It just so happens that one of ApMtn’s biggest supporters bears a very strange name, indeed. It’s not Clarinda, but it’s quite close.
She’s always maintained that her name is without precedent, invented by her parents. But we weren’t content with that answer, and unearthed today’s Name of the Day: Clarinda.
While we often despair of elaborations like Julissianna and Caliandra, the simple fact is that parents have always been tempted to gussy up simple names. Clarinda emerged in the 16th century as a fancier version of Clara. Edmund Spenser may have invented it for use in Canto V of The Faerie Queen; in any case, it’s not found in the historical record prior to the late 1500s.
The Faerie Queen was a monster hit in its day. Each of the epic’s six books dealt with one virtue: holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice and courtesy. Clarinda shows up in the book about justice. She’s not a major character – just a trusted servant – but her name does fit beautifully well in Spenser’s rhythm.
Go now, Clarinda, well thy wits advise …
What now is left, Clarinda? What now remains, that we may compasse this our enterprise?
It’s a lyrical, flowing, feminine name. The meaning is usually given as “clear, bright” from the Latin clarus.
While it never caught on in a big way, it was used occasionally throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, even making a mark on the map. Clarinda, Iowa was founded in 1851 and a few decades later was the birthplace of Glenn Miller. Clear on the other side of the globe, we find Clarinda, Victoria, just outside of Melbourne.
In the late 19th century, Clarinda appears in the Top 1000 in the US. While it never charted higher than #688, it would have fit with some fashionable choices for daughters from the same era: Henrietta, Estella, Augusta. It has not cracked the Top 1000 since 1897.
Today, we think the name sounds a bit clunky. But Claire has been back in the Top 100 for nearly a decade. Clara, a Top Ten choice in the 1880s, seems well on her way to a resurgence, too. And so we can’t help but think that Clarinda might appeal as option for parents hoping for something slightly more obscure and poetic than the tailored Claire or simple Clara.
And it must be said that with Arabella, Aurora, Gabriella and other frilly, fanciful girls’ names enjoying returns to use, this one might just be poised for discovery.
But be forewarned: our C. detests her name. A smart, practical and tailored type, the ruffles and lace of this Victoriana moniker have always sat awkwardly on her shoulders. Choosing a hyper-feminine name for a daughter works out just fine if your little girl is dainty. But if you get yourself a tree-climbing, hockey-stick-wielding girl prone to shoving frogs in her pockets?
We suppose you can call her Claire.