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Category: nameberry picks

al

One of Paul Simon‘s biggest hits was a song titled “You Can Call Me Al.”  But, really, who calls anyone Al anymore?

Once upon a time, a century ago or so, Al was almost as commonplace a nickname as Joe or Jim, Bill or Bob.  Al itself stood independently at Number 298,  a casual short form of popular standards Albert (in the Top 20 for 40+ years) and Alfred, which reached as high as 32, and others less common..

Al dropped off the list in 1944, but just because it may not be as appealing a nickname  today as, say, Cal or Hal, that’s no reason to dismiss some of the interesting Al-starters availablet: for though Alexander and some of his offshoots have been popular for decades, there’s a whole contingent of other, neglected Al- names worthy of a fresh look.

So even if you haven’t the slightest interest in ever using the nickname Al (though even he is starting to sound plausible again in this era of revived good-guy short forms), here are a dozen   semi-vanished members of this family of names worth reevaluating–though we won’t push as far as Algernon or Aloysius, Alcestis or Aladdin, or even Alvin.

ALARIC –This ancient name that goes back to the Kings of the Ostrogoths has a certain quirky charm that helps modernize it.  A literary name that’s been used by authors from P. G. Wodehouse to Stephen King, Alaric might be recognized by contemporaries as a history teacher character on The Vampire Diaries.

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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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