Reginald

Reginald Earnshaw.

Origin: Germanic, Latin, English.
Meaning:
“Rule,” “Advice.”
Gender:
Masculine.

Reginald is an old-school name with old-school charm, though (with most names, it would seem) there are a few unsavory connections. Despite this, Reginald is handsome, and even if some may consider it stuffy or pompous, it’s got likable nicknames like Reggie or Reg. The Reginald Earnshaw featured at the top of this post is believed to be the youngest person to die in the British Services during World War II at just fourteen. Known as Reggie, the boy lied, saying that he was fifteen, which was the minimum age to join the recruitment. Originally buried in an unmarked grave, a shipmate began a search for his burial place, and thus the true story, as well as age, of Reginald Earnshaw revealed itself. In 2009, the grave was marked by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with a granite headstone.

There’s also Reginald Bonham, who was a blind chess player. Reginald founded the International Braille Chess Association in 1951; he was known both for his achievements in blind chess and “sighted” chess. In 1958 he became the Blind World Chess Champion, and that wasn’t the end of his long list of awards. Reginald was born into a family of butchers, and was sent to Worcester College for the Blind. As well as his talents for chess, he was also particularly good at rowing – in 1926, he went to St. Catherine’s College, and a few years later won the Oxford sighted chess championship; in fact, he also made it into the final trials of the Oxford rowing team. In 1929, he returned to Worcester College for the Blind, this time as a teacher, teaching subjects that included mathematics and braille. He also coached rowing, chess, amateur drama, and bridge. I think that in anyone’s eyes Reginald, nicknamed “Bon” by staff at the college, is an inspiration – he overcame a lot, and made it known that his “disability” was the least important thing. He was truly talented.

In fact, there are almost too many Reginalds’ to cover. Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. Reginald Fessenden was an inventor, who had pioneering experiments in radio. There was a Reginald, Bishop of the Isles. Also notable, though one of those aforementioned “unsavory” connections, is Reginald “Reggie” Kray. He and his twin Ronald, nicknamed Ronnie, were notorious for their extreme violence and brutality, and they were perpetrators of organized crime in London’s East End during the 1950s and 60s. They owned a West End nightclub; they interacted with popular entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland, as well as a multitude of politicians.

Reginald is, at the least, worth a look into. Even if isn’t the name for you, its got an interesting set of bearers, and its history is also interesting in itself.

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Guadalupe

Origin: Spanish, Arabic.
Meaning:
“River of the wolf.”
Gender:
Unisex.

Guadalupe was originally coined from the Spanish title for The Virgin Mary, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, which translates to “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” During the 16th century, a native Mexican man claimed to have seen a vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and ever since she has been regarded as the patron saint of the Americas. She is also the secondary patroness of the Philippines, and the patroness of Mexico. Guadalupe is a name that goes for both genders – and I personally think it works equally well for a boy or a girl. Guadalupe is the name of various places; too many to name, as it is, which would make this post far longer than necessary. There is a Roman Catholic shrine in Mexico city called The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as multiple other shrines dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a church in Dallas, Texas.

Guadalupe Victoria was a Mexican politician and military man who fought for independence against the Spanish empire in the Mexican War of Independence. He also served as the first president of Mexico. There’s also Guadalupe Canseco, a retired female Olympic diver from Mexico. She got a bronze medal in the Women’s 10m platform at the 1983 Pan American Games. María Guadalupe Jones Garay, better known as Lupita Jones, was the first Mexican woman to win the title of Miss Universe in 1991; she also was a businesswoman.

It’s a strong name, and certainly very dignified. It has an elegance about it, and it can be either feminine or masculine, if you ask me. It’s noble, and has the nickname of Lupe, or the female diminutive Lupita.

Algernon

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Origin: Old French.
Meaning:
“Having a moustache.”
Gender:
Masculine.

Algernon is overlooked, perhaps because it seems a tad dusty, but with the onset of vintage names, I think it could work quite well nowadays. Algernon was originally just a Norman French nickname, which was rather notably assigned to William de Percy, 1st Baron Percy, who was a companion of William the Conqueror’s. After William Percy, family members often used the Christian name Algernon to honor him. You see, Algernon apparently derives from Aux Gernons, which, depending on the source, means something like “with whiskers” (or, for that matter, maybe “having a moustache”). And how did William de Percy get this nickname in the first place? Well, it is said the Norman baron, who came to England immediately after the Norman Conquest of England, had been given this nickname because the Normans at the time were typically clean-shaven, whereas the English were not. But what about other Algernons’? Surprisingly enough, there are quite a few who bear this name.

There are other notable high-ranked Algernons’, like Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk, and Algeron Capell, who was 2nd Earl of Essex. Algernon Sidney was an English politician, republican political theorist, colonel, and opponent of King Charles II of England; in fact, he became involved in a plot against the King. How did it end for him? He was executed for treason. In Oscar Wilde’s play The Important of Being Earnest, there is a character called Algernon. But perhaps most importantly is the Algernon in Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. The short story, first published in 1959 in a magazine, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story (1960); the novel was published in 1966, and was the joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel (along with Babel-17). Flowers for Algernon is about a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence, and is told as a series of progress reports by a man called Charlie, who is the first human subject for the test. The book is, perhaps unfortunately, quite challenged – it is in some libraries removed, but despite this fact, it is commonly read by students all over. Flowers for Algernon has been adapted to all sorts of things; theatre, television, radio. There’s also an Academy Award winning film called Charly adapted from Daniel Keyes’ little novel.

So, does any of this make Algernon a good choice for a little boy? I think it does. I think names like this one, and other similar ones like Vernon, are maybe ready to make their comeback, despite the fact that they’re almost…geeky. But what’s wrong with that? There’s an air of intelligence about it, and maybe if you’ve read or heard of Daniel Keyes’ novel, sadness.

Holly


Origin: English/ Old English.
Meaning: Derived from the English term for holly tree (from Old English holen).
Gender: Feminine.

Holly is a name that’s got a certain grace to it; those pretty red berries and intricately shaped leaves are an interesting namesake, and it’s a nice delve into nature culture without being too far “out there.” In fact, Holly’s not a name that it’s unpopular – particularly for Christmas babies, as it is, due to the beautiful shrub’s connections. Holly shrubs are typically seen beneath Oaks, and it isn’t uncommon for them to be in Beech forests; it seems that these interesting plants have something for companionship, as noted by many in the nature and flower society, it would seem. Holly is, actually, notably poisonous, which brings a bit of edge to the name. Despite all of this, Holly’s a name that slips easily into society without getting too many bad looks, and that’s always a good thing, of course. Bree over at Midwinter Names featured Oak, which also has the connection with Holly; I suggest you take a look at the post, considering that it gives a nice insight into the folklore of Holly.

There’s also the Christmas carol, The Holly and the Ivy. The carol itself, though, also has Pagan imagery, as holly and ivy both are made to represent Pagan fertility symbols. European Holly was sacred to Druids, and Romans associated it with their God Saturn; here are a few versions of the carol, though there are far too many interpretations to actually go into in one post.

Here is the current version, as we know it:

The holly and the ivy,When they are both full grown

Of all the trees that are in the wood

The holly bears the crown

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir

 

The holly bears a blossom

As white as lily flower

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

To be our sweet Saviour

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir

 

The holly bears a berry

As red as any blood

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

To do poor sinners good

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir

 

The holly bears a prickle

As sharp as any thorn;

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

On Christmas Day in the morn.

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir

 

The holly bears a bark

As bitter as any gall;

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ

For to redeem us all.

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir

 

The holly and the ivy

Now both are full well grown,

Of all the trees that are in the wood,

The holly bears the crown.

O the rising of the sun

And the running of the deer

The playing of the merry organ

Sweet singing of the choir.

In 1926, a book was published by Chambers and Sidgwick called Early English Lyrics. It mentions a broadside of 1710, with a version that begins simply:

The holly and the ivy
Now are both well grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown.

Which shows us, quite clearly, that the earliest (and truest) form of The Holly and the Ivy was riddled only with Pagan imagery, leading the Christians to later – well, Christianize it. But Holly’s got a lot of other connections, such as Holly Golightly. Holly Golightly is the protagonist of a novella by Truman Capote, but it’s also well-known because of the film starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Breakfast at Tiffany’s was published in 1958 and set in the 1940s’, but in the film it is set in the 1960s’ instead.

Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes in a 1904 illustration by Sidney Paget.

 
Origin: Old English and Gaelic.
Meaning: “Shear lock,” “fair haired.”
Gender: Masculine.

Sherlock is a strong name, with unforgettable ties into literature. Sherlock is, in my eyes, a name that evokes masculinity and cleverness, likely due to its main bearer – Sherlock Holmes. Despite its aristocratic feel (with an undeniable stuffiness), I think it could work quite well on a person, and I can see a little boy with it, anywhere to an elderly man. That’s a nice quality of Sherlock: even though it’s an admittedly hefty name, it doesn’t seem too heavy for a child. Anyways, Sherlock was, simply, a surname, of Gaelic origin (and Old English as well – both sources seem to be correct), and from my gatherings it was mainly so until Sherlock Holmes came into existence. But considering the popular usage of surnames for children in the 19th century, I wouldn’t put it past them to, in honor of a family named, have called a little boy – presumably – Sherlock. What about Sherlock Holmes himself? Well, he’s a rather notable bearer, and likely the only one most people will think of. He’s the intelligent, antisocial, manic-depressive detective in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories; though rather cold and, as previously mentioned, antisocial, I don’t think he’s a bad connection or namesake.

And, of course, there’s Sherlock Hemlock of Sesame Street. He is the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Detective,” and is (quite obviously) a spoof of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, despite the fact that Sherlock Hemlock has vanished from Sesame Street in favor for new characters, he still makes regular appearances on the German Sesamstraße. There’s also smaller connections: Sherlock, searching software for Apple Macintosh; two places in Australia named Sherlock; and, finally, Sherlock Township of Kansas. At first glance, Sherlock’s only real “history” is that of Holmes – but when you dig a little deeper, it shows itself to be a masculine surname, though rather rare, with various meanings usually including “bright” or “fair.” Surely that’s not too bad of a connection, right?

So, why not give it a shot? It’s strong, handsome, and though aristocratic, with all of these crazy new names popping up as the years go on, it might feel a little more accessible.

Zelda

Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald

 Origin: Old Germanic.
Meaning: “Warrior Woman,” “Female Warrior”; possibly “luck” or “happy.”
Gender: Feminine.
 

Zelda is a name that, in my eyes, evokes a sort of flashiness, of someone affable but rather glamorous. It’s certainly eye-catching, in the face of Ellas, Mackenzies and a horde of other tedious names – but whether or not that’s a good thing still seems to be up in the air. Zelda comes from the Old German name Griselda – or, alternatively, Grizelda – and served as a nickname for it, though Zelda is also a feminine form of the also Germanic name Selig. Selig means “blessed” or “happy”, while Griselda means “Dark Battle.” Though Griselda itself is a nice name, I don’t see it as being as ready for a comeback as Zelda is, and now that Zelda is recognized as a name that holds its own, rather than just a nickname, it’s got a lot of potential. In fact, there are a multitude of notable women who have bore the name Zelda already, with one being rather recent. Zelda Schneersohn Mishkovsky, though she is commonly known only as Zelda, was a highly notable Israeli poet, who wrote Hebrew religious poetry. Despite the fact that she wrote religious poetry, many have said that her poetry appealed to the religious and secular alike; that her poetry was rich and beautiful, apparently regardless of your own spiritual faith. She was born in 1914 and died in 1984. Another Zelda is Zelda Popkin, an American author born 1898, who wrote mystery novels; she created Mary Carner, who was one of the first female detectives in literature, who has been connected with Murder, She Wrote‘s Jessica Fletcher. Zelda Popkin’s book The Journey Home was probably her most successful, selling almost a million copies. Zelda Popkin passed away in 1983.

And what about Zelda Rubinstein, who starred in the Poltergeist films? She passed away in 2010, and was a human rights activist, specifically for HIV/AIDs. And then there was Zelda Wynn Valdes, a fashion designer; she is likely most famous for creating the original Playboy Bunny costumes, as well as the costumes for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Zelda Williams is Robin Williams’ daughter – she was, in fact, named after Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda video games. She starred in House of D opposite Anton Yelchin, and she was praised for her performance for the most part. And then, perhaps the most famous of all of Zelda’s namesakes, is indeed Princess Zelda from the video games. I suppose everyone interprets that connection’s negativity and positivity differently, but for me it isn’t a major deal. In fact, what little kid wouldn’t what to share their name with a great video game character? But then, the teasing might be more than one bargained for, and how would that look when they were older?

But what about the Zelda featured at the top of this post? Zelda Fitzgerald, the probably surprisingly well-known wife of American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who wrote The Great Gatsby, was a enigmatic woman who was recognized for her flapper status. She was exuberant and a bit of a troublemaker, and was the beauty of Alabama at her time; she was exciting. There were a lot of things that Zelda tried to pursue in her life – ballet, writing, art. In the end, though, none of it worked out as she wanted. She did publish a book called Save me the Waltz, however, but it garnered mainly negative reviews. Zelda suffered a nervous breakdown, caused by stress over her ballet career; at this point, she had worked incredibly hard, and yet now realized that she was too old to properly have a future in ballet. Zelda lived the rest of her life in and out of mental institutions, and died in a fire at Highland Hospital.