By Tiana Putric
The names of many American states have been used by parents of the past –– Arizona, Indiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington –– as well as others more popular with parents of today –– Carolina, Dakota, Georgia, Montana, and Virginia. But it’s interesting to note that there are other names, lesser-known ones, which lay hidden within the names of a number of US states.
Here are some unique appellations from America’s past that could be of interest to anyone looking for something truly exceptional.
The short, simple, multi-cultural Ama has African roots –– meaning ‘born on Saturday’–– as well as Japanese origins –– meaning ‘woman of the sea’, referring to the women who practice the ancient art of pearl diving breathing with only their lungs. This hidden day and nature name has appeared on the U.S. Top 1000 twice in the late nineteenth century, in 1881 and in 1885. Appellations beginning with ‘Ama’ are currently on the rise; in fact, the following names were all on the U.S. Top 1000 in 2015: Amalia, Amani, Amara, Amari, Amaris, and Amaya. Ama can also be spelled Amma.
The English Hamp and Hampton, meaning ‘home’, are two striking male monikers from America’s past waiting to re-emerge. Hamp last ranked in the Top 1000 in 1910, while Hampton was still included in 1936. Hamp was not seen on any birth certificates in 2015, but Hampton was given to 76 boys. Hampton shares its ‘ton’ ending with a host of both longtime and newly prominent male names: Ashton, Axton, Benton, Clayton, Dalton, Easton, Houston, Keaton, Kingston, Princeton, Preston, Quinton, Remington, Trenton, and Winston.
Lora was a long popular female appellation, on the Top 1000 for more than one hundred consecutive years until it disappeared in the late twentieth century. A variation of the Latin name Laura, and a diminutive for names such as Elora, and Eleonora, Lora makes a more unusual cousin to chart-topping Nora and Cora. Also spelled Lorra, Lora was given to 61 girls in 2015, and is similar to the girls’ name Lore, which is quite well used in Belgium.
The striking male name Mont, meaning ‘mountain’ in French, ranked on America’s Top 1000 for nearly two decades, from when name records were first published until it retired in 1896. Mont, both a first name and a surname, is also a diminutive for the male monikers Beaumont, Lamont, Montague, and Montgomery, as well as for the rising female appellation Montserrat. Perhaps the unfamiliar Mont, which naturally evokes the rocky outdoors, will become a nouveau nom for boys in the 21st century.
The old-world Neva is a lovely diminutive of Geneva meaning “snow” in Spanish. Neva saw some popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries, last featuring on America’s Top 1000 in 1963. Neva, which brings to mind the revived name Nova, has a couple of nice nicknames: America’s trending Evie and Scotland’s popular Neve. If you like the rare Neva, which was bestowed upon 84 baby girls in 2015, you might also like these other rarities: Leva, Reva, and Veva.
Sylvan from Pennsylvania
The vintage name Sylvan, current during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, relates to the Latin for ‘woods’ and descends from Sylvanus, the mythological Roman god of forests. Global variations include Silvano (Italian), Silvio (Spanish), and Sylvain (French). In the year 2015 only 25 baby boys received the name Sylvan, whose nicknames include the minimalist Sy and the trending Van.
The name Tana, which relates to both the sky and ancient female deities, means ‘star or moon goddess’. This simple two-syllable choice –– also the name of a glacier in Alaska and a term of endearment for many feminine Slavic names –– was surprisingly popular in the 1900s and ranked in the Top 1000 for over forty years. In 2015, the name Tana was given to only 16 girls; spelling variations include Tanna and Tannah.
Here are a few other old-world names embedded in the names of American states, along with the year they last appeared on America’s Top 1000:
Del from Delaware (1970)
Ela from Delaware (1903)
Lahoma from Oklahoma (1915)
Oma from Oklahoma (1945)
Sylvania from Pennsylvania (1881)