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Category: long baby names

long or short names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

For every Seraphina, there’s a Jax.

A glance at the US Top 100 lists from 1963 and 2013 suggests that the most popular names have gotten longer over the last fifty years.  Back in 1963, the only Top 100 name longer than three syllables was Elizabeth.

Today there are nine: Elizabeth is joined by Alexandra, Olivia, Gabriella, Isabella, Serenity, and Penelope for girls, plus Alexander and Jeremiah for boys.

There are more three-syllable names, and fewer single-syllable ones, too.

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Four-Syllable Names: A whole lotta name

4-syll

Maybe it has something to do with Harry Potter attuning our ears to long Latinate names like Bartemius and Xenophilius—after that, suddenly the four syllables of Tiberius and Cornelius or Persephone no longer seem too weighty for a modern little babe.

After all, Isabella is the Number 2 girl’s name– and other four-syllable names like Penelope, Amelia, Cecilia, Seraphina and Valentina are standing right in line to join her. So clearly, many parents today are looking for just such substantial names, just as others are seeking them out to balance a short, brisk surname.

Here are our Nameberry Picks of the 20 + freshest four-syllable choices on the table. (But do note that variations in pronunciation and/or speedy speech can sometimes elide four syllables into three.)

GIRLS

Araminta—a delicate and lovely name long used in England and just now making a limited debut in the US. Refreshing nicknames: Minta and Minty.

Calliope—an upbeat, energetic name combining an ancient Greek heritage—Calliope is the mythological muse of epic poetry–with the cheerful musical sound of the carousel instrument.

Dorothea and Theodora are reverse mirror images of each other, both meaning ‘gift of God’ and both newly stylish, both more feminine versions of  rising three-syllable names—Dorothy and Theodore.

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Long Baby Names: When More Is More

spiral

We got an email the other day from a mom with a very short, simple last name — let’s call it Cole — who wanted advice on a first name for her daughter.

All we could think was: Are you lucky! While it’s theoretically possible to give a child with such a last name an equally short and sweet first — Jane Cole may not feel inspired, but it’s acceptable — the field is open to get as elaborate as you want. In fact, with a surname that straightforward, it may be desirable to choose a first name that’s got lots of syllables.

How many? Well, three, at a minimum. Three-two-one — Barnaby Joseph Cole — is an excellent syllabic rhythm for names.

Even pushing it to four gives you thousands and thousands of wonderful options, especially for girls. Celestia Cole? Magdalena Cole? Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

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