By Linda Rosenkrantz
Not so long ago, the only names starting with the letters Au that were getting any traction were Audrey and Austin. But lately—have you noticed?—a lot more are now attracting attention. The once male name Aubrey is now in the girls’ Top 20, and then there are the members of the golden Aurelia family, several varieties of August, the word name Aura, the seasonal Autumn, and more.
Aubrey is the shooting star of the group: It has been in the Top 50 for four years now and in 1014 crossed into Top 20 territory. Aubrey hadn’t been used for girls at all until the mid-70s, the switch partly due to the Bread song (inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn), released in 1972, reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and containing the lyric “And Aubrey was her name, A not so very ordinary girl or name.” Contemporary actress Aubrey Plaza was named for the song, it’s the birth name of rapper Drake, and Bob Saget was ahead of the curve when he called his daughter Aubrey in 1987.
Audrey, one of the inspirational step-parents of Aubrey, has a much longer, consistently female, history, rising now due to its association with one of Old Hollywood’s most radiant stars, La Hepburn. Now ranked at Number 36, Audrey has appeared on the list since its 1880 inception, rising to its highest point in the last two years. Audrey has proven to be a celeb favorite—she’s been the baby name choice of Greg Kinnear, Steve Zahn and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
Audriana and Audrina. Like all stars, Audrey has an entourage, two of whom have followed her onto the list. Audriana, familiar sounding via Adriana, is Number 873, while Audrina has reached 588, having peaked at 318 in 2011, no doubt influenced by actress Audrina Patridge, star of The Hills.
Aurora. With its mix of magical, poetic elements—as the Roman goddess of the dawn, as Sleeping Beauty in the Disney films, the glorious Aurora Borealis Northern Lights, and often celebrated in song—this is not surprisingly a popular choice. It’s now at a high of Number 116, representing more than 2700 little Auroras born in 2014—and it’s Number 17 on Nameberry! Aurora has also been a Marvel superhero and a professor in Harry Potter.
Aurelia & Aurelius—The m/f versions of a distinguished and common ancient Roman family name that share a golden glow. The delicate Aurelia is having a major resurgence, especially on Nameberry, where it’s Number 41. Both Sylvia Plath and Arnold Schwarzenegger had mothers named Aurelia. The male name Aurelius, that of a cultivated fifth century saint, got the supermodel seal of approval when it was chosen by Elle Macpherson.
Aura—A relatively recent word name option with a spiritual –yes—aura. The Titan goddess of the breeze, Aura has been a Buffy the Vampire Slayer character, a song by Lady Gaga and the protagonist of Lena Dunham’s first film. Unranked nationally (though popular South of the border), she’s 604th on Nameberry.
August—August is by far the top month name for boys (also occasionally used for girls), now at Number 242 and chosen by celebs ranging from Mariska Hargitay to Dave Matthews. It was a Top 100 name at the turn of the last century.
Augusta—A just-beginning-to-be-revived Great Aunt name that could be in line to follow croquet-playing partners Agnes and Agatha. In ancient Rome, Augusta was the title of honor given to the wives and daughters of emperors; more recently a Harry Potter name.
Augustus, on the other hand, has found a place on modern birth certificates, now ranking at Number 544—and 162 on NB, suddenly sounding more fresh than fusty. With a rich resume ranging from Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar to the hero of The Fault in Our Stars, and with friendly nickname Gus, Augustus has become a totally viable choice.
Augustine, Augusten, Augustin—Venerated saint’s name Augustine is a diminutive of Augustus that currently hovers near the bottom of the SSA list, but is up at 423 on Nameberry. Model Linda Evangelista chose the French form Augustin for her son; writer Augusten Burroughs bears the German version. All provide direct pathways to Gus.
Austin—This Western place name has had a long ride, cantering onto the Top 1000 in the year 1900, entering the Top 100 in 1986, as high as ninth place in 1996-1997, and still given to more than 6,200 boys last year. Even Austin Powers couldn’t stop this guy!
And a few Au-names further off the radar:
Auburn—A warm, rich color name—one of the few hues usable for a boy.
Austria—A fresh, unexplored place name.
So what’s your favorite Au-starting name?