This post was originally published on July 5, 2011. It was substantially revised and re-posted on February 2, 2015.
Move over, Lily. This is the hottest flower name of the moment.
Thanks to Heather for suggesting Violet as our Baby of the Name.
Violet: Shape-Shifting Botancial
This name is a shape-shifter. Like Lily and Rose, Violet is sweetly antique. But that vibrant V and bright ‘o’ coupled with an -et ending lend this name a completely modern sound.
Back to the flower: violet is iole in Greek and viola in Latin. It became viole in French, and then violette. The plant isn’t always purple, but since the fourteenth century, violet has applied to the color as well as the flower.
It has a long history of use as a given name, tracing back to the Middle Ages.
Some colorful figures have worn the name:
- Violet Jessop made a career as a stewardess aboard ocean liners, surviving the sinking of the Olympic. And the Titanic. And the Britannic, too. Despite a trio of near-misses in just a decade, she kept on working on ships for years. And they called Molly Brown unsinkable …
- Born Helen, but known by her middle name Violet, the Baroness Asquith was the daughter of a prime minister, a close confidante of Winston Churchill, and grandmother to actress Helena Bonham Carter.
- Daisy and Violet Hilton were conjoined twins, and famous vaudeville performers in the 1930s.
- Violet Wilkey was a child star in the silent film era, appearing in dozens of films between 1913 and 1917, retiring at the age of fifteen.
The name was a Top 100 choice in the US through the 1920s, and remained in the Top 200 through the 1930s.
Violet: In Fiction
Children’s literature and movies also probably play a part, thanks to characters like:
- One of the orphans in the long-running series The Boxcar Children, originally published in the 1920s.
- Champion gum chewer Violet Beauregard wins a golden ticket to tour Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory along with Charlie Buckett, only to end up as a giant blueberry.
- Violet Baudelaire is older sister to Klaus and Sunny in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
- Pixar’s The Incredibles introduced a family of superheroes in hiding. Firstborn Violet is a shy teenager who really can become invisible – a play on the phrase “shrinking violet” – used to refer to one who is timid.
It was also the name of Screech’s girlfriend on early 90s television hit Saved By the Bell – played by a young Tori Spelling.
Lest you think this name lacks an edge, there’s also Milla Jovovich’s turn as sci-fi warrior Violet Song in 2006’s Ultraviolet.
No wonder that Violet had reached #122 by 2010.
Then came Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, on Downton Abbey, played by the scene-stealing Maggie Smith. Downton debuted in early 2011 on PBS in the US and became a sensation.
In 2012, the name re-entered the US Top 100 at #89.
Violet: Hollywood Favorite
- Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner’s firstborn, Violet Anne, arrived in 2005.
- Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl and wife Jordyn Blum gave the name to their daughter in 2006.
- Then came Dixie Chicks’ Emily Robison and actress Poppy Montgomery.
- Most recently, credible rumors suggest that this is the name chosen by actors Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds for their late 2014 arrival.
Violet: Future Top Ten?
With all of these powerful associations, the lovely Violet is no longer rare. The name ranked #69 in 2013, and seems poised to climb higher still.
But will this name crack the US Top Ten?
It’s too early to say, but right about now, Violet is definitely a name to watch.
What do you think of Violet? Is this name perfect, despite being increasingly popular? Or do you think it’s too common to consider?