Thanksgiving means Pilgrims, and that makes us consider virtue baby names.
Some are right at home on Plymouth Rock, the kind of names the early colonists chose to set themselves apart. Others are modern innovations, the product of the 1960s counterculture, or twenty-first century families’ search for meaning.
Some might feel tough to live up to. Imagine a toddler named Patience! Others straddle the line between virtuous and bold. Bravery qualifies as a virtue, but it’s a very different vibe than Mercy or Modesty.
I’ve rounded them all up here, choices that might appeal for a baby due around Thanksgiving – or really, any time of year.
Virtue Baby Names: Straight Outta Plymouth
No, everyone on the Mayflower wasn’t named Flee-Fornication Constancy Browne. Mostly they were called John. And lots of other bog standard English names. But religious dissenters did embrace some fabulous names, from the downright unwearable to those worthy of consideration today.
- A list of real-world Puritan baby names, from please-don’t picks like Humiliation to ones that could very well appeal today, like Verity. The popularity data is a few years old (and from the UK), but it’s a fascinating read.
- Names like Desire, Wrestling, and Resolved really did arrive in America on the Mayflower.
- More on truly unusual Colonial baby names with a virtue vibe.
- A super-long list from NameNerds.
- The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources has stumbled on some amazing finds, too. I mean, Sapience!
- Cleveland Kent Evans’ deep dive on Grace, which might just be the original virtue name.
Virtue Baby Names: Over the Years
Of course, plenty of names were chosen for their positive meaning ages before Martin Luther nailed his theses to the Wittenberg doors. And many have been in use over the years, quietly.
- This list focuses on choices that wear well for boys, especially those with a little bit of history, like August, Loyal, and Abel.
- There are at least two possibilities on this Art of Naming list that I’ve never previously considered.
- Nameberry has a list that feels mostly old-school.
- Hopewell! Promise! Just when I think I’ve read them all, I’m reminded that great virtue baby names abound …
- Brit + Co goes with more of a mix, from bold Blaze to throwback Justice.
- Some thoughts from Swistle on a brother for Hope, with lots of great suggestions in the comments, too. She has a second list here, specifically presented as middles.
- Thoughts on what it is like to be named Faith.
- British Baby Names does a lovely round-up on Grace.
Virtue Baby Names: Modern Favorites
Language changes. Our ideas about what makes a good life change, too. And so no surprise that, while some of the throswback names remain in use, others fade, and still more are added to the list of possible options.
- One of my first lists of virtue names took a modern spin on the topic, with picks like Shelter, Zen, and Chance along with some more conventional choices.
- Some of my favorite modern virtue names include Clarity, Revere, and Journey.
- This list from Ren offers some fresh perspective. I agree that Revel and Jovie totally qualify.
- Patriot, Tenacity, Finesse and many more out-there options on this long list from NameNerds.
- Love Serene from this list.
- Mom and the Pie has a great mix in this video.
- Love True but not sure about it as a stand-alone name? Nancy’s list can fix that.
- SJ Strum offers up another eclectic set of names. I think Sage might be my favorite, but I’m intrigued by Aymes, too.
Virtue Baby Names: The Boldest
And recently, I’ve been wondering if all of those bold, even braggadocious boy names are really part of this trend, too.
- Is Saint something to aspire to, or too much to live up to?
- Are epic boy names like Maverick just twenty-first century virtue names? Maybe sometimes …
- Roses and Cellar Doors translates plenty of our favorite virtues into other languages for some completely unexpected ideas.
- Another great list with international flair.
Virtue Baby Names: So Many!
I’ve written about a bunch of virtue baby names over the years, including:
- Resolute, which sounds like a ship, but might be an amazing middle.
- Hands down, this one is my favorite Kardashian baby name ever – and True also counts as a great virtue name.
- Maybe Arrow sounds a little violent, but I think it actually feels surprisingly virtuous.
- I think Foster qualifies as a virtue pick, even if it’s quite subtle.
- Serenity makes me think sci-fi, but it’s a virtue name through and through.
- New to the US Top 1000 as of May 2019: Promise. Sounds right at home on Plymouth Rock, but it’s really quite novel.
- Pharrell convinced me that this name qualifies.
What are your favorite virtue baby names? Do you like ’em old school, twenty-first century, or somewhere in between?
Originally published on November 22, 2018, this post was revised and re-published on November 11, 2019.
Virtue names that I like are: Comfort, Constance, Faithful(I’ve met a little girl named this, once.), Felicity, Halcyon, Hope, Prosper, Remember.
My favourite virtue name is Clemency.
I found three generations of women named Experience on my family tree. One was a midwife who traveled up to 60 miles on horseback to deliver babies in New England. She was a Quaker, not a Puritan. I have no idea what she was called in daily life — Exie? But it strikes me as a rather profound name, rich in meaning. My ancestor accumulated life experiences, all right.
Other names I found: Deliverance, Wait (called Waitie), Mourning, and the usual Hope and Charity.
Andrea, what amazing finds in your family tree! And oh, how fascinating to imagine what Experience’s life must have been like …
The Mrs. says
What a Thanksgiving treat, Abby! This has been incredibly fun to read and revisit on a day when there’s time to sit.
Paul B. says
My more outre favorites are Makepeace (m) and Remembrance (f). I love the nickname possibilities for Remembrance: Mem, Emmy, Reba, Memma, Ancy, etc.
A. Waguespack says
Still love Tenacity nn Teensie for a girl!