Wednesday, April 27, 2016

English Royalty Names for Males

How long have there been rulers in England? At least on record, we can trace their names pretty far back. For a while, the kingdoms were separate and set up differently than today. Currently, Queen Elizabeth II reigns over Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Scotland, Ireland and Wales have all had their own rulers over time before becoming united as they are now.

For this article, we will look strictly at the rulers of England. There will be posts in the future looking strictly at the names of the rulers of Wales and Scotland, but for now, let's focus on England.

There have been many ruling Houses overtime and those rulers have had some interesting names. I didn't include some of the really early rulers since their names are unlikely to be used today and there are so many of them. We'll look at some of the more traditional names that are still in use such as William, Henry and John.

I won't pretend to be a historian. This won't be a history lesson. We are simply taking a look at some of the names that have been in use in England in the past until now. I won't be including the names of every single ruler since that'd be a very long list, and borders and dates get a little complicated. This article will focus on the male rulers and our next article will feature female rulers.

The Æthels:

Æthelwulf (839-856)  "noble wolf"

Æthelbald (856-860) "noble and bold"

Æthelbert (860-866) "noble and bright"

Æthelred I (866-871) "noble counsel"

Athelstan (925-940)  "noble stone"

Ethelred II the Unready (978-1016) "noble counsel"

The Eds:


The name Edward comes from Old English elements meaning "rich guard". This is one of a few Old English names that survived time and was not replaced by the names brought to England by the Normans. In the US, Edward ranked best between the 1920s and the 1960s. In 2014, it was #160.

899-925 Edward the Elder
975-978 Edward the Martyr
1042-1066 Edward the Confessor
1272-1307 Edward I
1307-1327 Edward II
1327-1377 Edward III
1461-1483 Edward IV
1483 Edward V
1547-1553 Edward VI
1901-1910 Edward VII


Edmund comes from Old English elements meaning "wealth" and "protection". Like Edward, this name remained in use after the Norman conquest but unlike Edward, it became less common over time. It was used in the US around 1920, a bit through the 1940s and 1950s but it declined after that. It has not ranked in the Top 1000 since 1997. There were only 172 boys named Edmund in 2014.

940-946 Edmund
1016 Edmund Ironside


Edred means "rich counsel". It comes from Eadræd from the Old English elements ead meaning "rich, blessed" and ræd meaning "counsel".  It has never been in use in the US.

946-955 Edred


Edwy comes from Eadwig which is derived from the Old English elements ead meaning "wealth, fortune" and wig meaning "war".  It has not been used in the US.

955-959 Edwy


Edgar is derived from the Old English elements ead meaning "wealth, fortune" and gar meaning "spear". It ranked well around 1918, declined, then regained popularity recently through the 1990s-2000s. It's back on the decline now but still ranks at #300 in 2014.

959-975 Edgar

The Traditionals:


Alfred means "elf counsel". It is derived from the Old English name Ælfræd, which is composed of the elements ælf meaning "elf" and ræd meaning "counsel". Alfred has always ranked in the Top 1000 but it's ranking down toward the bottom of it these days. It peaked in 1928 with 6,246 births. In 2014 it ranked at #799 in the US.

871-899 Alfred the Great


From the Old English name Hereweald which is derived from the elements here meaning "army" and weald meaning "power, leader, ruler". It is also similar to the Old Norse name Haraldr which was popular with the Scandinavians living in England. Harold lost popularity after the Norman conquest until it was revived again in the 19th century.  It has really only done well in the US around 1920. It declined in usage after the 1940s but it still ranks within the Top 1000 even now. In 2014, it was at #828.

1035-1040 Harold I Harefoot
1066 Harold II


William comes from the Germanic name Willahelm which was composed of the elements wil meaning "will, desire" and helm meaning "helmet, protection". This name was common with the Normans and very popular in England. William has almost always been a Top 10 name, never ranking lower than #20. It has ranked at #5 from 2012-2014 in the US.

1066-1087 William I
1087-1100 William II
1689-1694 William III of Orange and Mary II (jointly)
1694-1702 William III (alone)
1830-1837 William IV (King of Hanover)


The name Henry means "home ruler". It comes from the Germanic name Heimirich which is composed of the elements heim "home" and ric "power, ruler". It was a popular royalty name in Germany, as Heinrich, for many years. France used Henri. The Normans took this name to England and it became common there as Henry. Henry ranked well around 1918 and in the 1940s. It has always ranked within the Top 200 names in the US, most recently gaining popularity again for a rank of #33 in 2014.

1100-1135 Henry I
1154-1189 Henry II
1216-1272 Henry III
1399-1413 Henry IV
1413-1422 Henry V
1422-1461 Henry VI
1485-1509 Henry VII
1509-1547 Henry VIII


Stephen comes from the Greek name Στεφανος Stephanos meaning "crown". Respecting the Greek pronunciation, it's said the same as its anglicized form Steven. This is another name made popular in England by the Normans. It was also commonly used by Christians in honor of St. Stephen. Stephen was most popular in 1952, the late 1960s and the mid 1980s. In 2014, its down in popularity, but it still ranks at #258 in the US.

1135-1154 Stephen


Eustace is the English form of Eustachius which comes from the Greek Eustachys meaning "fruitful", or possibly it comes from Eustathius and Eustathios meaning "well-built, stable". Eustace was mostly used between the 1910s and 1960s but it was never popular. These days it is nearly extinct, but there were 7 births in 2014 and 5 in 2011. Before that, there weren't any since 5 in 1997. Rare indeed.

1152-1153 Count Eustace IV of Boulogne (appointed co-king of England by his father King Stephen)


The name Richard was introduced to England by the Normans. It means "brave power", derived from the Germanic elements ric meaning "power, rule" and hard meaning "brave, hardy".  In the US, Richard was a Top 10 name from 1920 to 1970. It's currently at a low point of #141 in 2014, but that still accounts for 2,857 births for the year.

1189-1199 Richard I
1377-1399 Richard II
1483-1485 Richard III
1658-1659 Richard Cromwell (Not a King, but the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland)


John comes from the Latin Iohannes which comes from the Greek Ioannes, which is derived from the Hebrew Yochanan meaning "YAHWEH is gracious". This is possibly the most popular boy name of all time. It first flourished in early Europe, eventually being given to 1 in 5 boys by the Middle Ages. In the US, it ranked at #1 from 1880-1923 and remained in the Top 10 until 1985.By 2014, it slipped to #26.

1199-1216:  John


Louis is the French form of Ludovicus which is the Latinized form of Ludwig. Ludwig is derived from the Germanic name Chlodovech which comes from the elements hlud meaning "famous" and wig meaning "war". This name was used for 18 kings of France, but only an unofficial temporary ruler of England. It was usually spelled as Lewis in England, but not for royalty. Louis was most popular in the US around 1918. As of 2014, it ranks #289.

1216-1217 Louis VIII of France (unofficially ruled England)


James has taken over as the new overall most-popular boy name of the last 100 years since John's popularity has fallen.  James comes from the Late Latin name Iacomus which comes from the Greek Iakobos and the Hebrew Ya'aqov. James was a Top 10 name from 1880-1992, including a number of years at #1. In 2014, it returned to #9.

1603-1625 James I (King of Scotland as James VI 1567-1625)
1685-1688 James II


Charles comes from the Germanic name Karl, which was derived from a Germanic word meaning "man". Charlemagne (742-814) made this name very popular in Europe, but it wasn't common in Britain until the 17th century. In the US, it was a Top 10 name from 1880-1954. It's still in the Top 100 but as of 2014, it ranks at #51.

1625-1649 Charles I
1660-1685 Charles II


Oliver comes from the Norman French name Olivier which is a form of the Germanic name Alfher. That comes from the Old Norse Áleifr or Olaf meaning "ancestor's desendant". However, the spelling and meaning of Oliver was later altered by the Latin oliva which means "olive tree". While the name has always been in the US Top 1000, it's really climbed the charts in the past decade. In 2014, it was #32.

1653-1658 Oliver Cromwell (Not a King, but the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland)


George comes from the Greek name Georgios which comes from the Greek word georgos meaning "farmer, earthworker". That name itself was derived from the elements ge meaning "earth" and ergon meaning "work".  In the US, George was most popular around 1920 and 1947. It declined since then but still ranked at #134 in 2014.

1714-1727 George I
1727-1760 George II
1760-1820 George III (Elector, 1760-1815, and King,1815-20, of Hanover)
1820-1830 George IV
1910-1936 George V
1936-1952 George VI

This is a somewhat limited list of rulers, but these are some excellent names. While you probably won't meet anyone named Æthelbald, you surely know someone with one of the more traditional names.

George was used recently for the son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  If Will and Kate were to have another son, what do you think they would name him? Using the names above, what would you name a royal prince? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Could These 1890s Names Ever Be Revived Again For Modern Girls?

We previously took a look at female names that were well-used throughout the 1880s. Today, we'll move forward through time to the next decade and examine 10 names that were hot for girls in the 1890s.

More specifically, we want to find names that ranked within the Top 200 back then, but also do not rank within the Top 1000 of 2014. So these names ranked then and do not rank now. What we want to consider is which of these may or may not have the chance to make a comeback for modern girls.

Reviving these names would indicate that they would now receive enough usage to begin climbing back up the charts and potentially ranking within today's Top 1000 again. Many vintage names have already been revived lately, could any of the following do the same?:

1. Minnie (#13 in the 1890s) 
Minnie is one of many nickname names that were fashionable around the turn of the century. Typically it is short for Wilhelmina, which comes from the German Willahelm meaning "will, desire" and "helmet, protection.  It could also be short for Minerva which is listed as Minnie Mouse's full name. Minerva is from the Latin mens meaning "intellect" and she is the Roman goddess of wisdom and war. As a name Minnie was popular from the 1880s-1900s, dipped a bit, then peaked between 1915-1920. It fell out of the Top 1000 in 1972. only 48 girls were named Minnie in 2014.

2. Edna (#17 in the 1890s)
 Edna is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Eithne which means "kernel". It could also be considered a biblical name meaning "pleasure" in Hebrew. This name was most popular from 1915-1925. By the 1990s it was no long ranking in the Top 1000 and now only 88 girls were named Edna in 2014. Could this name ever come back into style?

3. Beulah (#78)  
This unusual name is actually biblical. It means "married" in Hebrew and was used in the Old Testament to refer to the land of Israel.  As a name, it's been used in England since before the Protestant Reformation. Here in the states, it's only really been used before and around 1920. It hasn't ranked in the Top 1000 since 1959. Usage has been in or around single digits per year including only 11 female births in 2014. Is there any hope left for a Beulah revival?

4. Della (#82) 
Della is a diminutive of either Adela or Adelaide. Both of those names are said to mean "noble". This is another nickname type of name that were common during this time period. This name was most popular between the 1880s and the early 1960s. It fell out of the Top 1000 as of 1978. Since the 2010s, this name has started to tick upward again, nearing 200 births in a year in 2014. Could you see Della being used again today?

5. Theresa (#104) 
Theresa is possibly derived from the Greek theros meaning "summer" or the Greek therizo meaning "to harvest" or it could come from the name of the Greek island of Therasia. Clearly, the meaning is uncertain. This is the English, German and Scandinavian form whereas Teresa is the Spanish and Portuguese form. While Theresa ranked in the 1890s, it did better in the late 1920s and it peaked in 1961. Since it's been popular recently, it is unlikely to be revived for modern girls for another 40 years or so. But it also feels like it should be a classic name that is always used. It fell off the Top 1000 in 2011. Only 223 girls received the name in 2014.

6. Bernice (#114) 
Bernice is actually a biblical name, although it is only mentioned briefly as belonging to a sister of King Herod Agrippa II. It comes from the name Berenice which is the Latinized from the Macedonian Berenike which comes from the Greek Pherenike which means "bringing victory". It was commonly used by the Ptolemy family of Egypt. Berenice is related to the name Veronica as well. Bernice was used in the 1890s but it had its only popularity peak around 1921. It left the Top 1000 in the early 1980s, and only received 65 births in 2014. This name is a prime candidate for revival but will it?

7. Loretta (#128)  
Loretta either comes from Lora, Lauretta, or Loreto. If it is a form of the first two names, they both come from Laura which comes from the Late Latin name Laurus meaning "laurel". Loreto comes from the name of a town in Italy originally called Lauretana. So the exact origin and meaning isn't clear. It started rising in popularity in the 1890s, did well through the 1920s, peaked in 1938 and again in 1955. After that, it went down. By 1991 it was out of the Top 1000. Only 177 girls were named Loretta in 2014.

8. Lulu (#157)  
Lulu is nicknamey. It could be short for nearly any name starting with Lu-. If its short for Louise/Louisa, that comes from Ludovicus which is the Latinized form of Ludwig which comes from the German Chlodovech. It's composed of hlud meaning "famous" and wig meaning "war, battle."  Or much more simply, Lulu is also an Arabic name meaning "pearl". Finally we have a name that was most popular before the 1900s. It peaked in 1886 with 376 female births, declined a bit, then went back up to 198 births in 1916. Since then Lulu has only becoming increasingly rarer until lately. Around the mid 2000s, usage slightly increased again, but the most births per year was only 58 in 2013, and 51 as of 2014. People may love it as a nickname for a more formal first name, but even Louise doesn't rank in the Top 1000 and Louisa barely made the list recently at #973. Are there not many Lu- fans? Could any of these gain more usage in the coming years?

9. Marian (#179) 
While Marian is sometimes considered a combination of Mary and Ann, and it may well be, it is also a variant of Marion which comes from Marie, Maria, Mary. Ultimately, it comes from the Greek Μαρια from the Hebrew Miryam meaning either "sea of bitterness" or "rebelliousness" or "wished for child". This spelling of Marian seems to be considered the feminine spelling while Marion has always had decent usage for boys and girls alike. For girls, Marian and Marion have had very comparable usage but Marion was slightly more popular. However, Marian had two good peaks, one in the early 1920s and one solo run in 1954. After that, she's declined, leaving the Top 1000 in 1992 and only receiving 189 female births in 2014.

10. Selma (#187) 
Selma's true meaning and origin remains mostly unknown. However, it is possibly a short form of the name Anselma which is the feminine of Anselm. Anselm is a German name derived from the elements ans meaning "god" and helm meaning "helmet, protection". Selma ranked well through the 1890s but did even better through the teens up until the 1930s. By 1957, Selma fell off the Top 1000 chart. It has remained rare since then with only 108 female births in 2014. Could Selma gain more popularity in the coming years? We're approaching her 100-year mark since she was most popular in 1918 with 798 births. Time for a comeback?


Which of these 10 names do you think stands the best chance of revival?

Here's more of the Top 200 names from 1890 that do not rank within 2014's Top 1000:

What do you think of these names? Would you use any of these? If so, which ones? Which are realistically the best options for a modern girl?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Could These Boy Names From The 1890s Ever Come Back Into Style?

While looking at the Top 200 Names of the 1890s via the Social Security Administration's data, it is obvious that the most popular names of the decade include John, William, James, George, and Charles.  Even today, James and William still dominate the charts.

In fact, many of today's hottest boy names have actually been popular for decades, starting way back in the 1880s when records were first kept. Today, we're investigating the Top 200 names of the 1890s and you may notice that the same few traditional choices have stuck around from then until now.  But what about some of the more "old fashioned" names that are no longer in style today? Could they potentially be revived again in the future?

I combed through that list from the 1890's collective data for the whole decade and tossed out all of the names that still rank within 2014's Top 1000. Then I picked my 10 favorite names that I think should regain some popularity in the future. Which of the following ten names do you think really could come back for a modern boy?

1. Floyd / Lloyd (#53/#77 in the 1890s)  
There's Lloyd, and then there's its variant Floyd. Did you realize these were actually related? Lloyd comes from a surname that was derived from the Welsh llwyd which means "grey". Floyd is an English form of that. Both of these names are on this list today and impressively follow a nearly identical popularity pattern over time. Lloyd peaked in 1918 while Floyd followed in 1926. They both ranked well together from roughly 1912 to the late 1960s. Floyd fell out of the Top 1000 in 1999 and Lloyd followed suit in 2003. Neither name is common now; Floyd had 86 births in 2014 while Lloyd had 119. Which do you like better? Should either be revived for a modern boy? If so, when?

2. Bernard (#82 in the 1890s) 
This name has a strong, cool meaning. From the Germanic elements bern meaning "bear" and hard meaning "brave or hardy", little Bernards today would be brave little bears. This name was introduced in England by the Normans and was used as a replacement name for the Old English cognate beornheard.  There were several saints named Bernard. Barney and Bernie are both potential nicknames, and there are also female forms such as Bernadette and Bernadine. This name peaked in popularity in the 1920s, and actually ranked within the Top 1000 until 2008. As of 2014, there were only 157 boys given the name. Could it go up now with Senator Sanders being in the spotlight?

3. Archie (#89) 
Archie is a diminutive of the German name Archibald which comes from the elements ercan meaning "genuine" and bald meaning "bold". Archibald was introduced by the Normans to England and became common in Scotland during the Middle Ages. In the 1890s, Archibald wasn't within the top 200. Archie was, though. On it's own, it ranked as the 89th most used name of the 1890s. While both names have always been around in the US, Archie was more popular. It peaked in 1918 with 1,111 births for the year. Today Archie and Archibald both rank below the Top 1000, Archie having only 109 births in 2014, and Archibald with 46. If you would like to use Archie as a nickname for a longer name but you dislike Archibald, there is also Archer. Archer has been much more rare over the years but joined the Top 1000 in 2009 and skyrocketed up to #303 by 2014.

4. Norman (#97) 
We've mentioned that the Normans often introduced many names to England. Who were they? Norman comes from an old German name meaning "northman" which referred to Vikings that settled on the coast of France in an area now known as Normandy. Before the Norman conquest, the names Norman and Normant were used in England, sometimes as a nickname referring to Scandinavian settlers. It lost its common-usage in the 14th century but came back in the 19th. As a name, Norman peaked in popularity in 1928 with 5,589 births. It dropped out of the Top 1000 in the US in 2005. As of 2014, there were only 170 births.

5. Cecil (#100)
 Along with feminine form Cecilia, Cecil comes from the Roman name Caecilius which is derived from the Latin caecus meaning "blind". So, right off the bat, the meaning isn't that great for these names, but that hasn't stopped parents in the past. Cecil was used during the Middle Ages in England and became common in the 19th century thanks to the prominent noble Cecil family of the 16th century whose surname was actually taken from the Welsh name seisyll. If you want a different meaning than "blind", perhaps go with this one which was derived from Sextilius and Sextus which simply means "sixth". Cecil peaked in the US in 1920. It fell out of the Top 1000 in 1998.  As of 2014, only 97 boys were given the name.

6. Glenn (#113)  
Glenn comes from a Scottish surname based on the Gaelic gleann meaning "valley". Glenn, and it's shorter form Glen, follow the same popularity pattern with Glenn being more common. They both rose around the late 1910s before peaking through the 1950s and 1960s. Glenn peaked at #55 in 1962. Glen dropped out of the Top 1000 by 2004 and Glenn followed in 2009. As of 2014, there were only 158 boys named Glenn, and 104 named Glen.Which spelling do you prefer? Do you think either could be revived?

7. Willis (#123)  
Just as you might suspect, Willis does come from William. It is an English surname that became a given name for boys. Like William, it is composed of the German elements wil meaning "will, desire" and helm meaning "helmet, protection". Willis was most popular between 1918 and 1930. It fell off the Top 1000 chart in 1994 and remains unranked in 2014 with only 78 male births. There are many other boy names that end with -s that are climbing the charts these days. With William's continued popularity and parents' love of surname names, could Willis come back?

8. Vernon (#134) 
Vernon comes from a Norman surname which was derived from a French place name. Both of those came from the Gaulish word vern which means "alder". An Alder is a tree in the birch family. Could Vernon pass for a nature name? Popularity-wise, Vernon peaked in 1920, plateaued through 40s and 50s, then declined after that. It left the Top 1000 in 2003 and was only given to 119 boys in 2014. Would you consider this name?

9. Elbert (#166) 
Elbert is the Dutch variant of the German name Adelbert or Adalbert, all of which are related to Albert. The element adal means "noble" and beraht means "bright". A famous Elbert, pictured above, is Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. There may only be a one letter difference between Albert and Elbert, but Albert has had much more usage. It peaked around 1920 and continues to do well. Nearly a hundred years later, Albert still ranks at #436.  Elbert, though, hasn't been as popular. It never really had a high peak and dropped off the Top 1000 chart in 1983. Now it has fallen to a mere 14 male births in 2014. Why does Albert fare so much better? Which do you prefer?

10. Ross (#183)  
Ross is a region in Northern Scotland. Its name comes from the Gaelic word ros which refers to a "promontory" which is a headland, a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water. Ross could qualify as a nature name. This name has had many boosts in popularity. The first was between 1884 and 1890. The second came through the 1920s, then again in the 50s-60s. Its highest peak was in 1985. Ross declined in usage after that, dropping out of the Top 1000 in 2013. Only 184 boys were named Ross in 2014.

Which of these 10 names do you think stands the best chance of revival?

Here's more of the Top 200 names from 1890 that do not rank within 2014's Top 1000:

Which of these names would you have featured on your own Top 10 list? Should any of these be revived in the near future or should these stay uncommon?

Photo By User Tagishsimon on en.wikipedia - Project Gutenberg eText 12933 -, Public Domain,

Saturday, April 9, 2016


Today we're featuring the name Finlay to go along with our recent post about the best names ending with "-ay".

Finlay is the anglicized form of the Gaelic name Fionnlagh. It means "white warrior" from the elements fionn "white, fair" and laogh "warrior". It was originally a masculine given name and also a surname. Alternatively, the name can also be spelled Finley, which is the more common spelling.

Recently, Finley ranked #36 in England/Wales while Finlay ranked #99. Finlay was #12 in Scotland.

The spelling Finley has always been in use in the US since records began in 1880, but it was far from common. It wasn't until 2006 that the name even entered the Top 1000 at #890. As of 2014, it ranks at #374 for boys. Additionally, it is considered unisex in America. There were also girls given the name Finley for a rank of #223. This is the more common spelling for both genders.

Finlay has only been used for a boy in the US since 1998 with this spelling (and since 2004 for girls). It remains very rare today with only 34 male births in 2014 for a rank of #3222. For girls, this spelling had only 8 births in the same year.

Which name do you enjoy more? The more common Finley or the rare Finlay? Or perhaps you're a fan of the even more rare spelling of Findlay, which only had 18 male births and 5 female births in 2014.

Are you considering using one of these names? Here's some sibling name ideas and middle name ideas to spark some inspiration for your own little one:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Avery, Brenna, Ella, Kerrigan, Maeve, Piper, Shayla, Violet
Brothers: Callum, Declan, Eamon, Keegan, Logan, Oliver, Rowan, Sullivan

Middle Name Ideas:
Finlay Craig
Finlay Jackson
Finlay Kenneth
Finlay Reid
Finlay Vaughn

As a Middle Name:
Cullen Finlay
Evan Finlay
Lucas Finlay
Sean Finlay
Wyatt Finlay

Which middle names would you pair with Finlay?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Names Ending with the Letters "-ay"

Welcome to a new mini-series featuring specific name endings. This list will explore the various names that end with the letters "-ay". The next article in the series will take a look at "-by" names, followed by "-cy" names, etc.

If you are searching for a specific sound and cannot find all that many options, allow me to assist you. This list of names ending with '-ay" is as neatly comprehensive as possible with only the most usable names on it.  There many be other spellings that lend to a similar sound but we are focusing primarily on the spelling. Can you think of any names that I may have missed? If not, tell me which of these you like most.




Stay tuned for the next article of "-by" names.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Most Common Middle Names for Girls

In 2014, I posted a series of Birth Announcements pulled from real births in real hospitals around America. We explored the most common middle names for boys earlier this week. Similarly, I also collected together the twenty most common middle names for girls.

Disclaimer: This is very limited data. The following featured names appeared the most often in my small collection of birth announcements which can be found on the name lists page.  Of course, I would much rather have official data. If the Social Security Administration made a list of the most popular middle names, things would be easier and namers across the country would rejoice.  Since they don't seem to compile that data, I had to come up with my own.

What I noticed is that many of these names are fairly traditional. Not quite to the same extent as the male options, but the females may also receive names that honor a relative or an ideal such as grace or faith. This list will probably not come as a surprise to those familiar with names. Many of you might also refer to these names as "filler" names since they are often considered too common. Some may even feel that these names lack creativity when compared to other trendy, unexpected middle names that are available.

But then again, these middle names are popular for a reason. They are mostly timeless classics that flow very well with a variety of first names and surnames. When they also happen to honor relatives, they surely deserve to be considered as more than just "filler" names.

So, which middle name is most common for girls?:

1. Marie
(32 uses) Marie is the French form of Maria and Mary, both of which come from the biblical Greek names Mariam or Miryam. The meaning of these names isn't set in stone, but typically it is either "sea of bitterness" (or just "bitter"), "rebelliousness" or "wished for child". It could have also originally come from an Egyptian name derived partially from the letters mry meaning "beloved" or mr meaning "love".  Thanks to the biblical Virgin Mary, these names are incredibly popular with Christians. There have been Queens named both Mary and Marie. While Mary has been the longest reigning female name, Marie very much feels like one of the most popular middle names ever. On this limited list, it ranks as #1. It was most used as a first name in 1920 with a rank of #13, but in 2014, Marie only ranks at #579.

2. Rose
(31 uses) Not just a lovely flower, Rose was originally the Norman form of a Germanic name. The elements hrod meaning "fame" and heid meaning "kind, sort, or type" went into the name Rose first in the Ancient German forms of Hrodohaidis and Rothaid then later as Roese and Rohese which were introduced by the Normans to England. It became associated with the word for the flower which was derived from the Latin rosa. In other languages internationally you get names like Rosette, Rosine, Rosalija, Rosalie, Róisín, Ružica, Rosella, Rosália, Ruža  and Raisa.  Lovely, fragrant, international, versatile. Great as a middle name and so common today. As a first name, though, it peaked in 1915 through the 1960s. In 2014, it ranks down at #194 and would be more unexpected as a first name than as a middle.

3. Ann/Anne
(18 uses) Let's break this name down in order starting at the origin. The Hebrew name Channah means "favour" or "grace". It leads to the names Hannah and Anna which seem to have been more interchangeable in the past than they'd be considered today. From Anna came the French form Anne which was also spelled Ann. Both were imported to England in the 13th century and were well-used in the Middle Ages. There have been English Queens by the name of Anne. This name works well in a variety of forms and languages and also as a suffix to certain names. Related names include Annette, Nancy, Hanna, Anaïs, Annabella, Annushka, Anica and more. Overtime, Ann was much more popular, peaking in 1957 at #44. Anne held her own and ended up surpassing Ann in popularity lately, ranking at #553 in 2014 while Ann ranks at #945.

4 . Lynn
(18 uses)  Lynn comes from an English surname derived from the Welsh element llyn which means "lake". Originally this name was used for males, especially before the start of the 20th century, but over time it became common for females instead. This is possibly because of the influence of the name Linda when it was mega-popular. And of course there are plenty of names now that are fashionable with -Lyn, -Lynn or -Line as the ending. Lynn is a common middle name for girls these days. As a first name, Lynn had a major popularity peak in 1956 but was not all that popular before or afterward for girls. It fell out of the Top 1000 in 1997 and there were only 87 girls named Lynn in 2014 (and also 16 males).

5. May/Mae
(16 uses) First of all, Mae is a form of May. Secondly, there are many possibly origins for these names. It could be inspired by the month of May which comes from Maia, the name of a Roman goddess. It could be inspired by the name of the hawthorn flower. Or it could simply be a short form, nickname for or diminutive of names like Mary, Margaret or Mabel. Many times May comes from Mary. On their own, though, May and Mae do stand tall as solid first names. Mae is actually the more popular spelling. It peaked in 1918 as a first name with 2,756 births for the year. In 2014, Mae ranked at #682 with 412 births, and May only had 136 births for a rank of #1581.  As a middle name, these both seem to be quite popular.

6. Elizabeth
(13 uses)  Elizabeth is a classic, go-to name for girls. The most evergreen of them all as a first, and very common as a middle name too. It comes from the Greek Elisabet which was derived from the Hebrew name Elisheva meaning "my God is an oath". There have been two Queen Elizabeths, including the current long-reigning Queen of England. There was a 12th century Saint Elizabeth of Hungary who was often honored in medieval England through the Spanish variant Isabel. Elizabeth works very well internationally and has spawned so many names and nicknames like Elise, Isabella, Lillian and more. There have always been thousands of Elizabeths born every year and it has always ranked within the Top 30. In 2014, Elizabeth was #14. Would you use this name as a first or a middle?

7. Grace
(11 uses) The name and the word Grace come from the Latin gratia. It is one of the many virtue names that were first used by Puritans in the 17th century. It seems to be a very popular middle name for girls these days. As a first name, it first peaked in 1918 before declining in usage a bit. It has always ranked within the Top 400 since 1880, though. Since around the early 1990s, it caught on again with modern parents and was revived well for a popularity high of #13 in 2003 and 2004. Since then it's fallen back down to #21 in 2014. It's hard to tell, but it seems to be more favored in the middle rather than as a first name. What's your experience?

8. Faith
(9 uses)  Like Grace, Faith is another Puritan virtue name from the 17th century. This one comes from the Latin word fidere meaning "to trust" and is a huge element of religion. It makes sense that parents would want to give their daughters sure a virtue as a name. It has been in use sine the 1880s, but it wasn't until recently that Faith gained popularity as a first name. It peaked in 2002 at #48 and as of 2014, it ranked at #81. As a middle name, it could be even more popular but it is hard to be certain. Within our limited data here, it ranks well at #8.

9. Jane/Jayne
(8 uses)  John is the 2nd most-used boy name of the last 100 years, and has been vastly more popular when you account for history and international variations. Jane is one of the female forms of John. There are many including Janice, Johanna, Ivana, Siobhán, Gianna and more. Jane/Jayne itself comes from Jehanne which comes from Iohannes, along with John. Iohannes comes from Yochanan meaning "YAHWEH is gracious" which is the name of the Hebrew God.  Jane has always ranked in the Top 500, peaking in the late 1940s at #35.  Her popularity as a first name waned after that. In 2014, Jane ranked at #322. Jayne has never been as popular, only gaining usage in 1906. It ranked in the Top 1000 from 1912 to 1973, but now ranks down at #2225 in 2014 with 84 births. Which do you prefer, Jane or Jayne? First name or middle?

10. Jean
(8 uses)  Jean is Jane's twin sister. Both names are the Medieval English form of Jehanne, which as we mentioned above, is related to Iohannes and the Hebrew Name Yochanan meaning "YAHWEH is gracious". Jean has been commonly used in England and Scotland since the Middle Ages. Pronounced JEEN, this name is not to be confused for the masculine, French name Jean pronounced ZHAWN, however they are related. Jean has always been used for both genders since 1880. It peaked in popularity as a first name for girls in the late 1920s at #12. It left the Top 1000 in 1995 and only received 74 births in 2014. Do you think it fares better as a middle name these days?

11. Faye/Fae
(7 uses)  Fay, Faye and Fae are all derived from the Middle English faie which means "fairy". It has been also used as a short form of Faith. As a first name, Faye ranked within the Top 1000 from 1880-1979 before losing steam. It sank pretty low for a while but has been reclimbing the charts, even ranking at #908 in 2014. Fae was sometimes used from the 1890s to the 1960s but nearly disappeared until recently. However, it only received 21 births in 2014. Fay only got 33. Faye is the most-used spelling. Do you know any girls with Faye as a middle name?

12. Lee/Leigh
(7 uses)  Leigh is sometimes considered the feminine form of Lee, but both names are unisex surname names that come from the Old English leah meaning "clearing". Lee and Leigh work well as a first, a middle or a last name for both genders which is a somewhat unusual feat for a name. Lee for a boy is most popular of them all. Leigh wasn't even used for girls until 1912, but it had been around for boys since 1882. Plenty of women were named Lee through the 1950s-60s, but as of 2014, only 23 girls received the name. In the same year, 55 girls and 8 boys were named Leigh, and 348 boys were named Lee for a rank of #701. Which spelling do you like best for which gender? First or middle name?

13. Nicole/Nichole
(7 uses)  Nicole is the feminine French form of Nicholas which comes from the Greek name Nikolaos meaning "victory of the people". Nichole is a variant of Nicole and not nearly as common with only 139 female births in 2014. Interestingly, Nicole wasn't used in the US until 1937. It suddenly boomed in the late 1960s, climbing as high as #6 in 1982. It has fallen since then to #129 in 2014. Some people may feel as though it's dated to the 70s and 80s because of its high popularity. Does it still work as a first name today or is it better off as a middle?

14. Rae/Ray
(7 uses) Rae is often thought of as the feminine form of the masculine Ray, but it is also a short form of Rachel. When derived from Rachel, it means "ewe", but when it's taken from Ray or Raymond, it could refer to a beam of light or be derived from a German element meaning "advice". If Star Wars' new heroine's name gets a boost, which is spelled Rey, then it would have the meaning "king" from the Latin rex or regis. This is take-your-pick kind of name. Obviously Ray has always ranked well for boys, but for girls, it has been spotty since the mid-90s when Rae seemingly took over. In 2014, 9 girls were named Ray while 87 were named Rae. We'll have to see if Rey pops up in 2015. All of these, though seem to be more popular as middle names.

15. Rain/Raine/Rayne
(7 uses) People love short middle names that start with R. We just saw Rae, now let's add the N sound to the end and toss in some nature. This unisex name simply comes from the English word rain referring to the precipitation. It comes from the Old English regn. However, you can't count out the possible regal angle that could be intended with spellings like Reign. Raine could be based on the French reine meaning "queen", just as Rey above refers to a king. Or perhaps these could be short forms of Lorraine, a region in France. Many possibilities are at play here. Most of these are all uncommon as first names. There were only 102 girls named Rain in 2014, and 92 named Raine, but there were 258 named Rayne which ranked it just short of the Top 1000.

16. Renee/Renae
(7 uses)  Just like the last two, Renee and Renae are well-used because they work well with a lot of first names.  The origin of these names is Renatus which is a late Latin name meaning "born again". It lead to the French male name René, of which the Renée is the female form. Without the accent mark, Renee and Renae are the English forms. There's also the related Renata. As a first name, none of these are hot right now. Renee peaked in 1962 so it's plausible that girls today receive Renee as a middle name in honor of their grandmothers. Renee was in the Top 100 from 1959 to the early 1980s but has been gradually declining since then. In 2014, it ranked at #962 so it may not rank in the Top 1000 by 2015. Renae only had 55 births in 2014 and has never been as popular.

17. Sophia
(7 uses)  It makes sense the the former #1 girls' name would also make for a great middle name.  It is a Greek name meaning "wisdom". The phrase Hagia Sophia, meaning 'Holy Wisdom" was the name of a large basilica in Constantinople. This name was common through the Middle Ages with European royalty. It became popular in Britain when the German House of Hanover took power in the 18th century. As a name, Sophia does have international appeal with translations such as Sofia, Sofiya, Sonja, Žofie, Sonia, Szonja and more. Sophie is also a popular option that ranked at #91 in 2014. Of course, Sophia was #3 after three years at #1, and Sofia ranked at #12. Which do you prefer as a first? As a middle?

18. Joy
(6 uses)  The name and the word Joy come from the Norman French word joie which came from the Latin gaudia. As a first name in the US, it has been in use since 1885. It has ranked rather well over the years, especially from the late 1920s through the mid-1980s, peaking in 1957 and 1974. In 2014, it ranked at #462 for girls. Joy has also always been giving to boys, but only in handfuls per year. There were 23 boys named Joy in 2014. Do you think Joy is better as a first name or a middle name?

19. Louise
(6 uses) This is the French, feminine form of the male name Louis which comes from Ludovicus, the Latinized form of the German Ludwig which comes from Chlodovech. Tha tname is composed of the elements hlud meaning "famous" and wig meaning "war". Other female diminutives include Louella, Lula and Lovisa. Louise itself seems to be used more as a middle name than a first name. It's a name that is heard often, but surprisingly hasn't ranked within the Top 1000 since 1991. Louise was most popular in 1918 and declined in usage after that. Only 199 girls received the name in 2014. However, for the first time since 1969, sister-name Louisa did rank at #973. Could Louise join the Top 1000 soon, too?

20. Michelle
(5 uses)  Michelle is the French feminine form of the male name Michel which is the French form of Michael. Michael comes from the Hebrew name Mikha'el meaning "who is like God?"  From Michelle also come names like Micheline and international versions like Michaela, Mikaela, Michalina, Miguela and Mykhaila.  As a first name, Michelle wasn't used in the US until 1915. It entered the Top 100 in 1954 and ranke as high as #2 in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Then it declined, falling out of the Top 100 in 2008. As of 2014, it ranks at #187. What do you think of Michelle as a first and as a middle name?

Does this list seem somewhat accurate to you or do you think there are other middle names that might be more popular than the ones listed above? There are definitely more names out there that might have deserved a spot above. For example, other middle names that appeared frequently within The Art of Naming's birth announcements but didn't make the cut for this list include Christine, Catherine/Katherine/Kate, Caroline, Charlotte, Alexandra/Alexandria/Alessandra, Victoria, Ruth, and Josephine. 

Beyond these names mentioned above, anything else that you choose for a middle name will probably not be quite as commonly used, however, since this data is very limited, there are surely names more or less popular in specific locations. Other middle names that could be added in as "modestly popular" may include Abigail, Belle, Beth, Brooke, Claire, Dawn, Elaine, Elise, Evangeline, Evelyn, Frances, Jo, Juliet/Juliette, June, Kay, Lane, Lillian, Madeline, Margaret, Noelle, Olivia, Pearl, Skye, Taylor, Violet, Virginia, and Vivian/Vivienne.

There's bound to be a lot of discrepancies between this data and what you may experience in your particular area, so this list is meant as a basic guide to which names are most likely popular for middle names if that is something you're trying to avoid.

So tell me, which middle names do you hear most often for girls in your area?


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