She’s simple, sophisticated and classic. It’s hard to go wrong with this choice.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Jane.
Thanks to John the Baptist and John the Apostle, John has long been a staple for boys. Some estimates suggest that as many as 20% of English boys were given the name during the Middle Ages. In the United States, John was the number one name for boys from 1880 through 1923; today he’s still #28. International variants are nearly infinite.
There’s more than one way to feminize John. At #340 in 2012, Jane is among the most stylish, though Joanna , at #324, is slightly more popular.
- Jaine and Jayne
- Jana, Janna, and Jan
- Janet, Janat, Janate, Janeta, and Janetta
The list of notable bearers of the name is quite striking:
- Ms. Austen was a literary powerhouse two centuries ago, and remains among the English language’s most beloved writers.
- Speaking of beloved, there’s Jane Eyre, the heroine created by another nineteenth century writer, Charlotte Brontë.
- Ms. Austen also named Pride and Prejudice’s eldest sister Jane Bennet.
- Jane Seymour was the third wife of England’s King Henry VIII. Instead of execution, the queen lost her life in childbirth.
- Lady Jane Grey wore the crown of England for just a few days in the sixteenth century before her father-in-law’s grab for power crumbled. The luckless Jane went to her death branded a traitor.
- Nineteenth century reformer Jane Addams won a Nobel Peace Prize for bringing social services to the urban poor.
- This was the first name of Agatha Christie’s clever Miss Marple.
- Jane Birkin was a model-actress best known as part of the scene in 1960s London, but we remember her because designer Hermès named an iconic handbag after her.
- Martha Jane Cannary-Burke is known to history as frontierswoman Calamity Jane.
- Jane Goodall is known as a primatologist, environmentalist and activist.
- The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and alt rockers Jane’s Addiction lend her an edgy, musical vibe.
- Actresses include Jane Krakowski, of 30 Rock fame. Ernestine Russell dropped her first name and found fame wearing her middle name as 1940s and 50s pin-up Jane Russell. Jane Wyman won a Best Actress Oscar, and years later, became a television star as Angela on Falcon Crest.
Sprinkle in some saints and a few more princesses and aristocrats, plus plenty of other accomplished women, and her strength becomes clear. There have been so many famous bearers that it is difficult to pigeon-hole Jane as anything. She’s fashionable, literary, royal, religious and bold.
She is complete in four letters, one syllable. She shares the upbeat, no-nonsense vibe of Kate, but unlike Kate, there’s no sense that Jane is a nickname.
With her fashionable “ay” vowel sound and the popular letter J, she even fits with trendy picks like Jayden and Jada. Nicknames Janie and Jenny help soften Jane if she feels too formal for a small child.
If you’re looking for a tailored, restrained name that will be instantly familiar, but shared by a surprisingly small number of girls, Jane is one to consider.