Name Trends: Say yes to ‘S’

It’s pretty obvious that the first initial letters of names move in and out of fashion.  The last several years have seen a rotation of vowels—A, E, O, I– as favored name-starters.  But there have been instances, too, of  ending sound name trends as well, which aren’t quite so apparent.  Case in point:

In the early decades of the twentieth century, in addition to name trends like  the birth of the flower name craze—Rose, Violet, Lily, Daisy, Hazel and Myrtle— as well as gem names like Pearl, Ruby and Opal, and the month names of April, May and June, there was an infatuation with girls’ names ending in ‘s’.  Appellations such as Doris, Phyllis and Lois were seen as ultra-poetic and romantic, having an appealing classical feel—but it was a fad that faded fairly quickly.  Today’s most popular list , for example, shows only two female names ending with the S sound in the Top 100 (Alexis and Genesis), while in the years from 1900 to 1930, there were five times that number.  Some of them still sound terminally dated today:




Lois (maybe)


…while the other half are either ripe for revival or already back:



Beatrice (ice-endings produce an S sound too)



Other s-ending names somewhat further down on those early twentieth century lists were:










These days, we’re noticing the emergence of interest in a whole raft of sibilant-ending names. Some are recent imports, some are newly revitalized oldies, others are unusual nature or place or word names.  Taken together, with their fresher feel, they are beginning to start a trend of their own.

The up-and-coming s-sound-ending names include:









































Plus a few boys’ names that have tiptoed into the girls’ section, such as James, Jules

Do you see this as a trend?  Particularly like any of the names?

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28 Responses to “Name Trends: Say yes to ‘S’”

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Julie Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 2:39 am

I adore the end in -s names, but my surname starts with an S. Otherwise I would have named my youngest Agnes or Charis in a heartbeat.

I don’t think Lois “sounds terminally dated” especially when you consider that is could be another way to get to the nickname Lola.

ycw Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 5:53 am

So Dorcas is fresh, but Doris is terminal? I rather like Doris and think it could make a comeback….

Stacy Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 6:38 am

I adore Alice, and my husband wanted nothing to do with it. We discussed Beatrice (or Beatrix) and Bess was discussed as a nickname if we use Elizabeth as it’s my favorite of the nicknames.

I’ve heard Carys discussed a lot, and have always liked it. Does Eloise count in this trend? It hits the Ellie as well as the -s trend and I’ve heard quite a few people consider it.

I have loved Lettice (my husband thinks it sounds like lettuce, boo), Thais, Lilias, Glennis, Hollis, and Ellis for a while. I tried for Ellis as a name too, but again, I got resistance from my husband. It’s my favorite gender-neutral name (actually about the only one I like!)

Interestingly, I’ve lately been culling through the beyond the top 1000 SSA list and weeding out the good or interesting names with fewer than 100 uses. Quite a few of these hit my list.

Tara Key Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 7:15 am

I have to agree with the Dorcas? over Doris comment. I just can’t see Dorcas making any comeback.
Regarding the Up and Comers: Some of these names are very pretty/interesting like Anais, Amaryllis, Annalies, Lettice, Ines, Persi, Hollis, Carys; while I think others like Dorcas, Chloris, Glynis, Pallas and Memphis should stay in the dated out of fashion closet.

Natalie Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 7:16 am

I absolutely love Florence. Something about the letters it uses and the “fl” sound. I also really like Agnes, Annalise, and Lois. I actually know a baby Lois, and think it’s just darling.

murp Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 7:46 am

I have never liked girls names ending in s, and especially the iss sound feels very ugly to me. The only one on the list that I do like is Bess and come to think of it I love Tess and also Cass, so maybe one syllable,s ending names have a different feel to them.

Chelsea Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 8:54 am

I love s endings! Agnes, Prudence, Annelise Beatrice and Glynis are a few of my favorite names.

Erin Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 9:06 am

Thanks to this post, I am totally crushing on the name Lotus right now… I love most ends-s-names, and this one either had not occurred to me or just never seemed so sweet!

pdxlibrarian Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 9:36 am

I noticed the rise of Genesis in both California and New York recently. I’m not sure I understand where this girl’s name came from. It’s obviously Biblical, but I have to admit that I’ve never heard it as a girl’s name until quite recently. Is there a reality TV show star with this name or something?

punkprincessphd Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 10:31 am

Sorry, but Ailis is usually pronounced “EYE-lish”, so the S trend doesn’t really factor, imo.

liliok Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 10:39 am

Like Julie, my surname begins with S, so many of my favorites are out. However, my surname ALSO ends in S, so any name that begins, ends or just contains an S, is just S overload. It’s so dissapointing because two of my favorite names not only blend right into my surname, they actually sound like a completely different name of the opposite gender! Julius turns into Julia, and Iris turns into Ira. Boo.

linda Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 10:46 am

OK–agreed–Dorcas is off the up-and-coming list, and Ailis removed because of the pronunciation. (And Lois gets a pass.)

pam Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 10:51 am

Those with S-starting surnames, I definitely feel your pain. In my case a particular bummer with all the s-ending boys’ names I love: Rufus, Silas, Miles etc

Lola Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I adore ‘s’ enders, especially on boys! Rufus & Cassius are in our top 7. And from the list of girls above: Agnes, Florence, Frances, Bess, Clarice (darn that Hannibal!), Iris, Isis (If we hadn’t named the dog so!) and lovely, lovely Lettice. Lettice Coralie Jane sits on my long list as a dark horse, long shot. I’ll never take Lettice off my list! (Maybe Maud Lettice ____?) 😀

i.heart.nerds Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

The only one I could see myself using is Agnes… I adore Agnes!

Abby Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I love Agnes, but I think I like Agatha even better.

Bess & Tess are long-time favorites, too.

I’m with Lola – Rufus is one of my favorites. And I know a boy called Ellis – very handsome on a little guy.

Susan Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I do think you can make a case for some of these names as a new trend, particularly Alice, Beatrice, Iris and perhaps Carys. But while I personally really like the name Artemis, and considered it for my baby-to-be, I don’t think you can call it “up and coming” when it was given to 21 girls in 2010. “Chloris” is even less up and coming, given that at most four girls were named that last year.

Susan Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

I had always believed that “Lettice” was pronounced “le-TISH-ah” (as a variant spelling of Letitia). Is it ever pronounced to rhyme with the vegetable?

pam Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Lettice is pronounced exactly like the vegetable! le-TISH-ah is Letitia.

babynamesrule Says:

June 7th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I really like Beatrice. Does this make me lame?

Lillias is so pretty, Memphis is totally cute.

Macy Says:

June 9th, 2011 at 9:05 am

I dont think James and Jules “tiptoed” into the girls section. The boy names that have are Reece and Alexis. Not one of my favorite endings for girls.

Macy Says:

June 9th, 2011 at 9:06 am

Also, isn’t Ellis a boys name?

seriously? Says:

June 9th, 2011 at 10:47 pm

seriously? how old are you people, like 87? most of these names should stay back in the 1800’s where they belong; quite a lot are just horrendous!

and lettice? is it pronounced the same as lettuce? if so, that is just cruel.

Cooper Says:

June 11th, 2011 at 10:46 am

I adore the name Eirilys (I-ril-lis)!!

Sunday Summary: 6/12/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

June 12th, 2011 at 8:11 am

[…] day before Agnes’ birth announcement, Nameberry posted a Say Yes to S list, about choices from Lotus to Leatrice that could join Alice and Frances among the […]

chapitaism Says:

November 21st, 2011 at 1:00 pm

In case that anyone wants to see Nameberry meaning for name Thais (It has no link in the note), I found it under Thaïs =)

AussieSteph Says:

January 5th, 2012 at 8:04 am

Just read this post & the responses…I, too, crush on S names but both my name & my husband’s start with S and our last name starts and ends with S! I know that I need to move on from most of my favorites and find S-less names to add to my list! However, I just cannot seem to muster the strength to break-up with some of the S names on my list! I tried moving them to the bottom or putting them in italics but I just cannot seem to delete them completely…

iwillpraise Says:

September 29th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Beatrice and Clarice are two of my all time Victorian loves! My husband will have nothing to do with them 🙁

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