nerine (???) #9020
Nerine #9020; Image by Nemo's great uncle via Flickr

I’m fascinated by names that have multiple origins, like today’s part-floral, part-mermaid, part-invented choice.

Thanks to Renee for suggesting her niece’s name as our Baby Name of the Day: Nerine.

My first thought when I hear Nerine is mermaid.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. As a South African who has met a couple of them – and generally, they always seem to be lovely women (so it has ”nice people” connotations), the South Africans and Afrikaners pronounce it as NEH-reen. You might make it NIH-reen. It’s a name that is said quickly.I mean, it’s not a name where it sounds like the syllables are dragged out as in, NIIIIH -reeeen. It’s generally used within the Afrikaans culture as opposed to the English or any of the other cultures .In fact, I’ve never come across a Nerine that wasn’t Afrikaans.Most of the women who have had this name have been 20+. I have never met a little girl with this name.

  2. Another famous Nerine: the late wife of William Shatner. She tragically drowned in their swimming pool.

  3. When I first saw this I wondered if Nerine might be at all related to the Arabic name Nesreen/Nasrine. I think it means “wild flower” or something. Nerine’s connections to the plant make me think that there might be some relation between Nerine and Nesrine.

    Anyway, I like -ine endings but that Ner- beginning isn’t very attractive to my ears.

    1. I think it’s unlikely. Nerine was adopted as a botanical name by William Herbert in the early 19th Century, at a time when most botanical names were coming either from classical myth or were coined from the surnames of botanists. You’re right that Nasrin/Nasreen, etc is flowery — it comes from the Persian for ‘wild rose’ — but the similarity is almost certainly pure coincidence. Nerines don’t look anything like wild roses!

  4. A few years ago, I wrote a story about mermaids, naming one of the characters Nereine. I wouldn’t use this in real life, as the Nereine in my story was a pretty spiteful and conniving character!

  5. Spooky! My article tomorrow is about the Nereids!

    I like Nerine. Love its links to classical mythology and botany.

    Just for the record, the Romans pronounced it with 3 syllables – nay-REE-nay.

    1. Wow, that 3 syllable pronunciation really takes Nerine in a completely different (and much more positive) direction for me! Yup, if Nerine was pronounced nay-REE-nay I would say I love her. It also reminds me of a name I requested that’s coming up in January: Eirene, which I think also has a similarly non-intiutive, 3 syllable pronuncation (ee-re-nee). Thanks for the info 😉

      1. You’re welcome! Yup, Eirene is a three syllable lassie too. You sometimes hear Irene (the simplified form) with 3 syllables as well — I once had a colleague called Irene who pronounced it that way. Basically, the ‘e’ at the end of a name or word was always pronounced in Latin and Greek. Whether it is pronounced now is largely a matter of taste and inclination!

  6. I think she’s rather pretty, but would probably never use her since I have a tendency to reduce people’s names to -o names because of the way I talk, so my brother is usually Jacko; my friend Nicole is Nico; Nerine would be Nero.

  7. My first thought? Nerine pronounced ner-een? Ick! But upon reflection, it’s not nearly that awful. 🙂 After all, that -een ending appeals to me, my Josephine’s 7 now and heading for 2nd grade in 2 weeks. 😀 I think it’s a lovely flower. And that makes a pretty stand out name ( if I can just get past the sneer my face makes when I say “ner”). I admire it, but because of that “ner”, will never use it myself.

  8. And Shakespeare had a minor character called “Nerissa” in The Merchant of Venice, I believe.

  9. In theory, I should like this name, what with its mermaid and French connections. Alas, despite all this and its pretty and stylish -ine ending, I can’t help but say it to myself in a broad Aussie accent! Not that I’ve personally met any Australian Nerines (or any of any another nationality, for that matter), I just think I remember reading years back that it was a fairly well-used name Down Under. I think it just sounds a bit harsh for me, personally. I think I prefer the slightly softer Nerina or Nerida variations.