Category: Middle, Last and Nicknames
Wentworth Miller, the actor from the former hit show Prison Break, has a very distinctive name. He is a third, after his father and grandfather, and he may share his name with a few others in the world, but his first name is by no means a mainstream one. Jane Austen fans recognize it immediately, and the fact is the three Wentworth Millers were named after the hero of her novel Persuasion, Captain Wentworth.Â According to IMDB, it was his great-grandmother’s idea, and what a great one it was. Such formal names may not be obviously considered as first names, but why not branch out?
Wentworth has a deep history as a surname in England and has a meaning of “pale man’s settlement” or “village of the white people.” In Old English, it can be drawn from the words for “winter” and “enclosure.” Ancestry.comÂ writes that it could have referred to a settlement only inhabited in the winter.Â It is also a place name. We can only guess what drew Miss Austen to the name, but no matter what that was, Wentworth was assigned to a character who became the inspiration for a baby boy’s name.
Brits love diminutives. We use them, often automatically, to shorten names in a familiar way, and they have been essential for centuries as a way of distinguishing individuals with the same name. We love them so much, many of them have now been elevated into full-name status, and happily litter the Top 100.
The most common are two-syllable, ie/y-endings we know and love well; Isabelles are Izzy, Olivers are Ollie, Katherines are Katies and Fredericks are Freddies. Â But more and more, parents are looking to aÂ more brisk and quirky style of diminutive.Â Edwards are often Ned, rather than Eddy; several Henrys are Hal, and Christophers are the striking Kit rather than Chris.
With this niche trend in mind, here is a rundown of some one-syllable diminutives that have become overlooked since they were developed in the Middle Ages. Several of them, perhaps surprisingly, were unisex.
In the 16th centuryÂ BessÂ was a popular nickname forÂ Elizabeth. You could almost say that it wasÂ theÂ diminutive for the name, as the most famous bearer, Elizabeth I, was known fondly as “Good Queen Bess“. It began to lose favour in the 18th century, but was revived as Bessie in the 19th. In some instances, Bess was also used as a diminutive forÂ Beatrice.
If you look at the list of popular boysâ€™ namesâ€”and some girls’ tooâ€”you start to feel that almost every conceivable surname has become a first.Â Occupational names like Mason and Sawyer, patronymics like Jackson and Addison, Irish surnames Nolan and Quinn, Old Hollywood glamour last names such as Harlowâ€¦the list goes on.
Of course the ideal scenario for coming up with a fresher choice would be to discover some surname surprise on your own family true, but that isnâ€™t always possible.
So are there any more original choices in this category of surname baby names still to be discovered?Â Of course there areâ€¦in all the above modes and beyond.Â Here are a few ideas to get you started; some have been lightly used over the years, but they all rate consideration for wider use.
It might be embarrassing.
Or kind of a snooze.
Maybe it tells a story about you or your family.
Maybe you’ve changed it.
Today we’re going to reprise that fifth grade playground conversation and answer that revealing question: What’s your middle name? Â Do you love it or hate it? Â And what’s the story behind it?
Usually, when baby names are related, the resemblance is pretty obvious.Â For example, Christopherâ€™s foreign versions include Christophe and Christos and his short form is Chris; Patricia is otherwise known as Patrizia or Patrice, Pat or Patty.
This can come in handy if youâ€™re looking for an invisible (to non-nerds) or at least indirect route to honoring a namesake.Â Ways you can do this include finding an interesting but accessible international variation, or an unexpected nickname that can be used on its own, or a mythological, biblical, or other name switch, or dual identity.