Years ago, I wrote a post with some naming tips for minimalists. But — as Abby of Appellation Mountain astutely pointed this out in her comment to that post — “minimalism” as applied to baby names could be about capturing a namestyle just as much as it could be about reflecting a lifestyle.
So today I’m giving minimalism another go. This time around, though, it’ll be a list of baby names that fall somewhere between short/simple and modern/stylish.
All of these names have made gains recently (Hank and Linus included!). For more details on usage, click through to see the popularity graphs.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
Acronym baby names are officially a thing. Not a major thing, but still a thing. Acronym baby names I’ve come across include Ily, “I love you,” and Lya, “love you always.”
One type of acronym that seems to be trendy these days is the “AB_” acronym, in which the first two words are “always be” and the third is a verb in “-ing” form. They stem from ABC, “always be closing,” made famous by the movie Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). Variations I’ve heard include ABS (“always be shipping” or “always be “selling”), ABL (“always be learning”), a different ABC (“always be charging”), and even ABK (“always be knolling“).
So I wondered: Could we create an “always be” acronym that’s also a good baby name?
For the name to be pronounceable (unlike Abcde) the third letter would have to be a vowel. And I’d say the best vowels for the job — considering both the number of available verbs and the resulting acronym — are E and I. So let’s see what we can come up with for ABE and ABI…
Abe is typically a nickname for of Abraham, but Abe is also used as an independent name. In fact, dozens of U.S. babies have been named Abe (not Abraham) every year for many decades.
Here are my top five acronym possibilities for the name Abe:
ABE: “always be exploring”
ABE: “always be evolving”
ABE: “always be experimenting”
ABE: “always be embarking”
ABE: “always be excelling”
And here are some of the other verbs that could be used: earning, educating, empowering, encouraging, engaging, engineering, enhancing, enjoying, evaluating, examining, exceeding, and experiencing.
Abi, like the more familiar Abby, is a short form of Abigail. Abi isn’t common as an independent name, but usage has picked up a bit recently.
Here are my top five acronym possibilities for the name Abi:
ABI: “always be imagining”
ABI: “always be innovating”
ABI: “always be improving”
ABI: “always be inspiring”
ABI: “always be initiating”
And here are some of the other verbs that could be used: illuminating, implementing, impressing, improvising, increasing, influencing, informing, inspecting, integrating, interacting, interpreting, and investigating.
What are your favorite “always be” acronyms for Abe and Abi?
Do you think anyone out there has used an “always be” acronym as a baby name yet?
Quick disclaimer: Some of these names were already on the rise. Others were likely influenced by multiple pop culture events/people (not just the one listed). So I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence for yourself.
Pop culture influence: the Confederate flag debate.
Update, 5/12/16: The state-by-state data was just released. Of the 83 baby girls named Rebel, 12 were born in Texas, 9 in California, 8 in Arkansas and 6 in Oklahoma. Of the 45 boys, 7 were born in Texas and 5 in Tennessee.
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)