Category: royal names
As a fledgling name nerd, I remember being fascinated by the name Elizabeth. It was so elaborate, so odd for a name that had been so widely used over so many centuries. John, sure, that was a name simple and straightforward enough for the masses to get behind. Anne and Mary, of course they had what it took to transcend the ups and downs of fashion. But Elizabeth, with its long E beginning and lisping ending, its bizarre z in the middle and its four freaking syllables? I don’t think so!
And yet the unlikely Elizabeth has endured. It’s the only girls’ name to have remained in the Top 25 (okay, 26) throughout entire recorded American baby-naming history, since 1880. Elizabeth hit its nadir in 1945, when it dipped to number 26, but it should be noted that its short form Betty was Number 11 that year, after having been in the Top 10 since 1921. Even when Elizabeth and her sisters were relatively unpopular, they were everywhere.
When Henry was chosen as the #1 favorite boy’s name on the collective 5-star lists of the nameberry community, I was somewhat surprised and yet somewhat not. Because in many ways Henry is the perfect boy’s name—as classic and historic as James and John and William –yet with a quirkier edge that makes it seem modern, and even hip.
Henry has a lot going for it. Let us count the ways:
HENRY IS POPULAR, WELL-LIKED, BUT NOT EPIDEMICALLY TRENDY.
At #78 on the Social Security list last year, Henry was given to fewer than 4,000 boys across the country. It was much more commonly heard in the past, having been #10 in 1900, 12 in the 1910s, 18 in the twenties, 25 in the thirties, then dipping to a low of 146 in 1994, after which it started its edge back up.
It’s a curious thing that, even when people prefer quirky or unusual names, they often prefer the same quirky or unusual names. Why is Clementine such a darling, for instance, while brother name Clement languishes? Why are Nora, Cora, and even Florence hot, while the equally lovely Flora is ignored?
In the nameberry spirit of promoting great unusual, underrated, unappreciated names, we bring you the latest in a series of names nobody’s using…..but should be.
CAIO – Variation of an ancient Latin name that means “rejoice”, Caio – pronounced not kay-oh or chow but kye-oh – takes the trendy Kai one step further. Contemporary artist Caio Fonseca is a noted bearer.
COLETTE – The new movie Cheri with Michelle Pfeiffer may at least bring this name of the scandalous French writer back into contemporary consciousness. Out of the Top 1000 for more than two decades, Colette is derived from Nicholas.
As reported in the not always reliable Star magazine, Nicole Richie, mother of Harlow Winter Kate, has at the top of her list of names for her baby-to-be Baron, inspired by Donald Trump’s little Barron. (Her other two published possibilities being Kypher and Martavious, about which I’ll restrain my comments). This is the latest evidence of a disturbing trendlet among celebs–Hollywood royalty taking their status literally and bestowing noble titles on their offspring.
So who are these little peers and peeresses of the realm?
At the top of the ranks would be King. Discounting Kingston Rossdale, whose nickname might be King, there is the son of rapper Jayceon (The Game) Taylor. Since The Game’s other nicknames include The California King and King of the West, what could be more logical than to have named his second son King Justice?
Next in line to the throne would be a Prince. Michael Jackson liked the idea of starting a royal line so much that he named both his sons Prince Michael Jackson–I born in 1997 and II (aka Blanket) in 2002. Not to be outdone, British model Katie Price (aka Jordan) and pop star husband Peter Andre called their little princess Princess (“Princess because she is our little princess”) Tiaamii, with Mum expressing ing her intention of commemorating the regal birth by getting a Princess and crown tattoo on her neck.
Both Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman have sons named Duke, but somehow this name doesn’t project the same air of entitlement or pretension to royalty the others do, probably because Duke has long been used as a laid-back nickname name, and because it was so much associated with anything-but-aristocratic John Wayne–who got his nickname from the family dog that used to follow him around: the dog was known as “Big Duke” and young Marion Morrison as “Little Duke.”
Though the British don’t have the rank of Count (it’s equivalent to an earl, and somehow My Name is Earl doesn’t have much of a royal ring)–show biz does. Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Danny Bonaduce has a son named Count Dante Jean-Michel Valentine and a daughter called Countess Isabella Michaela.
How much have other parents been picking up on this noble-name trend? Well, King, Prince, Princess, Baron, and three different spellings of Marquis are all on the current popularity list, but pretty near the bottom, each with under 500 anointed babies nationwide. And, personally–it would be fine with me if they didn’t rise any higher.
There are a handful of appealing names that mean “prince.” Brendan is Irish, Mael is Breton, while Vladimir is Slavic for “renowned prince.” Armel, the name of a Welsh saint who founded abbeys in Brittany, means “stone prince” in French, while Adhit is an Indonesian name with that meaning.
Prince itself is of course also a name, chosen by Michael Jackson for his son — though if you choose it, you’d have to put up with an awful lot of “formerly known as” jokes. Better bets: King, Duke, or maybe even Earl.
Fictional princes who might prove inspirational include:
Moses – Biblical baby raised as a prince.