Names and class is a touchy issue, particularly for Americans. In the U.S., we like to pretend that class doesn’t exist, much less get signaled by factors like names.
In Britain, the class standing of names may be more widely acknowledged, yet everywhere the question of which names are classy and which are trashy changes over time.
Take Harry, the name of one of the young princes of England. A royal connection definitely gives a name class. Yet for years in the U.S., Harry has been one of the ultimate working man names, its image more pauper than prince.
Names like Tiffany and Crystal, drawn from expensive status products and meant to convey class, often do just the opposite. Plain and down-to-earth names — Anne, Charles, Philip — might be born by someone from any social or economic standing.
For a fascinating analysis of higher and lower class names in late 19th century London, read this blog at The Orangery. The short story: Margaret and Edith are most likely to be high class girls’ names at that time and place, while Sarah and Jane are most likely to be servant names. For males, Frederick is the highest class name while James and George are lower class.
Things are very different in the modern age, yet perhaps no less confusing. In today’s world, does a name have to be old — pegged to traditional ideas of class and social status — to be classy, or is money or fame a better indicator of contemporary class? When modern royal babies are named Savannah, are traditional standards of what makes a name classy outmoded? Is class itself an outmoded concept?
Do you believe names convey class? And which names to you have the most of it? (Let’s stay away from the negative side here, please, and focus on which names have class rather than which names don’t!)
The adorable crocheted baby crown here is from MitziKnitz on Etsy.