The fall season is upon us, full of changing colors and dynamic weather. With the change outdoors, let’s turn our attention to names, new and old, that reflect this lovely time of year. Some are inspired by colors, some by natural elements, but each name is a timely choice for any autumn baby boy!
Image via PublicDomainPictures.net
Crispin. One of the most-recommended autumn baby names, Crispin hits all the right notes. First and foremost, its sound is crisp, like fall winds and ripe apples. St. Crispin’s Day, immortalized in Shakespeare’s Henry V, takes place on October 25th - another timely connection. While the name has never been recorded in the top 1000, Crispin’s n-ending and two-syllable cadence fit in well with popular boys’ names of today.
Jorah. An uncommon Biblical name, Jorah is a great alternative to similar-sounding Noah or Jonah. It means “early rain” in Hebrew - hence its addition to this list - but isn’t too difficult for English-speaking audiences. Jorah has gained pop culture credibility recently through its use in mega-hit Game of Thrones; unlike Khaleesi or Daenerys, however, Jorah is historically strong enough to stand the test of time.
Cedar. Another natural choice, Cedar is both pleasantly scented and visually stimulating, calling to mind pretty fall leaves and attractive wooden creations. Like Ash, Oak, or Birch (mentioned below), it belongs to a category of names now rising through the ranks - boyish, environmentally-friendly choices. Cedar has been used since the early 1970’s, and may hit the top 1000 soon, with over 150 Cedar’s born last year.
Ambrose. Visually, Ambrose reminds one of shining amber or bubbling ambrosia. But this classic boy’s name is more than just handsome - it ranked on the top 1000 from 1880 to 1954, and there have been five saint Ambrose’s recognized by the Catholic Church. It also has distinct literary integrity via Evelyn Waugh and Brian Jacques. Ambrose may be a unique choice compared with today’s trends, but it has a kind of substance and poise all its own.
Brock. Rugged and boyish, Brock is popular enough to be in the top 500. Prevalence aside, the name has an autumnal energy augmented by the apple variety - “a modern American apple” - and its etymological meaning of “badger” (which reminds me of Wind in the Willows, personally). It’s also a “modern American” name, having only been recorded in the last century.
Sylvan. While feminine Sylvia has long been a favorite of American name records, this masculine option has yet to make such a mark. Sylvan - “of the woods” - is both classic in its historicity and modern in its trendy ends-in-an sound. It offers cute nicknames Sly or Van, and could be a unique way to honor a familial Sylvester.
Copper. The most famous Copper may be the pup in Disney’s The Fox and the Hound, but as a name, Copper is fit for human attire. The metallic orange hue fits in with trendy names like Scarlett or Jasper, and the friendly cadence mirrors Cooper or Carter. While “copper” can also be a slang term for policeman, it’s rarely used that way today. If you’re looking for a name that’s recognizable but quirky and unique, Copper is an excellent choice!
Leif. Another name that feels eternally autumnal, Leif is light but substantial enough for any little one. The name ranked briefly from the 1960’s through the 1980’s, yet it was never ubiquitous enough to seem dated today. Namesakes abound, from explorer Leif Erikson to heartthrob Leif Garrett, making this a great choice for all kinds of personalities and backgrounds. The Leaf spelling may be a bit outside the norm, but it’s also been used on and off since 1971.
Auburn. The girls may have claimed Aubrey, but colorful Auburn works well for the boys. The “burn” ending has a fiery, masculine energy, and sounds a bit like classics Bernard or Burnell. The handsome “Au” beginning fits in with August and Autry - a bit Southern, elegant, and strong. Auburn is also a great place-name inspired by many cities and neighborhoods across the United States.
Birch. Short and sweet, boyish and spirited, Birch is a bright choice for an active child. While it’s never been a popular pick, it has been recorded for boys for over 100 years - not bad for a nature name! Birch trees are associated with adaptability and stability in Celtic mythology, and they have long been celebrated in Western cultures for their strength. Last year, only six boys were given the name - could that number go up with the rise in botanical picks?
Rory. The most popular name on this list, Rory has been rising for both boys and girls in recent years. Meaning “red king” from Old Irish, Rory is boisterous and friendly, accessible but not overly common. Its ruddy meaning comes through in its sound, and it’s a fantastic alternative (or complement) to Riley or Rowan. Dozens of Rory’s, from kings to athletes to musicians, have made the name their own over time - your Rory will be in excellent company.
Zephyr. While this name has long been considered ethereal and other-worldly, Zephyr may be a more understandable option with names like Zander, Zayden, and Zion in the top 1000. Autumnal in meaning - from the Greek for “west wind” - its zippy tone and eccentric vibe help cement its status as a name for a dynamic little one. Variations Zeferino and Zephyros are other exciting choices.
Few names last forever. This year a dozen names vanished from the U.S. top-1,000 baby name list after a steady run spanning generations – and in some cases, centuries. Join me in a tribute to the departed.
|NAME||SEX||TOP 1000 EVERY YEAR SINCE|
A closer look at the vanishing names:
Mike. The everyday nickname of millions of Americans, Mike had also been a top-1,000 stalward as given name. Its departure is a powerful symbol of the decline of All-American "nice guy" names.
Mercedes. This classic Spanish name pays homage to divine favors, yet its strongest cultural association is a decidedly material one: German luxury cars. Read the story of how Mercedes became the name we know today.
Clinton. The name Clinton has deep roots in American history, including a Revolutionary War General, a Vice President and a President. It has been declining since President Bill Clinton's election in 1992, as contemporary parents avoid names linked to living politicians.
Randall. A favorite name of the mid-20th Century, Randall had a long, gentle decline. This is a rare case where the nickname has shown greater staying power, as Randy still ranks #570.
Renee. This classic French name meaning "born again" is a victim of its own huge 1960s-'70s success. Renee's smooth sound still fits fashion, but it's too familiar for parents seeking fresh, creative names.
Sonia. In the United States Sonia is considered a full formal name, but it's a traditional diminutive of Sofia in many languages. Ironically, its decline comes even as Sofia reigns as the global baby name queen.
Ramiro. This venerable Spanish name was a quiet, steady classic for generations. How steady? It maintained a popularity ranking between #400 and #600 for 67 years straight.
Cindy. It's not just about nicknames; the formal Cynthia fell out of the the top 500 for the first time as well this year. With the decline of Mike and this quintessential baby boom name, Bobby is now the only "Brady Bunch" name left standing in the top 1,000.
There are plenty of reasons to love nickname style. The names are light, friendly and cheerful, and usually easy to spell and pronounce. They come across as straightforward and likeable.
There are also plenty of reasons you might steer away from actual nicknames. Maybe you don't like the formal name the nickname derives from. Maybe you worry that if you put the nickname on the birth certificate, your daughter will have to constantly repeat "No, it's not Abigail, just Abby." Maybe a nothing-but-nickname, much as you love it, feels too eternally youthful or incomplete.
Here's your workaround. The names below were all selected for their nickname-like style. Some of them can be used as short forms of longer names, like Clay for Clayton. But all are perfectly complete in themselves, and will usually be taken that way. I've divided the names into boys and girls for ease of browsing, but many names in this style work well for either sex.
BOYS' NAMES WITH NICKNAME STYLE
GIRLS' NAMES WITH NICKNAME STYLE