The baby name Autumn combines all the appeal of the season with a tailored, stylish sound.
Thanks to Kelly for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
As soon as the calendar turns to September – often well before sweater weather sets in – we’re drinking pumpkin spice lattes and walking past displays of fun-size Snickers bars at Target.
Autumn, completed with Back-to-School and Halloween, shorter days and falling leaves, can be kind of a big deal.
But up until the 1500s, it wasn’t autumn at all. Or even fall. Instead, it was called Harvest in English.
The Latin autumnus gave us the French automne, and eventually changed the season’s name in English, too. The meaning is uncertain, though it’s sometimes linked to the Latin auctus – increase.
Interestingly, lots of languages didn’t have a name for autumn at all until relatively recently. In Greek, it translates to “waning of summer.” The Old Irish word means “under-winter.”
But that seems like old news to us today.After all, we’ve used the term for centuries.
Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” includes, of course, a section for the season, composed around 1720.
John Keats penned the poem “To Autumn” in 1819.
Literary references abound.
In the 1960s, the influential independent label Autumn Records released the original version of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love,” along with plenty of other chart-toppers from the era.
If that seems like an obscure reference, well, it turns out that the 1960s was a good decade for all things Autumn.
BY the NUMBERS
A tiny handful of people received the baby name Autumn in the first half of the twentieth century. A few appear in US Census records even earlier than that, both male and female.
Then came the 1960s. Nature names started to catch on. Not just the baby name Autumn – and Summer – but choices like Laurel and Misty made the mainstream.
The baby name Autumn climbed faster than many, debuting in the US rankings in 1969.
It reached #180 by 1979, #91 in 1997, and has appeared in the US Top 100 ever since. In 2016, the baby Autumn peaked at #65.
It’s now a little less popular, at #82 as of 2020.
That is a lot of girls answering to Autumn.
It helps that the letter A is so steadily popular for girls’ names in the US.
Au names – the symbol for gold, from the Latin aurum – include Audrey, Aubrey, Aurora, and Aurelia, to name just a few.
FIRST GENERATION AUTUMNS
The baby name Autumn has been popular long enough that a handful of women have made it more familiar.
Canadian-born Autumn Phillips married Peter Phillips, eldest grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. Their daughter, Savannah, is the queen’s first great-grandchild. While the couple are now divorced and were never the best-known members of the royal family, it’s a high-profile use of a once surprising name.
There’s also actor and The OC alum Autumn Reeser, and a handful of up-and-coming actors and others.
Just like you’d expect from a name ranked in the Top 100 since the late 1990s.
SEASONAL and STYLISH
Overall, the baby name Autumn feels seasonal and stylish.
It’s easy to imagine choosing the name for a daughter born in September, October, or November. Or maybe your wedding anniversary or another significant date falls during the fall.
Frills-free, familiar, and as lovely as a sunny, cool October afternoon, there’s plenty of reason to imagine that we’ll be naming our daughters Autumn for years to come.
What do you think of the baby name Autumn?
First published October 31, 2011, this post was revised substantially and re-published on October 6, 2021.
When you’re describing the origins of the word Autumn, I can’t help but think that I can see the name Harvest catching on!
Autumn Backs says
My name is Autumn and I sincerely don’t know how I feel about it. I’ve been Googling the origin of my name and trying to find out how popular it truely is. I’ve only met one other Autumn and she was GORGEOUS! I forget my name is a season and I don’t feel like that I would look like my name is Autumnm though! 🙂
The more I hear it, the more I love it. Favorite season. Tailored sound. Not frilly at all. It kind of hits most of my check list.
Don’t forget Autumn at the very end of 500 Days of Summer!
I totally agree that the name is sounding much more tailored these days, especially with the proper pairing of first and middle. I have known several Autumns, though, and all of them have been quintessentially hippie. I’ve wondered if they selected their names, or their parents did. I think it’s totally changing, though (not that hippie is a bad thing.) I also worked with a September and she was a total character! And I, too, would love to hear a Spring! I knew a Winter, same story as all the Autumns, but I’m positive she selected her own name. Winter seems to be going the very same route in terms of being more tailored, even more so than Autumn, I think. All things nature are lovely in my book!
I know an Autumn and a Summer. Now I hope to meet a Spring and a Winter. 🙂
I always had an odd dislike for the name, probably because by my generation it was “too common” for my taste. And because I’ve always thought of the season as fall, and it has never been my favorite time of the year anyway.
But in recent years I’ve actually come to love the season in it’s own right. The end of high school meant that fall no longer means the dreaded return to that particular agony (and did mean a return to college, which is a good thing), and then in college I added a certain Somebody to my life whose birthday happens to be in September. It’s truly a beautiful time of year, which might actually have redeemed the name for me. But sadly, the aforementioned Somebody had an ex named Autumn, who effectively re-ruins the name for me. She was not a very good girlfriend, and I probably won’t ever shake the association. If we decide to reference the season, we’ll have to do it in another way. Thankfully, I’m a huge fan of most of the fall months as names. September, October… mmmm 🙂
Sarah A says
I know two Autumns – one is 20, the other is 4 months old. I’m pretty sure that the baby was named for her parent’s favorite season. They’re outdoorsy folks who wanted a nature name that wasn’t unfamiliar or too out there; I think they got it right. For me, Autumn is one of those names that because it’s never cracked the Top 50, it doesn’t feel overused. I agree with Julie – Autumn isn’t unexpected, but it’s lovely and the season is beautiful.
Since Jr. High, I’ve collected a mental list of words that are fun to say: attach
Raquel Somatra says
I’ve known several lovely Autumns, so the name does indeed sound more common to me. Of all the seasons, the name Winter sounds most appealing.
I know a teenage Autumn and I never really thought about her name being a season. We mostly call it Fall around here anyway.
There are tons more nature names that I’d pick over Autumn (and Summer… Summer is just pushing it, for me, somehow). But it’s a nice name overall and sort of becoming a classic.
I knew an Autumn in school and I’ve always, always loved this name.
Funny enough though – since it’s true that kicknames are hard to come by for this name, the Autumn I knew went by her first and middle name (Autumn Rae) as her nickname!
Coincidentally, Autumn Phillips’ maiden name was Kelly 😉
It’s still a newish sort of name here, and not hippie chic so much as sleek American.
That’s fascinating – but I can see it as a very American name, and it certainly strikes a nice balance between the feminine and the frilly. Compared to the pretty, vintage Lily or Daisy, Autumn really comes across as strong and modern.
Oh yes, I think it seems very modern, but not glitzy. It reminds me a bit of Lauren in sound and style.
In the fifth grade I had a teacher’s aide whose fn was November (last name was a place name, think London). One day, we were doing a project where we had to do something with our names and I asked Miss November what her middle name was and she replied “Autumn. My parents were hippies.” I was too young to really register this but now I look back and think, really? November Autumn London?
Anyhow, the name Autumn is really pretty, but too common for me 🙂
My doctor’s daughter is named Season, and I think that’s probably something I’d pick over Autumn.
I went to school with an Autumn who was a total rhymes-with-itch (and spoiled the name for me, unfortunately). There was also a Summer, Winter and a Spring. How can you tell there’s a Waldorf school in my hometown LOL