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Category: Latin baby names

Ancient Roman Names: Nameberry Picks

ancient roman 3jpg

Ancient Roman names are being rediscovered in the modern world in a major way. Rarely does a whole class of names from a place or historical period undergo this widespread a revival, but several forces are at work that are making us take a fresh look at ancient Roman names.

The first Big Read, which featured “To Kill A Mockingbird” and its hero Atticus Finch brought that name to contemporary consciousness.  Then there was the HBO series Rome.  But “The Hunger Games” which features ancient Roman names for most of its male characters has popularized the genre like nothing else.

Of course, many ancient Roman nameshave survived and thrived in modern times, including some of our picks.  And then there are others that have been slumbering for centuries but are reawakening now.  Here, our favorites from this very appealing group.

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Here in our baby name bubble, in case you haven’t noticed, we tend to parse every element of every name for hints of incipient baby name trends.  This would include first syllables, middle letters (like the current x), and endings like en and er for boys.

Just recently we’ve been noticing some suddenly increased attention focused on a group of Latinate names starting with the syllable Cas, which seem to be marching ahead  in tandem. They all have a soft a sound, eliminating such oldies as Casey– and the Cas element is often pronounced Cash.

Here are the main contenders in this latest of baby name trends:

CassiaThis lovely, elegant name carries the scent of cinnamon, which is what its meaning is in Greek.

Cassius and
Cassian
Has the stylish Roman feel of names like Atticus; associated (not in the best way) with Julius Caesar, and also with abolitionist Cassius Clay, who inspired the birth name of Muhammad Ali. Variation Cassian is an ancient saints’ name primed to burst onto the modern scene ala Asher.

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sleepinglatino

The term Latin American, of course, takes in a number of countries and cultures, with both shared name histories and trends and distinctly individual ones. The names in Portuguese-speaking Brazil are, for example, quite different from those in the various Spanish-speaking cultures.  Some currently popular names prove to be international favorites: right now, the biblical Benjamin is the top name in both Argentina and Chile, and the U.S. Number 1 Jacob is also found at Number 2 in Argentina.

Here are some attractive names gleaned from the available lists of recently or currently popular choices in some Latin American countries that might be unfamiliar in el Norte, but are still eminently adoptable .

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MATT-DAMON-WIFE-PREGNANT

Nearly two years ago we ran a nameberry contest asking you to guess the name of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner‘s second child; now the challenge is to come up with the name of Affleck pal Matt Damon and wife Luciana‘s fourth daughter, due to be born any minute.

Matt and Luciana have two daughters together, Isabella, age 4, and Gia Zavala, 2, in addition to Luciana‘s daughter from a previous marriage, Alexia.  You tell us: What’s the new Matt Damon baby name?

Will the new baby’s name harmonize with her big sisters’ stylish Latinate names, or strike out in a new direction? Will the new baby have a surname as a middle name, as do Gia (Zavala is a common Spanish last name) and Matt himself (his is Paige), or, like Isabella, no middle name at all?

To everyone who guessed early and chose a boy’s name, before I heard the news that the baby is definitely a girl, you get another shot: I can tell who you are.

The person who guesses the new Matt Damon baby name correctly wins a full signed set of our baby name books, including The Baby Name Bible, Cool Names, Beyond Ava & Aiden and Cool Irish Names. If no one guesses the name exactly, we’ll choose the winner by whoever comes closest, in the opinion of the judges aka Pam and Linda.

A bit about the names of the Damons’ children: All three are rising in popularity and have a Latin feel, undoubtedly thanks to mom Luciana‘s Argentinean roots. Gia is a short form of such Italian names as Gianna, Giovanna, and Giada, first known in this country via 60s movie star Gia Scala, born Giovanna. Most recently, it’s gained notoriety as the oldest stage-bound daughter of Real New Jersey Housewife Teresa Giudice.

Isabella, the Spanish and Italian version of Elizabeth, is both classic and mega-trendy – it’s now the most popular name in the U.S. Alexia, a more modern offshoot of Alexandra/Alexandria, has also been steadily rising along with other members of the Alex family.

Those characteristics offer some good clues to what the couple’s fourth baby might be named. Or do they?

Post your entries here; one to a customer. Since everyone started with first names only, let’s keep going that way. Check and make sure someone hasn’t already entered your guess, as the first one to claim a name will win the prize. Different spellings counted separately, so if someone has already guessed Sofia, you can guess Sophia. (But sorry, those two are already taken.)

Adding a middle name does not mean you get to reclaim a name — so if Sophia has already been guessed, you can’t guess Sophia Rose. You also can’t guess two names — i.e. “Sophia or Sofia” — or both guesses will be disqualified, though if you’ve made any of those mistakes before I wrote this — 7:19 a.m. EST on October 12 — you get to choose ONE of your “or” names or reguess if you’ve guessed a double name already guessed by someone else.  The computer logs the time you post, so who gets what first is free from human error.

Phew! I better stop now or the rules will be longer than the entries. Everyone clear?

Entries accepted until the minute before the baby’s name is announced.

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posted by: Nephele View all posts by this author
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By Nephele

Now that the Social Security Administration has released its annual baby names listings beyond the top 1,000 (including all names that had at least five occurrences in any given year), names researchers can better track the influence of popular culture on our names.

For example, a girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Greidys” – with an astonishing count of 186 baby girls having been given that name in 2009.  Its variants “Greydis” and “Greidy” also appear for the first time on the 2009 list, again in the astonishing numbers of 100 and 25 occurrences respectively.

Another girl’s name appearing in 2009 for the first time on the SSA lists is “Chastelyn” with 150 occurrences.  Its variants “Shastelyn” and “Chastelin” also appear for the first time in 2009, with 34 and 33 occurrences respectively.

While we may expect new names to appear on the SSA lists each year, these new names generally don’t have more than a dozen occurrences, if even that.  Why are the names “Greidys” and “Chastelyn” (with their variants) suddenly so prominent in their first appearance on the SSA list?

Our Latin friends can answer that question easily enough.  These names shot to popularity with those who watch the Spanish television network Univision’s reality TV show called Nuestra Belleza Latina * (which translates into “Our Latin Beauty”).  The winning contestant in the show’s third season (2009) was a Latin beauty from Cuba, named Greidys Gil.  Another popular contestant was Chastelyn Rodriguez from Puerto Rico.  And thus were two new names embraced by American moms (or dads!) in search of baby names.

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