Lily and Violet are in full bloom. How would this botanical choice wear?
Thanks to Racheli for suggesting Lilac as our Baby Name of the Day.
The word lilac has been used for the plant since the seventeenth century, and even longer in French and Spanish. It came to us from the Perisan lilak – originally nilak – via Spain. Nil means indigo or dark blue.
I hear you saying: “Wait! Lilacs aren’t blue. They’re purple!” Perhaps this would be a good moment for a peek at the many varieties of lilac. They do come in a pale purple shade, but they’re also white, yellow, pink, even burgundy. Still, we’ve been using lilac to refer to a specific color for over two hundred years, so the confusion is warranted.
While she’s never cracked the US Top 1000, she has some history of use. A dozen girls received the name in 2010, and Elea has noted that Lilac appears in Edwardian England, along with other unexpected botanicals like Daffodil and Orchid.
- Lily (#17 in 2010), plus Lillian (#21) and Lilly (#107), as well as many other variants;
- Lyla (#134), Lila (#155) and Lilah (#331);
- Delilah (#187).
Lilac has also been used over the years for a train line in Japan and a nineteenth century US Navy tugboat. There’s the Thai Lilac cat and a bird known as the Lilac-breasted Roller.
I thought I’d spotted a celebrity Lilac, the daughter of model Kirsty Hume and model/actor/rocker Donovan Leitch, the son of 60s icon Donovan. In several places, their daughter is called Lilac Jean, including fairly recent photos. But in Hume’s most recent publicity, their daughter is definitely named Violet. What gives? Did the couple realize that Lilac Leitch was not the best first-last pairing? It may be that Lilac was an affectionate nickname.
We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, say, Violet and Seraphina’s little sis was called Lilac. It sounds celeb-ready.
A few other associations for the plant:
- In the Victorian language of flowers, lilac symbolizes beauty and pride, or the first emotions of love;
- “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” is a poem by Walt Whitman, an elegy for the late President Abraham Lincoln;
- Lilacs bloom in the spring, and are associated with Easter.
If you’re looking for something modern and tailored but still romantic and feminine, Lilac is a safe bet. She’s easy to spell and pronounce, plus relatively few words sound like Lilac. I suppose your daughter might be confused with all those little Lilys – but betcha she stands out amongst the garden of girls instead.