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Monday, June 17, 2013

Why is Elizabeth Perpetually Popular?

Baby Profile by Vera Kratochvil
When pondering classic and even regal names, there is one that almost always comes to mind: Elizabeth. This perpetually popular name surely has a good reason for remaining as such! But what is that reason? Beyond its elegance and beauty, Elizabeth tends to flow very well with many names. This is one of the reasons that it has remained within the Top 30 every single year since 1880.

But why does it pair so well? Elizabeth is used for both a first and middle name. People love Elizabeth as a first name because of how versatile the nicknames are, ranging from Ellie to Liz to Betsy to Beth, and many many more in between.

In this instance, we shall investigate why Elizabeth works so well as a middle name. Many people clump it in with all the other "filler" or "connector" middle names that simply fill an empty spot between the first and last names, such as Anne, Grace, Marie, Claire, etc. However, many argue that Elizabeth doesn't deserve to be classified as such. Rather, despite its popularity, it is somewhat one-of-a-kind.

1.) It starts with a vowel, which is appealing, but the "L" tends to get most of the sound emphasis which allows Elizabeth to flow with names that end with a vowel.

2.) The overall stress of the full name is put on the second syllable which helps to connect it to the first with a beautiful flow.

3.) The four-syllable length of Elizabeth makes it long-but-not-too-long. In many cases, four syllables is the perfect length to differentiate it from the first name before introducing you to the last name. For example, Clara Elizabeth Miller tends to roll off the tongue slightly better than a shorter middle name like Clara Leigh Miller. One might hear it incorrectly as "Claralee or Claraly." Whereas Elizabeth makes a bold but graceful stance in its own place.

4.) The name ends with a consonant sound that isn't often heard in other names. (How many can you think of that end with -th?)  Most first names used today end with -a, -e, -n, -r or -y, which pair perfectly with the different beginning AND ending of Elizabeth.

Much of Elizabeth's success is undoubtedly due to the reasons listed above. The combination of them makes this name very versatile yet unique.

If you are looking for other options instead of Elizabeth, you'd do well to examine other four-syllable names with the stress on the second syllable. Most of these will also flow very beautifully with almost any first name.Test out your favorite first names with the names below as the middle name, and then try it with Elizabeth. Which do you prefer?

Amelia
Aurelia
Bidelia
Calliope
Camellia
Cecelia
Cordelia
Evangeline
Eulalia
Hermione
Hortensia
Ignacia
Leticia
Magnolia
Natalia
Octavia
Olivia
Ophelia
Penelope
Persephone
Valencia
Veronica
Victoria
Zenobia

If you notice, the majority of these names end with A. If you refer back to my fourth point above, many feminine first names seem to end with A as well. While some parents find the rhyming to be cute, most will agree that Sarah Octavia, for example, is too much A sound. Whereas Sadie Octavia sounds much better. However, because of Elizabeth's different ending, Sarah Elizabeth and Sadie Elizabeth both work.

If you are interested in using one of the names listed above, one way to avoid the repetitious endings (like Sarah Octavia) is to end the first and middle names with different vowel sounds. For example, Stella Calliope or Lily Veronica.

Also, ending the first name with a consonant helps, like Piper Cordelia or Caitlin Amelia.  Or use a middle name that ends in a consonant-sound like Evangeline. Sophia Evangeline or Hadley Evangeline work very well!

It is clearly all up to interpretation and personal taste. Even different accents may throw this theory off. But there has to be a reason why Elizabeth has remained so consistently used over the past 132 recorded years. Elizabeth has never ranked higher than #26, and even then there were upwards of 10,000 babies who bore the name.

Very few other names in history have stats like this.

Do you like the name Elizabeth or would you opt for one of the other options instead?

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