Shakespeare Names: Beyond Romeo and Juliet
The plays of William Shakespeare are a mother lode of wonderful names, rich and diverse, drawing from the history and mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, tales of Renaissance Italy, the royal courts and noble estates of England and Scotland–not to mention those that sprung from the playwright’s imagination.
We were inspired by Kat’s recent name board comment on the “Underrated Baby Names” question of the week to revisit the subject of Shakespearean names, starting from her excellent list and then digging a little deeper into some of the major and more minor characters that may not be as strongly associated with the Bard, but still boast some Shakespearean cred and cachet.
And here are some other examples found among the dramatis personae of the tragedies, comedies and history plays, some playing leading parts, others more in the background—and, in the case of a few of the male names, surnames or titles:
- ELEANOR – in several of the history plays
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on August 13th, 2010 at 8:38 am
My daughters middle name is titania after Shakespeare! Great name.
on August 13th, 2010 at 9:42 am
Viola is our #1 girls pick for our baby due in October, should it be a girl. Portia is another favorite, from Merchant of Venice, which I don’t see mentioned above. Great list!
on August 13th, 2010 at 10:32 am
Don’t forget the boy’s name Ariel!
on August 13th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
I’ve loved Balthazar ever since we had to make a Romeo and Juliet movie adaptation in ninth grade. 🙂
“Dude, Balthazar, like, take care of yourself, man!”
on August 13th, 2010 at 4:48 pm
No mention of Mercutio? For shame!
on August 13th, 2010 at 5:18 pm
Another vote to add Portia! Also: Miranda and Sebastian from The Tempest.
on August 13th, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Mercutio, Portia, Miranda and Sebastian have all been added.
on August 15th, 2010 at 4:44 pm
This is very interesting…
Would someone be able to compile a list of all the Shakespearean names and the plays that they’re from and list it, please? Or does anyone know if there is already a list posted online and how to find it? I would love to read it.
Here are a few more girls names to add:
Katharina & Bianca (Taming of the Shrew)
Iris, Ceres, & Juno (The Tempest)
Anne (Merry Wives of Windsor, King Richard III, King Henry VIII)
Margaret (Much Ado About Nothing, King Richard III)
Hermia (Midsummer Night’s Dream)
Nerissa & Jessica (Merchant of Venice)
Phebe (As You Like It)
Olivia & Maria (Twelfth-Night)
Elizabeth (King Richard III)
Katharine & Patience (King Henry VIII)
Emilia & Bianca (Othello)
I’m sure there are several more boy’s names, too.
on August 15th, 2010 at 10:50 pm
I feel like I won the lottery! Thanks so much for writing this post – I rarely see any name sites focus on all the great names Shakespeare’s plays have to offer.
on August 18th, 2010 at 11:27 pm
I see Robyn has already listed it, but one of our top contenders was Katharina, from Taming of the Shrew. Our daughter was almost named that… she was so stubborn about coming out I did start lobbying for it for a while!
Viola was on our list as well. Plus, Cordelia, Beatrice and Cassandra also got some consideration.
My husband really wants to name twins Viola and Sebastian were we to have boy-girl twins.
on December 27th, 2010 at 3:43 pm
I love Viola. Unfortunately, when spoken in a Southern US it’s pronounced VY-ola, instead of the much more melodious VEEola.
former shakespear prof Said
on June 17th, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Some of these beautifully-named characters are nevertheless notorious for some pretty horrid actions/scenes (Titus Andronicus, Regan, even the beautiful Ophelia [suicide]). If you’re telling people you chose the name because you love Shakespear, you should check out the character first or risk some pretty judgmental looks!
Also, just FYI, Shakespearean scholarship holds with the VY-ola pronunciation. VEE-ola is an instrument.
on September 22nd, 2011 at 3:22 am
I love Tybalt for a boy – there’s still the option of Ty if he proves to be more outdoorsy/sportsy than bookish.
on September 19th, 2012 at 11:56 pm
I used Tybalt on my cat because I thought it might be too unusual for a child. Considering that it gets mispronounced every time we go to the vet, I’m glad I went ahead and it used it.
on March 25th, 2013 at 11:48 am
From the girl’s list I like: Cordelia, Helena, Luciana/Lucyana*, Blanche*, Desdemona*, Cassandra, Celia , Patience, Portia, Nerissa.
from the boys list I like: Cassio, Hero, Lorenzo, Lyzander/Lysander*, Orlando Titus, Ajax, Alonso, Dion, Fabian, Francisco, Lennox, Lucius, Sebastian*, & Valentine*.
on April 16th, 2013 at 7:41 pm
Rosalind, Cordelia, Bianca, and Sebastian are my faves. All are on my lists.
on May 24th, 2013 at 4:32 pm
Female Shakespearean character names:
All’s Well That Ends Well: Helena, Diana
Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra, Octavia
As You Like It: Rosalind, Celia, Phebe
The Comedy of Errors: Adriana, Luciana, Aemilia
Coriolanus: Volumnia, Virgilia, Valeria
Hamlet: Gertrude, Ophelia
Measure for Measure: Isabella, Juliet, Mariana
The Merchant of Venice: Portia, Jessica, Nerissa
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Hippolyta, Hermia, Helena, Titania
Much Ado About Nothing: Hero, Beatrice, Margaret, Ursula
Henry VI: Margaret, Eleanor
Julius Caesar: Calpurnia
King Lear: Goneril, Regan, Cordelia
Love’s Labour’s Lost: Rosaline, Maria, Katharine, Jaquenetta
Othello: Emilia, Desdemona, Bianca
Pericles: Thaisa, Marina, Lychorida, Dionyza
Romeo and Juliet: Juliet, Rosalind
The Taming of the Shrew: Katharina, Bianca
The Tempest: Miranda
Troilus and Cressida: Andromache, Cassandra, Cressida, Helen
Twelfth Night: Olivia, Viola, Maria
The Winter’s Tale: Hermione, Perdita, Paula, Emilia
Two Gentlemen of Verona: Silvia, Julia, Lucetta
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