A Fourth of July fireworks display at the Wash...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Plenty of kids answer to Julia and Julian, and month names are stylish, too.  So how would this one wear for a child?

Thanks to Katie for suggesting July as our Baby Name of the Day.

July comes to us directly from Julius.  Wait, make that Iulius, as in Caesar.  The Roman ruler was offed in March, which was the first month of their calendar.  His birthday fell in Quintilis – the fifth month.  But after he met his fate, the fifth month was renamed Iulius in his honor.

The name of the month evolved into its current form sometimes around the eleventh century.  It was Jule in Old French, and came to England with the Normans.  It still wasn’t July as we’d recognize it for centuries – the pronunciation shifted, and it picked up the extra syllable.  But it steadily replaced the Old English word for the month.

When we see July today, we instinctively know that it isn’t a respelling of Julie.  But I’m not sure that was always the case.  She appears in the US Census records pretty steadily, suggesting that just as we can find women named Sallie and Sally, as well as Molly, Mollie, and Mallie, it is probable that July sometimes sounded like the familiar personal name, not the month.

But the month feels like it could inspire parents in 2013.  It’s the height of summer in the US, a season of sunshine and picnics.  Independence Day has inspired at least a few girls named Liberty, and Ruby – the month’s birthstone – as well as other seasonal choices like Summer are mainstream.

It all suggests that we could be just one high-profile use away from July catching fire.  But so far, all of the Julys have been pretty low-key:

  • In 1968, Ann Head penned a tale of teenage pregnancy.  Ages before Junoshe named her pregnant teenager July.  July’s beau was named Bo Jo.  The novel became a made-for-TV movie, Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones.  But it seems like she might have been called Julie in the movie version.
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Western Lonesome Dove gives the name to a man – and the sheriff.  Author Larry McMurtry apparently borrowed his sheriff’s unusual name from another fictional sheriff in 1968’s Bandolero!
  • One of the orphans in the musical Annie answers to July.  She’s a bit character and I can’t confirm her name isn’t Julie, but it appears to be consistently given as July.

While this one is rare for both genders, July is just slightly more common for girls.  That’s not to say July couldn’t work for a son – there’s the Western connection, to say nothing of Caesar.

If you’re welcoming a summer baby and stumped for an inventive first – or middle – name, July might be one to consider.

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. I really like July! Both me and my husband have birthdays in July so it’d be a sweet name for our child. Instinctively I’d want to give it to a girl. But Sheriff July from Lonesome Dove would make me think boy! Being unsure of which gender I prefer would probably take this off the first name list. Also, when saying the month I pronounce it Juh-LIE, barely making a ‘J’ sound on the first syllable. But in Lonesome Dove, they say JOO-lie with a very strong southern accent.

  2. OMG I LOVE THIS NAME! How have I never thought of it??? I know a January, an April, an August… AMAZING. I would love to use Juliet on a girl someday but husband has had two different Julie ex girlfriends so that’s out. JULY. I see it as a boys name though.

    We’ve already got our first boy name set in stone. Pregnant right now and we’ll find out soon if it’s a boy or a girl. We’re wanting three children so… I’ll save this one.


  3. Back in “my day” Julie was a top ten name, but I’ve still had my name pronounced or spelled as July more times than I wish to count. I was annoying when I was a kid, but now I think July on a girl would be charming.

  4. I think of it as a boys’ name because of Kathryn Lasky’s Starbuck family series. It was about two sets of twins, one boy/girl pair named July and Liberty, and their little twin sisters, Charley and Molly, who were actually named Charlotte and Amelia. Loved the series, especially because my sister is Amelia, and my great aunt was Charlotte. It sparked an interest in quirky names.