The Southern European country of Italy — that boot-shaped peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea — shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia.
Last year, Italy welcomed 400,249 babies.
What were the most popular names among these babies? Sofia and Leonardo.
Here are Italy’s top 50 girl names and top 50 boy names of 2021:
Sofia, 5,578 baby girls (2.86%)
Diletta, 804 – means “beloved” in Italian.
Leonardo, 8,448 baby boys (4.12%)
Enea, 1,963 – form of Aeneas.
According to Greek mythology, the Trojan hero Aeneas was an ancestor of twins Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. One ancient source associates Aeneas’ name with the Greek adjective ainos, meaning “unspeakable, causing nervousness, fear, terror.”
Ettore, 1,002 – form of Hector.
Leonardo is still the clear favorite for baby boys, while Azzurra — no doubt inspired by Italy’s national soccer team gli Azzurri, “the Blues” — continues its rise among baby girls:
[Denzel Dumfries] was named after none other than no-nonsense movie icon Denzel Washington, star of films such as “Remember The Titans,” “Training Day” and “Courage Under Fire.”
“I don’t have [any] connection with the United States, but, yes, I was named after Denzel Washington,” Dumfries said. “My parents gave me that name. I am incredibly proud of it, because Denzel Washington is a really strong personality who voices his views on certain issues, and I am incredibly proud to be named after someone like that.”
Yeah, music is definitely a massive part of my life, from listening to it to playing it! And metal is 100% at the top of my genre — there’s nothing like headbanging to some chunky riffs. Yeah, I was named after the band Kyuss. It was my dad’s favorite band through the ’90s. Funny story, my dad actually had the song Green Machine blasting in the hospital while my mum was in labor with me haha. I guess I kinda came into the world to that kind of music.
From an article about political candidate Krystal Ball, who was asked about her name while campaigning in 2010:
The answer: Her father has a doctorate in physics and did his dissertation on crystals.
So after her mother named older sisters Heidi and Holly, it was dad’s turn.
Ball said she doesn’t mind the questions, though, or the jokes.
And she’ll certainly be hoping a lot of people remember that name now that she’s running for Congress.
A name-change story (contributed by a Missouri woman named Nancy) from a Washington Post article about changing babies’ names:
We named our daughter Joan because we imagined that she would be serious and studious, and this name seemed to encapsulate the proverbial bookworm. Both my husband and I are academicians, so a bookworm daughter didn’t seem a stretch.
Within the first six weeks, Joan proved not only to be a lusty eater but a very social and cuddly baby who loved long warm baths, in other words, a hedonist in the making.
One night, the credits for Masterpiece Theater were playing and the name of Aubrey rolled across the screen, which happened to be the title of one of our favorite songs from high school. My husband and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, “She’s an Aubrey.” We submitted the paperwork for her name change the next day.
Long, long ago — five years, to be precise — Jeff Owens accepted that his calls to the vet would tax his fortitude. When the person on the other end asks his name, Owens, a test scorer in Albuquerque, says, “Jeff.” When they ask for his cat’s name, he has to tell them, “Baby Jeff.” The black exotic shorthair, a wheezy female with a squashed face and soulful orange eyes, is named for Owens, says his partner, Brittany Means, whose tweet about Jeff and Baby Jeff went viral this past spring. The whole thing started as a joke several years ago, when Means started calling every newcomer to their home — the car, the couch — “Baby Jeff.” Faced with blank adoption paperwork in 2017, the couple realized that only one name would do.
Over the decades, American Jews became more and more likely to give their children names of Jewish origin (English or Hebrew Biblical, Modern Hebrew, etc.), with a major uptick after the 1960s. 14% of Jews in the oldest age group have names of Jewish origin, compared to 63% in the youngest group. The top 10 names for Jewish girls and boys in each decade reflect these changes, such as Ellen and Robert in the 1950s, Rebecca and Joshua in the 1970s, and Noa and Ari in the 2010s.
…and the second:
Jews with distinctively Jewish names are much more likely to sometimes use a “Starbucks name” than Jews with names that are not distinctively Jewish. But some Jews with common American names take on a more Jewish name as their Starbucks name, and some have an “Aroma name” for service encounters in Israel.
From a Yahoo News UK article about a mother and son named Chelsea and Stamford after the football club and the club’s stadium, respectively:
Football fanatic Chelsea Bottomley, 32, an administrator from Paddington, London, said she hopes more blind football games will be made available for her son Stamford.
Named after the London club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, Stamford has cerebral palsy which, according to the NHS, affects movement and coordination — and impaired vision is common for children with the lifelong condition.
She added: “My mum had named me Chelsea after the club and, when my boy was born, my mum was such a strong support for me that I named him Stamford for her.”
Looking for baby names that are associated with purple — including baby names that mean “purple”?
If so, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve collected dozens of options for you in this post.
Before we get to the names, though, let’s take a quick look at what the color purple represents…
Symbolism of purple
What does the color purple signify?
In Western cultures in particular, purple can be symbolic of:
The color came to be identified with royalty and nobility during ancient times. In those days, creating purple dye for fabric was laborious and time-consuming, so the dye was very expensive. As a result, only the wealthy could afford to wear purple-colored clothing.
Top baby names associated with purple
Determining the top names in a category isn’t difficult when you’re working with a well-defined category, like PH names. When it comes to names that have a connection to the color purple, however, we need to account for the fact that certain names have a stronger connection than others.
With that in mind, here are the top baby names that have an obvious association with the color purple:
Now here are the same five names again, but this time around I’ve added some details (including definitions, rankings, and popularity graphs).
The word violet refers to any flowering plant of the genus Viola — particularly the fragrant species Viola odorata — or to any similar-looking flowering plant. By extension, it also refers to the bluish-purple color of these flowers.
Violet is currently the 35th most popular girl name in the U.S.
The word iris can refer to several things, including flowering plants of the genus Iris, the name of which comes from the ancient Greek word for “rainbow.” The showy blooms of these plants come in a variety of colors (as the name suggests), though we often think of irises as being shades of purple.
For instance, did you know that all of the irises in Vincent van Gogh’s various paintings were once purple? His irises now appear blue only because the red pigment he used to create the purple has faded over time.
Iris is currently the 107th most popular girl name in the nation.
The name Violeta is a form of Violet used in Spanish, Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and other languages.
Violeta is currently the 893rd most popular girl name in the U.S.
The name Violette is a form of Violet used in French.
Violette is currently the 1,033rd most popular girl name in the nation.
The word amethyst refers to a purple variety of the mineral quartz. (The ancient Greeks thought that amethyst — perhaps due to its wine-like color — would prevent drunkenness, so they called it amethustos, meaning “not intoxicating.”) By extension, the word also refers to the purple color of these crystals.
Amethyst will only form in quartz that: (a) contains trace amounts of iron, and (b) is exposed to low-level gamma radiation. The radiation will oxidize the iron, and thereby change the crystal’s color from clear to purple.
Amethyst is currently the 1,148th most popular girl name in the U.S.
More names associated with purple
Ready for the rest?
All the names below are associated with the color purple. The names range from traditional to unusual, and their associations range from strong to slight.
Those that have been popular enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data are linked to their corresponding popularity graphs.
Amaranth flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Amaranthus is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words amarantos, meaning “unfading,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
Aster flowers are often purple. The genus name Aster, derived from the ancient Greek word aster, meaning “star,” is a reference to the shape of the flower head.
Aubrieta flowers are commonly purple. The genus Aubrieta was named in honor of French botanical artist Claude Aubriet.
Azalea flowers are sometimes purple. The (obsolete) genus name Azalea is derived from the ancient Greek word azaleos, meaning “dry.”
Banafsha is a Persian feminine name meaning “violet.”
Betony flowers are usually purple. “Betony” is the common name of plants in the genus Stachys.
Bíbor (pronounced BEE-bor) is a Hungarian masculine name based on the word bíbor, meaning “purple.”
Bíborka is a feminine form of Bíbor.
Bora is a Korean feminine name meaning “purple.” (Though the name has appeared in the U.S. data, this probably reflects the usage of the identical Albanian name, which means “snow.”)
Fjóla (pronounced FYOH-lah) is an Icelandic and Faroese feminine name meaning “violet.”
Fjólar is the masculine form of Fjóla.
Gladiola refers to Gladiolus, a genus of plants with flowers that are sometimes purple. The genus name, meaning “little sword” (a diminutive of the Latin word gladius, “sword”) refers to the shape of the leaves.
Haze (besides being a vocabulary word) is part of “Purple Haze” [vid] — the title of the song by Jimi Hendrix. “Purple Haze” was the opening track of the iconic album Are You Experienced (1967).
Heather flowers are usually purple. “Heather” is the common name of plants in the genus Calluna.
Honesty (besides being a vocabulary word) is the common name of the plant species Lunaria annua, which has flowers that are frequently purple. The common name is likely a reference to the translucence of the seed pods.
Hyacinth flowers are often purple. The genus Hyacinthus was named for the plant’s association with the myth of Hyacinthus (who was one of the lovers of Apollo in Greek mythology).
Giacinta is the Italian feminine form of Hyacinth.
Giacinto is the Italian masculine form of Hyacinth.
Jacinta is the Spanish and Portuguese feminine form of Hyacinth.
Jacinto is the Spanish and Portuguese masculine form of Hyacinth.
Ianthe, which means “violet flower,” is derived from a combination of the ancient Greek words ion, meaning “violet,” and anthos, meaning “flower.”
Ione (pronounced ie-OH-nee) is also based on the ancient Greek word ion, meaning “violet.”
Iona could be considered a variant of Ione, though more often it’s a reference to the Scottish island of Iona.
Jacaranda flowers are purple. The genus name Jacaranda is derived from a Tupi-Guarani word meaning “fragrant.”
Lavender flowers are typically purple. “Lavender” is the common name of plants in the genus Lavandula. The genus name is derived from the Latin word lividus, meaning “bluish,” and/or the Latin word lavare, meaning “to wash” (due to aromatic lavender being used in washing and bathing).
Lilac flowers are frequently purple. “Lilac” is the common name of plants in the genus Syringa.
Lila is the Swedish form of Lilac, though the name also has other possible meanings (e.g., “play” in Sanskrit, “night” in Arabic).
Liila is the Finnish form of Lilac.
Lupine flowers are often purple. The genus name Lupinus is derived from the Latin word lupinus, meaning “wolfish” (from lupus, “wolf”).
Magenta is a reddish-purple color. A French chemist first synthesized magenta-colored dye in the late 1850s, and the color was eventually named “Magenta” in honor of the French-Sardinian victory at the Battle of Magenta (1859).
Murasaki is a Japanese feminine name meaning “purple.” Originally it referred to the gromwell plant, the root of which was used to make purple dye.
Orchid flowers are sometimes purple. Orchids are all members of the Orchidaceae family of plants.
Phoenix refers to the mythical bird, but the name of that bird was based on the ancient Greek word phoinix, meaning “purple” or “crimson.”
Plum fruits are commonly purple. Plum trees are part of the genus Prunus.
Porphyrios was an ancient Greek name derived from the word porphyra, meaning “purple dye, purple.”
Porphyrius is the Latinized form of Porphyrios.
Porfirio is the modern Spanish masculine form of Porphyrius.
Porfiria is the modern Spanish feminine form of Porphyrius.
Porfiriy is the modern Russian masculine form of Porphyrius.
Purple, which can also be traced back to the ancient Greek word porphyra, is rarely used as a given name…though I did spot a girl named Purple in Los Angeles’ baby name data a few years back.
Rebecca is part of “rebeccapurple” — the name of the shade of purple with the hex value #663399. The color name pays tribute to Rebecca Meyer, the daughter of web design pioneer Eric Meyer. Rebecca, whose favorite color was purple, passed away on her 6th birthday (in mid-2014). The biblical name Rebecca is ultimately derived from the Semitic root r-b-q, meaning “to tie” or “to secure.”
Sigalit is a Hebrew feminine name meaning “violet.”
Sumire (pronounced soo-mee-reh) is a Japanese name that can mean “violet,” depending upon the kanji being used to write the name.
Temenuzhka is a Bulgarian feminine name meaning “violet.”
Thistle flowers are usually purple. “Thistle” is the common name of various prickly plants, most of which are in the Asteraceae family.
Twila may be based on the English word “twilight.” During twilight, the sky can turn various shades of purple.
Tyrian (pronounced TEE-ree-uhn) is part of “Tyrian purple” — the name of the expensive purple dye used during ancient times that I mentioned earlier. The source of the dye was a type of sea snail found in the Mediterranean, near the city of Tyre (now part of Lebanon). The city name can be traced back to the Hebrew word tsor, meaning “rock,” as the settlement was originally built upon a rocky formation.
Verbena flowers are sometimes purple. The genus name Verbena is derived from the Latin word verbena, which referred to the leaves, twigs, and branches of specific plants (like laurel, olive, and myrtle) that were used during religious ceremonies.
Vernonia flowers are typically purple. The genus Vernonia was named in honor of English botanist William Vernon.
Viola is based on the Latin word viola, meaning “violet.” In fact, the genus Viola includes many (though not all) violet flowers.
The simplest answer is “Biblical names,” but that’s not the full answer.
Because certain Biblical names are preferred over others, and Biblical names aren’t used exclusively.
Plus, the prevalence of a name could vary depending upon the specific Amish settlement you’re talking about.
I’ve gathered about 100 of the most common Amish names below. Before we get into specifics, though, here’s a bit of background on the Amish…
Who are the Amish?
The Amish are an Anabaptist group that intentionally maintain a degree of separation from the wider world. They wear plain clothing, eschew modern conveniences (like cars), and partake in traditional occupations such as farming, carpentry, blacksmithing, and (for women) homemaking.
The Anabaptist movement began in Europe in the 1520s, at the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists were particularly known for the practice of adult baptism. They were also opposed to war, and they believed in the separation of church and state.
Considered radicals, the Anabaptists were widely persecuted.
In 1693, the Swiss branch of the Anabaptist movement (a.k.a., the Swiss Brethren) experienced a schism. Those who followed reformer Jacob Amman came to be known as the Amish, whereas those who did not came to be known as the Mennonites (after Dutchman Menno Simons, one of the original Anabaptist leaders).
In the early 1700s, many Amish (and Mennonites) immigrated to the New World — specifically to the Province of Pennsylvania, which had been founded upon the principle of religious freedom.
Today, over 367,000 Amish live in the U.S., and roughly two-thirds of them reside in three states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.
Common Amish names
The most comprehensive source of Amish names I came across was also the oldest, so let’s go through all the sources chronologically.
In 1960, researcher Elmer L. Smith published data on the most common male and female names among the Amish of southeastern Pennsylvania from 1890 to 1956.
The 1,337 Amish males in the study shared a total of just 72 different first names. Over a quarter of the males had one of the top three names (John, Amos, or Jacob), and over 81% had one of the top 20 names.
The 1,356 Amish females in the study shared even fewer first names: only 55. Over a quarter of the females had one of the top three names (Mary, Sarah, or Annie), and over 88% had a top-20 name.
According to Smith’s research, these were the 20 most common names per gender (plus their frequency of usage):
Amish female names
Amish male names
*Annie was ranked below Sarah in the research paper, but this seems to be a typo, given the percentages.
Smith also wrote the following:
Other given names for males may reflect the important place the martyred forefathers hold in the minds of the sect members. The given name Menno is frequently found; this honors Menno Simmons [sic] an early leader of the plain sects. Ammon is also quite common, and is traced to Jacob Amman for whom the Amish sect is named; otherwise given names are from the Bible.
(Menno, a form of the Dutch name Meine, can be traced back to the Old High German word magan, meaning “strength.” The occupational surname Amman(n), which was derived from the German word amtmann, originally referred to someone employed as an official or administrator.)
A couple of years after Smith’s study came out, Dr. William Schreiber (a professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio) published a book about the Amish of east-central Ohio. In one paragraph, he mentioned some of the names he’d encountered:
One learns here that the good old biblical names are still common with the Amish but are in competition with modern or more euphonious ones. The names of the children of large families are often a study in contrasts. In one family there are, for example, Benjamin, Samuel, Isaac, Stephen, John, Israel, Christ, Barbara, Mary, Hannah, Annie, Mattie, and Lizzie. Another family has chosen these names for its children: Sarah, Lizzie, Samuel, Benjamin, John, Annie, Marie, Daniel, David, Enos, Sylvia, and Malinda. Then there are three Amish brothers named Isaac, Levi, and Elmer. One wonders how Vesta, Delila, Dena, Saloma, Drusilla, or Verba, or boys’ names like Junie, Venus, or Aquilla came into strict Christian families?
Speaking of east-central Ohio, Barbara Yoder Hall — who was born in 1940 and grew up with ten siblings in the Amish community of Holmes County — recalled in her book Born Amish (1980) the following first names:
First names for girls are usually Cora, Mattie, Annie, Lizzie, Barbara, Fannie, Katie, Mary, Naomi, Emma, Jemima, Ella, Sarah, Levina and Mandy.
First names for boys are John, Mose, Ferdinand, Dannie, Sam, Amos, Albert, Emanual, Levi, Rudy, Enos, Eli, Jacob and Joseph.
Now for a pair of sources from the digital age…
The website Amish America, run by Erik Wesner (who is not Amish, but has visited Amish communities in 15 different states), lists the following names as being common among the Amish. He found many of the male names in Raber’s Almanac, which “contains a listing of Amish church ministers,” while many of the female names came from various church directories.
Common Amish female names
Common Amish male names
Elizabeth Emma Fannie Hannah Katie Linda Lizzie Lovina/Lavina Martha Mary Miriam Naomi Rebecca Ruby Ruth Sadie Sarah Waneta
Abram Amos Atlee Eli Elmer Harley Isaac Jacob John Lavern Leroy Mark Melvin Mervin Samuel Vernon Wayne Willis
Some of Erik’s commentary…
Eli: “You see a lot of Elis among Amish, but not many Elijahs.”
Leroy: “Seems to be more common in Midwestern communities.”
Lizzie: “Lizzie is a popular form in some Pennsylvania communities.”
Naomi: “Amish, at least in Lancaster County, pronounce this ‘Nay-oh-mah.'”
Ruby: “Quite a few Rubies in northern Indiana.”
Vernon: “[P]retty common in places like northern Indiana and Holmes County, Ohio.”
Finally, according to the blog Amish Heritage, written by a woman named Anna (who grew up Amish in Pennsylvania), common Amish names include…
Common Amish female names
Common Amish male names
Amanda Anna/Annie Barbara Betty Clara Edna Elizabeth Esther Fannie Hannah Lavina Lena Lydia Malinda Martha Mary Miriam Naomi Priscilla Rachel Rebecca Ruth Sadie Sarah Susie
Aaron Abner Abram Amos Benuel Christian/Christ Daniel David Eli Elmer Emmanuel Henry Isaac Jacob John Jonas Leroy Lloyd Mark Melvin Mervin Moses Omar Paul Samuel Steven/Stephen Vernon
Both websites noted that some Amish communities (particularly New Order Amish communities) have recently started giving their children less traditional first names.
So how do these lists square with what we’ve observed in the U.S. baby name data?
It’s hard to tell with historically popular names like Mary and John, but we can see some interesting things when we focus on relatively rare names.
For instance, the names Atlee, Benuel, Delila, Dena, Lavina, Menno, Saloma, and Willis have all been mentioned recently in my posts about names with a high degree of state specificity (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). As you’d expect, they were associated with the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and/or Indiana. (Benuel, in fact, has only ever appeared in the Pennsylvania data — going all the way back to the 1940s.)
Several of the other names — including Amos, Elam, Fannie, Malinda, and Mervin — saw higher usage in Pennsylvania than in any other state in 2021.
I was surprised that none of my sources listed the name Barbie. Most of them mentioned Barbara (one of them was even named Barbara), and all of them included nicknames (like Lizzie). But Barbara’s diminutive form was curiously absent — even though most of its usage occurs in Pennsylvania:
Girls named Barbie, U.S.
Girls named Barbie, Penn.
Rhoda and Mahlon are two more names that I somewhat expected to see.
Ammon is a very interesting case, because the name also has significance to an entirely different religious group: the Mormons. (The Book of Mormon features two prominent figures named Ammon.) From the 1910s to the 1960s, the name Ammon — much like Benuel — only appeared in the Pennsylvania data. Since the 1980s, though, the state with the largest number of baby boys named Ammon has been Utah.
What are your thoughts on the first names used by the Amish? Which of the above do you like the most?
And, for anyone out there with close ties to an Amish family/community: What other names would you add to this list?
P.S. This post is dedicated to my delightful commenters alex and Andrea. :)