Place Names

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Page 2

Off the Beaten Track

These names are either less commonly given, have faded in popularity somewhat, or have yet to hit the limelight. For these reasons, they may appeal to parents looking for names that are less frequently used.

Boys' Names:

  • Brenton: It sounds a lot like Brendan, but it couldn't mean anything more different. Brendan is an Irish name that translates to "smelly hair" (how pleasant!). Brenton is an English place name that means "Brent's town."
  • Brody: It's Irish for "ditch."
  • Dale: This English place name for "valley" is not widely used today, which makes it a good candidate for a comeback.
  • Dean: English place name meaning "valley." It's a good basic name that, like Dale, is poised for a comeback.
  • Denver: Colorado's state capital, named after an early territorial governor. It's also an English place name that means" green valley," which is ironic because Denver is situated on a plateau that is anything but green without substantial irrigation.
  • Granville: A French place name meaning "big town." It has an aristocratic air that might make it a good choice for a middle name.
  • Hudson: It means "Hugh's son" in Old English; both the Hudson River and Canada's Hudson Bay are named for the English explorer Henry Hudson.
  • Keith: Scottish for "forest." This was a very popular name in the U.S. about 30 years ago; it's not so in vogue today but still sees steady use, as it's a good, basic name for boys.
  • Ogden: An English place name meaning "valley of the oaks." Although names that begin with O aren't terribly popular, this one may see broader usage thanks to the current fashion for western-sounding names (Ogden is also a city in Utah).
  • Wesley: English place name meaning "western meadow." It has a feminine feel to it, but is almost always shortened to Wes in use, which makes it very masculine indeed.
  • Ramsey: English place name meaning "raven" or "ram island."
  • Roman: From Rome, perhaps best known as a given name thanks to film director Roman Polanski.
  • Stanford: English place name meaning "stony ford."

Girls' Names:

  • Asia: Country as given name.
  • Bay: A geographic term referring to the indentation of a coastline, or a plant name. Bay Buchannan, the sister of broadcaster and sometimes presidential candidate Pat Buchannan, is the most famous current bearer of this name.
  • Caledonia: Scotland was known as Caledonia in ancient times. This name means "from Caledonia."
  • Catalina: The island off the southern coast of California.
  • China: Country as given name.
  • Florida: State as given name. It comes from the Latin word floris, or "flower."
  • India: Country as given name.
  • Jamaica: Island nation whose name is thought to be from an Indian word meaning "place of many springs."
  • Lourdes: The town in France where the young Bernadette saw visions of the Virgin Mary. Today a renowned pilgrimage site for people in search of miraculous healing.
  • Nevada: State name thought to derive from the Spanish word for "snowy."
  • Paris: City as given name. In Greek mythology, Paris was Helen of Troy's lover.
  • Sharon: A Hebrew place name meaning "plain." It was pretty popular about 40 years ago or so, but now seems dated.
  • Tara: An Irish term for "rocky hill," made famous as the plantation home of the O'Haras in Gone With the Wind. This name could gain in popularity thanks to pint-sized skating champion Tara Lipinski.
  • Tierra: From the Spanish word for "land," deriving from the Latin terra, or "earth." A possible alternative to the popular Sierra.
  • Whitney: This Old English place name, which means "white island," has strong connections to wealthy East Coast families. John Hay (Jock) Whitney, for example, was a noted publisher and philanthropist. Whitney Houston keeps this name alive.

Next: Page 3 >>

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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