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Early African-American Names

Early American slave rolls are filled with classical and biblical names designed to show off the slave-owners' education and not normally used for whites; variations of African day names and place-names; along with other unusual names more closely identified over the years with black than white American culture. Some of the most notable:
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  • Cela

    Gender: F Rate:

    This spelling variation of the Biblical place-name Sela is found on early American census roles, but Sela is more usual today. Cella is another early variation. Read More 

  • Charity

    Gender: F Rate:

    Charity is one of the Big Three abstract virtue names, along with Hope and Faith, though far less widely used than the others. But as Faith, Grace and Hope grow more common, some parents are beginn... Read More 

  • Christmas

    Gender: M Rate:

    Very occasionally given to boys born on that day; Noel is a more common choice.  Read More 

  • Comfort

    Gender: F Rate:

    This Puritan virtue name may be unstylish, but it is also sympathetic and appealing in these largely uncomfortable times. Read More 

  • Cupid

    Gender: M Rate:

    The name of the Roman god of love, the son of Venus, considered so romantic as to be unfit for mere mortals. Yet now that Romeo and Venus herself are fair game for modern babies, why not Cupid? Read More 

  • Daphne

    Gender: F Rate:

    Daphne's origins may be Greek, but it's seen by Americans as quintessentially British--as in the Daphne Moon character on Frasier . In the past five years, it jumped from Number 538 to 397, the hig... Read More 

  • Desdemona

    Gender: F Rate:

    Desdemona is as Shakespearean as a name can be, but because the beautiful and innocent wife of Othello came to such a tragic end, her name has been avoided for centuries. But at this point in time,... Read More 

  • Dido

    Gender: F Rate:

    Dido was the heroine of Virgil's Aeneid and of the opera "Dido and Aeneas," and in Roman mythology the founder of Carthage. A strong ancient name in the Juno mode, but it could have some awkward a... Read More 

  • Dinah

    Gender: F Rate:

    As the song says, "Dinah, is there anyone finer?" Dinah is a charming, underused Old Testament name, long shunned for its old slave-name stereotype--Dinah was the family cook in Uncle Tom's Cabin -... Read More 

  • Dolly

    Gender: F Rate:

    Hello, Dolly! Okay, we couldn't resist, but be warned: Most people who meet your little Dolly won't be able to either. This nickname-name, rarely heard since whatever decade Dolly Parton was born... Read More 

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