Contrived names, A-Z
I bet the hospitals wouldn’t let you give a child a funny name in the old days, like when I was born. But here are some ideas for creating a name that your child might be the first to wear (or bear). OK, an aside: You can create a name that will endure with your child, or you can create a name that your child will endure — heck, even both at once!
Here’s an exercise. Pick a name and recombine the letters: Warren. Narrew, Anwerr, Wrenar, Renwar, Arnrew, Rewarn, Errwan. Choose a name or some letters that have some significance to you and recombine them. For instance, say you lived in Sarasota. Recombine the letters to Artassoa, Artasaso, Tosarasa.
How about these variations for words/names that already have traditional spellings?
Harmony – Harmani – Harmyni
Exodus – Exidis – Exydys
Liberal – Librelle – Lybril
Now for some more ideas:
Bryttnie – Take a name that’s oft-enough corrupted and abuse it even further, so that forevermore people will have to ask her how to spell it…
Take a name like Aloma, add an ‘i’ to make Alioma…
Take a pretentious name like Baxter or Buxton and make it more stuffy — If we can have Maxxtor in computers, then why not Baxxtor or Buxxtyn?
Take a perfectly precise name like Chlöe and slaughter it to Cloe — or maybe that’s an alternate spelling of Sloe… (Make mine a fizz.)
Put Mac or Mc in front of any other name.
If it doesn’t sound masculine enough, then fix it…
Make it sound like an aboriginal name translated into English in the manner of Sitting Bull. I recall reading a very good book years ago, Blue Highways, by the author, William Least Heat Moon. I could nearly envy him that name. So put together some neat words like that and you might come up with Red Oak Heavy Timber.
Look in a field guide to birds, flowers, rocks and gems, taxonomy (plant names). Look both at the common names of trees and other plants, and at their scientific names. Find books that describe the parts of plants. For instance, Samara, which I once considered as a name for a child, is the term for the seed pair on a maple tree — the helicopter part. I thought Sequoia sounded like a good name, too.
Look on maps for interesting place names.
Look at days and months, (in other languages, too).
Look at names from Israel, India, aboriginal America (American Indians).
For a real eye-opener, open a history book and find some interesting names (which also may have some significance attached). While you’re there, read some history.
If you don’t like the way it’s spelled, reverse the letters, or scramble them, or replace all the letters with new letters, or just make something up.
By all means, find a musty dictionary and look up the meaning of any plain word or contrived name before you confer it upon a child.
Here’s another approach. Start with an ordinary word: sailor. (Capitalize it: Sailor.) Change the spelling: Sayler. Now change the first letter: Dayler, Hayler, Grayler, Tayler, Bayler, Kayler, Bailer the Sailor with a Pail. Jailer, Jailen, Jalen, Nailer, Cayler, Caylen, Kaylen, Kaylyn, Maylyn, Paylyn, Paylen, Palin, Dalin, Salin, Daling, Saling, Daline, Saline, Sailing, Grayling, Dayling, Haylyn, Braylyn… See? The names just tumble out. Maybe you would use some of them, maybe not.
Look for names among the terms used in art, dance, music. In most towns there is still a library where you may find old books about mythology — the names of the gods and lesser characters of old may stir an idea for a name. Idea: Aydia. See? I just made a name from the sound of a word!
As a sample of my thinking, in how I just made up names, here are some strings of names that I came up with, each group in the sequence by which they occurred to me. There may be some repeats, which I ultimately weeded out of the final lists.
Silene, Seiline, Ceiline
Chandonait (a surname), Chandonette, Chanette, Chanteuse
Garella, Gavella, Gavelle, Gaver, Gavotte, Gazelle
Lyselle, Lysette, Lyvelle, Lyvette
Dimon, Dimone, Dyman, Dymand, Diamone, Rymone, Riamone
Rune, Rrune, Roader, Roaver, Roavar, Riever, Rhule, Rhoule
Thaler, Thaine, Thainer, Maine, Kaine, Daine, Bayne, Gayne, Hayne, Kayne, Taine, Tayne, Tayin
Tuner, Tourner, Tournier, Tourniere
Waine, Zaine, Xaine, Mainer, Kainer, Dainer, Bayner, Bainer, Hayner, Kayner, Tayner, Rayner, Xainer, Zainer
Roulon, Rrule, Rroyd, Froyd, Croyder, Loy, Loyal
Kaysa, Raysa, Maysa, Jaysa, Naysa, Daysa, Baysa, Faysa, Gaysa, Haysa, Laysa, Paysa, Quaysa, Saysa, Vaysa, Waysa, Xaysa, Yaysa, Zaysa
Dace, Crace, Kace, Lace, Nasa, Quasa, Shace, Tace, Xace, Yace, Yacey, Yecey, Zace
Kae, Bae, Bay, Cae, Dae, Fae, Gae, Quae, Qae, Rae, Tae, Vae, Vay, Wae, Xae, Zae
Daller, Aller, Goeler, Kaller
Vlad, Zaller, Vloe, Vloë, Vlane, Vlair, Vlase
Sody, Lody, Quoddy, Rody, Zody
Vika, Vichael, Mikol, Mykle
Tomus, Jeimz, Robyrt, Jawne, Stievyne
Cossa, Kossa, Kossia, Cassia, Cassio, Pleiades
Catre, Catyr, Jadyr, Bradyr, Cratyr, Cratre, Gradyr
Stoane, Doane, Roan, Roane, Doan, Shona, Vona, Wroan, Wroane
Vola, Kola, Jola, Quona, Quinnelle, Quinneille, Rola, Sola, Soleil, Soleel, Tola, Xola
Auger, Augerie, Aujurie, Aujerie, Auxie, Auxery, Auxerie, Auxer, Auxor, Auxora, Aujora, Quora
Dancine, Lancine, Jancine, Hancine, Nancine, Quinnell, Rancine, Shancine, Trancine, Vancine, Yancine
Vander, Jander, Kander, Lander, Quander, Rander, Yander
Zephyr, Ryle, Ryael, Ryelle, Ryter, Ryger, Rylae, Rhael, Rhyal
Taya, Jaya, Kaya, Laya
Asabelle, Azibel, Asabeth, Azibet, Tibet, Tibetan
Mora, Maura, Naura, Fauna, Daura, Raura, Taura, Vaura, Zaura
Fravier, Dravier, Bravier, Gravier, Kravier, Prayor, Preyer, Travier
Selune, Salune, Sylune, Saloone, Saloane, Saloon
Ghana, Shana, Dhana, Chana, Thana, Khana, Phana, Zhana
You would think that a young mother with an average American public education (God, save us!) would be aware-enough to avoid pretty-sounding words such as Placenta or Treacle or Cloaca. You’d think so, wouldn’t you?
Now for an alphabetical list of contrived names. Contrived doesn’t mean that I made them all up myself, although many I did. Contrived means that they are not, to my knowledge and therefore probably to yours, in current use as given names for whitish Americans.
This list includes some words or place names that might serve as given names. Except for a few that might have come from fictional characters, I have not heard of anyone bearing one of these, or else he would be listed in Part 1.
(A double letter in the header will indicate Part 2 and so on.)
– AA –
- Aloe Vera
Agrod (main character in Alien Destruction II); Aixian (pronounced Asian); Amalie (remember Amalie Motor Oil?); Amélie (2001 French film); Argent (look it up in French).
– BB –
Benée: We all know that the name René (boy) and Renée (girl) are “born again” in French. Just replace the first consonant and you have a completely nonsensical two-syllable name that looks especially impressive when it retains the accent aigu. Thus you will see more of this series further on.
– CC –
Celt can be pronounced Kelt as it is in Ireland, or Chellt as it would be if it were an Italian word, (or Zelt if you want to throw people off); Cyan is a color, but a pretty color at that.
– DD –
Dace is a fish; Daleko (look it up in Russian. OK, if you can’t it’s “far away”); Dondi (orphan boy who never grew up, from an old cartoon strip)
– EE –
- Emilie (Amilie)
– FF –
Faythe (for someone who wants to hide faith behind a misspelling); Froyd (Freud, get it?)
– GG –
Gynt (from the Norwegian play by Henrik Ibsen and the suite by Edvard Grieg)
– HH –
– II –
– JJ –
Jeimz — if you want to play cutesy with James
– KK –
– LL –
Leth, like Seth, only — well, Leth; Lynkyn (Lincoln, get it?); Lyveille (with a French pronunciation, roughly Lee-vay).
– MM –
Minke — pronounced Minkie: pretty, but it kind of goes with Orca
– NN –
Noxie (if it isn’t noxious); Nychyllys (a great abomination of Nicholas, see?); Nyeva (starts like “Nyet!” in Russian).
– OO –
Oake (or try Red Oak Heavy Timber); Omondo (like Amanda, or kind of like almond, the nut); Oqim (Abnaki word for loon)
– PP –
Petal — flower part, not foot pedal; Portia — character in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice
– QQ –
Qae: Could also be Qæ. How would you pronounce it? In Latin, the ‘ae’ or the grapheme ‘æ, Æ’ is pronounced as the ‘i’ in ice. So this name could be pronounced the same as Ky. But I discourage using a ‘Q’ without the ‘u’. You are free to do so — that’s the point of a contrived name. For that matter, try a double ‘qq’ in the middle of a name: Raqqar, for instance, if you want to. But don’t expect to be understood. (Everyone understands Qwerty, though.) Quinneille (French pronunciation sort of sounds like Kee-na-ye, or Lee-naa — just hold the second syllable for a second).
– RR –
Riever (careful: it’s a thief); Ronson (lighter); Rossia (an anglicized spelling of Russia’s own word for Russia).
– SS –
- Storm Petrel
Soleil (look it up in French; great name if you can master the pronunciation); Stievyne (is to Steven as Brytteinae is to Brittany); Sucrette (sort of sweet); Syzygy (alignment).
– TT –
T-beau — hyphenated names are popular now; Thaler — origin of the word ‘dollar’.
– UU –
Usaman — USA Man, see?
– VV –
Vlad — good old Russian name, short for Vladimir.
– WW –
Wylyem — 21st-century-style William
– XX –
- X (just ‘X’)
Let’s pause here. The ‘X’ at the beginning of a word may be pronounced as a ‘Z’ or as a ‘Zh’ like the ‘s’ in ‘measure’. In Greek, Russian, and languages with comparable pronunciation, it has the hard ‘H’ sound, poorly rendered in English as ‘Kh’ (Khruschev) or as ‘Ch’ (Christos, for Christ). You pronounce it as if you are trying to clear a popcorn hull stuck on the back of your tongue — way, way back. So Xrivos would be pronounced this way. Aw, go on! Torture his kindergarten teacher!
– YY –
- Yzyky’l (Ezekiel)
Yzyky’l — If it’s OK to have an apostrophe in a given name such as O’Neil, then it should be OK to have an apostrophe in any other name. Watch out for the anglicized Arab names; they’re full of apostrophes. Kind of gives you pause…
– ZZ –
- Zorick, Zoric
Zephyr – “They Call the Wind ‘Mariah’”
– AA through ZZ –
- Aisia (pronounced Asia)
Aisia — pronounced Asia or maybe Izha; Iriki — short ‘I’ throughout, as in “it”, stress on the second syllable: i-RIK-i-ri; Naixian — pronounced Nazhen (like Asian)
I must protest that, even though I didn’t put an explanation after every trick name in Part 2, it doesn’t mean I’m unaware that Ghana is a country or saline is a chemical term.
You may think of words that sound alluring as potential baby names. But if you have to admit that you’re naïve about language, you certainly should run your list by someone who is better educated than you are. A baby named Anemia or Moleste would later wish that you had done so.