Neglected Gems - Girls - Part One

"Sketch of Aphra Behn" by George Scharf

Today we will be discussing names that I think have yet to really be discovered, but definitely should be. I will try to keep the names out of the the top 1000 of the US.

Aphra - Does Not Rank in US - The meaning of Aphra is unknown, although there is some speculation that it could be a form of Aphrah, a place in the Bible, which means "dust", or possible a form of Afra, which was the nickname Romans gave African women. While that may keep some people from using it, the namesake Aphra Behn should surely improve the image. She was a dramatist and one of the first female writers. She was born sometime during the 1600s and is sometimes her name is given as Eaffry. Aphra married Johan Behn in 1664, but he died only a few years into the marriage. Not only did Aphra write "Oroonoko", which was the first ever novel to show black Africans in a sympathetic light, she also worked as a spy for King Charles II, and was given the code name Astrea. She was rebellious and analyzed and wrote about female sexual desires as well. Another similar and underused name is Abra, which could possibly be a feminine form of Abraham.

Bathsheba - Does Not Rank in US - What's not to love? It is dramatic, a litte frilly, but strong, and it has the readily available nickname Sheba. But then, there is her story in the Bible. Bathsheba means "daughter of the oath" in Hebrew, and is the wife of King David in the Bible. The story goes that David sees Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, who was at the time, married to Uriah the Hittite, and seduced her and begat a child on her. So David tried to make Uriah re-consummate his marriage with Bathsheba, so he would think the child was his, but he would not agree to it, because he was serving in the army and wanted to stay with his troops (or something like that). David, who at his wits end after trying to convince Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba, he finally had Uriah sent to the front lines and he was killed. David then married Bathsheba. Needless to say, God was not happy with this. He sent Nathan the Prophet to tell scold David, and David said he was truly sorry. Bathsheba's baby came down with a horrible illness and died. David's son Abasolam then plunged the Kingdom into civil war, and to manifest his claim as the new King, had sex publicly with ten of his father's concubines. When David grew old, Bathsheba secured the position of King for her son Solomon, instead of David's eldest son Adonjiah, and the rest is history. I really don't think people should blame Bathsheba, after all, it was David's fault!

Cressida - Does Not Rank in US - Cressida is a medieval form of the name Chryseis, which means "golden". It's most famous bearer is probably from "Troilus and Cressida" by Shakespeare. This story has been around forever, long before Shakespeare though. It goes that Cressida is a Trojan woman, the daughter of Calchas, who falls in love with Troilus, the youngest child of King Priam. She pledges her everlasting to him, but is then captured by the Greeks, and starts to have an affair with a Greek warrior named Diomedes. Let's just say, things do not go well for the two lovers, and all is ended between them. Cressida is a beautiful, mythical, and literary choice.

Dido - Does Not Rank in US - I have to say, I just love this name. Dido is pronounced "DYE-doh", and possibly means "virgin" in Phoenician. This is the name of the Queen of Carthage in Virgil's "Aeneid". She falls in love with Aeneas who is a Trojan and the son of Venus. Unfortunately, after the two consummate their love, Aeneas is reminded of his duty to go to war, and Dido kills herself by stabbing herself on a pyre using Aeneas' sword. As she dies she says that her people and Aeneas' people, will always be at war.

Euphemia - Does Not Rank in US - I have loved this name since I first heard it in the show "True Women", in which Euphemia was called Phemie by friends. I think it so beautiful, and sadly underused. Euphemia comes from the Greek eu meaning "good" and phemi which means "to speak", so it is roughly translated as "to speak well". Not only does it have a vast amount of darling nicknames, like Eppie, Effie, and Phemie, it was always the name of a martyred saint from Chalcedon.

Ffion - Does Not Rank in US - Ffion is a beauty. It is the Welsh word for "foxglove", the highly poisonous plant. I believe it is pronounced FEE-on, but if anybody knows for sure, feel free to tell me. In Wales, it is said that fairies often are found lurking in foxgloves and they are sometimes called "fairy-folks-fingers".

Gardenia - Does Not Rank in US - Flower names are definitely in, so I'm surprised Gardenia hasn't become more popular. Gardenias are very beautiful (usually) white, evergreen flowers. They are said to have a very sweet scent. They get there name from the Scottish born American botanist named Dr. Alexander Garden. Billie Holliday was known for wearing gardenias in her hair, which she called her trademark. The gardenia was also Sigmund Freud's favorite flower.

Hebe - Does Not Rank in US - A favorite of mine from Greek mythology, Hebe is probably not going to get popular anytime soon, mainly because many associate it with the term "the heebie-jeebies". Hebe means "youth" and fittingly so, she is the Goddess of youth. She was the daughter of Zeus and Hera, and a cupbearer to the Gods, in which she served them ambrosia and nectar. Hebe married Heracles, or Hercules, with which she had two children, Alexiares and Anicetus. Her Roman equivalent, Juventas, is also a name possibility.

Indira - Does Not Rank in US - This lovely name means "beauty" in Sanskrit, and is another name for the Goddess Lakshmi, wife to Vishnu. This name has a great sound, meaning, history, and can lead to one of the most sought after nicknames, Indy. Indira Gandhi was India's first female prime minister and the beautiful actress, Indira Varma, known for her role as Niobe in "Rome" and Susie in "Torchwood", lends this name an extra dose of charm.

Jerusha - Does Not Rank in US - A unusual Biblical name, and as Biblical names seem to be in, this one is ripe for use. Jerusha means "possession" in Hebrew, and is the name of King Uzziah's wife. Jerusha is also the mother of Jotham. Noah Webster who wrote "Webster's Dictionary" had a sister named Jerusha. There is also Jerusha Hess, along with her husband Jared Hess, who are filmakers, known for their movies "Napoleon Dynamite", "Nacho Libre", and most recently, "Austenland", which is still a work in progress.

Keturah - Does Not Rank in US - Another beautiful obscure Bible name. Keturah means "incense" in Hebrew, and is the name of Abraham's wife after Sarah. Keturah is also the name of the heroine in the young adult novel "Keturah and Lord Death". In the book Keturah persuades Death to spare her life one day by telling him a story.

Ligeia - Does Not Rank in US - This name is literary, mythological, and mysterious. It comes from the Greek ligys, which means "clear-voiced, shrill, whistling". Ligeia is the name of a siren in Greek mythology, and more famously, the name of the eponymous character Ligeia, in Edgar Allen Poe's "Ligeia". In the story we follow an anonymous narrator and his wife, Ligeia, who falls ill and dies. After Ligeia's death, he marries Rowena, who also dies. Grief-stricken, the narrator stays with Rowena's body over night, and she comes back to life, though she now is Ligeia.

Muriel - Does Not Rank in US - Since fusty names are incredibly in, I'm surprised not more people have taken a liking to Muriel. Muriel is a medieval form of a Celtic name, which is most likely related to the Irish Muirgel, which means "bright sea". It is lovely and has that old school flavor to it.

Nerida - Does Not Rank in US - An obscure nature name for anybody with (or without!) tries to Australia. Nerida, pronounced "NEHR-uh-duh", means "blossom" in Aborigine, or "red water lily", depending on if you're in Queensland, or New South Wales. It is easy to pronounce and has a beautiful meaning too, so all around, it is a great flower name for those looking for something more unusual.

I will have part two up as soon as I can! Be sure to suggest some names for the next installment!


  1. I suggest Belisente and Briseis.

  2. Ligeia and Nerida are really lovely.

  3. I think I like every name on this list.

  4. Cressida is one of my favourite-est names out there.

    Nerida is actually said NEHR-uh-duh, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Information is sketchy, but so far I have traced it to Victoria, and according to the Botanic Gardens, the flower it refers to is the marshwort, which has lily-pad like leaves, but a totally different blossom, small and weedy.

    This is a very old-fashioned name, but I have seen a few examples born recently, so it's definitely still getting used.


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