Menu
  

Names by the Numbers

Octavia, Septimus and Una

posted by: karacavazos View all posts by this author

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.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required
karacavazos Berry Juice default profile image

About the author

karacavazos

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.
View all of karacavazos's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers

comments

6 Responses to “Names by the Numbers”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

GreenEyes375 Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 9:02 am

I have a great aunt named Tanona (named after her grandmother Nona) and she named her daughter Nina (prn. NINE-uh) because Nona means nine.

SimoneKadele Says:

April 29th, 2015 at 5:50 pm

Love November.

Gr19 Says:

April 30th, 2015 at 11:37 am

What about Quade?

Essa Says:

April 30th, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I met someone called Penta. She was the 5th child, I was told it derived from the Greek for 5.

vintageluvs Says:

April 30th, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I really like the Italian variant of Tertia, Terza. I think Tertia sounds stately, which I sort of like.
@Essa: Penta is amazing! Never would have thought of that as a name, but it actually sounds gorgeous!

elifsu Says:

July 9th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

In Turkish first children will have names with Ilk which stands for the first.
Like Ilkim, Ilkay, Ilkgun, Ilker etc. Or Birircik which means the only one.
I only heard Ikicik as a pet name, but I think it is a cute name also. Rabia is an Arabic name which means fourth.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.