Category: word names for girls
By Abby Sandel
It was a good week for girls’ names.
Sure, there were some great birth announcements for boys, too. The late Christopher Reeve is now a grandfather. Daughter Alexandra Reeve and husband Garren Givens named their son Christopher Russel, after both grandfathers. Actors Tiffani Thiessen and Brady Smith welcomed Holt Fisher, a little brother for Harper Renn.
But it was word names that made headlines last week – some of them were surprising, and most of them were for girls.
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:
- Amity—like 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.
- Clarity—we like it much better than Charity or—oh no—Chastity. And Clare makes a nice short form.
- Clemency—Clemency, 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.
- 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.
The lovely Lemon, one of nameberry’s greatest treasures, guest blogs on her favorite word names.
I’d venture to say that many of the frequent posters on the Nameberry message boards consider themselves equipped with a “name-sense” of sorts, but for me it’s more of a “word-sense,” really. After all, at their foundation, aren’t names actually just words – meaningful units of spoken language? There’s something beautiful about language and, by extension, names. So, when you’re out there, browsing through sites and books looking for “the” name, perhaps you should hit up a dictionary. Here are a few word names you may not have considered before…
Cadenza – Cadence with an Italian flourish, literally. Found in both instrumental and vocal music, a cadenza is an elaborate, oftentimes rhythmically free solo passage allowing for virtuosic display – the solo of all solos, if you will. With its international flavor and striking Z, Cadenza is a great alternative to Cadence, Melody, and even the on-the-rise Aria.
Echo – A mythological name meaning “a repetition of sound,” Echo makes a lasting impression. In Greek mythology, Echo was a beautiful but talkative mountain nymph who loved her own voice. Unfortunately, she is most famous for her unrequited love of Narcissus, which resulted in her demise. However, this short but striking name might be the ideal choice for your little chatterbox!
Fate – A short form of Lafayette meaning “faith,” this name’s about as modern as you’ll get in the virtue set! Defined as “that which is inevitably predetermined,” one’s fate is his or her destiny. In Greek mythology, The Fates – or Moirae – were those who controlled the thread of life for each mortal; as such, the name has a uniquely powerful energy. Slightly unisex in sound, Fate is the perfect alternative to the classic Faith or the overdone Destiny.