Family Names Getting More Adventurous

Family Names Getting More Adventurous

Sure, Thanksgiving is about sweet potatoes with little marshmallows on top, but it’s also about family. That’s why our annual post on Thanksgiving baby names is focused this year not on Pilgrim names or turkey names but on the new style in family names.

Family names have become more stylish in recent years. Parents are looking to invest their children’s names with powerful meaning, plus it sounds classy to tell everyone your child has a “family name”.

Family names used to mean those crusty old names that couldn’t be explained except by confessing that the baby was named after rich Aunt Eunice.

Today, the idea of family names has expanded along with the idea of family. Modern family names include the following, and there’s not a Eunice among them.

Surname Names

Prince Archie’s middle name is HarrisonHarry’s son, get it? If you have an actual family surname you want to use as your child’s first or middle, terrific. If not, you can fashion a meaningful family surname one of these ways:

Mac names

Mac means “son of” which can be updated to “child of”. You can put Mc or Mac in front of many first names, so if your name is Hugh, you can name your son McHugh, and call him Mac. Mac names are stylish for girls too – witness Mackayla and Mackenzie.

Some cool Mac selections that can be used by any family: McCoy, Maguire, and just plain Mack.

O’ names

O’ works the same way as Mac, so yes, you can name your child O’Brien or O’Keeffe or even probably O’Pamela.

Fitz names

Fitz names are another way to denote parentage. Names such as Fitzgerald and Fitzpatrick have been used as first names for decades.

Son names

The most common and also most stylish names that originated as a way to designate paternity are the son names, no longer for boys only. Among the most popular are Jackson, GraysonEdison, Hudson, Wilson, Ellison, Harrison, Madison, Judson, and Jefferson.

Family or clan names

Many modern first names originated as family or clan names in ancient Rome or in other cultures such as Irish, Norse, or African. Here are some examples and their meanings:

Girl names

Flavia, Roman clan name, “blond, fair”

Hailey, English and Scottish clan name

Laelia, Roman family name that’s also a botanical name for an orchid

Nantale, Ugandan clan name whose totem is a lion

Ovidia, Roman family name, “sheep”, related to the poet Ovid

Tatiana, Russian from a Roman family name

Tulia, Tulius, Tulio, Roman family name of uncertain meaning

Boy names

Arrius, Roman family name

Caius, Roman family name, “rejoice”

Cinna, Roman family name used for Hunger Games costume designer

Fabian, Roman clan name, “bean grower”

Fabricius, Fabrizio, Roman family name, “craftsman”

Horace, Roman clan name, “timekeeper”

Lucretia and Lucretius, Roman clan name, “wealth”. Roman philosopher who invented epicureanism

Marius, Roman family name, god of war

Sergius, Serge, Roman clan name meaning servant

Tarquin, Roman clan name of uncertain meaning, also the names of early kings and a Shakespeare character.

Terence, Roman clan name used in modern times. There was an ancient poet names Terencia

Thane, Scottish name that means the chieftain of a clan

Names with Family Meanings

Another way to invest a name with family is by choosing one that means mother, father, sister, brother, son, or daughter.

Names with these family meanings exist in most cultures so modern parents have a lot to choose from.

Girl names

Abigail, Hebrew, “my father is joyful”

Adelpha, Greek, “beloved sister”

Aneko, Japanese, “older sister”

Anemone, Greek flower name, “daughter of the wind”

Bathsheba, Hebrew, “daughter of an oath”  The Biblical Bathsheba was the shrewd and beautiful wife of King David and mother of King Solomon.

Cordelia, Celtic, “daughter of the sea”

Cybele, Greek, mother of all gods, goddess of fertility, health nature

Emerson, German, “son of Emery”. Popular for both sexes.

Gaia, Roman goddess of motherhood

Quincy, French from Latin, “estate of the fifth son”

Yetunda, Yoruba, “mother returned”

Boy Names

Abanu, African, “I have joined the family”

Adam, Hebrew, “son of the red earth”

Axel, Scandinavian, “father of peace”

Barnaby, Aramaic, “son of consolation”

Benjamin, Hebrew, “son of the right hand”. The Biblical Benjamin was the youngest of the 12 sons of Jacob and Rachel.

Broderick, Norse, “brother”

Dasan, Native American, “son of a bird clan leader”

Dylan, Welsh, “son of the sea”

Flynn, Irish, “son of the red-haired one”

Joah, Hebrew, “brother of God”

Kuno is an ancient German name meaning family or clan that certainly has a contemporary style and feel. Also spelled Cuno, this name is sometimes short for Konrad or Conrad. There was a 10th century German count called Kuno.

Ruskin, Scottish name meaning family of tanners.

Did you or would you use a family name for your child? Tell us about it!

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.