Wednesday, November 25, 2015

24 Unusual Virtue Names Used in Colonial America

Around this time of year, America tends to reflect on our interesting origins as a country. One of the most popular tales revolves around the early settlers who arrived on the east coast in the 1600s.  The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving, a national holiday that commemorates the thanksgiving that the Pilgrims held for barely surviving their first winter in 1621. Tomorrow, this holiday will be observed by many.

The Puritans were a quirky group of English Protestants who settled mostly in the Boston area. There were about 10 Massachusetts Bay Puritan settlers to every 1 Pilgrim from Plymouth but they ended up merging together around 1691. While these two groups were initially very different, they and their descendants together form the popular image of America's early settlers that most people think about on Thanksgiving.

Let's take a moment to look back at some of the unusual names that popped up in Colonial America. Most of the common names were traditional ones such as John, William, Richard, Mary, Jane and Elizabeth but the Puritans also favored Old Testament names, virtue names and phrase names like Fear-Not or Safe-on-High.

In 2013, The Art of Naming listed many of the biblical and virtue names used by the first settlers.  In 2014, we took a closer look at 10 of the best Old Testament names that they favored.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at 24 virtue names for girls and boys that were sometimes used.  While a bit unusual, some of these names could potentially work on a modern child, but you may need to be a bold namer to follow through with it.

If you're not so bold, many virtue names would work well in the middle name spot, assuming you enjoy the message they send which will also be listed below. Many of the more common virtue names are very popular as middle names today such as Grace, Hope, Faith and Joy. Below are the less-common and even rare options:


Amity - /ˈamitē/ - noun: "a friendly relationship."  Derived from the Latin word amicitia. As a name, Amity may have had usage in colonial times, but it lost favor thereafter. It was not ranked in the US until 1960.* In 2014, there were 27 female births.

Charity - /ˈCHerədē/ - noun: "the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need." Derived from Late Latin caritas meaning "generous love" which came from the Latin carus "dear, beloved". As a name, Charity peaked in popularity in 1974 with 1,408 births for the year. Currently the name fell out of the Top 1000 with only 243 births in 2014.

Clarity - /ˈklerədē/ - noun: "the quality of being clear, of being intelligible or of being easy to see or hear." Derived from the Latin clarus which means "clear". As a name, Clarity has only been used regularly since 1997 in the US. In 2014, there was a high of 63 births but it does not rank within the Top 1000.

Desire  - /dəˈzī(ə)r/ - noun: "a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen." The name Desire was derived from the Latin desidero meaning "to wish for, to desire", but it was first used by the Puritans probably with the intended meaning of "desire the Lord". After that, it wasn't used again in the US until 1955 and remains rare with only 73 births in 2014.

Fidelity - /fəˈdelədē/ - noun: "faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support." Fidelity comes from the Latin words fidelis or fidere meaning "to trust".  This name has never been in recorded usage for girls since 1880, however the male name Fidel has been a rare constant since 1892.

Modesty - /ˈmädəstē/ - noun: "the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities. Behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency." As a name, Modesty comes from the Latin word modestus and modus meaning "measure." It popped up once or twice in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s but it gained regular yearly usage at the start of the 1990s. Never popular however, Modesty was given to 15 girls in 2014.

Patience /ˈpāSHəns/ - noun: "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."  Patience comes from the Latin words patientia and pati meaning "to suffer". This is one of the more well-used puritan names and has been on record since 1880. It hit a popularity high in 2006 with 507 births and a rank of #578. In 2014 it was down to 267 births and a #988 ranking.

Prudence - /ˈpro͞odns/ - noun: "the quality of being prudent; cautiousness." Prudence comes from Prudentia which is the feminine from the the male Latin name Prudentius, which comes from the word prudens meaning "good judgement". This name has been given to girls since 1880 in the US. There were 58 births in 2014.

Remember - /rəˈmembər/ - verb: "have in or be able to bring to one's mind an awareness of (someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past)." This name comes from the Latin word rememorārī which means "to call to mind" and comes from the word memor meaning "mindful." There are zero births on record in the US for the use of Remember as a name.

Silence - /ˈsīləns/ - noun: "complete absence of sound." verb - "cause to become silent; prohibit or prevent from speaking." As a puritan name, Silence was likely derived from the words of Saint Paul: "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection". On the US birth record, this name only appears once. In 2005 there were 9 girls named Silence.

Temperance - /ˈtemp(ə)rəns/ - noun: "abstinence from alcoholic drink. Moderation or self-restraint, especially in eating and drinking".  This name wasn't used in the US until 1972. It has increased since 2006, likely influenced by the main character from the TV show Bones. It ranked at #854 in 2014 with 320 births.

Verity - /ˈveritē/ - noun: "a true principle or belief, especially one of fundamental importance. Truth." Verity has recently ranked at #344 in England and Wales. However in the US, it's very rare. It dates back to 1966 but it has never been popular. There were only 59 births for girls in 2014.


Assurance - /əˈSHo͝orəns/ - noun: "a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise." For the puritans, this name likely refers to the promises made by God in the bible.  Since 1880, Assurance has never been given to at least 5 children in one year.

Constant - /känstənt/ - adjective: "occurring continuously over a period of time." The puritans used Constant as a name based on its definition, but it also comes from the Late Latin name Constans meaning "constant or steadfast".  This name was used the most between 1911 and 1951. It hasn't been given to at least 5 boys since 1995. Constantine would be a nice alternative.

Experience - /ˌikˈspirēəns/ - noun: "practical contact with and observation of facts or events." From the Latin words experientia and experīrī meaning "to try, test".  As a name, it has never actually been given to boys in the modern US. It could be interesting in the middle name spot.

Increase - /ˈinkrēs/ - noun: "an instance of growing or making greater." The puritans used this name to refer to the biblical command of increasing in number. Neither the name Increased nor Increase are on record in the US for usage for boys.

Lament - /ləˈment/ - noun: "a passionate expression of grief or sorrow." The puritans tended to give this name only to the bastard children since its meaning refers to being sorry for sin. It's not surprising that this name has never been on record in the US.

Noble - /ˈnōbəl/ - adjective: "having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals." Noble has been used as a name for boys and girls, but it is most popular for boys. In 1920, there was a peak of 196 births for a ranking of #427. This is the one virtue name for boys that has decent usage and is currently re-climbing the charts. There were 129 births in 2014 for boys.

Prosper - /ˈpräspər/ - verb: "flourish physically; grow strong and healthy." Prosper comes from the Latin name Prosperus meaning "fortunate, successful". It has had spotty usage from 1913 to 1947 and again from 1998 to 2014. There were 10 births for boys in 2014 for the name Prosper, and 8 female births for the name Prosperity.

Reason - /ˈrēzən/ - noun: "the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic."  Reason popped up as a name a few times around 1920 but it hadn't been heard from much until recently. It landed on record for the first time in 75 years in 2000 and has had a handful of births since then, including 8 male births and 5 female births in 2014.

Repentance - / rəˈpentəns/ - noun: "the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse." Much like the name Lament, Repentance was mostly given to bastard children. Both would be heavy names to live with since they refer to feeling sorry for sins that were not even the child's fault. Clearly this isn't a name that's freely given to modern American children now.

Resolved - /riˈzälvd,-ˈzôlvd/ - adjective: "firmly determined to do something." Resolved was the name of the big brother of Peregrine White who was born on the Mayflower in Cape Cod Harbor, making him the first European born to the Pilgrims in America. Since then, the name Resolved has not been in use on record in the US.

Steadfast - /ˈstedˌfast/ - adjective: "resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering." This name referred to God's steadfastness as well as one's own steadfastness in their faith. It hasn't been used as a name on record in the US after 1880.

Truth - /tro͞oTH/ - noun: "the quality or state of being true." Truth was given to girls here and there around 1920 but fell dormant until the mid 1990s. It has been in regular usage for both genders since then. There were 35 boys named Truth in 2014 and 24 girls.

What do you think of these odd but fascinating names? Are there any that you would like to see revived? Would they work better for a middle name or are you bold enough to make one of these a first name? Have you known someone with one of these names? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Learn more about the differences between Puritans and Pilgrims here.

*As a general note for those unaware, the United States Social Security Administration began recording the usage of names starting in 1880. Usage prior to that is harder to track down. The SSA will not list a name unless it has had at least 5 births in a single year.  If a name only had 3 births in a year, we would never know that the name was used at that time. The data in this article reflects the number of births per year from 1880-2014. When "rank" is mentioned, that refers to popularity. For example, if a name ranks at #498, it is the 498th most popular name for that year.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Taken from the list of The Very Best S Names for Boys and Girls is the interesting masculine name Soren. Let's learn more about it.

Soren is a Scandinavian name that's starting to catch on with American parents today. There are three different ways to spell Soren. First, there's just the anglicized Soren which is typically pronounced Sorr-en.

If you venture into Scandinavia, there's also the Danish and Norwegian form the name spelled Søren and pronounced more like SUU-ren. Derived from that is the form that the Swedes and Germans tend to prefer: Sören, also pronounced SUU-ren or ZUU-ren.

No matter how it is accented, the name originally comes from Severinus which is a Roman family name derived from Severus meaning "stern" in Latin.

This name has been well-used in Denmark. Just take a look at the long list of mostly Danish famous people on Nameberry.  What about its popularity in America?

Soren first appeared on record in the US in 1912 but it wasn't more regularly used until the 1950s. It remained obscure until it entered into the Top 1000 names in 2003 at #958. It has been inching its way up the charts, ranking at #640 in 2014 with 408 male births.

There were also 20 female births in 2014. Soren gained usage for girls in 1994. While it is still far from being considered truly unisex, which gender do you prefer it on?

If Soren is a name that you're considering, here are some middle name ideas and sibling name ideas:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Annika, Britta, Dagny, Elsa, Freya, Kiersten, Malina, Theodora
Brothers: Anders, Erik, Gunnar, Jensen, Leif, Magnus, Oscar, Viggo

Middle Name Ideas:
Soren Alexander
Soren Christopher
Soren Frey
Soren James
Soren Ragnar

As a Middle Name:
Axel Soren
David Soren
Henry Soren
Oliver Soren
Quincy Soren

What do you think of the name Soren? What middle names would you pair with it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Very Best S Names for Boys and Girls

It's time to choose a name. Not just any name, though, you must pick one that you and your partner mutually love. A name that feels relevant to your family and suitable for your child.

While there are thousands of options out there, the amount that you can actually select for one child is usually limited to four names at most.

On your search, you'll no doubt develop a sort of naming style. Many of your names will have similar sounds or popularity to one another. Perhaps you'll even be drawn to one or two specific letters. If your current favorite letter is S for names, this list is for you.

Below are 25 of the best S names for girls and 25 of the best S names for boys listed alphabetically. Among these, you'll surely find a winner!

  1. Sabrina
  2. Sadie
  3. Samantha
  4. Sarah
  5. Sasha
  6. Savannah
  7. Scarlett
  8. Selah
  9. Selena
  10. Seraphina
  11. Serena
  12. Serenity
  13. Shayla
  14. Shelby
  15. Shoshanah
  16. Sienna
  17. Sierra
  18. Simone
  19. Sonia
  20. Sophia
  21. Stella
  22. Summer
  23. Susannah
  24. Sybil
  25. Sylvia
  1. Samuel
  2. Santiago
  3. Sasha
  4. Saul
  5. Sawyer
  6. Schuyler
  7. Scott
  8. Seamus
  9. Sean
  10. Sebastian
  11. Seth
  12. Shane
  13. Shay
  14. Shepherd
  15. Sidney
  16. Silas
  17. Simon
  18. Solomon
  19. Soren
  20. Spencer
  21. Stellan
  22. Stephen
  23. Sterling
  24. Stuart
  25. Sullivan
Which of the above S names do you enjoy most? I apologize if I missed one of your favorites, these were tough to narrow down!  If S isn't your letter, try the links below to browse more names!

<-- The Very Best R Names for Boys and Girls ||| The Very Best T Names for Boys and Girls -->

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Latinate Boys of 2014: Spanish, Italian and Portuguese Names in the Top 1000

Leonardo da Vinci

There is a very large Latin presence in the United States these days. Did you know that there are several Spanish, Italian and Portuguese names for boys that rank within the Top 1000 most popular names?

My favorite of the bunch is listed as the "Italian, Spanish and Portuguese form of Leonard" on Behind the Name. Leonardo fits all three origin categories with ease and yet it is familiar enough to English ears that it could be considered for American boys who do not have Latin origins. The part-Italian Leonardo DiCaprio has helped make the name more mainstream in America. Interestingly, his name was chosen when his pregnant mother felt him kick for the first time while his parents were viewing a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo isn't the only name that works across all three of these cultures though.  Below are all of the Latinate names and their popularity rank for the year 2014 in the US.

Let's take a look at the first half of the Top 1000 first:

Angel #67                                        
Jose #76
Juan #98
Luis #99
Mateo #106
Jesus #111
Leonardo  #114
Santiago #115
Carlos #117
Giovanni #125
Diego #129
Antonio #139
Miguel #146
Alejandro #157
Luca #185
Jorge #207
Javier #216
Andres #222
Lorenzo #227
Francisco #232
Emiliano #254
Ricardo #256
Eduardo #261
Fernando #263
Manuel #265
Josue #269
Mario #270
Cristian #273
Cesar #279
Emilio #280
Cruz #290
Rafael #293
Sergio #307
Marco #308
Angelo #315
Fabian #325
Joaquin #326
Romeo #341
Roberto #343
Maximiliano #344
Pedro #354
Enzo #369
Adan #373
Matteo #375
Thiago #390
Esteban #392
Pablo #396
Armando #400
Gerardo #402
Marcos #404
Enrique #414
Raul #423
Leonel #430
Hugo #438
Julio #452
Jaime #468
Gustavo #482
Rodrigo #488
Within the Top 500, there are many very handsome, strong and stylish names for boys. Even though these are all of Spanish, Italian or Portuguese origin, some are no doubt given to boys who do not have those ancestries. For example, I could see a blond, blue-eyed boy sporting the names Luca, Cruz or Hugo these days.  It would be inaccurate to claim that all of these Latinate names belong only to those with the corresponding heritage. Do you know anyone with these names?

Here are the names in the second half of the Top 1000 chart in the US for 2014:

Matias #503                                    
Alberto #513
Gianni #515
Arturo #518
Alfredo #524
Alonzo #525
Arlo #539
Isaias #547
Neymar #548
Luciano #568
Ezequiel #569
Mauricio #577
Matthias #580
Mathias #582
Salvador #600
Lucian #608
Alessandro #623
Santino #632
Aldo #645
Ramon #647
Ernesto #651
Carmelo #653
Tomas #658
Guillermo #678
Alonso #708
Felipe #713
Lucca #740
Marcelo #741
Vicente #744
Aron #745
Ulises #749
Jadiel #756
Valentino #765
Giovani #769
Rogelio #780
Leandro #784
Vincenzo #812
Franco #817
Giancarlo #823
Alfonso #849
Jairo #865
Crisiano #872
Agustin #879
Rey #884
Santana #887
Ramiro #890
Salvatore #899
Rolando #905
Santos #909
Jovani #920
Maximo #921
Alvaro #922
Jovanni #943
Rodolfo #945
Eliseo #952
Camilo #962
Efrain #963
Deangelo #968
Giovanny #969
Dario #971
Osvaldo #989
While most of these names are still very handsome, strong and stylish, they are also a bit more on the unusual side than the names at the top of the charts.  The one name that stands out in this bunch is Arlo. It is a Spanish name but it has been climbing the charts rapidly in the last couple years which indicates that more than just Spanish boys are being given the name. Do you have any favorites in this bunch?

Unless I missed any, that makes 119 Spanish, Italian or Portuguese names for boys within the Top 1000! Which names do you love, which are you not keen on?

Friday, November 6, 2015


Based on this week's list of The Very Best R Names for Boys and Girls, I've chosen the vintage, gem name Ruby.

Ruby is derived from the Latin word ruber which means "red". As you might know, it is the name of a precious stone with a red hue that serves as the birthstone of the month of July. Along with other gem names, Ruby was first used as a name in the Victorian Era.

As a baby name, Ruby gained usage in the 19th century. It has been in use since name records were first kept in the US in 1880. Ruby was particularly well-used in the early 1900s, peaking from 1918-1924 with over eight thousand births each year.

Vintage names like Ruby that were popular around 1920, declined in usage and then began climbing the charts again in recent years are fashionable now. There are many that follow this same pattern that's sometimes called the 100 Year Rule which basically states that once-popular names tend to come back in style after about 100 years have passed.

Currently, Ruby is on its way back up the charts. In 2014 there were 3,383 girls given the name for a rank of #90. It will no doubt keep inching upward and could very well get over eight thousand births in a year once again within the next 5-10 years. If this happens, Ruby will be an excellent example of a vintage name that follows the 100 Year Rule.

Ruby is beautiful, spunky, and interesting. While it worked so well for the older generation, it does work once again for modern girls.

If you'd like to contribute to Ruby's cause for gaining popularity, here are some ideas for middle names and sibling names:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Amelia, Eleanor, Hazel, Lila, June, Olive, Stella
Brothers: Benjamin, Dean, Hugh, Jack, Nolan, Samuel, Travis

Middle Name Ideas:
Ruby Abigail
Ruby Madeline
Ruby Ophelia
Ruby Susannah
Ruby Victoria

As a Middle Name:
Caroline Ruby
Elizabeth Ruby
Helena Ruby
Martina Ruby
Tessa Ruby

What do you think of the name Ruby? What middle name would you pair with it?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Very Best R Names for Boys and Girls

Since most baby name websites have thousands of names in their databases, it can be difficult to narrow down the options. Where should you even begin?

If you happen to know what sort of sound you're looking for in a name, that's a good place to start.

Maybe you're even looking specifically for a name starting with a certain letter. If you're fond of R, this list is for you.

Below are 25 of the best R names for girls and 25 of the best names starting with the letter R for boys.

There are so many wonderful R names that it's tough to narrow it down.

Which of these do you like the most?  Did I miss one of your favorites?

  1. Rachel
  2. Rae
  3. Ramona
  4. Raphaela
  5. Raven
  6. Rebecca
  7. Reese
  8. Regina
  9. Renata
  10. Rhea
  11. Rhiannon
  12. Riley
  13. Robin
  14. Rochelle
  15. Romy
  16. Rosa
  17. Rosalie
  18. Rosalind
  19. Rosamund
  20. Rose
  21. Rosemary 
  22. Rowan
  23. Rowena
  24. Ruby
  25. Ruth
  1. Rafferty
  2. Ramsey
  3. Raphael
  4. Raymond
  5. Reid
  6. Reuben
  7. Rex
  8. Rhett
  9. Rhys
  10. Richard
  11. Riley
  12. Riordan
  13. Robert
  14. Robin
  15. Rocco
  16. Roderick
  17. Roland
  18. Roman
  19. Ronan
  20. Ross
  21. Rowan
  22. Rupert
  23. Russell
  24. Ryan
  25. Ryder
What is your favorite R name?  If I didn't list it above, share it in the comments below.  If R isn't your thing, use the links below to explore more names that start with other letters.

<-- The Very Best Q Names for Boys and Girls ||| The Very Best S Names for Boys and Girls -->


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