Category: baby name Leo
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.
In 1642, Oliver Cromwell led a contingent of parliamentarians against King Charles I, defeating him in what became known as the English Civil War and giving rise to the only occasion in modern British history where the monarchy has not held power. Three and a half centuries later, he became my husband’s hero for it, my husband who is a constitutional lawyer and a committed republican (small ‘r’). In the years before the arrival of our first child, we lived in Oxford, both of us affiliated with the University there. Amidst its hallowed halls and Gothic spires, people would talk in hushed tones about their ‘periods’ of expertise. My husband’s period was the seventeenth century. Cromwell was his guy.
Unsurprisingly, Oliver was always his first choice for a boy’s name. It became mine too. We said we weren’t having children, though, so we bestowed instead the name Cromwell upon our future dog, a brown and white beagle. Things changed and we didn’t get the dog. But we did welcome a son who was, of course, called Oliver. My husband wanted it because it was traditional and historically grounded. I wanted it because it was sparky and unconventional. It is both of those things, depending on where you come from: this is what has made the Venn diagram effect of our name selection so successful. The year Oliver was born it was the fifth most popular baby name in the UK. In the US, it hadn’t even broken the top 100.
Just as the billows of white smoke emanating from the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City signal the election of a new pope, so does the name he chooses for himself signal his aspirations for his papacy. Pope Francis broke precedent by picking one that had never been used before, but which has deep meaning for him and projects a strong symbolic resonance to the outside world.
The new Pope revealed that the inspiration for his chosen name was St. Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni), the venerated patron saint of animals and the environment, known for his humility. He also stated that in the cardinals’ name discussions some of the papal appellations put forth were Adrian, and Clement, while others were hoping for Leo, who had been a beacon of social justice.
In the past few weeks, you’ve seen our predictions for the rising names in the US, and Eleanor Nickerson’s forecast of what will be 2013’s most popular in the UK; today we look to France’s upcoming stars.
To check out the latest trends in French baby names, we turn once again to our go-to expert, Stéphanie Rapoport, creator of the popular site meilleursprénoms.com and author of L’Officiel des Prénoms . For anyone conversant in French, the site is filled with interesting lists, charts and analysis on French baby names. But for those whose high school French is as shaky as mine, we asked Stéphanie to give us a recap en anglais.
When it comes to trends, one outstanding factor is that French baby names have never been shorter in length than they are today. In 2013, I see few names having more than five letters and a profusion of names containing only three, such as Léa and Léo, Zoé and Tom.
Sounds are another major component of French naming style. Girl’s names ending in “a,” not surprisingly, dominate the scene, with nine of them holding the top twenty ranks. More interestingly, the “éo” sound is bouncing back for boys, thanks to Léo and the newcomer Timéo.
The Next Olivia
Olivia was the supreme queen of girls’ names in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in England and Wales, and was only marginally beaten by Amelia to the number 1 spot in 2011. It entered the Top 100 for the first time in the late 1980s, and has been in the Top 10 since 1999. Further down the ranks, Eliza stands at #62. Like Olivia before, Eliza has not ranked in the Top 100 for a century, but is now steadily rising.