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Virtue Names

Virtue Names
Virtue names, favored by the Puritans, represent qualities we should embody or at least aspire to. They are word names, such as Creed and Heavenly, that often speak to a parent’s values that they hope to pass on to their children.

Along with Heavenly and Creed, other virtue names in the US Top 1000 include Ace, Felicity, Grace, Haven, Journey, Justice, Legend, and Serenity. Rare virtuous names on the rise include Dream, Ever, Hero, and Pax.

While some of the Puritanical virtue names such as Obedience and Modesty might be a bit too outdated for a 21st century child, there are plenty of modern virtue names that would feel right at home on today’s playgrounds. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if names like Reverie and Zen or Loyal and True become downright mainstream in the coming years.

Here, consult our masterlist of virtue names.

Virtue Names

GraceHeart

  • Origin:

    English, virtue name
  • Description:

    Grace is derived from gratia, the Latin word for "grace." It existed as Gracia in the Middle Ages but was not in common use until the Puritans adopted it along with other Christian attribute names in the sixteenth century. It was used as a virtue name, in reference to divine grace — the love and kindness of God.

FelicityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "good fortune, happy"
  • Description:

    Felicity is as accessible a virtue name as Hope and Faith, but much more feminine -- and dare we say, happier. The hit TV show did a lot to soften and modernize the once buttoned-up image of Felicity, and it got further notice as the red-haired Colonial doll, Felicity Merriman, in the American Girl series. A current bearer is actress Felicity Huffman.

BlytheHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "happy, carefree"
  • Description:

    Blythe originated as a nickname for an upbeat person, coming from the Old English word bliðe, meaning "merry" or "cheerful." Today the homophone blithe shares the same meaning. Blythe was eventually adapted to a surname before it became a feminine given name.

SageHeart

  • Origin:

    Herb name and also Latin
  • Meaning:

    "wise and knowing"
  • Description:

    Fits many criteria sought by modern parents: it's short and strong, with intimations of wisdom as well as fragrant herbal properties. At this point, Sage is given about a third of the time to boys.

AceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "one, unity"
  • Description:

    No longer tied to the hapless Ace Ventura, this jaunty, high-flying nickname name is starting to take flight among celebrity and other parents, with its countless positive references to doing well in tests and poker games, on the tennis court and golf course, and in the air.

ConstanceHeart

  • Origin:

    English version of Latin Constantia
  • Meaning:

    "steadfastness"
  • Description:

    Constance is one of the more subtle of the virtue baby names, but still has quite a prim and proper image. One impediment to its revival has been the decidedly dated nickname Connie, though modern parents might well opt for using the strong and dignified name in full.

HopeHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Can a name as virtuous as Hope be cool and trendy? Strangely enough -- yes. But though this optimistic Puritan favorite is experiencing substantial popularity, Hope is too pure and elegant to be corrupted, a lovely classic that deserves all the attention it's getting.

VerityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "truth"
  • Description:

    If you love Puritan virtue names and want to move beyond Hope and Faith and Grace, this is a wonderful choice, both for its meaning and its sound. A rare find here, though occasionally heard in England. It was used in Winston Graham's Poldark novels, was Madonna's name as James Bond's fencing instructor in Die Another Day, and made a brief appearance in Harry Potter. Not to mention being a fixture on British and Australian soaps. Verity also appears in one of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries.

JoyHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "joy"
  • Description:

    Joy is from an older generation of word names, which also included Merry, Bliss, and Glory -- all of which exert a certain amount of personality pressure on a child. One interesting name that means the same thing: Chara.

FaithHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Faith is one of the most straightforward of the virtue names popularized by the Puritans in the seventeenth century, many parents still choosing it as an indicator of their religious conviction. Faith peaked in 2002 at Number 48.

ChaseHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "to hunt"
  • Description:

    Chase, with its sleek and ultraprosperous aura, is redolent of the worlds of high finance and international banking. Chase has been well used during the last few decades, seen as a character on 24 and on several young-audience shows.

LoveHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Love is best left as a middle name, as in Jennifer Love Hewitt. Love alternatives that carry a similar romantic sentiment, and may work better as first names, include Juliet and Valentina.

EverHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Ever's timeless quality would make this evocative word a positive middle name choice for a boy or girl. Alanis Morissette and Souleye named their son Ever Imre.

    Ever also seems to have ties to a Scandinavian name meaning "wild as a boar" and a Hebrew name meaning "beyond,"-- a variation of the name Eber.

ZenHeart

  • Origin:

    Japanese
  • Meaning:

    "meditation"
  • Description:

    A spiritual word name used by actor Zoe Saldana for her son.

LegendHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Legend joins cousins Story, Saga and Fable in the baby name pantheon of narrative words. Unlike Story and Fable, however, Legend comes with additional weight, being used for fame ("living legend") and to denote a person who is fantastic "what a legend"). Who can live up to that?

BlazeHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "fire"
  • Description:

    Originally a form of the saint's name Blaise, though now more likely to be a hot word name used for both sexes, though heavily weighted toward the boys. It has been in the boys' Top 1000 since the year 2000.
    br>On the pop culture side of things, Blaze Bayley is a singer and musician who has been connected to the bands Wolfsbane and Iron Maiden.

PaxHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    Pax, one of the variations of names meaning peace that are newly popular in these less-than-peaceful times, got a lot of publicity when chosen by Brad & Angelina for their Vietnamese-born son. Parents attracted to Pax may also want to consider Paz, the unisex Spanish version, or Paxton, a growing-in-popularity surname choice that shares that magical X-factor.

SerenityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "peaceful"
  • Description:

    Serenity's a pretty virtue choice, having risen quickly since entering the Social Security list in 1997. It was also the title of the 2005 movie spinoff of the Joss Whedon TV show Firefly.

FosterHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "forester"
  • Description:

    Foster is one commonly heard last name that makes a fine first. More unusual than Forrester or Gardener yet eminently first-name-ready, the only problem with Foster might be its association with "foster child."

AmityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "friendship"
  • Description:

    Amity--what nicer gift to give your little girl than a name that signifies friendship and harmony? This virtue name is also more rhythmic and feminine than the single-syllable Hope, Faith, and Grace.

CorneliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Cornelius, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "horn"
  • Description:

    In ancient Rome, Cornelia was considered the paragon of womanly virtue, making it a handsome name with an excellent pedigree. It's rare today, so if you want a name no one else is using, somewhat reminiscent of Amelia and the Shakespearean Cordelia, Cornelia should be on your list. Cornelia's short forms might include Cora, Nelia or Nell--anything but Corny.

HavenHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name, English
  • Description:

    Haven is a recently invented safe-harbor name that appeals to an increasing number of parents who don't want to voyage quite as far as Heaven.

WinsomeHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "agreeable, lighthearted"
  • Description:

    Sweet, modern descriptive name, but perhaps a little too cute for its own good.

MercyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "compassion"
  • Description:

    The quality of mercy makes this lovely Puritan virtue name a quiet favorite today. Although it was most popular in the late nineteenth century, Mercy is on its way to a comeback -- it rose 143 spots between 2012 and 2013, making it one of the year's fastest-rising names. Right now, it's still stylish and distinctive, a rare and wonderful combination.

PrudenceHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Meaning:

    "caution"
  • Description:

    Prudence, like Hope and Faith, is a Puritan virtue name with a quiet charm and sensitivity that is slowly returning to favor, though it hasn't yet registered on the charts.

DestinyHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    If Destiny is your daughter's destiny, she probably won't be the only one in her school: until 2009, Destiny was in the Top 50, with three of its alternate spellings in hot pursuit. It has since dipped a bit in popularity but is still widely used. Destiny Hope was the birth name of Miley Cyrus and Destiny Jones is the daughter or rapper Nas.

DreamHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Singular and serene noun name that's been used by a couple of celebs.

TrinityHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "triad"
  • Description:

    Trinity bounded up the charts after the release of The Matrix, whose heroine was named Trinity. Country singer Trace Adkins used it for his daughter.

CreedHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Creed appeared on the US Top 1000 for the first time in over a century in 2016; it was the year's second-fastest-rising boys' name. It probably got a bump from the seventh movie in the Rocky series, called simply Creed. Some may know it from the character on the popular television show The Office.

ValorHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Honor and bravery are certainly virtues any parent would want to encourage, and this word itself is obscure enough that it manages to sound like a real name.

ReverieHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Reverie is a strong-sounding word for an ethereal, dreamlike state -- a perfect contrast and meaning for a word that intends to become a first name. Popular mommy blogger Rebecca Woolf of Girls Gone Child named one of her twin daughters Reverie, setting off a groundswell of interest.

CharityHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Meaning:

    "charity"
  • Description:

    Charity is one of the Big Three abstract virtue names, along with Hope and Faith, though far less widely used than the others. But as Faith, Grace and Hope grow more common, some parents are beginning to look at the more unusual three-syllable choices like Verity, Amity, Clarity and Charity, which sound much fresher and also have that pleasingly rhythmic 'y'-ending sound.

HonorHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Honor is a somewhat more pressured virtue name than Hope or Grace, placing a high standard on any girl carrying it, but it's a goal worth setting. By choosing Honor for her daughter, Jessica Alba brought it very much into the modern world.

ChanceHeart

  • Origin:

    French variation of Chauncey
  • Description:

    Once a cavalier Mississippi gambler type name, Chance has entered the mainstream since being endorsed by such celebrity dads as Larry King and Paul Hogan. Chance the Rapper has also boosted the name's popularity.

HarmonyHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    If Melody and Lyric are on your style sheet, the peaceful Harmony, popularized by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, should be too.

TemperanceHeart

  • Origin:

    Virtue name
  • Description:

    Not too long ago, Temperance was found only on lists of Puritan baby names.

HeroHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "demi-god"
  • Description:

    Despite the possibility of gender confusion, the Hero in Greek myth was a woman. Myleene Klass got that when she chose Hero for her daughter, and Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson used it as their daughter's middle--and we wouldn't be surprised to see more girls with this heroic name.

RoyalHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Even less subtle than Duke or Earl, this name is leaping up the popularity charts, probably due in part to a boost from the hit Lorde song "Royals."

JourneyHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    One of the new word names, appealing to parents attracted to the idea of a spiritual -- or even an actual -- voyage. The Journee spelling is also being used. Unisex alert: Jenna Jameson used Journey for one of her twin boys, as did the Black Eyed Peas rock musician known as Taboo.

MoxieHeart

  • Origin:

    English slang
  • Meaning:

    "aggressive energy, know-how"
  • Description:

    Like Penn Jillette, you can have your own little brash babe.

NobleHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "aristocratic"
  • Description:

    With parents beginning to show an interest in virtue names for boys, this Puritan favorite just might be revived, for what could be more admirable than nobility in terms of having strength of character, dignity, and high moral ideals?

LoyalHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "faithful, loyal"
  • Description:

    Loyal is one of the few virtue names suitable for boys, an honorable and principled Boy Scout-esque appellation with a surprisingly long and distinguished history.

IrieHeart

  • Origin:

    Jamaican
  • Meaning:

    "positive and powerful"
  • Description:

    A name used in the Caribbean, taken from the Rastafarian term that translates best to "positive and powerful." Rastas often greet each other by saying, "Are you feeling Irie today?"

TrueHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Inspirational, aspirational word name that would work especially well as a middle name; it was used by Forest Whitaker for his daughter, and more recently by Khloe Kardashian.

ProsperHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "favorable, prosperous"
  • Description:

    In France, pronounced PRO-spare, Prosper is a fairly common name; here it presents a worthy aspirational message for a child.

BlissHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    A sweet, uplifting and still fairly uncommon modern virtue name. Its single syllable makes it especially good as a middle name, but it would also make a big impact in the first spot.

KismetHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Meaning:

    "fate"
  • Description:

    The next Destiny? Kismet seems like it might be fated for increased use.

PatienceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin virtue name
  • Description:

    Patience is a passive virtue turned engaging name, fresher than Hope, Faith, or even Charity. Its resemblance to the trendy Payton may be one reason for its recent spike in popularity.

HeavenlyHeart

  • Origin:

    Word name
  • Description:

    Heavenly, the word that's become a name, has been flirting with the bottom of the Top 1000 for a handful of years now. Heaven and cousins like Nevaeh have been well-used so adding the popular -ly suffix, ala Everly, seems like a natural progression.

SerendipityHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "unexpected good fortune"
  • Description:

    A unique virtue name with a sound as happy and lively as its meaning.
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