For this last installment in regional names, we look to the beautiful and dynamic American South. It has everything - mountains and plains, red states and blue states, and all kinds of unique individuals with their own brand of Southern hospitality. Check out some precious names from this area, and contribute your own inspired name ideas in the comments.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Savannah. A Top 50 name since 1996, Savannah is a fantastic choice - it’s long, girlish, and elegant; it fits in with standards Anna and Hannah, but adds a modern twist; it’s got a bit of a Southern drawl but works well for all kinds of personalities and peoples. The city in Georgia was named for the Savannah River, which has a few unofficial etymologies, including connections to the Shawnee people or sweeping African landscapes. Savannah’s popularity may worry a few readers, but the name is far less a fad than a new classic.
Louis. In use for over a thousand years, Louis has been worn by everyone, from kings to athletes to pop stars. What gives this name a Southern edge? There’s the flourishing cities of St. Louis in Missouri and Louisville in Kentucky, the diverse state of Louisiana, and dozens of local namesakes from Armstrong to Prima. After a few decades in decline, Louis is beginning to rise again both in the United States and overseas.
Memphis. Though this name comes from the city in ancient Egypt, Memphis today is most associated with the Tennessee capital of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. More than a few celebrity babies share the name, but it’s hardly a fad - it’s at #652 of the US Top 1000! Meaning “enduring and beautiful” in Greek and Coptic, it’s musical sound is tempered by its unique “is”-ending and historical credibility. If you want something both modern and antiquated, Memphis might work for you.
Dixie. The South has long worn the nickname of Dixie or Dixie’s Land, with various musical groups and supermarket chains using the term to indicate their connection to the South. While the origins of this term vary - one theory being that the nickname came out of the use of ten-dollar “dix” notes by French banks - today, it’s a sweet name for a Southern belle. The name has gotten a little more use in recent years, with more and more fans drawn to its energetic, feminine sound.
Charlotte. The largest city in North Carolina was named for the contemporary queen of Great Britain, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Today, a member of the British royal family has inspired many Americans to use Charlotte once again! A classic English name, Charlotte combines timeless nobility with accessible friendliness - you certainly don’t have to be a princess to wear the name with pride. Adorable nickname Charlie adds an extra level of congeniality.
Austin. Another popular Southern choice, Austin skyrocketed in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but now sits at a more manageable #69. It’s now a well-established option alongside similar-sounding Aiden and Aaron, with a more modern edge. The city in Texas was named for Stephen F. Austin, the “founder of Texas” and an early white settler. The name originally comes from a form of August, which makes it a quirky honorific choice, too.
Dallas. Western and rustic, Dallas calls to mind wide open spaces and acoustic guitar melodies. The city, however, is the fourth largest in the United States and the third largest in Texas - hardly a pastoral setting. With this combination of calm historic vibes and thriving metropolitan actualities, Dallas successfully straddles the fine line of yesterday and tomorrow in the South. The name is Scottish in origin, meaning “a meadow dwelling.”
Virginia. After more than a few years trending downward, sweet, retro Virginia is back on the rise. What makes this name so enticing? There’s the lovely vintage sound, the plethora of nicknames (including Ginger, Ginny, and Nia, for modern fans), and the associations with so many inspiring Virginia’s - Woolf, Hamilton, and O’Hanlon, to name a few. The state was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I at the request of Sir Walter Raleigh (another excellent Southern place name).
Alexandria. While it has never eclipsed the popularity of sister-name Alexandra, adding that extra “i” packs a lot of punch! The city in Virginia was named for a few members of the Philip Alexander family, in order to convince them to give some of their land to the town. Today, the city is known for federal service, from patents to defense. The name Alexandria is sweeping and sophisticated, elegant and experienced - why not opt for a luxurious choice?
Selma. With so much attention recently, this place name is bound to take off! Selma, of course, was the site of the 1965 civil rights marches led by Martin Luther King, Jr.; these marches were immortalized in last year’s Oscar-winning film, Selma. This incredible history, as well as the vintage style and pleasantness of the name, make Selma a wonderful choice for those honoring the past and hoping for a better future.
Trinity. The name of a few Southern cities, as well as a Texas river, Trinity is a modern spiritual name alongside Grace and Hope. The South has long been a more religious area compared to the rest of the United States (at the very least according to a 2014 Gallup poll). The Holy Trinity is a major aspect of Christianity, and if a faith-based name is important to your family, Trinity is a lovely choice.
Boone. Early American explorer Daniel Boone is now an almost mythical figure - though he really did explore some of the South, books and television shows make him out to be a larger-than-life adventurous frontiersman. Though his legacy is exaggerated, the popularity of his last name is truly iconic - 220 boys were given the name last year. Not bad for the “rippin'est, roarin'est, fightin'est man the frontier ever knew!”
Today's name target is elegance. In particular, a timeless, globe-trotting, masculine elegance. That style is embodied in a group of 25 classic names that travel together—and travel well. They are used in multiple countries, and cross borders as neatly as any jet-setter.
The suave standards put extra gloss on the idea of a traditional name. If Bob and Mike are jeans-and-t-shirt names and William and James belong in blue blazers, names like Dominic, Sebastian, Elias and Leonardo are ready for tuxedos. They can dress down too, though, as the situation requires. The names are familiar, and most of the longer names have casual nickname options.
In the United States, these names are especially popular in areas with large Latino populations. (In fact, Sebastian is the #1 name in Puerto Rico.) Spanish/English crossover style is part of the appeal, but the heart of the name style actually lies in Italy. Rome, past and present, makes its presence felt in language, history, and religion. Roman Catholic saints in particular are well represented.
Yet "saintly" isn't the only story. Our readers have also singled out these names as among the sexiest for men. While they're not overtly romantic—no Valentino or Romeo, for example—the overall effect of these international classics is clearly tall, dark and handsome.
The Suave Global Boys
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