Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Dove as Name of the Day.
As I started to write this article, I realized I might be making a big mistake. While I thought of Dove as an avian-inspired name for girls, Dov has a history of use as a masculine moniker with Hebrew origins. And Dov boasts paws, not wings – it means bear.
But an American-born Dove is probably a girl. A handful were born in the late nineteenth century – enough to appear in the Top 1000 a few times. Dov has never appeared in the US rankings – though Talon has clawed his way up the charts in recent years.
A dove is a close cousin to the pigeon. There are a few hundred birds in the Columbidae family, and at least a handful of personal names related to the dove, including Jonah and Jemima. The standard-issue urban avian is the feral rock pigeon; let’s just say that we’ve yet to meet a child called named after them.
As a word, dove is thought to relate to the Germanic dubon – to dive, related to their pattern of flight – via the Old English dufe.
As a name, Dove could read as a deeply spiritual choice. In the Biblical story of Noah, it is a dove who appears to signify the end of the floods. And the dove is used by many Christian denominations to signify the holy spirit.
But the dove can be found in plenty of non-Christian – and non-Western – traditions, too. In fact, the dove’s use as a symbol of peace is probably more familiar than the religious associations. This puts Dove squarely in virtue name territory – more Hope than Nevaeh.
Searching for famous people named Dove didn’t produce much, but fantasy writer Tamora Pierce used a related name for a character in her young adult novels – Dovesary. That hasn’t caught on with real life children any more than Dove, but you never can tell.
And, if you’ve ever picked your way through an Italian phrasebook, dove means one more thing – where – as in dove si trova il museo?
While virtually any flower name can be bestowed on a daughter, bird names are a bit tougher to wear. Kestrel could work. I suppose you could call a son Kingfisher, or even Hawk. But Tanager? Parrot? Vulture? Most of those ideas are, well, cuckoo.
When stacked up against the rest of the aviary, Dove seems like one of the more wearable options. If you’re looking for a noun name, Dove isn’t as strange as, say, Refrigerator. And girls wear the equally nature-inspired Brooke or other simple noun names like Faith.
Overall, Dove would probably wear well as a given name, and she’s a stunning possibility in the middle spot.
Photo credit: TheOnlyMoxey via Flickr