August: Baby Name of the Day


August: Baby Name of the Day

August sounds like high summer, but this name traces its history back into the ancient world.

Thanks to Arthur for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Grand

August brings to mind the height of summer – cookouts and barefoot walks on the beach. But make no mistake, this name is rather lofty.

The very first emperor of the might Roman Empire answered to Octavian. Born the great-nephew of Julius Caesar, he never actually claimed the title emperor. The Roman Senate called him Augustus. It comes from either the Latin augere – to increase, or possibly augur – to see the future. It means venerable or grand. All these centuries later, it still projects nobility.

And accomplishment, too. Octavian would reign for four decades, doubling the size of the empire, both by conquest and alliance. By the end of his life, Rome ruled territory from Britain to India.

Saints and Kings

As if the emperor wasn’t enough, the name has been popular with saints and kings.

The fourth century theologian, Augustine of Hippo, penned Confessions, The City of God, and more works still influential today. He’s not the only saint by the name.

Three kings of Poland make it even more regal.

More recent history gives us bestselling author Augusten Burroughs, and acclaimed playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Plus France adds two Augustes to the list: sculptor Rodin and painter Renoir.

By the Numbers

Through the late nineteenth century, this name appeared in steady use, in the Top 100 in the 1880s, fading to the Top 200, and so on. By the 1970s, it nearly slipped out of the Top 1000 rankings entirely.

But then the name was rediscovered.

Storybook Boys

2007’s sweet Romeo-and-Juliet tale August Rush gave the name a boost. It’s the story of Rush, the musical genius love child of a classical cellist mama and a rock-and-roll daddy.  Through a series of improbable events, neither of his parents know their son exists until he ends up, a presumed orphan, enrolled at Juilliard on a scholarship.

It’s the given name of the hero in Wonder, though RJ Palacio’s character answers to Auggie. So does the son of Cory and Topanga on Girl Meets World.

Back to the Top 100?

Like River and Rowan and so many names borrowed from the natural world, it can potentially be unisex. And since month names like May and June belong to girls, you might expect to hear this one on girls, too. That’s true – but the numbers overwhelmingly put Auggie on Team Blue.

One more intriguing fact: just Gus recently debuted in the US Top 1000. Since Gus is another go-to nickname possibility, it’s further evidence that parents are wild about this group of names.

In 2013, more than 1,000 boys received the name. As of 2018, that number had more than doubled to 2,264 births – just counting boys, and only for this form of the name.

And why not? It all adds up to a name that has quite a bit to offer – a modern, word-name feel, combined with a long history of use.  The name feels style, but also comes with quite a bit of meaning. Sure, that meaning seems ambitious, but this name’s vibe is ever so down-to-earth.

It makes a great name for a son born during the summer – or any other time of year!

What do you think of August?  Do you prefer one of the longer forms of the name?  Would you shorten it to Auggie, Gus, or use it in full?

First published on August 14, 2008, this post was revised substantially and re-published on August 4, 2014 and again on July 18, 2019.

August: Baby Name of the Day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

33 Comments

I am very likely in the minority here, but I love this name for a girl. I also really like Augusta, but there is something about just August on a girl that I just seriously love! (Thanks to a Name Sage post some time ago!)

And normally I’m not a huge fan of names with extensive male history on girls (or vice versa), though not overly opposed either, but I’m a total hypocrite with August, lol. I’d use Bellamy on a boy in heartbeat too 😉

Bellamy is pretty even between genders. August is far more popular on boys though, but it can be unisex. I think May and June work just fine on boys too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if August started gaining a bit more for girls, but I don’t foresee it ever really taking off. I think Bellamy will start tipping more and more towards girls. But who knows!

I hadn’t thought about that May or June on a boy, but I agree they would work! Especially cool if they were honor names for women in their lives.

I would love to see this updated in 2018. We’re having a son next summer and planning to name him August… but the rising popularity and use on girls is giving me pause. Is this handsome gem losing its luster?

I mean if you’re that sensitive over your son sharing a name with a girl (highly unlikely since the ratio is like 10:1), then probably skip this one.

This is probably WAY too late, since the original comment was from 2018, but …

Names that are well-established for boys seldom “go girl.” You’ll meet girls named Ryan and Cameron, but it’s remained firmly Team Blue.

The names that we think of as “stolen” are typically not being used heavily for boys when they’re discovered for girls. They rise briefly for both genders, but sometimes tip mostly-boy or mostly-girl at some point.

But lately, even that phenomenon is changing. Peyton was used more heavily for girls, but never really stopped being used for boys. Riley, too.

So I wouldn’t sweat this one at all.

My spouse & I have always loved the name August & we always knew it would be the name for our first child. Our due date is 01/17 & we do not know the sex, but we like August for a boy or girl. If a boy, we like August California. If a girl, we still love August, but I feel that the middle name should be on the feminine side since August is a strong sounding name. The only problem is I can’t land a girl’s middle name to go with August! I’m drawn to names that are aspirational (places, arts, film). Any suggestions?

August is on my list, I adore it. It’s been in the Top Thousand consistently in the US (it was on Nameberry’s never-off list, actually…) so it’s a nice blend of uncommon-but-not-unheard of or flash-in-the-pan. And it’s the name of a Civil War abolitionist hero of mine, August Bondi, who rode with John Brown.

I don’t like Auggie or Gus particularly though so I tend to pair it with J middles as I find AJ endearing. (I know how name-nerds generally feel about initial nicknames, so I’ll show myself out…). I rather adore August Judah or August Jethro.

It was one of my favorites, but it’s becoming more common in my area. It’s not really on my list anymore. A good friend loves the name Augustus. It is his favorite and number one choice, should he ever have a boy. Also, a cousin just had a baby boy and named him Logan Augustus. Gus was the father’s nickname, unrelated to his birth name. His father had called him that growing up. I believe it was a Lonesome Dove reference.

I love Augustus in the middle spot! And wow, I like the idea of elaborating on a nickname to find an appealing honor name for a child.

My wife wouldn’t let me name my son August September, so we settled on August Hugh. Also, I never would’ve named him August had been born in that month. Call me contrary….

August is a great name, and I love August Hugh.

August September, though!? Well, you could’ve wanted to call him August Danger. 😉

I know this is an old thread, but what a great combo! We’ve decided on Hugh Augustine if this baby is a boy 🙂

Thanks Nicole! I found it and it’s ordered, I should be able to wach it sometime next week!

And definitely hang tough, girl. Josie had a heck of a time with teething herself and I sympathise fully. It does pass, keep your chin up! (hugs) 🙂

Nicole, I’m mostly amused by the fact that we both think Coolio has a traditional spelling. 🙂

Poor Everett. Hang in there! I’m sending positive baby sleep vibes your way.

Sorry Lola . . . Everett is teething so I’m running on very little sleep and about 10% brain power.

August Rush. That’s the movie. I have no idea who or what August March is or where I came up with that one.

LOL about baby E. Koolio! I think I would be most upset that it’s Koolio spelled with a K. I detest non-traditional spellings.

Another, it’s quite true – we know *at least* two boys called Charles, Theodore, Max, Gus and Henry. And James and William! Oh, we know many, many boys called James and William! I don’t know a single Jake, though, so it goes to show that even the most popular names are less common than they once were.

I’m almost finished crunching the Top 1000 boys’ names, but here’s a sneak preview: Ethan drops to #9. He’d have dropped farther, but a handful of Ethens bolstered his ranking. (We know an Ethen. I never dared asked why the alternate spelling.)

What’s interesting about boy names is that crunching the list has been PAINFULLY hard. The rules I used for the girls’ list don’t quite work. Aiden and company are #3, Jayden #4, Caden #16, Brayden #34, Hayden #80. All together, that’s quite the blob. But I think they’re probably too different to count as one name. I counted Isabel and Izabella together without much doubt – but Jack and Jackson? Or Jack, John, Jackson and Jonathan?

My instinct is that there’s a narrower range of sounds used in boys’ names, and so while they appear to be distinct, they sound more similar. Which makes The Classics and the New Classics – James, Christopher, Ethan, George, Zachary, Henry, David – sound a bit more crisp and distinctive, even though they’re not.

I almost fell off my chair when I realized what the #1 name was for boys … add in all the respellings and short forms, and any way you count it, I think it is *probably* Alexander. Hopefully Alexei will not be scarred for life.

Thanks, Verity. That might have been it. I’ll have to find it at WalMart or Amazon. I read the reviews and yeah, Mr. Holland’s Opus is a fave, so maybe this will be too! (And August has officially made my list: August Milo George, debuting at #4!)

Yep, and boy is it a common one. Ethan James. Mr. Average. The problem is that I love classic names for boys, and if you do classic these days, chances are you’ll know a few Jameses, Ethans, Charleses, Williams, etc. But hey, I can look at myself in the mirror without flinching; I did NOT name my son Hayden, Braedon, Caeden, Jaiden, Aidan, or Payton. Meanwhile, we are friends with Leo, Christopher, Charles, & Joseph and don’t seem to run into many doubles at all. I have yet to meet another toddler called Ethan. I wonder how truly popular the name Ethan is when there are so very many ways to spell Jaedyn…

Hey ~DH~ (Nicole, are you? I forget). Where can I find this “August March”? I went to IMDb and can’t find it searching on google either. It’s weird. Would you post a link?

Not a thing in the world – except that it’s wildly popular, and my husband knows that my least favorite thing about having a son called Alexei is that it’s really too close to Alex, Alexis, Lexi and on and on and on.

I think that’s why my brain offered up Ethan Koolio. I could hear my husband defending it. “But it’s literary! You love Edith Wharton! And I chose a quirky, cross-cultural middle name that ends in o. That’s good, right? I thought you’d like it!”

And I’d be frantically gesturing, while still attached to IVs, saying “But Ethan’s been in the Top Ten since 2002!”

He’d reply, “What? I don’t know anyone called Ethan!” I’d start listing off toddlers and small boys called Ethan that we know, and he would say, “Oh. Yeah.”

Then he’d say, “Well, what about Koolio? You loved that Michelle Pfeiffer movie!”

And I’d sigh and say, “Yeah. But Coolio is spelled with a C.”

“It is?”

I think the female equivalent would be to wake up and discover that he’d named our daughter Emily Reagan or maybe Hannah Graclyn. I’m not married to the kind of guy who would ever come up with Jaidyn Messiah or J’Enyssiah Nevaeh, but I could see him choosing a name that’s SO close to what I would like … and falling short.

You have a son called Ethan, don’t you?

I’ll just be hiding under my dining room table for the rest of the afternoon.

Oh, Lola, I like Augie, too!

August is pretty high on my list, especially because my husband is Polish. (As in, that’s his first language and most of his family is still there.) It would be effortlessly cross-cultural. Just when I thought I’d landed on the perfect boys’ name, however, he informed me that the trio of Polish kings bearing the name were considered disappointing, not national heroes. He was thinking more of Saint Augustine when he suggested the name.

The other night I had a nightmare that the ultrasound was wrong and baby #2 was a boy. Nothing wrong with that, but for some reason I was in a coma following the birth and my husband completed the birth certificate, and chose the name Ethan Koolio for our son. I woke up in reality just as I woke up in my dreaming – gasping for breath, and stunned that my darling husband would let me down so very, very much. 🙂 So I keep boy-name shopping, even though I don’t think we’ll ever need another.

Oh, Lola, August has a pretty high spot on my list too! It’s one of the few names my husband and I can agree on. He tends to like over-the-top, ancient names like Maximus and Apollo. I tend towards softer, more nature inspired names like Hugh and Kai. August is one that appeals to us both.

The movie that was out last year “August March” made me a bit nervous, as I think the name kind of made it’s way into the consciousness of the general public. But, I have yet to meet a little August and I only passingly hear it mentioned.

Such a great name . . .simultaneously handsome and pretty, ancient but perfectly at home in among more modern names. I really adore it.

I like August. A lot. 🙂 To the point that he’s begininng to show up on my own lists. I like his snap and history. He also honors my late mother indirectly, she was born 6 August, 1940. And boy, was she ever THE Leo. 😀 She might appreciate the nod.

I don’t care that it’s being swiped a bit by the girls, like Kelly, August will forever be masculine to me. But isn’t there some country singer that has a girl August too? *shrug* Don’t care. August feels wrong on a girl and I really don’t think Gussie is cute, despite having a Great Aunt (By marriage) called Gussie for Augusta. I love Gus on a boy and think Augie is cute in a “Augie Doggie” sort of way. In fact, calling a little August, Augie is what *really* makes me smile.

Yep, you nailed August, and I completely concur.