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.

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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

Emma: Character [Sur]names

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I’ve just finished reading Jane Austen’s Emma.  Normally I love anything Austen wrote, but this book was a chore.  The first third of the story (Volume 1, actually) was unimaginably boring, and I perceived Emma Woodhouse herself as annoying.  Amazingly, I persevered to Volume 2, at which point I started to enjoy it more.  Having finished it (there are 3 volumes), I can actually say that I liked it…but for a while I hated it.  This, coming from someone whose favorite book is Pride and Prejudice and who adored the obscure but deliciously scandalous Lady Susan

The character names were excellent but nearly as boring as I found Volume 1.  Almost everyone was named some classic like Henry or Isabella.  The only really unusual names of interest were Hetty and Augusta, but overwhelmingly there were few rarities.  To be fair, most characters were referred by their surnames.  So, why don’t we look at those and their usage?

Bates: 8 boys in 2015.  I considered Miss Bates was an interesting example of the Regency-era spinster.  She’s not especially old, but is unmarried at a much later age than most women would wed.  Her community regards her highly for a kind and optimistic personality, even if she tends to ramble.

Campbell: 224 girls and 136 boys in 2015.  There is some mention of a Colonel and Mrs. Campbell. 

Churchill: Under 5 uses in 2015, if any.  Churchill hasn’t been used regularly since World War II (not that it was ever common), but it did appear in the extended data back in 2012.  I am looking at American data, so there’s that too.  However, I think Winston Churchill tends to be a more likely namesake than Frank Churchill.  Speaking of which: Winston is experiencing a revival – he ranked #523 last year! 

Cole: 3475 boys (#115) and 14 girls.  The Coles are a newly wealthy and up-and-coming family in Emma’s town who seem mostly to serve as social catalysts – i.e., they host parties.  The name Cole always makes me think either of Cole Porter or Nat King Cole. 

Dixon: 70 boys.  Mr. Dixon never actually appears except in passing mention, though one mention was apparently enough to upset Jane Fairfax.

Elton: 62 boys.  I can’t say I liked Mr. Elton very much, and I was even less fond of his wife.  Even so, any child called Elton will surely be associated with Elton John long before the rude vicar. 

Fairfax: Unknown usage, though I did encounter one several years back who’s probably around my age.  If you want some Austen-Brontë crossover material, I think Mr. Rochester’s second name was Fairfax.  The most probable namesake, I imagine, is not literary but historical.  In the 18th century, the 6th Lord Fairfax once owned over 5,000,000 acres of land stretching across what are now Virginia and West Virginia. 

Hawkins: 57 boys.  Mr. Elton marries Miss Hawkins, who frequently errs and refers to Jane Fairfax by her “Christian name.”  Proper protocol was to address her as ‘Miss Fairfax’; calling her ‘Jane’ was considered vulgar. 

Knightley8 girls in 2015.  Although the book refers to Mr. Knightley and his brother Mr. John Knightley (with the one Mrs. Knightley often and simply designated Isabella), Americans usually treat this as a girls’ name.  Knightley is even more modern than it is rare, having only officially entered the naming pool seven years ago.  The sound and style of the name may be responsible for its usage, though curiously other Austen-related names like Fitzwilliam (8 boys) are very new to the data too.  

Martin: 1332 boys (#276).  Emma soon persuades Harriet to turn down a proposal from Mr. Robert Martin and disastrously attempts to set her up with Mr. Elton. 

Perry: 139 boys and 87 girls.  I believe Mr. Perry was the physician. 

Smith: 154 boys and 11 girls.  Harriet Smith is an illegitimate child, which is one of the only things I found particularly interesting about the first third of the book. 

Weston: 3305 boys (#120) and 5 girls.  Easily the most popular character surname from the story, Weston is taking off – possibly responding to the exponentially increasing popularity of counterpart Easton (#78).  In a couple years, Weston could be a top 100 baby name! 

Woodhouse: Unknown usage.  Emma’s surname hasn’t inspired parents in any decade.  If any baby Woodhouses exist, they’re more likely named after Sterling Archer’s butler. 

Thoughts?  Have you read Emma, and if so, how did you like it? 

Opinions

The Hunger Names

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Sorry it’s a little lopsided…

I finally read the Hunger Games!  Never seen the movie, so besides what I’ve gleaned from the media and friends, I had a chance to look at the series with fresh eyes.  I wasn’t really interested in it before (though Hunger Games Minecraft servers were always fun!), but happened upon a free copy and decided to read it for the names.  All in all, the book was enjoyable, though I would have liked more background info about Panem…maybe that will happen in later books.  I’m glad I didn’t read it when it was first popular because frankly, I absolutely hated The Giver as a teenager.  Appreciation of the dystopian genre didn’t manifest until a couple years ago, when I finally read Orwell.  Now I love the stuff!  Hmm…maybe I should afford The Giver another chance.

Anyway, it’s not my intention to write a book review.  Instead, how about a commentary on the names? 

Plant Names:

Katniss “Catnip” – According to the character Katniss, the katniss is a type of flower with an edible root.  Indeed, it’s a real plant, also called Sagittaria or (fittingly) Arrowhead.   Last year, 30 girls were named Katniss in the U.S.

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Katniss

 

Primrose “Prim”- A sweet floral name for a sweet disposition.  50 American girls were named Primrose last year, but it’s more distinctly British.  According the newly-released English and Welsh data, she ranks #259 there.

Buttercup – OK, I know this was the cat’s name, but…”as you wish?”

Rue: “Small yellow flower” (p. 99). 

Clove – You probably won’t find this as anyone’s name, though I wonder if anyone’s tried it as a nickname for Clover

Nicknames:

Effie – Another adorable, mostly British name.  53 girls were named Effie in the U.S. last year, and she ranks #343 in the U.K.  In case you’re wondering, this is traditionally short for Euphemia.

Madge – Traditionally a nickname for Margaret, but could also work as a nickname for Talmadge.  Adorable, but I’m unsure if this will ever catch on again.  The last time this was in the top 1000 was in the 1950s.

Ancient Roman/Latin Names: (Wow, there are a lot of these!)

Venia – Possible nickname for Venetia

Flavius – Would love to see Flavius gain traction! 

Octavia – 173 girls.  Rare and beautiful. 

Cinna – I thought maybe this was a nickname for Cinnamon, but it looks like it may date to Rome (and Shakespeare). 

Portia – 42 girls.  Add stylist to the list of associations besides Porsche and Portia di Rossi!

Caesar – 91 boys.  I bet we could turn Peeta into croutons for the salad. 

Titus – The only men’s name on this list that’s popular in the U.S.  Rank: #281. 

Claudius – Surprisingly none of these in the data. 

Cato – 23 boys.  I wonder how many of these are named after the Cato Institute? 

Miscellaneous:

Gale (m) – Huh.  I was seriously expecting to find this as a women’s name in the 2015 data, but the only known Gales are indeed male.  Must be the series’ influence…anyway, 8 boys were named Gale last year. 

Haymitch – Sounds like a lot like Hamish. 

Peeta – Can I get some hummus with that? 

Johanna – Current rank: #541

Delly Sandwich shop!  Or nickname for Cordelia

Atala – Atari?

Thresh – Funny, he’s from the agriculture district and threshing is an agricultural practice. 

Glimmer – “Ugh, the names people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous.”  (-Katniss, page 182).  I’m not one to call names ridiculous, but you have to admit the quote is hilarious!

Rooba – Reminds me of Roombas

Greasy Sae – I wouldn’t ever want to be called Greasy, though Sae can make a cute nickname for Sarah or Sadie 8 girls were named Sae in the U.S. last year.

And, that’s a wrap of my Hunger Names commentary (at least, until I read the next two books!).  Encountering all those Roman names is absolutely fantastic, and I always love flower names. 

Thoughts, anyone? 

American Names

Writers’ Names in Usage

My 100th post…wow!  Can you believe it?  Thank you all for reading and enjoying my site over the past few months.  Let’s hope for many more. 🙂

Now on to the post.  I was looking through the SSA 2015 data earlier today and noticed the name Cervantes, which was the surname of Don Quixote‘s author.  So then I wondered how popular other authors’ names were. 

Here are some writers’ names that were used as baby names in the U.S. last year! 

First Names:

  • Agatha (Christie) – 85 girls.  Poirot.
  • Alexandre (Dumas) – 111 boys.  The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Bram (Stoker) – 48 boys.  Dracula.
  • Chinua (Achebe) – 5 boys.  Things Fall Apart.
  • Horatio (Alger) – 9 boys.  Famous for his “rags-to-riches” stories.”
  • Joanne (K. Rowling) – 95 girls. Harry Potter.
  • Khaled (Hosseini) – 99 boys.  The Kite Runner.
  • Toni (Morrison) – 177 girls.  Beloved.
  • Zelda (Fitzgerald) – #646.  Save Me the Waltz.
  • Zora (Neale Hurston) – 136 girls.  Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Middle Names:

  • Conan (Doyle, Arthur) – 58 boys. Sherlock Holmes.
  • Harper (Lee, Nelle) – Harper is currently the #10 girls’ name in the U.S., and ranks #722 for boys.  To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Reuel (Tolkien, John Ronald) – 8 boys. Lord of the Rings.
  • Zane (Grey, Pearl) – #232.  Zane Grey wrote westerns.  And yes, his name was Pearl!    

Last Names:

  • Austen (Jane) – 61 girls and 119 boys.  Pride and Prejudice.
  • Brontë (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne) – 7 girls.  Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, respectively.  Bronte is also the name of an Ancient Greek thunder deity.  
  • Cervantes (Saavedra, Miguel de) – 6 boys.  Don Quixote.
  • Cooper (Fenimore, James) – #77.  Last of the Mohicans
  • Fitzgerald (F. Scott) – 73 boys.  The Great Gatsby.
  • Haddon (Mark) – 39 boys.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
  • Hawthorne (Nathaniel) – 25 boys.  The Scarlet Letter.
  • Hemingway (Ernest) – 5 boys.  The Old Man and the Sea.
  • Huxley (Aldous) – #960.  Brave New World.
  • Kipling (Rudyard) – 5 boys.  The Jungle Books.
  • Lewis (C. S.) – #569.  Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Milton (John) – 152 boys.  Paradise Lost.
  • Poe (Edgar Allan) – 9 boys.  Murder in the Rue Morgue.
  • Salinger (J.D.) – 5 boys.  The Catcher in the Rye.
  • Shelley (Mary) – 13 girls.  Frankenstein.
  • Wilde (Oscar) – 7 boys.  The Picture of Dorian Gray.

What do you think?  Are there any other writers’ names you’d add to this list? 

 

Analysis · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Georgiana

Georgiana is a gorgeous 18th-century name that just experienced a relatively huge jump in popularity.  In 2015 there were 117 American baby girls given this name, up from 79 in 2014 and 76 in 2013.  Usually pronounced like “Georgie-Anna” or even “Jor-Jayna,” this name derives from George, which means “farmer.”  However, throughout much of the 20th and all of the 21st century, Georgia has been the preferred feminine form.  Georgiana does have a history in the American top 1000, but hasn’t appeared since the 1950s. 

The name Georgiana is usually associated with Georgiana Darcy, the younger sister of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  At the point of her appearance, she is a lovely 16-year-old heiress and an excellent pianist who had narrowly escaped elopement with the dastardly Mr. Wickham just a year prior. 

Of course, the character of Miss Darcy is not the only Georgiana from the reign of King George III.  Georgiana Cavendish, née Spencer (1757-1806), was Duchess of Devonshire through her marriage.  She’s a fascinating individual.  The duchess bore an illegitimate child with Charles Grey, who eventually became Prime Minister and the namesake of Earl Grey tea (obviously that second attribute is more important).  She had a considerable influence in British politics, during a time long before women’s suffrage…I’ve even seen political cartoons concerning her.  The duchess was also known for being a serious fashionista.  There’s a decent Keira Knightley movie about her called The Duchess.

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Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

As to the sudden popularity increase between 2014 and 2015, I believe it is attributable to Death Comes to Pemberley.  A few years ago, P.D. James wrote a popular murder mystery in the form of Pride and Prejudice fanfiction.  Late in 2013, BBC released a DCtP miniseries, but it doesn’t appear that an American release happened until October and November of 2014.  That time frame probably helps to explain why there were so many more babies named Georgiana in 2015; although the event occurred in 2014, it happened late enough in the year so as to affect the next year’s naming trends more than the 2014 trends.  We’re likely going through the same phenomenon for Star Wars Episode VII, but of course we won’t know for sure until the SSA releases the 2015 data next May.  Either way, this Austenian murder mystery seems to have had a few other minor effects on American baby naming.  Since the novel was published in 2011, we’ve seen both Fitzwilliam and Pemberley pop up in the SSA extended data.  That has to count for something, yes?

What do you think of the name Georgiana?  Do you think she’ll keep rising, or was this spike a one-time deal? 

Medieval Names

Ermengarde

You’ve probably never met one in person, but perhaps you’ve encountered an Ermengarde in books, movies, history, or video games. 

A_Little_Princess_cover

Ermengarde is a character (and chapter!) in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess and is also the second love of the narrator in Edgar Allan Poe’s Eleonora.  Both are at least somewhat obscure as references, though the former is probably better known.  A Little Princess is a widely-read children’s classic and has several movie renditions (my personal favorite is the 1990s version that Alfonso Cuarón directed).  As far as character names go, Ermengarde isn’t unheard of.

There were a number of Ermengardes through medieval European history, as well.  William the Lion (Scottish king) married Ermengarde de Beaumont in the 12th century.  Centuries earlier, Ermengarde of Hesbaye was the first wife of Louis the Pious (son of Charlemagne).  There were even more in years between.  Funnily enough, this name must have been common enough that whenever I play Crusader Kings II (a medieval history PC sandbox game with extensive genealogies of actual royal and noble families…not always accurate, but definitely fun for name enthusiasts), I see female characters named  Ermengarde all over the French or Frankish section of the map.  I’ve even seen Hélie-Ermengarde used in-game…

As to modern usage, I’m really not aware of any.  Ermengarde is an extremely rare name that has never once appeared in the SSA birth data.  And despite a long recorded history, Behind the Name doesn’t even give Ermengarde her own page (but there’s a fairly decent user-submitted description).  The name means “universal protection” … lovely, isn’t that?  The ‘ermen’ part is the very same root that gives us mega-popular Emma, which would make a really good nickname for an Ermengarde.  There is also the adorable Ermentrude

What do you think of Ermengarde?  Could it work today? 

Ancient and Classical Names

Alaric

Alaric is an ancient name that, although rare, may soon be popular.  In the U.S., the name has mostly experienced a gradual uptick over decades.  But between 2009 and 2015, there’s been an baby boom of them.  Last year there were 181 American boys named Alaric, and spelling variant Alarick registered 12 uses (note – the name that ranked #1000 was given to 202 boys.  Alaric approaches closely).

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Medieval depiction of 410 sacking

Unlike many of the ‘ancient’ names I’ve previously written about on my site, Alaric (which means “ruler of all“) has a Germanic origin rather than Greek or Roman.  Ironically, this is the name of the king who sacked the city of Rome in 410.  Maybe that’s why the name hasn’t been very popular historically.

The probable reason for the recent, dramatic rise in popularity for this name is the television show Vampire Diaries, which debuted in 2009.  Admittedly, I don’t watch much TV (starting to fix that), and haven’t seen this program at all.  However, what I do know is this name has become increasingly popular every year since the show started, and that Alaric is the name of the history teacher.  It wouldn’t be the first time in the 21st century that vampires have affected baby names…Twilight, I’m looking at you.

Vampires aside, I think Alaric has the potential to become a staple name.  It looks similar to equally handsome Alan, and contains the “ric” (“ruler”) element that also exists in classic English names like Richard, Henry, and Frederick.  Curiously, Alaric could also be an honorific smash of Alan Rickman (RIP), which might make the name Alaric more appealing for the Harry Potter generation.

Nicknames for Alaric might include Ari and RickAl and Larry are possibilities, but those might be too outdated for many people.  Eric is a stretch, but totally doable.  But, does Alaric even need a nickname?  Probably not. 

Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Fancy Frederica

Here’s a name you don’t see often!  Frederica is an ultra-rare feminine form of Frederick, but she has some history.  Frederica Charlotte was the wife of Prince Frederick, second son of King George III and Queen Charlotte. 

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Frederica Charlotte, Duchess of York

Earlier this week I read Lady Susan, a short and obscure Jane Austen novel that was just released in cinemas as a movie called “Love and Friendship.”  Lady Susan herself is intelligent, conniving, adulterous, and recently widowed.  She has one child, a teenager by the name of Frederica.  Mother and child do not have a good relationship by any means; Susan hates her daughter, whom she considers dull, and regarding Frederica her main concern is marrying her off (even and especially against her will).  Frederica, however, is shown to be a sweet, bookish girl who’s terrified of her mother.  I can’t wait to see the film, but I have to wonder if this is a case where reading the book before seeing the movie was a bad idea!  

Frederica Vernon, from my reading, seems like she could be a decent namesake; I am curious as to whether the movie will give her name a boost.  With the many thousands of names that appeared in the SSA data in 2015, Frederica was not one of them.  Her last appearance was in 2013, with only 5 uses.  Frederica hasn’t ever been a very popular name in the U.S., and while there are a few years in the late 19th-century and early 20th century where she made it into the top 1000, such years were sporadic.  But, it’s definitely possible that having a recognizable pop culture influence will cause the name to experience even just a little resurgence. 

Furthermore, I think Frederica has nickname potential:

  • Freddie
  • Edie
  • Rickie/Rikki
  • Derry
  • Freya
  • Free
  • Fritzi

I would love to see this name make a comeback.  What do you think of Frederica? 

Bonus: The actress playing Frederica is named Morfydd (!!!).  Now *that* is a name I’d like to see in use.   

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names

Charming Charlotte

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Charlotte is a classic, sweet, and trendy name descending from ancient Karl, which means “man.”  She is one of a select few girls’ names to have been in the American top 1000 every year since 1880.  Now she’s even a top 10 name (#9).  She’s also highly popular throughout the English-speaking world, ranking #2 in New Zealand back in 2014.  The current rank in England and Wales is #23, and #21 in Scotland, but that was for 2014.  Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was born in May of last year; who knows where her name will the 2015 British data when it’s released?

One thing I’ve always found particularly interesting about this name is how she’s usually considered a feminine nickname for Charles in French, yet English treats her as a formal name.  Indeed, coinciding with Charlotte‘s rise is the return of Charlie as a girl’s name (current rank #207).  Nobody ever thinks of nicknames as having nicknames.  But, other feminine forms of Charles haven’t really caught on for long, besides maybe Carla.

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Sophia Charlotte and her daughter, also Charlotte

How did Charlotte come to be so commonly used throughout the English-speaking world?  The answer probably lies in royalty.  The 17th-century saw the reigns of Charles I and Charles II, and then in the 18th-century King George III married a German noblewoman named Sophia “Charlotte.”  George and Charlotte had 15 children together, and at one point their granddaughter Charlotte was next-in-line after her father, who was later King George IV.  Her premature death eventually led to the coronation of her cousin Queen Victoria some twenty years later. 

 

In the same era of Queen Consort Charlotte and Princess Charlotte, there was a Jane Austen character named Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice).  Decades later, Charlotte Brontë wrote Jane Eyre.  There’s also, of course, Charlotte’s WebCharlotte has connections to some of the greatest books ever written.  If you’re looking for a literary name, this one definitely hits the mark.

What do you think of Charlotte

Source: http://www.behindthename.com/name/charlotte

 

American Names · Classic, Old, and Traditional Names · Modern names

The ‘Noble’ Names

Around this time last year I was studying the new name data and reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Yesterday, I realized that exactly a year later, I’m reading another Alice-related book, Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars.  Then I remembered how popular the name Alice is becoming, and decided I should write something about it or a related subject.

What do the names Alison, Adelaide, Albert, and Alfonso all have in common?  And yes, while they all share a first initial letter, that’s not the answer I’m expecting.  The answer is that they all share a root word which means “noble.”  The Ancient Germanic is “adal,” but there is also a related Anglo-Saxon variant (æđel) that today is usually rendered in the name Ethel.  Modern German actually still uses the root as an adjective in its own right, rendered as “edel.”

Lately, the feminine names deriving from this ‘noble’ root have become wildly popular.  Let’s take a look:

  • Alice reentered the top 100 a few years back, now ranking #86.  The name started rising again 8 or 9 years ago, but it wouldn’t be surprising if 2010’s Alice in Wonderland movie has ultimately helped the name’s popularity. 

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    Alice in Wonderland
  • Allison, alternate of Alison, ranks #39. 
  • Audrey ranks #37.  Although this doesn’t appear to have a ‘noble’ root at first glance, Audrey derives from Etheldreda, which in turn derives from ÆđelÞryđ
  • Adeline was resurrected as a top 1000 in 1999 and now ranks #135. 
  • Adelaide reentered the top 1000 in 2005 and now ranks #273.
  • Adaline entered the top 1000 in 2015 for the first time since 1924, ranking #364 and giving similar names (including more-conventional Adeline) a boost.  Adaline‘s newly-found popularity derives from a movie, Age of Adaline, that was released last year.
  • Adalyn and Adalynn – Modern names inspired by Adeline and Adaline that are more popular than either of them.  Adalyn currently ranks #132, and Adalynn #123. 
  • Adele is one of the more ancient ‘noble’ names, along with Alice and Adelaide.  Reentered the top 1000 in 2010, and currently ranks #638.  Recent popularity has almost certainly been influenced by the singer. 
  • Adelyn – modern variant of Adeline, ranks #193
  • Adelina – This is a Spanish and Italian cognate of AdelineAdeline‘s popularity caused Adelina to reenter the top 1000 a few years ago; Adelina now ranks #545.
  • Alison is one of the few ‘noble’ names to be getting less popular right now.  Mid-century names aren’t doing very well right now, though Alison should be more popular considering the huge resurgence of medieval names.  Perhaps Alice has retaken the place that Alison once took.  Rank: #338
  • Alicia is one of the other such names that is falling in usage.  This is a Latinized form of Alice.  Rank: #364.

The ‘noble’ masculine names are less frequently within the top 1000, and those that remain are mostly becoming less popular.  Here they are:

  • Albert used to be a top 20 name, but now it’s steadily declining.  He ranked #440 in 2015.

    AlfonsoVI_of_Castile
    Alfonso VI of Castile
  • Alfonso did actually become more popular in 2015, but usage isn’t very stable and may decline again in 2016.  This is a very old Spanish name that derives its Germanic ‘noble’ root through the Visigoths, who invaded and settled Iberia towards the end of the Western Roman Empire and held a kingdom there until the Muslim armies arrived in the early 700s.  Rank: #792
  • Alonso – variant of Alfonso with somewhat erratic usage.  Rank: #731
  • Alvin can derive from any number of Old English names, including Æđelwine.  Rank: #602
  • Alonzo – like Alonso, Alonzo has erratic popularity.  Rank: #526
  • Alberto became fairly popular in the 1990s, but is falling again.  Current rank: #546

These are just the ‘noble’ names within the top 1000.  As it happens, there are some gems towards the bottom, including:

  • Edelweiss – This name was used for the first time ever in 2015, registering 8 uses!   Edelweiss is a beautiful German and Austrian flower that means “noble white.”  It’s also a lovely folk song that the von Trapp family famously sings in the Sound of Music right before they escape the Nazis.

    Gnaphalium_leontopodium_Atlas_Alpenflora
    Edelweiss
  • Adelais is an ancient form of Adelaide which appears to have entered the American data for the first time in 2015!  There were 6 registered uses.
  • Adelheid is the German form of Adelaide, which gives us the nickname Heidi!  There were 10 girls named Adelheid last year.
  • Adalind – wow, this was used 89 times in 2015!  Adalind is another ancient name.  Variant Adelind was used 10 times. 
  • Adela was used 225 times last year.  I suspect she has a chance to eventually reenter the top 1000. 
  • Adelaida – There were 46 of these last year!
  • Adelise (34 uses) is a less ancient form of Adelais or Adeliza.  Unfortunately there were no Adelizas in the data.
  • Edeline (13 uses) – I’ve seen that there are a few historical Edelines, but according to Wikipedia there’s actually a fashion-designer with this name.  I wonder if she’s influencing usage at all?
  • Ethel used to be a very popular name, but last year she only registered 12 uses.  This name is a modern cognate for the Old English root. 

All in all, there are too many variants among the girls’ names for me to count them all.  Most are alternate spellings of Adeline, though I’ve seen a few for Adelaide too.  There are probably also quite a few names that are influenced by the ‘noble’ names but do not actually derive from them.  Adalia might be a good example; it’s a Biblical name. 

I also looked for some male names below the top 1000.  One should note that unfortunately Adolph and Adolf have that ‘noble’ root…thankfully nobody uses them, though. 

  • Adalberto – Spanish form of Adalbert, which is an older form of Albert.  I’d love to see Adalbert within the data, but I guess this is the closest one.  There were 29 Adalbertos in 2015.
  • Elbert – This looks more like Albert when derived from the Anglo-Saxon root rather than the standard Germanic.  15 uses last year.
  • Almir is a variant of Almiro, which is in turn a Portuguese derivation of Adelmar.  14 uses. 
  • Edel – as previously explained, this is the German word for “noble.”  I would call this the masculine equivalent of Ethel since it’s so true to the root.  10 uses. 
  • Eldrick is a variant of Eldric, which can be taken as deriving from ÆđelricEldrick was used 7 times last year, and Eldric 6.  The closely-related surname Eldridge was used as a first name 5 times in 2015.
  • Adolphus – 6 uses..  I just hope that the association of this Latinized form is with Gustavus Adolphus, and not…you know…Hitler.
  • Adolfo – I’ve never been able to understand why there are still so many of these…155 last year alone.