Sunday Summary 10.16.16

Happy Sunday!

Let’s start out on a controversial note. Kate questions whether it’s really so rare to name our daughters after our mothers. (And grandmothers and aunts and such.)

My take?


I’ll start with my personal experience. Italian naming customs dictated that daughters were named after grandmothers, every bit as much as sons were named after grandfathers. My mom’s Italian family tree is packed with names that repeat over the generations for this very reason, on sons and daughters alike. When I named my daughter after my mother (and sister), it seemed like a throwback choice. Traditional, even.

I don’t think the practice was exclusive to the Italians; history mentions countless mother-daughter combinations who share the same given name throughout Europe.

Looking at parts of the United States – especially the American South – handing down family surnames was common for both genders.

So what’s behind this sense that family names are only bestowed on boys?

I think it’s more likely that naming our sons after their fathers and grandfathers was simply the last part of family naming custom that survived into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

That means that naming daughters after mothers and grandmothers is a tradition to be reclaimed – not a revolution that we need to begin.

What do you think?

On to the name news:

That’s all for tonight! As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

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 think the original comment that set off that Sancta Nomia post, while somewhat open for interpretation, is talking more specifically about mothers naming their daughters after themselves. And I think it’s true that that is less common from women than from men. My father was a Junior, my uncle had the same first name as my grandfather (mom’s side), and one of my brothers got Dad’s name in the middle. He continued that particular trend with one of his sons. Meanwhile, I’m named for a grandmother and a great-grandmother, not my mom. I think the closest most women get to this is giving their maiden name as a middle name. But I think we are unlikely to see many female Juniors.

    1. Good point. If women did start to routinely name their daughters after themselves, I wonder what suffix they would use: junior? Juniorette? Seniora/ Juniora? Though that might get confusing for Spanish speakers. Or would they go the ancient Roman route and use major/ minor or prima/ secunda? And if one of them changed her surname because of marriage or divorce would both of them drop the suffix? Maybe that’s why women don’t usually name daughters for themselves: they can rarely pass on their full names. Even in cultures where married women keep their surnames, it’s the father’s surname getting passed down.

      1. The suffix of Jr. on women isn’t without historical merit. Granted, the single example I can come up with off-hand comes from the Salem Witch Trials, so we’re talking truly historical. One of the main accusers was a girl named Ann Putnam Jr. But she’s not a great example in this case, because she doesn’t answer any of the other questions. The Jr. comes from her father’s surname. She actually seems to be recorded simply as Ann Putnam, so the Jr. was just to tell her from her mother of the same name. She also never married or had children, so she didn’t change her name or pass it on further. But she can’t be the only example. I just live in Salem, so she comes up frequently for me.

  2. I think it is just as common to name girls for relatives as it is boys. My nieces’ middle names all honor different grandmothers. A niece on my husband’s side has the feminine form of her grandfather’s name. My great aunt was named for two grandmothers. Three of my cousins all have the same middle name, Ruth, to honor a beloved aunt or grandmother. Several women in my husband’s family were named for the same great grandmother in one form or another. Our daughter’s middle name is Andrea for the D’Andrea family. We probably wouldn’t have named a son to honor them, because the surname looks feminine. And who are the boys named for? In my family there are no juniors, but lots of maternal surnames in the family tree, as well as names for grandfathers and uncles. And we’re not Italian. We’re British and German.

    I really enjoyed sancta nomina’s refreshing anti-feminist perspective.

  3. I’m going to say it – I really hope Buddy doesn’t trend. It’s what I, and almost everybody I know, calls any unknown dog. Or kid, for that matter. i don’t even like it as a nickname, at this point – it’s just too generic and diminutive.
    And while I’m very glad that people ask for name help because I enjoy giving it, I do think in the end people should make their own decision. I also think Felicula sounds like a vampire drag queen, and maybe there’s another Roman name that’s more wearable. Hypatia, perhaps?