And you thought Nevaeh was over the top!

Thanks to Joy for suggesting daring noun choice Temple as Baby Name of the Day.

The current US Top 100 includes the classic Grace, the much-maligned Nevaeh and the modern spiritual name Trinity.  Not everyone agrees on which styles of meaningful moniker are appropriate – or not – as a given name, but what’s certain is this: you’ll be meeting more girls called Genesis and Verity, Journey and True.

There’s a hint of virtue name about Temple, but she also has much in common with nouveau noun names like Autumn and Serenity.

Of course, Temple also shares sounds with Temperance, a Plymouth Rock-ready appellation popularized by hit TV show Bones, featuring the  brilliant anthropologist turned super-sleuth Dr. Temperance Brennan.  And both names can use Arizona place name Tempe as an appealing short form.

But back to the meaning of Temple.  The word comes from the Latin templum, and has referred to a place consecrated for worship for centuries. Yet there’s something more there – templum is also the origin of our word template.  Somehow temple implies an idea that goes beyond the structure of a building and touches on the structure of belief itself.  It’s a subtle undercurrent, but I think it is one reason Temple seems like a possible given name, while Basilica seems outlandish.

Of course, this could be my cultural bias at work.  Christians gather in churches (and basilicas, cathedrals, chapels and meeting houses).  Men and women of other faith traditions gather in temples, including Jews, Hindus and Buddhists.  A Christian parent might consider it for a child, but I’m guessing that’s not true if your weekly worship takes place in one.

Is it appropriate? Cohen can set some of us on edge.  Others blanch at Trinity.

If you’re not religious, Temple might seem like an architectural reference, relating to the structures built by the Romans and the Greeks.  If we travel to see ancient ruins and visit sites like the Pantheon, then perhaps there’s room for a secular reading of Temple.

Let’s step away from the wonders of the ancient world to, once again, consider the impact of the small screen.  The driving force behind Temple’s possible adoption as a given name might be a recent HBO biopic.  Dr. Temple Grandin is on the faculty at Colorado State University as  a renowned expert in animal sciences.  She’s also autistic, and has become a leading advocate for neurodiversity – the idea that some forms of autism are not disorders to be cured, but differences to be embraced.  Claire Danes played Gradin in the film.

Count Temple as an extreme baby name, one that won’t go unnoticed.  Whether you’re thinking of her spiritual side, referencing architecture or taking a queue from Dr. Grandin, there’s much to raise an eyebrow over.  But she’s surprisingly pleasing, both in sound and meaning.

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. My husband served a two year mission for our church in and around Tempe, Arizona. We wanted to honor that and it just fit her so perfectly when she was born! It’s also kind of a family tradition. His dad served in Texas and named one of his sons Austin; DH’s brother served in Madagascar and named a daughter Maddy.

  2. Ack!!!! My daughter’s name is not Temple, but it’s so similar it might as well be… it’s Tempe! She is named after the city in Arizona. We love it (obviously) and I loved reading a post about a name that is so close to hers, and even mentions her name as a possible nickname 🙂

    1. I do like Tempe! I’ve heard it as a nickname for Temperance, but I think your daughter is the first Tempe that I’ve heard of. Do you have a tie to Arizona?

      1. My Names is Temple Collette East, I am 44 yrs old and actually the name REAL back story is from a Ireland Folk Story and Only Men are to be given the name, in the Irish culture. My parents are Irish and were religious. I don’t like the name very much at all , because people are so stupid and all ways asking me if that my last name and I say No and they act all like wow that weird. It is great as a very old name from the old country. I go by Collette mainly due to it is easier and no one bothers me about it, Everyone tells me it is a beautiful name and all and that’s nice one they have insulted me and realize they were a dick about it. I am NOT religious and everyone wants to assume it is a religious name, when in fact it is not. The name came before religion was founded.

  3. I’ve come across a Templar before, but not Temple. It’s interesting & sounds nice, but not a choice for me. I’d rather go for Templar or if I’m going for a word name in this style, it’d be Ever.

  4. My brother has a little girl named Temple and I love it! I love the way it rolls off the tongue. The name was inspired by a life-long love of Shirley Temple and a preference for non-girly names – he and his wife also like names like McKenzie, Farran, Winter, Harper and Kennedy. I had never heard of anyone named Temple as a first name before, but I immediately liked it – and I have totally different taste in names. Nice to see this name featured here!

    1. Shirley Temple – never even THOUGHT of it. And compared to popular choices like McKenzie and Kennedy, Temple is far more original and distinctive.

  5. I think its very interesting, but it’s more of a “nice on someone else” name, than one I’d personally use.

  6. I read this post earlier and then tonight I was reading the names at the end credits of ‘Peter Pan: Return to Neverland’. The screenwriter was named Temple Matthews. 😛

    Temple has a male surname vibe to me – having gone to high school with a boy whose last name was Temple. I’ve never heard it as a first name before today.

    I think it would take awhile for me to get used to the name, when it’s also a place of worship, plus the Bible verse: “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God?” makes it a little uncomfortable as a name.

    1. Interesting! And I agree that the “body as a temple” line does make this a little odd.

      1. A temple is a sacred place where God is said to dwell, so that’s the meaning behind “your body is a temple.” I mean, if you can’t name your daughter Joy, why not consider Temple? 😉

  7. I like it. As a word name, it seems less trendy than Autumn. It sounds so nice with Grandin, maybe because none of the sounds in Temple are repeated in Grandin. But Temple would go well with last names starting with T or that have a prominent T sound. Think of Temple Thomason or Temple LeTourneau.

    I wonder if Temple Grandin was named for Shirley Temple??

  8. I had a volleyball coach named Temple and I just fell in love with the name. (Of course she was hip, athletic, and was dating a coach I had a crush on…) I had kind of forgotten about the name until I saw your post. This girl totally pulled it off, and that was probably fifteen years ago. Interesting… Pretty sure I could never convince my husband though… 🙂

  9. I have actually met Temple Grandin and she is the first thing that comes to mind. I think I remember her mentioning somewhere that Temple is a family name on her mother’s side. I think of it more as a surname name rather than a religious name. I like it for someone else.

    1. Interesting – and it makes sense as a surname. Or possibly, to contine JNE’s Cosby Show references, an alum from a certain university in Philadelphia …

      1. Do people do that? My alma mater lends itself particularly well to the naming after thing (Bryn) but I’d feel like such a doofus doing that.

        1. A James Madison alum tells me that many of his former classmates named their daughters Madison. Our boys’ list includes several Jesuit references – Arthur went to Georgetown. Well, and there’s George, too, which is for my uncle. But I like the Georgetown tie.

          I think Bryn, Madison, Temple, George … they’re a bit over the top, but appear perfectly sensible when you think about the people who name their kids things like Crimson, after their alma maters’ sports programs. To me, that’s crazy.

  10. TWO names of the day?! Wow – definitely a rather bright moment in an already thus-far craptastic Thursday – thank you, Abby!

    Hmmmm… Temple. I don’t much like the sound and the meaning is rather ho-hum for me, too (I’m just not a religious name fanatic – I don’t dislike them per se, but if all it is to me is religious, that can be an issue for me). I think that the only real appeal is Temple Grandin… read a paper/article on her work once upon a time years ago and it had been collecting cobwebs in the attic corners of my mind until the HBO movie started to be promoted. She is a brilliant and interesting person. However, it seems unlikely to be the start of popularization of the name – it’s so unique that she seems like THE Temple and, maybe I’m wrong, but I’d doubt the average person will be inspired to name their child by a woman who is on the autism scale.

    One name that came to mind that is equally rare and has that Temp start is Tempest… I always thought Vanessa Huxtable’s real name was pretty cool… stormy though it may be. And, honestly, I prefer the sound of Tempest… and even the meaning, oddly. But neither Tempest nor Temple are for me.

    1. Ack – actually, this was a calendar flub. 🙂

      I thought about Tempest Bledsoe, too – she actually spells her name Tempestt!

      1. Oh, and I felt especially lucky to have caught it while it was there – it really was a shining moment in an otherwise bleak morning yesterday… so I still thank you for the calender flub!