Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 25th column, he looks at the name Heather.
Happy Birthday to Sammy Jo and Amanda!
Heather Locklear, the actress who played golddigger Sammy on the original “Dynasty” (1981-1989) and manipulative Amanda Woodward on “Melrose Place” (1993-1999), turns 61 today.
In addition, the movie version of musical “Heathers,” based on the 1988 cult teen comedy film featuring three “queen bee” high schoolers all named Heather, premiered on Roku Sept. 16.
Heather is a low-growing evergreen shrub found throughout Europe. It’s especially common in northern England and Scotland, where its purple flowers cover the moors every summer. The plant’s name was originally “hathir.” This probably had a Celtic source, but its spelling was altered through confusion with “heath,” from Old English for “flat shrubby wasteland.”
Many cultures have named girls after flowers. Rose and Violet were used in medieval England, though Rose also came from a Norman name meaning “famous sort.” When the Victorians revived Rose and Violet along with other medieval names, creative parents were inspired to use other plant names. Girls called Lily, Pansy, Hazel, Fern, Daisy and Laurel soon sprang up.
The first British girls named Heather appeared by 1880. Though the flower was common in Scotland, the name was more common in England, probably because Scots didn’t have the same romantic image of heather English and Americans did.
Initially, Heather was one of the rarest flower names. The first Heather in the United States census, Heather Bremer of Dayton, Ohio, was a boy born in 1871. His parents were probably inspired by the rare surname Heather. In later records he’s “Robert Heather Bremer.”