Category: Nameberry Picks
By Linda Rosenkrantz
When we hear the phrase ‘virtue names’ we tend to think first and foremost of the girls—Faith, Hope and Grace, Prudence and Patience. But some parents are beginning to acknowledge that there are good boys as well as girls, and considering some of the old male virtue names that have been off the grid for decades, and would make especially meaningful middles.
Abel — Okay, Abel is more biblical name than virtue, but its modern appeal hinges on its literal meaning of ready, willing, and…. Plus Abel (or Able) is such an excellent all-around virtue.
Constant—Whereas the feminine Constance has long been in common usage, Constant never has in this country—although it is heard in France. Much more usable here is Roman emperor/papal/video-game name Constantine, which has been on the US list sporadically since the nineteenth century.
Earnest/Ernest—Hard to resist starting this off with “the importance of being earnest”—but Earnest, condensed to Ernest can definitely be considered very much a virtue name. This country was at one time filled with Ernies—Ernest was a Top 25 name in the 1890s and stayed in the Top 50 through 1956, while the Earnest version was also a well-used early option, as high as Number 107 in 1907. And Ernest certainly has his share of notable namesakes, most famously Mr. Hemingway.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The connection to the haunting voice of a well known jazz or blues singer definitely adds an element of –well—rhythm and blues—to a name’s image, an extra infusion of richness and pizzazz. Boyish Billie takes on new depth when listening to Lady Day, Etta goes from fusty to soulful via the “At Last” singer James. Here then, the Nameberry Picks of the jazziest ‘girl’ jazz singer names.
Billie Holiday, one of the greatest and most tragic jazz singers of all time, was born with the name Eleanora and took her professional name from an actress she admired called Billie Dove—who was originally Bertha. Billie is a tomboyish nickname name that was in the Top 100 from 1928 to 1935, and now seems to be making a return—Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane have a young daughter named Billie Beatrice.
by Linda Rosenkrantz
Did you know that September happens to be Classical Music Month? Well neither did I, until just recently. This new knowledge inspired me to do a Nameberry Picks list of some of the most interesting classical composers’ first names. And no, turns out they’re not all Franz or Hans or Johann—there are a variety of unusual choices –unfortunately, most of them male.
Alban Maria Berg was an Austrian composer associated with Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique and the composer of the opera Lulu. Rarely heard in the US, the saint’s name Alban –one of the more unusual paths to Al–is currently Number 132 in France. With a variant spelling, Alben Barkley (born Willie Alben) was US Veep under Harry Truman.
Yes, middle names count—especially this one of Mozart’s that became the title of a movie that won a best picture Academy Award in 1985. In 2010, tennis champ showed that this classical Latin appellation was still wearable when he named his son Amadeus Benedict.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
A few months ago, we blogged about lady detectives, clueing you in to some fabulous names like Trixie, Temperance and Thursday, Loveday and Precious. Now it’s time to investigate their male counterparts—and there are some real doozies—drawn from a variety of genres– from early crime novels to comic strips to contemporary TV.
Arkady Renko— a chief homicide inspector for the prosecutor’s office in Moscow, Arkady Renko is the protagonist of a series by Martin Cruz Smith, beginning with the bestselling Gorky Park. Arkady, a lively three-syllable Russian saint’s name used by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, is certainly prime import material.
Aurelio Zen (great combo) is a fictional Italian detective created by the British crime writer Michael Dibdin; Zen, a trio of spellbinding cases based on the bestselling novels aired on PBS’s Masterpiece in 2011. Aurelio is an exotic and energetic Italian version of the sunny Aurelius.