The Boldest Baby Name Suffix

Jul 11th 2013

The results are in, and I have identified the boldest name suffix of the 21st century. Sorry, Ryleigh and Kayleigh, Brooklyn and Ashlyn, yours didn't come close. Nice effort, Gunner and Ryder, Colton and Kingston, but you've been beaten out -- by a suffix that's overwhelmingly feminine.

The boldest name-suffix family is:

-TY, as used in names of three or more syllables.

Say what? Modest littly -ty? How can that possibly beat out name endings like -xx, which is brash enough to transform good old-fashioned Max into MAXX, the calling card of professional wrestlers and jumbo-sized condoms?

To start with, -xx and its kin are fringe players, given to small numbers of babies. But the real key to -ty's power lies not in the suffix itself but in the kind of names it caps off, and inspires. Other suffixes span a wide range of styles: for every gutsy Gunner there's a preppy Parker, and for every brash Brooklyn a conservative Carolyn. Not so with the the multisyllable -ty names.

Last year, over 10,000 American girls were given a name longer than two syllables ending in -ty. 97% percent of them were names adopted from English words describing positive qualities or abstract concepts. If you take Chasity to be a form of the virtue name Chastity, the percentage approaches 100%.

It may be hard to think of a classically modest virtue name like Chastity as "bold," but Chastity, Verity, Charity, Modesty and their kin are much more aggressive style statements than Grace or Faith. They're also just the tip of the iceberg.

Not a single 3+ syllable -ty name made the mainstream of American style in the 20th Century. Today, Serenity and Trinity rank in the top 100, Liberty, Felicity and Charity in the top 1,000, and the entire -ty style is rising -- and getting bolder. Other -ty names given to 10 or more girls last year included:

Amity
Clarity
Divinity
Dynasty
Eternity
Honesty
Infinity
Loyalty
Majesty
Royalty
Unity
Vanity
...plus creatively spelled names like Aunesty and Zerenity.

Put them all together and the -ty names form a portrait of our bold namining era.

Comments

1
July 11, 2013 10:23 PM

Considering that 100% of the examples are virtue names (including many new popular), is that (interest in virtue names) perhaps the trend, rather than -ty as a suffix?  If it were just the sound of -ty, might we not be seeing a jump in names like Rafferty and Arietty  or in 2-syllable names like Katy, Christy, Dotty, Betty?

2
July 11, 2013 10:32 PM

As an Amity, I'm surprised.  I've only met one other Amity in my life.  Will be interesting to see where this goes..

3
July 12, 2013 10:48 AM

Miriam, I was wondering the same thing.

(And Vanity? Poor girls.)

4
July 12, 2013 11:05 AM

I was also wondering that.  Maybe these are just a smaller subset of a larger virtue category.

And yes, poor girls.  None of these are really my style, but I just can't get over Vanity.  It's more of the anti-virtue name.  "Meet my daughters Vanity and Envy and my son, Gluttony."

5
July 12, 2013 4:41 PM

Or Vanity, Ottoman and Chaise.

I'm surprised Serenity didn't get a callout.  That's got to be the most common.

 

 

6
July 12, 2013 8:33 PM

Miriam wrote: "Considering that 100% of the examples are virtue names (including many new popular), is that (interest in virtue names) perhaps the trend, rather than -ty as a suffix?"

I'm not sure that I agree about that 100% -- I don't think of names like Royalty, Dynasty and Infinity as "virtue names" per se! There's certainly a rise in positive meaning names in general, though.

I think there's an interaction of meaning and sound, because the -nce virtue names (e.g. Patience, Constance, Prudence, Temperance, Providence) haven't scaled the same heights as Serenity and friends -- despite the rise of the non-virtue name Cadence.

7
July 13, 2013 5:42 PM

Aunesty gives me the vapors.

What about Calamity?  Amnesty?  Enmity?  Uppity?

Ah, the jokes practically write themselves.

8
July 13, 2013 7:37 PM

I just had to share the sibset I ran into at the park! About 4 and 2, a brother and sister named Robby (presumably Robert) and Mackenzie. How does that happen??

9
July 14, 2013 10:07 PM

I'm going to take a stab at a theory and say the increasing popularity of these names are connected to the increasing popularity of the belief in a "law of attraction."

10
July 15, 2013 11:46 AM

Does this mean that the age of consonants might be ahead? These names are aggressively strident in sound (not meaning) when compared to the 'raindrop names' that Laura profiled a few weeks ago. How interesting to see the trends working in both directions.

11
July 16, 2013 12:20 PM

Aunesty is a whole new levelof horrid.  Also, I've never understood Chasity. To me it's like Micheal.  I always think "Did they just make a mistake...?"

Even though they are technically virtue names, Amity and Verity are so different to me than the rest of these.  They are so lovely, and in my opinion, have quite a different feel than Serenity, Trinity, Divinity, and Infinity.

12
July 16, 2013 4:56 PM

They left off "Trinity"

13
July 16, 2013 5:11 PM

No, she didn't. :)

"Today, Serenity and Trinity rank in the top 100, Liberty, Felicity and Charity in the top 1,000, and the entire -ty style is rising -- and getting bolder."

 

And okay Laura, I buy the explanation that this article was focusing on the interaction of meaning and sound. I do think, however, that names like Royalty can be seen as a form of virtue name, if you conceive of virtue names as aspirational wishes from parents to children. We have a thread somewhere of "new virtue names", and I think that it was started because we recognised the increased use of virtue names.

14
July 16, 2013 8:19 PM

"Meet my daughters Vanity and Envy and my son, Gluttony."

Ha! I was just going to say the same thing. I know a little Vanity . . . sweet child, but I do feel sorry for her. 

15
July 16, 2013 10:21 PM

I cannot get over how much I like Clarity! Claire is a perfectly mainstream nickname and the meaning is so wonderful. Doesn't imply religion like some virtue names do for me.

If only I wasn't biased against vowel ending names, this would be in my top three with Beatriz/x/ce and Eris/Isis/Iris ahead of Evelyn (too much of an evan+karolyn mash), Coraline (him not me) and Gwendolyn (me not him). 

16
July 17, 2013 5:03 AM

I see that the film Matrix heavily influenced the usage of Trinity, but it also denotes the first nuclear bomb explosion (the test preceeding Hiroshima and Nagasaki)---a connotation which make the name impossible to me.

Another note: There are also virtue names ending in -ti, most notably Aditi (the indic equivalent to Infinity).

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I think there's an interaction of meaning and sound, because the -nce virtue names (e.g. Patience, Constance, Prudence, Temperance, Providence) haven't scaled the same heights as Serenity and friends -- despite the rise of the non-virtue name Cadence.

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 Nice effort, Gunner and Ryder, Colton and Kingston, but you've been beaten out -- by a suffix that's overwhelmingly feminine.

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