Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Heather

Heather is an English vocabulary word defining the flowering plant indigenous to the moorlands of Europe (particularly Scotland); the word is ultimately derived from the Middle English “hather” but later altered to “heather” in Modern English to associate the plant with “heath” (meaning “moor”) because that’s where the heather plant grew most abundantly. Because the Scottish rocky moors are virtually blanketed with beautiful heather, the plant has become a national symbol to the Scots. The flowering shrub is generally purple or pinkish in hue; less common is the wild white heather. The purple and pink heather have come to symbolize notions of admiration and solitude, while the rarer white heather brings protection, good-luck and the fulfillment of wishes. Since the heather plant has always been abundantly available in Scotland (a perennial flower that blooms twice a year), the Scots have discovered many uses for it over thousands of years, from rope making, to basket weaving, to fragrant brooms and mattresses (with the plant’s sturdy stems). The flowers were used to dye fabric, provide aromatherapy, cure illnesses and make ale. In fact, the Scottish heather ale is nothing short of legendary. Believed to have been invented by the ancient Picts (a now-extinct Celtic tribe who predated the Gaelic people in Scotland), the heather ale is considered the oldest in the world. Because the ale was so prized among the Picts, its recipe was guarded carefully – only the King knew it and would pass it on to his eldest-born son. According to legend, one Pictish King sacrificed the life of his own son in order to protect the secret ingredients from the Vikings. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote a poem commemorating the event which in part reads: “From the bonny bells of heather, / They brewed a drink Langsyne / Was sweeter far than honey / Was stronger far than wine.” Another Celtic legend explains the existence of the white heather. A beautiful Celtic woman named Malvina was betrothed to the legendary Celtic warrior Oscar, but before they could swap “I dos” Oscar was tragically killed in battle. A messenger was sent to Malvina to bear the bad news, but also to give her a bouquet of purple heather (sent from Oscar before he died as a symbol of his eternal love). As Malvina’s tears dropped onto the flowers, the pedals changed from purple to white. In her deepest pain Malvina cried out: “Although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it." This is how the white heather has come to symbolize good luck and protection. What the four-leaf clover is to the Irish, the white heather is to the Scots. So even though Heather is technically an English word, we really see it as a Scottish symbol. As a female given name, Heather came into popularity in the late 19th century when naming baby girls after flowers, trees and plants became fashionable.

All About the Baby Name – Heather

Personality

OF THE GIRL NAME HEATHER

The number 11 is a Master Number, and embodies heightened traits of the Two. This personality is on a life journey to find spiritual truth. They are extremely idealistic and intuitive. Elevens have a rare and exceptional spiritual energy that brings a sense of obligation to illuminate the world around them. It's a very powerful responsibility, but these people have far more potential than they know. It's important that they surrender to higher ideals. They have the capacity to see the bigger picture, and they possess the skills to inspire others spiritually. Elevens have strong diplomatic skills and can become great peacemakers. Master numbers can be both a blessing and a curse, as they walk the fine line between greatness and the potential for self-destruction.

Popularity

OF THE GIRL NAME HEATHER

In the United States, Heather really became a decade defining name in the 1970s and 80s. But before we get to that, let’s back up a bit. The name first appeared on the American female naming charts in 1935 and grew slowly and steadily in usage for about 30 years when she finally landed a coveted spot on the Top 100 list in 1967. Not content to stop there, Heather soared into the Top 10 by 1972! In 1975 Heather was the third most commonly used girl’s name in the nation (beaten only by Jennifer and Amy). To put this in perspective, almost 25,000 baby girls were given the name Heather in 1975; fast forward to 2011, under 400 babies received the moniker. Needless to say, Heather has lost nearly all of her fashionable value in terms of today’s naming styles. Still Heather was the Emma of her day just like in 30 years from now Emma will be yesterday’s news. Regardless, after researching the abundant supply and symbolic importance of the heather plant in Scotland, we have found a new appreciation for this name – and we hope more future parents rediscover this pretty now-neglected name.

Quick Facts

ON HEATHER

GENDER:

Girl

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

837

PRONUNCIATION:

HEH-thәr

SIMPLE MEANING:

Heather (flowering plant)

Characteristics

OF HEATHER

Inspirational

Highly Intuitive

Spiritual Teacher

Extremely Bright

Uplifting

Truth-seeker

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Heather

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME HEATHER

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Heather

Popular Songs

ON HEATHER

Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim
a song by by Fountains Of Wayne

Heather
a song by Billy Cobham

Purple Heather
a song by Rod Stewart

O'er the Moor and Among the Heather
a song by Seven Nations

Heather Honey
a song by Tommy Roe

Heather Bells
a song by Real McKenzies

Heather Angel
a song by Sonic Youth

Chasing Heather Crazy
a song by Guided by Voices

Bull in the Heather
a song by Sonic Youth

Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim
a song by Fountains Of Wayne

Famous People

NAMED HEATHER

Heather Graham (actress)
Heather Locklear (actress)
Heather Mills (ex-wife of Paul McCartney)
Heather Watson (tennis player)
Heather Morris (actress)
Heather Headley (singer)
Heather Nova (singer-songwriter)
Heather Langenkamp (actress)
Heather Marks (model)
Heather Matarazzo (actress)
Heather Morris (actress)
Heather O'Rourke (actress)
Heather Thomson (reality TV)
Heather Tom (actress)

Children of Famous People

NAMED HEATHER

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Heather

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME HEATHER

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Heather