Parents searching for a truly unusual name sometimes resort to creative respellings or stringing together random syllables. The result is usually a bit of a mess – a name that seems familiar, but still manages to confuse. Still, if you don’t love the throwback vibe we usually feature here, is there another option?
We suggest turning to the dictionary for inspiration, focusing on lesser-used nature names, like today’s Name of the Day: Coriander. Thanks to Kayt and Unknown for the idea.
Coriander has never appeared in the US Top 1000 for men or women, but it has been used sparingly throughout the 19th and 20th centuries for both. It appears on several reputable sites as a given name derived from the herb.
In the US, you’ll usually find cilantro on your spice rack, but it’s really just coriander by the Spanish name. It’s used in cuisines across the globe, and in fact, It’s not clear from whence this resilient plant originates – it’s been cultivated as far back as Ancient Egypt and was a staple in cookery through the ages. Your neighbor probably has some in his herb garden today.
The big question is whether this herb works best as the name of a girl or a boy. The Cory and Ander made us think of boys’ names; in fact, that’s where the discussion began. Add in Alexander, Evander, Iskander and Leander, and it seems like a masculine construction. But fictional Corianders, including the DC Comics heroine better known as Starfire, tend to be female.
The word’s derivation gives few hints. Koriannon was the Greek; apparently they borrowed the term from another language, possibly Phoenician. In Latin, it became coriandrum and in Old French coriandre. It’s mentioned in the Bible, and has been found at various archeological sites. It appears this spice is one of those rare entities with a fairly consistent name and untroubled derivation. That’s a desirable quality in a noun adopted for a child’s name; it’s those undercurrents of meaning and origin that are problematic.
But we’re still not sure if little Coriander is a he or a she. The Baby Name Guesser predicts that it is 1.757 times more likely for Coriander to be a girl; however, Jennifer is 54 times as likely to be a girl; Mary is 161 times more likely to be a she. By the site’s scale, 1.757 is pretty close to zero.
The bottom line is that Coriander offers nature-minded parents an interesting option. It’s familiar, but rarely used. And it is decidedly gender-neutral, at a moment when such names are more and more difficult to find. While there are Corianders throughout recent history, there aren’t many. Odds are your little one would never meet another.
To date, other than the few fictional uses of the name, there are no famous Corianders in any field of which we’re aware. Google the word, and most of the results will be recipes and restaurants.
This would be a daring choice, indeed. Names like Rosemary and Basil are also found in the kitchen, but have far longer use as given names. Coriander is a stand-out – not merely surprising, but perhaps eyebrow-raising.
And yet we rather like this name’s spice and spark, for either gender. And we’re quite certain it’s not likely to catch on any time soon, so if you’re looking for a rare name that will remain so, this is one to consider.