Are you watching Once Upon a Time? How ’bout Grimm? Fairy tale figures are the new vampires on the small screen this season – romantic, full of possibilities, seen on multiple networks.
One thing that strikes me about the shows so far is that the names are … fine. They’re good names, appropriate for the plot lines. If you were the Evil Queen’s alter ego, living in Storybook, Maine, it seems sensible that your name would be Regina.
But they’re not exciting names, and if we’ve learned anying from Disney it should be this: naming a princess is a huge opportunity. So here’s my list of names for a possible fairy tale princess. Most of them have yet to don a glass slipper or sing with animated birds in the forest, but I think any of them would be smashing choices for a fictional maiden of the royal variety.
Belsante – A medieval variant of Elizabeth and Isabella, Belsante is right at home with Beauty and the Beast’s Belle, but her more elaborate form feels regal and throwback. Along the same lines, Isabeau seems like a name I’d expect to find in a medieval woodcut illustration.
Briar- Before Disney dubbed Sleeping Beauty Aurora, she often answered to Briar Rose in tellings of her tale. Briar has that edgy, modern feel of unexpected nature names like Winter or Bay, but her long history of use in stories argues that she’s no nouveau pick.
Clarimond – Her first syllable probably comes from the Latin clarus, clear. Since fairy tale princesses are always noble and clear of purpose, any name related to Claire and company feels like a good fit.
Dulcinea – Don Quixote’s fictional maiden fair, derived from the Spanish dulce – sweet. Similar names were in use in medieval England, and 90s indie rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket gave the name to their hit 1994 album. She’d be a logical pick for a princess. A similar sounding option is the ancient Drusilla, but since she’s been worn by a villainous vampiress in Joss Whedon’s universe, it seemed taken.
Everild – The Latin version of a name worn by a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon saint, also written as Everilda and Averil. If you’re anticipating a happy ending, what’s better than having the word “ever” in your given name?
Ghislaine – The masculine form of this name was born by another seventh-century saint. Ghislaine shares the same roots as Giselle, worn by Amy Adams in Happily Ever After. The pronunciation would be something like jheez LANE – tough, but in our era of Genevieve, not unthinkable. Another G-name that comes to mind? The saintly Godlieve.
Jessamy – Jasmine found a whole new world with Aladdin. Why not this more elaborate variant form? It sounds both modern and old school at once, as does related name Jessamine.
Katrin – Not every fairy tale name is frilly, and this Northern European short form of Katherine feels like one you’d find in a Swedish fairy tale. The elaboration Katrinka also feels at home in an other-worldly story.
Svetlana – Only for a Slavic character, of course, but there’s no shortage of those. Like a few other names on this list, she’s a relatively modern innovation, coined for an 1813 poem. But her meaning – from svet, light – is princess-perfect.
Thalassa – She’s the tiniest bit on the clunky side, suggesting that she might be for the evil stepsister or faithful servant instead of the romantic lead. But she’s also a primordial Greek goddess of the oceans, making her every bit as seaworthy as the red-headed Ariel.
Tourmaline – Most gemstone names are fairly mainstream, from Ruby to Pearl. But Tourmaline – first brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Company – is seldom heard. She’s also challenging because the word wasn’t used in English until the mid-1700s, so she’s not quite right for a story with roots in the Middle Ages.
Vivienne – One of the Jolie-Pitt twins and a name sometimes used in Arthurian legend for the Lady of the Lake, Vivienne is probably the most popular name on this list. But there’s something powerful about names derived from the Latin vivus – alive.
Those are my dozen picks for a princess. What would you name a fictional character destined for a crown? And do any of these work for a real girl, too?