Saturday, September 18, 2004

How Celeste Got Her Name

For a long time, Evelin and I knew we liked the name Celeste for a girl. We did have some back and forth over the exact form of the name we wanted to use, however.

The basic form Celeste was always on the table, but we also talked about Caelestis, Céleste, and Celestine. I liked the accent mark in Céleste and Evelin liked the Latin Caelestis, and Celestine was my father's paternal grandmother's name.

Beyond Celeste itself, we also were wondering about what should be her middle name or first name. For a long time, we were thinking Marie. Evelin favored it as a middle name (Celeste Marie) while I favored it as a first name (Marie Celeste). In either case, Evelin wasn't wild about using an accent mark on Celeste.

I liked Marie Celeste because that was the name Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used for his short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement," which was based on the legend of the ghost ship Mary Celeste, but Evelin wasn't swayed by this logic.

Back in late June, Evelin came up with the name Elinor as a possible first name. I like it, but wasn't sure about spelling it without a terminal "e." To me, the Elin letter cluster just looked too rigid, but adding an "e" to the end of the name helped soften things.

After we settled upon Elinor Céleste (using each of our preferred spellings), I looked through both our family trees and found several forms of both names:
  • Eléonore (Evelin's paternal grandmother's line, as recently as 1821)

  • Elinore (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1685)

  • Eleanor (Evelin's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1550)

  • Eleanor (Carter's paternal grandmother's line, circa 1640)

  • Celesta (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, as recently as 1845)

  • Celeste (Carter's maternal grandfather's line, circa 1830)*

  • Celestine (Carter's paternal grandfather's line, three instances, most recently 1913)
In the end, we both compromised and used the 1685 spelling Elinore (with terminal "e") and the 1830 spelling Celeste (sans accent mark), and we put Celeste as the middle name.

As for calling Celeste by her middle name, Evelin and I both go by our middle names, so, with the addition of Celeste, we now have a family tradition of everyone being [first initial] [middle name] [surname].

*This person was actually named Mary Celeste, which takes things back to our original name thinking.

1 comment:

marchenland said...

That's an awesome lineage for her name; it's really pretty and old fashioned.

I'm really interested in how people choose names for babies, especially the cultural influences. Back-country LDS folks have a thing for joining the parents names, so were the two of you Utah Mormons, your baby would very likely have been dubbed Carlin, no joke! These names can get unwieldy, but they are creative and interesting.