American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

An August Ascent

In honor of the 1st of August, how about a post on the name? 

August belongs to that exclusive and venerable club of names that have been in the American top 1000 every year since 1880.  Once a top 100 name, it almost left the charts in the 1980s.  August grew a little more popular through the 1990s and remained stable in the #600s until the later 2000s.  Then, in 2007, the lovely movie August Rush came to theaters, starring such luminaries as Robin Williams and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.  Between 2007 and 2008 the name August jumped about 150 spots upwards.  Ever since, it has only gotten more popular.  In 2015, August breached the top 200, ranking at #195.  I don’t expect this name to become unfashionable any time soon, and would be very surprised indeed if it doesn’t reenter the top 100 in a few years. 

The month, the name, and the word meaning ‘venerable’ all derive from Augustus, an Ancient Roman honorific for the early emperors, or Caesars.  The first Augustus was Octavian (not Julius Caesar, who was never emperor…nor were all “Caesars” related to the emperor).  Augustus itself is also trendy in the U.S.  In 2015, Augustus ranked #467, up from #544 in 2014 and #688 in 2013. 

There are women named August, too.  Last year, 242 girls were named August, almost enough to enter the top 1000.  By my own standards and metrics, the name is now unisex because girls counted for over 10% of all baby Augusts last year.  I suspect that many female Augusts are so named because of the month.  The name, after all, has a traditional feminine form – Augusta, which was only given to 49 girls last year.  Moreover, August has only appeared regularly in the extended data for girls since the 1960s and 70s, which suggests to me it was a kind of summery hippie name akin to, well, Summer.

Possible nicknames for August include Gus, Augie, and Gussie.  However, I think it works well as a standalone name too. 

What do you think of the name August?  Do you prefer it for boys or girls?  Let me know in the comments.

7 thoughts on “An August Ascent

    1. You’re British, yes? Interestingly, August is only really popular in the U.S. and Scandinavia. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t chart anywhere in the Commonwealth, so I wonder if it’s not really thought of as a name elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. In 1909, my grandmother gave my Aunt Ruth the middle name Augusta. I only became aware of this oddity when I started doing family history. Her siblings all had their parents’ brothers and sisters names as their middle name (John for Uncle John, Mary for Aunt Mary, etc.), except for Aunt Ruth. As far as I know, the only place Augusta shows up anywhere in the family tree is her middle name. Maybe Grandma thought it was pretty?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You beat me to this name by a couple of days 🙂 I can see August as a unisex name but I honestly do prefer it on boys, mostly because I prefer the feminine form over it. I love, love, LOVE the name Augusta. I don’t know why, but there’s just something about this somewhat harsh, three syllable name that really appeals to me. There’s also Augustine and Augustina.

    Liked by 2 people

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