She’s a virtue name with a horror movie twist.
Thanks to Sharmila for suggesting Amity as Name of the Day.
Grace and Faith are Top 100 picks in the US. Spiritual choices Destiny, Nevaeh and Trinity rank right up there with them. So it is little wonder that some parents are now searching for meaningful monikers that are less often heard.
Amity comes to us from the Latin amicus – friendly. It’s certainly a good trait for a child. Better still, friendship feels nicely universal. Chastity, on the other hand, or Temperance are likely to be a bit of a burden (or worse, a challenge!) during those teenage years.
Amity has more in common with Felicity (#698 in 2008) or even Charity (#793), Verity (unranked) and Mercy (unranked). They’re good girls, but they’re fairly uncontroversial virtues. And if you want meaning without dogma, then Amity is the kind of choice not clearly lifted from any particular set of beliefs.
And while the name is simple to say and seems vaguely familiar, she’s never ranked in the US Top 1000 – another appealing characteristic for many parents.
As a personal name, it is tough to pin down the first-ever Amity. She was almost certainly used by Puritan families. But it isn’t as if all Puritan parents were dreaming up wildly inventive monikers like Flee-Fornication – most stuck with Anne and John. Nonetheless, Amity is regularly included on lists of virtue names, and it is perfectly possible – even likely – that she was first used in the sixteenth century.
What’s certain is that she appears sparingly in the US Census records from the nineteenth century onwards. Amity is also a popular place name pick, found in at least eight US states and Australia.
The map is where she runs into trouble. During the 1970s and 80s, friendly Amity had something of a sinister side. First a rogue shark plagued the good people of Amity Island in 1975’s Jaws. Two years later, The Amityville Horror scared moviegoers everywhere with the supposedly true story of a house haunted by vengeful spirits in the very real Amityville, New York.
Big screen badness aside, Amity could fit right in while still standing out. After all:
- Her three-syllable, ends-in-y construction is a perennial favorite for girls, from classics (like evergreen Emily and old Hollywood Natalie) to gender-bending surname picks (think Mackenzie and Avery) and novel word name choices (here’s Destiny again, as well as Trinity);
- Amity could be a fresher version of 70s favorite Amy;
- Amy also offers a possible nickname choice, just in case Amity feels overpowering;
- With Amelia racing up the popularity charts, Amity could offer an alternative;
- And, of course, she’s a virtue name – Grace’s little sister, after Mom and Dad wearied of hearing their firstborn called Gracie T. in nursery school.
If you can overlook the horror film connections – and they haven’t hurt Carrie or Regan – Amity emerges as an appealing choice. She’s current and rare, straightforward and surprsing all at once.