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Names by the Numbers

Names by the Numbers

**By Kara Cavazos of The Art of Naming**

There was once a time back in Ancient Rome when it was common to have several children. So many that parents sometimes numbered them via their names. If you couldn’t imagine naming your children one, two, three, four, five… you’re not alone.

Fortunately, there are Latin options that sound much cooler than that if you happen to find the idea of numbering your offspring to be appealing. There are also some updated, modernized versions of these old Latin names that are faring better than their ancient counterparts.

Many ancient names are being used again today with a renewed sense of style, such as Atticus, Maximus, Cyrus, Augustus, etc. But does this interest extend to these numerical names? Do they stand any chance for revival?  Let’s take a look at some of the possible choices per number.

One:

Prima

  • Most recent usage: 6 births in 2004

  • Most births in a year: 14 births in 1975

  • Primo

  • Most recent usage: 11 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 31 births in 1921

  • Primus

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 2009

  • Most births in a year: 10 births in 1920

  • Uno

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 1923

  • Most births in a year: 15 births in both 1918 & 1919

  • Una

  • Most recent usage: 39 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 217 births in 1921

  • Primo is probably the most usable of the Prim- names with its ancient roots and stylish -o ending, but it still lacks a bit of modern flair which prevents it from gaining any real traction with parents. These will always be rare. Uno is nonexistent as a name today. Una is the most used out of all of them and would actually be rather stylish for a girl today.

    Two:

    Secunda

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 1977

  • Most births in a year: 5 births in 1964 & 1977

  • Segundo

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 2012

  • Most births in a year: 12 births in 2002

  • Secundus

  • Most recent usage: None

  • Most births in a year: Never used in the US

  • One may be the loneliest number, but hardly anyone seems to value the number two when it comes to names.  Segundo for a boy has done the best out of all of these but its numbers are minuscule. These may not be inclined for any kind of popularity but they’re interesting to at least acknowledge.

    Three:

    Tertia

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 1985

  • Most births in a year: 5 births in 1971 & 1985.

  • Tertius

  • Most recent usage: 6 births in 1987

  • Most births in a year: 6 births in 1987.

  • These Latin Tert- names aren’t faring very well in the US.  Tertia has potential if pronounced ter-shuh, similar to Portia. Tertius might just be too much tert, even if pronounced ter-shuss.

  • Four:

    Quarta, Quartus

  • Most recent usage: None

  • Most births in a year: Never used in the US

  • The US has zero love for the number four. Nobody has ever used these names. However, it would take 5 uses in a single year in order for it to be recorded, so it is possible that there are a couple out there that we don’t know about. Similarly, there’s no love for Quartia, Quartina, Quartessa or Quartella.  Nothing for Quatro or Quatre either!

    Five:

    Quinta

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 1997

  • Most births in a year: 15 births in 1977

  • Gender: Male

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 1995

  • Most births in a year: 8 births in 1977

  • Quintina

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 2004

  • Most births in a year: 54 births in 1976

  • Quintus

  • Most recent usage: 19 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 30 births in 2012

  • Quintin

  • Most recent usage: 248 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 405 births in 1997

  • Quinton

  • Most recent usage: 479 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 871 births in 1996

  • The more modernized names Quintin and Quinton are commonly used today and are the most popular number names that we’ve looked at so far.  Quintus has real potential to gain a popularity boost along with the other -us names that are rising.  The female options don’t quite strike the right chord for today’s tastes, though.

    Six:

    Sexta, Sextus

  • Most recent usage: None

  • Most births in a year: Never used in the US

  • Sexton

  • Most recent usage:       5 births in 1975

  • Most births in a year: 6 births in both 1917 & 1920

  • It’s no surprise that people aren’t readily putting the word “sex” into their children’s names. I’d be more worried if these names were popular.  These can stay right where they are: in obscurity.

    Seven (7):

    Septima, Septimus

  • Most recent usage: None

  • Most births in a year: Never used in the US

  • September

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 31 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 51 births in 1980

  • Seven:

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 42 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 50 births in 2012

  • Gender: Male

  • Most recent usage: 75 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 112 births in 2008

  • Septima and Septimus feel like they should have some usage and could actually fit in with other revived ancient names. September is more of a month name than a number name these days. The calendar shifted around, pushing the month down to the ninth spot, but September still comes from the Latin word for seven. September has had regular usage since 1955 and has the potential for more. Some parents have even decided to straight up use the number “Seven” as a name without any need to Romanize it.

    Eight:

    Octavia

  • Most recent usage: 73 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 446 births in 1987

  • Octavio

  • Most recent usage:       175 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 437 births in 2003

  • Octavius

  • Most recent usage: 51 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 126 births in 1991

  • Octavian

  • Most recent usage: 43 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 58 births in 2007

  • October

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 44 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 63 births in 2010

  • Octavio currently has the most usage of these Oct- names, but Octavia has been most consistently used over the years. Octavius should fit right in with other ancient -us boy names but isn’t currently hitting the spot. Octavian would be a cool alternative to other modern boy names ending with -n. October is another month name. It was originally set as the 8th month but with changes to the calendar, was bumped down to the 10th spot. It is solely used for girls but would also suit a boy, especially with the nickname Toby.

    Nine:

    Nona

  • Most recent usage:       23 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 359 births in 1950

  • Nonius

  • Most recent usage: None

  • Most births in a year: Never used in the US

  • November

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 43 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 43 births in 2013

  • Nona has had an impressive run. It isn’t ranking today, but it was in the 300-500s for decades up until the mid 1950s. It has potential to come back again with either the ancient crowd or as a vintage name. Nonius hasn’t been used but that isn’t too surprising. November, even though it is more in the Month Name camp, has had some decent usage. It was originally the ninth month even though it is currently the 11th. It comes from the Latin novem meaning “nine”.

    Ten (10):

    Decima

  • Most recent usage: 5 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 9 births in 1914

  • Decimus

  • Most recent usage: 8 births in 2012

  • Most births in a year: 8 births in both 2006 & 2012

  • December

  • Gender: Female

  • Most recent usage: 33 births in 2013

  • Most births in a year: 46 births in 2012

  • These names deserve much more usage than they’re getting. Both Decima and Decimus are cool and attractive and should be revived along with other ancient names for modern babies. Like the other month names, December was originally the 10th month even though it is now our 12th.

    Which of these “Numerical Names” do you like best? Are there any that I missed?

    An expanded version of this post appears on Kara‘s The Art of Naming site.

    About the Author

    Kara Cavazos

    Kara Cavazos is a mother of two, a blogger and a baby name enthusiast. She loves ancient and vintage names most of all but she regularly features a variety of names on her blog The Art of Naming.