Witches and Magical Spells
- Sybil (rare) is a general word for one of many prophetic women of classical antiquity.
- Circe (rare) is a figure from Homer’s Odyssey. She was a sorceress and a goddess of magic, who famously turned all of Odysseus’s men into swine.
- Morgan (top 100) le Faye, a powerful sorceress, was half-sister to King Arthur. In later stories, she was his great nemesis. The name was spelled Morgene before Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th century book titled Morgen blended the name with Morgan.
- Samantha (top 50) was coined in the South as a feminine form of Sam but was little-used until it was given to the pretty and charming main character in the TV series Bewitched. The name was chosen at the time because it had an off-beat, old-fashioned sound, like other witch-names in the show: Endora, Tabitha, Esmerelda, Hagatha. From the time the show first aired in 1964, Samantha became increasingly popular, finally becoming the country’s 5th most popular girl baby name in 1990.
- Charm (rare) has more than a dozen meanings, all of them fascinating attributes for a girl to possess. As regards magic, a charm is an action or object that has magical effect.
Elf and Fairly Names for Girls
- Avery (top 25) comes from an old French pronunciation of Alfred, a Germanic name meaning “elf council”: it implies someone who is advised by the elven folk. The name is a combination of the elements ælf, “elf” and ræd, “council.” An older Germanic form of ælf is alb, which morphed variously into our words elf and elves and into elements of the names Avery and Aubrey.
- Aubrey (top 25) is a Germanic name meaning “elf king”; it’s combined from the elements alb, “elf” and ric, “power, ruler.” Popular variations include Aubrianna, Aubriella, and Aubrielle (all top 1000).
- Arwen (rare) is a high elf in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As with many of the names in Middle-earth, Tolkien drew on the sounds of Welsh when he coined Arwen.
- Pixie (rare) is a Celtic word for a race of mischievous, elf-like creatures. Some believe the tales of elves and pixies originated with “the small brown people” who lived in the British Isles before the coming of the Celts. They were driven to the north, west, and south of the region, where they lived underground, only coming out in the safety of dark night.
- Faye (rare) in English is an old word for “faith.” In parallel, it comes to us from French fae, meaning “fairy”—a possessor of magic.
- Pari (rare) is Persian meaning “fairy.” The word was borrowed into Turkish as Peri (rare), and is an element in the popular Turkish name Perihan, meaning “fairy queen.”
Magical Beings of Fire and Water
- Phoenix (top 500), from Persian mythology, refers to a richly-colored bird that lived for many centuries before dying and being re-born from its own ashes. The increasing popularity of this name for both girls and boys is probably influenced by Phoenix, Arizona—at the moment, city names are widely used for both genders: Brooklyn, Savannah, and London were all top-100 girl-names in 2013.
- Ondine (rare) is a variant spelling of undine, one of four elementals that ruled the basic elements of water, air, earth, and fire—the others being sylphs, gnomes, and salamanders. In Germanic mythology, if an undine married a human man and bore his child, she would be given a soul. As a girls’ name, Undine was popularized by an 1811 romantic novella of the same name, and later by the ballet Ondine, which was based on the novella.
- Lorelei (top 500), in Germanic folk lore, was a mermaid (or siren) who sat upon her rock in the Rhine River. She was unaware that her bewitching beauty and magical voice drew the boats of mortal men to her—they were wrecked upon the rocks and engulfed by the river. The Lorelei is the subject of a haunting and much-loved 1824 poem by Heinrich Heine. [Julie – please link to http://www.poetryatlas.com/poetry/poem/2255/the-lorelei.html]
- Nixie (rare) refers to a water spirit of Germanic folk lore, often a kind of siren who lures men to their doom. In the US, the name has been given to baby girls since at least the 1870s and is sometimes taken as a nickname for Bernice. As a last name, Nixie is related to Nicholas.
© Catherine Uler 2014 – author of The Complete Book of Christian Baby Names