Today, we associate the month of August with sweltering hot weather, vacationers and (gasp) back-to-school shopping commercials. But over the past few centuries, there have been some even more incredible things happening in August. This month is mostly about birthdays: international and national heroes, musicians, poets and explorers all blew out candles in the last month of summer, and their fulfilled wishes were pretty powerful ones. Check out this list of awesome August names and their meanings. And Happy Birthday to all August-born berries and baby-berries!
Anneliese– August 1, 1944 marks the day that Anne Frank (born Annelies Marie) inscribed her very last diary entry before her arrest and eventual death in a concentration camp at age 15. Her diary went on to be published as The Diary of a Young Girl, one of the most respected and discussed writings on the Holocaust. The Annalise form of spelling is now number 458 and trending upward.
Augustus—The eighth month of the year was named after the founder and first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus (born Gaius Octavius) in 8 BC. Since then, the “great, magnificent” Augustus has performed quite a dance on the popularity charts– reaching a high at number 175 in 1880, falling off the list in 1970, and eventually making a slow return in 1991. Today, it sits at number 688, and 119 on Nameberry.
Eliot—John Eliot, the missionary credited with translating the Bible into a Native American tongue, was born in August of 1604. The more popular spelling experienced a pop-culture boost in the early 80’s, when the film E.T. introduced its young male protagonist named Elliot. Neither too common nor strangely unique, Elliot is a nameberry “winner” at number 241.
Francis—August 1 marks the day that Francis Scott Key, the author and poet responsible for writing the USA’s national anthem, was born in 1779. The now unisex name, which was in the Top 10 at the turn of the last century, has recently come back into the spotlight since Roman Catholic Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) was elected in 2013.
Henson—Another August birth is that of Matthew Henson. Credited as the first African-American explorer, he made several voyages into the Arctic over 23 years, eventually reaching the North Pole in 1909 and was also the first African American inducted into The Explorers Club in 1937.
Louis—Legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans in August 1901. Also renowned for his contributions to stage and film, his most recognizable asset was his deep, raspy voice, made famous in his renditions of “Hello, Dolly” and “What A Wonderful World.” The classic and royal Louis has yet to catch on in the US—though it’s within the Top 100 in Britain, along with its alternate spelling Lewis.
Lucy—American abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone was the first woman to get a college degree in Massachusetts in 1847 and was a founder of the American Woman Suffrage Association. Stone was known for keeping her maiden name after marriage at a time when the cultural norm was to take the husband’s surname. Number 66 last year, Lucy means “light.”
Obama—Our current president was an August-born baby. Recently adopted as both a girls’ and boys’ name (having the added bonus of the fashionable “O” beginning), the surname originated in Kenya. However, in Japanese, Obama is a place name that means “little beach.”
Peridot & Poppy—August’s birthstone and birth flower make exciting choices as August-born girl names that aren’t overused. Peridot, a yellowish-green jewel, was regarded as a symbol of the sun in ancient times. Today it would make an interesting choice against fellow gemstone names Opal and Ruby. Most people remember Dorothy falling asleep in a field of colorful poppy flowers in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. Traditionally, poppies– particularly the red ones– are a symbol of remembrance for soldiers who were lost during wartime, and represent eternal sleep. Today, Poppy makes a spunky girl name alongside Pippa and Piper and Petal.
Raoul—During World War II, Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg, who was born in Sweden on August 4th, saved an estimated 33,000 Jews from death in concentration camps by issuing protective documents, establishing safe housing, and insuring the release of prisoners. The French variation of Ralph, Raoul contains the appealing three-vowel middle.
Tennyson—One of the most popular British poets was Alfred 1st Baron Tennyson who was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during the reign of Queen Victoria. Most people don’t know that the common phrase “Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all” came from Tennyson’s work. Russell Crowe chose the Victorian surname for his son in 2006.