And speaking of family names, I love this excerpt from They Call Me Naughty Lola, a collection of “witty and eccentric lonely hearts ads from the London Review of Books ” (reviewed here—thanks, Nick!):

Stroganoff. Boysenberry. Frangipani. Words with their origins in people’s names. If your name has produced its own entry in the OED then I’ll make love to you. If it hasn’t, I probably will anyway, but I’ll only want you for your body. Man of too few distractions, 32.

I dunno, though: the OED says only “said to be from Frangipani, the name of the inventor” (emphasis added); this guy could get his heart broken by an imposter.

Update. The County Clerk has done a thorough investigation of all things frangipani/plumeria-related along with various enjoyable divagations, such as a long description of Septimus Piesse’s odophone. Visit and revel!


  1. Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!

  2. xiaolongnu says

    OK, open call to LH readers: Can anyone help me out by accounting for the reason why both a form of almond and pear tart and the flowering tree Plumeria spp. are known as “frangipani?” Out here we say “plumeria” but people in mainland US and elsewhere look at me like I have two heads when I call it that.
    (Interesting to find out that it’s not indigenous to Hawai’i, either, since it’s so darn common.)
    The Wikipedia entry on the Frangipani family claims that the marchese Frangipani invented a plumeria-based perfume. This is plausible enough, but doesn’t account for the tart. The family name is said to mean “bread breakers” but I am not sure how you get from that to a particular pastry. Let them eat cake??
    I know you people are up for this. Let’s hear it.

  3. Xiaolongnu
    Wikpedia may have it backwards. I remember reading somewhere that the frangipani tree is so named because the fragrance of the flowers is reminiscent of the perfume invented by Frangipani, rather than the perfume being created from the flower. The perfume came first, and the tree is named after it. Or so I read – somewhere!

  4. Vance Maverick says

    Damn, I missed an opportunity there. I guess I really should subscribe to the LRB after all….

  5. I’m working on an answer. Give me an hour or two. The perfume DEFINATELY came first… and it was probably Almond perfume of some sort. I’ll post when I have it nailed.

  6. I have frangipani/plumeria info here

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