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Ancient Baby Names

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ancient baby names

By Kara Cavazos, The Art of Naming

Many vintage names are coming back into style today but there are also plenty of old gems out there that very few people are considering. It begs the question, what makes certain names desirable and others not?  Here are ten perfectly viable names with history and beauty that are being virtually ignored for modern babies:

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ancient baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The Roman Empire reigned for more than five hundred years, led by 140 different emperors. In modern times, though, with a couple of exceptions, the names of these august figures were considered far too august and imposing for a twentieth/twenty-first century kid. But the times they are a-changin’ and lately several of these appellations have ridden into the realm of possibility.

AugustusAugustus, Julius Caesar’s adopted son, who was born Octavian and given the name Augustus by the senate in honor of his great achievements, was the first of the Roman emperors. Augustus is a perfect example of a name that was well used in the 19th century, then deemed too fusty for decades, and now is back at Number 688 and a high 123 on Nameberry, recently modernized by the character nicknamed Gus in The Fault in Our Stars.

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By Linda Rosenkrantz

In the mythologies of ancient Greece and Rome, most of the deities had shared lineages, dominions and attributes—but not appellations.  I thought it might be fun to pit the names of the two cultures against each other and let you see if your taste ran more to the Greek or Roman.  The one major exception to this rule is Apollo—recently chosen by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale—whose name stayed the same.

Here they are, with Greeks on the left, the Romans to the right.

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We’re all familiar with the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons of mythological deities, from Adonis and Athena to Zeus, but there a number of other ancient names from other cultures with their own pantheons of intriguing god and goddesses.  We’ve delved into the some of the most intriguing mythologies—Egyptian,  Phoenician, Norse, Celtic, Indian, African, et al– and discovered some striking ancient names for the intrepid baby namer.


ÁINE (AWN-ya)– Irish Celtic goddess of love, summer, wealth and fertility

AINO (EYE-no)  —  A Finnish mythological water sprite

ALAAfrican (Nigerian) creator goddess and earth mother

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There are so many unusual, beautiful, intriguing saints’ names that it’s hard to know where to start when considering them as a source for baby names.  The collection that follows are the names of saints with winter feast days, which might be a source of inspiration for choosing the name of your own baby.  There are lots more wonderful choices (and saints) where these came from, but among the most intriguing winter saints’ names are:

AMBROSE – Patron saint of candle makers.

ADELARD — A cousin of Charlemagne who became a monk, a devoted gardener, and eventually a powerful abbot.

ANSKAR – Missionary to Scandinavia in the 9th century who tried to ease the harsh conditions of the Viking slave trade.

APOLLONIA – She had all her teeth knocked out for refusing to renounce her faith, and is now the patron saint of dentists.

BASILISSA – Also known as Basilla, this Roman noblewoman was beheaded for her belief in Christianity.  She is the patron saint of breast-feeding.

BAVO —  Nobleman who gave away all his money and became a hermit.  He is the patron saint of the Netherlands.

CAIAN – A Welsh saint who was said to be the son or grandson of a king.

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