Here’s a fact of modern baby-naming: names rise and fall in families. The Claires have been on an upswing lately, lifting Claire and Clara alike. The Lilys were everywhere in recent years, Lily and Lillian, Lilliana and Lilith.
Sometimes it happens all at once. Other times, there’s a clear front-runner, a name that everyone loves, and eventually inspires parents to seek something just a little bit different.
The rise of the Coras is one of my predictions for 2015, but it’s possible that we’ll see the 2014 data and realize that this name family has already arrived.
Why do I think she’ll be big?
- The Downton Abbey effect. The graceful, gorgeous, kind-hearted Countess of Grantham is Cora, a name I fall in love with more with every passing season.
- The hundred-year rule. Conventional wisdom holds that it takes about a century for a popular name to fade, and then feel fresh again to a new generation of parents. Except it isn’t clear when we start counting! Cora was at her peak in the nineteenth century, suggesting that her moment has come and gone. But Cora remained in the US Top 100 through 1912. If that’s the mark, then Cora’s comeback, starting around 2005, is right on schedule.
- The numbers confirm it. Speaking of 2005, that’s the year that Cora’s rise in the rankings began. The name has gained steadily, reaching #127 in 2013. That’s mainstream enough that lots of parents will shortlist Cora – and more will start to look for similar-but-different alternatives.
- Our interest in nickname-proof names. Sure, Cora can be Pixie or Bunny or Sweetheart. But nickname-proof names like Emma and Ava have appealed to parents in recent years, and I think we’re very much in a WYSIWYG baby naming moment – parents what the name as seen on the birth certificate to be the name used in everyday life. Cora fits in nicely.
- March Madness Baby Names 2014. Okay, I’m not sure that the winners of the AppMtn annual baby names tourney has any meaning. But Cora did carry the day in 2014.
Enough about why Cora could be big. Assuming this name continues to climb, what are the just-slightly-different Cora names to consider?
Cora – A quick note about the original: Cora made her debut in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Cooper probably based it on the Greek Kore, another name for Persephone, the Greek goddess known for her annual retreat to the underworld, signaling winter, and triumphant return, ushering in spring. Today, she’s not quite a maiden – the Countess of Grantham is a grandmother – though she’s not exactly a grand dame, either, since that role is reserved for Violet, the formidable dowager played with such style by Maggie Smith. Ranked #127 and climbing in 2013.
Coral – Coral was Nemo’s mom in Finding Nemo, and a fitting name for a (doomed) clown fish. Coral reefs are gorgeous, making this a nature name with ties to the ocean. It also feels more dated than many of the names on this list. Unranked in 2013.
Coralie – A pretty French spin on Coral, and a name that feels nicely on trend. Alice Hoffman used the name for her part-time mermaid in The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Unranked in 2013, but has seen an increase in use in the past decade.
Coraline – Coraline has some history as a given name related to Coral, but her use in recent years is thanks to writer Neil Gaiman. His story Coraline was originally about a little girl named Caroline. He mistyped the name, and found that he preferred his mistake. His book was published in 2002, and a movie adaptation was made in 2009. The name went from obscurity to the US Top 1000 following the movie’s release. Ranked #714 and rising in 2013.
Corazon – Corazon has lots of potential – it’s a word name (Spanish for heart), associated with love, but also faith. The name has a tailored sound, with that zippy Z. And yet, Corazon hasn’t found much favor in recent years. It brings to mind Corazon Aquino, the housewife who became politically active after her politician husband was assassinated, and eventually served as a reform-minded president of the Philippines. Unranked in 2013.
Cordelia – Lear’s loyal daughter has a lovely name, and one that is surprisingly seldom heard. With Juliet and Olivia in vogue, why not Cordelia? Unranked in 2013, but trending upwards over the last decade.
Coretta – Originally an affectionate form of Cora, Coretta is now associated with Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a civil rights leader who shared her husband’s work and continued it after his death. Unranked in 2013.
Corinna – Perhaps the oldest given name on this list. It was the name of an ancient poet from the sixth century BC. Ovid used the name for a poem published sometime around 15 BC. Robert Herrick’s “Corinna’s going a Maying” was written in the seventeenth century. Unranked in 2013.
Corinne – Another possible ancient form of the name, and the reason I think the Cora family is going places. Corinne had a good run in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and then made a modest comeback in the 1950s. That could put this one solidly in grandma name territory now, but it isn’t so. Ranked #739 and rising in 2013.
Corinthia – A rarity I found in a book, seldom used for any real people at all. And yet, with long names for girls in favor, the elaborate Corinithia might wear well. It means “from Corinth.” William Faulkner used the name for a fictional character. It might also be associated with St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians in the New Testament. Unranked in 2013.
Corisande – Corisande is first recorded in a Spanish romance from the Middle Ages. It probably comes from the Spanish word for heart – corazon, which appears earlier on this list. A handful of uses in history, literature, and opera have kept us aware of the name, but it is virtually unheard in the US. Unranked in 2013.
Corliss – I hear “core less” and “careless” when I say this name, and yet, it’s rather appealing, too. It means joyful, and was originally a nickname given to a person seemingly without worries – free from cares. The name had a brief moment in the sun during the 1940s and 50s thanks to Meet Corliss Archer, a radio program about an upbeat teenage girl. It later became a comic book and a television series, too. Corliss could fit right in with names like Collins, Sutton, Harper, and Sloane today, but has yet to be re-discovered. Unranked in 2013.
Cornelia – Writer Simcha Fisher just named her tenth child Cornelia, and I’ll admit – it made me reconsider the name. Along with Corinna, a contender for the oldest name on this list, thanks to the daughter of famed Roman general Scipio, born in the second century BC. Scipio was a member of the distinguished Cornelius family. They may take their name from a word meaning horn. Unranked in 2013.
Courtney – Courtney was all the rage from the 1970s through the 1990s, and is settling solidly into mom name territory today. Chances are Courtney – and Tiffany and Ashley and Brittany – are heading for a long hibernation, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to leave her off this list! The good news: if you’re trying to honor a sister Courtney, you’ve got oodles of options. Ranked #535 and falling in 2013.
Kora – Any of the names could be respelled with a K, and sure enough – Kora is rising quickly. Ranked #756 and climbing in 2013.
Kori – There are dozens of possible spellings for Kori. Corey and Cory still rank in the boys’ Top 1000. But there’s just one in the current girls’ Top 1000, and that’s Kori. This one is more of a surname name derived from an Old Norse personal name that a cousin to Cora, but the sound is undeniably there. Ranked #943 in 2013.
What’s your favorite Cora name? Do you think we’re likely to hear more of these in the coming years?