Category: baby name history

One of the big recent baby name successes has been Ophelia. After nearly 60 years off the Top 1000, it reemerged in 2015 at Number 975, then jumped to 580 last year. Though it hasn’t yet beaten its peak from the turn of the 20th century, when it entered the Top 300, Ophelia ranks a stunning Number 15 among Nameberry users for the first half of 2017, so it’s almost certain to climb even higher in the U.S..

We get the appeal. It sounds unusual but graceful, it starts with the trendy letter O and it has a sterling literary pedigree, coined by Shakespeare himself.

But here’s the thing about that Shakespeare tie: In Hamlet, Ophelia is a central tragic victim, the girl driven to madness and suicide, but she doesn’t have much presence in the play. Shakespeare created dozens of strong, fascinating, brilliant female characters — but Ophelia isn’t one of them.

Yet today’s parents have decided that Ophelia‘s many positive qualities outweigh the grimness of her story. The same goes for Pandora, Abel and Persephone, all of which have started climbing up the charts.

So that’s our question: How much do you care about a name’s backstory? Are there any names you love because they have great stories behind them? Or have you ever rejected a name because of its history?

Let us know your answers in the comments, and continue the conversation on Twitter or Facebook!

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We are particularly pleased to reprint this article by the distinguished name scholar, Cleveland Evans; it originally appeared on Omaha.com.

By Cleveland Evans

The weather bureau says summer starts June 1 — and temperatures in Omaha this June show they have a point. Astronomers say summer started when the sun reached its annual highest place in the sky at 5:34 p.m. Monday.

Summer” goes back millennia to “sem,” the word for summer in ancient Indo-European.  Though not as ancient, “winter” also goes back thousands of years, to a Germanic word which probably meant “wet season.”

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Creative Baby Names: Then and Now

creative baby names

By Abby Sandel

Last week, Nameberry’s story on Crazy Baby Names was everywhere. Because outrageous baby names never get old, and it’s kind of mind-boggling to imagine introducing your kids, Royaltee and Ruckus.

Except that this is a very old trend. There have always been creative namers.

We recognize choices like Nevaeh and Messiah, Brynlee and Blaze as novelties of our time, but it’s difficult to know how to think about the rarities of an earlier age. Back in 1913, Exie, Vada, and Coy were in the US Top 1000. Are they vintage gems, or the Jayden and Kaylee of another age – or both?

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posted by: Nick View all posts by this author

By Nick Turner

Baby-name fads have come and gone over the decades, but one trend has held true: Names are getting longer.

A hundred years ago, boys’ names were typically less than two syllables. John, James, George and Frank were all popular picks, and there were no three-syllable names anywhere in the top 20.

In recent decades, that changed. Three- and four-syllable choices like Alexander, Nicholas, Joshua and Christopher surged in popularity, turning America‘s baby names into more of a mouthful.

By the 2000s, the average syllable count for a top 20 boys’ name had climbed to 2.25 — up from 1.8 in the 1880s.

Girls’ names, meanwhile, have gotten even longer. A Top 20 female name had an average syllable count of 2.75 last year. That compares with 2.05 in the 1880s.

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posted by: upswingbabynames View all posts by this author

by Angela Mastrodonato, Upswing Baby Names

Determining what makes a name contemporary vs. what makes a name established can be tough.

For example, if a name was first used by one notable person (real or fictional) in the 17th century, but hadn’t become widespread or familiar until within the past decade, does that qualify the name as established or modern?

There may be some debate, but to me, any name that hadn’t been widely familiar or used until within the past 20-30 years is a modern name. That isn’t to say that sometimes modern names can’t have historic origins. Modern names with historic origins are new names that sound… well… old.

Here are some examples:

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