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Posh Baby Names

by Eleanor Nickerson, British Baby Names

The following names are the names most indicative of the upper class in Britain over the last thirty years based on peerage birth announcements compared with national statistics. In other words, these names are uncommon choices in Britain except for among the upper class where they are well used.

The Brits call these Posh Baby Names, while to Americans these names may feel simply British or Eurostyle...which may feel posh or wealthy or upper class.

If you're looking to invest your baby's name with a touch of class, consider these posh baby name choices.
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FelixHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "happy, fortunate"
  • Description:

    Felix was originally a Roman surname but was adopted as a nickname by the ancient Roman Sulla, who believed that he was especially blessed with luck by the gods. It is the name of four popes and sixty-seven saints; in the Bible, Felix is a Roman procurator of Judea.

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.

HugoHeart

  • Origin:

    Latinized form of Hugh
  • Meaning:

    "mind, intellect"
  • Description:

    Hugo, the Latin form of Hugh, has more heft and energy than the original -- and of course we love names that end (or begin, for that matter) with an o. This one is especially appealing because it's backed up by lots of solid history and European style.

CaspianHeart

  • Origin:

    Place name
  • Meaning:

    "white"
  • Description:

    One of the most romantic of appellations, as well as being a geographical name of the large salty sea between Asia and Europe that probably inspired C.S. Lewis to use it for the name of the hero of his children's novel, Prince Caspian, part of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

ArabellaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "yielding to prayer"
  • Description:

    Arabella was used as a given name beginning in the 12th century with the birth of Arabella de Leuchars, granddaughter of William the Lion, King of Scotland. It is derived from the Latin orabilis, from which Arabella gets its meaning. Some scholars tie Arabella to Amabel, claiming that the former developed as a variation of the latter in Scotland, much like the name Annabel.
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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.

TobiasHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek from Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "God is good"
  • Description:

    Tobias is the Greek form of the Hebrew Tobiah, which was derived from the name Toviyah. Toviyah was created from the elements tov, meaning “good” and yah, representing the Hebrew God. Tobias is the name of several biblical figures but is primarily associated with the story of Tobias and the Angel.

FloraHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "flower"
  • Description:

    Flora, the name of the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, who enjoyed eternal youth, is one of the gently old-fashioned girls' flower names we think is due for a comeback--alongside cousins Cora and Dora. Also the name of a saint, Flora has long been a favorite in Scotland where it was the name of the young heroine who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie make his way to France. Florence, Fiorella, Fleur, and Flower are translations, but we like Flora best of all.

OttoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "wealthy"
  • Description:

    Cutting-edge parents have revived this German name a la Oscar.

MagnusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "greatest"
  • Description:

    Magnus is a Latin name, literally meaning “greatest,” that has a Scandinavian feel. It dates back to Charlemagne being called Carolus Magnus, or Charles the Great. Norwegian king Magnus I, named after Charlemagne, introduced it to his culture, and thus Magnus was the name of six early kings of Norway and four of Sweden. It is still a highly popular name in Denmark and Norway.
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TristanHeart

  • Origin:

    Celtic
  • Meaning:

    "noise or sorrowful"
  • Description:

    Tristan -- known through medieval legend and Wagnerian opera -- has a slightly wistful, touching air. This, combined with the name's popular "an" ending, makes Tristan very appealing to parents seeking a more original alternative to Christian.

KitHeart

  • Origin:

    English, diminutive of Christopher
  • Description:

    Actor Kit Harington, aka the dreamy Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, has given this nickname-name new style and appeal for boys. Actress Jodie Foster used it for her son. For girls, it's an updated diminutive of Katherine.

ClaudiaHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Claude
  • Meaning:

    "lame; enclosure"
  • Description:

    A classic name with a hint of ancient Roman splendor that has never been truly in or truly out, Claudia still feels like a strong, modern choice — one of our "sweet spot" names.

ArtemisHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek mythology name
  • Description:

    Artemis, one of the key figures of the female Greek pantheon, is the ancient virgin goddess of the hunt, wilderness, animals, childbirth, and a protector of young girls, later associated with the moon. Artemis is the equivalent to the Roman Diana, but a fresher and more distinctive, if offbeat, choice.

OttilieHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of German OTTO,
  • Meaning:

    "prosperous in battle"
  • Description:

    Ottilie and its diminutive Ottiline are a pair of names heard among the British upper crust, but have rarely been seen here since the 1880's. Though it has German roots via Otto, Ottilie has a distinctively delicate French feel.
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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.

RufusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "red-head"
  • Description:

    Rufus is a rumpled, redheaded (it was the nickname for red-haired King William) ancient Roman name popular with saints and singers (e.g. Rufus Wainwright); now, Rufus is on the cutting edge of cool.

TheodoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Theodore
  • Meaning:

    "gift of God"
  • Description:

    Theodora is one of the most revival-worthy of the charmingly old-fashioned Victorian valentine names, softly evocative but still substantial, as is the reversed-syllable Dorothea. It was borne by several saints and by the beautiful ninth wife of the Emperor Justinian, who became the power behind his throne. A later royal was Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark, the older sister of the present Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

CosmoHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian from Greek
  • Meaning:

    "order, beauty"
  • Description:

    We all heard it on "Seinfeld" as the long-concealed first name of Kramer, now some pioneering parents are wondering if this expansive Greek name that seems to embrace the whole cosmos could make a creative and cool choice for their baby.

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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CasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch form of Jasper, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    This ancient name, also spelled Caspar, is finally shedding its ghostly image and moving into the 21st century. Popular in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where it's sometimes shortened to Cas, Casper could ride the style coattails of cousin Jasper. Casper was one of the Three Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus along with Melchior and Balthasar.

PrimroseHeart

  • Origin:

    English flower name
  • Meaning:

    "first rose"
  • Description:

    Still found in quaint British novels, and until recently considered a bit too prim for most American classrooms, some adventurous namers are suddenly beginning to see Primrose as an attractive member of the rose family.

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."

CalypsoHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "she who hides"
  • Description:

    This hyper-rhythmic name has two evocative references. In Greek mythology, she was an island nymph, a daughter of Atlas, who delayed Odysseus from returning home. It is also a genre of West Indian music, originating in Trinidad and Tobago and largely popularized in the States by Harry Belafonte.

RupertHeart

  • Origin:

    German variation of Robert
  • Meaning:

    "bright fame"
  • Description:

    Rupert is a charming-yet-manly name long more popular in Britain (where it's attached to a beloved cartoon bear) than in the U.S. Yet we can see Rupert as a more stylish, modern way to honor an ancestral Robert.
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CocoHeart

  • Origin:

    Spanish and French pet name
  • Description:

    Coco came to prominence as the nickname of the legendary French designer Chanel (born Gabrielle) and has lately become a starbaby favorite, initially chosen by Courteney Cox for her daughter Coco Riley in 2004. At first it was the kind of name that the press loves to ridicule, but we predict Coco's heading for more broad acceptance and even popularity.

AugustusHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "great, magnificent"
  • Description:

    Parents are beginning to look at imposing, somewhat fusty-sounding names like this one with fresh eyes: they definitely make a strong statement.

XantheHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "golden, yellow"
  • Description:

    X marks the spot in names these days, usually at the middles or ends of names, but here is one that puts it squarely up front.

CecilyHeart

  • Origin:

    Feminine variation of Cecil
  • Meaning:

    "blind"
  • Description:

    Cecily is as dainty as a lace handkerchief. Cecily has a wide assortment of namesakes. One Cecily was the mother of King Richard III, whose beauty gained her the title "the Rose of Raby," Cecily Parsley is a Beatrix Potter bunny, Cecily Cardew is a character in The Importance of Being Earnest, and the author of the Gossip Girl books is Cecily von Ziegesar.

RalphHeart

  • Origin:

    English from German
  • Meaning:

    "wolf-counsel"
  • Description:

    Ralph has two diametrically different images: there's the suave Ralph Fiennes-type Brit (often pronounced Rafe), and then there's the Jackie Gleason blue-collar, bowling blowhard Ralph Kramden bus driver. It's all in the eye of the beholder, though its hip factor did rise when it was chosen for his son by cool U.K. actor Matthew Macfadyen.
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CosimaHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian feminine variation of Cosmo, Greek
  • Meaning:

    "order, beauty"
  • Description:

    Cosima, the kind of elegant and exotic name the British upper classes love to use for their daughters, will almost certainly come into wider use here after being chosen by two high-profile celebs in the same month — cool couple Sofia Coppola and Thomas Mars as well as supermodel Claudia Schiffer. It was used earlier by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, while the male form, Cosimo, was given to the son of Marissa Ribisi and Beck.

CamillaHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "young ceremonial attendant"
  • Description:

    The Spanish Camila, pronounced ka-MEE-la, is the fastest rising version of this ancient Roman name, but recent royal Camilla may have helped promote the British brand. In Roman myth, Camilla was a swift-footed huntress so fast she could run over a field without bending a blade of grass.

FergusHeart

  • Origin:

    Scottish and Irish
  • Meaning:

    "man of force"
  • Description:

    In Celtic lore, Fergus was the ideal of manly courage; Fergus is a charming, slightly quirky Scottish and Irish favorite.

AramintaHeart

  • Origin:

    Invented hybrid name from Arabella and Aminta
  • Description:

    Araminta is an enchanting eighteenth-century invention familiar in Britain and just beginning to be discovered here. It was used in 1693 by William Congreve in his comedy The Old Bachelor, and in 1705 by the versatile Sir John Vanbrugh, architect of Blenheim Palace as well as a playwright, for his comedy The Confederacy.

IvoHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "yew wood, archer"
  • Description:

    Ivo is an unusual, catchy name with the energetic impact of all names ending in 'o'. Hardly heard in the U.S., it is used a bit more frequently in England, as is the related Ivor, a favorite of such novelists as Evelyn Waugh and P.G. Wodehouse. Ivo is currently most popular in the Netherlands.
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HectorHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "holding fast"
  • Description:

    Previously used primarily by Latino families, this name of the great hero of the Trojan War as related in Homer's Iliad is beginning to be considered more seriously by others seeking noble ancient hero names as well--it was also the name of the knight who raised King Arthur as his own son.

PandoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "all gifted"
  • Description:

    Pandora has occasionally been used by the British gentry (for girls with brothers who might be called Peregrine) but is rarely heard here, probably because Pandora was the mythological first woman on earth whose curiosity caused her to lift a forbidden box and inadvertently unleash all the evils of the world.

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.

TatianaHeart

  • Origin:

    Russian from Latin family name
  • Description:

    Tatiana was derived from Tatius, a Sabine-Latin family name of unknown origin. Titus Tatius was the name of an ancient king who ruled over the Sabines, an ancient Italic tribe who lived near Rome. The Romans used the name Tatius even after the Sabines died out and created the short forms Tatianus and Tatiana. The names were eventually disseminated throughout the Orthodox Christian world, including Russia.

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.
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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.

WilburHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "resolute, brilliant"
  • Description:

    Wilbur is a stylish name in the UK whose merits are just starting to be discovered in the US. Wilbur, the loveable pig who Charlotte of the Web called Some Pig, is an inspirational hero. And Wilbur and Orville Wright were early aviationists.

ArchibaldHeart

  • Origin:

    Teutonic
  • Meaning:

    "truly brave"
  • Description:

    The short form Archie is so open and friendly --and very trendy in the British Isles--that some parents are now beginning to consider the formerly fusty Archibald as well. SNL comedians Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are one couple who made this breakthrough choice.

InigoHeart

  • Origin:

    Basque, medieval Spanish variation of Ignatius
  • Meaning:

    "fiery"
  • Description:

    Inigo, almost unknown in the U.S., is an intriguing choice, with its strong beat, creative and evocative sound, and associations with the great early British architect and stage designer Inigo Jones. The sixteenth-seventeenth century Jones shared his name with his father, a London clockmaker, who received it when Spanish names for boys were fashionable in England, especially among devout Roman Catholics.

BarnabyHeart

  • Origin:

    English variation of Barnabas, Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "son of consolation"
  • Description:

    Barnaby, a genial and energetic name with an Irish-sounding three-syllable lilt, is an ancient appellation that manages to be both unusual and highly attractive and deserves to be used more than it is. A sweet-spot name that's a real winner.
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LeopoldHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "brave people"
  • Description:

    This aristocratic, somewhat formal Germanic route to the popular Leo is a royal name: Queen Victoria used it to honor a favorite uncle, King Leopold of Belgium. Though Leopold sounds as if it might be a leonine name, it's not really a relative of such choices as Leon, and Leonard.

BenedictHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "blessed"
  • Description:

    Parents who like Ben and Benjamin but find those forms too popular sometimes consider Benedict as a more distinctive choice. Unlike the Old Testament Benjamin, Benedict is the name of the saint who formed the Benedictine Order and of fifteen popes,including a recent one.

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.

TabithaHeart

  • Origin:

    Aramaic
  • Meaning:

    "gazelle"
  • Description:

    Though never as popular as the name of her Bewitched mother, Samantha, Tabitha has its own quirky, magical charm. The name of a charitable woman who was restored to life by Saint Peter in the Bible, it was a popular Puritan choice. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick chose it for one of their twin daughters, which gave it a slight boost. Nonetheless, Tabitha remains in decline.

LeonoraHeart

  • Origin:

    Italian diminutive of Eleonora or Eleanor, meaning unknown
  • Description:

    Its mellifluous sound makes Leonora--which has a rich history and a tie to the popular Leo names-- a keen possibility for revival. Though it's been hiding below the Top 1000 since the 1940s, Leonora is being rediscovered by stylish parents in the US and Europe.
    Leonora has the distinction of being three major opera characters, including the heroines of Beethoven's Fidelio and Verdi's Il Trovatore. It was also the name of two characters played by Elizabeth Taylor--in Secret Ceremony and Reflections in a Golden Eye.
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