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Merry Month of May Names: Archibald, Arabella & Malcolm

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By Denise K. Potter

April showers bring May… baby names? The fifth month, along with tulips, orchids and apple blossoms, promises a number of colorful and exciting baby names, twelve to be exact, that denote its history. This month, it’s astronauts, record-breaking aviators, activists and Olympic athletes who grace the charts of notable May names. Take a look and see if maybe one might be a perfect match for any future Taurus or Gemini.

Alan—The first American to enter outer space, on May 5, 1961, was Alan Shepard, piloting the Freedom 7 spacecraft. This triumph took place during the era of booming technology that became known as the Space Race. The Irish name meaning “handsome, cheerful” is one of three popular spellings, along with Allen and Allan.

Amelia May 20, 1932 marks the day that Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, for which she received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. Now, Amelia is one of the fastest rising girls names, jumping 169 places in ten years, and a great alternative to the overused Emily and Amanda.

Arabella – This elegant Latin choice finally entered the U.S. charts in 2005, though it had been frequently used in Britain.  An alternative to the popular Isabella, the name was borne by the first female U.S. attorney, Arabella Mansfield, born in May, 1846, though her birth name was actually Belle Aurelia Babb.

Archibald  – Two notable American Archies were born in May: modern poet and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish, who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his work, and African American Olympic athlete Archie Williams, who in 1936 won a gold medal in the 400-meter race in Berlin. Famously, Adolf Hitler refused to shake Williams’ hand alongside fellow black gold medalist Jesse Owens. The open and friendly nickname Archie is now beginning to make parents consider formerly stuffy Archibald; among them are comedians Amy Poehler (shown above) and Will Arnett.

Florence May celebrates the birth of public health activist and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, who became known as “The Lady with the Lamp” after making nightly rounds while tending to wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. Florence has a lot going for it, especially its connection to the city in Italy, which was Nightingale’s birthplace.

Gabriel – The German physicist and engineer who implemented using mercury in thermometers was Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, born in May of 1686, who is the namesake for the major temperature scale of the English speaking world.  The Hebrew name means “God is my strength” and is ranked #24 for boys.

Golda—The most common namesake for the English name Golda is Golda Meir, the Israeli teacher, politician and fourth Prime Minister of Israel. Known for her strong will and straight-talk, Meir was called the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics years before the phrase was associated with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Hunter—On May 9, 1862, Union General David Hunter gave an unauthorized order to free all slaves in three Southern states, stating: “the persons in these three States — Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina– heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.” Ranked in the Top 50, Hunter is a pleasing mix of macho imagery and softened masculinity.

Malcolm – One of the most recognizable civil rights activists was born Malcolm Little in May, 1925, before he became formally known as Malcolm X. The welcoming Scottish name, originally Mael-Colium, was chosen by both Denzel Washington and Harrison Ford for their sons.

Mary (Mother Jones) –This month commemorates the birth of Mary Jones, Irish-born American labor leader of the 19th and 20thcentury, who cofounded the Industrial Workers of the World organization and fiercely opposed child labor. The quintessential New Testament name now hovers just over the Top 100 for girls, though it was Number 1 for four hundred years.

May – Started as one of nicknames for Mary and Margaret, the fresh and spring-like May hasn’t been on the national charts for decades, though it makes a pretty middle name option. The fifth month of the year conjures up images of two more spring names—Emerald and Lily, which also serve as May’s birthstone and birth flower.

NellieElizabeth Jane Cochrane used the pen name Nellie Bly for her pioneering career in journalism, during which she was best known for breaking records in a 72-day trip around the world, faking insanity in order to study a mental institution from the inside. This English name that began as a diminutive of Helen or Eleanor is ready for revival.

 

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