She’s a pretty plant name – and an alcoholic brunch staple.
Thanks to Rachel for suggesting Mimosa as our Baby Name of the Day.
Before there was Sunday brunch, the mimosa was a lovely yellow bloom. The name comes from the Latin mimus – mime. It’s also called the sensitive plant, because the leaves fold in when touched. It’s not subtle – the change is dramatic, mimicking movement.
The plants have claimed the name since at least the eighteenth century. There’s a family of 400 flowering plants and shrubs called Mimosoideae.
They’re not all the color of yellow sunshine, but many are. The alcoholic beverage – champagne plus orange juice – borrowed its name from the plant’s hue in the 1970s, and it stuck.
Between the 1700s and the 1970s, Mimosa was also the name of:
- A clipper ship that brought Welsh immigrants to Patagonia in 1865.
- A British record label known for producing records for children in the 1920s.
- The nineteenth brightest star in the night sky, part of the Southern Cross, and also known as Beta Crucis.
- A national park in Australia is called Mimosa Rocks. It’s a notable refuge for a particular parrot.
But have any women answered to the name?
Prior to the 1970s, Mimosa was rare but not unknown. A few dozen women appear in the Census records. In recent years, she’s at least as rare – possibly more. Fewer than five girls were called Mimosa in 2011.
Little wonder. Most Americans are more likely to be familiar with the drink than the plant. We’re not used to seeing mimosas in gardens or in bridal bouquets. That’s not a requirement for a successful botanical borrowing, but it helps names like Lily, Rose, and Violet.
In her favor:
- She’s valid botanical choice.
- Mimosa makes for a crazy gorgeous name – combining the best parts of the serious Miriam and the flirty Lola.
- Like many names borrowed from the natural world, she’s familiar, easy to say and spell. But your daughter would likely never share her name.
It’s a nickname-rich choice, too. Mia, Mimi, Mo, Mosie, and Mim all work.
So is the link with the drink so strong that Mimosa is unwearable? It is the only strike against her, and alcoholic associations don’t always destroy appellations. Margarita is a legitimate form of Margaret with a long history of use. Brandy came straight out of the liquor cabinet, and she was a Top 100 hit in the 1970s and 80s. Midori is a Japanese girls’ name, also the word for the color green – which is why the bright green liqueur chose the name. And boys answer to beer names like Miller and Killian.
Outside of the US, where the cocktail is less well-known, Mimosa is probably fair game.
In the US, you’d need to weigh this pretty carefully. If you already have daughters named Azalea and Zinnia, it might be easier. Will it bother you if you have to insist that you named your daughter after the plant, not the drink? If so, there are other lovely names to consider.
Still, it is too bad that Mimosa isn’t more wearable in the US, as there’s much to recommend her.