Category: German baby names
By Sophie Kihm
German baby names fell out of favor in the US during World War II and never really recovered. But now a new generation of German names are softer and more lyrical than the Hildas and Heinrichs of yesteryear—think Emma, Amelia, Liam. I’ve included some smooth and lilting names as well as some German hits that could fare well in the US. Do you think German names are ready for resurrection?
Latinised form of the Greek form of Andrew. The name has been used in Germany since the Middle Ages; a famous medieval namesake is Andreas Osiander, a Lutheran mystic and theologian. The name Andreas was used in Britain too, although probably the name was still pronounced the same way as Andrew in everyday life. Just outside the Top 100 in Germany, Andreas is less often seen in English-speaking countries, perhaps because of fears it will be be confused with its feminine counterpart, Andrea. This German classic seems like a fresh update to flagging Andrew, and has recently had some publicity from the disaster movie San Andreas.
Many English-speaking countries have a history of high levels of immigration from Germany, and yet German names are not particularly common. This is often true even in families of German ancestry: I am of part-German descent myself, and my siblings and I do not have particularly German names, although readily understood in Germany. There are such strong links between German and English that it is easy to assimilate and choose the English form of a name (George instead of Georg), and two world wars have strongly encouraged such assimilation. Some traditional German names now seem awkward and outdated, even in their country of origin – yet clunky names are beginning to come back into fashion, and there are also many sprightly German short forms of names with tons of vintage style. Here are some examples of both.
This diversity is a source of pride for many Americans. Consequently, when naming their offspring some Americans like to recognize the country of their ancestors.
And coincidentally most of these ancestors come from countries with lovely lyrical romance languages–languages such as Greek, Italian, and Spanish. There are also many Americans who claim Irish heritage, another source of trendy names.
I envied those Americans. My heritage doesn’t come from a place with a language that was considered lovely or fashionable when I had my kids.
The observant among you may notice my long, vowel-heavy last name that is–yes, Italian–and wonder why I was squawking.
I’m not Italian. Obscured by my married last name is my (mostly) German ancestry.
You don’t have to be an opera buff to appreciate the rich variety of names found in the classic repertoire. It’s an especially appealing category because it contains such an interesting mix of languages: there are frilly French female names, unusual Italian mens’ names, as well as some usable German and Russian character names. These range from leads such as Aida and Tristan, to featured players to those with minor roles.