If you’re seeking a rare bloom in the garden of roses, today’s choice might appeal.

Thanks to Lola for suggesting Rosamel as Name of the Day.

Rosamel sounds like an elaboration of Rose, just like Rosanna, Rosalie or Rosamund. Only we know that several Rose-names are actually derived from the Germanic hros – horse – making Rosalind and Rosamund a bit less botanical.

Lola’s family suggested that the name was a mash-up of Rose and the Latin for honey – mel. This tracks with one of many names Edmund Spenser invented for The Faerie QueenFlorimel, honey flower.

Alas, while it seems perfectly valid, it doesn’t appear to be historically defensible. Instead, Rosamel is almost certainly an old French surname.

Claude Charles Marie de Campe de Rosamel was a French naval officer. He eventually rose to serve as French naval minister. His service is better known for significant scientific voyages rather than wise military decisions.

He’s far from the first Rosamel. His title – Seigneur de Rosamel – is the equivalent of the English Lord. The surname appears on the Arc de Triomphe and there’s a Château de Rosamel located in Frencq, a village near Calais, dating from the 1700s.

The surname also appears in the historical record in Ontario in the 1800s. (There’s a Maud Rosamel listed in the 1891 census records!) And a handful of references suggest that Rosamel was very occasionally bestowed as a first name in France in the same era.

Despite her thoroughly medieval name, Godeleine de Rosamel is a French-born artist currently working in Los Angeles. She turned a childhood fascination with drawing animals into a career as a children’s book illustrator. Today she offers her own line of stuffed animals, blankets and other goods for children decorated with her trademark motifs.

Before I could file this one away as a French surname of uncertain derivation, Rosamel also popped up in South America. Rosamel del Valle was a Chilean poet and essayist active in the 1940s. While he wasn’t well known during his lifetime, he is now considered a leading Latin American surrealist. His work Eva y la Fuga was published posthumously and only translated into English in the 1990s.

Believe it or not, he’s not the only Latino male named Rosamel. I also turned up a Chilean singer named Rosamel Araya from the 1960s. But that’s where the trail dead-ends. There’s no hint of how Rosamel became a Spanish masculine moniker.

The only possibility that emerges is one of geography. Back in the 1800s, during Claude de Rosamel’s tenure as head of the French navy, he dispatched a scientific expedition to Antarctica, and an island off the Tabarin Peninsula was named in his honor. That’s actually quite close to South America. The island was ultimately renamed after a Swedish geologist who visited some decades later – today it is known as Andersson Island – but perhaps Rosamel Island was enough of a sensation to briefly influence naming trends in Chile.

If you’re looking for something rare but linked to a familiar appellation, Rosamel is one that might satisfy. But save this one for the girls – Chilean artists aside, Rosamel sounds decidedly feminine circa 2009.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. I’ll admit, if Rosamel were in my family history? I’d be using her in a heartbeat. While I hear the “Gargamel” argument, and I’m not a fan of Mel- names in general, I like the unconventional Rose vibe.

    Lola, as usual I’m jealous of your family’s genetic tendency to be fabulous namers!

  2. I’m in love! Rosamel sounds velvety as Kate says. It’s romantic and girly and flowery yet the familiarity of Rosa keeps her from being over the top. What a beautiful name.

  3. I like Rosamel, I’d never heard the name before Lola mentioned it as her daughter’s middle name, but it sounds lovely – a deep plum red, all plush and velvety. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the Rose variants is my middle name and indeed a real family name so I know that I’ll never use any of the others (if I’m going to use one, it’ll be that one if you know what I mean!) but despite that stand point I really like Rosamel especially as an unexpected middle name choice.

  4. I’m afraid I have to agree with Photoquility on this one. Rosamel catches in the mouth awkwardly and doesn’t have a gentle flow to her. I would actually prefer her as a male! As a lordly surname I think it works quite nicely, “The Duc de Rosamel” but I would never offer it as a given name.

  5. Thanks Verity! I’d long wondered about this one. Thanks for digging for me! A Maud Rosamel in the census is wicked cool. I’ll have to bang around the family a bit, see if there’s any relation, G. Grandma was Rosamel Maud Ghislaine _____ and went by Maud for years. Not too long though because Grandma always said she was Rosie to most when she was small.

    Photoquilty, that Gargamel is inevitably why I put Rosamel in the middle! It made me think of it in passing too. But how many of her peers are really going to know about that? Pop culture lingers with us that lived through it but as things change, that assocation goes by the wayside. Menntion Liberace to a 10 year old today… go ahead. And you’ll see what I mean.

    And thanks Emmy Jo, That medieval feel is exactly why I liked it in the first place and I have to admit, after singing out Josephine Rosamel Anne MacK – for nearly 5 years, I still love it.

    Thanks again, Verity, it was awesome seing this one here! 😀

  6. It reminds me of Gargamel (from the Smurfs, you know!) I don’t really like Mel names – this includes Melissa and Melinda. Mel is just too…Brooks- or Gibson-esque. And Rose names are getting a bit boring. This one certainly has an interesting history, though! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Lola — this has got to be the neatest family name I’ve ever seen. Rosamel does feel like a late medieval literary appellation, but her uncertain derivation adds to her mysterious charm.

  8. Inspite of my tiredness of all Rose-something names in the middle at the moment I quite like her.

    She isn’t asking me to say Roz instead of Rose like most of the other Rose-something combos and shes quite pretty.

    I think she might be on the list.