Months as Names

Have you ever noticed how some people are named according to the the calendar?

Many people are named after months.  A certain preceding generation adored the name April; it’s still a popular name, but peak usage was in the 1980s.

Then there’s meteorically-rising August (ranks #195 for boys), which usage suggests may either be a month or a diminutive of Augustus, depending on gender.  Either way, they still refer back to the first emperor/princeps of Rome.  July is named after his uncle, Julius Caesar.

IMG_0623

The Augustus of Prima Porta, as seen at the Vatican Museums

Indeed, what you’ll find is that most of the month names have something to do with the Romans.  January derives from the god Janus (two faces pointing in either direction; fitting!), and was a popular name for girls back in the 1970s.  Interestingly enough, there appears to be a Latin form, Januarius, which is strictly masculine and a saint’s name.  March has to do with the war god Mars, May with the goddess Maia, and June with the goddess Juno.  February’s name does not relate to a god in any way, and what I could find is that it has something to do with purification rituals.  This might explain why out of all the months it’s never been used as a name.

Mars_23_aug_2003_hubble

Planetary – another category of naming

The last four months of the year have to do with their numbers within the calendar before Julius Caesar put January and February the beginning of the year.  September was the seventh month of the year, October was the eighth, and so on.  That they don’t have to do with gods’ names makes it really interesting when these numbered months are bestowed on people.

 

From what I can tell, the most popular month names by raw usage in 2015 were as follows:

  • August: 2059 boys, 242 girls.  As a girls’ name, August is almost popular enough to be in the top 1000. 
  • June: 1127 girls, 16 boys.  June only reentered the top 1000 in 2008, and the return has been swift. 
  • April: 797 girls
  • May: 128 girls.  Variant Mae is quite a bit more popular these days (508 uses), and in that case is likely a nickname for some other appellation. 
  • October: 41 girls.  I actually encountered an adult October recently, which is what inspired me to write this post. 
  • December: 40 girls
  • September: 28 girls
  • July: 27 girls, 11 boys.  9 girls were also registered as Juli, which is the German word for the month.  In any case, historical usage of the names July and Juli seems to tie to Julie‘s popularity.
  • November: Also 27 girls
  • January: 22 girls.  January was briefly a top-1000 name between 1976 and 1979.  Actress January Jones was born during this period.  Apparently the namesake was a character in a 1975 movie called Once Is Not Enough.

March no longer appears in the data, and actually when I looked it seems it was a boys’ name before a girls’ name.  February has never registered more than 5 uses in a given year for either gender. 

 

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7 thoughts on “Months as Names

  1. That post you put up just reminded me of a couple of traditional Japanese months that made it as names today:

    Mutsuki (睦月) for January
    Yayoi (弥生) for March
    U(d)zuki (卯月) for April
    Satsuki (皐月) for May
    Ha(d)zuki (葉月) for August

    Going back to English month names, I tend to like *ber names (October, December etc.) and I also tend to like August for a girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are beautiful! I think I’ve seen Yayoi and Satsuki in American data for older years! There was a time when Japanese names were fairly prevalent in the U.S. I never knew what any of them meant though. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      Like

  2. There were also two female saints named Januaria. However, that probably has no bearing on January’s use as a feminine name today. Most female saints are ignored or forgotten, though some do have interesting names.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There were also two female saints named Januaria. However, I doubt that has any bearing on the use of January as a feminine name today. I’ve found a few interesting names among saints & wonder what accounts for some seemingly reasonable names being unused through time.

    Liked by 1 person

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