Valentine’s Day Baby Names: A love letter to the letter V
And beyond celebrating Valentine’s Day baby names, let’s get expansive and salute the whole wide-ranging rise of its initial letter, ‘V.’
If consonants can be said to have personalities, then it wasn’t so long ago that the letter V was seen as more venerable—even fusty– than vivacious. Velma, Vera and Verna; Vernon, Victor and Vincent, all made our original ‘So Far Out They’ll Always Be Out’ list. But as Pam and I have learned all too well since then—never say the words never or always.
The changes have been gradual since we wrote that, but there were two celebrity events that had a significant effect on V-baby names: the naming of Violet Affleck in 2005, and then of one of the Jolie–Pitt twins Vivienne three years later. Now there are a myriad of V-starting names popping both in and out of the celebrisphere.
Let’s start with the baby names honoring St. Valentine himself. The lovely Valentina was chosen by Salma Hayek, Ricky Martin opted for the romantic Valentino for one of his twins, while Valentine itself, which has Shakespearean cred, is still waiting to be rediscovered. The Valentin form is popular in several cultures—it’s currently in the Top 40 in France and Austria. The other Val name, Valerie, has been steadily popular since the 1940’s.
Even before the birth of Ms. Affleck, Violet was beginning to show signs of rebirth, returning to the Social Security list in 1998 after an extended fallow period. By 2005 it had reached Number 371 and it’s now at a high 101—with an entry into the Top 100 a real lock for the next rankings. Cousin Viola, despite her musical and Shakespearean assets, still hasn’t made it into the Top 1000.
Virginia and Veronica are two semi-classics with lots of history—both saintly and secular. They’ve been on a downward trajectory in the last few years, but I can see that trend reversing, especially with many parents seeking longer, more substantive names. Victoria, on the other hand, still maintains her Top 25 status, while long popular Vanessa has recently dropped out of the Top 100.
Vita means ‘life’ in Latin and several names with that meaning are coming back to –well—life. Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie called his daughter Vita, Camila Alves and Matthew McConaughey used the Spanish Vida, and Rufus Wainwright went with Viva. Vivian, used by Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady last year, is, along with the Jolie–Pitt spelling Vivienne, having a major resurgence, Vivian now having climbed to Number 154. Viveca is the delicate Scandinavian version.
The letter V represents truth as well as life, and there are several options here too, beginning with the word name Verity, one of the most attractive and neglected of the Puritan Virtue names. Vera, which we so cavalierly dismissed back in the day, has jumped no less than 383 places in the past two years! Verena is a more unusual variant.
Now for a quick look at the boys, where there has been far less activity.
What’s happened to those three V-names on our earlier verboten list? Vincent and Victor are doing just fine, thank you, both in the Top 150, with Vincent on the comeback trail, andthey also have some cool international variations—Vicente, Vincenzo, and Vittorio.
Vernon hasn’t been doing as well—he’s been off the list since 2003.
Among those likely to succeed is another name that’s been off the list for awhile—since 1991, in fact–Virgil. He’s just the kind of ancient relic –the name of the greatest Roman poet—that cutting-edge namers might pick up on. The vigorous Scandinavian Viggo was taken out of the single-owner category when Taylor and Natalie Hanson used it for their son. We’ve also heard some recent love for the Welsh surname Vaughn.
What’s your favorite initial V name?
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on February 14th, 2013 at 12:12 am
Still love Vionnet which I didn’t see mentioned!! Such a pretty name and not too close to Violent like Violet and Violante, so it could definitely be an option for those who dislike that connection!!
on February 14th, 2013 at 12:41 am
My youngest has a V-name, Victor! Since then, I have had fantasies of a family of V-names: Vincent, Viggo, Vivienne, Veronica and Verity. It’s not going to happen (in my family at least!) but I did start to realise how many wonderful V-names there are out there.
on February 14th, 2013 at 1:26 am
Vera is a long time fave. Vivienne is beautiful and classy. Also a fan of Vanya and Vaughn. I think Vincent and Victor still have some hibernating to do.
on February 14th, 2013 at 1:42 am
Violet and Vanna for a girl.
Van (nickname for DOnovan or on it’s own) for a boy.
on February 14th, 2013 at 2:08 am
Velia is a favorite of mine. It’s a rare Italian name that means “concealed.”
on February 14th, 2013 at 2:38 am
My absolute favorite V name is Valentine (only on a boy) but of course I would never use it because of its strong ties to V-day. 🙁
My second favorite for a boy would be Viggo (on my list at the moment).
For a girl, Valentina, Vienna and Vera are all tied.
on February 14th, 2013 at 6:29 am
Veda and Vega… swoon!
on February 14th, 2013 at 7:43 am
Happy Valentine’s day everybody 🙂
I adore ‘v’ names for girls however for boys I’m not that keen with the expection of Valentino and Vincent the rest like for instance Victor don’t fit my naming criteria concerning boy’s names.
As the for girls, I love
Viola which seems to lyrical and swoon-worthy.
Violet a sweet classic floral name.
Vera seems really southern and rural, love the vibe.
Vivienne is my favourite spelling concerning this classic but I think Vivian/Vivien/Vivienne are all delightful.
Valentina I adore this name!!!! Valentina is so pretty.
Verity a really sweet name that feels very “English rose” to me, really lovely.
Verona reminds me of my favourite play Romeo & Juliet (the only thing I truly succeeded in at school was the work I did around this play) Verona where Romeo & Juliet was set seems such a majestic name.
Victoria also is a lovely, elegant classic and is my name. I really do love it.
on February 14th, 2013 at 7:44 am
My Favorite is missing form this list… Veda or Vada
on February 14th, 2013 at 8:36 am
We have a daughter, Vesper! Interesting to hear that it may be “growing-in-popularity.” Another name I like is Vela, related to Velia, but means “sail” in Latin.
on February 14th, 2013 at 12:02 pm
Our baby girl will be named Viola in May! And I just love Vita and Viva, but more as nicknames, I think.
on February 14th, 2013 at 12:08 pm
my grandmother’s name is Vera and I just never cared for it. I mentioned that to my husband, and he is in love with it! Funny. I think my bad association with it comes from my father always saying her name in a way that made it seem unfashionable. Her middle name was Mae. Funny, Vera Mae is totally something I can see on modern lists.
on February 14th, 2013 at 12:52 pm
My husband had friends who named their daughter Savannah to honor our friend Georgia who had passed away. The little diva takes just after her namesake and actually goes by “Vanna!”
Of the V names… I too don’t really like the boys names, but the girls are just swoon-worthy. My fave is Victoria, nn Plum. But no one here likes it.
on February 14th, 2013 at 1:51 pm
Love V names, favorites are Virginia, Vivienne and Vera.
on February 14th, 2013 at 1:59 pm
My niece Veda! I’d love to do Vera but it is a little too close
on February 14th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
My son’s name is Victor. We get some compliments and some funny looks when we share it but it fits him perfectly and we love how international it is. V names are great!
on February 14th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
I’m not that surprised that some V names are rising in popularity – the sound is already there in three of the most popular girls’ names in the US: Ava, Avery and Olivia. Genevieve and Evangeline seem to be discussed a lot on naming forums as well. We strongly considered Vivian for our daughter – I love the nickname Vivi – but I just felt like I was seeing it everywhere and got bored with it before she arrived. I can see it hitting the top 20 in a few years.
Vrai is a really awful “name”; Verity is much more palatable if you’re going for meaning and like Vs. 😉
on February 14th, 2013 at 4:35 pm
My favourite V name is Villanelle (she’s the female protagonist in Jeanette Winterson’s novel The Passion). Of the ones you mentioned, Vanessa and Vivien. Gorgeous.
on February 15th, 2013 at 12:19 am
Vivienne for a girl and Vincent for a boy.
on February 15th, 2013 at 2:54 pm
I’m in love with Vera – I just can’t decide if my preferred pronunciation (Vair-uh) would cause future headaches.
on February 15th, 2013 at 11:11 pm
I like Vera, Violet, Valeria, Vienna.
For boys, I can’t stand Vaughn or Virgil, so ugly sounding. Victor and Vincent also need to go away for a while and then comeback a few decades later. I think Vasco is the only one I like
on February 20th, 2013 at 3:55 am
I love Virgil and have for years. I’ve also loved Vivian since I was a kid and saw Pretty Woman. Violet I like but it’s so trendy. Virginia is wonderful. Veronica is too, but I can’t stand nn Ronnie.
I, too, love Villanelle, like Ottilie suggested. I like it b/c of the sonnet form. Vesper is probably my favorite V name.
I adore the letter V. It’s lively: vital, vigorous, vibrant, verdant. I also like names that contain the letter v: Eve, Avalon, Liv, Severine, Evangeline, Everett, Lev… It’s an awesome letter. I’m glad you did a post on it.
on February 20th, 2013 at 4:25 am
I adore the letter V.
Veda Genevieve is the name I will call my daughter! *Swoon*
I also love Vivienne, Violet, Vera, Eva, Evelyn, Evangeline.
on February 20th, 2013 at 4:26 am
Oh and Guinevere! 🙂
on February 21st, 2013 at 4:34 pm
One of my dream names is the Russian Vasilissa, Lissa for short. I think it’s regal but still approachable and modern. Too bad I don’t think I’m adventurous enough to actually use it 🙁
on April 16th, 2013 at 1:36 am
My Daughter was born on Valentine’s Day 2012. We named her Cora Jean Valentina. Cora is a Family name on my side of the family. Jean is my mother and my Husband’s mothers middle name.. and Valentina.. Born on Valentine’s day. Kid’s got a long name.. but it is beautiful..:)
on September 28th, 2013 at 7:51 am
Veronica- Has the herbal and botanical appeal, feminine appeal, original-but-not-made-up appeal.
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