Category: literary character names
Cool baby names today may reference celebrities, sure, but more and more parents are looking to fictional characters for inspiration when naming their children.
Based on nearly two million visits to Nameberry’s individual name pages over the past three months, we see these character names — from classic literature and futuristic fantasy, Old Hollywood films and modern animation — attracting big jumps in interest.
This is one cool baby names trend that makes sense. Fictional characters embody positive, uplifting qualities that their mortal counterparts often fall short on. And in the ever-broadening search for names with personal meaning, parents may find referencing a favorite book or film to be a perfect way to make an important style statement and give their child a namesake to look up to.
Here, the hottest character names on Nameberry right now:
We’ve talked a lot about Shakespearean literary names and characters in Dickens and Jane Austen, but we’ve overlooked three of the best namers in literary history—the sisters Brontë. We love their own names—Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and we love their initial-appropriate male pen names—Currer, Ellis and Acton. We even love their surname, which a number of parents have chosen for their daughters.
But it is the particularly rich cast of character names in their novels that we love the most. One of them, in fact, had a considerable effect on baby naming of its era. Though it’s long been said that it was Shirley Temple who promoted her given name in the 1930s, she wasn’t the first. In Charlotte Brontë’ second novel, following Jane Eyre, the protagonist of Shirley was given that name because her father had anticipated a boy, and Shirley was a distinctively male name at the time. The novel’s Father Keeldar made a gender switch that has proven to be permanent.
Today’s Question of the Week: Is there a name from a book you read when you were younger that made enough of an impression on you that you’ve loved it ever since?
(After all, at least some of those hundreds of new babies being named Atticus must have some connection to that inspirational lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird and all those recent little Holdens to that cynical adolescent Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye—whether conscious or not.)
So think back—can you trace your long-standing attraction for a particular name to an impression it made on you at an impressionable age?
Anyone out there who actually has used such a name for their child?
There are countless names that have been plucked from books and transferred to birth certificates, including current favorites like Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Holden (Catcher in the Rye) and Emma (Emma), not to mention Romeo and Juliet.
But there are lots more literary names that are not as obvious, some from more obscure books, others of less prominent characters. Here are 50 such examples of creative literary names that have not made it into the mainstream, but could make interesting choices—25 of them for each gender.
But bear in mind that though these names all have literary cred, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re attached to the most heroic characters.
- Abra – East of Eden, John Steinbeck
- Adelaida – The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Alia – Dune, Frank Herbert; Midnight’s Child, Salman Rushdie
- Clea – The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell
- Clemency– The Battle of Life, Charles Dickens
- Cosette – Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
- Dabney –Delta Wedding, Eudora Welty
- Fantine – Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
- Honoria – Bleak House, Charles Dickens; Babylon Revisited, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Lindo – The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
- Lizaveta – The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Malta — Bleak House, Charles Dickens
- Marilla – Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
Best-selling, prize-winning mystery writer JEFF ABBOTT takes us further inside his character-naming process in the second part of his guest blog. Today he presents concrete examples of some of his popular characters, and how he chose their names–with the help of our very own site and books.
BEN — From Collision, a young business consultant, very much ‘the guy next door.’
DESMOND/DEZZ–(From Panic, a young psychopath who has spent his life doing dirty jobs for his rotten father. I wanted a name that sounded much softer than the character is, for constrast.
EDWARD — from Adrenaline, a young former actor who has turned to the dark side, let’s say. He is violent but tightly controlled, and I wanted a formal name. I actually like this name a lot.
EVAN — from Panic, a youngish film maker who finds out everything in his life is a lie. Pam and Linda described it as a “mellow nice-guy” name and it fit the character, who is entirely unprepared to go on the run for his life.