Names of the Week: Madeleine and Oliver

Hello everyone! It's time for some more names of the week. Both of these names really capture an ancient, old-fashioned sound, and modern sound. They feel at home in a variety of time periods.

French form of Magdalene
Ranked #283 in 2014

Madeleine is a name that feels dainty and lyrical, yet strong at the same time. It's a French version of the name Magdalene, as in Mary Magdalene of the Bible. The meaning "tower" brings to my mind a place of refuge. The Madeleine spelling is very French and much less popular than the Madeline spelling without the e, which ranks at #89. The Madeline of children's literature is spelled without the e. More modern spelling Madelyn is the most popular one #59. When you add up the many spelling options for Madeleine, it ranks all the way at #12! Madeleine can be pronounced "MAD-uh-line" or "MAD-uh-lynn".  Personally, I prefer the Madeleine spelling and the "MAD-uh-line" pronunciation. I'm not super crazy about the nickname Madi/Maddie, especially since it's also a nickname for Madison, another very popular name. A little Madi is likely to be one of many. Madi is the most obvious nickname for Madeleine so you'd have to get creative if you wanted to use something different. Del, Della, and Lena all make since. Since Madeleine is a form of Magdalene, Maggie and Meg work too, even if it's a bit of a stretch. If Madeleine and it's alternate spellings are too popular for your taste, Magdalena is ranked #976 and Magdala, Magdalen, and Magdalene are not ranked at all. 

"olive tree"
Ranked #32 in 2014

My feelings about the name Oliver have changed over the past several years.  Just a few years ago,  would have said Oliver was too old-manish or maybe too kitty-cat (I loved the movie Oliver and Company growing up). Now, I think of Oliver as a really sweet name that's come back into favor alongside other old-fashioned names such as Theodore, Oscar, and George. Oliver has in the top 100 in the early 1900s but as of 2014, Oliver is by far the most popular it's ever been at #32. The furthest down on the top 1000 list it's ever been was #473 in 1986. Oliver re-entered the top 100 in 2009. Olive leaves are known for their healing properties and are effective infection-fighters. As far as cultural associations go, Oliver Twist, the novel by Charles Dickens that has been adapted many times in literature and on screen (including the talking-animal cartoon version Oliver and Company), is probably the most recognizable. A notable historical association is Oliver Reginald Tambo (O.R. Tambo), a prominent colleague of Nelson Mandela who fought to end apartheid in South Africa. If Oliver is too popular for your taste, you might consider Ollivander, which was not ranked in the top 1000 in 2014 but I could see that changing in the near future.

What do you think of Madeleine and Oliver? What middle names would you pair them with and what names would you give to siblings of Madeleine and Oliver?

The combo I like best for Madeleine is Madeleine Priscilla. Oliver Reginald is an amazing name but the combo I like best for Oliver is Oliver James, even though it seems pretty standard. For siblings to Madeleine Priscilla and Oliver James, I'd choose Julia Verity and Theodore John.

God bless and thanks for reading!

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