Flannery: Baby Name of the Day

English: Portrait of American writer Flannery-...

This post was originally published on July 6, 2009.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 24, 2014, at the request of Caroline.

Literary surname names for girls like Harper and Hadley are quite stylish.  Why not this one?

Thanks to Wrenn for suggesting Flannery as Name of the Day.

Flannery: Hot Name of 2015?

Freakonomics co-authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner deemed Flannery a likely Top Name of 2015.  Their predictions were mixed – they called Liam and Maya, but missed big-time on most of their guesses.

Including Flannery.

Hey, crystal ball-gazing is a tough gig.

I’m not sure how Levitt and Dubner made their list – and the website that originally hosted the data is history – but it was a reasonable guess:

  • Irish surnames, like Riley and Finley have had a good run.
  • Longer surnames have caught on for boys or girls, like Sullivan and Delaney.  Flannery fits with both.
  • If To Kill a Mockingbird is a huge source of baby name inspiration, why not other American literary references?

As of 2013, the name hasn’t cracked US Top 1000 for either gender.  Just 15 girls were given the name in 2013.  That’s been about average for the past four decades-plus.  It’s completely off the radar for boys.

Flannery: Irish Roots, Literary Pedigree

Flann means red, but the second half is debated.  I’ve seen “red eyebrows” and “red valor” as well as just red-headed.

Flann Sinna was a ninth century High King of Ireland, so this name is steeped in history.

The best known bearer of the name was an American writer of Irish descent.  Born Mary Flannery O’Connor in Savannah, Georgia, she was known by her middle name professionally.  That’s a young Miss O’Connor in the photo.

Despite a life cut short by illness – O’Connor died at 39 – her literary achievements are many.  A trained journalist, she penned book reviews for Catholic newspapers in Georgia.

O’Connor’s faith is evident in her work, but it would be wrong to pigeon-hole her as a writer of religious works.  Instead, her best known novels and short stories deal with a wide range of issues – racism, the Holocaust, the culture and challenges of the American South.

She once wrote, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”

If we name our daughters after Jane Austen heroines and Harper Lee, then Flannery O’Connor is a fitting addition to the list of female literary heroines.

Flannery: Gone Girl

If O’Connor’s legacy wasn’t enough to make this name lean feminine, Flannery’s sound could be.

Three-syllable names for girls ending in -y or -ie have always been in favor.  The names have changed – Dorothy gives way to Delaney, Kimberly slips as Emily rises, and today Avery is everywhere.

There’s also:

  • Pokémon character named Flannery.  She trains flame-type pocket monsters, making her red-hued name especially fitting.
  • Daniel Handler – you know him better as Lemony Snicket – wrote a non-Snicket coming-of-age novel called “The Basic Eight” back in 1998.  Handler’s main character is Flannery, called Flan for short.

Flannery: Underused Gem

All of this makes Flannery a literary rarity.  Style-wise, it’s the kind of name that could appeal to parents who like Avery and Delaney, but also might suit those considering Emily or Daisy.

Distinctively different, with an admirable namesake, Flannery is a great option for parents after something strong but wearable for a daughter.

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29 Comments

My daughter was one of the babies named Flannery in 2013. She is Flannery Marie (middle name from one of her great grandmothers). We call her Flan most of the time, but sometimes when I feel playful/cutesy I call her Flannagram (just something that came out one time and I enjoyed). Also, her older sister (b. 2010) is Harper Lee.

Regarding the origin of the name, Woulfe, Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames glosses “Flannabhra” (the root of “Flannery”) as ‘red-eyebrows’.

First off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind.
I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
I have had a hard time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out.
I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes
are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
Appreciate it!

I have six children and am hoping for a seventh. If that should happen and baby is a girl I want to name her Flannery Mildred. I think she would match my other six: Miriam, Cowen, Emeline, Eli, Harriet, and Oskar. I like girl names that sound smart and independent. My only reservation is that Miriam, Emeline, and Harriet are so clearly female names and Flannery is not. But . . . I just love it so much!

Well, we had twin girls, and it’s funny that Flannery is the name of the day b/c just yesterday my husband and I were looking at our little red-haired darlings and said, “They could’ve been Flannery and Scarlett after all!” We decided against Flannery and Scarlett b/c we never dreamed daughters of ours would have red hair (my sons is light blonde and my daughter is golden), and we decided in the delivery room to honor my grandmother with family names of she and her twin sister! We now have, Jack William, Annabel (Annie), Mary Catherine (Molly) and Margaret Clare (Maggie). However, I sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t have stuck to our guns and gone Flannery and Scarlett…. 🙂

PS: I must admit that I’m not enthused that a group (reputed to know such things) is predicting that Flannery will be one of the most popular names by 2015. I hope not. One of the things I like about it is its uniqueness.

Glenna, what a great choice for your daughter! And it was smart to give her a clearly feminine mn, too – I think one gender-ambiguous name per child is a good standard. (Quinn Avery, no. Tucker Ellen, yes.)

And I really think the predictions are WAY off-base. The authors might understand many trends, but they’ve oversimplified baby naming. I doubt there will be a wave of Flannerys following your darling daughter.

I have an adorable 6 1/2 mo. old granddaughter named Flannery. Her mother (my daughter) has strong Irish roots and Flannery O’Connor is one of her dad’s favorite authors, so the name pleased each of them. I have loved the name since they first told me they’d chosen it. Some friends, however, were not supportive. One asked the name they’d chosen and, when told, asked incredulously, “Why?” It suits our baby just fine and we hope she’ll like the name. She has a one-syllable feminine middle name (just in case someone might think her name belongs to a boy).

Flannery is a wonderful name. I love the author and so the name rings for me with depth and wonder.

As for Flannery O’Connor’s canonization. So far, she is only canonized in that her works have entered the American literary canon. Though the idea of her being a saint is truly captivating, I am afraid people would stop reading her.

I’ll agree that once a boys’ name has been worn by a female author, it gains credence as a girls’ name. Flannery and Harper feel like substantial, meaningful choices for daughters; whereas Harley, Carter, and Delaney (on girls) feel like bandwagon choices.

Saint Flannery – I didn’t know! How cool, and thanks, Sebastiane.

The law firm babies do vex me. “This is my son, Parker Nicholson Brown.” Or, “Yes, I’m a partner in the estates and trusts practice at Parker Nicholson Brown.” I don’t suppose anyone will ever think that your tow-headed cherub was named after a professional services firm, but why risk it?

And not “if and when,” Elizabeth – WHEN! I already tried to read Harry Potter to the 4 y.o., but a) they’re a tiny bit scary and b) he mostly wants to read our history of the Stanley Cup. Here’s hoping he branches out, or I’ll be the mom in the bookstore buying her 12 y.o. the biography of Wayne Gretzky.

Lana is cute. And I love the nn Annie, but it isn’t nearly as distinctive as Flannery. (I don’t know any Annies at the moment, though I do know a 3 y.o. Annabel.)

I do like both Flannery and Harper for girls. And Hadley. Must be the literary connections.

I love the name Flannery. It was on my short list 5 years ago when I was pregnant. I, too, was conflicted b/c of lack of nn and the largeness of the name. I thought it might be a lot to harness a baby with…

However, I am currently pregnant with twins and am considering it. I love the literary ties and Irish element (being half Irish!).

I also think that it would go well with Annabel (my 4 yr old). We are thinking of using the nickname Fanny (as in old English nickname, not rear).

Congrats on your babies on the way! Annabel and Flannery make for an interesting pair. Do you know the gender of maybe-Flannery’s twin?

Thank you for the well wishes. I currently have Jack William, 8, Annabel Margaret 4, and we have chosen not to find out the genders of our twins (much to the chagrin of family and friends).

I love Flannery Jane and am thinking Eleanor Ivy, if we have two girls…

For boys, we are considering Daniel, Declan and Gabriel, but are unsure in what combination at this point. Thinking possibly Gearen (pronounced Garren) and Gallagher for middle names.

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

Eleanor Ivy was one of two girl names we were sure were the final-two had my son been a girl… love it! Our other girl choice was Beatrix Fern. (We already have an Imogen Lily.)

Congratulations on the impending arrivals!

Thanks, JNE! I love the way Eleanor and Ivy sound together. I almost used it last time (Annabel Ivy) but chose to honor a grandparent with Margaret….

Beatrice/x is also on our list!

I love Eleanor Ivy and Flannery Jane! It’s funny … Flannery feels like the odd one out, as she’s the surname choice, but she sounds compatible with your kids’ names.

For boys … Gabriel Gearen appeals to me, but I love alliteration – my kids are CCW and AA. (And I’m an AA, too.) I love Declan, but I think I’d choose Daniel Gallagher over Declan Gallagher. Plus Jack, Gabe and Dan seems more compatible than Jack, Gabe and Declan … though if you’re going to use Gabriel, no nickname, then Gabriel and Declan go together better.

I like Eleanor Ivy and Daniel Gallagher for a boy/girl set.

Is Ivy an option in the first spot? It’s one of my favorites, though it is a little brief with Annabel and Eleanor.

All I think of when I hear this name is the character Flannery Culp in the novel ‘The Basic Eight’ by Daniel Handler. Though I love Mr Handler (if and when your children get into reading, Verity, I fully recommend ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’; don’t be put off by the film, they’re really very good) I would never name a child Flannery after such a book, since the character is… well, let’s just say, you wouldn’t want her as your daughter!
So no, no Flannery for me!

As for nicknames, how about Lan/a, Wrenn?

I actually don’t mind this one. Not that I’d ever use it myself, even if it had a connection for me, it does sound a bit too dessert-y. 🙂
But I like the sound and wouldn’t blanch if I ran into one. Be careful though, this is another one of those wasp-y types that if not paired carefully, can sound like a law firm!

Hmm…Lan/a could work – thanks Lola!

And warning about sounding like a law firm. It is still to be determined what last name any future offspring of mine would have… 🙂

My name is Flannery — I was named after the writer and I’m also a fourth Irish. Nicknames I have gone by include: Lala, La, Flan, FlanFlan, Flannanigans, and Anne.

Flannery O’Connor was also known as a Catholic Apologist. She is up for sainthood and is considered the patron saint against lupus (that is what she died from). I have a friend named Flannery, she was named for the author. I must admit, I do like Flannery because I am a fan of the author. I’d never use it, but its one of the very few surname names I like on a girl.

My son Frankie would have been Flannery if he’d been a girl. Flannery O’Connor is my favorite author and, Sebastiane, I do hope that someday she is canonized.