Friday, June 17, 2016

First Names of the First Ladies #3

Hello, readers!

On to Part 3! Today's list includes current First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, whose middle name comes from her grandmother. I haven't been able to find out what inspired her first name, other than its popularity - it was #23 the year she was born. That's like Zoey today!

If you haven't read parts one and two of this week's series, check them out here:

Let's begin!

Louisa (Adams)
After a 35-year absence, Louisa jumped back on the top 1000 in 2014. Why the comeback? Louisa has that lovely combination of vintage style, literary credibility, and strength in sound - even the meaning is "renowned warrior". Louisa also lends itself to nicknames Lulu or Louie, since Steel Magnolia's "Ouiser" is a little out of the question. 

Lucretia (Garfield) 
The most famous namesake is probably Lucrezia Borgia, whose reputation as a femme fatale has been called into question recently. Still, the name has an air of Machiavellian intrigue to it; it helps that the name most likely comes from Latin for "wealth". There are a few Lucrezia's born each year, but Lucretia hasn't returned on the heels of Renaissance recreations. 

Lucy (Hayes)
The slightly-less-popular antiquated alternative to Lily, Lucy has been revived in recent years because of its adorable aura. Dozens of Lucy's, factual and fictional, pepper historical records. There are songs and television shows and comics about Lucy - beware of name fatigue! However, Lucy is a definite classic, and won't be out-of-date for a very long time. 

Mamie (Eisenhower)
Originally a short form of Mary, Mamie joins sisters Sadie and Maisie in the category of "Cute, Friendly, and Retro". Only 22 little girls were named Mamie last year, so it's far from trendy, but it maintains familiarity and accessibility. Mamie could be an excellent unexpected honorific, too! Fun fact: Mamie Eisenhower had the middle name Geneva

Margaret (Taylor, Wilson)
Like Elizabeth and Mary, Margaret is a top-tier timeless English name. The name means "pearl" or "daisy", and has dozens of international variants - Margarita, Margot, Marguerite. Margaret is also notorious for its nickname options: Peggy, Maggie, Mae, Rita, Greta, and Daisy. If you're looking for a beautiful but flexible feminine name, Margaret is fabulous. 

Martha (Washington, Jefferson)
While it ranked in the top 100 until 1965, Martha has been on the decline for awhile. Does that mean it's dated or ready for revival? Positives - the pretty vintage sound, the many namesakes, and its relative lack of use. Negatives - for some, Martha Stewart owns the name, and it's not far from less popular retro names like Bertha or Maureen

Mary (Lincoln, McElroy, McKee)
The number one girls' name for hundreds of years, Mary was the unparalleled choice for English speakers (especially those who were/are Christian). These days, however, Mary is almost unique among little girls - even though it's at #124 in the top 1000, many go by their middle names. Still, it's well-established and well-worn by hundreds of inspiring women. 

Michelle (Obama)
A go-to seventies name, along with Jennifer and Melissa, Michelle is the feminine variation of boys' classic Michael. It's French sound and delightful affability made for a popular pick, but alternate variation Michaela (and its many spellings) have won out in recent years. For a rarer choice, check out other Michael-related options: Mischa, Mika, or Mickey

Nancy (Reagan)
"No angel could replace / Nancy with the laughing face" sang Frank Sinatra in 1944. Indeed, Nancy was irreplaceable for the 1930's through the 1960's. But Nancy is now the lowest it's been on name charts, with little sign of resurgence in the US. In the UK, however, Nancy is at #90, with Brits loving the cute, old-fashioned nickname for Ann

Priscilla (Tyler)
What I would argue to be the most frilly name in the Bible, Priscilla has been in use for centuries. It means "ancient", fittingly, and there are tons of namesakes who've donned it with pride: Priscilla Presley, Priscilla Tolkein (yes, that Tolkein), and Priscilla Chan, to name a few. The nickname Cilla is preferable to "Miss Priss", in my opinion, but to each their own!

Rose (Cleveland)
Floral and feminine, classic and cultured, elegant and enduring - Rose has championed the flower names for years. While Lily and Violet win out these days, Rose is perfect for any age in any era. International variations and pet names abound, but the original is lovely. "A rose by any other name" might not smell as sweet as this choice!

Sarah (Jackson, Polk)
According to the Old Testament, God changed Sarai's name to Sarah, and a womanly standard was born. Sarah, meaning "princess", has never dipped below #120 on the top 1000. It's pretty and polished, but might be too commonplace for some name aficionados. Variations include Zara, Sallie, Tzeitel (of Fiddler on the Roof fame), and Sarita.

Thelma (Nixon)
The origins of this name are murky, but it became popular in the late nineteenth century after it was used for the heroine of a British novel. Thelma today is associated with the decades of the 1910's through the 1930's - retro but still a little too close. While many know the name as Geena Davis' character in Thelma and Louise, it may be too early to tell if this name could have a comeback.

Phew! Tell me what you think of this series in the comments :)

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