Category: August baby names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
August is here, and while it might not have as many related names as June or July, it still deserves its due. August may be hot and humid, and bring with it tropical storms and hurricanes, but it’s also a time for holidays and getaways–and some distinguished baby names.
Before it was renamed it in honor of the Emperor Augustus for the Julian calendar, it was known as Sextilis, as it was the sixth month of the Roman calendar—but we’ll let that one alone as we examine some other month-related names for your August babe.
August—This has become the most popular month name for boys, now at Number 333; it was as high as 175 at the end of the nineteenth century. Always popular in Scandinavia, August is currently 28 in Denmark, and it’s been chosen for their sons by such celebs as Mariska Hargitay and Dave Matthews. Garth Brooks used it for his daughter, but that seems to have been something of an anomaly, at least so far. Its use as a word name—with the accent on the second syllable—lends August a dignified, upstanding element. Namesakes include two notable playwrights: August Strindberg and August Wilson. And it comes with a choice of two friendly nicknames: Augie or Gus.
AUGUSTUS, the pater familias of the group, actually started out as an honorific rather than a name. It was first applied to Octavius, the adopted son—actually a great-nephew– of Julius Caesar when he became the undisputed ruler of the Roman world. The Senate decreed him the title Augustus, corresponding to Majesty and meaning great, magnificent, venerable. It was after him that the month was named.
Augustus then became the official designation of every Roman Emperor who followed, but was never used as a personal name until 1526, when it was given to Augustus of Saxony, at a time when German royalty was imitating everything Roman, from palaces to sculpture, dress and wigs—and impressive Roman names.
Seen now as somewhat fusty (but really no fustier than Atticus or Maximus), Augustus is now #797 on the Social Security list, having peaked in the early 1900s, but it could find favor with parents looking for a path to Gus, and/or who like venerable Latin names. It has several literary namesakes, in books ranging from The Pickwick Papers and Martin Chuzzlewit to Lonesome Dove to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter.
It also dates back to that ancient time when those Roman emperors were assuming the title Augustus upon their accession; Augusta became the honorific bestowed on their wives, daughters and other female relatives. It was introduced to England in the 18th century by the German Princess Augusta, the future mother of King George III. Well used in the US in the 1920s, it’s rarely heard today—except in the guise of yet another Harry Potter character and the formidible Aunt Augusta in the P. G. Wodehouse Jeeves stories.
AGUSTINA, the Spanish version, is very popular in South America—ranking #5 in Uruguay. It’s also spelled AGOSTINA.