Sonnet: Baby Name of the Day

Sonnet: Baby Name of the Day

Sonnet might be that perfect stands-out, fits-in choice.

Thanks to Kaela for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

POEM

A sonnet is a type of poem, a form with specific rules. There are three major types, and then a bunch that break the rules but still count. The average person might not be able to recite much after Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?, but would likely recognize Sonnet as a literary reference akin to Poem, Poet, or Fable.

The word itself comes from the Italian sonetto – little song, ultimately from the Latin sonus – sound. The term first appears in English in the sixteenth century, but sonnets had been written in Italian since the 1200s.

BUT IS IT A NAME?

The short answer: not really.

Except we do find some examples in the past.

The late sixteenth/early seventeenth century French poet Thomas Sonnet de Courval came from a minor noble family. It’s heard as a surname in the US, too.

In those cases, it might come from the Saxon name Sinod, though it more often became Sinnott. Still, it explains de Courval and others. The Saxon name comes from sige – victory – and nod – brave, elements that endure in names like Siegfried and Leonard.

One last possible origin: the -et often signals a diminutive form. (Annette is little Anne.) Sonnerie is the French word for ring, as in the ringing of the bells, also from Latin. That makes it another cousin to Sonnet.

In any case, it’s virtually unused as a given name until the early 1970s.

EXCEPT …

The name was first given to five girls in 1972, and 14 the following year.

What explains the debut?

Avon released a fragrance called Sonnet in 1972. We know that perfume names are influential. Avon launched Pavielle, Toccara, and Charisma, to name just a few. So that’s one possibility.

A second (small) spike in the name’s use came in 1997. That’s a year after actor Forest Whitaker and wife Keisha Nash welcomed daughter Sonnet Noel.

In 2014, 17 girls received the name – a new high. As of 2018, that number dipped to nine.

WORD NAMES

Despite limited use as a given name, this is the age of River and Harmony, Autumn and Cadence. It’s easy to imagine parents short-listing Sonnet, too.

Consider:

  • It shares the ‘t’ ending of Top 100 picks Charlotte, Violet, and Scarlett.
  • Like fast favorites Serenity and Willow, it’s a modern word name.
  • It’s both unlikely to be nicknamed and easily shortened to Sonny/Sunny. (Or maybe … Nettie?)
  • While it’s a word name that we all recognize, it’s seldom heard in regular conversation.

That’s a formula for an appealing choice.

UNISEX

Of course, just like Lyric – currently ranked in the US Top 1000 for boys and girls – and Story, there’s no reason this name couldn’t belong to the boys, too.

For now, it remains a rare choice, creative and intriguing. But it very much sounds like a name today, and could wear well on a child.

First published on January 19, 2012, this post was revised substantially and re-published on January 8, 2020.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

16 Comments

There’s a similar sounding but likely unrelated feminine name “Sonnette” which is found in baptismal records of the Protestant church at Caen in the 1560s and 1570s. It’s not yet in the DMNES because its origin is opaque, but I’ve always loved it!

Sonnet is probably my very favorite girl’s name at the moment. I can’t quite get my husband on board though.. I love the suggestion of Sunny as a nickname.

I have a Sonnet! She was born in 2009. My husband actually suggested the name which surprised me. People assume that I must be very literate; so if anyone chooses this name make sure you are familiar with 14 lines, iambic pentameter, and Shakespeare! And it wouldn’t hurt to have one memorized 🙂

A little girl at my church is named Sonnet; her nickname is Sunny. I like that it is unexpected without being strange.

Aw, thanks for doing this post! Sonnet’s always been one of my favorites (hence the request), but now only more so. 🙂

I love these names. I really like Sonnet (especially the romantic Sonneto), Fable, Story… Poet’s okay, I think I prefer Poetry. I can’t see my husband agreeing to any of these names, but a gal can dream, right?

I kind of like Sonnet. It wouldn’t be something I would not put really high on my list…it would stand out like a sore thumb around here, but I like it. I would love to meet a little Sonnet, but it seems like a girly name to me.

I love Sonnet! She is on our list for middle names. My husband proposed with a Sonnet and when we got married we had one read at the ceremony. At times when I am away on business or for special holidays he will send me flowers or candies with a sonnet attached.. so this name has special meaning for us. I also love all names that end in -et and -ette.. great name today!

I actually prefer Poet to Sonnet. Not sure why, but I like the way it sounds.
Maybe it helps that I know a Poet in real life. She is three and completely adorable.
Sonnet would fit in nowadays perfectly though and be a nice break from some of the current names.

Sonnet is a fantastic name. Sweet, beautiful and an easy name to live with. Now, if only there was a way to convince my husband…

I know a Sonnet. She is a bit older than me (about 30). Her siblings have more ordinary 70s and 80s names. I have liked the name ever since. I am not always a word name fan, but this one is nice.

I’m in love! I’ve liked names like Poet, Fable, and Pen for a while now, but Poet and Pen is kind of a little too in the spotlight for me with Frances Pen and Poet Sienna Rose out there. Even though Forest Whitaker named his daughter Sonnet, I surprisingly haven’t heard any mention of her. Unlike Pen and Poet…
I’m actually thinking it wouldn’t be so bad on a boy…he could have the nn Sonny. 🙂

I love it!! (I’ve also self-published an entire book of original sonnets *grins*). I’d also suggest Sarabande (a Renaissance court dance) with the nn Sara built right into it.