Fetching Names: The Katnisses, Part II

by appellationmountain on March 2, 2012

The girl who was on fire

Katniss Everdeen by gabzillaserrano via Flickr

To be a Katniss name is tough – literally. The name has to be strong and resilient, while also feeling modern and unexpected. Katniss names have an edge, but many of them have subtle ties to nature, too – just like the original.

The first installment of this list included choices like Aderyn, Lux, and Elke. Here’s the second half!

Maren/MaritMary is the ultimate good girl, obedient and pure. Plenty of names take Mary and add a tailored ending – and an entirely different dimension. Strictly speaking, Maren relates to Marius and Marit is a diminutive of Margaret. But names that feel like a modern spin on Mary hit a lot of marks. They’re feminine, but tailored. Like Katniss, there’s a hint of enduring legend about them, too.

Morrow - I nearly added Marlo to this list, but Marlo is more quirky-retro than epic. Morrow feels like a masculine surname if you think of legendary news journalist Edward R. Murrow. But think for another minute, and Morrow has possibilities. An archaic term for either the next day or the morning, Morrow is almost a subtle way of communicating hope and faith in the future – an auspicious name for a child, heroine or not.

Neva, Niva, Neve – These short names have many possible origins, ranging from famous rivers to Irish myth to the Latin word for snow. They also have an awful lot of edge. It’s easy to imagine any of them wielding a bow and arrow.

Petra – If Peter means rock, then so does his feminine form. She’s little known in English – Petra last charted in the Top 1000 back in 1973, and was never climbed higher than #493 in 1929. But she’s also an ancient city, once the capital of the Nabatean kingdom many years BC. She feels vaguely Eastern European, but also brings to mind Peeta, the name of Katniss’ love interest and fellow Hunger Games contestant.

Reverie – How can a dreamy, musical appellation fit in with the other names on this list? Chalk it up to sound. While Reverie is rather gentle, short form Rev is pure power. She’s also a name virtually unused for girls until the twenty-first century, when we start to hear it surface at a steady clip. Marginamia’s daughter wears it in the middle spot. Girls’ Gone Child has girls called Fable, Reverie, and Boheme.

Romilly – A rarity on the rise amongst name fans, Romilly is a French surname of sorts, one that traveled to England with the Normans. Like Katniss, she’s feminine but frills-free. Her first syllable conjures up an ancient empire, and even if Millie is sweetly vintage, all combined, she’s a compelling option.

Rowan – Katniss is a nature name, and many of these are also borrowed from the natural world. Rowan is probably the most mainstream choice on this list, a gender neutral tree name. She’s also the name of one of Anne Rice’s powerful characters in The Witching Hour.

Sea – No, parents aren’t naming their daughters Sea. Girls were named Secret and Season and Sierra in 2010, but fewer than five girls – if any – received the name Sea. But she’s a Katniss anyhow – a distinctive name that conjures up the forces of nature. If Sea seems too short, consider that Kay and Jay and Dee have all had a good run. Another option that might fit this list? The slightly more popular Ocean.

Seren – Seren is the Welsh word for star, not used much before the twentieth century in Wales and still rare in the US today. She shares sounds with good girl Sarah, but also feels unexpected.

Sorcha – One of my favorites, this Gaelic import is also spelled Saoirse. She means freedom, and like Seren, is a relatively modern discovery in her native tongue. Saoirse first came into use during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s. Just as Katniss Everdeen started a revolution, Saoirse is a name for a girl out to the change the world. The phonetic spelling Sorcha made this list, however, because one Katniss quality is a straightforward pronunciation.

Thisbe – She’s the original Juliet, a maiden in Roman myth who falls in love with a guy from the wrong family. They attempt to elope, but there’s a hungry lion about, and the rest is tragedy. Given her age, maybe Thisbe should’ve made the list of Hermiones. But her sound is remarkably modern, and many ends-in-e names – Chloe, Zoe, Phoebe - are having their moment in the sun now.

Thora – Thora did make the list of Hermiones, but she makes a cameo here, just to demonstrate that not all names are exclusively one or the other. Thora has more bite than gently old-fashioned -oras like Cora, Nora, or Dora. Golden Globe nominated actress Thora Birch has put the name on the radar of some modern parents, yet she’s been missing from the US Top 1000 since the 1920s. Any name that conjures up a thunderbolt-wielding god is gotta be pretty fierce.

True – Like Sea, she’s short. A modern virtue name akin to Hope and Faith, True is possibly spiritual, but maybe not – you can imagine parents from many points-of-view embracing her. Looking for an even edgier option? The French equivalent is Vrai, rhymes with Faye. Or does Vrai sound more like a brutal District 2 contestant taken down by Katniss?

Vesper – She’s a Bond girl, which isn’t necessarily the equivalent of Katniss. But in this case, she’s based on a real life spy. Plus, vesper in the term of the evening star, and sometimes used to refer to an evening prayer service, meaning that the name is layered with meaning – just like our inspiration.

ZoraA more modern spin on Thora, this Slavic name meaning dawn has been worn by literary powerhouse Zora Neale Hurston.

Are there other Katniss names you would add to this list?

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lashley November 22, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I love Vesper and had never considered it for a name. Do you think it’s too close to Vespa, like the scooter (literally “wasp” in Italian)?

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appellationmountain November 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM

She would probably be called Vespa at least a few times … but whether lots of people would think through to the wasp association? I doubt it … but maybe.

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Ryan April 7, 2012 at 1:31 PM

We named our daughter Maren, a name we think conjures the inscrutable majesty of the sea. When spoken it sounds Irish, but has been mostly given to girls of Danish, German, and Norwegian blood. While the “Marin” spelling is also pretty, I think it looses the elusive, elemental, feminine curved strength of the letter “e.”

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megalady March 30, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I love Briar, Echo, Leta, Lux, Neva, Reverie, and Zora. While I do steer mostly in the Hermione direction I do favor some Katniss vibed names: Ember, Cassia, and Cassidy. I also like Indigo, Onyx, Topaz, Phoenix, Ebony, Merris, Jonquil, Ixora, Poppy, and Sunniva. I loved Julie’s suggestions from Part 1 of Katsa and Sojourner and Dearest’s Part 1 Sequoia nomination. Isadora Vega’s Kestrel pick is also an intriguing choice, as is Julie’s suggestion of Bo and V’s Tesla. I also adore Catherine’s Tansy addition. So much win!

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megalady March 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Oh, and I am kinda stuck on Xerk, a short form of Xerxes, and Gentian as male counterparts to Katniss names, on equal footing with Peeta, Gale, Cato, and Finnick.

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Sara March 6, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Would Xanthe fit this group?

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T March 5, 2012 at 11:57 PM

Kelly Bensimon from Real Housewives of NYC has daughters Thaddeus (never heard that on a girl before) nicknamed “Teddy” and Sea. I’ve always thought they were a mismatched but interesting sibset.

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Lou @ Mer de noms March 2, 2012 at 4:52 PM

What a fascinating group of names. I guess a suggestion for other names include Mika – it is subtly tied to nature through the variant spelling Mica.

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Julie March 2, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Maren and Marit are names in my family going back to the 1600′s. So it’s interesting to see them called modern. :)

I’ll throw out:
Saba — Heroine in the book Blood Red Road, another dystopian trilogy.
Trillian / Trill – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Bo – Okay she’s a succubus, by the lead character on the new show Lost Girl is pretty kick-ass. Maybe as a nickname for something “typical” like Bonnie or Barbara.

And from real life:
Vonn – as in the World Cup alpine skier Lindsey Vonn.
Venus – as in Venus Williams, need I say more?
Dara – as in twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres.
Manon – as in the first and only woman ever to play in a NHL (an exhibition game) Manon Rh

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Kat March 2, 2012 at 3:06 PM

Love Bo for a girl! Although I really like Babs as a nn for Barbara…it’s tough and girly at the same time.

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Catherine March 2, 2012 at 4:07 PM

My sister is a Barbara who goes by Babs sometimes (also Barb and Barbie)

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Isadora Vega March 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I would add Kestrel to the list!

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Kathryn March 2, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Sorsha was the name of the evil princess warrior turned heroine (and Val Kilmer’s love interest) in the movie Willow. I have ALWAYS loved it, but didn’t realize it wasn’t completely made up. I think that like makes it even more Katniss-y.

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V March 2, 2012 at 10:06 AM

I would add Tesla to this list <3 I love this category!

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KatiKat March 3, 2012 at 2:37 PM

As in Nikola Tesla? Way to give our physicists some love!

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Nicole March 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Neva is my grandmother’s name and my middle! Love it. I also love Vesper, she has been on our long long list for a while… but I think I would have to have 10 girls before I used her.,

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neva March 4, 2012 at 9:53 AM

I’m a Neva, a great name:)

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KristinD March 2, 2012 at 8:21 AM

LOVE this category for girls – Romilly and Maren are in my top 5 for girls, and I love some of the others you’ve picked: Seren, Zora and Vesper especially seem wearable to me, probably because of the appealing meanings.

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Sarah March 2, 2012 at 8:14 AM

I like the sound of many of these names but, like Katniss, I would never actually use them.
I like Rowan for a boy, maybe because all the Rowans I know are boys. I like Rowena for a girl. In fact Rowena would probably fit this list.

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Catherine March 2, 2012 at 3:54 AM

What Bryony said! I LOVE Sorcha, love love love it! how about a list of names that mean “light”? (Sorcha, Lux/Lucy, Stephanie, Clair, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head!). I love Romilly too I’d add Willa to the list and Tansy.

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kat March 2, 2012 at 2:59 AM

Love all these names! Sea made me think of Seaborn (nn Sea), a name on our short list for boys. We love Seaborn for its antiqueness and what it means to us, but wonder if it’s too out there or old-fashioned for a child these days. Perhaps Sea for a girl would be better. I don’t know. I’d love some opinions from name nerds on Seaborn :)

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Emily March 2, 2012 at 4:20 PM

I’ve been intrigued by Seaborn ever since I found it on my family tree. I think it’d be an awesome, unusual name for a boy. I don’t get that much of an antique vibe from it, it really feels almost modern to me. Totally wearable, I think.

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Kat March 2, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I guess I get an antique vibe from it because most of the Seaborns I’ve found lived 200 years ago…the most recent one I know of is Seaborn Beck Weathers. It’s so cool that you have a Seaborn on your family tree!

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Bryony March 2, 2012 at 2:10 AM

Sorcha and Saoirse are different names. Sorcha is pronounced SOR-ka or SOR-uh-cha. Saoirse is pronounced SEER-sha, SIR-sha or SAIR-sha. Sorcha means “light”, Saoirse means “freedom” (and is very popular among Sinn Fein supporters. Strangely, it is also catching on in the US, while its counterparts, like Aoife and Sadhbh, are not.) Non-Irish people probably know Sorcha as the main character of Juliet Marillier’s “Daughter of the Forest”, while Saoirse is more commonly recognized because of actress Saoirse Ronan. Both are beautiful names — but they are different.

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appellationmountain March 4, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Yikes, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for the correction.

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