Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

Name Profile: Benedict

I used to think Benedict was one of those names that was too stained by history for modern usage as a baby name. Growing up in a household with a parent enamored by Early America, and with my own interests in colonial history, Benedict Arnold’s treason always felt like the reason why nobody named their sons Benedict anymore. Why I didn’t consider Benedict‘s decades in the U.S. top 1000 or the more enduring popularity of Arnold never occurred to me. Maybe it’s because my generation grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and Hey Arnold, so our positive associations overrode the general’s surname. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always liked Benedict as a baby name! The fact is, until I was older I simply didn’t know of any living person who bore the name.

Nowadays, Benedict is a semi-popular top 1000 baby name in the United States! A few things have happened in the last 20 years to revive Benedict from the tomes of history and become a suitable modern baby name:

  • The first time I think I heard the name outside of 18th-century history was the 2005 election of Pope Benedict XVI. When he became Pope, the name Benedict received a substantial boost. With his recent death on December 31st, 2022, expect to see another bump to the name in the 2023 data (though, it will be interesting to see if his nearly unprecedented abdication dampens some of the effects here since the papal transition already happened).
  • Sherlock arrived on TV in 2010, quickly obsessing Americans. With that, Benedict Cumberbatch became a ubiquitous household name and at that point, I think the name began making its way out of purely religious circles. If anyone’s had a heavy hand in fading negative historical associations for Americans, he has. It helps too that Cumberbatch starred in a major Marvel role as Dr. Strange.
  • Cumberbatch isn’t even the only Benedict in Dr. Strange! Benedict Wong played another major role as Wong. What are the chances of two major acting credits in the same movie going to men both named Benedict? Either way, both actors have appeared across numerous Marvel productions.
  • One word: Bridgerton. The romance series first arrived over 20 years ago in novel form, but the Netflix series has been a massive phenomenon since its introduction late in 2020. Benedict is the name of the second child and son, and there’s a good chance that the characterization helped push the name back into the Top 1000 for 2021.

Besides all the current religious and pop culture associations, Benedict fits a few popular name aesthetics. It’s long, elegant, and Latin, landing squarely into the maximalist style of distinguished baby names. Benedict is old-fashioned, giving it a boost for parents who love vintage names. Bridgerton grants Benedict Regency vibes. Anglophile parents also may love its British-sounding appeal. It’s not super popular but with a rank of #991, it’s firmly familiar to American parents. If you want to honor a Benjamin but prefer something more unusual, Benedict has you covered. And if you go by meanings, its definition (“blessed”) makes it an honorific option for the Hebrew name Baruch too. Overall, I think Benedict finds itself in a perfect storm for creating a popular baby name.

What do you think of Benedict?

American Names · Religious Names

Hanukkah Baby Name Inspiration

Happy Hanukkah! Although it’s technically a minor holiday within Judaism, Hanukkah is a major one for many American Jewish families. Much to the chagrin of some, that’s because it’s close to another early winter giving holiday which has led to some level of commercialization. For others, it’s a fun time for presents, competitive dreidel games, and great food. Even my partner, who grew up in a secular household, counted Hanukkah among his few observances until very recently (though he considered it akin to Labor Day). As a couple, with one’s growing observance and the other’s (my) conversion process, there’s something truly exciting about our first Hanukkah together. I’m not sure whether the gifts or the menorahs are accumulating faster, and we’re getting ready to host a shindig with close friends and family. Life is good.

Speaking of my conversion process, I get so excited to see Jewish representation (have you seen the Mitzvah Moose?). One thing I haven’t really seen is a list of baby names inspired by Hanukkah. There are plenty revolving around the December 25th holiday (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). While I do see some Jewish names on Holiday name lists, I can’t remember the last time I saw a baby name list that was just for Hanukkah. Well, here it goes!


Silver and Blue are commonly associated with Hanukkah (especially wrapping paper), and they also happen to be baby names! Both are unisex, and Blue so much so that it’s even gender-neutral. You can also consider other color shade names like Grey and Steel, or Azure and Navy as subtler nods.


Gift and Cadeau (French for “gift”) are some of the most talked-about present names this year on social media, though Gift sounds religiously Christian and may raise eyebrows at shul…plus Gift is the German word for “poison.” Safer bets include names that mean “gift” wholly or partly, like Doron, Dorothy, Matthew, Mateo, Theodore, and Theodora.


Some of the names associated with Hanukkah’s history are Mattathias (think Matthias), Judah, Simon / Simeon, and Eleazar. Maccabee was actually given to 10 baby boys in 2021, though I’m not sure how many (if any) are Jewish since the Hanukkah story is also found in Catholic bibles as part of the Deuterocanonical texts or Apocrypha.


It is the Festival of Light after all! You can take Lior, Liora, Orli, Zahara, and Zohar straight from Hebrew to get a name incorporating “light” into its meaning, or you can choose from any number of names meaning light like Lux, Luz, and Lucy. Some parents do even name their children “Light.”


Candle-lighting is a must. There’s a Ladino (Sephardic) song called “Ocho Kandelikas” that would make great inspiration for a baby girl’s name, should you like the sound of Kandelika (“little candle”). Some other name possibilities for “fire” include Fuego, Fiammetta, Ignatius, and Aidan.


Eight nights of Hanukkah means that a name meaning “eight” could work nicely. Octavia is currently popular, and for a boy you could choose Octavius or Octavian. Music-lovers can crosslist their baby names by choosing Octave, a French form. Alternatively, you could name a baby based off of which night of the holiday they were born on, allowing options like Una, Dua, Tertius, Arba, Quintin, Quinta, Septima, and Seven.


Nobody talks about the eight days of Hanukkah for a reason! To reference night, choose from direct translations like Lila / Laila, Nyx, and Nox. Alternatively, reference astronomy phenomena via names like Luna (moon), Estelle (star), Lyra (constellation), and Galaxy.


A few other names come to mind! Hannah and Chana make subtle nods to the word Hannukah, and Lottie evokes latkes. Sofia / Sophia might be named after sufganiyot (jelly donuts). A baby named Olive, Olivia, or Oliver might reference the miracle of the oil. And at the end of the night, Miracle is also a popular baby name!

What do you think? Are there any names you would add to this list of Hanukkah baby names? Let me know, and Happy Hanukkah / Hanukkah Sameach!

Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

Ebenezer: No Longer a Scrooge?

Everyone’s talking about holiday-themed and Christmas-themed baby names right now. Whether or not they’ll admit it, Ebenezer falls into this category! Just a few years ago, children named Ebenezer were practically unheard of. Until the 1990s, Ebenezer appeared only sporadically in Social Security Administration baby name data. That hasn’t been the case in the new millennium.

Ebenezer "Stone of Help."

At least 40 babies have been named Ebenezer every year since 2012. 2017 saw 55 boys receive the name, which is the highest usage Ebenezer has ever reached in the birth data extending back to 1880 (though said data isn’t necessarily accurate or complete until the 1930s). Its traditional nickname Eben frequently ranks higher, though in 2021 there was only a difference of one baby with 47 boys getting Eben and 46 getting Ebenezer. Historically, Eben‘s usage has been a lot more steady but peaked at 100 boys just a decade ago. Going forward, it looks like Ebenezer may be more stalwart than its more accessible short form. And hey, Ebenezer is no longer just for boys – over thirty girls have been named Ebenezer since 2008!

But what is Ebenezer‘s deal? None of us can forget the cultural icon that is Ebenezer Scrooge. A lonely old man who’s cruel to everyone, especially at Christmas? Whose main catchphrase is “bah, humbug?” This Dickensian character creation permanently tainted a fine Biblical name for many, but we should remember that Scrooge came around at the end. His experience with the three ghosts permanently changed him for the better, and so he’s not so much a villain as someone who needed a wake-up call. Moreover, nobody is born that bitter, but it takes a lot to overcome bitterness like that. A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption and healing. We all love that at the Holidays, don’t we? I’d argue that makes Ebenezer an awesome Christmas baby name.

Scrooge after the ghosts

If you’re cynical about the Holiday Season and are prone to complaining about it, Scrooge may still be the namesake you want. Naturally, the Victorian Grinch is everyone’s main association with Ebenezer. I personally have another association via the 1948 movie Portrait of Jennie, which is coincidentally another ghost story (though much more romantic). One of the main characters is an artist named Eben Adams. 

As to why the name Ebenezer has gotten a lot more popular than before, I have few ideas. It offers serious old-school Puritan and Bible vibes, which imports weight considering the widespread popularity of names like Noah, Elijah, Asher, and Ezra. Also…is it at all possible that Ebenezer is losing some of its association with Scrooge, in the way that Benedict isn’t always associated with Arnold now? It has an appealing meaning, too: “stone of help.”

Ebenezer has great nickname potential! Besides the obvious Eben, you could call an Ebenezer by Ben, Ezra, Benno, Benny, Bennett, and Benz. Because of its meaning, you could even go for Rocky! Middle names should ideally be one or two syllables, as in Ebenezer John or Ebenezer Samson.

What do you think of the name Ebenezer?

My sources were the Social Security AdministrationA Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, Behind the Name, and Nancy’s Baby Names.

Originally published July 21, 2016.

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

“Nick” Names

Most Americans associate Santa and gift-giving with a single Christmas date, December 25th. Very few know about a certain tradition on December 5th of leaving out shoes for St. Nicholas to fill with gifts on December 6th (I only know about it because I studied German in high school…that was a fun lesson!). Whether jolly old St. Nick brings your gifts on Christmas Day, St. Nicholas Day / Nikolaustag, or somewhere in-between, here’s a list of baby names related to Nicholas and other Nicks for inspiration this Holiday Season! All of these were used in 2021 and are listed by popularity, according to the Social Security Administration. I’ve also grouped spellings by pronunciation with the most popular version at the top.

The Major Nick Families

Nicholas – 6508 baby boys in total were named Nicholas or some spelling variation in 2021. It’s one of the most timeless names in the lexicon and has been out of the U.S. Top 200 only once!

  • Nicholas – 3824 boys were given this spelling. U.S. Rank: #92.
  • Nicolas – 1996 boys. Rank: #188
  • Nickolas – 168 boys
  • Nikolas – 472 boys
  • Niklas – 20 boys
  • Nikoloz – 10 boys
  • Nicklas – 8 boys
  • Nikkolas – 5 boys
  • Nykolas – 5 boys

Nico2876 boys and 62 girls for an overall total of 2938 babies named Nico or a variant.

  • Nico – 1351 boys, 35 girls. Rank: #259 for boys
  • Niko – 1158 boys, 19 girls. Rank: #291 for boys
  • Nikko – 213 boys
  • Neko – 55 boys, 8 girls
  • Nicco – 48 boys
  • Nyko 24 boys
  • Nieko – 17 boys
  • Nicho – 5 boys
  • Nykko – 5 boys

Nicole – 1094 girls total.

  • Nicole – 949 girls. Rank: #340
  • Nichole – 62 girls
  • Nicolle – 40 girls
  • Nicol – 19 girls
  • Nikole – 14 girls
  • Nickole – 5 girls
  • Nikol – 5 girls

Nikolai – 824 boys total.

  • Nikolai – 617 boys. Rank: #480
  • Nicolai – 50 boys
  • Nikoli – 20 boys
  • Nikolay – 16 boys
  • Nicholai – 15 boys
  • Nickolai – 12 boys
  • Nicolae – 10 boys
  • Nicoli – 9 boys
  • Nikolaj – 9 boys
  • Nikkolai – 7 boys
  • Nicholi – 5 boys

Nixon – 405 boys and 23 girls for an overall total of 428 children. Nixon means “Nick’s son.”

  • Nixon – 377 boys, 17 girls. Rank: #695 for boys.
  • Nixxon – 12 boys
  • Nickson – 8 boys. Taking the spelling more literally?
  • Nyxon – 8 boys
  • Nixyn – 6 girls

Niklaus – 385 boys total. Rank: #839.

  • Niklaus – 280 boys
  • Nikolaos – 55 boys
  • Nikolaus – 33 boys
  • Nicklaus – 17 boys

Nicolette – 152 girls total.

  • Nicolette – 141 girls
  • Nicholette – 6 girls
  • Nikolette – 5 girls

Nikola – 180 boys and 21 girls, totaling 201 babies.

  • Nikola – 145 boys, 12 girls
  • Nicola – 35 boys, 9 girl

Nick – 131 boys; this is the only spelling I could find.

Nikki – 88 girls, 20 boys for a combined total of 108 babies

  • Nikki – 66 girls
  • Nicky – 20 boys, 6 girls
  • Niki – 16 girls

Niccolo – 96 boys total.

  • Niccolo – 51 boys
  • Nicolo – 40 boys
  • Nikolo – 5 boys

Nika – 66 girls

Nicolina – 38 girls total

  • Nicolina – 23 girls
  • Nikolina – 15 girls

Nicoletta – 35 girls total

  • Nicoletta – 22 girls
  • Nikoletta – 8 girls
  • Nikoleta – 5 girls

Nikos – 20 boys. Behind the Name says this is a Greek nickname for Nikolaos.

Other relatives of Nicholas without the “Nic”:

Colin – Total of 2098 boys and 36 girls (Combined 2134). One of Colin‘s origins is as a medieval nickname for Nicholas.

  • Colin – 1282 boys, 5 girls. Rank: #269.
  • Collin – 726 boys, 10 girls. Rank: #421
  • Kollin – 38 boys
  • Kolin – 25 boys
  • Collen – 9 boys
  • Collyn – 8 boys, 7 girls
  • Colyn – 5 boys
  • Kollyn – 14 girls, 5 boys

Collins – Total of 1348 girls and 47 boys (combined 1395). If you like last names as baby names and want to honor a Nicholas, this relative of Colin is a good alternative to Nixon

  • Collins – 998 girls, 47 boys. Rank: #326.
  • Kollyns – 163 girls
  • Kollins – 104 girls
  • Collyns – 78 girls
  • Kolynns – 5 girls

Colette – 767 girls total. Colette is a nickname for Nicolette.

  • Colette – 684 girls. Rank: #454
  • Collette – 69 girls
  • Kolette – 14 girls

Kai – Total of 4684 boys and 392 girls (combined total: 5052 babies named Kai in 2021). Kai can sometimes be a German or Scandinavian nickname for Nicholas’s counterparts in those languages.

  • Kai – 4599 boys, 368 girls. Ranks #71 for boys and #770 for girls.
  • Cai – 85 boys, 24 girls

Klaus – 76 boys. The old-school German version of Nick.

I also found a bunch of mostly unrelated names that share that “Nick” sound. A lot of them can use Nick or Nikki as a, well, nickname!


  • Nikita – 75 boys, 51 girls (126 total)
  • Nyx – 61 girls, 8 boys (69 total)
  • Nikhil – 67 boys
  • Nicodemus – 39 boys
  • Nixie – 18 girls. Is this the next Nikki?
  • Nike – 10 boys, 7 girls (total). Besides being a shoe brand, Nike was the Greek goddess of victory and provides the root for the first half of Nicholas.
  • Nicha – 9 girls
  • Nichelle – 9 girls
  • Nikayla – 9 girls
  • Nicanor – 8 boys
  • Nicandro – 8 boys
  • Nikai – 8 boys
  • Nikan – 8 boys
  • Nikodem – 8 boys
  • Nekoda – 8 boys
  • Nikash – 7 boys
  • Nix – 7 boys
  • Nicasio – 6 boys
  • Nicodemo – 6 boys
  • Nikiya – 6 girls
  • Nyxie – 6 girls
  • Nektarios – 5 boys
  • Nykeem – 5 boys

Do you have any favorites from this list? Let me know!

American Names · Medieval Names · Modern names · Religious Names

The Many Ways to Spell Tiffany

Tiffany is an ancient name – it’s the medieval form of the Greek name Theophania (feminine for Theophanes, meaning “appearance of God”), and was traditionally given to girls born on January 6th, or Epiphany. Much more recently, Tiffany became popular in light of the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie or book, the story gets its name from the jewelry shop, not a character. 

As a trendy name becomes trendier, more spellings appear. From the time Tiffany entered the top 1000 in 1962 to its peak in 1988, and even afterwards, over 50 different ways to spell Tiffany appeared in the Social Security Administration’s birth data. I’ve tried to find them all.

Definite spellings:

  1. Teffani – debuts 1971 with 5 girls; only appearance. Might be influenced by variation of Stephanie.
  2. Teffanie – debuts 1969 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  3. Teffany – debuts 1966 with 8 girls, peak in 1977 with 16 girls. Last appearance 1993.
  4. Tephanie – debuts 1968 with 6 girls, peak in 1982 with 14 girls. Last appearance 1988. It’s just Stephanie without the ‘S!’
  5. Tifanee – debuts 1980 with 5 girls, peak in 1987 with 9 girls. Last appearance 1991.
  6. Tifani – debuts 1967 with 12 girls, peak in 1981 and 1988 with 39 girls. Last appearance 2010.
  7. Tifanie – debuts 1970 with 8 girls, peak in 1980 with 34 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  8. Tifanny – debuts in 1980 with 7 girls, peak in 2003 and 2007 with 12 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  9. Tifany – debuts in 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1982 with 66 girls. Last appearance 2013.
  10. Tiffaine – debuts in 1986 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  11. Tiffane – debuts in 1970 with 6 girls, peak in 1981 with 20 girls. Last appearance 1998.
  12. Tiffanee – debuts in 1969 with 8 girls, peak in 1988 with 43 girls. Last appearance 2002.
  13. Tiffaney – debuts in 1965 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 142 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  14. Tiffani – debuts in 1962 with 9 girls, peak in 1981 with 643 girls, 5 girls in 2021.
  15. Tiffanie –debuts in 1962 with 6 girls, peak in 1980 with 470. Last appearance 2020.
  16. Tiffannee – debuts in 1978; only appearance.
  17. Tiffanni – debuts in 1971 with 7 girls, peak in 1987 and 1994 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1997.
  18. Tiffannie – debuts in 1971 with 6 girls, peak in 1986 with 15. Last appearance in 1995. 
  19. Tiffanny – debuts in 1968 with 6 girls, peak in 1982 and 1984 with 21 girls. Last appearance 2006.
  20. Tiffany – debuts 1942 with 7 girls. Peak in 1988 with 18364 girls. Entered top 1000 in 1962, peaked 1982 and 1988 (with highest percentage in ’88). Current rank: #864 with 315 girls. 
  21. Tiffanye – debuts 1972 with 7 girls. Peak in 1980 with 10 girls. Last appearance 1985.
  22. Tiffeney – debuts in 1970 with 6 girls. Peak in 1982 and 1983 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1985.
  23. Tiffeny – debuts 1968 with 6 girls. Peak in 1989 with 31 girls. Last appearance 2003.
  24. Tifffany – debuts 1988 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  25. Tiffiani – debuts 1980 with 5 girls. Peak in 1980 and 1992 with 5 girls. Last appearance 1992.
  26. Tiffiany – debuts 1966 with 7 girls. Peak in 1982 with 50 girls. Last appearance 1999.
  27. Tiffinay – debuts 1971 with 5 girls. Peak in 1976 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1988. 
  28. Tiffine – debuts 1971 with 8 girls, peak in 1984 with 18 girls. Last appearance 1995.
  29. Tiffinee – debuts 1973 with 5 girls, peak in 1988 with 10 girls. Last appearance 1990.
  30. Tiffiney – debuts 1966 with 10 girls, peak in 1981 with 63 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  31. Tiffini – debuts 1964 with 7 girls, peak in 1980 with 71 girls. Last appearance 2007.
  32. Tiffinie – debuts 1967 with 8 girls, peak in 1981 and 1982 with 22 girls. Last appearance 1996.
  33. Tiffiny – debuts 1964 with 10 girls, peak in 1980 with 144 girls. Last appearance 2008.
  34. Tiffnay – debuts 1975 with 6 girls, peak in 1981 with 12 girls. Last appearance 1989.
  35. Tiffney – debuts 1962 with 7 girls, peak in 1980 with 66 girls. Last appearance 2002.
  36. Tiffni – debuts 1970 with 11 girls, peak in 1970 with 11 girls. Last appearance 1971.
  37. Tiffnie – debuts 1970 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  38. Tiffny – debuts 1972 with 7 girls. Peak in 1984 with 12 girls.  Last appearance 1988.
  39. Tiffoni – debuts 1972 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  40. Tiffonie – debuts 1971 with 5 girls. Peak in 1971, 1975, and 1976 with 5 girls.  Last appearance 1976.
  41. Tiffony – debuts 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 16 girls. Last appearance 1990.
  42. Tifini – debuts 1967 with 5 girls, peak in 1982 with 12 girls. Last appearance 1995.
  43. Tifinie – debuts 1971 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1980.
  44. Tifiny – debuts 1979 with 5 girls, peak in 1980 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1980.
  45. Tifney – debuts 1970 with 7 girls, peak in 1970 and 1977 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1982.
  46. Tifni – debuts 1980 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  47. Tifphanie – debuts 1976 with 6 girls; only appearance.
  48. Tiphanee – debuts 1995 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  49. Tiphani – debuts 1971 with 6 girls, peak in 1988 with 24 girls. Last appearance 2007.
  50. Tiphanie – debuts 1967 with 5 girls, peak in 1988 with 32 girls. Last appearance 2009.
  51. Tiphany – debuts 1968 with 5 girls, peak in 1993 with 15 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  52. Tyfani – debuts 1990 with 7 girls; only appearance.
  53. Tyffani – debuts 1980 with 7 girls, peak in 1987, 1993, and 1995 with 11 girls. Last appearance 2001.
  54. Tyffanie – debuts 1979 with 5 girls, peak in 1985 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1992
  55. Tyffany – debut 1975 with 7 girls, peak in 1989 with 13 girls. Last appearance 2000.

The names in bold are the ones that were still being given to babies in 2016.

Uncertain spellings:

  • Taffani – debuts 1972 with 5 girls, peaks in 1972 and 1992 with 5 girls. Last appearance 1992. Sounds more like Daphne.
  • Taffany – debuts 1967 with 6 girls, peaks 1988 with 24 girls.  Last appearance 1994.
  • Taffney – debuts 1970 with 5, peaks 1970 and 1974 with 5 girls.  Last appearance 1974.
  • Tiffancy – debuts 1975 with 5 girls, peak in 1986.  Last appearance 1988.
  • Tiphaine – debuts 1976 with 5 girls; only appearance.
  • Tippany – debuts 1982 with 6 girls; only appearance.

Names Inspired by Tiffany:

  • Latiffany – debuts 1974 with 6 girls, peak in 1987 with 22 girls. Last appearance 1994.
  • Tiffanique – debuts 1992 with 5 girls, peak in 1993 with 6 girls. Last appearance 1993.
  • Tiffaniamber – debuts 1993 with 6 girls, peak in 1997 with 9 girls. Last appearance 1997.
  • Tiffanyamber – debuts 1994 with 8 girls, peak in 1994 and 1998 with 8 girls. Last appearance 1999.
  • Tiffanyann – debuts in 1981 with 7 girls.
  • Tiffanymarie – debuts 1987 with 5 girls.
  • Tiffay – debuts 1974 with 6 girls, peak in 1987 with 28 girls. Last appearance 1988.
  • Tiffin – debuts 1966 with 5 girls, peak in 1968, 1977, and 1980 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1982.
  • Tiffy – debuts 1974 with 5 girls, peak in 1981 with 7 girls. Last appearance 1981.

There are only two spellings of Tiffany parents still give their daughters (that we know of), but once-upon-a-time it was a hip name. The Tiffany you find on the playground today is probably a mom, not her child. Give it another couple of generations or a resurgence in medieval baby names and it’s sure to return!  

Do you have a favorite spelling of Tiffany? Have you met someone with an unusual spelling of this name, even one that didn’t make this list? Let me know!


American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Religious Names

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve written a Puritan name acrostic for you all! An acrostic is a poem in which a letter from each line (especially the first letter) spells something out.


I doubt we’re having turkey…more likely, we’re having lasagna.  Does anybody else eat unconventional Thanksgiving foods?

Temperance – 232 girls in 2016. It was a top 1000 name between 2011 and 2014.

Hope – 1324 girls (#240) and 7 boys.

Amity – 42 girls. Amity means “friendship.”

Noble – 140 boys and 15 girls.

Knowledge – 112 boys and 8 girls.

Sincere – 405 boys (#628) and 39 girls. The other option was Silence.

Grace – 7531 girls (#19) and 15 boys.

Increase – Famously borne by Increase Mather (1639-1723). I’m a little surprised this one isn’t anywhere in the SSA data.

Victory – 47 girls and 16 boys.

Independence – 6 girls.

Nazareth – 64 girls and 47 boys. ‘N’ is one of the less common letters for Puritan names; Noble is the only ‘N’ virtue name I could find. My other choice for this slot was the very random word-name “Notwithstanding,” which was mentioned in Albion’s Seed.* Yes, someone really named their kid Notwithstanding.

Godswill – 6 boys. This might be a modern creation, but it’s up there with Obedience.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

(As usual, the data came from the Social Security Administration. The book I mention, Albion’s Seed, is by David Hackett Fischer and contains information on colonial American naming practices.)

Ancient and Classical Names · Religious Names


Depiction of St. Perpetua’s Martyrdom

Some names are so beautiful that their rareness escapes all logic.  Perpetua, I perceive, falls in this category.  This name derives from Latin and means “continual” or “everlasting.”  Pronunciation-wise, the last two syllables ‘tua’ can be said like “chew-uh” or “tyoo-uh.”  Possible nicknames for Perpetua include Perri, Pet, Petra, and Petal

In 2015, only 13 baby girls were named Perpetua in the U.S.  That’s still comparatively high when you realize that it’s only appeared in the SSA birth data in the past 10 years.  Peak usage was in 2013 with 17 girls.

Perhaps strangely, Perpetua doesn’t even appear in the latest England/Wales data.  Why do I say ‘strangely?’  Well, I was under the impression that Perpetua was something of a British-ism.  Off the top of my head, I immediately think of the Bridget Jones character Perpetua (who admittedly was snobbish, though she’s somewhat redeemed by her approval of Bridget’s telling off Daniel) and the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Card figure Perpetua Fancourt…both obviously British, or at least not American.   

That aside, I do believe most modern usage is religious in nature.  Perpetua semi-frequently appears on Sancta Nomina, which is a Catholic baby naming site (do check that out, even if you’re not Catholic.  Lovely naming styles!).  Indeed, Perpetua is the name of a famous early saint who was martyred at Carthage in the early 200s, during the reign of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.  St. Perpetua is also believed to be one of the earliest female Christian writers; she wrote a prison diary, which you can read here.

What do you think of the name Perpetua


American Names · Religious Names


King Jotham

I recently learned Jotham might be a family name!  Jotham is a surprisingly unusual Bible name.  In 2015, only 26 boys were given this name, which means “Yahweh is upright.”    

One of the Jothams listed in the Bible was a king of Judah.  The relevant passage (2 Chronicles 27) is fairly short but portrays a pious man who focused on infrastructure.  The other Biblical Jotham was a son of GideonGideon apparently had 71 sons, and one of them, Abimelech, tried to kill the other seventy to become king.  Jotham was the sole survivor of this assassination attempt (Judges 9). 

There are more ‘recent’ instances of the name Jotham Jotham Post, Jr. served as a U.S. Congressman (from New York) between 1813 and 1815, and a Jotham Johnson served as an archaeologist in the mid 20th century.

All in all, Jotham isn’t someone you’re likely to meet in the 21st century.  This is a name ripe for the picking – especially as a radical alternative to Gotham (which was given to 46 boys last year…na-na-na-na BATMAN!) or more radically to classic Jonathan (given to over 7,500 boys last year).  And because it belonged to a Biblical king, it’s an unusual royal name too.  With all the babies named Henry and William running around, equally handsome Jotham would stand out in the crowd! 

What do you think of the name Jotham?  Bonus points – King Jotham’s parents were named Uzziah and Jerusha…respectively bestowed on 49 boys and 9 girls in 2015!  

Religious Names

Reserved Reuel

Reuel Colt Gridley

Why isn’t Reuel a more popular name?  Plenty of other obscure Old Testament names like Amaziah and Joah are more popular and getting trendier.  Moreover, it’s one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s middle names, giving it some serious nerd cred.  And for spiritual folks, it has a fantastic meaning: “friend of God.”  Yet in 2015, only 8 boys were given this name in the U.S.  I would expect it to register at least 30 times, but apparently there were fewer than 10.  What’s up with that? 

In the Bible, the name belongs to more than one person.  Apparently Jethro and Reuel were the same person (though there’s some debate).  Another Reuel was a son of Esau.

The name Reuel also has a number of fairly prominent bearers outside the Bible.  Here are some:

  • Senator Reuel Williams of Maine, Democrat (1783-1862).  His parents were named Seth and Zilpha, and his grandparents Abigail and Benaiah (wow!).  You can read more about him here, in the Memoir of Hon. Reuel Williams.
  • St. Regulus or St. Rule (4th-century?) – Curiously, Reuel is listed under the profile of a Greco-Scottish St. Regulus at, though this profile itself originated on Wikipedia.  I wonder if someone simply took alternate spelling Rieul (from Regulus, not Reuel) and thought the saint could be called Reuel too.  Nevertheless, the thought of using Reuel to honor a saint is interesting!
  • Reuel Colt Gridley (1829-70).  During the Civil War he raised a quarter million dollars for wounded Union veterans with a sack of flour!  
  • Jairus Reuel Aquino (born 1999) – A teen actor from the Philippines. 

What do you think of Reuel?  Do you think it could take off? 


Religious Names

By Methuselah: Wine Bottle Sizes

You’re probably wondering what wine and names have in common, besides those people called Champagne or Chianti by their parents. Yes, there are ‘alcoholic baby names,’ but that’s a post for another day.  Today’s post actually regards the positively wild and magnificent names of wine bottle sizes, though with this being a name blog at heart, I won’t forget to include the human data. 🙂

You probably know that the standard bottle measures 750 milliliters in volume.  You may also know that there are smaller half and quarter sizes for more personal consumption, and that champagne bottles are shaped differently altogether.  What you may not have seen are the plus-size bottles, besides maybe a 1.5 liter “Magnum.” The truly gargantuan containers are rare, but they exist.

When I first learned about the oversized wine bottles in a university course, I don’t know whether I was more astounded by the existence of the sizes or their names.  Huge wine bottles often have Biblical namesakes.  

From  This chart shows how many standard bottles are in a particular size, rather than in liters as listed below.

  • Jeroboam – 3 liters.  Jeroboam was an Old Testament king.  There’s also a 5 liter “Bordeaux Jeroboam.”
  • Rehoboam – 4.5 liters.  Also an O.T. king, and son of Solomon. 
  • Methuselah – 6 liters.  Methuselah was the longest-lived character in the Bible (969 years) and the grandfather of Noah. 
  • Salmanazar – 9 liters.  This is a variant on Shalmaneser, who was an Assyrian king.  Personally, Salmanazar sounds cooler. 
  • Balthazar – 12 liters.  Unlike the previous sizes, this isn’t O.T.  Rather, Balthazar was one of the three Magi.  Also unlike the previous names, this one appears in the SSA extended data; 12 boys were named Balthazar in 2015. 
  • Nebuchadnezzar – 15 liters.  King of Babylon.  I don’t ever recommend this as a baby name, but for a wine bottle it’s epic. 
  • Melchior 18 liters.  Another of the Magi!  No current usage, although there were  apparently a few born in 2007. 
  • Solomon – 20 liters.  As a baby name, it ranked #376 in 2015.  However, I’m guessing they were named after King Solomon and not the bottle. 😉 
  • Goliath27 liters.  A fitting name for a giant.  
  • Melchizedek – 30 liters.  Interestingly, this is named for an O.T. priest rather than a king.  14 boys were named Melchizedek in 2015.

There are a few other volumes, but the vast majority have Bible-inspired names.  For more information on bottle sizes, check out this page.

What do you think?  Me, I’m loving the names, but I’m craving wine from a bottle I can actually carry. XD