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Jane Austen Names

janeaustennames

Guest blogger LAUREN MILLER, known to her fellow nameberry regulars as LEMON, introduces us to the charming names of Jane Austen.

I still remember my first Jane Austen experience. I was turning twelve, on the cusp of becoming a teenager, when my mother bought me a collector’s box of Austen novels. As I read my fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice – well worn and loved by now! – I was captivated by Miss Austen’s eloquence, truth, and charming wit. But, I soon learned that Jane’s books were a treasure trove of another kind. Beneath the tales of heartache and true love lay another gem – the names!

The first names chosen by Austen are very much reflective of the early 19th century England. These names embody the traditional, conservative styles preferred by Englishmen at this time, and they convey a sense of strength, sophistication, and substance. Monikers used by Austen continue to thrive on today’s popularity charts, yet, like Austen’s novels, they will always be regarded as classics.

Handsome, sturdy choices for boys include Charles, Henry, James, John, Thomas, and William. Names with a slightly more vintage sound include Edward, Edmund, Frederick, and George. All of these names, in addition to sounding distinguished and elegant, come with immense nickname potential. Tired of Freddie? Your little Frederick could just as easily become Red or Fritz.

Some of the names chosen by Austen reflect the growing trend towards using nicknames as names. Most notably, perhaps, is Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price. Not so keen on using Fanny as a full name? Try its longer form – Frances! Other nickname names for girls include Kitty and Lizzy, for the lovely Bennet girls of Pride and Prejudice. Moving on from these shortened forms, we enter a world of demure sophistication and understated feminine charm in the form of classic names for girls.

ANNE

CAROLINE

CATHERINE

CHARLOTTE

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baby name Emma

The day every baby name addict waits for all year is finally here, as the Social Security Administration released its list of Top 1000 Boy and Girl Names this morning. To many people’s surprise–including a sizable number of our contest entrants–Emma leapfrogged over Isabella–last year’s #2– to become the most popular girls’ name in the country for the first time. She won by a very narrow margin though–there were 18,587 baby Emmas born, and 18,377 Isabellas. The boys list saw very little change, in fact the top five names–Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua and Daniel–were identical to last years.

We will be studying and analyzing the lists over the next days and weeks, but here are a few initial observations:

Chloe entered the Top 10 for the first time, displacing Hannah (as in Montana), which dropped from #9 to #15. On the other hand the name of the real Hannah Montana, Miley (a nickname invented by dad Billy Ray Cyrus) jumped 151 places. Some other girls’ names substantially on the rise: Aubrey, Brooklyn, Layla, Peyton and Payton, Genesis, Bella, Hayden, Marley, London, Piper, Lila, and the K-krazy-Kardarshian-influenced Khloe.

As for the boys, if both the Aiden and Aidan spellings were added together, that would have been the Number One name, topping Jacob. In addition, Jayden rose to just outside the Top Ten, and others on the upswing include Elijah and Eli, Brayden, Carter, Chase, Brody, Liam, Hayden (for both sexes), Colton, Levi, Oliver, Jonah, Miles, and Hudson.

You can access the entire list of 2,000 names on the Social Security site. An interesting feature they’ve added this year is the greatest changes in popularity from 2007 to 2008. (Highest for girls are Khloe, Marlee and Marely (!), and for boys, Jacoby, Kane and Beckett.)

CONTEST: We will be going through the entries over the weekend and announcing the winner on Monday.

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