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October Baby Names: Notable namesakes with noteworthy names

September 30, 2018 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Linda Rosenkrantz

The crisp, colorful month of October has arrived, and so have October baby names. In your search for a meaningful name for your baby born this month, how about choosing that of another October-born child? Any of these noteworthy figures drawn from the worlds of religion, politics, medicine, the arts and entertainment, and activism would make exceptionally worthy namesakes for your own October babe.

Belva Lockwood—An inspiring women’s-rights activist, suffragist feminist trailblazer, she was the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court (how timely!) and the first female presidential candidate to actually receive votes.

Meaning ‘beautiful view’, Belva has never shared the popularity of cousin Bella, though it was well used in the 19th century, lasting on the list through 1953, peaking at #234 in 1884. Belva Plain was a bestselling author.

Desmond Tutu (shown)Bishop Desmond Tutu, inspirational South African human rights activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his efforts in eliminating apartheid.

The stylish name Desmond comes from an Irish place name and has some particularly appealing nicknames—Des/Desi and Dez/Dezi, as well as connections to recent fictional characters on Lost, Oz and Dexter. Its recent rise in the US began in the 60s, and it now sits at #326 and 127 on Nameberry—and I think it could go higher, a la Declan.

Eleanor Roosevelt—The quintessential American activist First Lady—as the wife of Franklin D. she had the longest tenure of any—she served as the US Delegate to the United Nations for seven years, among many other worthy accomplishments. Born Anna Eleanor, she always preferred to be known by her middle name.

Greek for ‘bright, shining one,’ the elegant Eleanor has made a strong comeback in recent years: it’s currently #35 on the US list (the highest it’s been since 1927) and 16 on Nameberry. FDR always called his wife by the nickname Nell, one of several affectionate possibilities.

Francis, Saint, of AssisiBorn Giovanni but informally called Francesco by his father, the 13th century Saint Francis was the designated patron saint of all of Italy, and is strongly associated with his patronage of animals and the natural environment. The current Pope took the name in his honor.

Francis is beginning to benefit somewhat from the success of other Fran names—especially girls Frances, Francine and Frankie. It’s in the mid-400s on both the SSA and NB lists.

Jackson Browne—Coming to prominence in the 1970s, the popular singer-songwriter might have been one of the first first-named Jackson many of us encountered—though he was actually born Clyde Jackson.

Now ranking at #20, Jackson was down at #494 when Browne was born in 1948, then got a big bounce via Michael Jackson. It was recently the third most popular name in New Zealand.

Jonas Salk—A science and medical hero, Jonas Salk’s research led to the vaccine that thwarted the frightening epidemic of infantile paralysis affecting over 45,000 mostly children a year, which he altruistically refused to patent and profit from.

Jonas is the Greek variation of the Hebrew Jonah, and has a meaning associated with the dove, symbol of peace. And though it lags behind Jonah in the US, it’s massively popular in several European countries.

Lennon, John—The iconic Beatle is one of several musical heroes whose surname has been taken up by babynaming admirers—and for some reason more for girls than boys. A number of celebs have used it for their daughters, including several athletes.

Luciano Pavarotti—One of the most famous and commercially successful operatic tenors of all time, star of the popular Three Tenors, who produced the bestselling classical album of all time.

Like Leonardo, this vibrant light-filled Italian classic combines well with almost any Anglo name–and then there’s that irresistible short form Luca.

Mae Jemison—Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992.

The sweet old-fashioned Mae and May are definitely back—and not only as middles.  Mae is now at #654, and 70 on Nameberry. Talented young actress Mae Whitman is a current bearer and actresses Laurie Metcalf and Kathryn Hahn are both moms of Maes.

Noah Webster—If you’re looking for a etymological hero to stand behind the third most popular boy name in the US, the logical choice would be iconic wordsmith Noah Webster, known for his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.

The Old Testament patriarch of the ark jumped into the Top 10 for the first time ever in 2009 and made it to first place in 2013.

Oscar Wilde—The great Irish wit Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde wrote a whole play revolving around name confusion, the ever delightful The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jovial Oscar, an important figure in Irish myth, is one of the hot O-names for boys, now up at #12 on Nameberry, 10 in the UK and Number One in Sweden. Hugh Jackman and Gillian Anderson both have boys named Oscar.

Theodore Roosevelt—Yes, another Roosevelt, the exuberant 26th President of the United States, writer, naturalist and winner of the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for ending the Russo-Japanese War.

Theodore is enjoying a huge revival, adored on Nameberry (where it’s #4) and in the US Top 70, thanks in part to trendy nicknames Theo and Teddy. In addition to its presidential cred, its been borne by novelists, poets and painters and was the first name (spelled Theodor) or Dr. Seuss.


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