a fleur-de-lis Etymology of Fleur

Defininition of fleur

The word "fleur" is most commonly known as the French word for flower. For those of you who would ask if I am French, I ask you: Would you name your child "flower"? I've already said my parents weren't hippies. Amusingly enough, if you look up the word "fleur" in the OED, the definition is "ornamental flower", apparently referring to some sort of wall trim.

How Fleur got her name

I'm an only child. No doubt if I had not been the first, my parents would have had their act a little more together. As it happened, I was the first and the only. Lucky me.

Normally, parents-to-be, especially parents-to-be as eager as mine must have been (I was born after 12 years of marriage, 6 years of trying, 3 miscarriages and a stillbirth), have already spent months deliberating and eventually choosing a name. Not MY parents. I was born and the disagreements started. My mother, being a good mid-western Christian, wanted to name me Mary. My father, being a good first-generation Russian, wanted to name me Natasha.

You may know that when a baby gets born, there is a legal limit as to how much time can pass until the birth certificate is issued, you may not. My parents found out. Apparently they were only a few days away from having a kid named "Female Dragan" and having to pay to get it legally changed later.

Enter public television...

Around the time I was born, there was a miniseries on PBS based on a series of books titled The Forsyte Saga written by John Galsworthy in the early 1900s. One of the characters names was Fleur. They both liked it. Problem solved.

When I was old enough, or more accurately, when I had been tortured enough over my name, I asked my parents where they got it from. When I was told I was named after a character, I asked what she was like. My mother said that they just liked the name, that I wasn't named after the character, per se.

Interestingly, my mother remembers Fleur as being a helpful woman, organizing soup kitchens and things. My father remembers Soames (Fleur's father) as being a great man.

When I actually got around to reading the books, I found that Fleur was a last ditch effort at an heir. She grew up the apple of her father's eye, was tremendously spoiled, always had to be the center of attention, did whatever she wanted, got whatever she wanted but never quite managed to snare the man of her dreams. The soup kitchen thing was actually Fleur helping to organize feeding stations for scab miners during the Great English Coal Strike of 19something-or-other. She did it to be the center of attention. In short, I was aptly named.

My parents did have a name for the stillborn, actually. Diana. It's my middle name.

A good (internetless) friend of mine was born a month or so before I was. Her middle name is Fleur. No one ever believes us.

Fleur Diana Dragan / fleur@obscure.org / 7/13/96