The "New Virtues"

There's been a bit of discussion about New Virtue names--the idea being to pull a Faith, Hope, and Charity into the 21st century. Now, personally, I don't have any problem with the classic virtues, and think they're still quite valid today. Let's leave that discussion to the side and just plain discuss the names.

So, what would a list of New Virtue names look like? I'm thinking of terms that don't have a (long) history as names, and have meanings that could be seen as embodying some sort of ideal.

Here's a starting list from discussions I've come across here:

Logic: as a somewhat more unisex and scientific version of the musical Lyric, this seems to have popularity as a potential name.

Justice: This name didn't see use until the 1980s, but it definitely fits in as a virtue name. It's clearly a real name now.

Rhyme and Reason: From The Phantom Tollbooth's twin princesses, their sounds fit in with today's trends.

Curiosity: I've been tickled with this possibility ever since it was asked if one of the Mars team was going to name her daughter after the rover.

Savvy: Just came across it here. Fits the New Virtue list like a glove.

What are your thoughts? Any additions to the list?


August 31, 2012 8:14 PM

i think of it more as an adjective, but i would love to see someone named Stellar. i am not brave enough to bestow this particular name on a child. i love the name Pleasance also.

August 20, 2013 4:01 AM

I just happened across this thread and had to oldest daughter is 9 and her name is Stellar Jade. We love it. Her little sister is Journey Aeralyn and we've always gotten complements. :)

August 31, 2012 8:16 PM

How about Epic and Saga? They're not exactly virtue names (more just word names), but they have a similar vibe. An old grad school classmate of mine named his daughter Saga--and his son Loic.

By hwar
September 1, 2012 12:09 AM

I know a toddler with the middle name Venture, which I think is pretty cool. It's not exactly a virtue but it embodies certain virtues so I think it fits the category.

By Tana
September 1, 2012 6:17 PM

My additions are:

Serenity: This is the first name that comes to mind for me as a "new virtue" name.  It sounds very modern and its meaning as a word feels "virtue-ish".

Harmony: Like Serenity, it sounds modern but still feels like a virtue name.

Pax: Possibly cheating a bit since it's Latin, but I think it's meaning is well known enough that it counts.

Liberty: Although this one pops up on the SSA's list in 1976 and 1918, it still sounds modern to me as a name.

September 7, 2012 8:57 PM

I've also heard





and I myself have a daughter named Unity. So yes, I like this style of names :)



September 8, 2012 3:43 PM

I know a child with the middle name Love. 

September 21, 2012 5:10 PM

I'll add Virtue itself to the list (as seen in the blog link sharalyns posted).

September 24, 2012 3:23 PM

One of my favorites is Celerity (she's a character in a Robin Hobb novel). I've never seen it on a real person but I think it's beautiful.

By EVie
September 24, 2012 4:01 PM

One that recently occurred to me: Candor, for a boy. I actually think it would fit in well with current trends, given the popularity of names like Connor and the two-syllables-ends-in-R tradesman names like Tyler, Sawyer, Carter, etc. 

September 24, 2012 9:21 PM

EVie, Candor is brilliant! Major kudos.  It reminds me of Ernest and Frank. Indeed--fantasy triplet: Ernest, Frank and Candor.  Candor would invoke jealousy in the other two for having a hip new virtue name.

By EVie
September 26, 2012 2:15 PM

Hah! I love it! Candor is definitely on-trend compared to the other two. 

Another one that I think I mentioned on another thread, but forgot to list here: Clarity. I ran across it on the Beyond-the-Top-1000 list, and I like it—it's a virtue in its own right, but also works as a mashup of Clara and Felicity, two names that I independently love. 

By hyz
September 26, 2012 3:11 PM

Oooh, Candor and Clarity are both kinda cool, and would make an amazing sib set, too!  I imagine some pretty new-age-hippie-self-actualized-type parents would have to be responsible for that, though. ;) 

September 28, 2012 2:39 PM

This thread inspired me to have a look at my lists of names from the birth announcements in The Times in 2006-2010, to see what virtue names were there.

Names mentioned above: Ernest (m), Clarity, Harmony, Liberty, Unity, Verity (f)

Other names that already have long a history: Blythe, Clemence, Clemency, Grace, Faith, Felice, Felicia, Felicitas, Felicity, Fortunata, Honor, Honour, Hope, Joy, Loveday, Patience, Poesy (?)

Virtues in other languages (just examples as I wasn't really looking out for these): Neo (m), Amor, Lux, Saoirse, Tacita (f)

Names that could just be from surnames (and are likely to be in the middle name slot), but kind of fit the virtue category (though some are dubious virtues!): Gamble, Hale, Lucky, Magic, Savage (m), Darling, Fair, Gold, Golden, Hardy, Havoc, Hazard, Makepeace, Riches, Speed (f), Quirk (m+f)

Names that probably have a different meaning, but again kind of fit the virtue category: Hero, Sage (f)

And finally: Discretion (m).  I'm not sure if it has much history of use or not, but it's unlikely to be a surname, so maybe is the best example from this bunch of a mordern virtue name.

September 28, 2012 2:42 PM

Oh, and I just spotted Zen (f) as well.

September 28, 2012 9:51 PM

Discretion?! Wow! I would so love to hear the story behind that choice! You should re-post that discovery (wouldn't that be a good virtue name?) on the Writers' Board thread so that some of our authors can use it in a novel.

September 29, 2012 3:33 PM

I like the idea of the name Discovery!  Not sure whether it leans male or female, I can see it working either way. Nn Disco?!

September 29, 2012 8:15 PM

Or Very! (That looks a little too like 'oy vey', which is maybe how I feel about some of these names!)

October 9, 2012 12:09 PM

Late to this thread as I am, I felt the need to reply just to tell you how much I love the original post and the responses.  Candor and Clarity make the joyous parts of my brain tingle. 

And I have some spare time on my hands, so this is what I'm finding in the 2011 data:

362 boys and 59 girls were named Sincere, while 5 girls were named Sincerity. I personally know a 5 year old Sensir, with the same pronunciation. 198 girls were named Honesty, another 66 with spelling variations, including Ahonesty, which seems to me to mean a lack thereof.  5 girls were simply Honest and 23 Truly. 29 boys and 19 girls were named Truth. 38 girls were named Verity.
Any hypotheses about this virtue's popularity compared to those below? 

Serenity was ranked #66 amongst girls last year with 3,822. It's one of only two -ity names given to any boys last year  (8 were named Serenity and 33 were named Trinity.) 
Same question: Hypotheses?
40 girls were named Divinity.  (Maybe that 'v' boosted it above the others?)
41 boys and 31 girls were named Wisdom

26 girls were named Spirit.
24 girls and 11 boys were named Freedom. 
22 girls and 5 boys were named Favour and 19 girls and 14 boys were named Favor. 
21 girls were named Unity.
17 girls were named Clarity.
11 girls were named Epiphany
15 girls were named Purity.
22 girls and 5 boys were named Peace
28 girls were named Amity.

10 boys and 7 girls were named Courage. 28 boys were named Braven. (On the other hand, 35 girls were named Fraidy.) 

24 boys were named Servando, literally "serving" in Spanish. Servando Carrasco is an American soccer player who may have helped this one a bit.

Only 307 girls were named Charity and 41 were named Chastity. Both established names with more babies than most on this list, but presumably they are falling.  I surmise they may end up hanging out with the other virtues on this list, around the 20 babies per year mark, unless pushed by something.   

There were 55 girls named Lovely last year and 8 more named Lovelee. 69 were named Love, and 61 named Amor.  Along similar, but different virtue, lines, Lively seems name-like now that Blake Lively is around and some may like it as a first, but I don't see it used last year.  

Not sure if the following qualify as virtues:

39 girls and 13 boys were named Victory
17 girls were named Charm
189 girls and 6 boys were named Treasure
39 were named Beautiful and 19 Beauty
Luxury:  77 girls and 17 boys were named Lux last year and 12 girls were named Luxe. 6 boys were named Damoney and I wonder how it is pronounced. 5 girls were named Prosperity. 

And pretty sure these aren't virtues, but some people use them: 

104 girls were named Desire.
36 girls were named Envy.  
34 girls were named Vanity




October 9, 2012 1:35 PM

Fraidy is a Yiddish diminutive which is transliterated into English in a number of different ways (e.g., Freyde, Frayda).  The root name is Freida, that is, joy, which does make it a virtue name.  The Fraidys were clearly born to ultra-orthodox Jewish parents.  Other Yiddish virture names include Gittel (good), Eidel (gentle), Fruma (pious), Gluckel (good luck), Shprintza (hope). 

Every once in a while questions arise here about Jewish naming practices.  Here is a source (in slide show format) of accurate information on a number of topics in Jewish onomastics:

October 9, 2012 2:37 PM


Tell me about Shprintza. Normally, when I think about Yiddish, I think of the Germanic roots, but Shprintza reminds me much more of Esperanza, with Latin roots. Is that where Shprintza comes from, or is it a false friend?

October 9, 2012 9:06 PM

Yes, it's a form of Esperanza.  BTW Yiddish names also have Slavic roots as well as German.  So there is Golda, and there is also Zlata, both meaning gold.  I had a great-aunt Golda, my paternal grandmother's sister, and a great-aunt Zlata, my maternal granmother's sister-in-law.  There are also Yiddish forms of Hebrew names, like Rivky for Rivkah, and Yankel for Yaakov.

October 9, 2012 2:53 PM

There were a lot of interesting things in here, but I wanted to touch on two:

1) I wonder if some of the boys named Serenity were named after the space ship in Firefly, because while the name itself feels feminine, the association from the show (and following movie, called Serenity) is quite masculine.

2) The name Lux actually means "light" in Latin and isn't a reference to luxury. (Well, I suppose it may have been given with that intention, but it wasn't necessarily.) However, I sadly can't explain away Luxe...

October 30, 2012 1:46 PM

I met a (female) Favour recently. I'm a little surprised that the British spelling is more common and if I see her again, I might ask her about her name.


I feel like virtue names are a lot to live up to. Beauty? Victory? And many are just leaving the poor kids open to teasing (Purity, Chastity, Beauty again).

October 17, 2012 6:33 PM

Seen on twins:

T@me (boy) and Ch@rm (girl)

October 17, 2012 8:15 PM

I like that the names fit together in rhythm and feeling. T@me is especially interesting to me because it's an adjective, not a noun, like most virtue names seem to be.  I'm also curious if it was the case that the parents named him after his in-utero personality or as a wish for his future, naming against what he demonstrated.

I can also imagine some Who's On First misunderstandings... "I'm T@me". "Well, I'm hyper."

October 17, 2012 8:46 PM

This set also sounds like something that would appear in our Nymbler game. A very well-matched pair!

October 18, 2012 12:51 PM

Hmmm, I read them both as verbs at first - as in, he'll t@me the world and she will ch@rm it. Taken that way, I see assumptions underlying them about gender roles and power (man as dominator, woman as seductress; physical/mental mastery as male, emotional/spiritual control as female) that I find problematic. Ch@rm as a noun, on the other hand, invokes "woman as ornament." T@me seems both rather loaded and ambiguous to me, in that it suggests either one who subjugates others or one who is himself t@med and dominated; both senses are ambivalent in my mind, rather than wholly positive. Also, if I imagine switching the genders, I notice that different resonances dominate my impressions of each name and of the pair... I'm sure I'm reading far too much into it (sorry, that's what academics tend to do), but it's an interesting case of synergy between the two names. 

Apart from all that, I do think the styles match beautifully, and both names are memorable, evocative, multi-faceted and interesting.

October 18, 2012 1:27 PM

From one academic to another, I appreciate that perspective! I mean, I did sit here and contemplate noun vs. adjective vs. verb names, so clearly over-thinking is something that I'm very comfortable with and I find your interpretation compelling. I'm also a hopeless optimist and I naturally tend to look on the bright side of things. Therefore, I took T@me to mean calm and Ch@rm to be some kind of parental giving thanks for having a charmed life by receiving the gift of two children.

The only time I can remember needing to have the positive side explained to me was when I discovered the name Submit in my husband's family tree. I obviously went directly to female subjugation; however, my mother in law explained that it was a religious wish for her to submit to the will of the lord. This was 1751 in the colonies, after all.

October 18, 2012 4:09 PM

Focusing on the positive is a good way to go! If I ever met someone with these names, I'd try to do the same. :-) And I can see why they might appeal to a parent, with the choice having nothing to do with any of what I brought up.

Submit would certainly raise my eyebrows too! I'm continually amazed how much context matters.

October 18, 2012 4:23 PM

The importance of context is actually my motto in life and one of the general topics of my doctoral dissertation :D

October 18, 2012 1:20 PM

I see I haven't weighed in yet, but I love this thread! Candor and Clarity are especially inspired suggestions. 

Two examples from history that I've always liked – and think would work well in a modern context too – are the middle names of William Makepeace Thackeray and John Greenleaf Whittier. They sure make William and John a lot more memorable! Another is Sojourner Truth: of course, she gave herself this name as an adult after escaping from slavery. If you're not familiar with her, she's a fascinating and inspiring figure of the abolitionist movement, perhaps best known for her powerful speech, "Ain't I a Woman?" I've thought often about naming a daughter Sojourner, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough. It's certainly a lot to live up to!

And it's not a virtue, and not even really a name, but Serenity, Celerity, et al. put me in mind of Wild West legend Calamity Jane. Calamity has a nice sound, and pretty nickname Callie, and if it didn't, you know, actually mean calamity, it seems like it would fit right in. Of course, Amity is a real option, and a rather nice one!

As to actual modern names, Maverick and Unique come to mind, which I imagine are seen as virtues by the parents giving them. Would Haven count? Along with all the Honesty/Sincerity names, I think True has seen some use as well.

Following the surname-as-first-name trend, how about Strong? Parents always say they’re looking for a “strong” name for their baby … well, here you go! Along the same lines, I could see Best, Wise, Wilde/Wilder and Young appealing to some.

I rather like Season for its multi-layered invocations of time/timeliness, spicing things up, and the well-considered decision. It seems like it could work for either a boy or a girl. Similarly I’m drawn to Wonder, which balances scientific curiosity and an open/questioning stance with a sense of mystery and miracle.

I’ll also suggest Forthright (boy) as an alternative to Sincere/Sincerity, one that evokes the sturdy, Anglo-Saxon feel of the popular tradesman names of the day. A bit more of a stretch but I could still see it: Trustworthy or Steadfast.

A few more possibilities, some definitely more wearable and more virtuous than others:

  • Able, Arise, Aspire, Blessing, Bravery, Confidence (nicknamed Connie?), Creativity,
  • Discern, Eager, Festive, Gallant, Happy (I’ve seen this used), Imagine, Loyal, Nimble,
  • Own, Passion, Perfect, Persistence (nicknamed Perry or Percy?), Quick,
  • Radiance/Radiant, Radical, Search, Secure, Sense (and Sensibility?), Sturdy,
  • Talent, Traveler, Ultimate, Valor, Vision, Voyager,
  • Welcome, Wit (maybe a good nickname for, say, a William Thomas?), Worth, Zippy …

... and I can’t help thinking that Dedication, Duty (howdy there!), Effective, Efficient, Prompt and Thrift might give one a leg up with a potential employer.


October 18, 2012 9:19 PM

What are the chances?  I just mentioned Calamity Jane on another thread, in which the poster was eliciting respnses to Penel0pe J@ne, and I mentioned I had negative associations with it because of Calamity Jane.  Isn't she known mostly for shooting a lot of Native Americans?  Wikipedia says she's also known for "exhibit[ing] kindness and compassion, especially to the sick and needy" ... except, I guess, to those Native Americans.

On a positive note, if I didn't know about the murdering of Native Americans, Calamity Jane reminds me of one of my favorite epithets, Fearless Nadia, an Australia-born daredevill who became an actress in Indian (meaning the subcontinent) cinema during the silent era. 

So synonyms for fearless, which Calamity seems to connote, might be similarly nice.  

How about Moxie?  I've always loved Moxie Firecracker, the name of a New York-based documentary film production company.


October 19, 2012 11:00 AM

I actually knew almost nothing about Calamity Jane when I posted (although I did remember that her real name was Martha Jane Canary), and if I'd had Native American genocide in mind, I'd have looked for a better word for her than "legend." "Controversial figure" is probably the best choice. Due to your post, I felt obligated to find out at least a bit more, and in that spirit, here's a link to the Wikipedia article I read, which quotes pretty extensively and skeptically from her autobiography and also discusses the disputed accounts of how she acquired her famous nickname. She's certainly a colorful character; the overall picture I get isn't that she's "best known" for shooting Native Americans, but of course that's an aspect of the Wild West that many tend to downplay, whitewash or outright ignore in romanticizing the era, so I'm not trying to negate your point. Even without weighing the complexities of her character and context, Calamity Jane isn't a positive association anyway.

And as it happens, I just discovered the character of Fearless Nadia myself this year! (Wikipedia entry here.) I encountered her in a book exploring the history and cultural evolution of Bombay/Mumbai (Mumbai Fables by Gyan Prakash, which I'd recommend overall; it's loaded with fascinating info gathered from a wide range of sources from newspaper articles and government reports to movies and comic books, but it's also pretty dense and would have benefitted from more consistent editing). Nadia figured prominently in the chapter about the emergence of Bollywood and what early Indian films had to say the artists' political views and contemporary perceptions of urban multiculturalism and the British ruling class. She became quite a sensation as a stuntwoman and because her roles cast her (apparently unironically) as an anti-imperialist advocate. She also seems to have been pretty fearless off-screen; when she began her film career, she was a young single mother and circus performer. Fearless Nadia was a (highly effective!) stage name; she was born Mary Ann Evans, in Australia.

If you have a recommendation for a book starring Fearless Nadia I'm all ears! She only had a bit part, though a memorable one, in the book I read.

Doesn't some celebrity (I think Penn Gilette) have a daughter named Moxie Crimefighter?

January 26, 2014 12:29 AM










By Spam
January 26, 2014 10:35 AM

I think we'll se an uptick in Amitys the next couple years due to the Divergent series which is being made into film and the first will be released this summer.  There is an Amity Faction whose values represent the meaning of the word.  As people become more familiar with the meaning and the Amityville Horror fades more into the past, the name will probably get some more usage.  Did you know that the all time high for bestowing the name Amity in the US occurred in 1979?  It was starting to get some use and then of course the horror movie put the kibosh on that.  So that makes me think that people don't have anything against the name itself, just the negative associations from Amityville ruined it for parents.