What Name Will Sound Best in Your Local Park?

I enjoyed reading Robert Epstein’s article in the Independent, because it referred to topics covered in two of my most recent articles:
To Prevent Bullying, Mexican State Bans “Outlandish Names”
Interesting and Unusual Names of the Sochi Olympics Medal Winners

I also liked it because it written with wit and charm. I usually think about names from the standpoint of how your child’s friends will respond to it in day care or kindergarten (or high school). But Epstein knows what it’s like to wheel your child to the park for some fresh air and a chance to chat with people over the age of four. What will the other moms think when you call your child’s name?

It’s fun; give it a read. And when you get to the end of the article you may find yourself wondering what I’m wondering: did they read both of my recent article (as research) before writing theirs? (A key clue is the last word in their article.)

Of course you’ll have to read both of my articles to solve the mystery. If that seems too much like work, enjoy Epstein’s article.

Why Viktor is the Biggest “Name Story” of the Sochi Olympics.

Viktor Ahn has just won four medals at the Sochi Olympics skating for Russia—three golds and a bronze. This amazing performance matches the four medals he won in Turin, when he skated for South Korea under his former name: Ahn Hyun-soo. He is tied with Apolo Anton Ono with eight short-track medals and Ahn is by far the most dominant short-track skater now on ice. Anton calls him “Perhaps the best ever to put short track speed skates on. Yeah, I would say so.”

Ahn’s story is dramatic and inspiring because a career-threatening knee injury in 2008 and multiple surgeries prevented him from qualifying for Vancouver Game in 2010. His former South Korean short-track skating club had disbanded, and other South Korean clubs didn’t make room for him. So he made moved to Russia, where he was welcomed with open arms. (Russia didn’t have a successful short-track program and they hoped Ahn could help them improve.)

But to compete for Russia Ahn needed to become a Russian citizen. And to do that he had to renounce his South Korean citizenship. In the process of becoming a Russian citizen Ahn chose a Russian name, Viktor. He chose it because the name means “victor,” “conqueror,” “winner”—which is precisely what he wanted to be both for himself and his new country.

Every time Ahn won another medal, the mostly Russian audience Sochi chanted “Viktor, Viktor, Viktor” as he took a victory lap with the Russian flag draped over his shoulders. His former teammates on the South Korean short-track team weren’t quite so happy. They’d been shut out in Sochi–without winning single short-track medal.

Ahn’s single-minded pursuit of victory for himself and his new country included the unusual step of becoming a Russian citizen and adopting a new Russian name that meant “victor.” And that’s why Viktor is the biggest “name story” of the Sochi Olympics. For some exciting photos of Ahn, click on this link to NBCOlympics.com.

Interesting and Unusual Names of the Sochi Olympics Medal Winners

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While watching the Winter Olympics I get caught up in the action and the emotion, just like you. But I also keep my eyes and ears open to discover names from around the world that might cause you to say, “That’s different, but interesting; it sounds good and, I kind of like it.” Perhaps a few of the names of Olympic medal winners will start sounding cool to you when say them out loud, read the origin and meaning and think about the athlete whose performance you might have watched on TV (or YouTube).

I suppose it might help if you’re of French, Italian, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Slovenian, Korean, Chinese or Japanese extraction and you come across a name on this list that your family’s going to love. That would make me happy. But some of these names are so catchy and charming—you might want to consider them no matter what your ethnic roots are.

FYI, I purposely left out the names of medal winners you’re already familiar with, like Anna, Maria and Julia. I’m hoping to tempt you with names that aren’t already on your short list, like Carina, Devin and Joss. So get ready to expand your baby-naming horizons: girls’ names first; boy’s names next.

Female Olympic Medal Winners’ Names

Adelina a variation Adeline, Adelaide (German) noble, serene.
Adelina Sotnikova (Russia) Figure Skating Singles (Gold)

Aja (Hindi) goat.
Aja Evans (United States) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Bronze)

Alena a variation of Aleena (Dutch) alone.
Alena Zavarzina (Russia) Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom (Bronze)

Arianna a variation of Ariana (Greek) holy.
Arianna Fontana (Italy) Speed Skating 500 meters (Silver)

Brianne (Irish) strong; virtuous, honorable.
Brianne McLaughlin (United States) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Carina (Italian) dear little one. Also a form of Karen (Greek) pure, maiden.
Vogt (Germany) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Individual (Gold)

Carolina an Italian form of Caroline (French) little and strong.
Carolina Kostner (Italy) Figure Skating Singles (Bronze)

Coline a variation of Coleen (Irish) girl.
Coline Mattel (France) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Individual (Bronze)

Dara (Hebrew) compassionate.
Dara Howell (Canada) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Gold)

Darya a variation of Daria (Greek) wealthy.
Darya Domracheva (Belarus) Biathlon Individual (Gold)

Devin (Irish) poet.
Devin Logan (United States) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Silver)

Dominique (French) a French form of Dominica (Latin) belonging to the Lord.
Dominique Gisin (Switzerland) Alpine Skiing Downhill (Gold)

Elana (Greek) a short form of Eleanor (Greek) light.
Elana Meyers (United States) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Silver)

Elena (Greek) a short form of Eleanor (Greek) light.
Elena Ilinykh (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Eva a short form of Evangelina (Greek) bearer of good news. A variation of Eve (Hebrew) life.
Eva Samkova (Czech Republic) Snowboard Cross (Gold)

Gabriela an Italian form of Gabrielle (French) devoted to God.
Gabriela Soukalová (Czech Republic) Mixed Biathlon Relay (Silver)

Giselle a variation of Giselle (German) pledge; hostage.
Gisele (America) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Heidi a short form of Adelaide (German) noble; serene.
Heidi Weng (Norway) Cross Country Skiing 15 km. Skiathlon (Bronze)

Justyna a Polish form of Justina (Latin) just; righteous.
Justyna Kowalczyk (Poland) Cross-Country Classical 10 Kilometer (Gold)

Kaillie (North American) a variation of Kaila (Hebrew) laurel; crown.
Kaillie Humphries (Canada) Bobsleigh Two-Woman (Gold)

Kim (Korean) gold.
Kim Yuna (Japan) Figure Skating Singles (Silver)

Lara (Greek) cheerful. (Latin) shining; famous.
Lara Gut (Switzerland) Women’s Alpine Skiing Downhill (Bronze)

Lee (Chinese) plum. (Irish) poetic. (English) meadow.
Lee Sang-hwa (South Korea) Speed Skating 500 meters (Gold)

Li (Chinese) pretty; powerful.
Li Jianrou (China) Speed Skating 500 meters (Gold)

Livia a short form of Olivia (Hebrew) crown.
Livia Altmann (Switzerland) Ice Hockey (Bronze)

Lotte a short form of Charlotte (French, German) strong, vigorous.
Lotte van Beek (Netherlands) Speed Skating 1,500 meters (Bronze)

Lydia (Greek) from Lydia, an ancient land in Asia Minor.
Lydia Lassila (Australia) Freestyle Skiing Aerials (Bronze)

Marlies (English) a variation of Marlissa a compound name: Maria + Lisa.
Marlies Schild (Austria) Alpine Skiing Slalom (Silver)

Meryl (German) famous. (Irish) shining sea.
Meryl Davis (United States) Figure Skating Ice Dancing (Gold)

Monique a French form of Monica (Greek) solitary (Latin) advisor.
Monique Lamoureux-Kolls (United States) Ice Hockey (Silver)

Park (Chinese) cypress tree.
Park Seung-Hi (South Korea) Short Track Speed Skating 3,000 meters Relay (Gold)

Romy a familiar form of Romaine (French) from Rome (English) a familiar form of Rosemary.
Romy Eggiman (Switzerland) Ice Hockey (Bronze)

Selina a variation of Selene (Greek) moon. Mythology: Selene was the goddess of the moon.
Selina Gasparin (Switzerland) Biathlon Individual (Silver)

Stina (German) a short form of Christina (Greek) anointed.
Stina Nilsson (Sweden) Cross-Country Team Sprint (Bronze)

Tatiana (Slavic) fairy queen.
Tatiana Volosozhar (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Teja (Sanskrit) radiant.
Teja Gregorin (Slovenia) Biathlon Pursuit (Bronze)

Tessa a short form of Theresa (Greek) reaper.
Tessa Virtue (Canada) Figure Skating Ice Dancing (Silver)

Tomoka a variation of Tomoko (Japanese) wise; young friend.
Tomoka Takeuchi (Japan) Snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom (Silver)

Tora (Japanese) tiger.
Tora Berger (Norway) Biathlon Pursuit (Silver)

Torah (Hebrew) the five books of the Jewish bible; Old Testament. Also a variation of Tora (Japanese) tiger.
Torah Bright (Australia) Snowboarding Halfpipe (Silver)

Viktoria a German, Hungarian and Russian form of Victoria. (Latin) Victorious
Viktoria Rebensburg (Germany) Alpine Skiing Giant Slalom (Bronze)

Male Olympic Medal Winners’ Names

Akito (Japanese) bright.
Akito Watabe (Japan) Nordic Combined Individual Normal Hill 10 km.

Alexey a familiar form of Alexander (Greek) defender of mankind.
Alexey Voyevoda (Russia) Bobsleigh Two-man (Gold)

Bjorn a Scandinavian form of Bernard (German) brave as a bear.
Bjorn Kircheisen (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Silver)

Bode a familiar form of Boden (Scandinavian) sheltered. (French) messenger.
Bode Miller (United States) Alpine Skiing Super G (Bronze)

Christof a Russian form of Christopher (Greek) Christ-bearer.
Christof Innerhofer (Italy) Alpine Skiing Downhill (Silver)

Christoph a French form of Christopher (Greek) Christ-bearer.
Christoph Bieler (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Bronze)

Denny a familiar form of Dennis (Greek) a follower of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine.
Denny Morrison (Canada) Speed Skating 1,500 meters (Bronze)

Denis a French form of Dennis (Greek) a follower of Dionysius, the Greek god of wine.
Denis Ten (Kazakhstan) Figure Skating Singles (Bronze)

Jan a Dutch, Slavic form of John (Hebrew) God is gracious.
Jan Smeekens (Netherlands) Speed Skating 500 meters (Silver)

Jia (Chinese) home, family.
Jia Zongyang (China) Freestyle Skiing Aerials (Bronze)

Jorrit a Dutch form of Gerard (English) brave spearman.
Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands) Speed Skating 10,000 meters (Gold)

Joss (Chinese) luck, fate.
Joss Christenson (United States) Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle (Gold)

Lukas a Greek, Czech and Swedish form of Luke (Latin) author of the third gospel of the New Testament.
Lukas Hofer (Italy) Mixed Biathlon Relay (Bronze)

Marcus (Latin) martial, warlike.
Marcus Hellner (Sweden) Cross-Country Skiing 20 km. Skiathlon (Silver)

Maxim a Russian form of Maxime (French) most excellent.
Maxim Trankov (Russia) Figure Skating Pairs (Gold)

Mario a short Italian form of Marin (French) sailor.
Mario Stecher (Germany) Nordic Combined Team Large Hill 4 x 5 km. (Bronze)

Nikita a Russian form of Nicholas (Greek) victorious people.
Nikita Kriukov (Russia) Cross-Country Skiing Team Sprint (Silver)

Robin a short form of Robert (English) famous brilliance.
Robin Szolkowy (Germany) Figure Skating Pairs (Bronze)

Sage (English) wise. Botany: an herb.
Sage Kotsenburg (United States) Snowboarding Slopestyle (Gold)

Sandro (Greek, Italian) a short form of Alexander (Greek) “defender of mankind.”
Sandro Viletta (Switzerland) Alpine Skiing Combined (Gold)

Stefan German, Polish, Swedish forms of Steven (Greek) crowned.
Stefan Groothuis (Netherlands) 1,000 meters (Gold)

Taku a short form of Takuma (Japanese) expand, open, pioneer.
Taku Takeuchi (Japan) Ski Jumping Normal Hill Team (Bronze)

Tobias (Hebrew) God is good.
Tobias Wendl & Tobias Arlt (Germany) Luge Doubles (Gold)

Viktor a German, Hungarian and Russian form of Victor. (Latin) Victorious.
Viktor Ahn (Russia) Short Track Speed Skating 1,000 meters (Gold)