Nameology: Appellations for Your Household Plant

I recently bought a little thyme plant. I like this little herb; it is a Lemon Thyme, and it smells amazing. It is also tiny, delicate, green, and growing.

I love green, growing things.

But unfortunately, they don’t love me. This plant, like all green and growing things that come near my cold and cynical heart,  might not have long to live. I have a long history of killing plants. I forget to water them, I water them too much, I don’t let them have enough sunlight, I give too much sunlight, I put the outside, they have hissy fits over Texas summer heat and refuse to live . . .

I do not have a green thumb. Which is kind of ridiculous, because my mom is an incredible gardener. She can coax pretty much anything to grow. Her backyard is filled with verdant fauna. She is often asked to host fundraising garden parties. In fact, my aunts, uncles, and a few siblings seem have this gift a well. In high school I worked at a sort of greenhouse, and did a pretty good job with the plants there.

But household plant are different beast entirely. And I am concerned about the well-being of this little guy.  I check the soil before I water the plant, leave outside in sunshine, bring it inside during direct heat, and pinch off dead leaves. Despite all this, my little herb has been fading to a paler and paler green, and refusing put forth any new growth.

Thus, I have decided that my Lemon Thyme need a name: an identity, a word that speaks to its very being and calls it to a more full life.

Plant names are hard. Usually I just go by gut instinct. But I once had a bonsai which I named Florence, but something felt wrong about that. It took a friend to tell me that this bonsai was actually male before I realized that its True Name was Lawrence. (I left him alone over spring break, and he gave up the ghost.)

I would prefer not to make the same mistake. I prefer to use methodical nameology.

So, in case you are every caught in such a quandry, I am sharing these plant-naming methods with you. Along with my own (an my room mate’s) examples for the Lemon Thyme’s name.

  • The Ironic Method. I suggest this in part because it would amuse me, and in part because calling the herb something so incongruous might stir up existential angst enough to keep it alive through sheer questioning. For my plant, I would use Fern.
  • The Association Method. I’ve never been to Greece, but the lemony smell somehow calls up images of white hills, turquoises seas, and cool Mediterranean magic. Also, I like Classical names. Calypso.
  • The Awesome Method. Boethius is awesome. And Lemon Thyme is very consoling. So, Boethius.
  • The Opposite Method. Not to be confused with irony. A name full of vim and purpose, to force this puny cadet of a plant into discipline and life. Bullet. Also, it would be so incongruous that it amuses me.
  • The Literary Allusion method. Delicate grace withdrawing into an ivory tower of contemplation and lofty ideals . . . Princess Ida. Or just Ida.
  • On that note, if this plant is male, Ferdinand.
  • The Preference Method. I like the name Sadie. Maybe not enough to name a child Sadie, but enough for pet or plant.
  • The Room Mate Method. Ask your room mate his or her opinion. Mine suggested Augusta.
  • The Other Method: part instinct, part irony, a pleasant blend of head and heart used to name a plant. Eucalyptus. It is similar to the with the ironic other-plant name. But more than that – I have always loved the sound of Eucalyptus. It has a pleasant pattern of sounds that make beautiful to both tongue and ear.
  • The Ultimate Method. Unlike the “other” method, this method contemplates all the factors, meanings, associations, sounds and feelings of the names, and searches for one that encapsulates all and still fits the character of the pet plant. Eudora. This has the beautiful sound, the classical and literary allusions, and the light lyricism that Lemon Thyme would appreciate.

Please feel free to use this handy guide while searching for name for you own houseplant. Remember to choose wisely, so that your plant has a greater chance of survival!




A Soup By Any Other Name

We at the Egotist’s Club understand the importance of naming children, stories, and the characters thereof.  We have examined the significance of what members of a subculture call themselves.  We know that a rose’s scent would, perhaps, strike us differently if it happened to be newly christened a skunk perennial, carrion blossom, or putrid posy.

Hence my wish to consult with you before naming a soup I made this week.  After some research, I determined that it was a soup (liquid food, made by boiling/simmering meat/fish/vegetables with various added ingredients: a useful penumbra)* and not a stew (same ingredients, more or less, but with less liquid and a longer cooking time), ragout (spicy French stew made to “restore the appetite;” rather fussy), chowder (thick soup featuring cream, potatoes, and an element of pork fat, typically), or bisque (thick soup, typically made with cream and pureed to a smooth texture; often featuring seafood).  It’s also not bouillabaisse, cioppino, minestrone, mulligatawny, or potage, according to this handy little soup glossary.

But what is it?  I use tomato soup as a base and add petite diced garlic/oregano/basil-flavored  tomatoes, peeled strips of zucchini, and shrimp; each bowl is topped with provolone cheese and fresh basil, with bread close at hand.  Naming all the elements gets long and clunky; mentioning “that tomato soup with all the things added” stays long and gets vague to boot.  An acronym of Basil-Oregano-Garlic Shrimp-Provolone-Tomato-Tomatoes-Zucchini gives us “BOGSPTTZ,” which doesn’t sound promising.

Some part of me wants to call it Eintopf or Booyah, but the first is vague and the latter is not accurate; this is no community-wide 50-gallon kettle of stew.

What seems both accurate and appetizing?  “Tomato Soup, Heavily Edited”?  “Loaded Tomato”?  “Tomato Gallimaufry”?  The recipe cards demand an answer!

*In the course of my research, I also learned that “soup” is a slang term for nitroglycerin.  The More You Know!  Bear in mind when trying out strange new recipes!

Oh My Gosh. There are FISH in my hair!

This, is an addendum.

My brother #3 should be hired as the creative director onto this blog.

If only we had the funds with which to hire him.

In the midst of last night’s insomnia induced rambling on the joys of homecoming, he wandered downstairs and proceeded to watch me slowly type out the blurry thoughts that tried to form a post.

He patted my arm, and then gently informed me that I needed a more random title.

Something eye-catching, and strange.

Off the top of his head, he suggested, “OMG, there are FISH in my hair!”

Thus, this post is dedicated to him.

And it begs the question:

How much of an effect DOES a title have on the interest drummed up in a article?

Epic Meme Saturday: What Lovely Names!

Oh, cruel world!

There are so many wonderful characters that, character-wise I would love to name my children after, yet I would feel so guilty saddling a child with such a name.

I love Barney Snaith from L.M. Montgomery’s book The Blue Castle, but after that strange purple and green giant dinosaur thingy, I don’t really think I could do it!

Or Arthur from The Shadow of the Bear! But I don’t think I could quite bring myself to do that either. That name carries so much extra weight.

Or there are some names that I like, and I like the character, like Marek Sixfinger in The Hollow Kingdom, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to name a child after a goblin. There is something that is rather insulting about that . . .

But there are two names and two people I would feel very good about naming my children after, Lucy and Edmund from the Chronicles of Narnia! They are good a virtuous children, despite some rough spots in the beginning, but if I were child I would be proud to be names after them! They are everything that a child needs; courage, love, enthusiasm, and all the little things that go into the fostering of a person that is a joy to know. And they have what every adult needs: a child-like attitude towards life!

I might have a little bit of a problem with the name “Edmund” because it can really only be shortened to “Ed” which in America is . . . I don’t know . . . redneck? But ‘Edmund’ is so romantic! And ‘Lucy’, from Lucia I think, means ‘light’, which I think would be a lovely thing to be named after.

Plus, if I named my children after Edmund and Lucy Pevensie I could say to them whenever they were thinking of being bad, “’Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia,’ so uphold you dignity as one!”

Mel’s Meme: Ye Olde Monikers

It is tempting – oh, so tempting! – to announce that I would name my children things like “Eomer”, “Lothirial”, “Idril”, “Beren”, “Eilonwy”, “Gwydion”, “Alighieri”, and so forth.

But sadly, I could never do such a thing.

This is not mere cowardice on my part – although I cringe to think of the looks I would receive for naming a child that – but what I would like to think of as “humanity”. As much as I love Middle Earth, my children will have to live on this earth. And deal with the societies of this earth. So, I prefer not to make it too difficult for them.

And I have long since come to the opinion that some names qualify as child abuse. Therefore, there must be rules in naming children.

Rule #1: The name must not be too cumbersome for the poor, defenceless babe who must go through life bearing this name.


Some more obscure characters do tempt me to use their names. In particular, Miss Anathama Devyce from Good Omens, whose parent chose her name based more on sound than meaning. The thing is, it is a pretty sounding name . . .

My given name means “ready for the harvest”, which is pretty prosaic. My siblings all have cool name meanings, like “grace”, “beauty”, “womanly”, “bold protector”, “strength” and “elf army”. So not fair!

My children must have name meanings that are awesome.

Rule #2: The name must be examined for both sound and meaning.


Aside from the fantastically named literary figures, there are few who would make decent patrons for baby humans.

Susan Sto Helit. Anne Eliot. Gabriel Gale. Rupert Psmith. Sam Gamgee. Princess Irene.  Sebastian Flyte.

Er, maybe not the last one.

But none of the names on their own resonate with the associations of that character. I could name child Susan, and no one know who I was naming her after.

This works the other way too. What is it with villains having nice names? I love the name Margaret, but Shakespeare’s histories have ruined that one for me.

Also, the end of the character makes a difference. Desdemona is such a pretty name, but I would prefer to lessen my child’s chances of strangling.

And authors themselves make wonderful role models, but so often their own names are strange, or ugly, or dull!

John Ronald Ruel? No thank you. Clive? Ugh.

And while I like the names “Agatha” and “Dorothy”, (although I do prefer “Dorothea”,  or even “Theodora”: they all mean “gift of God”!) I am not soooo fond of Ms. Christi or Ms. Sayers as to claim their patronage for my offspring.

And though t’would be delightful to name a man-child after Chesterton, that is a moniker of such determined presence that it would require an equally strong surname. So I cannot exactly plan on using it.

Rule #3: The name must be clearly associated with figures whom I can respect, who are decent patrons, and who do not have horrible fates.


Oh, the naming of a child is already a fearful and wonderful responsibility!

See, I am also working on a theory that names affect character.

For instance, think of all the people to you know who are named, (or go by,) “Ben”. Aren’t they all fun, odd, unique, quirky, smart people? I would not mind having a “Ben” for a child.

But I would mind having a “Fred”. All the Freds that I have known, in either fiction or real life, tend to be . . . . annoying.

Rule #4: The name must in of itself recall excellent character and personality.


These all being the case, there are very few literary characters for whom I would actually name my children.

After much thought and consideration, (and conferencing with my dad,) I managed to pull the Pevensie children to mind. And I can say with complete certainty that I would enjoy having a Lucy and an Edmund.

Also, perhaps, a Miranda, an Andromache, a Gareth, (or Gawain,) a Cúchulainn, or a Gertrude.

But in truth, there are only two characters for whom I would absolutely name my children. These I did not have to think about; they have long been lurking in the corners of my imagination, awaiting only the child.


So, unless my husband vehemently (very vehemently) objects, my first son will be named “Benedict”.

After Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. (But with a slight spelling change.) I love this name not just for it’s association, and the hope that my child will become as smart, manly and sweet as his namesake,  but for the fact that it means “Blessed”.

And, oddly enough, one of my daughters will be named “Beatrice”.

Not, shockingly, after the Shakespearian counterpart. But after Dante’s Beatrice, who guided him in Heaven.

Both these characters are ones whom I admire and respect and even love.

And, for Heaven’s sake, they both just have awesome names!

Thursday Dances: Bookish Christenings

Having long subscribed to the view that it’s preposterous to plot out first names for one’s entirely hypothetical children without having any idea what surname would be appended thereto, I have not, to be frank, spent a lot of time choosing any.

But I will confess a particular weakness where names are concerned, dear reader, and that is finding out what names mean.  Because my name is a common noun, capitalized, I took to translating it into other languages; any given Solo cup would read “Alegría” on one side and “Freude” on the other and “Alassë” for thoroughness on a third.  On finding that any other name could also be translated once one discovered its meaning, I figured out that my brothers’ names meant “little,” “martial,” and “gift of God,” respectively (and, more importantly, that in Quenya I could call them Pityon, Carnildo, and Eruntalon).

Not only so, but my friends evidently embody such traits as: song; earth-digger; grace; pure; pure; pure; Christian; Christian; honey/dark/we were never quite sure; reborn; powerful leader; little king; princess; reaper; commander of armies.  …there are, you may deduce, a number of Katherines.

However, the Meme does not care how my friends call themselves; the Meme demands to know how my children will be named despite there being, as yet, no sire for them.  So here’s my best assay:

The Princess BrideWesley – Old English, “dweller of a western meadow” – which might be especially false if the family ends up on the Eastern seaboard.  Where he shall become a Dread Pirate.  Muahaha.

The Ballad of the White HorseColan – Gaelic, “people’s victory” (or, depending whom you ask, “dove”) – Man shall not taste of victory / Till he throws his sword away.  And I’d have people remember that.  My only concern is the potential for misfortune should people render my poor son’s name as “Colon;” at best, it’s a punctuation mark.

The Chronicles of NarniaEdmund – Old English, “wealthy protector” – Thalia and I might have to duke it out for this one.  Everyone wishes there were a wealthy protector in their family, right?

In the Hall of the Dragon KingQuentin – Latin, “fifth” – Totally picked this before reading Thalia’s post the other day; Quentin went from weedy acolyte to SWORD-FORGER, which is my favorite part of Lawhead’s work.  Possibly dubious name-wise if I don’t have 5 children…but perhaps more reasonable than Septimus, which also appeals to me despite it being the name of a blood-spilling, power-hungry uncle in Stardust

Ender’s ShadowNikolai – Greek, “people’s victory” – Should we not ask the people who think Colan means dove, this might put me in the peculiar position of having sons named with the same meaning (whatever, man, I bet there’s a family somewhere with sons named John, Matthew, Nathaniel, and Theodore).  But Colan is a sword-flinger whereas Nikolai is a brother among brothers.  We just won’t shorten their names lest the “col” root confuse anyone.

And for the ladies:

Howl’s Moving Castle
Sophie – Greek, “wisdom” – More desirable than rubies.

That Hideous Strength Camilla – Latin/Italian, “young servant” – Is it bizarre to name a daughter for a character who likes weather?  Very well, then, I shall be bizarre.

The Winter’s Tale (and nothing else ever, no nothing, nothing at all) – Hermione – Greek, “messenger” or “earthly” or “travel” or “something else related to Hermes” – I can’t actually name a child this.  No one can pronounce Hermione on the first go-around, and Hermione of myth and plays does not, in my estimation, have the happiest of lots.  But it’s an awfully pretty name when said correctly.

The OdysseyPenelope – Greek, “weaver” – Hopefully people will address her without rhyming her name with “antelope.”  Plus the name’s practically synonymous with fidelity.  Yay!

Gaudy Night et al. – Harriet – Old German, “home-ruler” – Obviously this cannot be the only Germanic name I come up with, but for right now, it sounds reassuringly solid.


Heaven only knows what surname they’ll work with.

Tuesday with Thalia: Characters to name a child for.

Rather than restfully snoozing last night, I spent the night rolling problems around in my head with the loving zeal of a wine lover tasting a properly lovely wine. Oh, there are plenty of things to ponder. But the real stumper, my friends, was this. Book character names fall into two categories for me.

1) Totally generic names appropriated for use in wonderful literature, but impossible to trace the reference.

2) Entirely bizarre names that crunch in my teeth and delight my mind, but are wholly unusable in The Real World.

There is, I suppose, the subcategory of really great names that I couldn’t use, but anyway, they’re from books I’ve never actually read!

Just to give you an idea of what I mean, I will give some examples of generic names of beloved characters.

Mark, Katharine, Jane, Arthur, Ned, Nat, Thomas.  Which books did I mean?

The Pale Horse, Miss Marple, That Hideous Strength,  By England’s Aid, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and An Old-fashioned Girl.

Say it with me. Sure……

On the other end of the wild spectrum, we can inflict a case of the giggles on ourselves by imagining the infliction of one of these names on a perfectly ordinary child. For the purposes of this exercise, we will appropriate the surname Kidd. It’s funny.

Atticus Kidd

Fitzwilliam Kidd

Posthumous Kidd

Sherlock Kidd

Nicodemus Kidd

Ivanhoe Kidd. That deserved punctuation.

Hamlet Kidd

Scarlett Kidd


That brings me to a hilarious aside, that I will share briefly.

Thalia: Can I name a child Azure?
Terpsichore: Well, it’s better than Scarlett, but worse than Alizarin.

But I don’t want to nip aside quickly and avoid the question. That’s not fair to you, my friends. I am assigned the task of saying which book character I would name a child after. So I will answer, but you must forgive me. I haven’t read the book this character lives in. I do not know his character, his moral fiber or his circumstances. But it’s a cool name, and I always meant to read the book. Quentin is a cool name. Just ignore the famous film maker. He hardly matters.


Concerning Signage

There are a great number of signs in this world.

Big signs. Little signs. Silly signs. Practical signs. Serious signs. Funny signs. Punny signs. Advertising signs. Convincing signs. Confusing signs.

Most of the time, signs just amuse me.

By my house there used to be a large billboard that proclaimed “Tall, strong, outdoor type. Looking for a solid relationship” and a phone number. I had to explain to my mom that this was an advertisement for the billboard itself. She laughed.


When I visited my Alma Mater last year, which is in the middle of redneck-town, I passed a sign of advertisement that almost might have worked on me.

This is a Real Thing. For serious!

I almost stopped to ask how exactly this exchange worked, but I was running late.


In the same said town, there was a small country church with an old board out front on which they would put inspirational sayings. At one point, their slogan was,

“Aspire to Inspire before you Expire!”

Now, despite the peppy ring to the phrase, this is not exactly solid theology! As Thalia put it, “If only they had used the root spero (hope) instead of spiro (breathe)!”


However, the best – in the sense that they are the worst – signs I have ever seen are to be discovered here, in the intensely deep south.

On the back of a Security Company van was inscribed, “God is Not the Only One Watching You”.

Yes sir. That certainly make me want to hire you!

(Ahhhh! No! Run away!)



But this was topped just last week, when a new billboard went up on my route to work. As I have to concentrate on driving, unfortunately I cannot take a photo. But I promise you that it exists.

In all its punny, absurd, horrible goodness.

It is an advertisement for a funeral home. Named, ever so cleverly, Jim’s Funeral Home.

And the tag line?

“CREMATION: Don’t get buried in debt!”

Well, I am convinced!