She’s a little bit hippie chick, a little bit granny chic.
Thanks to Bek for suggesting Fern as Name of the Day.
Fern is that kind of name. Visit your local playground and listen. If you hear Opal, Roscoe and Atticus, you’re in the right place to name a daughter Fern. If you hear mostly Madison and Aiden? Not so much. Isabella and Oliver? Maybe.
Much has been made of Hipster Baby Names, but many are gaining in use. As Asher and Sadie go mainstream, could Fern be among the Hipster Baby 2.0 choices?
While plenty of botanicals are enjoying heights of popularity, Fern has felt as dated as a macrame plant hanger. And indeed, the plants themselves are ancient. Mesozoic era dinosaurs would’ve munched on them. (You might try it, too – but be careful. Only some ferns are edible.)
Ferns themselves have much to recommend them – they’re easy to grow. A number of folk traditions hold that ferns can bestow invisibility or serve as guides to secret treasure. The Victorians went wild for ferns, collecting and preserving them. They called it Fern Fever or Pteridomania.
Pteridomania refers to their phylum – pteridophyta. (They’re also referred to as filicophyta.) There are more than 20,000 types of ferns in all, as well as a few not-ferns that we lump together. As for the word fern, it comes from the Old English fearn, which traces back to the Greek pteron – feather – and brings us full circle to the scientific name.
The unrelated Fernando and Fernanda are both found in the US Top 1000, but Fern? She last charted in 1961. Her best showing was 1916 at #152.
Notable Ferns are few. There was Fern Fitzgerald, the actress who appeared on Dallas as Marilee back in the 1970s. In the 1940s, the NHL’s Fernand Majeau of the Montreal Canadiens was known as Fern.
The Fern that you might think of is the (human) heroine of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s novel about a barn spider’s efforts to save Wilbur the Pig from the butcher’s block. First published in 1952, it is a beloved tale. Fern Arable takes a backseat to the talking livestock, but she’s the one who first rescued the runt.
But is Fern ready to join the garden of girls? Other old lady appellations are back – for every Mikayla, there’s a Violet. And choices like Hazel, Iris and Ivy can rise through the rankings, is Fern such an outlandish choice?
Perhaps the challenge with Fern is that you’ll have to be willing to embrace her spare, tailored sensibility. Yes, you could call her Ferny, or possibly Fee. But there’s not much wiggle room with this choice. If you can overlook that, though, Fern could be ready for reconsideration.
Your macrame plant hanger, however, will still have to go.
When I was little my mother wrote me letters in tiny writing pretending to be a fairy named Fernly (pron Fern-Leigh) who lived in our snowdrop flower patch. When I uncovered the truth I was shattered!
Fern reminds me of that innocence and like my name you’d have extend it to create a nickname: I got Clareabell, she can have Fernly!
Fern is not harsh, or country bumkin. Fern is a tall elegant person. A fresh radiance glows from her. She commands presence, because she is serene. She has beauty, and presence of mind. She may have a quirky name, but she doesn’t sound silly. I should know about Fern, as mine is a very lively 8 year old. In England we have two famous Fern’s, Fern Britton and Fearne Cotton. I prefer Fern spelling. No, nobody teases or bullies her about her name. People think Fern is one fantastic name. Differant, but good.
I love your comment !!!! As I’m a Fern !! I was born in England and now I live in Australia , and no one gets it here and it is not common , most people assume my parents were hippies, but might I add their not well mum maybe a little. So your comment made me really appreciate my name as sometimes I have struggled especially since in Australia everyone has nick names and fern is a hard one to think of a nickname … However I don’t mind the the suggestion of “Fee” that one could go !!
Love your comment! My name is Fern, too. Actually, my nickname but I’m Thai so my name is pretty long and kinda hard to remember. There’re lots and lots of girls with nickname ‘Fern’ here… I have about 6-7 friends whose nickname is Fern.
When I’m abroad, I go with Fern and sometimes people were like ‘why?’…my reply is simple ‘my mom likes it’…I never know that it’s an old name.
I used to hate it at one point because I’m tried of explaining why I’m FERN but at the end of the day, my mom likes the name so I cool with it 😀
P.S. My host sister used to call me ‘Ferny Baby’ since she can’t shorten my name so she thinks that it’s better to make it longer…lol
My husband and I did name our daughter Fern. She is six months old now and she knows her name well. Whenever someone asks her name and we tell them, they always comment. Fern? Why that? That’s an awesome name. So unusual. We ALWAYS have to repeat it, like they didn’t hear it the first time though. F-E-R-N. We wouldn’t change her name for the world but just be prepared to always have to explain where you got the name. People don’t ask when you say Hailey or Ava.
Congrats on your new daughter, Joyce! What a great name. 🙂
I love the name Fern. I have a 15 month-old Pearl, and I always get the same reaction from people. They seem so shocked her name isn’t something like Riley.
Mary K says
I am so in love with the name Fern but no one — not my husband, not my mother, no one else likes it. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I mentioned to people I was thinking about name her Fern, people laughed or screamed. We named her Gloria.
Wow, Gloria is so beautiful! I think you made a wonderful choice.
I can only like this for a boy. I think of “Jakers! The Adventures of Piggley Winks” and the character Fernando, called Ferny. I adore that show, and that character.
I also think of Lavern, which is male-only in my mind, due to it’s similarity to LeVar [being the Trek nerd that I am].
Lulu Bee says
My first association is the main character of the movie Jawbreaker, she starts as Fern, but when she gets a makeover they change her name to Violette. I think Fern is pretty cool, I wouldn’t use it myself, but it’d be a great middle name.
That’s what I think of, too! Fern was drab and dowdy, so they made her “Vylette.” Rose McGowan’s character said she’d rather be a flower than a plant.
Lulu Bee says
Haha, yeah that was the line! I didn’t realize they spelled it “Vylette”, not a fan of that.
I really like Fern. I wouldn’t use it myself, but she has a cool no-frills sound that would be nice on someone else. I also think it would make a great one syllable middle name, it could take over the overused Rose as a middle name any day.
Christina Fonseca says
Ah, Fern. Fresh and spare. I LIKE that it has no nicknames. It’s simple and to the point. It would make an excellent choice for a little one, and it’s very becoming on a grown woman.
Ahh lovely Fern, she’s a real grower I think. I mean the more I hear her the more I like her (and I hear her a lot, given that my puppy is called Fern!) I think you have a point Photoquilty, Fern is a real country girl. I imagine a little Fern to be a real little tomboy climbing trees or playing hide and seek with her brothers in a corn field – the sort of idyllic, carefree childhood of days gone by. This impression only serves to make her more appealing and add to her homey, rustic charm that an old fashioned country girl like me finds simply irresistible…
Ah, Fern. I always think of Charlotte’s Web when I hear this name – and because of that, Fern is forever (in my mind) classified as a hick name. She was a sweet girl, that Fern, but a farmgirl, too. I like the association with the book, but not with farming. (Nothing against farming and farmers, though. I just associate more with cosmopolitan themes.)
How could I forget Fern Mallis, with Project Runway *finally* returning in just two more days?! Thanks, Elisabeth.
I was trying to decide whether I should make a post solely for the purpose of ranting about new contestant Qristyl’s name. *shudder*
By the way, fellow PR fanatic here. I unashamedly admit: I wanted Kenley Collins to win. Heh.
Ugh! I was a Leanne Marshall fan from day one — not only did she create some amazing garments, but she looks and sounds a lot like a close friend and ex-roommate who also, incidentally, resides in Portland.
What people sometimes choose to call themselves on “reality” television is truly quite revolting.
As for Fern, well, she really doesn’t do much for me. I could see myself occasionally recommending her as a middle name, but that’s pretty much it.
Most other plant/flower names sound light, airy, and girly. But Fern sounds so harsh to me. I don’t think I’ll be catching Fern Fever.
“If you hear Opal, Roscoe and Atticus, you
haha, so true! I really love Fern. A lot. And I’m not even sure where the obsession comes from…
But of course I have a husband who laughs when I even bring it up. And, unfortunately, I live in the land of Addies/Maddies/blah blah blah… But honestly, that wouldn’t deter me (it didn’t with Eben). 😉
I like Fern a lot. It has a lovely soft sound. As you say, there are no real nickname options, though… However, I do like the idea of Fernanda as a “full” name yielding the Fern nickname. For me, Fern was on my list of middles (Beatrix Fern was a strong contender combo on the girls list). But I think Fern goes well right up front, too. Of course, I like the other ‘botanicals’ you mention, like Hazel and Ivy, so Fern is right up my alley.