Given Names that are Not Suitable for SCA Usage
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Given Names that are Not Suitable for SCA Usage

By Jaelle of Armida, Argent Snail Herald

© 2000 Judith H. Gerjuoy

From time to time, Laurel has ruled that specific names are not suitable for SCA usage. It is because no reliable evidence has been produced to show that they were used by human beings in period, and there is good reason to believe that they were not used by human beings in period. Additionally, some names submitted under the mundane name allowance have been disallowed because they have been deemed obtrusively modern. I have complied a list of given names that have been ruled unsuitable for SCA usage. These names were ruled as such during either of the tenures of Da'ud, during the tenure of Bruce, or the tenure of Jaelle. This list only consists of given names, and I have not listed every name that was ruled obtrusively modern. If a name was ruled unacceptable more than once, only the first ruling is listed. While I have made every effort possible to find every name ruled unacceptable, I do not claim that this list is complete.

Below you will find an alphabetical listing of the names that have been ruled unacceptable. Below that, also in alphabetical order are the names with the full text of the ruling.

Note: any of these names could be registered if reliable documentation could be found showing that these were used as given names of humans prior to 1600.

Abaddon

Emer

Máille

Albion

Eriu

Melisaundre

Alec

Freya

Melusine

Amber

Gwendolyn

Morgana

Aradia

Gwynedd

Moyra

Arafel

Hamish

Myrddin

Arianrhod

Hasim

Nichelle

Arion

Jay

Pandora

Briallen

Kairenn

Pryddwyn

Caelica

Kambreda

Rhea

Cairenn

Karolyne

Rosalynd

Candace

Kestrel

Sabrina

Caroline

Krista

Tara

Cedric

Kynda

Tiernan

Culhwch

Leala

Tirion

Den

Liam

Vanessa

Dorian

Lynnea

Xavier

Abaddon. No evidence was presented either in the appeal or in the commentary that [Abaddon] was ever used by humans, in or out of period. As a consequence, we are unable to register it here. (March, 1994)

Albion. [returning the given name Albion] Albion is the oldest known name for Great Britain as a whole as early as circa 500 B.C.E. The mythological figure...was created to explain the ancient place-name. Names of mythological figures are generally disallowed unless shown to have been used by real humans in period. Albion appears never to have been anything but a place-name. (Albion, Son of Robyn, September, 1994)

Alec. No documentation has been presented to show Alec as a period diminutive of Alexander; indeed, such evidence as exists suggests it to be a purely modern diminutive. Without evidence of period use, we cannot register Alec. (Alec Tristan d'Avignon, December, 1992)

Amber. The name Amber has had a checkered history in the SCA, but at present it is not considered ‘SCA-compatible’, and its use was disallowed in the 3/94 Cover Letter. Three months later the use of Cedric was also disallowed, and in the 4/96 Cover Letter Myrddin was disallowed. (CL June, 1996)

Aradia. "The name has been modified to drop the problematical Aradia, which appears to be a unique name." (March, 1992).

Arafel. "The name was submitted as invented by C.J. Cherryh (in The Dreamstone). However, the name there was used only by an elf (the last living one in that world), and hence not suitable for humans. The purported derivation by Cherryh of Arafel from Aoibheil seems extremely unlikely. And although the two themes of the name, 'ara' and 'fel', appear in Searle's Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum (pp. 72 and 240, respectively), the fact that they appear without any examples of their use in actual names (and that they are not in his extensive list of themes on pp. xv-xix) makes them suspect, to say the least. (Searle seems to indicate that '-fel' may be a misreading of '-wulf', and 'ara' refers the reader to 'Haraldus', where it is more clearly not a protheme.)" (March, 1991).

Arianrhod. Arianrhod is the name of the Welsh moon goddess, and has not been shown to have been used by humans in period. It has been returned ere now (LoAR of Aug 87, p.13); pending evidence of its period use, it must again be returned. (Sela nic a'Phearsoin of Clan Chattan, December, 1992)

Arion. Arion appears to be by the submitter's own documentation to be a unique name, that of a semi-legendary ancient Greek poet and musician. (The only other Arion found was a "fabulous horse", the offspring of Poseidon and Demeter.) We need documentation of its use by other humans in period before we may register Arion. (December(a, 1993)

Briallen. Briallen is the Welsh for ``primrose'', and does not seem to have been a given name in period; nor does it belong to a class of common nouns that were regularly used as names in period Welsh. (Briallen o Llanrwst, August, 1992)

Caelica. Caelica appears as the title to a collection of sonnets by Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brook, which appeared only after his death, having first been published in 1633. As such, it could not have been a part of the name pool before 1600, and must be considered to be in the same category as other similar names, such as Miranda, as out of period. (Caelica of Argyll, May. 1995)

Cairenn. Cairenn as spelled here appears to be a unique name, that of the mother of Niall of the Nine Hostages." (August, 1991).

Candace. "Unfortunately, no one could document Candace as other than a name which became a title for Ethiopian queens. We need evidence that it was used as a name in period by others before it can be registered." (July, 1990).

Caroline. Caroline does not appear to be a period name. The poem from which it was documented here, quoted by Ensign, and accompanying glosses indicate that Caroline is "little Charles, one loyal to Charles" and "one loyal to Charles". It is apparent from the context and glosses that Caroline was not used as a personal name in this poem. And the November 1994 registration of Caroline was based on a faulty inference of French use from the establishment of a Fort Caroline in Florida in 1564 by French Huguenots. However, in French, carolin(e) is the adjective formed from the Latin Carolus (Charles); the fort was probably named in honor of Charles IX, who succeeded to the throne of France in 1560. (Karolynbe Wanderer, April, 1995)

Cedric. As with the name Amber, discussed in the Cover Letter with the March 1994 LoAR, our prior registrations of Cedric appear to have been based on the supposition that there was an OE prototheme Ced-, which there does not appear to be, though it was a reasonable enough supposition on the basis of the evidence then available. Such supposition appears to have been superseded by further research. (As for Cedrych, (Gruffudd, 21) refers it to Ceidrych, which `[c]ould be a form of "Caradog" but is the name of a river in Carmarthenshire. (Bartrum, 149) has a Keidyrch, but no Ceidrych.) As a consequence, unless and until new research appears giving better historical support to the name, after the September 1994 Laurel meeting we will no longer register Cedric. (CL June, 1994)

Culhwch. "All of the documentation indicates that Culhwch is a unique, probably allegorical name. Since it is not constructed of elements that appear in other names, we cannot even argue for it as a constructed name." (June, 1992).

Den. Den is the genitive form, and is therefore inappropriate as a given name. (The equivalent here is Dan's.) [The name was returned primarily for this reason.] (March, 1994)

Dorian. Dorian was not a name in period, but an adjective: ``pertaining to the inhabitants of Doris, in Greece.'' Its first use as a given name was in Oscar Wilde's Portrait of Dorian Grey. (Dorian Elwinwood, December, 1992)

Emer. Émer appears to be a unique name, that of Cúchulainn's lady. It does not seem to have been borne by any other human. Ó Corráin & Maguire doesn't give a modern form, lending support to this belief. Coghlan, p. 19, gives the modern form as Eimhear, noting that the name has had a "modern revival". March, 1994)

Eriu. Eriu is both the name of a country (Ireland) and a goddess. We cannot register this without more definite evidence that this name was used by humans in period. (Eriu Morgana Nic Dhubhghlaise Crawford, October, 1992)

Freya. [returning the given name Freyja] There is no documentation for the name Freya/Freyja being used for anyone but the Goddess in our period. SCA given names must be given names used by Human beings in our period. (Freyja the Cunning, 5/97 p. 9)

Gwendolyn. Wherefore art thou Gwendolyn? Two submissions this month raised the question of the name Gwendolyn. To quote Harpy Herald: `Gwendolyn is a modern spelling variant of the name of a fictional character (Guendolen) in the Historia Regum Brittaniae whose name is based on a misreading of the masculine name Guendoleu. The name was not in common use in period, in my experience, although it certainly is in the SCA. We should probably just go ahead and declare it in the same category as Ceridwen and Rhiannon as "not historically justifiable but too deeply rooted to get rid of without a fuss".' The name is certainly quite common in the SCA: in one spelling or another it has been registered to more than 50 different people. Given this level of popularity, I am reluctant to ban the name outright despite the lack of any real justification for it. I am equally reluctant to extend the allowance to modern forms of the name, however. Therefore the name will henceforth be considered `SCA-compatible' in the forms Guendolen and Gwendolen but not the modern Gwendolyn, and the underlying principle will be extended to any other forms that are proposed. (This decision can be thought of as an extension of the `Rule of Two Weirdnesses': the name itself is one weirdness, and a modern spelling is another.) (CL August, 1995)

Gwynedd, Gwynedd, though found in Withycombe's Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, is only noted there as an undated, modern form. The closest documentable period given name is Gwineth. (December(b), 1993)

Hamish. "Hamish is not a name. It is a phonetic rendering of the Gaelic name Seumas in the vocative case, and only became misconsidered a given name by mistake by non-Gaelic speakers in post-period times. It is no more a given than would be the possessive James'. If the submitter would consider the given Seumas, this would work." (November, 1991).

Hasim. Hasim doesn't appear to be documented as a period given name. Hanks & Hodges' First Names is evidently not reliable in this case; we need to see some period examples of the name's use. (Hasim Solomon, December, 1992)

Jay. Jay is documented only as a noun and surname in period; as it's the client's mundane given name, it was submitted under the aegis of Rule II.4. Such submissions, while usually acceptable, can be returned if the name is "obtrusively modern". We find Jay to be obtrusively modern, by virtue of its sound: it sounds like an initial, as in J. P. Morgan, and thus post-period. We might have considered this acceptable as a "bird name", akin to Robin, had we been shown a common pattern of usage that birds were used as given names in period. But we could think of no examples offhand, save Robin; and one can make a good case that the bird's name derived from the given name (a diminutive of Robert) rather than the reverse. Without period examples, Jay must be considered intrusively modern, and unacceptable even under the Legal Name Allowance. (Jay MacPhunn, June, 1993)

Kairenn. Kairenn (Cairenn) appears to be a unique name, that of the mother of Njall of the Nine Hostages of Irish legend. It has been returned before now (Cairenn of CuaRuadh Keep, Aug 91). (Kairenn Suile Gairitecha, September, 1992)

Kambreda. [Kambreda] also appears to be a name unique to one of the daughters of Brychan. This being the case we need additional documentation for its existence and its use by others before we can register Kambreda in the SCA. (December(b), 1993)

Karolyne. Caroline does not appear to be a period name. The poem from which it was documented here, quoted by Ensign, and accompanying glosses indicate that Caroline is "little Charles, one loyal to Charles" and "one loyal to Charles". It is apparent from the context and glosses that Caroline was not used as a personal name in this poem. And the November 1994 registration of Caroline was based on a faulty inference of French use from the establishment of a Fort Caroline in Florida in 1564 by French Huguenots. However, in French, carolin(e) is the adjective formed from the Latin Carolus (Charles); the fort was probably named in honor of Charles IX, who succeeded to the throne of France in 1560. (Karolynbe Wanderer, April, 1995)

Kestrel. While some names of birds can be found as personal names in some European languages, documented examples all existed as name elements since the earliest records of the languages in question. But the earliest instance of kestrel (in any form) in the OED is from the 15th C., and if the etymology suggested there is right, the word derives from French forms that are quite different. Thus, it did not exist when such personal names of this type were still being created. It might make an acceptable byname, though it is a bit late to be very convincing even in that rôle, but it cannot have been a given name in our period. We must therefore return the name for lack of a given name (required by RfS III.2.a (Personal Names)). (Kestrel Corsayre, January, 1996)

Krista. [Returning Krista al Kamil.] None of the commenters were able to find better documentation for the given. As the submitter's own source, Family Names in Australia and New Zealand, is clearly post-period and had no dated citations for the name, the name must be assumed without better evidence to be post-period. (May, 1994)

Kynda. [Returning Kynda of Hollyoak.] The derivation of the given name is a further stretch of conjectural elements then we are willing to go. Each single element of conjecture is not too unreasonable in itself, but the cumulative effect of all of the conjectural elements in the chain is just too much. ... [T]he number of conjectural steps to get Kynda from documented examples is about three. The College has long been willing to accept reasonable variances from documented examples, but to accept a series of three conjectural steps is more than we are willing to go. (April, 1994)

Leala. The given name was submitted as Leala, claimed to be a variant form of Leila. The documentation did not support that claim: in particular, as Leila derives from the Arabic Lailaa, it probably wouldn't change pronunciation so radically.[The name was registered as Leila] (Leila Angwin of the Silver Stallion, August, 1992)

Liam. Liam doesn't appear to have been a period diminutive of Uilleam. All the sources that cite Liam do so as a modern diminutive; the period diminutive was Uillec. Without evidence of period use, we can't register Liam. (Uilleam Catacho Maoilbhreanainn, July, 1992)

Lynnea. "Lynnea is a post-period Swedish name from the surname Linnaeus." (November, 1991).

Máille. The name is being returned for lack of a period given name. While it is true that it appears in Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames, that is no guarantee that it is a period. Ó Corrain and Maguire (Gaelic Personal Names, p. 133) under Máire lists Maille (with no marking) among pet-forms of Máire with no date. However, given their previous note that the name Máire itself was extremely rare before the seventeenth century, it is quite unlikely that Máire formed a pet-form during our period. Barring documentation that it was used in period, it is not acceptable for use in the SCA. (Máille ingen Bhrain Cadal, 3/99 p. 12)

Melisaundre. The given name was ...justified as a hybrid of Melisande and Alisaundre. Unfortunately, French names aren't thematic (as, e.g., Old Norse names are); melding the first half of one French name with the last half of another doesn't usually yield a valid given name. (In this case, the two names aren't even derived from the same source: Melisande is ultimately German in origin, and Alisaundre derives from the Greek.) While it might be plausible that one name would change due to the other's influence, we'd like to see some evidence of this; pending such evidence, we've substituted the documented name Melisenda. (Melisenda Brigitte Nazaire d'Avignon, September, 1992)

Melusine. Though it's been registered in the SCA, Melusine has not been documented as a period given name. The example closest to period is Melusina von der Schulenburg, cited in Withycombe, p.220; she was born in 1667, according to evidence presented for the submission of Melusine Whitcroft the Petite. Subsequent registrations of Melusine have depended on this citation. There are only a bare handful of Melusines registered, and the only documentation is post-1650; I think I can safely disallow the name, pending evidence that it's period. I'd be willing to believe it a variant form of Melisenda, Millicent --- but as it's also the name of a mythical monster, I'd like to see some evidence of its period use by humans. (Melusine d'Argent, October, 1992)

Morgana. The name Morgana, as well as any other similarly feminized masculine names for which there is no evidence of period use (and which have not already been declared ‘SCA-compatible’), are not considered ‘SCA-compatible’. In other words, the argument based on the Latin/Romance practice of using inflectional endings to change the gender of a name is not automatically valid; it must be supported either by evidence of period use of the specific name or by evidence that the practice was in general use in the linguistic culture of that name. (CL June, 1996)

Moyra. Moyra is an undocumented variant spelling of the Anglicized spelling of the Gaelic equivalent of Mary. Since the Gaelic form of Mary was a rare usage during our period, we do not feel that the Anglicized form was used enough to form variant spellings. [The name was registered in a different form.] (Moira of the Meadows, 1/98 p. 4)

Myrddin. Not Another ‘SCA-Compatible’ Name. According to Harpy, Myrddin is a unique legendary name. Henceforth it will not be acceptable (unless, of course, evidence of actual period use can be found). (CL April, 1996)

Nichelle. [Nichelle, documented as a combination of Nicole and Michelle] "One cannot take various name elements at random and combine them to form a new name. Such a practice does not follow the naming conventions of most languages. Given its modern use in the name of Nichelle ('Lt. Uhura') Nichols we need better documentation that this construction is reasonable in period French." (November, 1990).

Pandora. "Pandora appears to be a unique name, borne only by the half-human heroine of myth. Barring documentation that the name was given to people in period, we cannot register it. (December, 1990).

Pryddwyn. "The Welsh experts in the College find this dithematic name to be highly unlikely. Even were it a likely combination, it would most likely be Prytddwyn. Additionally, it remains too close in appearance to the name of King Arthur's boat, which has previously been disallowed." (November, 1991).

Rhea. Rhea is documented only as the names of two goddesses: the mother of Zeus, and the deified mother of Romulus and Remus. It was disallowed (LoAR of Nov 83) pending evidence of its period use by normal humans; such evidence remains to be presented. Without documentation, the name must once again be returned. (Rhea of Alexandria, May, 1993)

Rosalynd. Submitted as Rosalynd... the only documentation for Rosalynd in the LoI said that it was proposed as a variant of Rosalind first used in Shakespeare's As You Like It. Since that is from the end of our period, we do not think it is likely that a variant form of the name was used during our period. Therefore we have changed it to the form found in Shakespeare. (Rosalind atte Rylle, 3/99 p. 7)

Sabrina. Sabrina does not appear to have been a valid given name in period. Hanks & Hodges err in saying that Geoffrey of Monmouth used the name; he used the name Habren, claiming it was the name of the lady for whom the River Severn (Welsh Hafren) was named. Sabrina is evidently the name of the Celtic river goddess who dwelt in the Severn (Gruffudd 55). At any event, none of these names has been documented as being used by common period humans. (Sabrina la Rose, May, 1993)

Tara. The prior registration of Tara as a given name hinged on the statement "If the given name and the place name [Temair] are identical in Irish, and Tara is a valid anglicization of the latter, then it should be acceptable as an anglicization of the former." The problem is that Tara is not an acceptable Anglicization of Temair; only of the genitive case of the name: Temra (pronounced approximately 'tev-ra). Tara is not an Anglicization of Temair but rather an English name for the place derived specifically from the context in which it appears as a place name (e.g., "hill of Tara"). (A similar case occurs with Erin, as a poetic English name for Ireland is based on the genitive case (Éireann) of the Irish name Éire.) Since the given name Temair would not normally be found in the genitive, it is unlikely that it would be taken into English in the genitive form. (January, 1994)

Tiernan. This name has several serious problems, either of which would be grounds for return... Tiernan is a 20th century post-spelling-reform spelling of the earlier Tighearnán. (Tiernan Diego de las Aguas, 2/98 p. 16)

Tirion. The lack of a date in the citation in Gruffudd and the fact that Tirion is documented as a placename in Period in Celtic Remains, combined with the lack of any evidence of Tir- as an element in compound names forces us to request Period documentation of Tirion as a given before we can register it." (August, 1991).

Vanessa. No additional evidence was given to demonstrate that Vanessa either was a period name or that it should be considered SCA-compatible." (September, 1990).

Xavier. ...no evidence has been found that Xavier was anything but a placename in period. The use of Xavier as a given name comes after the canonization of St. Francis Xavier, which occurred in 1622. (Xavier Tormod Macleod, October, 1994)