Kestrel; Image via Wikipedia

Today’s story comes to us from Sara. She had the opposite problem from so many of us – she and husband knew what they wanted to call their daughter, but had to agree on what to write on her birth certificate.

My husband and I love names that are a bit unusual, but not too hard to pronounce.

When we were pregnant for our daughter it took us months to agree on a name. Finally we were able to agree on the name Kesi. It was cute and new, but not too weird.

The only problem? The name’s meaning: “Born in time of father’s misfortune.”

Little girls will look up the meaning of their name and I advised my lovely husband that this just would not do.

We now had a dilemma. After months of negotiations we had a name … that we could not use!

So I decided to see if I could find a name that we could shorten to Kesi as a nickname.

After some searching I located the name Kestrel, meaning in Old French “little rattle”, and also belonging to a small hawk. Perfect!

Just last year at school her class had a project: look up your name’s meaning. She was thrilled with hers, and really enjoyed reading about the small hawk that shares her name. I can only imagine what may have ensued had we stuck with the original name. I’m not even sure HOW you would make a poster out of that … LOL!

Our daughter and all of her friends love her name, so it has been a hit! She is now 11 years old and I can’t imagine her with any other name. She is spunky and cute. The name really fits her. Everyone seems to be able to pronounce it with no trouble, and we get to call her by our cute nickname of choice, Kesi.

We also have a wonderful, intelligent, and kind-hearted son named Colby as well as a new little girl to come. We have yet to settle on a name for the new addition, but Elodie, Sofieke, Evelyn, Brynley, Adele, and Bijou are on our list, along with many others. We have two weeks to decide and I have changed my mind every few weeks.

Wish us luck!

Best wishes, Sara – and congratulations on your newest addition! (If Sara doesn’t comment, I’m guessing it is because Elodie Sofieke Evelyn Brynley Adele Bijou has already arrived.) My son had a similar project in kindergarten – well, just a worksheet instructing him to find out why his parents chose his name. I was delighted that I had a story to tell.

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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What do you think?


  1. I know I’ve come to this really late, but I wanted to say that I love Kestrel! I would love to use it for a girl, with the nn Kit. I used to work at a wildlife rehabilitation center, and we raised a lot of baby kestrels. They are such beautiful birds. I love a lot of bird names, but my hubby has more traditional tastes. I’m trying to wear him down though 🙂

  2. I love the name Kestrel! Especially since my last name is Kessie. I have heard many meanings for Kessie…from Casia tree, to fat at birth. 🙂 Good choice.

  3. My daughter and I just saw this. Her name is Kesi – she’s just become a teen and she loves her name. We choose it BECAUSE of the meaning — the alternative meaning is born during difficult times, and I was very sick (was soon after diagnosed with leukemia). My husband was working 18 hour days and we were beyond stressed. Here comes this beautiful little miracle and the name fit perfectly. I love this story!

  4. We have an Elodie on the way and we came to her name through a nickname first too. We knew we wanted an Ellie but didn’t want an Eleanor or Eliana. I think starting with a nickname is a fine way to go! I loved this story too.

  5. Now THAT (Elodie, Sofieke, Evelyn, Brynley, Adele, and Bijou) is as diverse a list as I’ve ever come across! Hopefully her personality will assert itself early and she names herself.

    Loved Kestrels’ name story.

  6. Kestrel is an awesome name. Love all your current name options, especially Sofieke and Bijou. Good luck!

  7. This one is becoming my favorite story. 😀 I love Kestrel name, and it is certainly very unusual. I love, love, love Bijou as a name. 😀

  8. OOH, Kestrel is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. Gorgeous name and a sweet story. Good luck with Elodie Sofieke Evelyn Brynley Adele Bijou.

  9. Could it be that Sara and her husband are fans of Star Trek: Voyager’s Kes? She was in the original cast of characters, married inexplicably to Neelix and part of a race whose members only lived 7 years.

    If not, how did they start with the nn Kesi?

    1. Joy, I knew a Kes – it was a nickname for her, too, but I can’t recall exactly how it evolved. Her given name was fairly conventional – Katherine or Kristina or something like that. So I’ve heard it out and about …