In 2007, more than 5,600 girls were called Destiny, over 4,000 were named Faith and nearly 3,000 were christened Serenity. No doubt about it, noun names – both the old-fashioned and the newly-minted – are fashionable for girls. But are there any options for our sons?
Thanks to Annelise for suggesting the intriguing Reason as Name of the Day.
At first glance, Reason looks like he could be a Puritan appellation. And maybe he was.
It’s tempting to imagine pregnant Puritans sitting around in their austere maternity smocks inventing outrageous names. “What do you think, dear? Is Flee-Fornication too difficult to spell?” But records suggest that these were rarities – the modern equivalent of that one kid named Peanut or Annakin. Even tame virtue names like Charity or Faith were probably worn by well under a quarter of the population.
Yes, there was one fellow in Plymouth called Resolved. And 22 men named John.
And yet Reason is not the novelty that he might appear. He charted in the US Top 1000 in both 1881 and 1885. Ernest – and Earnest – also ranked, as did Royal, Pleasant, Ransom, Fleet and North. Census records confirm that men named Reason were not unknown. One was even married to a woman named Charity.
Some parents might have hoped for a little philosopher when they chose the name, but there’s a simpler explanation. Nineteenth century Americans frequently bestowed family surnames on their children, and Reason is not so rare in the last spot. (In 2000, there were about 2300 Americans with the last name Reason.)
As a surname, Reason has two likely sources:
- Raison can be found among English, Scottish and French immigrants;
- Reisen was worn by some German families.
While Riesen’s origins are debated, Raison is apparently from a nickname given to the sharpest fellow in the village. Just like you might end up being known for your ancient ancestor’s Brown hair, if he was a smarty pants, you might’ve ended up the Raisons.
The word reason comes from the Latin rationem – meaning understanding – and has been used in English since the 1200s.
Of course, the NBA’s Allen Iverson is dubbed The Answer. Reason risks sounding like a nickname, too. Or perhaps it feels like tempting fate – would a boy called Reason be wildly irrational and risk-taking?
But Reason could also make for a nicely modern virtue name – Grace’s brother. Like Deacon, he’s a two-syllable, ends-in-n choice that remains novel – unlike familiar moderns Kaisen or Brycen, so easy to mistake for Braylon and Kyson.
Just make sure you have a healthy appetite for irony. It’s tough to be a klutzy Grace. And it is impossible to imagine a reasonable toddler – whatever his name might be.