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Category: nameberry picks



colonial children

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In the seventeenth century, for some of the most puritanical of the Puritans, even biblical and saints’ names were not pure enough to bestow on their children, and so they turned instead to words that embodied the Christian virtues.  These ranged from extreme phrases like Sorry-for-sin and Search-the-Scriptures (which, understandably, never came into general use) to simpler virtue names like Silence and Salvation.

The virtue names that have survived in this country were for the most part the unfussy, one-syllable girls’ names with positive meanings, such as Joy, Hope, Grace and Faith.  But then, in the late 1990s, a door was opened to more elaborate examples by the popularity of the TV show Felicity, and its appealing heroine.  Felicity (also the name of an American Girl Colonial doll) reached a high point on the girls’ list in 1999, a year after the show debuted, leading parents to consider others long forgotten relics.

Here are the Nameberry picks of the twelve best virtue names:

  1. Amitylike all the virtue names ending in ity, Amity has an attractive daintiness combined with an admirable meaning—in this case, friendship.  It could be a modernized (or antiquated, depending how you look at it) namesake for an Aunt Amy.
  2. Clarity—we like it much better than Charity or—oh no—Chastity.  And Clare makes a nice short form.
  3. ClemencyClemency, the name of a character in one of Charles Dicken’s lesser known Christmas novellas, The Battle of Life, can be seen as an offbeat alternative to Clementine.
  4. Constance was originally used in a religious context which has been lost over the years. There are many Constances found in history and literature: there was Constance of Brittany,  mother of young Prince Arthur who appears in Shakespeare’s King John, a daughter of William the Conqueror, and characters in Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer and Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. Constance hasn’t been much heard in the 21st century—probably because of the dated nickname Connie.  The Puritans also used Constant.

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state names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

When it comes to picking a place name for your child, you could consider a continent like Asia, a country like India, a city like Vienna or Verona…or one of the select group of U.S. states that lend themselves to babies’ birth certificates. Here are the Nameberry picks of the best state names and how they came to be—with their mix of Native American, British and French origins.

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by Linda Rosenkrantz

Did you know that September happens to be Classical Music Month?  Well neither did I, until just recently.  This new knowledge inspired me to do a Nameberry Picks list of some of the most interesting classical composers’ first names.  And no, turns out they’re not all Franz or Hans or Johann—there are a variety of unusual choices –unfortunately, most of them male.


Alban Maria Berg was an Austrian composer associated with Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique and the composer of the opera Lulu.  Rarely heard in the US, the saint’s name Alban –one of the more unusual paths to Al–is currently Number 132 in France. With a variant spelling, Alben Barkley (born Willie Alben) was US Veep under Harry Truman.


Yes, middle names count—especially this one of Mozart’s that became the title of a movie that won a best picture Academy Award in 1985. In 2010, tennis champ showed that this classical Latin appellation was still wearable when he named his son Amadeus Benedict.

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20 Best Super Sleuth Names for Boys


By Linda Rosenkrantz

A few months ago, we blogged about lady detectives, clueing you in to some fabulous names like Trixie, Temperance and Thursday, Loveday and Precious.  Now it’s time to investigate their male counterparts—and there are some real doozies—drawn from a variety of genres– from early crime novels to comic strips to contemporary TV.

Arkady Renko—  a chief homicide inspector for the prosecutor’s office in Moscow, Arkady Renko is the protagonist of a series by Martin Cruz Smith, beginning with the bestselling Gorky ParkArkady, a lively three-syllable Russian saint’s name used by Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, is certainly prime import material.

Aurelio Zen (great combo) is a fictional Italian detective created by the British crime writer Michael Dibdin; Zen, a trio of spellbinding cases based on the bestselling novels aired on PBS’s Masterpiece in 2011.  Aurelio is an exotic and energetic Italian version of the sunny Aurelius.

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Labor Day Names: Names that really work!


For the Labor Day weekend, we’re celebrating hard-working occupation names–which just happen to be among the coolest name categories around, with their (mostly) trendy ‘er’ endings.  Many of them originated in medieval England and refer back to trades that no longer exist–when did you last need a roof thatcher or a charioteer?–and so part of their attraction lies in that throwback reference to basic concepts of honest labor, thus adding some historic heft to their appeal. So, here are the Nameberry picks for best occupational baby names.

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