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Thanksgiving Names:From Myles to Maize

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This year our menu of Thanksgiving names draws on a variety of sources—from the Mayflower passenger list to prominent Pilgrims, to a harvest deity to the bounty of the Turkey Day table.  Enjoy it— with it comes our best wishes for a very happy holiday to all our dear berries.

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Thanksgiving Names

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There are some wonderful names associated with the Thanksgiving holiday–those that came over on the Mayflower and other early settlers, Puritan Virtue names, ancient harvest gods and goddesses–all fit for a late November baby.  Ahead are:

1. Mayflower Names

2. Ocean-crossing Names

3. Harvest Names

4. Plymouth Bay Colony Names

5. Puritan Virtue Names

6. Turkey Names

7. Other Thanksgiving-related Names

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Nameberry Picks: 12 Best Virtue Names

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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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Vintage Baby Names: What’s your era?

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VINTAGE NAMES: What era are you?

Unless you’re a baby namer focused on finding a newly created or cutting-edge name, chances are you’ve considered using one from the past.  But which part of the past?  An ancient name or one from earlier in the 20th century?

So, the question of the week is: Which of these, if any, are you partiularly attracted to?

Needless to say, many if not most names move across time and are rarely connected to only one decade or even era–future berries just  might think of  Atticus as a 2010s name.

How about you?  Is there one period whose names you are drawn to?  Do you have a favorite vintage name—perhaps one that hasn’t been widely rediscovered?

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A Dozen Neglected Biblical Boys’ Names

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In the most recent list of Most Popular Boys ‘ Names, all five of the top five names came from the Good Book, accounting for well over 100,000 of the boy babies born in the US.  Obviously, many parents–whether for religious reasons or not–continue to be attracted to names with this strong traditional base.  But why, we ask, be limited to the same relatively small group of biblical choices, when there are loads of other more unusual options out there?  Why not Joab or Joah instead of Noah?  Beniah rather than Benjamin?  Jemuel in place of Samuel?

Many of these now obscure names were quite commonly used by the Puritan Colonists, especially in New England, until the middle of the 19th century when Old Testament names fell out of favor.  Most of the names listed below are hardly heard today, with only one of them–Asa–even appearing in the current Top 1000, but they are all possible alternatives to those standards that are given to thousands of babies each year.

ABIJAH — The name of Samuel‘s second son would make a perfect substitute for the Top 25 Elijah.

ABSALOM — A literary as well as biblical name, used by Chaucer (for the jolly clerk in The Miller‘s Tale, Dryden, Faulkner–and currently as a comic book character.

ADLAI —  Associated with with several generations of the Stevenson family, which produced a Vice-President and a UN representative named Adlai, it can be pronounced either ad-LAY or as-LYE.

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