Amber

418px-Gouttes-drops-resine-2Gender: Feminine
Origin: English

September is almost over and the season of Fall is really starting to hit home. The trees are finally shedding their leaves and some are even exposing their yellow brown colors before falling off the branches. The name Amber has always brought to mind the autumnal season for me. Possibly due to her brownish yellow hues that she is known for, though Amber also comes in spring greens and bright yellows. The appellation itself gets somewhat of a bad rap. I have heard her being classified as “trashy” and even as an “exotic dancer” name. She didn’t seem to hit big really till the late 1970s to early-mid 1980s. Ever curious as to the origins and beginnings of all given names, I decided to track her down. How and when did Amber begin to be used as a first name? I know that in other cultures, the equivalent forms such as Dzintra in Latvian, Gintare in Lithuanian have been used as given names for centuries. Evidently, Amber is derived from an Arabic word ‘anbar. Amber of course is the word for the fossilized resin used in jewellery as well as the name of a colour. Its usage seems to have begun around the 19th-century. It was brought to the spot-light thanks to Katherine Winsor’s explicit 1944 novel Forever Amber. It was later turned into a movie, and the book sparked quite a bit of controversy at the time of its publication. Forever Amber tells the story of  a woman by the name of Amber St. Clair, living in 17th-century England, who manages to sleep her way to the top by hanging around with British aristocrats. I found this very interesting since Amber does seem to have those associations for many people, and I truly wonder if Katherine Winsor is the culprit for Amber’s sullied reputation. I suppose we will never know.

As for her popularity, the highest that Amber ever reached in the United States was #13 way back in 1986. I found this rather surprising as I don’t know many girls born in that same year named Amber. Compare that to this past year, Amber remains in the top 1000, but has slid down to # 224 (2010). Surprisingly, Amber is quite popular in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In Belgium alone, she came in at #24 for the most popular female names in Belgium, (2008). Meanwhile, over in the Netherlands, she stands at # 36 as of 2010. Her rankings in other countries are as follows:

  • # 45 (Scotland, 2010)
  • # 52 (England/Wales, 2010)
  • # 65 (Northern Ireland 2010)
  • # 71 (Ireland, 2010)
  • # 80 (Australia, NSW, 2010)

The French form of Ambre has recently become a trend in France, in 2009, she was the 29th most popular female name in France. There is the more elaborate French form of Ambrine. In Italian there is the form of Ambra. Another interesting fact is that the Greek female given name of Electra is related to the word for amber in Greek, which is electron. In Hebrew, the name is Inbar, and in recent years, has been used as a given name. Ámbar is the Spanish form, also occasionally used as a given name in Spanish-speaking countries.

The name has been given to the United State’s Child Abduction Emergency code the Amber Alert. Originally named for Amber Hangermann the term is now used as a backronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

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Lorena

Gender: Feminine
Origin: English
(loh-RAY-nah)

Though it has a latinate sound, Lorena seems to be a very early American invention. It first appears out of nowhere as the subject of a 1856 song, written by a Rev. H.D.L Webster. It is almost for certain that Webster invented the name himself. The song is about a broken relationship Webster had with a girl named Ella Blocksom. He is said to have been inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s ladylove, Lenore of the Raven, by rearranging the letters, he came up with the sonorous Lorena.

The song was such a hit during the American Civil war that it was often sung by both Confederate and Union soldiers, usually while remembering their far off wives or ladies they courted. No doubt, this caused the name to become a standard and over the past 150 years, it has reached other shores. It is now used across Europe including the former Yugoslavia. In fact, it is currently the 13th most popular female name in Croatia (2009) and the 86th most popular in Bosia and Herzegovnia (2010). Its ranking in other countries, including the United States, are as follows:

#82 (Spain, 2010)
# 238 (the Netherlands, 2010)
#357 (France, 2009)
#964 (United States, 2010)

The name also appears in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind as Scarlett O’Hara’s second daughter by Frank Kennedy, Ella Lorena Kennedy.

It is also the name of a municipality of São Paolo, Brazil, a city in Texas and is used as an alternate name for the Ghost Town of Masonic, California.

Source

  1. http://www.behindthename.com/name/lorena-2
  2. http://www.behindthename.com/name/lorena-1

Liberty

Gender: Feminine

Origin: English
(LIB-er-TEE)
Well, it is the fourth of July and I have been saving this name for this occasion. Liberty as a first name came about around the late 1700s, (in the United States), possibly right after the Declaration was signed. It has been used here and there since. It currently comes in at # 620 of the most popular females names in the United States. Liberty has been personified as a goddess or woman since the Roman Empire. The goddess Libertas had a temple erected in her honour after the Second Punic War on the Aventine Hill in Rome. During the French Revolution, Lady Liberty became a sort of secular goddess or religious figure for many of its movers and shakers. In the Notre Dame for example, the church’s name was changed to the Temple of Reason and the Virgin Mary statues were replaced with Lady Liberty statues. The Statue of Liberty in New York is probably one the world’s most famous renditions. One thing appealing about this name is its possible nickname option of Libby. Other possible nickname choices are Bertie or Birdie.

Liber, Libera

Liber: Masculine
(LIE-ber); (LIB-er)
Libera: Feminine
(lie-BARE-uh); (LIB-eh-ruh)
Origin: Latin
Meaning: “free.”

The names are borne in Roman mythology by two fertility gods who were consorts. Liber was originally an old native Italian god, possibly of Etruscan origins, but with the influx of Greek culture later in the Empire he came to be associated with the god Dionysus. His wife/sister Libera was later associated with Ariadne and Persephone.

Liber’s festival was usually celebrated on March 17, known as the festival of the Liberalia, where young boys would receive their first toga virilis.

Eleftheria

Gender: Feminine

Origin: Greek

Meaning: “free”
(eh-lehf-THEH-ree-ah).
Eleftheria comes directly from the Greek word Ελευθερία meaning “free.” Since its the 4th of July weekend, I thought I’d talk about this common Greek female name. Eleftheria might be a nice yet subtle way to express one’s patriotism. Though perhaps a bit out there for a child of non Greek descent, it would still make a great option for one who is Greek American and is proud to call themselves a member of both cultures. Interestingly enough, eleftheria i thanatos (Ελευθερία ή θάνατος) is the motto for the Greek nation. It came about during the Greek war of Independence way back in the 1820s, when Greece was trying to defect from the clutches of the Ottoman Empire. The name has been in usage in Greece for a long time, long before the word became attached to the motto. It was latinized by the Romans as Eleutherius (the masculine form: Eleftherios) and Eleutheria. In fact, it was born by an early pope and several early saints. It is used in Spanish speaking countries as Eleuterio and Eleuteria. If we go further back in history, we find that Eleftheria was sometimes personified as a sort of symbol of freedom, it was also used as in epithet for the goddess Artemis. In modern day Greece it is born by a famous pop singer, Eleuftheria Avarnitaki (b. 1957).