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Category: Classic Baby Names

memorial14x

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The holiday we’re celebrating—originally called Decoration Day—was first commemorated in 1868, not long after the end of the Civil  War, the bitter, bloody battle between the North and the South that ripped the country apart.

Over the course of the war, more than a thousand soldiers reached the rank of general, six of whom, including Ulysses (born Hiram) S. Grant, went on to become U. S. presidents. And for our purposes, they provide us with a fascinating range of period names.

In addition to the expected profusion of Johns, Jameses, Williams and Thomases, we find many Latinate appellations such as Augustus, CassiusMarcellus, Gustavus and Theopholus; word names like Strong and Pleasant, and surnames Sullivan, Johnson and Jones.

From this cornucopia of intriguing choices, we pick 15 of the best:

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god2

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In the mythologies of ancient Greece and Rome, most of the deities had shared lineages, dominions and attributes—but not appellations.  I thought it might be fun to pit the names of the two cultures against each other and let you see if your taste ran more to the Greek or Roman.  The one major exception to this rule is Apollo—recently chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale—whose name stayed the same.

Here they are, with Greeks on the left, the Romans to the right.

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vintage nicknames

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Nickname-names still appear on birth certificates.  In the U.S., such names as Ellie, Abby, and Charlie for girls; Jake, Jack, and Johnny for boys all rank high.  In the U.K., nickname-names are even more fashionable, with Evie, Maisie, Millie, and Ellie in the Top 35 for girls, and Jack, Charlie, and Alfie in the boys’ Top 10.

But there are generations of nickname-names that have fallen off the Top 1000, yet sound cute and baby-ready today.  The list here is drawn from names that were on the Social Security roster on their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell off by the early 1970s (the date of their last listing follows the name) and haven’t yet reappeared.

Whether you choose to use Bea or Mamie, Clem or Zeb as full names or as diminutives for Beatrice or Marietta, Clement or Zebediah, any of these nickname-names would make charming choices.

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abby--4-7-14a

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Thank you, Zanna Roberts!

Just when it seemed like no one was having babies this week, the fashion stylist welcomed twin daughters.  You might have caught Zanna talking fashion as a correspondent on The Today Show, or as a judge on Project Runway.  She’s also senior fashion editor at Marie Claire, so no surprise that she and her husband, Milk Studios founder Mazdak Rassi, have chosen stunningly stylish names for their girls.

But the new arrivals’ names aren’t just stylish – they’re downright quirky.

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The Many Faces of Kate

girl name Kate

The strong, straightforward Kate (along with her variations) is the most popular nickname for the perennial classic Katherine today, often standing on its own. Some of the world’s most famous women bear the name Kate, which is popular in the US, England, and Ireland. The nickname even has Shakespearean antecedents, in The Taming of the Shrew – “You lie, in faith; for you are call’d plain Kate, And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst.” How do you get Kate from Katherine, a Greek name meaning pure? One theory is that it’s derived from Hecate, the goddess of magic. The name Kate, ranked in the U.S. Top 200, seems to work magic of its own. Take a look at some of the most famous Kates.

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