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Unusual Presidential Names

Name Dropping

Don't forget vice presidential names on your search. Ones to keep in mind include: Schuyler, Garret, and Nelson.

Although many U.S. presidents bore names that seem to be the hallmarks of tradition, there were others that weren't quite the average Tom, Dick, or Harry. They may be on the unusual side, but are interesting names for parents on the search for something out of the ordinary.

Boys' Names:

  • Chester: Chester A. Arthur's given name means “soldier's camp.” He was the 26th person to hold the title of president.
  • Grover: Twenty-fourth President Grover Cleveland had a place name as a given name as well: Grover means “grove of trees.”
  • Martin: This “warlike” first name (it derives from Mars, the Roman god of war), belonged to President Martin Van Buren, the eighth president.
  • Ulysses: Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War hero and his name is a fitting one for a warrior. Ulysses is a variant of the Latin Odysseus, which is thought to mean “wrathful.” He was the 18th man to hold office.

Girls' Names:

  • Alice: This old-fashioned German name, which means “noble” or “nobility,” was the given name of Teddy Roosevelt's wife. It's a good choice for anyone tired of the currently popular names that are similar, like Alicia or Alyssa.
  • Dorothea: This was the actual given name of Dolly Madison. It, like Dorothy, means “gift of God.”
  • Eleanor: This beautiful name was actually Eleanor Roosevelt's middle name—her first name was Anna. It's thought to be a form of Helen.
  • Helen: This Greek name, which means “light,” was the given name of President William H. Taft's wife.
  • Julia: This feminine form of Julius means “youthful.” It was the given name of President John Tyler's second wife.
  • Letitia: The name of President Tyler's first wife, it means “joy” or “gladness.”
  • Louisa: A form of Louise, which means “renowned in battle.” Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams was the wife of John Quincy Adams.
  • Rosalynn: This very American name—it exemplifies the fashion of combining names that is considered to be unique to this country—takes its shape from Rose and Lynn, or could be considered a modern variant of Rosalind (“pretty rose”). Rosalynn Carter (whose first name is actually Eleanor) is former President Jimmy Carter's very down-to-earth, practical wife.

More on: Choosing a Name


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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