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Category: nameberry picks

louise

In the search for appealing vintage girls’ names, parents have dusted off a number of charming old-fashioned treasures that have found their way to the top of the list—from Ava to Sophia to Olivia to Isabella. But there’s an ample supply of other, less obvious examples up for reevaluation, and here are twelve of the best.

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catalina-island-vintage-travel-poster

A few blogs back, we talked about lake names, and what an evocative word that is. Another, similarly appealing word is island, calling up images of calm, peaceful, isolated places surrounded by the sea.  We’re not suggesting you name your baby Island (though Isla comes close), but here are the Nameberry Picks of 15 favorite island names.

  1. Aranthe Aran Isles are a group of three islands off the Irish coast, at the mouth of Galway Bay, known for uniquely-patterned sweaters and the iconic 1934 documentary, Man of Aran.  Aran would make a nice Irish-accented name, but would it be confused with Aaron?  ‘Fraid so.
  2. Catalina—Santa Catalina is one of the California Channel Islands and is a popular tourist destination for Angelinos and others.  A Spanish version of Catherine that is more delicate and feminine than the English one, Catalina has been rising in popularity since the late eighties.
  3. Cayman—the Caymans consist of three islands in the western Caribbean south of Cuba. Peaceful and beautiful, they are also a major offshore banking hub.  The name Cayman would fit right in with Cayden & Co.
  4. Corsica, famed as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, is a mountainous Mediterranean island, part of France but closer to Tuscany than the French coast.  The name could be thought of as a Cora-elaboration with a feminissima ‘ica’ ending.

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lake

There’s probably no word in the English language that sounds quite so calm, cool, clear and refreshing than the word ‘lake’—even more than other water names like River and Bay and Brook.

Lake as a name came to the fore via the film and television actress Lake Bell, and could make an especially cool middle name.  But what about the names of individual lakes?  Looking through the atlas, we found plenty of inspiration there, and these are our Namebery Picks of the twelve best.

1.     Annecy—Lake Annecy is the second largest—and cleanest—lake in France, surrounded by mountains and quaint villages.  Annecy could make for a completely unique and charmingly dainty Ann or Annie namesake.

2.     Caspian—Considered a large lake, a sea, and even in ancient times an ocean, Caspian became a human name via the Prince in the fourth book of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series.  Strong and appealing, it’s become a recent Nameberry fave.

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Nameberry Picks: 12 Best Virtue Names

virtue names

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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german_village

German names have had a spotty immigration record in the United States , even though one million Germans emigrated to America in the 1850s alone, and of course brought their native names with them.  On the 1900 Social Security list, we find fairly high on the girls’ side such names as Bertha, Gertrude, Hilda, Irma, Frieda and Wilhelmina, while for the boys there were Carl, Oscar, Herman, Otto, August, Rudolph, Emil, Gus, Adolph (at Number 180!), and Fritz.

These names –especially for boys—faded as the result of two World Wars that produced anti-German feeling and stereotypes, never to quite recover, though Oscar, August and Gus are making a comeback.

That aside, there are many, many attractive names with German roots, and here are just a few (which don’t necessarily reflect current popularity, where tastes run to more international favorites such as Mia, Hannah and Ben*:

GIRLS

  1. Adela—the a-ending of the rarely used German form of Adele (accent on the first syllable) makes it lighter and more feminine, as in Joanna/Joanne, Suzanna/Suzanne. Adela was the name of William the Conqueror’s youngest daughter and a character in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. Adel, which means ‘noble’ is a popular element in German names, as in Adelaide and Adelina.
  2. Amalia, Amalie—These pretty alternatives to Amelia derive from the Old German word meaning ‘industrious’.
  3. Cosima has become something of a hot choice, since it was chosen almost simultaneously last year by both Claudia Schiffer and Sofia Coppola. Though it has Greek roots, it has long been used in Germany, and has strong musical connections via the Cosima who was the daughter of Franz Liszt and the wife of Richard Wagner.
  4. Domino—Yes, it sounds like a black-and-white game piece, but this playful and dynamic o-ending girl’s name became popular in Germany in the late 80s.  It was used for her daughter by British designer India Hicks.
  5. Ebba—Widely used in both Germany and Scandinavia, this seventh century saint’s name has a nice bouncy sound, and could be a follow-up to Emma and Ella.  As could Elsa, the operatic bride who was the first to walk down the aisle to Wagner’s famous wedding march

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