Depiction of St. Perpetua’s Martyrdom

Some names are so beautiful that their rareness escapes all logic.  Perpetua, I perceive, falls in this category.  This name derives from Latin and means “continual” or “everlasting.”  Pronunciation-wise, the last two syllables ‘tua’ can be said like “chew-uh” or “tyoo-uh.”  Possible nicknames for Perpetua include Perri, Pet, Petra, and Petal

In 2015, only 13 baby girls were named Perpetua in the U.S.  That’s still comparatively high when you realize that it’s only appeared in the SSA birth data in the past 10 years.  Peak usage was in 2013 with 17 girls.

Perhaps strangely, Perpetua doesn’t even appear in the latest England/Wales data.  Why do I say ‘strangely?’  Well, I was under the impression that Perpetua was something of a British-ism.  Off the top of my head, I immediately think of the Bridget Jones character Perpetua (who admittedly was snobbish, though she’s somewhat redeemed by her approval of Bridget’s telling off Daniel) and the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Card figure Perpetua Fancourt…both obviously British, or at least not American.   

That aside, I do believe most modern usage is religious in nature.  Perpetua semi-frequently appears on Sancta Nomina, which is a Catholic baby naming site (do check that out, even if you’re not Catholic.  Lovely naming styles!).  Indeed, Perpetua is the name of a famous early saint who was martyred at Carthage in the early 200s, during the reign of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus.  St. Perpetua is also believed to be one of the earliest female Christian writers; she wrote a prison diary, which you can read here.

What do you think of the name Perpetua


Reserved Reuel


Reuel Colt Gridley

Why isn’t Reuel a more popular name?  Plenty of other obscure Old Testament names like Amaziah and Joah are more popular and getting trendier.  Moreover, it’s one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s middle names, giving it some serious nerd cred.  And for spiritual folks, it has a fantastic meaning: “friend of God.”  Yet in 2015, only 8 boys were given this name in the U.S.  I would expect it to register at least 30 times, but apparently there were fewer than 10.  What’s up with that? 

In the Bible, the name belongs to more than one person.  Apparently Jethro and Reuel were the same person (though there’s some debate).  Another Reuel was a son of Esau.

The name Reuel also has a number of fairly prominent bearers outside the Bible.  Here are some:

  • Senator Reuel Williams of Maine, Democrat (1783-1862).  His parents were named Seth and Zilpha, and his grandparents Abigail and Benaiah (wow!).  You can read more about him here, in the Memoir of Hon. Reuel Williams.
  • St. Regulus or St. Rule (4th-century?) – Curiously, Reuel is listed under the profile of a Greco-Scottish St. Regulus at, though this profile itself originated on Wikipedia.  I wonder if someone simply took alternate spelling Rieul (from Regulus, not Reuel) and thought the saint could be called Reuel too.  Nevertheless, the thought of using Reuel to honor a saint is interesting!
  • Reuel Colt Gridley (1829-70).  During the Civil War he raised a quarter million dollars for wounded Union veterans with a sack of flour!  
  • Jairus Reuel Aquino (born 1999) – A teen actor from the Philippines. 

What do you think of Reuel?  Do you think it could take off?