Scarlet. Juliet. Bridget. Violet.
While Annette, Jeanette, Paulette and Lynette seem tied to the 1950s, a whole new generation of ends in -et names for girls are climbing the charts.
If -et is the next -el, we’d like to nominate a candidate that is truly different, but has plenty of history at the same time – today’s Name of the Day: Ayelet.
The author Ayelet Waldman tripped our radar a few years back, and while the name seemed vaguely familiar, it also felt surpassingly rare. Indeed, Ayelet has never been in the US Top 1000.
Like Tamar, there’s a strong Jewish heritage vibe to this choice. Ayelet is big in Israel. In fact, we’ll soon be hearing much of the name. Popular Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer is making the move to Hollywood for the May 2009 release of the Da Vinci Code prequel, Angels and Demons. Given Tom Hanks’ involvement, chances are that even if the flick isn’t a blockbuster, his co-star will garner lots of attention.
Of course, we’ll also have to wait and hear how she pronounces her given name. A three-syllable sound – ah yeh let – is favored by most name dictionaries. But in listening to Ayelet Waldman on NPR, and considering the sounds associated with the increasingly popular Violet, it seems more likely that EYE eh let, or EYE leht would be the easiest pronunciation – and the one you’re most likely to hear.
This brings to mind the fabric, as in “a simple white cotton eyelet skirt is perfect for spring.” On the one hand, it makes the name familiar without being common. On the other hand, plenty of parents would prefer a name that doesn’t also hang in their closets.
Rest assured that Ayelet’s derivation is completely separate from the material. The Hebrew phrase ayelet hashachar literally translates to gazelle of dawn. This could make Ayelet, like Tabitha, a pretty appellation that brings to mind graceful grassland dwellers.
Alternately, we can think of the night sky. The gazelle of dawn is a poetic phrase describing the morning star. Got twins? Call them Danica and Ayelet. Triplets? Danica, Ayelet and Esther.
Still, most baby name guides will tell you that Ayelet simply means gazelle, and if calling your dear daughter a deer is off-putting, then this is not the choice for you.
In addition to Waldman and Zurer, Ayelet Tours is a US-based travel company offering Jewish heritage tours worldwide. Ayelet HaShahar is a historic kibbutz in Israel, and a major producer of fruit and honey.
While it’s an oversimplification to link Ayelet to Psalm 22, there is a connection. We’re not certain we’ve got it quite puzzled out, but you’ll find the phrase associated with the passage. This is either the icing on the cake that makes the name appealingly spiritual, or the nail in the coffin, depending on your personal beliefs.
Overall, we find Ayelet intriguing. She’s complicated to spell and say, and would almost inevitably be confused with Violet. But it’s a strong Jewish heritage option that emerges as prettier than the harsh sounds of Tamar or the predictable choices like Hadassah. We think she’d wear well on a girl born in 2008, regardless of your personal faith.