If Story is a name, why not this poetic choice?
Thanks to Kaela for suggesting Sonnet as our Baby Name of the Day.
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.
With girls answering to Cadence and Harmony, perhaps literary terms were the logical next frontier. Actor Forest Whitaker has a daughter called Sonnet, fitting right in with his other word-named children: Ocean, True, and Autumn. Flickr co-founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield have a daughter called Sonnet Beatrice.
Despite these high profile uses, the name has never cracked the US Top 1000 – in fact, Sonnet is in sparing use, given to just eight girls in 2010.
But there have been Sonnets in the past, and many of them have been men. I suspect that they’re wearing a family surname. The late sixteenth/early seventeenth century French poet Thomas Sonnet de Courval came from a minor noble family. There are Sonnets and Sonnetts in the US, too.
It could come from a lost Saxon name, Sinod, the origin of the surname Sinnott. Sonnet is close enough to be related. The elements sige – victory and nod – brave – were popular in many given names, and still survive in Siegfried and Leonard, though Sinod is long gone. Or the -et ending could signal a diminutive form – though that’s really just a guess. Sonnerie is the French word for ring, as in the ringing of the bells, but I’m still not sure if that’s a coincidence, another musical association.
Alternate origins or not, Sonnet has been almost exclusively female since its reintroduction sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. Since the numbers have always been so small, it is nearly impossible to gauge – but there are a handful of women by the name who are all grown up now, suggesting that Sonnet was discovered by a few parents back in the day.
After all, word names aren’t really new. Heather and Crystal seem ordinary, even dated, today. But they were the height of style in the 1970s. 2010’s Top 100 includes Lily, Grace, Jasmine, Destiny, Brooke, Trinity, Faith, Autumn, Serenity, and Genesis. From the traditional to the nouveau, word names have always had a place in the dictionary and on our daughters and sons.
Thanks to her similarity to Violet and Scarlett, Sonnet feels like a very wearable choice – poetic, frills-free, and different, but not difficult to spell or pronounce. If you’re looking for an ahead-of-the-curve rarity, Sonnet is one to consider.