Category: Historic Names

posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author

By Clare Bristow

Edith Wharton is known for her novels of American society in the Gilded Age (the late nineteenth century) and early twentieth century.

Wharton was one of the first authors to write about this period, and she knew it well, having grown up in it. Her books are about not only high society – the parties, the travel, the social deals – but also the private life that went on behind it. Love affairs, secret debts, scandalous behavior, it’s all there.

Her characters’ names evoke that world beautifully. It’s interesting that relatively few have timelessly popular names like John and Mary. Instead, many have names that were fashionable in their era.

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By Meagan Burke

January is the first month of the year in the Gregorian calendar, getting its name from the Roman God Janus, who was associated with new beginnings. Let’s look to past January’s for notable name inspiration associated with this month.

Zane

Author (Pearl) Zane Grey was born on January 31, 1872.  He was best known for his Western genre adventure novels: Grey’s works portraying the American frontier have been translated into more than 112 movies and TV shows.  Zane is an English surname name that may possibly be a variation of John.  Currently at Number 233 in the US, Zane is a bit more popular amongst name enthusiast here on Nameberry, where it ranks at Number 91.  Actor Heather Tom has a son named Zane Alexander, and singer Mindy McCready used the spelling Zayne for her son. 

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December Namesakes: Helena to Huckleberry

By Meagan Burke

The last month of the year, December is a time filled with holiday festivities and family gatherings.

December gets its name from the Latin word decem, meaning ten, as it was originally the tenth month of the year. The names Decimus and Decima share the meaning ten. December also has ties to many notable leaders and visionaries. Let’s deck the halls with these wonderful namesakes!

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Modern Baby Names That Aren’t So Modern

posted by: Elea View all posts by this author

By Eleanor Nickerson, British Baby Names

For many people (especially the non-name obsessed), names tend to fall into categories typically defined by their era.

There are the “classic” perennial choices like Elizabeth, William, Anna, James, which never seem to go out of style; the biblical choices which have been used, in various forms, for millennia (even if their popularity has fluctuated); the “old-fashioned” choices, which encompass anything popular 50+ years ago which have since fallen out of favour; and, of course, “modern” names.

Modern names feel like fresh, new creations. They may be inspired by words (Miley, Nevaeh, Serenity), a newly discovered import (Isla, Mila, Leonardo) or a surname adopted for use as a given name. All feel like they break the mold, treading a new path from the popular given names that have come before and perhaps raising eyebrows among the older generations.

But our perception of “modern” can sometimes be misleading. Here are some names – which appear to be modern coinages – that were used as given names centuries ago, back in the Middle Ages.

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Virtue Names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

As we sit down to our Thanksgiving feasts in this divisive year, it might be a good idea to take another look at the traditional virtues embedded in these names.

In the seventeenth century, for some of the most puritanical of the Puritans, even biblical and saints’ names were not pure enough to bestow on their children, and so they turned instead to words that embodied the Christian virtues.  These ranged from extreme phrases like Sorry-for-sin and Search-the-Scriptures (which, understandably, never came into general use) to simpler virtue names like Silence and Salvation.

The virtue names that have survived in this country were for the most part the unfussy, one-syllable girls’ names with positive meanings, such as Joy, Hope, Grace and Faith.  But then, in the late 1990s, a door was opened to more elaborate examples by the popularity of the TV show Felicity, and its appealing heroine.  Felicity (also the name of an American Girl Colonial doll) reached a high point on the girls’ list in 1999, a year after the show debuted, leading parents to consider others long forgotten relics.

Here are the Nameberry picks of the twelve best virtue names:

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