Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.
And…we’re back to the beginning of the alphabet again! One of the most interesting things about doing large-scale, cross-temporal and -cultural data collection as we’re doing for the Dictionary is seeing certain types of trends. It probably isn’t surprising to find out that we have very few entries in K-, Q-, X-, Y-, and Z-, as these letters are systemically less common across Europe (blame Latinisation for the comparative lack of ‘k’ in western Europe, as all the Greek kappas were converted into ‘c’s). Many people have probably also encountered the phenomenon whereby it seems like, modernly, there are disproportionately many names beginning with “A”. One explanation for this seeming phenomenon that is often offered is that expecting parents start at the beginning of the baby name book, and work their way through until they find a name they like, which is why we have so many Alexas and Alexandras and Amelias and Amalias and Abigails and Avas and Ashleys and Amandas and Amys.
But while there may be a lot of truth to that explanation, it isn’t the only confounding factor. There simple were a lot more names beginning with “A” than other letters, historically. (Only B-, S-, T-, and W- come anywhere close.) So it’s good when we come back around to the beginning of the alphabet, because the truth is, we have a lot of unidentified A-names. In fact, we thought that this week it would be fun to give a snapshot of the internal version of the Dictionary, with all the “A” entries both published, to be published, and unpublished. Maybe there’ll be a particular name in the list that our readers would be interested in knowing more about, and we can make that next week’s mystery name.
In the meantime, we have so many A- names, we can’t even get them all in one screen shot, or even two!
Now, not all of the names in yellow are true “mystery” names. Some of the entries are duplicates (with slightly different choice of header spelling), and simply need to be combined (for instances, we suspect that Ascherich and Ascrich are variants). Some of them are diminutives of other names, where the relationship hasn’t yet been identified. Some may turn out not to be given names, but rather place names or bynames mistakenly identified as given names. But when we say things like “we have 2317 entries published, and 3811 entries unpublished”, this gives you a sense of the data that we haven’t that isn’t. yet available, but will — hopefully, eventually — be.