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.
Prince Archie’s middle name is Harrison – Harry’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 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.
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, Grayson, Edison, 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:
Hailey, English and Scottish clan name
Nantale, Ugandan clan name whose totem is a lion
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.
Abigail, Hebrew, “my father is joyful”
Adelpha, Greek, “beloved sister”
Aneko, Japanese, “older sister”
Anemone, Greek flower name, “daughter of the wind”
Cordelia, Celtic, “daughter of the sea”
Cybele, Greek, mother of all gods, goddess of fertility, health nature
Yetunda, Yoruba, “mother returned”
Abanu, African, “I have joined the family”
Adam, Hebrew, “son of the red earth”
Axel, Scandinavian, “father of peace”
Barnaby, Aramaic, “son of consolation”
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!
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on November 27th, 2019 at 9:56 pm
Arrius is a new one for me—I LOVE the sound! Maybe it could be spelled Arias too?
on November 28th, 2019 at 12:59 pm
Arrius caught my eye, too.
on November 29th, 2019 at 8:00 pm
C’mon, Nameberry. Bathsheba isn’t a ”shrew.” A shrew is a rodent. The word you’re looking for is ”shrewd.” And…she wasn’t the daughter of King Solomon. She was his mother! (This needs to be fixed on the Bathsheba main page as well).
on December 2nd, 2019 at 2:55 pm
I did use a family name. If my child had been a girl her name would have been Molly Rose. Molly to honor the Mary’s and Margaret’s in the family and Rose for my Nana as it is her favorite flower. I ended up having a son that I named James Louis. My father is Richard James and his father is Robert Louis so we honored both with our James Louis.
Pamela Redmond Said
on December 5th, 2019 at 2:27 pm
@Aunt_ning 1 I love those clever solutions.
on December 6th, 2019 at 6:26 pm
My son’s middle name is Racy, after my mother’s maiden name. We used that because there were no boys to carry on the name so my mother and her sisters were going to be the last with that surname.
Back in 1980 it wasn’t the done thing to name a child that way so it was very unusual. And because his first name was the same as his father and paternal grandfather he was called Racy as well, which was VERY unusual for the time.
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