American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Rose: More than a Flower

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”  – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.


Rose is possibly the most famous, traditional, and popular floral name in the English language, if not everywhere.  She has been in the American top 1000 every year since 1880, and despite a small dip in popularity in the latter half of the 20th century she is now rebounding.  Her most recent ranking (2014) is #196, but expect her to climb even higher in 2015!  In other countries, her comparative popularity is even more popular.  The charts for England and Wales, France, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and Belgium all include her among their top 100.   In many places, she is returning to popularity after seemingly long absences. 

But Rose isn’t just a flower.  Rose is actually a very old Germanic name!   In Medieval English and Norman French, the name was often rendered Rohese.  Other spellings included Royse and Rohesia (Latinized version).  No variation of this name had anything to do with the flower.  The original Germanic form of the name is Hrodohaidis, which has roots meaning something like “fame” and “-ness.”  So, Rose might actually be a great name for a celebrity.  

Then there’s Rosa, which is usually considered a variation of Rose.  It might actually be derived from only the first root in Hrodohaidis, which would make it a different name than Rose (though still related).  Of course, like its cousin, Rosa is probably used mainly in reference to the flower.  According to Behind the Name, both Rose and Rosa only really entered a modern English context in the 19th century, which is when many other flower names became common.  Indeed, Rose isn’t the only flower name with other origins.  Iris, for example, was a Greek messenger goddess.  Zinnia and Linnea are named after famous scientists.  Flower names come from somewhere.

What do you think of Rose and other such names? 


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