Category: romantic baby names
And beyond celebrating Valentine’s Day baby names, let’s get expansive and salute the whole wide-ranging rise of its initial letter, ‘V.’
If consonants can be said to have personalities, then it wasn’t so long ago that the letter V was seen as more venerable—even fusty– than vivacious. Velma, Vera and Verna; Vernon, Victor and Vincent, all made our original ‘So Far Out They’ll Always Be Out’ list. But as Pam and I have learned all too well since then—never say the words never or always.
The changes have been gradual since we wrote that, but there were two celebrity events that had a significant effect on V-baby names: the naming of Violet Affleck in 2005, and then of one of the Jolie-Pitt twins Vivienne three years later. Now there are a myriad of V-starting names popping both in and out of the celebrisphere.
What marks the Edwardian era of British baby names as distinct from those used in the Victorian period is the sheer number of different names used. In previous centuries the standard practice was to select a child’s name from the immediate family. When an infant died the next child to be born would be given that name, limiting the name pool to five to eight names in a family. Fanciful names were reserved for the aristocracy, and even they kept them permeating along the family line.
The Victorians made a change to this idea. Names borne by a deceased family member were now considered ‘unlucky’. Parents suddenly had to look elsewhere for names and artistic, literary and religious movements provided much needed inspiration. The Victorian love of anything ‘gothic’, and the influence of Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelites brought back medieval and mythical names like Lancelot, Ralph, Edgar, Alice, Elaine, Edith and Mabel; the Romantic movement re-introduced names such as Wilfred, Quentin, Cedric, Amy and Rowena; and the religious Tractarian movement revived long lost Saint’s names like Augustine, Benedict, Ignatius, Euphemia and Genevieve.
By the Edwardian era many of these previously obsolete names had become de rigueur and permeated all the social classes. More than at any time before, the gap between the names of the upper classes and those of the lower was considerably contracted. The 1911 census shows that many wealthy household members shared the same names as their domestic servants. For example, Constantia Beatrice Sophia, born 1905, was the daughter of a furniture mover and Lancelot Frederick Charles, born 1907, was a nurseryman’s son, showing that these previously ‘upper class’ names were now being enjoyed throughout the social classes.
One of the biggest trends of the Edwardian era of British baby names was the use of nature names. Some of the most popular names such as, Daisy, Iris, Ivy, Primrose, Beryl, Pearl and Ruby were used sparingly in the first half of the nineteenth century – and, interestingly, equally spread amongst boys and girls. By the 1880s, these names started to became very fashionable (now solely for girls) which led to them becoming the darlings of the Edwardian age.
Guest blogger Jasmine Almeida has come up with a novel source of baby names: your own wedding day.
Maybe it was the Pearl detailing on my dress, perhaps it was the Lacey accents on my veil. Or it could have been the gorgeous amnesia Rose bouquet I held as I walked down the aisle. But my guess is, it was marrying the love of my life last summer that got me thinking about how many gorgeous names there are in the world of weddings. Being a freelance writer who focuses on weddings, I tend to look at words related to them a lot – and couldn’t help but get inspired by the many beautiful baby name possibilities that spring forth from weddings.
Of course, there are the flower names, to which I’m partial because my own name is Jasmine and one of my puppies is Daisy. Naming a daughter after the flower you held in your bouquet on your wedding day is a sweet and sentimental reason for choosing a name like Calla, Daisy, Dahlia, Iris, or Lily, or the more general floral names like Flora or Florence.
If you’ve gone wedding dress shopping, you’re probably familiar with the range of stunning designer dresses available. Naming a baby girl after your dress’s designer would be another romantic way of infusing your wedding-day memories into your naming process. A few favorites? Vera (after legendary gown designer Vera Wang), Paloma, (Paloma Blanca gowns are spectacular) or Priscilla (of Boston, of course). Monique (lhuillier), Sophia, (Trolli) or Elie (Saab) are all elegant names as well as legendary wedding gown designers.
Romantic names for girls – loosely defined as creative and elaborate names that suggest an earlier era and a Latinate emotionality – have become more fashionable in recent years. As we grow more comfortable with the notion of equality for girls, we may also become confident enough to give our daughters elaborately feminine names rather than having to make our point with androgynous, modern monikers like Blair or Blake.
Of course, not every romantic name is a feminist statement. These names may just feel fresh again after decades of sleeker, more straightforward girls’ names like Mary and Betty, Karen and Lisa. Even Jennifer and Ashley pale in the face of these flagrantly feminine names.