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?

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