Category: International Baby Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
I never cease to be intrigued by the fact that no only do names go in and out of style, but letters do too. And especially vowels. And especially vowels at the start of names.
We’ve had a long period of names, particularly girls’ names, beginning with the letter A, which was followed by E-names for both girls and boys, and lately parents have been showing their love for names started with O.
But the letter I has had a pretty paltry presence on the SSA list. There are only 16 I-initialed girls name out of the 1000 total, and of those, four are Isabel-related, and just Iris, Ivy and Isla in the Top 150, and Ingrid and Iliana just hanging in in the Top 900s.
But there are still a number of I candidates for success—or there for the taking for those avoiding popular examples. Here are some recommended off-list possibilities:
This week’s name news includes a bumper crop of beautiful birth announcements, some great names inspired by not-so-great circumstances, and the thorny issue of baby names and social class.
Brilliant Birth Announcements
It’s been a week of wild and wonderful birth announcements, from the beautifully named Babyberries of July to Elea’s ever-enthralling roundup of British baby names announced this week — highlights include a boy called Tarka, a girl named Xenia, and triplets William, James and… wait for it… Maximus!)
Not to be outshone, celebrity parents have also given us a whole host of stylishly named new arrivals this week — and some superb sibsets, too.
Comedian Kenan Thompson’s new daughter Gianna Michelle joined big sister Georgia Marie; TV personality Erica Rose also welcomed a second daughter, Aspen (her first is named Holland); and actress Alex Murrel chose the “strong” name Kase Robert for her second son, brother to Levi William. And the very newest arrival is the daughter of singer-songwriter Joy Williams, Poppy Louise, who joins big brother Miles Alexander.
Meanwhile, two famous families welcomed their first babies this week — and they’ve clearly been spending some time on Nameberry! Fitness coach Joe Wicks and his girlfriend Rosie named their newborn daughter Indie, and British socialite Tamara Beckwith became a first-time grandmother to little Luna Mae (her own children are the rather fabulous Anouska, Violet and Vero).
Congratulations all round!
This week’s name news includes some of the most eccentric appellations we’ve ever encountered, from siblings named after subatomic particles to some very creative name changes.
Bold is the Word
It’s no secret that word names are big right now — big, bold, and sometimes brazen.
From Rebel and Rocket to Saint and Sir, celebrities have long been leading the charge on statement-making word names, and although this trend has now entered the mainstream, the seemingly endless options never cease to surprise!
This week has seen the announcements of two high-profile new arrivals with sweet and striking word names.
Congratulations to Michael Bublé and his wife Louisa Lopilato, who welcomed daughter Vida Amber Betty last Wednesday. Her lively first name — which means “life” in mom’s native Spanish — feels like a fresh yet fashionable choice, having held steady between 100 and 200 births per year in the US since 2009. And vibrant Vida last enjoyed a modest run of popularity in the 1910s-1930s, making it an unexpected vintage pick, too!
Thanks to mass mega-phenomena like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, we’ve been exposed to lots of previously fusty-sounding ancient Latinate names, and some of them are beginning to sound more and more wearable as baby names—in fact several have landed on the current popularity list. Guest blogger Andy Osterdahl, in his extensive study of the strangest names in American political history, has found many examples of these in the names of past American politicos.
Four years ago I was invited to share my political strange name findings with the readers of Nameberry and with this, my third guest blog, we delve into the musty, cobwebbed world of Latinate names. While many today consider Latin to be a “dead language” used only by college professors, scholars and theologians, this classical language of the ancient Romans produced many intriguing names, many of which are being brought back and used today by the daring parent.
During the 18th, 19th and even early 20th centuries, parents of all walks of life bestowed intriguing names ending in “us”, “ius” or “ious” upon their children, bridging the gap between ancient history and the modern day.
A name like Flavius, for instance—recently that of a stylist character in The Hunger Games– has proven to be curiously frequent among 19th and 20th century political figures, in particular the combination Flavius Josephus. To date, I have cataloged 22 politicians named Flavius (nine of them actually Flavius Josephus, named in honor of the Roman-Jewish scholar.)
Still more unusual Latin names abound in the annals of the U.S. House of Representatives: Brutus Junius Clay, Sempronius Hamilton Boyd, Romulus Zachariah Linney and Americus Vespucius Rice all served terms in Congress during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Americus V. Rice’s unusual first and middle names derived from the Latinized version of Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), the Italian explorer who would lend an alternate version of his first name to two continents. While Rice‘s name is unique, he is one of several men named Americus elected or nominated for public office in the US.
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar (1825-1893), one of the most preeminent Southern politicians of his day, is another eye-catching Latinate name, receiving it from his identically named father, who was named in honor of the ancient Roman statesman and military figure Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. Lucius, the name of villain Draco Malfoy’s father in Harry Potter, is currently ranking #182 on Nameberry!
There are also a number of American political figures whose names were Latinized by a parent tacking on an “us” or “ius,” perhaps in a vain attempt to make their names sound important. Lambertus Wolters Ledyard, a onetime mayor of Cazenovia, New York is one example; “Lambert” originally being Germanic. Karelius Nelson, a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives of Scandinavian descent was given the Latinized version of the Germanic name Karel. New York Congressman Jeromus Johnson is another example of this trend and one can only wonder if his parents originally picked the name Jerome for their son only to attempt to make it more fanciful!
In over a decade of research on curiously named political figures, I have observed several of these Latinized names to be more prevalent than others. The name Flavius mentioned above was given to over two dozen individuals as was the name Lycurgus, which has over 25 instances. Aurelius (currently #192 on Nameberry) and Rodolphus were each given to 14, Octavius (#299 on NB) was given to six, Archelaus to seven, Philetus to ten, Theophilus to 31 and Leonidas (497 on the national list and 266 on Nameberry), with a whopping 50 instances!
Theophilus and Leonidas lead to the friendly nicknames of Theo and Leo. With Alan Millar’s graphic novel 300 and 2007 film in which Gerard Butler portrays Spartan warrior king Leonidas, it even has some pop culture cred.
There are other Latinate names that are equally unique. My research has revealed only one instance of the name Narcissus, borne by California jurist Narcissus Augustus Dorn. And then there’s Iowa jurist Apollonius Bohun Huston (1823-1902), who shares a first name with several important figures from ancient Rome.
Other “use-at-your-own-discretion” type names were given to Tennessee State Senator Vitruvius Jackson Kennedy and Scipio Africanus Jones (1862-1940) an Arkansas delegate to several Republican National Conventions who was named in honor of Roman military leader Scipio Africanus.
Finally, there’s Texas State Representative Decimus et Ultimus Barziza (1847-1882). A native of Virginia, he was the tenth child born to his family. His father, an Italian immigrant count, was said to have been at a loss for a name for the child when a friend suggested Decimus et Ultimus which in Latin, means “tenth and last” –a truly a one-of-a-kind statement name!