Top Fifty Names for Sweden (Boys)

1. Oscar
2. William
3. Lucas
4. Elias
5. Alexander
6. Hugo
7. Oliver
8. Theo
9. Liam
10. Leo
11. Erik
12. Viktor
13. Emil
14. Isak
15. Axel
16. Filip
17. Anton
18. Gustav
19. Edvin
20. Vincent
21. Arvid
22. Albin
23. Ludvig
24. Melvin
25. Noah
26. Charlie
27. Max
28. Elliot
29. Viggo
30. Alvin
31. Alfred
32. Adam
33. Theodor
34. Olle
35. Wilmer
36. Benjamin
37. Simon
38. Nils
39. Noel
40. Jacob
41. Leon
42. Rasmus
43. Kevin
44. Linus
45. Casper
46. Gabriel
47. Jonathan
48. Milo
49. Melker
50. Felix

Marie Antoinette and Family

A portrait of Marie Antoinette at thirteen by Joseph Ducreux

I have a weird fascination with the ill-fated Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. I think it is so interesting to hear all the different opinions about her. Here I have listed the names of some of Marie Antoinette’s family.

Marie was born to Empress Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina and Emperor Francis Stephen I in November of 1775 in Vienna, Austria.

She had sixteen siblings including herself:

Maria Elisabeth Amalia Antonia Josepha Gabriele Johanna Agathe – Dead at age three.
Maria Anna Josepha Antonia – The oldest surviving daughter. She was called “Marianna”.
Maria Carolina Ernestina Antonia Johanna Josepha – Dead at one.
Joseph Benedikt Anton Michael Adam II – The oldest son.
Maria Christina Johanna Josepha Antonia – The fourth daughter. She was called “Mimi”.
Maria Elisabeth Josepha – Considered the most beautiful out of the daughters, until she developed smallpox which scarred her face.
Charles Joseph – The favorite of Maria and Joseph. He died shortly before his sixteenth birthday.
Maria Amalia Josepha Johanna Antonia – The eigth child.
Peter Leopold Joseph Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard II – The third son, known simply as Leopold II.
Maria Carolina – The ninth child. She was named after her deceased sister and died shortly after being baptized.
Maria Johanna Gabriela Josepha Antonia – She died of smallpox when she was only twelve.
Maria Josepha Gabriela Johanna Antonia Anna – She was the ninth but sixth surviving daughter. She died of smallpox at sixteen.
Maria Carolina Louise Josepha Johanna Antonia – The thirteenth and tenth surviving child.
Ferdinand Karl Anton Joseph Johann Stanislaus – The fourth son.
Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna – Marie Antoinette herself. She was the fifteenth child.
Maximilian Francis – The last child.

Marie went on to marry King Louis XVI or Louis-Auguste at the age of thirteen. He was only fourteen.

They had four children:

Marie Thérèse Charlotte – Nicknamed “Mousseline” by Marie.
Louis Joseph Xavier François
– Known as “Charles”. He died when he was ten.
Marie Sophie Hélène Béatrice – Known as “Sophie”. She died when she was eleven months old.


Marian Anderson

Meaning: N/A
Gender: Unisex
Pronunciation: MAIR-ee-ehn
Origin: English
Other forms of the name: Marianne, Marion, Marjan, Mairwen

Marian is a lovely name, probably my favorite spelling of the name (aside from Marianne). The most famous bearer of this name is probably Maid Marian, the legendary Robin Hood’s love. Maid Marian was not in the earliest versions of the Robin Hood tale, but he did love a woman named Clorinda; later on Clorinda was used as Marian as an alias.

Marian hasn’t been on US name list since 1992, which would make it uncommon and ripe for a comeback.

The famous Marian we’re talking about today is Marian Anderson. Marian was a famous contralto and one of the most loved singers of the Twentieth century. Even though she was very well-known and loved, that did not stop the prejudice. She was often denied to sing in certain hotels and even eat at some restaurants. Albert Einstein often allowed her to stay with him and hosted her concerts at his home.

In 1939 the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Marian the right to perform in front of an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. In 1939 Washington was a segregated city and black audience members were upset that they had to sit in the back of the hall. Then The District of Columbia Board of Education denied her permission to perform in a white school’s auditorium. Because of this Eleanor Roosevelt and thousands of other members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, resigned.

The Roosevelt’s, Walter White, and Marian’s manager, Sol Hurok, after some persuasion, arranged for Marian to perform an open air concert in front of an integrated crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. She performed “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” on Easter Sunday to a crowd of more than 75,000 people of all colors and was a big hit on the radio.

During World War II Marian often sung for the troops in hospitals and bases, and eventually married Orpheus H. Fisher. In 1955 Marian was the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera. She said of the night:

“The curtain rose on the second scene and I was there on stage, mixing the witch’s brew. I trembled, and when the audience applauded and applauded before I could sing a note, I felt myself tightening into a knot.”

Here is a short video of some of her famous performance at the Lincoln Memorial:


Langston Hughes

Meaning: “Long stone”
Gender: Male
Pronunciation: LANG-stun
Origin: English
Other forms of the name: Langstone

For Black History Month I thought I would profile the names of some famous and influential African-Americans.

The surname Langston comes from the Old English “lang” which meant “long” and “stan” which meant stone. It has been recorded as far back as the Medieval Ages.

Langston Hughes is probably one of the most famous bearers of this name, although his real name was James Mercer Langston Hughes. He was one of the earliest people to practice jazz poetry. Langston was born in Joplin, Missouri to Caroline “Carrie” Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes. His father left the family and divorced Carrie, he then travelled to Cuba and Mexico trying to escape the racism in the United States. Langston was raised mostly by his grandmother who told him stories and taught him racial pride.

While in Grammar School Langston was elected class poet. He believed it was because of a stereotype that African-Americans have rhythm:

“I was a victim of a stereotype. There were only two of us Negro kids in the whole class and our English teacher was always stressing the importance of rhythm in poetry. Well, everyone knows, except us, that all Negroes have rhythm, so they elected me as class poet.”

Later in high school Langston wrote his first jazz poetry piece called “When Sue Wears Red”. He did not have a good relationship with his father even though he lived with him for a while in Mexico. He said “I had been thinking about my father and his strange dislike of his own people. I didn’t understand it, because I was a Negro, and I liked Negroes very much.”

He died when he was only sixty-five from abdominal surgery. His ashes are interred beneath a floor medallion in The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The design of the medallion is an African cosmogram that is titled “Rivers”; the title is taken from one of his poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, which became his signature poem. In the center of the medallion, above his ashes, it reads, “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”.

Langston strove throughout his career to teach “black is beautiful” and to make people proud of their race.

Here is his poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”:

“I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

 My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

 My soul has grown deep like the rivers.”


Padmini in Bhai Bahen

Meaning: “Full of lotuses”
Gender: Female
Pronunciation: PAD-mee-nee
Origin: Indian and Sanskrit
Other forms of the name: N/A

Padmini is a beautiful name isn’t it? It has been used by many famous Indian women including the actress and Bharathanatyam dancer known just as Padmini, pictured above, and Padmini Kolhapure who was a famous Indian actress and dancer who appeared in Bollywood movies in the 70s and 80s. There was also Rani Padmini who was queen of Chittor and was featured in the poem “Padmavat” by Malik Muhammad.

The Padmini in the picture became famous when she starred in the film “Kalpana” in 1948 at the age of sixteen. Her sister Lalitha and Ragini were also well-known actresses and together they were known as the Travancore Sisters. She acted in movies for nearly thirty years and died in 2006 at the age of seventy-four.

The lotus flower is extremely important to the East. It is a sign of rebirth, beauty, and sensuality among other things. The Kamashastra has four catergories of women, the most beautiful and talented is called Padmini or the Lotus Lady. The God Vishnu and the Goddess Lakshmi are oftened depicted standing on a pink lotus. The lotus root is edible and is often boiled and used in many Asian meals. The Chinese scholar wrote “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”



Meaning: “Strong, vigourous, healthy”
Gender: Unisex
Pronunciation: VAL-ehn-tien
Origin: Latin
Other forms of the name: Valentinus, Valentin, Valentino, Valent, Valentina (girl), Folant

Happy St. Valentine’s!

Valentine comes from the Roman family name, Valentinus, which comes from the Latin valent. Valentine’s is a holiday celebrating a few different Christian Saints. It was first associated with romance in the middle ages by Geoffrey Chaucer and friends; Geoffrey wrote in his poem “Parlement of Foules”:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

[“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

Later on it became a day in which lovers would confess their feelings for eachother and give flowers, cards, and sweets. The little poem we know today goes like this:

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

The whole “roses are red, violets are blue” bit goes all the way back to Edmund Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene”:

“She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.”


Meaning: “Lady”
Gender: Female
Pronunciation: FRAY-uh
Origin: Norse
Other forms of the name: Freyja, Freja, Frea, Frøya, Frey (male), Freyr (male)

Freya is the Norse Goddess of love, beauty, fetility, war, death and much more. She is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, has a chariot drawn by two cats, and has a cloak of falcon feathers. She has two daughters with Óðr, Hnoss and Gersemi. Freya rules the afterlife field Fólkvangr where half of the fallen warriors go, while the other half go to Odin’s hall, Valhalla.

She is often invoked for help with love and fertility problems. Her name may come from the Germanic Frau. The name Freya has become popular in recent years, it currently ranks #19 in the UK, but still doesn’t rank in the US.



"La Muerte de Tristán e Isolda" by Rogelio de Egusquiza

Meaning: “Sad”, “Tumult”
Gender: Male
Pronunciation: TRIS-ten, trees-TAWN
Origin: Latin, Old French
Other forms of the name: Drystan, Tristram, Tristen, Tristin, Triston, Drustan, Tristão, Tristán, Trista (female)

The first of my Valentine names. Many people probably know the story of Tristan and Isolde; it was made into a movie starring James Franco and Sophia Myles in 2006.

The story goes that the young Knight Tristan goes to Ireland to fetch Princess Isolde for his Uncle, King Mark, to marry. Along the way the two ingest a love potion that causes them to fall deeply in love with one another. Different stories tell different reasons for the purpose of the love potion, some say that the person who made the potion instructed Isolde to give it to King Mark but she gives it to Tristan instead; others say they ingested it accidentally. Eventually Isolde marries King Mark, but because of the potion Tristan and Isolde seek out each other and have an affair.

The King’s advisors continuously try to have the pair tried for adultery, but they use tricks to keep of the appearance of innocence. Eventually King Mark finds out and resolves to have them punished. There are two different endings to this story.

The first is that Tristan it to be hung at the gallows, and Isolde is to be burned at the stake. However Isolde is instead made to stay in a leper colony. Tristan escapes from the gallows by jumping off of a chapel and saves Isolde. The two run away but are eventually discovered by King Mark. They come to an understanding that Isolde will be spared and so will Tristan if he leaves the country. So he does and marries Iseult of the White Hands, because of her name (which is a form of Isolde) and her beauty.

The other ending states that Tristan is wounded by a poisoned lance while trying to rescue some women and asks his Kahedin to get Isolde as he knows she is the only one who can heal him. He tells Kahedin to put white sails on his ship if has Isolde with him, and black sails if he does not. Tristan’s jealous wife lies to him and tells him that the sails are black and he dies from grief. Isolde arrives to find him dead and dies over his dead body. Two trees, a hazel and a honeysuckle grow on their graves and intertwine their branches. Many times King Mark tries to have the branches cut away, but they always grow back.