Naming With the Seasons, 21st-Century Style

Nov 7th 2013

Way back in 2005 I wrote about a name trend that came straight from the calendar -- if you flipped pages in your calendar once every 50 years. Month names for girls changed at that pace, with May peaking in the 1870s, June in the 1920s, and April in the 1970s.

OK, maybe the naming calendar doesn't follow the exact order of the Gregorian calendar, but the pattern is unmistakable. Here's the graph I posted back then:

After April, though, we ran out of the simple, sunny months of spring. So I mused on the options to continue the cycle:

"One possibility is to start over at May, a name which seems due for a renaissance. Another is to branch out into more adventurous seasons...And there's one other possibility, which is already hitting its stride. In the past generation, parents have started to throw over the months in favor of whole seasons: Summer and Autumn are still climbing, and Winter has time for a surprise strike by the '20s to come."

Eight years later, do we see any indications of a seasonal future? Perhaps. One of the old spring favorites is indeed showing signs of a renaissance. It's not May, though, but June, which fits the classic 100-year name lifecycle:

But I'll come out right now and say, with a decade to go, that June won't add a fourth towering peak to the mountain range of the original graph. Those slopes are too hard to climb today. Just take a look at both of today's season names, Summer and Autumn, compared to 1800s hit May:

Yet the march through the seasons hasn't quite seen its last. This past year, that long shot Winter cracked the top 1000 for the first time ever.




November 7, 2013 12:36 PM

While it isn't usually for a girl, I would suggest that August may be the next "big spike" for months.

November 7, 2013 12:57 PM

@Sharalyns - August is already climbing on the boy's side, and fits the "antique revival" pattern. Mae (that spelling) has also recently re-appeard on the Top 1,000 for girls. I think those two and June will continue climbing over the next few years, while April will show the pattern typical of "parent generation" names - a gradual but not steep decline.

By mk
November 7, 2013 3:11 PM

I wonder why July has never been popular. I've met two women named July, yet it's never been in the top 1000. Of course, one can say that about any month, but July seems to fit as a name and falls between the other "name" months.

November 7, 2013 4:53 PM

If I were to go with a seasonal or monthly name, it would definitely be something like Winter, Autumn, December, November, or even October (Toby is a cute nn), so I guess I'm part of the stylish crowd!

By Tuva
November 7, 2013 7:20 PM

I know several Augusts.  I'm surprised it's not mentioned in this post.

November 7, 2013 10:27 PM

Back in the hippie 60s, I knew someone who named her baby daughter July.  I haven't run into another July since.  There are a few Summers around, notably the actress Summer Glau.  Then there was the actress Spring Byington who played Marmee in the film Little Women (Katharine Hepburn was Jo).  For both of these actresses, their "seasonal" names were their birth names, not stage names.  And for those who are old enough to remember Howdy Doody (I am, but I don't suppose anyone else is), there was Princess Summerfallwinterspring LOL.

November 7, 2013 11:38 PM

For a more literal take on seasonal names, I went to college with a girl named Season.

November 8, 2013 1:31 AM

I've been seeing May/Mae thrown around a lot for the middle name slot. I wonder how that plays into its use.

November 8, 2013 3:31 AM

I love Winter but I dont know if I would ever use it.  January Jones is fairly well known, so I'm surprised this month's name hasn't caught on.  I also think Sunday is cute, but this is a slightly different topic.

November 8, 2013 12:17 PM

I do think August may be the next month to "take off", though probably not to the scale of April, May, and June.

One possible reason why July isn't particularly common as a name is that there's the whole Julia family of names instead -- and they don't end in "lie".

November 8, 2013 4:10 PM

HNG, I agree. I immediately thought of the Canadian R&B singer Jully Black (full name Jullyann,) whose name is pronounced like Julie, (which causes one to pause on several levels.)

November 11, 2013 5:04 PM

I've always loved the name May, and I've floated it for every single pregnancy. But my husband, children, and friends are all very meh about it. I've never understood that, but I'm starting to think maybe I should not use May if we have a girl this time round, because I'd hate to give a baby a name I loved but which was universally meh to everyone else. 

November 12, 2013 11:29 AM

I've heard October floated around a couple times for girls, and aren't there a couple of celebrity children names October? 

March and August have been used for boys. But July and August come from Julius and Augustus Caesar, so they're names that became months and never actually stopped being names anyway.

I'm reminded of the codenames of a group of MI6 agents from the anime Darker Than Black. "The woman is April, the boy is July, and I am November 11."

It's ironic that the one season that doesn't get used for names is Spring. I guess the sound and secondary meanings get in the way. 

November 12, 2013 2:16 PM

I love calendrical names! However, I find that even the old favorites due for a revival sound tired to my ear. I'm not sure that May and June have ever really dropped off so much as been relegated to the middle-name spot - I've known lots of women of all ages with the middle name May/Mae. I do love Autumn and Winter, July and November, and I look forward to seeing how well Sunday is able to do in the next couple decades. Morning and Spring are both lovely names that have never taken off, I suspect due to the meanings of the words mourning and spring (as in the mechanical device).

November 12, 2013 5:16 PM

As a Summer myself I love my name, but I would never give my kids a seasonal name. However, I do love the name Mae as a nickname (I just can't find a full name that my husband likes as well).

I had cousins named Autumn, Spring, Summer, and Winter. We were all born in the 80's.

November 13, 2013 10:57 PM

The writer Dave Eggers has a daughter named October. I like it!

November 14, 2013 8:26 AM

How about January Jones, the actress from Mad Men? That was her birth name and I think it's really stylish- I don't know if I would use the name myself though.

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