Cropped from Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, Princess o...
Augusta, Princess of Wales; Image via Wikipedia


Is this regal appellation due for a revival?

Thanks to Annabel for suggesting Augusta as Baby Name of the Day.

Augusta started out as an honorific, the feminine equivalent of the Roman Augustus. Octavian, grand-nephew to Julius Caesar, was the first to receive the title; but it wasn’t quite like king or emperor. Augustus merely cemented his position as the top dog of his day.

The titles trickled into use as a given name among the nobility. In the 400s, a well-born Italian woman converted to Christianity. Legend has it that her father flew into a rage and killed her. She’s remembered as St. Augusta of Treviso.

More modern times:

  • Eighteenth century Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg became Princess of Wales. Her husband, Frederick, died before taking the throne and their son became George III;
  • The same couple also passed the name on to their daughter, Princess Augusta Frederica. Her daughter, Caroline, would marry the future George IV;
  • George III passed the name on to daughter Princess Augusta Sophia;
  • George III also had a son called Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. He married Augusta of Hesse-Kassel. They named their second daughter Augusta. Their third daughter, Mary Adelaide, was the grandmother to Mary of Teck, wife of George V.

If that’s not enough Augustas – and Georges – the first and last German Empresses wore the name, too.

Most American parents probably think not of castles and tiaras, but of golf courses. Augusta, Georgia is home to prestigious golf tournament The Masters. The city is named for the first princess on the list. (She’s also in the portrait above.)

You can find Augusta in many other places, too. The most intriguing might be Zaragoza – evolved from a settlement called Caesaraugusta, established by the emperor who first bore the title.

There’s also a grape, a spider, and five ships of the US Navy. And yet the image that endures tends to be that of Lady Bracknell, the interfering Aunt Augusta in Oscar Wilde’s 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest – English, proper, well into her middle ages, and maybe a little bit judgemental.

Parents have yet to rediscover Augusta. Despite hovering just outside of the US Top 100 in the 1880s, Augusta has not ranked in the Top 1000 since 1944. But August – a solid Top 100 pick for nineteenth century boys – is experiencing a revival, climbing from #608 in 2007 to #433 in 2009. Could his sister be so far behind?

Or could his sister be, well, August? Garth Brooks named his second daughter August Anna. And 2002 novel turned 2008 movie The Secret Life of Bees featured sisters called May, June, and August.

Then again, not long ago, Eleanor and Beatrice were considered hopelessly stodgy, so let’s not count Augusta out. Nickname Aggie would fit right in, and it is just a short trip from Savannah to this equally charming Southern city. If you’re looking for an overlooked name with history aplenty, Augusta is one to consider.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Proud mama of Augusta Josephine … Otherwise known as Gussie, Gus, GusGus, Gussie Jo, Gussie Gator, Gussasaurus, and instead of the terminator we have The Gussinator… Younger sister to Antonia Suzanne. She is my wild child, my hurricane, my mini-me… she is a sass mouth, strong willed, smart as a whip, hilarious and talented… And beautiful!