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Shakespeare Baby Names

Shakespeare Baby Names
Shakespeare names were drawn by the Bard from a range of ancient and modern cultures. Many have survived through the ages and are ripe for modern play. Shakespeare is thought to have invented a handful of the names in his plays, some of which been remarkably popular in the centuries after his death. Among Shakespeare’s creations are Jessica, Miranda, Perdita, and Florizel. Although it is sometimes reported as such, Shakespeare was not the first to use Imogen, Olivia, or Viola.

Along with Olivia and Miranda, other Shakespeare baby names in the US Top 1000 include Audrey, Fabian, Juliet, Romeo, Marcellus, Beatrice, Orlando, and Ophelia. Shakespearean names with strong ties to their characters include Desdemona, Puck, Othello, and Hero.

Shakespearean baby names are as timeless as the Bard’s plays. Among the Shakespearean baby names we recommend are the following, many of them perfectly in style right now.

Shakespearean Baby Names
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OliviaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Olivia is one of the top US baby names as well as one of the top girl names in English-speaking and European countries around the world.

OpheliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "help"
  • Description:

    Ophelia is a beautiful name that has long been hampered by the stigma of Hamlet's tragic heroine—for whom he seems to have invented the name—but more and more parents are beginning to put that association aside. There is also a gutsy Ophelia in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin, which seems to have had some influence on baby namers at the time.

CassiusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "hollow"
  • Description:

    Cassius, a Shakespearean name rooted in antiquity, is coming into fashion in a major way. There were two notable Ancient Roman figures named Cassius. Cassius Dio wrote an 80-volume history of Rome. Gaius Cassius Longinus, a senator who led the assassination plot against Julius Caesar, is the main figure in Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. In more modern times, Cassius Clay was an abolitionist and also the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali. It was chosen for their sons by singer Bobby Brown and Getty heir/actor Balthazar Getty. Vanessa Marcil and Brian Austin Green used the nouveau Kassius spelling for theirs. With these namesakes, it's no surprise this name has become popular in recent years.

SebastianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "person from ancient city of Sebastia"
  • Description:

    Sebastian is derived from the Greek Sebastianos, meaning “from Sebastia.” Sebastia was a city in Asia Minor—modern day Sivas, Turkey. Sebastian is a name with a substantial history, first as the third-century martyr whose sufferings were a favorite subject of medieval artists, then as the name of memorable characters in such varied works as Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Tempest and Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

ImogenHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "maiden"
  • Description:

    Imogen seems to have originated as a Shakespearean printer's misspelling of the traditional Celtic name Innogen, used by him for a character in one of his last plays, Cymbeline. The Innogen of legend, who Shakespeare’s character was based on, was the wife of Brutus of Troy, the first king of Britain. Her name was derived from the Gaelic word inghean, meaning “daughter” or “maiden.”
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CordeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin; Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "heart; daughter of the sea"
  • Description:

    Cordelia, the name of King Lear's one sympathetic daughter, has style and substance, and is exactly the kind of old-fashioned, grown-up name that many parents are seeking today. If you're torn between Cordelia and the equally lovely Cora, you can always choose Cordelia for long and then call her Cora for short—or Delia, Lia, Del, or even the extremely different Cordie. Cordelia is a Nameberry favorite—Number 106 on the site—and it reentered the US Top 1000 in 2014 after a 60+ year absence.

OliverHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "olive tree"
  • Description:

    Oliver derives from Olivier, the Norman French variation of the Ancient Germanic name Alfher or the Old Norse Aleifr, which comes from Olaf. Olivier emerged as the dominant spelling for its associations with the Latin word oliva, meaning “olive tree.” Oliver was used as a given name in medieval England after the spread of the French epic poem ‘La Chanson de Roland,’ which features a character named Olivier.

NathanielHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Nathaniel was derived from the Hebrew name Netan’el, meaning “gift of God,” composed of the elements natan, meaning “to give,” and ’el, in reference to God. The name is featured several times in the Old and New Testaments, typically spelled Nathanael. In the New Testament, Nathanael is also known by his other name, Bartholomew.

BeatriceHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "she who brings happiness; blessed"
  • Description:

    Beatrice is derived from Beatrix, a Latin name meaning “she who brings happiness.” Beatrice was the name of Queen Victoria's youngest child. And in Dante's epic poem The Divine Comedy, Beatrice is his guide through Paradise and is idealized as the embodiment of the spirit of love. In Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice is the witty, high-spirited heroine. Other variants of the name include the French Béatrice and the Spanish and Portuguese Beatriz.

AudreyHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "noble strength"
  • Description:

    Audrey is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Aethelthryth, the name that later evolved into Ethelred. St. Audrey was a seventh century saint who was particularly revered in the Middle Ages. Her name led to the term tawdry, as cheap lace necklaces were sold at the St. Audrey fair. Shakespeare bestowed her name on a character in As You Like It.
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AlexanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "defending men"
  • Description:

    Alexander is derived from the Greek name Aléxandros, composed of the elements aléxein, meaning “to defend,” and aner, meaning “man.” According to Greek legend, the first Alexander was Paris, who was given the nickname Alexander by the shepherds whose flocks he defended against robbers. He was followed by Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III, who conquered much of Asia.

JulietHeart

  • Origin:

    English from Latin
  • Meaning:

    "youthful or sky father"
  • Description:

    One of the most romantic names, the lovely and stylish Juliet seems finally to have shaken off her limiting link to Romeo. In Shakespeare's play, it was Juliet who said "What's in a name?"

LuciusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "light"
  • Description:

    Lucius is an exotic old Roman clan name that has lots of religious and literary resonance, yet is still vital today. It was the name of three popes, appears in several Shakespeare plays, and, like all the names beginning with 'luc' relates to the Latin word for light.It was one of a limited number of forenames used in ancient Rome.

DianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "divine"
  • Description:

    Diana, the tragic British princess, inspired many fashions, but strangely, not one for her name. For us, Diana is a gorgeous and still-underused choice.

CressidaHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "gold"
  • Description:

    Cressida is a pretty mythological and Shakespearean heroine name much better known in Britain than it is here — an imbalance the adventurous baby namer might want to correct. For although the Trojan heroine of that name in the tale told by Boccaccio, then Chaucer, then Shakespeare, didn't have the greatest reputation — she was faithless to Troilus and broke his heart — the name today sounds fresh, crisp and creative.
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EmiliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Emil, Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rival"
  • Description:

    Emilia is the feminine form of the Roman clan name Aemilius, which derived from the Latin aemulus, meaning “rival.” In Shakespeare’s Othello, Emilia is the wife of Iago and confidante of Desdemona. Amelia, although homonymous, has a different root and meaning.

CaiusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "rejoice"
  • Description:

    Caius is classical and serious but also has a simple, joyful quality. There was a third century pope named Caius, as well as an early Christian writer, several Shakespearean characters, and a Twilight vampire. We would pronounce the name to rhyme with eye-us though at Cambridge University in England, where it's the name of a college, it's pronounced keys. Caius is currently Number 164 on Nameberry.

LennoxHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "elm grove"
  • Description:

    Lennox is an aristocratic and powerful Scottish surname name made truly special by that final x. The worldwide fame of British boxer--World and Olympic champion--Lennox Claudius Lewis brought the name into the spotlight as a first name, while as a last it's tied to Eurythmics singer Annie L.

HermioneHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek, feminine version of Hermes, "messenger, earthly"
  • Meaning:

    "messenger, earthly"
  • Description:

    Hermione's costarring role in Harry Potter has made this previously ignored, once stodgy name suddenly viable. Hermione could really take off once today's children start having kids of their own.

TitusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, meaning unknown, possibly "title of honour"
  • Meaning:

    "title of honour"
  • Description:

    Titus, once seen as a slightly forbidding Roman, New Testament, and Shakespearean name, was brought back to contemporary life in the USA by the TV series Titus 2000, increasing in popularity along with other revived ancient names like Linus and Silas.
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WalterHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army ruler"
  • Description:

    Walter was seen as a noble name in the Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Walter Scott era, but it then spent decades in baby name limbo. Now quite a few independent-minded parents are looking at it as a renewable, slightly quirky, classic, stronger and more distinctive than James or John, second only to William among the handsome classic boy baby names starting with W. The recent popularity of Breaking Bad has brought us Walter White, conferring on the name Walter a new kind of cool and prompting a fresh wave of popularity.

OctaviaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "eighth"
  • Description:

    Octavia began as the Latin, then Victorian name for an eighth child. While there aren't many eighth children anymore, this ancient Roman name has real possibilities as a substitute for the overused Olivia; recommended for its combination of classical and musical overtones. It was chosen for his daughter by Kevin Sorbo.

MalcolmHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish
  • Meaning:

    "devotee of St. Colomba"
  • Description:

    Malcolm is a warm and welcoming Scottish appellation (originally Mael-Colium) that fits into that golden circle of names that are distinctive but not at all odd. A royal name in Scotland, Malcolm is also a hero name for many via radical civil rights activist Malcolm X.

HelenaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latinate form of Helen, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "bright, shining light"
  • Description:

    Helena is a more delicate and dainty version of Helen, a favorite of Shakespeare, who used it in both All's Well That Ends Well and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Historically, Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great (and, supposedly, the daughter of Old King Cole), who became a fourth century saint--Evelyn Waugh wrote his only historical novel, Helena, based on her story.

LysanderHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "liberator"
  • Description:

    Lysander is a distinctive Greek name that could be thought of as a more creative cousin of Alexander. In ancient history, Lysander was the name of an esteemed Spartan naval commander and his literary cred comes from one of the two star-struck young men in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as one of the twin sons (the other being Lorcan) of Luna Lovegood, whom we learn about in the Harry Potter epilogue.
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AntonioHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Italian variation of Anthony
  • Meaning:

    "priceless one"
  • Description:

    Antonio is a Shakespearean favorite -- the Bard used it in no less than five of his plays, and has long been a ubiquitous classic in Spanish-speaking countries, where the nickname Tonio is also prevalent. Antonio is also among an elite group of perennially popular names in the US, where it has always been among the boys' Top 1000 since baby name record-keeping started in 1880.

CeliaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "heavenly"
  • Description:

    Celia, splendidly sleek and feminine, is a name that was scattered throughout Shakespeare and other Elizabethan literature, but still manages to feel totally modern.

MarinaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "from the sea"
  • Description:

    This pretty sea-born name was used to dramatic effect by Shakespeare in his play Pericles for the virtuous princess who says she is "Call'd Marina, for I was born at sea."

BiancaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "white"
  • Description:

    Bianca, the livelier Italian and Shakespearean version of Blanche, has been chosen by many American parents since the 1990s, just as Blanca is a favorite in the Spanish-speaking community. It's meaning of white relates to snow, making it one of the prime names for winter babies.

HughHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "mind, intellect"
  • Description:

    Patrician to the core, Hugh was firmly in the Top 100 until 1903. Now it's used very quietly, though the name is still in the Top 1000.
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LaviniaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, from ancient place name Lavinium
  • Description:

    Lavinia is a charmingly prim and proper Victorian-sounding name which actually dates back to classical mythology, where it was the name of the wife of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who was considered the mother of the Roman people.

AdrianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, feminine variation of Adrian
  • Meaning:

    "man of Adria"
  • Description:

    This a-ending feminine form of Adrian, from the northern Italian city of Adria, is a soft and lovely Italian choice. It appears as a character in Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors.

RomeoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian
  • Meaning:

    "pilgrim to Rome, Roman"
  • Description:

    It wasn't so long ago that Romeo was considered as outre for an American baby as Casanova or Cupid. But that really changed when David and Victoria Beckham chose it for their second son in 2002, a path followed by Jon Bon Jovi.

JuliusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "youthful, downy-bearded"
  • Description:

    Immortal through its association with the ancient Caesar (it was his clan name), Julius may still lag behind Julian, but is definitely starting to make a comeback, and in fact feels more cutting edge, in line with the current trend for Latin -us endings.

UlyssesHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin variation of the Greek Odysseus
  • Description:

    Ulysses is one of the few U boys' names anyone knows -- with heavy links to the Homeric hero, eighteenth president Grant, and the James Joyce novel -- all of which makes it both distinguished and kind of weighty for a modern boy. Ulysses was on the US popularity list well into the twenty-first century; it's off now, but Number 684 on Nameberry.
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EdmundHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fortunate protector"
  • Description:

    The sophisticated Edmund and its nearly-identical French twin Edmond are coming out of mothballs now that Edward, inspired by Twilight, is once again a hot name.

ViolaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "violet"
  • Description:

    Viola has several positive elements going for it: the rhythm of the musical instrument, the association with the flower, the trending 'Vi' beginning and its leading role in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

LorenzoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Laurence
  • Meaning:

    "from Laurentium"
  • Description:

    Latinizing Lawrence gives it a whole new lease on life. Like Leonardo, Lorenzo has been integrated into the American stockpot of names, partly via actor Lorenzo Lamas. Other associations are with Lorenzo de' Medici, the Florentine Renaissance merchant prince and art patron, Renaissance artists Ghiberti and Lotto, and the upstanding young man who married Shylock's daughter Jessica in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

RosalindHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "pretty rose"
  • Description:

    Rosalind has a distinguished literary history --it started as a as a lyrical name in early pastoral poetry, probably coined by Edmund Spenser. It was further popularized by Shakespeare via one of his most charming heroines, in As You Like It --and, along with a bouquet of other Rose names, might be ready for a comeback.

OberonHeart

  • Origin:

    Variation of Auberon
  • Meaning:

    "noble, bearlike"
  • Description:

    The Shakespearean character Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream is King of the Fairies, but the name, with its strong 'O' beginning, projects a far more virile image than that.
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OrlandoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian variation of Roland
  • Meaning:

    "famous throughout the land"
  • Description:

    Orlando, the ornate Italianate twist on the dated Roland, with a literary heritage stretching back to Shakespeare and before, has appealing book-ended o's, and is open to combination with almost any last name, a la British actor, Orlando Bloom.

ValentineHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "strength, health"
  • Description:

    Valentine is an attractive Shakespearean name with romantic associations, but those very ties to the saint and the sentimental holiday have sent it into a decline, one which we think may be about to turn around.

JessicaHeart

  • Origin:

    English, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    When Jennifer was ready to give up her throne, her crown was passed to Jessica, who reigned for not one but two decades; Jessica was the top name of both the 1980's and 90's, never sounding quite as trendy as its predecessor, maybe because of its classic Shakespearean pedigree. Jessica has declined a bit in popularity but is still a popular choice.

FabianHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin clan name
  • Meaning:

    "bean grower"
  • Description:

    Fabian is the ancient name of a saint and pope that also has Shakespearean cred as Olivia's servant in Twelfth Night and more recently made an appearance in Harry Potter. In the U.S. Fabian became best known via the 1960s teen idol/singer who went solely by his first name.

CorneliusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "horn"
  • Description:

    Cornelius, the New Testament name of a third century Pope and saint, is one of those venerable Latin names on the edge of consideration, despite the corny nickname alert.
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TimothyHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "honoring God"
  • Description:

    A second-tier classic, the New Testament Timothy moves in and out of fashion more than John and James. But though it peaked in the 1960s, many modern parents still appreciate its familiarity and lively rhythm. And the short form Tim feels eternally boyish.

TarquinHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin, Roman clan name
  • Description:

    One of the few ancient Roman names that doesn't end in us, the rarely heard Tarquin has a decidedly creative, even dramatic flair, which could appeal to the parent looking for a strikingly original name. Sir Laurence Olivier used it for his oldest child, who was named Simon Tarquin but called by his middle name.

MarcellusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "young warrior"
  • Description:

    This ancient Roman family name, first borne by the distinguished Marcus Claudius Marcellus and later by two popes, is a possibilty in the hot new category of names from antiquity.

FranciscoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Portuguese variation of Francis
  • Meaning:

    "Frenchman or free man"
  • Description:

    Francisco is one of the more popular Spanish names for boys in the US, which is unsurprising given its popularity back in Spain and Portugal as well as Latin America, coupled with its classic status. It also has a cool hipster vibe to it, given the reputation of the city of San Francisco.

MarianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and Portuguese combination of Ana and Maria
  • Meaning:

    "grace + drop of the sea, bitter, or beloved"
  • Description:

    Combination of popular traditional names Maria and Ana.
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