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.
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.
- A 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.