). The spelling was altered by association with Latin oliva “olive tree”. In the Middle Ages the name became well-known in Western Europe because of the French epic ‘La Chanson de Roland’, in which Olivier was a friend and advisor of the hero Roland.”

Olivia

This name was first used in this spelling by William Shakespeare for a character in his comedy ‘Twelfth Night’ (1602). Shakespeare may have based it on OLIVER or OLIVA, or perhaps directly on the Latin word oliva meaning “olive”.”  I could call her Livy or Olive.

P

Pyrrhus

I’m not overly fond of any of the boys’ names I’m finding for P.  If I name my child Pyrrhus, can I call him Rhus?  I think that seems all right.  Pyrrhus comes “from the Greek name Πυρρος (Pyrros) which meant “flame-coloured, red”, related to πυρ (pyr) “fire”. This was another name of Neoptolemus the son of Achilles. This was also the name of a 3rd-century BC king of Epirus.”

Penelope

“Possibly derived from Greek πηνελοψ (penelops), a type of duck. Alternatively it could be from πηνη (pene) “threads, weft” and ωψ (ops) “face, eye”. In Homer’s epic the ‘Odyssey’ this is the name of the wife of Odysseus, forced to fend off suitors while her husband is away fighting at Troy.”  Penelope is a paragon of loyalty and faithfulness and is clever besides.

Q

Quintin

French form of the Roman name QUINTINUS,” which comes from the word for “fifth.”

Quinn

From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Cuinn meaning “descendent of CONN,” which “means “chief” in Irish Gaelic.”

R

Raul

I like so many R names for boys, but I’ve probably liked the name Raul longest.  It’s the Italian or Portuguese form of Raoul, the hero of The Phantom of the Opera whom my young brain once loved.  It comes from a old Norse name, RÁÐÚLFR, meaning “wolf counsel.”

Rhiannon

Derived from the old Celtic name Rigantona meaning “great queen”. In Welsh mythology Rhiannon was the goddess of fertility and the moon. This name is also borne by a princess in Welsh legends, the wife of Pwyll.”  The wife of Pwyll is a tragedy, and so I doubt I’d ever use the name–I wouldn’t wish that on anyone–though it all does turn out all right in the end.

S

Samuel

I like the nicknames Sam or Sammy.  “From the Hebrew name שְׁמוּאֵל (Shemu’el) which could mean either “name of God” or “God has heard”. Samuel was the last of the ruling judges in the Old Testament. He anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel, and later anointed David.”  Simon places a good second, “from Σιμων (Simon), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name שִׁמְעוֹן (Shim’on) which meant “he has heard”.”  It is also difficult to dislike Cassandra Clare‘s Simon.

Sylvia

Sylvia must win because Sandra is a nickname for Alessandra and Seren has no nicknames that I can think of.  I will call her Sylvie.  Sylvia is “derived from Latin silva “wood, forest”.”

T

Timothy 

So many fantastic T names for young boys… how to decide?  Well, Thomas would probably somehow become Tom and be ridiculed about his Parseltongue and desire to kill.  Tobias would be Toby, which I have a harder time pinning on a young child, probably because of Toby from The West Wing.  So, let’s settle on Timothy, “from the Greek name Τιμοθεος (Timotheos) meaning “honouring God.”

Theresa

Theresa will always be my Tessie or Tessa unless I’m angry with her.  “The meaning is uncertain, but it could be derived from Greek θερος (theros) “summer”, from Greek θεριζω (therizo) “to harvest”, or from the name of the Greek island of Therasia (the western island of Santorini).”

U

Uzziah

“Means “my power is YAHWEH” in Hebrew. This was the name of several Old Testament characters including a king of Judah.”  I think I’d call him Ziah.

Ulyssa

A feminine form of Ulysses, the Latin form of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s Odyssey.  Sadly, BehindtheName.com guesses that Odysseus might be derived from the word “to hate,” which would be greatly ironic since Odysseus spends so long loving throughout The Odyssey.  But Odysseus is awesome, however his heroic qualities might be questioned by moralists.

V

Vadik

This is one of those times when a new name wins out.  Vadik is a nickname for the Russian name Vadim, the meaning of which is unknown, but which might be “related to the Slavic element volod “rule”, or possibly derived from an Old Norse source.”  Vance, “from an English surname which was derived from Old English fenn meaning “marsh, fen”,” would be my second choice.

Virginia

I could not tell you what originally spawned my love of the name of Virginia.  It could be that I was (will be dubbed) one of those Harry Potter fans because I loved Harry Potter before the name, and the name before I loved the state.  (I know Ginny’s name is Ginevra, but I would probably call my Virginia Ginny too.)

W

William

“From the Germanic name Willahelm, which was composed of the elements wil “will, desire” and helm “helmet, protection.””  Blame Susan Cooper again.  I love the name Will.  I also like the name Liam.  Sadly I dislike all other forms of William.

Willa

Blame Sharon Shinn.  Willa is a good name.  Also, if a Willa of mine decided that she preferred Wen, I would be okay with that.  BehindtheName.com tells me that Willa is actually a feminine form of William.

X

Xander

Maybe a cheat.  I want to name my first son Atticus, but I love the name Alexander, “defending man.”  If I ever had an Alexander, I think I would call him Alec, but I wouldn’t complain if he decided he preferred Xander.

Xylia

Modern creation, perhaps based on Greek ξυλον (xylon) meaning “of the forest.””  This is another name I’ve just discovered.

Y

Yonah

This might be a cheat.  According to BehindtheName.com, this is the original spelling of Jonah, a Hebrew or Biblical Hebrew name, “meaning “dove”. This was the name of a prophet swallowed by a fish, as told in the Old Testament Book of Jonah. He emerged from the fish alive three days later.”

Ygritte

With the disclaimer that I am currently midway through George R. R. Martin’s Storm of Swords, I do really like this name.

Zane

An English name, “from an English surname of unknown meaning.”

Zillah

A Biblical name that “means “shade” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament she is the second wife of Lamech.”  It is also the name of one of the ancestors of Mad Dog Branzillo in A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle.

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About Kathryn

My love of books has been carefully cultivated by the adults who raised me and also by the friends who love to share. My life has led me down long library shelves, to online forums, fanfiction sites, the front of a lecture hall, and into the desks of college classrooms. With an English degree and a couple master’s classes in Children’s Literature, I am now a bookseller for Barnes & Noble. I have been an editor for Wizarding Life Networks (the people who brought you Wizarding Life, Panem October, and MyHogwarts now HogwartsIsHere).

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