How popular is the baby name Titus in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Titus and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Titus.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Titus

Number of Babies Named Titus

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Titus

100 Years Ago, Were Black Names Beneficial?

© Cook, Logan, and Parman
© Cook, Logan, and Parman

In generations past, was it advantageous for a black man to have a distinctively black name?

Yes, according to a study published recently in the journal Explorations in Economic History.

Researchers Lisa D. Cook, Trevon D. Logan, and John M. Parmanc analyzed over 3 million death certificates from Alabama, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina from 1802 to 1970. They looked specifically at the life expectancy of men with the following distinctively black names:

  • Abe, Abraham
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Booker
  • Elijah
  • Freeman
  • Isaac
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • King
  • Master
  • Moses
  • Percy
  • Perlie, Purlie, Pearlie
  • Presley, Presly
  • Prince
  • Titus

What did they find?

That black men with these names lived more than a full year longer (on average) than other black men. In fact, according to the abstract, “[a]s much as 10% of the historical between-race mortality gap would have been closed if every black man was given a black name.”

So what’s behind this beneficial effect?

It’s hard to say, but Lisa D. Cook believes that the black men with Biblical names specifically could have been “held to a higher standard in academic and other activities […] and had stronger family, church or community ties,” and that this could have played a part in their relative longevity.

Studies of modern black names, in contrast, regularly find that such names are a hindrance in the workplace, in academia, etc. My most recent post about this is: Men with “Black” Names Seen as Aggressive, Low Status.

Sources: What’s in a name? In some cases, longer life, The mortality consequences of distinctively black names (abstract)


Baby Name Needed – Atlas or Finch?

A reader and her husband are expecting a baby boy in January. They’re down to two names: Atlas and Finch.

If we decide to go with Atlas, his name will be Atlas Grey. However, if we decide to go with Finch, we’re having a terrible time deciding on a middle name. My first thought is Finch Winter but I’m not sure if it’s too feminine. We would love any kind of feedback or ideas. I’m thinking it should be two syllables and obviously something out of the ordinary.

So, here are the questions:

  1. Which name do you like better, Atlas or Finch?
  2. Is Finch Winter too feminine?
  3. What middle name(s) would you suggest for Finch?

Please give us your answers in the comments!

Here’s what I think:

1. I prefer Atlas to Finch for several reasons, one being that the name Finch immediately brought to mind Stifler’s Mom. (And another American Pie movie is due out next year. Who knows how long they’ll keep that franchise/joke alive.)

2. Finch Winter doesn’t strike me as being too “feminine” necessarily — just unisex, as nature names tend to be.

3. My first thought was Winston, which is similar to Winter, but decidedly masculine. Here are some other ideas:

Ambrose
Arthur
Clement
Cyrus
Desmond
Henry
Luther
Maxwell
Osborn
Roderick
Roland
Roman
Simon
Sinclair
Titus

What do you think?

Edward Gorey Names – Basil, Neville, Zillah

gashlycrumb tinies, edward gorey

Author Edward Gorey, born on 22 February 1925, would have been 86 today. To celebrate his birthday, let’s check out the names he used in his most famous book, The Gashlycrumb Tinies (1963):

Boy Names Girl Names
Basil
Desmond
Ernest
George
Hector
James
Leo
Neville
Quentin
Titus
Victor
Xerxes
Yorick
Amy
Clara
Fanny
Ida
Kate
Maud
Olive
Prue
Rhoda
Susan
Una
Winnie
Zillah

He used interesting (sometimes odd) names in his many other books/stories as well, such as Ortenzia, Gertrúdis, Jasper, Ambrogio, Herakleitos, Agnes and Basil in The Blue Aspic (1968), Embley and Yewbert in The Epiplectic Bicycle (1969), Lambert, Amanda, Augustus, Emily and Neville in The Dwindling Party (1982), and Theoda in The Tuning Fork (1983).

Do you happen to own anything by Gorey? If so, please comment with a few character names!

Baby Name Stories at Appellation Mountain

Abby over at Appellation Mountain began posting her readers’ baby name stories just a few weeks ago and already has a very cool collection going:

If you have a baby name story to share, get in touch with Abby!

Shakespearean Makeovers for the Top 20 Baby Girl Names

Wish the the top 20 names had a more Elizabethan ring to them? Well, wish no more!

I did my best to match each of the most popular baby girl names with similar-sounding names from Shakespeare:

Modern Names Shakespearean Names
Emily Emilia, Othello; Winter’s Tale; Two Noble Kinsmen
Aemelia, Comedy of Errors
Hermione, Winter’s Tale
Isabella Isabella, Measure for Measure
Dionyza, Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Ursula, Much Ado About Nothing
Volumnia, Coriolanus
Emma Anne, Merry Wives of Windsor; Henry VIII; Richard III
Ava Viola, Twelfth Night
Valeria, Coriolanus
Madison Miranda, The Tempest
Rosaline, Love’s Labor’s Lost; Romeo and Juliet
Regan, King Lear
Sophia Phebe, As You Like It
Bianca, Othello; Taming of the Shrew
Julia, Two Gentlemen of Verona
Olivia Olivia, Twelfth Night
Octavia, Antony and Cleopatra
Ophelia, Hamlet
Lavinia, Titus Andronicus
Abigail Imogen, Cymbeline
Agrippa, Antony and Cleopatra; Coriolanus
Margaret, Much Ado About Nothing
Hannah Helena, All’s Well That Ends Well; Midsummer Night’s Dream
Hermia, Midsummer Night’s Dream
Helen, Troilus and Cressida; Cymbeline
Elizabeth Elizabeth, Henry VI; Richard III
Eleanor, Henry VI; King John
Addison Adriana, Comedy of Errors
Diana, All’s Well That Ends Well; Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Desdemona, Othello
Rosalind, As You Like It
Samantha Tamora, Titus Andronicus
Katherina, Taming of the Shrew
Paulina, Winter’s Tale
Ashley Audrey, As You Like It
Portia, Merchant of Venice; Julius Caesar
Luciana, Comedy of Errors
Alyssa Nerissa, Merchant of Venice
Jessica, Merchant of Venice
Cressida, Troilus and Cressida
Mia Maria, Twelfth Night; Love’s Labor’s Lost
Marina, Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Mariana, All’s Well That Ends Well; Measure for Measure
Chloe Hero, Much Ado About Nothing
Cordelia, King Lear
Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra
Natalie Nell, Henry IV; Henry V; Merry Wives of Windsor
Juliet, Romeo and Juliet
Perdita, Winter’s Tale
Lucetta, Two Gentlemen of Verona
Sarah Silvia, Two Gentlemen of Verona
Celia, As You Like It
Alexis Alice, Henry V; Merry Wives of Windsor
Thaisa, Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing
Grace Blanche, King John
Gertrude, Hamlet

These are by no means equivalents, of course. Some of my “matches” don’t match at all. But I did as well as I could using about three-quarters of all the female characters mentioned by Shakespeare.

And, if you were curious about the names Dionyza and Thaisa, as I was, they seem to be based on Dionysus and Thaïs.

Unique Baby Names from Literature

The was originally the round-up post of a 31-post series on literature names for National Book Month. I’ve since condensed all of those individual posts into this one post.

I picked many of these names because they were either popularized by literature or first used as given names in literature:

Amanda

Amanda is based on the Latin gerundive amanda, which means “she who must be loved.” It was used as a name in Europe starting in the mid-17th century. In literature, Amanda perhaps first appeared in the comedy Love’s Last Shift (1696) by English playwright and actor Colley Cibber (1671-1757).

Amaryllis

Before Amaryllis was a plant, it was a name: Amaryllis was created by the Latin poet Virgil (70-19 BC) for a shepherdess in his pastoral Eclogues. Amaryllis is based on the Latin word amarysso, which means “to sparkle.”

Take ashes, Amaryllis, fetch them forth,
And o’er your head into the running brook
Fling them, nor look behind: with these will
Upon the heart of Daphnis make essay.
(Eclogue VIII)

Amory

Amory Blaine is the main character in This Side of Paradise (1920), the successful debut novel of American writer Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940). Many believe that Fitzgerald modeled the wealthy, handsome protagonist after himself (at least in part).

Atticus

Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) features Atticus Finch, respected lawyer and father of the book’s protagonist, Scout. Lee named Atticus after Roman eques Titus Pomponius Atticus.

Belinda

Belinda was a character in The Provok’d Wife (1697), a comedic play written by English architect and dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh (c.1664-1726). Belinda may have been based on the Italian word bella, which means beautiful. It was later used by Alexander Pope in The Rape of the Lock (1712).

Beren

The romance between Beren and Lúthien was first told in prose in The Silmarillion, by writer and Oxford professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973).

Therefore at the last he yielded his will, and Beren took the hand of Lúthien before the throne of her father.
(The Silmarillion, Chapter 19)

A romantic sidenote: The name Beren is engraved on Tolkien’s gravestone, while Lúthien is on the gravestone belonging to Tolkien’s wife, Edith.

Binx

John Binkerson “Binx” Bolling is the film-obsessed main character of The Moviegoer (1961), a National Book Award-winning novel by American author Walker Percy (1916-1990).

Cedric

Cedric was created by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) for his novel Ivanhoe, which was written in 1819 but set in the 12th century. The name was probably inspired by that of Cerdic, the legendary founder of the Kingdom of Wessex.

Clarinda

Clarinda was coined by English poet Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) in The Faerie Queene.

Goe now, Clarinda, well thy wits aduise,
And all thy forces gather vnto thee;
(The Faerie Queene, Book V, Canto V)

Two centuries later, Robert Burns (1759-1796) addressed several poems to ‘Clarinda.’

Fair Empress of the Poet’s soul,
And Queen of Poetesses;
Clarinda, take this little boon,
This humble pair of glasses:
(Verses To Clarinda)

Cosette

French author Victor Hugo (1802-1885) created the orphan Cosette for his novel Les Misérables (1862).

Les Misérables the musical, which debuted in London in October of 1985, has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

UPDATE: The latest Les Miserables movie comes out Dec. 25, 2012.

Dorian

Dorian Gray, whose portrait ages while Dorian himself does not, was invented by Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) for the gothic horror novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde may have borrowed the name from the ancient Hellenic tribe the Dorians.

Dulcinea

Dulcinea del Toboso is a fictional character who’s referred to (but does not appear) in Don Quixote de la Mancha, written by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).

Eglantine

Eglantine is another name for sweetbrier, a pink-flowered plant native to Britain and northern Europe. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) first employed Eglantine as a given name, using it for Madame Eglantine in his Canterbury Tales:

Ther was also a nonne, a prioresse,
That of hir smylyng was ful symple and coy;
Hire gretteste ooth was but by Seinte Loy;
And she was cleped Madame Eglentyne.
(Prologue, lines 118-121)

Geraldine

Geraldine was originally an adjective that referred to Ireland’s FitzGerald dynasty. It was first used as a name by English aristocrat Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547).

Honsdon did first present her to mine yien:
Bright is her hewe, and Geraldine she hight.
(Description and praise of his loue Geraldine.)

Geraldine was later popularized by Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s poem Christabel.

Yet he who saw this Geraldine,
Had deemed her sure a thing divine.
(Christabel, Part II, Stanza 11)

Holden

Holden Caulfield is the cynical, sensitive teenage protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye (1951), written by reclusive American author J. D. Salinger. Holden also appears in several of Salinger’s short stories. Holden was the second-best fictional character of the 20th century, according to Book magazine.

Imogen

Imogen is the name of the king’s daughter in Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Cymbeline, King of Britain (c.1609). The prevailing theory is that Imogen was actually meant to be Innogen — a name based on the Gaelic word inghean, meaning “girl, maiden” or “daughter” — but it was misspelled and the mistake was never corrected.

Jancis

The character of Jancis Beguildy was created by English romantic novelist Mary Webb (1881-1927) for her book Precious Bane (1924). Jancis is a modern blend of the names Jan and Francis.

Kilgore

Kilgore Trout regularly appears in books by Kurt Vonnegut. (And in other books, like phone books.) The character of Kilgore may be based on Theodore Sturgeon, or may be a parody of Vonnegut himself.

Lesley

Lesley is a variant of the name Leslie, which is derived from a Scottish place name. Lesley-with-a-y is interesting because it was first used by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) in his poem/song Saw Ye Bonie Lesley (1792).

Thou art a queen, fair Lesley,
Thy subjects, we before thee;
Thou art divine, fair Lesley,
The hearts o’ men adore thee.
(Saw Ye Bonie Lesley, Stanza 3)

Lestat

Lestat de Lioncourt is a character in The Vampire Chronicles, a series of novels by Anne Rice. Rice “thought Lestat was an old Louisiana name.” She learned later that the name she was thinking of was actually Lestan.

Lucasta

Lucasta was first used by English poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1658). It’s a contraction of Lux Casta (Chaste Lucy), Lovalace’s nickname for a woman he’d been courting.

If to be absent were to be
Away from thee;
Or that when I am gone,
You or I were alone;
Then, my Lucasta, might I crave
Pity from blustering wind or swallowing wave.
(To Lucasta, going beyond the Seas)

Miranda

The name Miranda was invented by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) for a character in The Tempest. Miranda is based on the Latin word mirandus, which means “admirable.”

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan and
A prince of power.
(The Tempest, Act 1, Scene II)

Uranus’s small moon Miranda, discovered in 1948, was named after the Shakespearean character.

Mirielle

Mireille is the French title of Provençal poem Mirèio (1859). The poem was written by French writer Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914), who shared the 1904 Nobel Prize for Literature with José Echegaray y Eizaguirre. Mistral probably derived ‘Mirèio’ from the Provençal verb mirar, which means “to admire.”

Orinthia

Orinthia was used by Nobel Prize-winning Irish-British playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) in his play The Apple Cart (1929). In the play, King Magnus refers to his mistress as “Orinthia.” When the mistress discovers that Magnus did not invent the name especially for her, she becomes angry. He responds:

Well, one poet may consecrate a name for another. Orinthia is a name full of magic for me. It could not be that if I had invented it myself. I heard it at a concert of ancient music when I was a child; and I have treasured it ever since.
(The Apple Cart, Interlude)

At that “concert of ancient music,” Magnus must have heard the old English ballad The Pilgrim of Love, which–according to the Catalogue of Ballads at Oxford’s Bodleian Library–begins “Orinthia my béloved, I call in vain…”

Pamela

Pamela was created by English writer Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) for The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia. The name was probably derived from the Greek words pan (all) and meli (honey). A century and a half later, Samuel Richardson‘s first novel–named Pamela in honor of Sidney’s heroine–was published.

Quoyle

Quoyle is the main character in E. Annie Proulx‘s The Shipping News (1993), which won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and happens to be one of my favorite books. The novel was inspired by The Ashley Book of Knots, and, aptly, “quoyle” is an Old English spelling of coil.

Selima

The name Selima was first used in literature by English writer and scholar Thomas Gray (1716-1771). He used it as the name of a cat. Neither the name nor the cat were Gray’s inventions, though. Selima the cat had belonged to fellow Englishman and writer Horace Walpole (1717-1797).

Shirley

The male name Shirley became feminized with the 1849 publication of Charlotte Bronte’s novel Shirley. Previously, Shirley had been a surname and, before that, a place name.

She had no Christian name but Shirley: her parents, who had wished to have a son…bestowed on her the same masculine family cognomen they would have bestowed on a boy, if with a boy they had been blessed.
(Shirley, Part 2, Chapter XI)

Sula

The rebellious Sula Peace, who becomes a pariah in her socially conservative Ohio town, is the main character of Toni Morrison‘s novel Sula (1973). Sula may be short for Ursula, a Latin name meaning “little bear.”

Vanessa

Vanessa was invented by Irish author Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) as a pseudonym for his friend (and perhaps lover) Esther Vanhomrigh: “van” comes from Vanhomrigh, and “essa” is based on a pet form of Esther.

While thus Cadenus entertains
Vanessa in exalted strains,
The nymph in sober words intreats
A truce with all sublime conceits.
(Cadenus and Vanessa)

Vanessa was later used as the name of a genus of butterfly.

Wendy

Though Scottish writer J. M. Barrie (1860-1937) didn’t invent the name Wendy, he did popularize it with his character Wendy Darling. For Barrie, the name was inspired by a young acquaintance (the daughter of poet William Henley, 1849-1903), who mispronounced the word friend as “fwendy.”

“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Wendy Moira Angela Darling,” she replied with some satisfaction. “What is your name?”
“Peter Pan.”
(Peter Pan, Chapter 3)

There are many other interesting literature names out there. Did I miss any particularly good ones?