A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Abigail Ada Adelaide Adelle Adeline Addie Aggie Agnes Alberta Alecia Aletha Alfretta Alice Allie Alma Almeda Almira Alta Althea Alvira Alzina Amanda Amelia Amy Ann Anna Annabell Annas Annette Angelia Angeline Annie Athaliah Athelia Augusta Aura Avis Barbara Beatrice Bell Bella Berdie Bertha Bertie Bessie Beulah Blanche Bridget Calista Carrie Carlotta Cassie Catherine Cecilia Cela Celia Celicia Celis Charlotte Chloe Christie Christine Clara Clarissa Cleanthe Clementina Constance Cora
Cordelia Corinne Cornelia Cynthia Cyrena Debbie Delia Della Diana Diantha Dinah Dollie Dora Dorcas Dorinda Dorothy Edith Edna Effie Ella Eleanor Eleanora Electa Ellen Elfie Eliza Elma Elsie Emma Emmeline Emily Ena Erma Estelle Esther Ethel Ethelind Ettie Eugenie Eula Eunice Euphemia Euretta Eva Evalina Eveline Evelyn Fannie Felicia Flora Florence Floss Frances Frank Gay Georgie Georgina Geraldine Gertie Gracie Hagar Hannah Harriet Hattie Helen Helena Henrietta Hulda
Ida Irene Isabel Isabella Isadora Jane Janet Janie Jeannette Jemima Jennet Jennie Jessie Jerusha Joanna Josephine Josie Julia Kate Kathleen Katie Keziah Lany Laura Leah Leila Lena Lera Lettie Levina Levinia Libbie Lida Lilian Lillie Lizzie Lola Lora Lorretta Lottie Lou Louisa Louise Lucinda Lucretia Lucy Luella Lula Lulu Lydia Mabel Madelaine Maggie Malvina Mamie Marcella Margaret Maria Marilla Marion Mary Marsena Martha Mattie Maud Maudie May Melinda
Mellissa Mercy Mertie Mildred Millie Mina Minerva Minnie Mintha Miranda Mollie Muriel Myra Myrtle Nancy Naomi Nellie Nettie Nina Nora Ollie Olive Olivia Ormanda Ophelia Pauline Pearl Phoebe Phyllis Priscilla Prudence Rachel Rebecca Rhoda Robena Rosa Rosabel Rosalie Rosalind Rosamond Rose Ruby Ruth Sabina Sadie Sally Samantha Sarah Selina Sophia Sophronia Stella Susanna Susie Sybil Teresa Theodocia Theresa Tillie Una Verna Victoria Vida Viola Violet Wilhelmina Winifred Zuba
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.
Vicki Betts, a librarian at the University of Texas, put together an interesting list of female names using the 1860 census records for Smith County, Texas.
Here’s some background information, per Vicki:
Ninety per cent of the people had emigrated to the county within the preceding ten years, 95.8% born in the states of the future Confederacy, 1.8% in the border states, 1.6% in northern states, and 0.8% in foreign countries. Therefore, these name should be fairly representative of Southern female names in general, with the exception of Alamo, Texas, Texana, etc.
And now the names! Here are the names that appeared most frequently on the 1860 Smith County census:
A reader named Genevieve is due with her third child (first son) in two days, and she and her husband need some baby name ideas. She sent me tons of helpful information, so I’m simply going to paste the bulk of what she wrote below. [For all the skimmers out there, I’ve boldfaced both the current faves and the gist of the request.]
I’m Genevieve, he’s Will. We have two daughters, Isadora Ruby (5) and Clementine Luna (2 1/2), and call them Sadie and Cleo EXCLUSIVELY. Last name is McGuire*.
We chose our daughters’ names for the nicknames they gave us (we felt that Sadie and Cleo were much too insubstantial for full names), not because we loved Isadora and Clementine. In fact, we really don’t love or even like Isadora; we just adored Sadie too much and Isadora was the most realistic way to get to it. Clementine we do like, though. Middle names were just names we liked that sounded nice with the full names, and the middle name for this bub will be the same.
I actually still feel really guilty about giving our oldest daughter a full name neither of us like and isn’t really that appealing at all–Sadie doesn’t much like it either. My name’s Genevieve and growing up I would get so many lovely comments about it, which gave me a much-needed confidence and self-esteem boost in adolescence and beyond. I’m worried (sometimes I fret about it to the point of being sick) that no one will ever tell Sadie she has a gorgeous name, and I feel kind of awful about hoisting upon her Isadora, though I’m still ridiculously in love with her nickname.
So we’d like not to have a lingering sense of naming remorse with this bub.
Anyway. Enough back story.
With Bub, we’ve had an awful time with the naming process. Unlike Sadie and Cleo, we haven’t even found a nickname that we totally adore yet, much less a full name.
The name we’re thinking we love is Rex, but there are numerous problems with it.
–We have no idea how to get to Rex through a more substantial name, and if we can’t find one, Rex is off the list. Any ideas? –Rex is seen as a dog name. Sadie is seen as a dog name. Cleo is seen as a cat name. There’s a accidental theme going on here, and my husband doesn’t like it. I’m actually pretty okay with it, though. –When we’ve told a few select people that we’re thinking of naming the baby Rex, we’ve gotten cringing and obvious distaste, even though they tried to hide it. Now, I’m not going to let other people dictate what we name our baby, BUT I don’t want people (like our parents and close friends) really hating his name, because there’s a good chance he won’t like it either.
What do YOU think, Nancy? Is Rex just too odd? As an objective third party who just so happens to be a fabulous namer, your opinion is definitely needed on this one.
Other names on our list that we’re strongly considering:
Ned–Edmund, Edward–Not a huge fan at all of either full name, with those nasally suffixes
Max–Maxwell, Maximilian–I kind of really love the alliteration, but hubby isn’t sure. Also the pet name theme thing again. Also popularity issues that are really, REALLY throwing me off here; I really didn’t like how popular Sadie was when we named her, though thankfully we’ve never even come across another Sadie yet, and Max is set to skyrocket up the charts.
Ned is Will’s favorite, Max is mine. But neither of them feel like The One.
I guess we’re looking for a spunky, fresh, fun nickname that goes with a respectable full name. Also, if there’s a name out there that’s spunky, fresh, and fun AND suitable for an adult professional, we’d love to hear it; the nickname thing isn’t mandatory at all. We’d rather not repeat first initials or have similar beginning or ending sounds.
If Bub had been a girl, we would have named her Penelope Isis and called her Piper; somewhat ironically, we’ve had this name in our back pockets since before we even started trying for a third baby. Sigh. Though we’re over the moon that Bub is a boy, a girl would have been so much easier to name. We’re tentatively set on having at least one more baby as well, so any name beginning with a P is also out.
*The real name is not McGuire, but it’s close.
Here are some of my thoughts. Apologies ahead of time for any rambling.
This is off-topic, and also a moot point, but…I love the name Isadora. I can understand the remorse, but I’ve always thought of it as such an elegant, regal-sounding name. Right on par with Genevieve, in fact.
Dog name? I’m sure many people do associate Rex with dogs. (Personally, I think of dinosaurs — far more awesome than dogs.) But I also think an association like this will matter less and less as time goes on, as more and more people use human names (e.g. Max, Jake, Sam, Bella, Daisy, Lucy, etc.) for their dogs/cats.
Family/friend dislike? I think it’s nice to take other peoples’ opinions into consideration, but, as you said, he’s your baby, so pick the name you love. Doesn’t matter if you go with Rex, or Max, or Ned, or Enrique-Iglesias. They’ll love your son regardless. (In fact, they might like him more if his name were Enrique-Iglesias.)
Formal name? My very first thought was Reginald. There’s no etymological connection between Reginald and Rex, but they look like they could be related, don’t they? Reginald comes from the Germanic name Reynold, not from Latin, but one source states that it was indeed “influenced by Latin regina ‘queen’.” And regina, of course, is based on rex, Latin for “king.”
My next thought was any Germanic name with the element ric, “ruler,” which is a lot like rex both in terms of sound and meaning. Some possibilities: Alaric, Emmerich, Eric, Frederick, Heinrich (even Henry?), Richard, Roderick.
Both Alexander and Xavier have the letters X and R. These are more of a stretch, though.
There’s also the possibility of making Rex out of the initials R and X — Robert Xavier, for example. Or even just an R-name (Raymond, Russell, etc.)
My take? I like the name Rex–it’s a very strong, spunky name. Lots of personality. I especially like it as a nickname for something more traditional.
More importantly, though, it seems as though you guys both love it. And if that’s the case, don’t talk yourselves out of it! No need to make things more complicated. :) Just go with it and work on the full/formal name.
It sounds like Edmund or Edward would be like Isadora for you — something you’d end up regretting. Doesn’t seem worth it.
You’re right about Max being popular — it made the top 100 for the first time ever in 2010, and could continue to climb. But, as you alluded to with Sadie, a lot depends upon your locality. There could be a ton of boys named Max in one town, none at all in another.
Also, keep in mind that today’s “popular” names aren’t as popular as they used to be, so the rankings are becoming less and less important/informative over time. For example, Max, ranked 98th right now, was given to 3,819 babies. Vincent, 98th in 1960 (50 years ago), was given to 4,384 babies. (And roughly the same number of baby boys were born in 1960 as in 2010.)
The effect is gets more pronounced the higher up the list you go. Today’s 20th most popular boy name, Joseph, was given to 13,657 babies. Fifty years ago, the 20th most popular name, Brian, went to 21,994 (!) babies. Huge difference there.
Ok, now it’s time for some name suggestions. Here are the guidelines again:
“Spunky, fresh, fun nickname that goes with a respectable full name,” or
“A name out there that’s spunky, fresh, and fun AND suitable for an adult professional.”
No repeated first initials (S, C) or similar beginning or ending sounds, and no P-names (saving that for Penelope/Piper).
Here are some ideas to start us off:
Abe (Abraham) Ash (Asher) Ben (Bennett, Benjamin) Dex (Dexter) Duncan Fritz (Frederick/Friedrich) Gabe (Gabriel) Gus (Augustine) Gray (Grayson) Hugh Jack (John) Jim (James) Lex (Alexander)
Lou (Louis) Raph, Rafe (Raphael) Reed Reece/Rhys Tad (Thaddeus) Tate Trent Van (Donovan, Evander) Vaughn Vin (Vince, Vincent) Xan (Alexander) Zack (Zachary) Zeke (Ezekiel)
Now it’s your turn. What thoughts/advice do you have for Genevieve? Which of the above names do you like best with Sadie and Cleo? What other names would you suggest?
A friend of mine announced her pregnancy a few weeks ago (congrats, E!). She doesn’t know the gender of the baby yet, but if it’s a girl, she thinks she’d like to use the name Isabella.
The problem? Isabella has been one of the most popular baby names in the nation for almost a decade now. My friend is still prepared to use it, but she’s also wondering what else is out there.
What she likes most about Isabella is the nickname Izzy, so I thought I’d help her out by coming up other girl names that can be shortened to Izzy. Some of these may be a stretch, but this is a brainstorm so anything goes. :)
Isabel/Isabelle Part of the same name-family, but not as popular as Isabella.
Isidora/Isadora Isabella and Isidora aren’t related (the former is based on Elizabeth, the latter on Isis) but they sound like they could be.
Elizabeth or Lizette Why not lop the L off Lizzy and make it Izzy?
Giselle French name that can be traced back to a Germanic word meaning “pledge.” Popularized recently by model Gisele, but still outside the top 100.
Desiree (Désirée) French name meaning “desired.”
Zipporah (Tzipora, Tzipporah, etc.) Hebrew name meaning “bird.”
Cosima Italian name derived from the ancient Greek word for “order.”
Louisa or Louise Derived from Ludwig, made up of elements meaning “fame” and “war.”
Eloise (Éloïse) or Heloise (Héloïse) Might come from the Germanic name Helewidis, comprised of elements meaning “hale” and either “wide” or “wood.”
Therese (Thérèse) Unknown etymology, though perhaps based on the name of a Greek island.
Aziza Arabic name meaning “powerful.”
Aliza Hebrew name meaning “joyful.”
Can you think of any other girl names that can be shortened to Izzy?