The late Steve Irwin chose this name for his darling daughter. Now that she’s following in her father’s footsteps will we meet more girls answering to this one?
Thanks to Sassy for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Bindi.
The late Steve Irwin was known as the Crocodile Hunter, but he was more of a crocodile (and shark and elephant and snake and so on) admirer. Bindi is often said to be an Australian Aboriginal term meaning “Little Girl.” That’s open to debate, but what’s certain is that Bindi was the name of a crocodile at the Australia Zoo. (I couldn’t confirm if the croc is still in residence – what’s certain is that the Irwin family is quite visible. You can even buy a Bindi the Jungle Girl doll at the zoo’s gift shops. Crikey!)
After having spent a few hours with Aboriginal dictionaries whilst researching Kylie, I’ve decided to sidestep the issue of Bindi’s aboriginal roots. Let’s just say that the name might mean “little girl” in some language. It certianly means “very famous little girl” in modern pop culture.
There are three other possible references for bindi:
- The red dot or jewel customarily displayed between the eyebrows in certain Indian and Southeast Asian culture is called a bindi. The term comes from the Sanskrit word for a drop or a dot;
- Bindi or Bindy is sometimes listed as a diminutive for Belinda, à la Cindy for Cynthia and Mindy for Melinda. Belinda had been out of vogue in recent years, but she’s crept back into the US Top 1000, ranking #747 in 2008. Shefirst surfaced in seventeenth century literature, though her exact roots are debated. She could be an elaboration of the Italian bella – beautiful – paired with the Germanic lind – serpent, or a mash-up of the Italian bella with the Spanish linda – pretty. There’s also an old Germanic name Betlindis;
- Then there’s the plant, but bindi isn’t in the same league as Violet or Rose. Soliva sessilis is also called field burrweed, lawnweed, bindi-eye or bindi weed. It’s spread from South America to Australia and beyond, including California and points north and the southeast United States. And no, it isn’t the kind of plant that gardeners encourage – on the contrary, you can find quite a bit of information about how to kill the plant. In Washington State, it is designated a Class A noxious weed. Not an auspicious choice for a child!
While that last reference might not position Bindi as a novel botanical appellation, it does suggest to some that it is authentically Australian – the term has been in use there for well over a century.
Overall, Bindi falls somewhere between a nouveau coinage like Taylee and an undiscovered gem. True, she does not appear in the US Top 1000. But perhaps Bindi is best as a nickname for Belinda. Or maybe some other name that starts with B. On her own, it seems just a bit like naming your darling daughter Suri – she may have legitimate roots, but she’s clearly borrowed from the stars.