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Portuguese Baby Names: The aristo trend

portuguese baby names

By Filipa Lopes of nomes e mais nomes

You would think that living in a country with restrictions concerning names could make your baby name choices a lot more difficult. Sure, we don’t have to stick to Portuguese names and we can use a large number of beautiful, international, eclectic names like Noah, Giovanni, Ingrid, Siena or even Suri, but dealing with a law that defines which names and spellings are and are not approved can be very frustrating.

You may like Kevin, for example, but you have to use Kevim; yet weirdly, Katie and Kelly are approved. And in addition there is the rule that specifies that your first name must indicate your gender. Ariel, Ruby and Zoé are adorable, but they are considered masculine names in Portugal, so they can only be used as girls’ middle names. A little bit confusing, right?

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abby--8-19-13

Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel,  Appellation Mountain

A few months ago, the most controversial name in all of name-dom was Blaer.  Because Iceland assigns genders to names, a girl given the name Blaer was unable to use her given name, even though her mom had rafts of evidence suggesting that Blaer should really be considered gender neutral.

Now we’re all focused on Messiah.

If you missed the headlines, Messiah’s parents went to court when they couldn’t agree on a surname for their son – his or hers.  The judge made that decision.  Plus she went one step further, and changed his first name.  Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew declared that Messiah was a title, a title that had only been earned by Jesus Christ.

Messiah is now legally known as Martin McCullough.

Martin is mom’s surname.

The Blaer case ended happily, and I’m guessing that Ms. Martin will appeal and have her son’s birth name restored to much fanfare.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, most of us would agree that Messiah is a lot to live up to.  But the little guy isn’t alone in his challenge.  We’re big on big names these days.

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Portuguese Names: Avelina & Amaro

portugal poster

Perhaps because there are so few Portuguese-Americans–just about a million and a half —the name stock  of Portugal has been somewhat neglected by outsiders, especially since it shares so many similarities with the Spanish.

But many Portuguese names have a distinctive flavor of their own, as well as unusual pronunciation conventions, some of which are explained below.   And, as noted by Filipa on one of the nameberry forums, there are specific naming rules, limiting parents to traditional Portuguese names.  No Apples or Armanis in Amadora!  One consequence of these strictures, though, is an extremely  rich variety of diminutives and pet names.

For the royals of the past, there could be an interminable string of names, as for example the 19th century Queen known as Maria da Gloria Joana Carlota Leopoldina da Cruz Francisca Xavier de Paula Isidora Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga da Austria e Braganca.

Being a 97% Roman Catholic country, many Portuguese names come from popular saints or from the Bible–Maria is the perpetual #1 girls’ name., as it is today.  And what are the other popular names in Portugal right now?  Here, according to one newspaper, are the top six of last year:

Girls

MARIA

BEATRIZ

ANA

LEONOR

MARIANA

MATILDE

Also popular:

AVELINA

CATALINA

ELENA

ELIANA

And for boys:

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