Saturday, April 29, 2017


One of my favorite Greek names is Damian, which comes from the Greek name Δαμιανος (Damianos).  This name was listed on the Great Greek Names for Modern Boys list posted earlier this week.

Greek name for boys - male name for babies

Damian is ultimately derived from the  Greek δαμαζω (damazo) meaning "to tame".  There was a saint by this name from the 4th century who was martyred with his twin brother Cosmo in Syria. There was also an 11th-century saint named Peter Damian who was a cardinal and theologian from Italy.

In the US, Damian was first used on boys in 1912. It also gained a minimal amount of use for girls in 1968. For boys, this name gained momentum in the 1970s, peaking in 1977 before dipping a bit again. By the 1990s, it began an upward trajectory of usage. It actually cracked the Top 100 in 2012-2013 at #98 both years. Even though it has dropped again to #116 in 2015, Damian is a solid name with great usage.

There's also a few spelling variations associated with different languages and cultures. The French Damien is also doing well in the US at #254 in 2015. Other spellings include Damon (#427), Damion, Damiaan, Damiano, Damianus, Damyan, Damijan and Damjan.

If you are thinking about using this name, here are some middle name ideas and some sibling name ideas that work well with the name Damian:

Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Alyssa, Diana, Helena, Juliet, Lucia, Sophia, Veronica
Brothers: Andrew, Dominic, Elias, Lucas, Raphael, Theodore, Xander

Middle Name Ideas:
Damian Benedict
Damian Christopher
Damian Lysander
Damian Phillip
Damian Timothy

As a Middle Name:
Atlas Damian
Evander Damian
George Damian
Nicholas Damian
Silas Damian

What do you think of this name? Which middle names would you pair with it?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Great Greek Names for Modern Boys

Greek names are fascinating, however, many of them are too wrapped up in archaic spellings to be considered usable today. But over the centuries, some of those names developed diminutives or were passed through a process of modernization to make them easier on our ears today. 

Here are some of the most usable Greek boy names around! Which do you enjoy most?


Are there any other traditionally Greek names that you could consider using on a modern boy?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What Will May's Names of the Month Be? You Decide!

Thank you for voting! If you'd like to submit your own favorite name combinations to be used in future Names of the Month polls, go to this page and enter them!  

Check FacebookTwitter or Instagram on May 1st to see which names won.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Barely Used Girl Names: Alba, Darlene & Tallulah [Part Seven]

Damaris Azul Gretchen Ida Darlene Saoirse Tallulah Alba Essence Winifred - barely used name in the US for female - little girl with flower
Congratulations on the little girl you're expecting in the near to distant future!  I couldn't be happier for you!  Not pregnant? No problem.

If you're looking for an unusual name for a book character, pet, or simulated video game character, I'm happy that you've also stumbled across this page.

Below are ten interesting names that have either had their heyday in your grandparents era, or have never quite taken off.  Either way, these names deserve consideration if you're into the uncommon. Go on, browse a bit, then be sure to check out the other six parts of this series for even more ideas!

Damaris (161 births - #1,428) Damaris was a woman in the New Testament who was converted to Christianity by Saint Paul. It is a Greek name from the word δαμαλις (damalis) which possibly means "calf, heifer, girl". The meaning is a little unusual but the biblical association makes up for it. Damaris has been used for girls in the US since 1916. It also gained minimal usage for boys in 1969. The year with the most female births was 2006, which ranked it at #604 for the year. However, it dropped out of the Top 1000 in 2012. Will it regain some usage in the future? Middle Name Ideas: Damaris Magdalene, Damaris Lily, Damaris Elaine, Damaris Sophia, Damaris June, Damaris Ruth, Damaris Lucille

Azul (160 births - #1,430) Pronounced ah-zhool, Azul is the Spanish word for "blue". This name should gain some popularity for being a triple threat. It's a color, it contains the cool letter Z, and it has that Spanish flair.  It's only been around since 1995 in the US. Interestingly, this name spiked in popularity for 4 years (2007-2010) before dropping off the chart again. Could you see it making a splash in the future? Middle Name Ideas: Azul Gabriella, Azul Rosalinda, Azul Carina, Azul Miranda, Azul Selena, Azul Olivia, Azul Victoria

Gretchen (160 births - #1,431) Gretchen is the German diminutive of Margareta, which of course is a form of Margaret, which comes from the Latin Margarita and the Greek margarites meaning "pearl." Gretchen has been in use in the US since 1882 and had the most births per year in 1971. It was almost always in the Top 1000 until it dropped off the chart in 2010. Has Gretchen's time run out, or could it ever be well-used again in the future?  Middle Name Ideas: Gretchen Adelaide, Gretchen Elise, Gretchen Rosalie, Gretchen Amelia, Gretchen Charlotte, Gretchen Louise, Gretchen Matilda

Ida (159 births - #1,439)  The name Ida comes from the Germanic element id, which refers to "work" or "labor". It was common in England after the Normans introduced it, but it greatly lost usage in the Middle Ages. It made a strong comeback in the 19th century after being used as the name of a heroine in a poem in 1847 by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Births-per-year peaked in 1918 for Ida in the US, but then usage declined until the name left the Top 1000 in 1987. Middle Name Ideas: Ida Genevieve, Ida Lorraine, Ida Delaney, Ida Julianne, Ida Charlotte, Ida Grace, Ida Madeline

Darlene (158 births - #1,443) Exactly as you might guess, Darlene comes from the English word darling, but the suffix -lene was substituted to make it more acceptable as a name. This name first appeared in the birth record in 1896 in the US for girls. It was even briefly applied to males from 1927-1976 and 7 births as recent as 1989. However, this name is better suited for females as evidenced by its peak in popularity in 1958 with over 8200 births for the year. Shortly thereafter, the name began a decline in usage that has yet to turn around. The name left the Top 1000 in 2003. Could you picture modern Darlenes?  Middle Name Ideas: Darlene Marianne, Darlene Elizabeth, Darlene Claire, Darlene Olivia, Darlene Rebecca, Darlene Johanna, Darlene Margot

Saoirse (158 births - #1,450) Pronounced SEER-sha, this beautiful Irish Gaelic name means "Freedom". It has ranked as high as #18 in Ireland in recent years, and #88 in Northern Ireland. However, its pronunciation has been deemed too difficult for many Americans, that is, until the name finally gained usage in 1993. With such a large percentage of the population hailing from Irish ancestors, like myself, I'd love to see more pure Irish names being used. Saoirse has never been in the Top 1000, but she is definitely gaining usage year-over-year. The name's familiarity is growing thanks to actress Saoirse Ronan's fame.  Middle Name Ideas: Saoirse Caroline, Saoirse Margaret, Saoirse Aoibheann, Saoirse Emily, Saoirse Lily, Saoirse Niamh, Saoirse Maeve

Alba (157 births - #1,452) Alba is actually two different names with different origins. One Alba comes from the male name Albus, an Ancient Roman name meaning "white" or "bright" in Latin.  The Second Alba is Germanic and is derived from the element alf meaning "elf". Lastly, Alba is also a word meaning "sunrise" or "dawn" in Italian, Spanish and Catalan. These two different names and a word have been confused over time. Whichever Alba you prefer, it has been in use overall in the US since the 1880s. It briefly ranked in the Top 1000 at the beginning of the century through to 1923, but it has mostly been very rare ever since. Middle Name Ideas: Alba Carolina, Alba Gloriana, Alba Juliana, Alba Violet, Alba Magdalene, Alba Raquel, Alba Maren

Tallulah (157 births - #1,457) Tallulah is a Native American name that is typically said to mean "leaping waters" in the Choctaw language but some argue that it actually means "town" in the Creek language . Perhaps both of them are accurate. This name is pronounced tə-LOO-lə. There's also an Irish Talulla which is a different name with its own meaning. This name appeared on the US birth record back in 1917, but it was very seldom used over the years, including none at all between 1957 and 1978.  By 1995 though, Tallulah picked up steam and is inching toward the Top 1000. Will she make it? Middle Name Ideas: Tallulah Belle, Tallulah Jane, Tallulah Noelle, Tallulah Scarlett, Tallulah Vivienne, Tallulah Nayeli, Tallulah Itzel

Essence (156 births - #1,460) This name is relative to the word essence, which is derived from the Latin esse meaning "to be". It also refers to an odor or scent, or it could mean a "fundamental quality".  This word name is a guilty pleasure for me. I find it delightful as an unexpected middle name. It had not been used at all in the US, though, until 1973. It moved fast enough to earn a spot in the Top 1000 by 1991 and it continued climbing as high as #490 in 1995. It faded downward again after that, leaving the chart by 2009, but it is a name that I'd like to see used more often.  Middle Name Ideas:  Essence Aurora, Essence Briar, Essence Josephine, Essence Penelope, Essence Lavinia, Essence Juliet, Essence Kate

Winifred (156 births - #1,467) From the Welsh name Gwenfrewi, Winifred is derived from the elements gwen meaning "white, fair, blessed", and frewi meaning "reconciliation, peace". Winifred has been in use for American girls since the 1880s but it was also occasionally given to boys from the early 1900s through the 1970s. For girls, Winifred's biggest year was 1918 when 1,593 girls were named. It declined thereafter, leaving the Top 1000 in 1965. However, the last few years have shown an increase in usage of the name. Is it vintage enough to make a comeback though? Middle Name Ideas:  Winifred Margaret, Winifred Louise, Winifred Adele, Winifred Alice, Winifred Grace, Winifred Sophia, Winifred Esme

What do you think of these ten, barely-used names for girls? Which do you think stand the best chance of revival? Which should stay uncommon? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social media! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Barely Used Boy Names: Cordell, Tobin & Zephyr [Part Seven]

The Art of Naming shares interesting names like these less popular boy names.
Ahhh! Part Seven! Here we are! The series just keeps chugging along with another 10 boy names to choose from! These barely-used names do not rank within 2015's Top 1000 chart.

Take a look at the names on this list, pick your favorite(s) and pair them with a great middle name in the comment section below!

Cordell (129 births - #1342) Cordell is an interesting surname name taken from Middle English usage referring to the maker or seller of cord. Cordell actually first appeared in 1903 for females, and 1904 for males. However, over the years, it gained more traction for boys, despite being given to a handful of girls here and there until 1937. For boys, Cordell has ranked on and off in the Top 1000, doing the best in the late 1990s.  Now it has fallen off the charts again but still earns a decent amount of births per year. Is this a name that you'd consider? Middle Name Ideas:  Cordell William, Cordell Elijah, Cordell Frost, Cordell Thomas, Cordell Ryan, Cordell Sebastian, Cordell Peregrine.

Jael (128 births - #1350)  Jael comes from the Hebrew name יָעֵל (Ya'el) which means "mountain goat". This was an Old Testament name used on a woman, the wife of Heber the Kenite. It's interesting that people have decided to use it for a boy. It was first used for girls back in 1957, and for boys in 1979. Over the years, it has actually been very evenly unisex with nearly the same amount of births for the year for each gender. In 2015, there were 150 girls named Jael and 128 boys. Middle Name Ideas: Jael Carter, Jael Matthew, Jael Benjamin, Jael Nathan, Jael Alexander, Jael Isaiah, Jael Tobias.

Creed (127 births - #1357)  Creed is an English word that refers to a set of religious beliefs, or any set of principals that must be followed.  It comes from the Latin credo meaning "I believe" or credere meaning "to believe". This name would most likely be used by parents who have strong spiritual beliefs, but it isn't off limits to those without faith. This has always been solely given to boys, dating back to 1880, but it wasn't regularly used yearly until the 1910s. It is more popular today than it has ever been, and yet it has not cracked into the Top 1000. Middle Name Ideas: Creed Jackson, Creed Oliver, Creed Michael, Creed Lucas, Creed Finnegan, Creed Anthony, Creed Gabriel.

Eleazar (127 births - #1359)  This comes from the Hebrew אֶלְעָזָר ('El'azar) which means "my God has helped" and was the name of one of the sons of Aaron in the Old Testament. Related names include Elazar, Lázár, Lazare, Lazzaro and Lázaro and of course, Lazarus.  Eleazar is a masculine name, (despite 7 female births appearing in 1993), and it has been in use in the US since 1919 on record. While it has never been popular or on the Top 1000 chart, it has had some solid usage over the years.  Could it ever catch on like other popular biblical names? Middle Name Ideas:  Eleazar Dean, Eleazar Lee, Eleazar Matteo, Eleazar Jude, Eleazar Beau, Eleazar Quinn

Tobin (127 births - #1362)  Tobin comes from an English surname that was derived from the male name Tobias. Tobias is the Greek form of Tobiah, a Hebrew form of Toviyyah meaning "YAHWEH is good". So, Tobin has been used in the US since 1941 for boys. It ranked as high as #720 in 1971, but fell out of the Top 1000 since then. Usage is on the rise now, but it hasn't quite caught on fully. Could Tobin gain enough popularity in the coming years to land on the Top 1000 chart? Middle Name Ideas: Tobin James, Tobin Andrew, Tobin Peter, Tobin Lysander, Tobin Clark, Tobin Leroy

Laith (126 births - #1369)  Laith is an interesting Arabic name meaning "lion". It is also sometimes used as a surname or romanized as Layth. This name dates way back to a notable Egyptian scholar who lived from 713-791. However, in the US, Laith has only been on record since 1969. It has slowly gained a handful more births year over year since then, but has never cracked the Top 1000. Laith has all the right sounds to potentially be popular, but will it ever get there? Middle Name Ideas: Laith Raphael, Laith Jasper, Laith Dominic, Laith Muhammad, Laith Cassim, Laith David

Zephyr (126 births - #1373) This is a fascinating Greek name from Zephyros meaning "the west wind" of which Zephyros was the god. Interestingly, Zephyr has a longer history as a female name. It was on record between 1905 and 1937 for females before going into name hibernation. It reappeared in 1975 for boys and 1981 for girls.  It was seldom used until most recently in the past decade.  Now it has far more usage on boys. It's rare that a name will turn from pink to blue in the US, but this one is trending that direction, even though it began as a male god name.  Middle Name Ideas: Zephyr Adrian, Zephyr Julian, Zephyr Noah, Zephyr Apollo, Zephyr Orion, Zephyr Leonidas, Zephyr Damian

Nestor (124 births - #1389) Nestor is a Greek name meaning "homecoming". There was a character in Homer's Iliad named Nestor who was known for his wisdom and longevity. The first usage of Nestor in the US was back in 1885. Always a masculine name, it failed to gain momentum until the 1910s, and it wasn't until the 1960s that it joined the Top 1000. It was most popular in 1991 at #587, but dipped back off the chart in 2008. Is this one too unusual for most people or could it gain popularity? Middle Name Ideas: Nestor Jack, Nestor Gabriel, Nestor Matthias, Nestor George, Nestor Timothy, Nestor Demetrius, Nestor Isaiah

Ollie (122 births - #1403) Ollie is a diminutive, or nickname, of the Oliver, Olivia and Olive branch of names. It is also used as a given name on its own. Ollie tends to be more commonly given to girls, especially back around the early 1900s. It ranked in the Top 1000 for girls until 1961. Ollie was used on boys simultaneously since 1880 but usually with fewer births per year. Only now is it trending upward for boys as a faster rate than for girls (122 male births vs 56 female in 2015). Will it break back into the Top 1000 soon? And if so, for which gender is it better suited?  Middle Name Ideas: Ollie Maxwell, Ollie Barnabas, Ollie Christopher, Ollie Marcus, Ollie Foster, Ollie Theodore, Ollie Laurence

Cillian (121 births - #1407) Finally, we have the Irish Cillian, pronounced kil-ee-an. This name was probably taken from the Gaelic ceall meaning "church" and combined with a diminutive suffix which likely makes it "little church". It was originally spelled Ó Cillín in Irish before being Anglicized into Killeen as well as Killian. It could also possibly be the diminutive of ceallach meaning "war, strife". There was a 7th century Irish saint by the name. Here in the US, Killian is more popular (#348 in 2015) because the spelling lends to the pronunciation. Cillian has only been in use since 1995 but it is climbing the charts. Middle Name Ideas: Cillian Ferdinand, Cillian Patrick, Cillian Fox, Cillian Henry, Cillian Archer, Cillian Pierce, Cillian Reid

What do you think of these ten names and what other middle names might pair well? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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