Monday, August 19th, 2013
My daughter Katie has developed a real passion for Greek mythology—she’s devoured a beginner’s book we’d bought for her, and is plowing her way through the Percy Jackson series, too. (“Seaweed brain” has become a new insult around here, courtesy of Percy Jackson—it feels a little strange that the gods would talk like that, but if you know anything about Greek mythology, you know that the gods were often petty and childish, and “seaweed brain” seems like the perfect insult for a 21st-century god.)
Katie’s so in love with Greek mythology, in fact, that her Halloween costume requests this year and last were Greek mythology based (a blessedly cheap choice, given that I own a white sheet and I’m not afraid to wrap it toga-like around my daughter). Last year, I entwined snakes into her hair so she could be an altogether gorgeous Medusa—but this year, she’s asking for Athena as her costume of choice.
If you aren’t quite as up on your Greek mythology as Katie is, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, justice and the arts. And she’s the patron saint of Athens (though it’s unclear which was named first). She’s the one who was born out of Zeus’ head as a fully formed adult, in one of the weirder stories of Greek mythology, and she also turned Arachne into a spider. She was the virginal goddess (rare among those wild partying Olympians), and had a whole group of chaste women in Greece serving in her temple.
Athena hasn’t been out of the top 1000 baby names here in the U.S. since 1955, and it’s currently on a huge upswing, thanks to Tina Fey choosing it as a middle name for her daughter Penelope—it was at #247 last year. It’s also one of the most accessible baby names to rise out of Greek mythology—I don’t see many people naming their kid Poseidon or Hephaestus.
Try pairing Athena with middle names that are a little more offbeat—I like it with June, Sage or True. As Tina Fey has proven, it’s beautiful in the middle spot as well.
What do you think of the name Athena? Is it something you might pick for your daughter?
Don’t forget—if you’re having a hard time coming up with a baby name, feel free to send your baby naming dilemma to me at email@example.com.
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Wednesday, December 19th, 2012
I think right about now, we could all go for a good laugh (or 10)—if only to erase the horrors and sadness of the past week. And that’s why I’ve been showing my daughters’ some old-school comedy on YouTube—who wouldn’t crack up at Lucy and Ethel trying to manage that runaway conveyor belt of chocolates?
Here’s a look at some “funny girl” names that might make a great choice for your daughter.
Lucille The grande dame of comedy was Lucille Ball, whose antics on I Love Lucy were legendary. Her name means “light,” and is making a resurgence, thanks to modern-day funny girl Maya Rudolph’s decision to give it to one of her daughters. Some people are choosing it for that ultrapopular nickname, Lucy.
Gilda Gilda Radner was one of the founding members of Saturday Night Live, famed for her crazy characters like Rosanne Rosanadanna. (Consider her the precursor to fabulous followups like Molly Shannon and Kristen Wiig.) Her name means “golden,” and hasn’t broken the top 1000 since the 1960s. Maybe it’s ready for a comeback on the coattails of Matilda?
Tina Who doesn’t love Tina Fey—whether as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, or in her all-too-perfect impersonation of Sarah Palin? Tina’s name means “river,” and hit its peak of popularity back in the late 1960s.
Betty The beloved Betty White (of Golden Girls, Mary Tyler Moore and too many other shows to count) sports this old-school nickname for perennial baby-name favorite Elizabeth.
Gracie Gracie Allen and husband George Burns had a legendary comedy routine that started back in the 1920s and lasted through the early days of TV until her death in 1964—she played the daffy jokester to his straight man. This cutesy nickname for Grace is currently in the top 200 baby names, while Grace itself is #16.
Cloris Cloris Leachman may get less credit than her contemporary, Betty White, but she was hilariously funny in Young Frankenstein, as Phyllis on Mary Tyler Moore and its later spinoff, and now on Raising Hope. (And she cut a rug pretty well, too, as the oldest-ever contestant on Dancing With the Stars.) Her name, which means pale, might be a nice alternative if you love uberpopular Chloe.
Amy Two current wild and weird comediennes share this name—Amy Poehler, who made an awesome Hillary Clinton on SNL and currently rocks on Parks and Recreation, and Amy Sedaris, who writes some amazingly funny books and starred in Strangers With Candy. Amy, which means beloved, is still in the top 200 names.
Photo: Tina Fey by Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
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amy poehler, baby names, betty white, celebrities, cloris leachman, comedians, gilda radner, girls baby names, girls' names, gracie allen, lucille ball, tina fey | Categories:
Baby Name Help, Baby Name Stories, Celebrity Baby Names, In Name Only