Monday, October 3, 2011


After finding a Lorelei Charm on For Real Baby Names, I instantly fell in love with the idea of Charm.

Charm is a word in the English language that is derived from the Old French charme, which is in turn derived from the Latin canere, meaning "to sing" or "to chant." The oldest use of this word has always been in reference to enchantment and reciting verses of magickal power.

Today, Charm is a name that could reference several different things. In the Neo-Pagan religion, a charm is another word for a spell. It's usually a traditional incantation in the form of a poem. Jacob Grimm once wrote, "But these, to be effective, must be choice, well knit, rhythmic words...must have lilt and tune; hence all that is strong in the speech wielded by a priest, physician, magician, is allied to the forms of poetry." The word could also be in reference to amulets. Most people own a lucky charm that they carry with them or wear. In England, Charmers are practitioners of supernatural healing. They have carried their abilities down to the next generation in secret and still live today. It is believed that this is where the idea of a "hereditary witch" came from.

But could Charm also be a new virtue name? Used in a different context, charm is a synonym for charisma. When people have charm, they have socially desirable characteristics like a sense of humor, courtesy, and attractiveness. It certainly sounds like a virtue. Unless that charm is superficial. Superficial charm, a tactic used by people to get what they want, is one of the characteristics of sociopaths.

If you really think about it, this name has been used for a while. Prince Charming is a traditional hero in many fairy tales. No one is quite sure where the term came from, the Princes didn't have names in the earliest versions of the stories. Some believe that it was coined in Charles Perrault's version of "Sleeping Beauty" published in 1697, which includes the phrase, "The Prince was charmed by her words." It's a weak connection, but there are no other explanations. Years later, Madame d'Aulnoy wrote "The Blue Bird" which included a hero called "The Charming King," and the rest is history. Today "Prince Charming" is often a term for an idealized man that a woman hopes to marry.

This name also brings to mind the successful television show Charmed, a show that was a confusing mish-mash of tired fantasy cliches, demonology, and Wiccan ideas. I understand that a lot of people (and lots of Neo-Pagans) liked the show, but when they called the characters Wiccan they went into theological territory that they shouldn't have touched. I hated the show with the passion of a thousand suns and never watched it if I could help it, but that was mostly because of my dislike of the actresses.

Charm is going to be a new one for a lot of people. Because of the fairy tale reference, it might be too much in the first slot, particularly for a boy. But it could be a daring and meaningful middle name. I'm very glad that someone decided to use it for their daughter.


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  1. I would say that Charm is a charming name, but that's the obvious flaw. I could really see myself considering her in the middle, she's rather understated, yet sweet. She'd work well in the cakies sibset, currently True, Brave, Soul and Glow.

  2. Thanks to you I just named one of my foster kittens Charm, and he fits the name so well. But I can definitely see this on a person as well.


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