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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Baby Name to Consider: Parsley

Heather writes:
I didn't expect to be writing you pre-pregnancy but I have something I'm genuinely curious about. It concerns a name I found in a cute story I read once about a little girl named Patsy who tried the herb parsley and loved it so much that it was all she would eat. Her parents eventually changed her name to Parsley after her favourite food. It made me curious about why the name Parsley has never actually been tried when so many other spices and green plants are the source of beloved classics? There are the tried and true names Sage, Basil, Ivy, and Rosemary, and the spunkier Pepper, Anise and Cinnamon (though those are pretty brave choices). I've heard Bay and Sorrel on little boys. Ground cover plants like Tansy and Clover are being used, and they are just as unassuming looking as Parsley. I think it sounds quite sweet if you give it a chance. It has a lot of the same sounds as girls' names Presley, Paisley, and Pemberly that are quite fashionable nowadays. What do you think? Is Parsley just too out there, and if so, what makes it that much crazier than Sage or Clover? Is it quirky and appealing or downright blegh? I find it fresh, though I can't imagine being brave enough to use it myself. I'd love to know what you and your readers think.

Isn't that funny, how certain jewel/flower/month/nature names get used completely routinely, and the others seem quirky almost to the point of bizarre? We can name babies April, May, and June all year long, but February and March would be startling. Rose and Lily and Violet seem like normal names, but Daffodil and Tulip don't. Ruby and Pearl, sure!---but Quartz and Topaz are going to get comments.

I don't know why some words get established as names and others don't. I do know that it never seems to work to protest that things SHOULD work: either they do work, or else they don't. Parsley SHOULD work: it definitely does sound like Paisley and Presley, and it definitely does sound sweet, and in theory it shouldn't be any weirder than Sage or Rosemary. But right now my opinion is that it doesn't work---that it goes beyond quirky and into comical, along with Garlic and Oregano. I think it would make a distinctive and excellent pet name, however.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see results below.] I'm using the same poll options as usual, but I'm noticing that some of the categories are a little shaky: like, what if you love the name but feel it's absolutely unusable for a child? Choosing "strong dislike" seems inappropriate---and yet I think that's what the right vote option would be. I will try to think of better and more accurate categories for future polls.

Poll results for "What do you think of the name Parsley?" (531 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 3 votes (1%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 13 votes (2%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 68 votes (13%)
No particular opinion - 25 votes (5%)
Slight dislike - 157 votes (30%)
Strong dislike - 265 votes (50%)


Anonymous said...

"Parsley" has a lot of potential as a name. Presently, it would work best as a middle name. It makes me think of Beatrix Potter's 'Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes'. Names with a similar rhythm would sound so natural:

Natalie Parsley
Emily Parsley
Romilly Parsely
Everly Parsely

Although, it would be best to avoid alliteration (Penelope Parsley—though that sounds really cute, actually) or too many l's (Eulalie Parsley).

Other than the sound, I think the herb connection is great. My own name (Melissa) is the scientific name of lemon balm, and I love that connection.


Christine said...

I wouldn't use Parsley myself, but I wouldn't find it too weird if someone else did...Maybe a little weird, but with a cute baby in front of me I would get over it quickly enough.

I just wanted to say that I DO "know" a March, who blogs about perfume (Perfume Posse!), but I'm 95% sure it's her real name. I would feel pretty silly finding out that it wasn't now.

Anonymous said...

I think its the "Par" that I don't like. It is hard sounding, especially coupled with the heavey "s" and "lee" sound. I think for me that is what lends the distinct difference between Paisley or Presley.

Gail said...

Hmm. I think it's the image of parsley, rather than any particular sound (not that different from Charlie) that's keeping it off the naming map. Parsley is utterly commonplace, like cabbage, potatoes, and carrots, a throw-away garnish to many. It's not as exotic as basil, cayenne, or even sage, though what saves sage might be its multiple meanings. I think parsley is akin to celery, another word that has many of the elements that are popular in names--similar to Ellery, and Cecily, but again, somehow unromantic. Even the commonplace apple, used by Gwyneth Paltrow for her daughter, Apple, has a storied history in literature and poetry that moves it into a romance category. (I have a friend with a 10-yr-old daughter named Caper......)

Daycare Girl said...

I think part of what makes it unusable for me is its close resemblance to Presley or Paisley. I can see people wanting it to be those names instead and trying to correct me. Parsley? You mean Paisley? You mean Presley?

However, I think it would be a cute name for a pet rabbit. I hope that doesn't sound mean to say. Just wouldn't like it for my little girl.

Ann said...

To parse something means to take it apart, ala English classes where you parse a sentence or parse a novel. I'm wondering if that's why I have a negative reaction to it as a name.

The Mrs. said...

The hard 'AR' brings to mind pirates. Therefore, it goes in the 'boy' category for me. Ridiculous but true. That's also why March is a boy's name in my book!

Parsley itself is often thought of as that leftover thing on your plate at a fancy restaurant. I agree with Gail; there's no romance in it. Saffron, Calendula, Chamomile... these are unusual but have some poetry to them.

Interesting question, Swistle.

Bethany Haid said...

I actually don't like to eat parsley, so I would never name a child this.

AND one time I met someone name January!! And she was actually born in the summer! She seemed to be an ordinary, middle class, white girl who was matter of fact about her odd name.

Anonymous said...

I agree that parsley is not an exciting herb and that might be part of it.

I also think of Parcel, not a nice thing to call a person.

And forgive me for being crude, but the middle honestly sounds like British slang for *ahem* someone's behind.

Lashley said...

I think it's the ARSE (as mentioned above) with the addition of the verb "to parse" that pushes it past name territory for me.

Eva.G said...

I don't think the "arse" sound should eliminate the name! Think of Astrid! Or Harriet, with the "hairy" sound. Yet that doesn't rule out those perfectly good names.

I WANT to like Parsley! And I do love word names, and think names like Honor, July, Noble, November, Remember, and Tulip, are great and I would love to use them. So I would guess it's just the fact that it's a green garnish, with nothing romantic about it, is why it has never caught on. Not the sounds of Parsley itself. So I voted slight dislike for those reasons.

Heather said...

Figures the week I'm away from the computer, my question gets posted! I was really interested to see all these responses. No offense taken by any of them don't worry, I'm not actually considering this name for a person ;) I just thought it was an interesting one, and seemed like a non-name that should work. Parsley sounds soft and pretty and a little ruffly to me, I guess because of how it looks. The comment that Celery has similar characteristics does change my opinion a little. Thanks for posting my question Swistle, and for all the good feedback!

Jenny Grace said...

I said I like it for someone else's baby but really...I'm not sure it's usable for a baby. But. I like it. If that makes sense.

beccaloo said...

I read this post last week- and met a dog named Parsley at the dog park last week! Thought it was odd, but actually pretty cute on a dog. The dog was a girl too, btw.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, I actually knew a Parsley! A friend from highschool's sister. Of course the other siblings were named Homer and Joplin so...

Anonymous said...

We had an old family friend called Parsley. She was a lovely lady born in early 1900s in England. She carried the name well and it never seemed odd.

Anonymous said...

please tell me the name of that book! i cant find it anywhere on the internet but this page and it used to be one of my childhood favorites!!!