She’s a hippie chic name at home in Windsor Castle.
Thanks to Kelly for suggesting Autumn as our Baby Name of the Day.
Autumn debuted in the US rankings in 1969, made it to #180 by 1979, #91 in 1997, and peaked at #72 in 2001, before slipping to #81 in 2010.
In other words, Autumn is a modern marvel. Virtually unknown as a name until the late 1960s, she’s caught on rapidly. In 1969, it took just over 100 (118 to be precise) instances for a name to make it into girls’ top 1000. A handful of other nature names, like Laurel and Misty were also catching on, but the entire category is definitely more mainstream in 2011. Autumn was among the vanguard.
In fact, Autumn is so expected these days that it doesn’t read especially outdoorsy. It is a tailored choice for a daughter, not one that implies you’re spending all your free time hiking and camping in the wilderness.
The au vowel combo appears in lots of other names, both the established and the up-and-coming:
- Hollywood glam Audrey;
- Borrowed from the boys Aubrey and Aubree;
- Disney princess and dawn goddess Aurora;
- Ancient Aurelia;
- Gender neutral newcomers like August and Auden.
Au also appears in the middle of mainstream monikers like Laura and Paula.
But where does the word come from? The simple answer is the Latin autumnus, possibly from an earlier Etruscan word, via the French automne. In English, the season was called Harvest into sixteenth century, and it is still commonly referred to as Fall, too.
There’s a John Keats poem “To Autumn,” and countless other literary references. There’s also Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and the short-lived, but influential Autumn Records, the San Fransisco label responsible for the release of the original version of 60s staple “Somebody to Love” as well as the Beau Brummels’ hit “Just a Little.”
While Autumn wasn’t in common use until the later part of the twentieth century, there are Autumns to be found farther back in history. US Census records reveal a handful of bearers of the name, split between men and women.
Today, two notable women might come to mind:
- Canadian-born Mrs. Peter Phillips is mom to Savannah and granddaughter-in-law to the queen of England;
- Best known for her turn on The O.C., actress Autumn Reeser is mom to son Finn.
There are plenty of reasons to consider naming a child after the season. You might be really into pumpkin patches and sweater weather. Your daughter might arrive in October. Or maybe you and your other half said your I-Dos in the fall. It turns out that despite our Tons of references to the season that are lesser known. September is among the most popular months for weddings.
Despite all of these compelling reasons to consider Autumn for a daughter, there’s one strike against her: if you’re trying to land on a truly unusual name, she’s no longer the surprise that she might’ve been twenty years ago. But she remains a good option for parents seeking a frills-free, nickname-proof option that speaks to such a gorgeous season.