Category: Names from the Arts & Pop Culture

Classic Girl Names: Mary-not-Mary


Mary long reigned as the Number One girls’ name throughout the English-speaking world. Some were Mary Ann or Mary Ellen, but others got far more creative in their quest to stand out from the crowd. So they traded in the ubiquitous Mary for names more glamorous, creative, cooler, or at least more distinctive. You may not even realize that many of these women started out life answering to the regal, saintly classic girl nameBy Abby Sandel

Here are some of our favorite Mary-not-Marys.

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Newsy Names: Charmian, Colin & Gene

newsy names

By John Kelly

This past September, we paid our respects to some of Hollywood’s greatest stars and marveled at a visionary’s dreams of the stars. Let’s have a look back at some of the big names in the news – and a look into what the origins of their names can illuminate about them.


Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a Catholic saint this month. St. Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxihu. Anjezë is the Albanian form of Agnes, anticipated her spiritual calling: It’s Greek for “holy” or “pure.” St. Teresa chose her religious name after the 19th-century French nun Thérèse de Lisieux.

Some think Teresa comes from the Greek for “harvest” or “huntress.” Others think it is from the Greek Thera, the name of some volcanic islands in the Mediterranean. The story goes that the wife of St. Paulinus of Nola (354-431 AD) was born on one of those islands and so took her name from them. The origin is unclear, but Teresa is a well-traveled name – fitting for St. Teresa, who made her impact far and wide.


San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has made headlines by protesting the pre-game National Anthem over racial inequality. Many athletes have followed suit, which some consider a victory for Colin’s cause. Victory indeed: Colin is a French pet name for Nicholas, a Greek name that literally means “victory-people.” The Greek word for – and goddess of – “victory” is nike, which lives on in the athletic brand.


Acting legend Gene Wilder sadly passed away this month. Born Jerome Silberman, Wilder took Gene, a short for Eugene, after Eugene Gant, a character in a Thomas Wolfe novel, and Wilder after writer Thornton Wilder. Eugene is from the Greek Eugenios, “well-born” or “noble.” Jerome, meanwhile, is from the Greek Hieornymos, “holy name.” Gene Wilder came from a humble background, but as many remembrances made clear, he was a class-act as an artist and person. And his name will surely be long “worshiped” by his many fans.

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Nifty Namesakes for Your October Babe

October namesakes

By Meagan Burke, TulipByAnyName

October is filled withcrisp autumn days, pumpkin-spiced treats, and inspirational names. From Luicano to Minnie to Noah, we have a delightful assortment of great October namesakes for you.


Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girls Scouts of the United States, was born on October 31, 1860, and her birthday is commemorated by the Girl Scouts as “Founder’s Day.” Juliette is a French name meaning youthful that has been steadily rising in popularity. Currently ranked at Number 226, Juliette has risen over 400 spots in the last 10 years. This spelling of Juliette may also remind you of actors Juliette Binoche and Juliette Lewis.

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girl artist names
When it comes to great artists, we hear the term Old Masters a lot, but how many women’s names fall under that misleadingly all-male heading? We know about Frida Kahlo and GeorgiaO’Keeffe and a few others, but there are many more that are less well  known. Here are a dozen important women painters and sculptors of the distant and nearer past—all with interesting and unusual girl names worth considering. By Linda Rosenkrantz

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Future starbaby names

By Sophie Kihm

Some big celebrity broods are about to get bigger–Kelsey Grammer is going to be a dad to seven kids, and Mel Gibson‘s girlfriend is expecting his ninth! Predicting names for such huge families is a daunting task. People’s naming styles tend to change over time, especially when they’ve been naming children for over a generation. That being said, sometimes name preference doesn’t change! There are some large celebrity sibsets that go together really well–the Gibson family is a great example.

Besides the Gibsons and Grammers, there are plenty more exciting celebrity baby name predictions this month. Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard, and Pharrell Williams are all going to be parents of two. I’ve made my predictions for them (and more!) below. 

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