January is the first month of the year in the Gregorian calendar, getting its name from the Roman God Janus, who was associated with new beginnings. Let’s look to past January’s for notable name inspiration associated with this month.
Author (Pearl) Zane Grey was born on January 31, 1872. He was best known for his Western genre adventure novels: Grey’s works portraying the American frontier have been translated into more than 112 movies and TV shows. Zane is an English surname name that may possibly be a variation of John. Currently at Number 233 in the US, Zane is a bit more popular amongst name enthusiast here on Nameberry, where it ranks at Number 91. Actor Heather Tom has a son named Zane Alexander, and singer Mindy McCready used the spelling Zayne for her son.
Ronald Wilson Reagan became the 40th President of the United States on January 20, 1981, serving from 1981 to 1989. Reagan is an Irish surname meaning little king. Currently Number 991 for boys, Reagan peaked in popularity last year for girls at Number 99. The alternative spelling Regan may remind you of the horror film The Exorcist or the treacherous daughter in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Those associations aside, Reagan is one of the most used and loved Presidential surnames. 65% of Berries currently prefer the name Reagan to Kennedy.
Poet and novelist Anne Brontë was born on January 17, 1820, the youngest of the literary Brontë family, which includes her sisters and fellow authors Charlotte and Emily. Anne Brontë is best known for her novel Agnes Grey, based on her experiences as a governess. Patrick Brontë, Anne’s father, changed his surname from Brunty to Brontë, a Greek name meaning thunder. Andie MacDowell played a character called Bronte in the 1990 film Green Card, bringing public recognition to this name.
Crosby Newell Bonsall, a female children’s book author and illustrator, was born on January 2, 1921. Bonsall wrote more than forty children’s books, including the I Can Read series, which is still in print. Crosby is an Irish surname meaning village with crosses. Rarely used for girls, Crosby is rapidly climbing the charts for boys. Crosby first entered the Top 1000 for boys in 2011, and peaked last year in popularity at Number 576. The character Crosby Braverman on the TV Show Parenthood, likely contributed to Crosby’s rise. Crosby may also remind you of the crooner Bing Crosby and the band Crosby, Stills, & Nash.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was first published on January 14, 1963. The novel has been translated into nearly a dozen languages and is a staple in many English classes. The name Sylvia peaked in popularity in the 1930s, when Plath was born. Today Sylvia ranks around the middle of the Top 1000 charts at Number 484. A Latin name meaning of the forest, Sylvia is also seen now in the chic French form Sylvie. Originally spelled Silvia, Rhea Silvia was the mythical mother of twins Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.
Founding Father Alexander Hamilton was born on January 11, 1755 or 1757, becoming General George Washington’s assistant. Hamilton: An American Musical is a current Broadway megahit depicting the life of the influential character. Alexander, a popular Greek name meaning defending men, was another name for the hero Paris in Greek mythology. A Top 10 name for the past 7 years, Alexander currently ranks at Number 8. There are many attractive nicknames for Alexander including Alec, Alex, Lex, Sasha, Xan, Zan, and Zander.
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe was first published on January 29, 1845, one of the most famous narrative poems The Raven that popularized Poe as a writer. Raven is a bird name currently ranking at Number 489. The Raven is a revered symbol in many Native American groups and amongst African-Americans. Ravens are also associated with the Norse god Odin and is the real name of Mystique in the X-men film series. Other attractive bird names include Lark, Phoenix, Piper, and Wren.
Influential painter (Paul) Jackson Pollock was born on January 28, 1912 and became one of the most prominent figures in the Abstract Expressionist movement, recognized for his unique drip painting style. Jackson is an English name meaning, of course, son of Jack. Currently ranked at Number 17, Jackson is even more popular when you add up the various spelling variations, such as Jaxon and Jaxson. Several celebrities including Bill Murray, Charlize Theron, Katey Sagal, and Spike Lee have sons named Jackson.
Seamstress Elizabeth Giscom “Betsy” Ross was born January 1, 1752. Ross is credited with sewing the Stars and Stripes on the first American flag in 1776. Her full name Elizabeth is a Hebrew name meaning pledged to God. The quintessential timeless classic, Elizabeth has never ranked at lower than Number 26 in the US, and currently comes in at Number 13. Elizabeth has also been a top name in England since the 16th century reign of Queen Elizabeth I. A few other sweet old-timey diminutives of Elizabeth include Bess, Betty, Eliza, Libby, and Tibby.
Playwright Anton Chekhov, born on January 29, 1860, is widely considered one of the greatest writer of short fiction and plays. His dramatic works include Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. Anton is a German and Scandinavian form of Anthony, meaning priceless. It currently ranks at Number 960, not nearly as popular as Anthony at Number 25. Actor Al Pacino has a son named Anton James.