What began as a novel by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, has become a hit television show on BRAVO. I am talking about the hit A Handmaid’s Tale. A Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a dystopian near-future in a placed called Gilead. It is ruled by a totalitarian and Christian fundamentalist government, in the former United States. Sounds like something out of the sci-fi genre, but stay with me here it gets good, I promise.
Society in Gilead is based on standing within the newly created social classes. Unfortunately, it does not bode well if you are woman in Gilead. Women are brutally subjugated, and by law are not allowed to work, control money or even read. Due to warfare-induced environmental contamination, there is widespread infertility among most of the woman. The few woman who remain that are fertile, are kidnapped and made Handmaidens, which means that they are owned by a family (usually of a much higher class) with an infertile wife, and their sole purpose is to bear children.
There is so much more to this story, and it is really a fascinating read, or watch if anyone is looking for something different. You can catch The Handmaid’s Tale on BRAVO on Sunday Nights, if you are in Canada. It has already been signed for a second season. If you are more of a reader make sure to catch Margaret Atwood’s best-selling novel. With any new show that takes the world by storm, there are bound to be plenty of inspirations for baby names. We thought we would take a look at 20 baby names inspired by characters from this hit!
Although she is known mostly as Offred throughout the book/television show, her real name is June. Junie is the protagonist and narrator of the story. She was a labelled woman because she married a man who was divorced, and since divorces were nullified under the new government, the man was actually still considered married to his first wife. She was quickly separated from her husband and young daughter and made a handmaid to serve as a surrogate for the commander and is baron wife. She is seen as the story’s hero.
The name June is a beautiful baby girls name, and has not been as popular in modern times as it once was. The name June derives from the latin name Juno and means Queen of the Gods. It is also used as a nickname for names such as Juniper and Junia. Who doesn’t love the warm month of June.
Moira is an old friend of June’s, as she was her neighbour during her college years. When the handmaid’s are sent to a cruel re-education center, Moira and June are reunited, where Moira offers insight as well as some smiles. Moira is also seen as a “bad girl” as she starts a business selling risky lingerie to fellow college girls. After the start of Gilead. Moira tries to warn all her friends that something bad is going to happen. Moira is nothing if not logical and a skillful survivalist. Moira escapes the home of her charge and quickly becomes a prostitute to get through. Bonus points for this name; the character of Moira is played by one of our favourite gals from Orange is the New Black.
The name Moira is a given name of Greek Origin, deriving from another name meaning destiny, share and fate. In Greek mythology, the Moirai, often know in English as the Fates, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny.
18 Serena Joy
Serena Joy is a two for one name deal, both Serena and Joy are beautiful names for a baby girl. Serena Joy is the Commander’s wife, and before the take over of the Gilead government used to work on television. The state took away all her power and public recognition. June tries to connect with Serena by stating that she watched her on television as a little girl. She is seen as sterile in the story, so she is forced to accept the use of a handmaid to have a child. She is extremely unhappy and resentful of having to take part in the fertility ritual they do monthly.
The name Serena is considered a late Latin name and was derived from Serenus, meaning clear, tranquil and serene. The name Joy, is taken from the word joy. Therefore, it means delight or great happiness. It is said to derive from the Old French “joie”, It is considered a virtue name.
The commander’s real name is Frederick, however he is commonly only referred to as the commander. Frederick stated that before the start of Gilead he was some sort of scientist and was involved in something similar to market research. It is rumored that it is not Serena who is infertile, but Frederick himself. Frederick offers some kindness to June, and invites her to play scrabble with him every night. He then allows her to read some of his books, acts that women are forbidden to do. June learns that she is not the first handmaid to receive kindness from Frederick.
The name Frederick is not so commonly used anymore, but I think it needs to make a comeback. It is a strong name for a man, and the nickname Fred may be perfect for a little boy. The name Frederick is actually an English form of a Germanic name meaning, peaceful ruler.
Nick is the commander’s chauffeur who lives above their garage. When June finds herself unable to become pregnant by the commander, Serena Joy arranges for Nick and June to start a sexual arrangement to increase her chance of getting pregnant. If June is unable to fall pregnant, she will be considered infertile and will be shipped off to the “wastelands”. Nick to the rescue! Over time, Nick and June start to develop feelings for each other but find it hard to trust what side the other is on.
The name Nick has always been popular, it is usually short form for the name Nicholas. It saw a spike in popularity in the 90’s with the mega-star Nick Carter coming on the scene. It is considered an English name. In English the meaning of the name is Lord. The Greek mythological Nike was the Greek goddess of victory and also was a root origin of Nicholas.
Lydia does not play a large part in the television show, and she also doesn’t play a very nice role. She is the vigilant matron at the re-education center. She is described as a woman with an uplifted face, protruding yellow teeth and steel-rimmed spectacles. She seems very sure that the new government system is the right way to go and believes fully in it’s principles. She is often described as a glory-struck drill sergeant as she carries around a pointer, whistle and cattle prod. We won’t hold this character against the name Lydia though.
The name Lydia translates to “from Lydia” in Greek. In the New Testament this is the name of a woman converted to Christianity by Saint Paul. In the modern era, the name has been in use since the Protestant Reformation. Who knew the name Lydia was such an old name!
The name Luke has always been a popular name for little boys all over the world. Luke is the long-lost husband of June. He was her husband before the formation of Gilead. He had divorced his first wife to marry her. Since all divorces were nullified in Gilead, he was still married to his first wife, making June a mistress and their daughter a “bastard” child. In the show, you can see June and Luke trying to escape to Canada, you see the daughter being taken away, and gunshots in the background, leading you to assume Luke was killed.
The name Luke is commonly a short from for the name Lucas, but not always. The name Luke is from Greek origin and means light giving. Luke is also a name that you will find a lot of in the Bible, he is seen as the patron saint of doctors and artist and was known as ‘the beloved physician.’
Ofglen is a name that I am modifying to take the name Glen from. In The Handmaid’s Tale, Ofglen is the neighbour of June’s and a fellow handmaid. She is partnered with June to complete the daily shopping. Handmaids are never alone and are expected to watch each others behaviour. Ofglen is seen as very daring, she assists a spy who has been sentenced to torture and death. Ofglen does eventually vanish and June is told she has committed suicide.
The name Glen has risen in popularity for little boys all over the world. This may have more to do with The Walking Dead than with The Handmaid’s Tale. The name Glen is a Gaelic baby name. In Gaelic the meaning of the name Glen is: derived from the Gaelic ‘Gleana’, meaning valley. It is often seen as both a surname and given name.
Rita is a kitchen servant in The Handmaid’s Tale. She is “owned” by Serena Joy and is considered to be tight-lipped. She is over the age of sixty and often frowns at June and rifles through all the groceries that June brings home. Rita, envies the freedom that June has by being able to walk to the grocery store everyday. Therefore, she keeps all supplies under tight lock and key to keep them away from June.
The name Rita is not that common these days, which may be the perfect reason to give this name to your baby girl. The name Rita is actually from Spanish origin. In Spanish, the meaning of the name Rita is Pearl. A perfect gem for your own perfect gem.
Cora is one of the sweetest names I have ever heard, it is often a nickname for the name Coralee (which is equally as sweet). In The Handmaid’s Tale, Cora is the cleaning lady for the commander and his wife. She has a dark past, as she was the one to discover a previous handmaiden hanging from a chandelier. She then walks on eggshells as she fears that it will happen again. Cora is very caring, and takes special care of June while she is with the commander by hiding her food, and crying when she leaves.
The name Cora is a relatively modern name and became increasingly popular after the release of The Last of the Mohicans, written by American author, James Fenimore Cooper. It is a version of the Greek names Kore or Corinna, where it means Maiden.
The name Hannah has always been popular for little girls everywhere. It is also the name of the daughter of June. In the television show, we only briefly see Hannah in the beginning as her and her mother are trying to flee to Canada. It is not mentioned where Hannah went, but that doesn’t stop June from continuing to search for her at every school house.
The name Hannah has both Hebrew and Irish origins. In Hebrew, is means favour and grace. In Irish, it means splendor, radiance and brilliance. It sounds like any girl would be honoured to have such a wonderful name. You will not have to look hard to find someone named Hannah, which means that there are many well known people out there named Hannah. Maybe one you didn’t know was Hannah Chaplin, who was the mother of Charlie Chaplin.
Oh, Janine. If you are watching the BRAVO series, you know that Janine has quite a hard time. She is a fellow handmaiden with June and Moira, and is instinctually rebellious. She fights the re-education center and starts a very public argument. In punishment, they remover her right eye. Janine is also the first handmaiden that we see get impregnated by her commandor. Which made for some very weird TV, as I have never seen a birth like that before.
The name Janine is of Hebrew and American origin and means gift of God. People who share this name often find themselves having a deep inner desire for a loving family and community. They are often seen as competent and practical as well. Doesn’t sound too bad!
Elizabeth is one of my favourite names for a little girl, and it has many opportunities for nicknames. There is Liz, Eliza and Beth, it is also the name of the Queen of England. The name Elizabeth in The Handmaid’s Tale is an authority figure at the re-education center, and was in charge the day a handmaiden disappeared. This then forces her to endure torture and assault as punishment. She also plays a vital role in delivering of Janine’s baby and is shown to be very kind and gentle.
The name Elizabeth has many meaning depending on which origin you are reading. In Greek origin, the name Elizabeth means God is satisfaction. In the English meaning, it means God is bountiful. Either way, people with the name Elizabeth are known to be amazing at analyzing, understanding and learning. Doesn’t sound too bad.
Here is another name I am going to manipulate to form the name Charles. Charles is another seemingly royal name as it is used quite often by royal families. Ofcharles is a handmaiden who didn’t have it quite as well as everyone else (if any of them had it “good”). She was a handmaiden who was executed for a crime that was never explained. This happened after June had been at her commandors house for three years.
While it may not have a good backstory in The Handmaid’s Tale, it is still a strong popular name. Charles can also be shortened to Charlie, and is quite adorable for baby boys or girls. While the name Charles has many different origins, the meaning is always the same: manly. Maybe don’t tell your little girl Charlie that. It is thought that people who are named Charles are seen as creative and excellent at expressing themselves.
If you are looking for a unique baby name, look no further than Alma. Alma is a handmaid who confides in June by telling her real name to her. While June is looking for Moira, Alma offers as much help as she can by offering clues she overhears from her commander. The name Alma is in good company with here being a large variety of actresses, stage performers and even politicians who share the name Alma.
The name Alma has origins from Spanish, American, Celtic, Irish and Italian, so it is considered a worldy name. While it has many origin roots, it means the same thing: Spirit. If you are named Alma, it is thought that you are extremely passionate, compassionate, intuitive, romantic and have a magnetic personality. They are often considered to fall in love a little to easily and tend to have their hearts broken quickly.
Maryann is a popular name for little girls everywhere, and quickly rose in popularity after the success of the show Gilligan’s Island. In The Handmaid’s Tale, the full title is Professor Maryann Crescent Moon, which sounds pretty mystical to me. She is a professor at the university in Gilead. She does not have a large role to play, but they always say that there are no small parts, just small actors.
If anyone is a fan of soap operas, they may also know that there is an actress that shares the name: Maryann Urbana from All My Children. Maryann is derived from the name Mary and while the most common meaning is bitter, another meaning option is wished for child. If you have this wonderful name, then chances are you are adventurous, dynamic and optimistic. All are wonderful traits to have, although a warning is that they tend to be a bit rebellious.
James is one of those timeless names that never seems to grow old. With many nickname options (Jay or Jimmy) it is a name that grows with a child into the man he will become. James is also becoming quite popular with little girls as well. The name James has English and Hebrew origins and means he grasps the heel. Now, I am not sure I know what that means, but people with the name James often enjoy being the center of attention, and will pick a career where they are the star. This is not always a bad thing.
In The Handmaid’s Tale, James is another professor who goes by the title: Professor James Darcy Pieixoto. Can we take a moment also, to appreciate that the name Darcy sounds equally as nice and adorable. James is a professor who gives multiple lectures on the Gilead society and way of life. Needless to say, he is probably very smart.
Wilfred, or Wilfred Limpkin (sorry I just think the last name is funny), is a sociobiologist during the early start of the Gilead period. He kept a diary, that was written in code, about the odd practices of the Gilead regime. In an attempt to hide the diary when he senses that he is doomed, he gives it to his sister to hide. Little rebellious, it you ask me, but who doesn’t love a rebel.
The name Wilfred is unique that it has two nicknames, Wil and Fred. The name Wilfred is from English and German origin and means Peace. It is stated that if you have the name Wilfred, you may have an uncontrollable desire for travel and adventure. You may also want to go your own way, and not fold to traditions, which kind of fits with the character. Did you know, that the female version of Wilfred is Wilfreda?
Whenever I think of the name Judd, I think of a large, teddy bear type of man from the south. I don’t know why. That, or a cowboy. The Judd from The Handmaid’s Tale, was nothing like either of those two. Judd was known as a very hard person, who was actually responsible for banning the use of literacy to women. He was not seen as the nicest person, and someone who bans books is enough for me to dislike him. We can’t let a character like this, ruin the name Judd, as it can be very endearing.
Judd is used as both a first and last name. The name Judd is from Hebrew and American origin and can either mean praised or to flow down. If you or someone you know is named Judd, it is thought that people who share this name like to become involved in many different activities. They can also become quite reckless with both their energy and money. Watch out!
I thought with our last name we would pay homage to the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood. Margaret is a very traditional name that doesn’t get used very much anymore, but is way overdue for a comeback. Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939 in Ottawa, Canada. She is a very successful novelist, poet, businesswoman and environmental activist. She has won many awards throughout her career, and even earned herself a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
The name Margaret can be short formed to create Marg or Marge. Margaret has many places of origin including, Irish, American, Persian and Greek. In Irish, American and Persian, the name Margaret means name of a saint. In Greek, it means pearl. People with the name Margaret, are incredibly idealistic, highly imaginative, intuitive and spiritual. This makes so much sense in the case of Margaret Attwood. If Margaret is not your cup of tea for a first name, it makes an amazing middle name.
Sources: Wikipedia.com, sheknows.com, cliffsnotes.com