Today’s post is going to be on a group of names that, I confess, I’ve never given much thought to. They’re pretty hot right now, though, showing a parent’s hopes, expectations, or religious convictions. Yep, that’s right, today’s post is on virtue names.

I never really liked most of the names in this group; I always thought that they were much too literal at best and holier-than-thou at worst. I mean, sure, you might like the name, but what if Grace is anything but graceful? What if Hope is an eternal pessimist? It just seems too risky. Of course, many parents today are choosing to use these names in the middle, probably due in large part to the fact that many are monosyllabic and go with pretty much anything. One famous example is Angie Harmon’s children, Finley Faith, Avery Grace, and Emery Hope. Of course, I find these too matchy, along with the vomit-tastic surname/boys names’ on girls trend. Anyway, let’s make some lists! (Edit: This turned out to be a bit of a novel, but I think it’s broken up enough that it’s easy to read.)

Pretty Normal

  • Grace– Done to death nowadays. Besides that, I don’t particularly care for the sound; too close to grease. It’s also the default middle name nowadays, along with Rose. Parents always put it after some atrocity such as Kevyn or Sullivan so you can tell it’s a girl. As you can see, I don’t associate this name with the kind of people I share naming views with at all, but objectively, it’s perfectly nice, aside from its unpleasant (to me) sound. I can only really like it after something whimsical, or in the front. Actually, in the front, I’ve no problem with it at all. There, it’s quite refreshing. Please, though, don’t ugly it up by adding an en to the end. Grace is fine on its own.
  • Hope– I actually find Hope really pretty, and a lot more lively than many of the other virtues. I think the P gives it a kick. It’s a little quirky, and the only problem I foresee is the aforementioned “What if she’s a pessimist” one. Overall, it’s a really nice sounding name and would be really refreshing to see on a young girl.
  • Faith– Country. If you don’t have a problem with that, perfectly acceptable, although a little dated sounding, a la Dawn. I don’t particularly like the sound of Faith, though. It’s just too soft and doesn’t seem to have any oomph. I would expect a Faith to either be a country singer or a mousy, quiet kind of girl who doesn’t want to be noticed. The name is just too, I don’t want to say wimpy, but wimpy.
  • Joy– You don’t see any little girls named Joy anymore, do you? It seems a little dated, a sister to Gail, but the sentiment is nice and the sound bright and clear. There are a few problems I see, though: One, if Joy is ever sad or angry, do people tell her to be joyous, or something like that? That would be really annoying. Second, and last, Christmas season. Joy is used so heavily during the season that I can’t imagine it being fun to be a Joy during the season. Otherwise, it’s a pretty name, and not cloying or too expectant.
  • Melody– I’m not sure if this counts as a virtue name, precisely, but it’s got the same literal quality and positive associations, so I’m lumping it in. I actually like Melody. Usually I’m against taking random words are turning them into names, but Melody seems pretty well established, and it does have a very pretty sound. I don’t know, the recent coinage and lightweight meaning would stop me from using it, but I don’t cringe at seeing birth announcements of young Melodys. I also really like the nickname Mel.
  • Chastity– I wouldn’t even call this commonplace if I didn’t see so many Chassitys in birth announcements. I realize that I see a lot of bad ones on purpose, but there are many more than I would have thought. Chastity is bad, Chassity even more so, because everyone can tell that you are just trying to sidestep Chastity, and it just seems like a lazy pronunciation. Just stay away; it’s awful in any bastardization.

More Unusual

  • Felicity– Although I think Felicity is due to rise, it’s rather unusual at the moment and very pretty. I don’t know how far back usage goes, but it seems well established and sounds melodic. Fliss is a lacy nickname, while Flick could work for a spunkier girl. I’m stupid about pop culture associations, but I don’t think that the television sitcom by the same name would be too much of a problem anymore; it ended in the 90s, right? If you want a pretty sound, and don’t care too much about having a heavyweight meaning.
  • Honor– Jessica Alba picked this for her daughter, so I expect it to rise. I don’t have to like it, though. It’s a nice sentiment, but it sounds like “on her” and also a verb. Honor Marie? Well, I’ll try! Anyway, if you like the meaning, go for the similar but more namey Honora, which also comes equipped with darling nickname Nora. It’s much nicer.
  • Glory– I know that at least one reader really likes Glory, in the middle slot at least, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Glory hole. Vulgar? Yes. A big problem? Maybe. I don’t know if people still use the slang or not, but it seems like calling your child John Thomas. Sure, maybe no one uses the slang anymore, but on the off chance, it could be really embarrassing. I also have to admit that I hate the Gl- sound in pretty much all permutations, though. Gloria, Gloriana, Glinda, Gladys: All bother me as well.
  • Liberty– A little heavy handed, maybe, but I think that Liberty is usable these days. In this age of uber-patriotism (and, unfortunately, increasing xenophobia), it would make a statement about your country. However, I feel that naming a child is not the way to make a statement (see Adolph Hitler Campbell), and I would expect Liberty’s parents to be either super conservative (in a Toby Keith “we’ll put a boot in your ass” way) or super liberal (hippie namers). Given these preconceptions that people might have, I’d back off of Liberty, even though it affords a nice chance to use Libby outside of Elizabeth. (All statements refer to America and American politics.)
  • Harmony– I don’t have too much to say either way about Harmony. I think it’s sort of tacky in a way that Melody isn’t. The sound isn’t too pleasing, either.


Old-Fashioned Sounding

  • Clarity– I don’t know if this has ever really been used, but I do like the sound and old-fashioned vibe. I would use Clara over it any day, though.
  • Amity– Here’s another I’m not sure about the history of (lazy researcher reporting for duty), but I think Amity has a history of use and seems like a fresh spin on Amy. It’s got a nice meaning and nice sound, and, well, unless it’s been really recently coined, I see no reason not to use it. I think the sound it distinct enough from Amy that once people are told once, they’ll remember.
  • Prudence– I love Prudence, but wouldn’t use it in a million years. It’s too heavy for a girl nowadays, but I think that the meaning and sound are aces. I would love to see it in a middle spot, but it might still be too much. You can see my thoughts on good ol’ Pru here.
  • Charity– First off, one of my favorite virtues. We should all attempt to help each other and be charitable. Think about how many people have less than you, and how you can help. Even baking a casserole for a new mother can make someone’s day! </soapbox> Anyway, I think Charity has a nice rounded look and sound, and could attract some people who like Chastity, but are put off by the meaning. The only problem I see is lack of nickname. Charlie? Rita? Overall, I would actually love to see more Charitys, as long as their sisters aren’t Faith and Hope!
  • Constance– I like the sound of Constance. It’s a little severe, like Ramona, but totally likable, again, like Ramona. Connie is a charming as it was back in the 50s and makes for a nice little retro nickname. I would really be happy to meet a little Constance. It’s severely underused.
  • Mercy– I like the sound, I like the meaning. Not much else to consider. I think it’s a thoroughly charming name and would love to see more of them. Simple as that.
  • Patience– Eh. I’m actually really lukewarm about Patience. I could take it or leave it, and although my father always told me that “Patience is a virtue,” I think it’s overrated. Can you tell I’m lacking in this department?
  • Verity– I know that we have a reader named Verity, and I hope she reads this post and tells us about her experiences with her name! Unless of course I’ve pulled a stupid and missed that it’s some sort of screen name. I think Verity is usable and has some great nicknames (Vera, Vee).  Most people are probably unfamiliar with it, but they’ll get it after a time or two.

More Modern Coinage (Otherwise Known as Stuff You Should Probably Avoid)

  • Destiny– Stripper, stripper, stripper. No offense to anyone named Destiny, or to any strippers, but it’s just not got a wholesome image. I also think that the concept of Destiny is a little hokey, and sort of a dumb thing to name a kid after.
  • Serenity– This is a brand of adult diapers, right? It’s bad when someone’s first association is that. Pity, because the sound of it and the imagery it conjures are really pleasant.
  • Tru/e– One that I’ll give a pass to. I might be influenced by an adorable Tru that is the daughter of someone I post on a message board with, but I think it’s just fine as a nickname. That’s the key, though: a nickname. It’s a pretty meaning and sound, and it also looks nice on paper. I think it could work as a shortening of Gertrude, but I’m sort of bereft of other ideas.
  • Princess/Precious– Unless your daughter is actually a small dog or some sort of perma-child, no. Just, no. Can you imagine being a 30 year old Precious trying to be taken seriously? Won’t be so precious then! It surprises me that people even think that this is an acceptable name.
  • Neveah– NO. This atrocity to all that is good in naming has been in use long enough. It’s a word spelled backwards, people. Not a name. Sure, Shakespeare created names, but he was Shakespeare and used legitimate Latin roots. Spelling a word backwards does not make a name. It also happens to make the bearer look classless. (Mind you, I’m not talking about economic class, rather taste, if you catch my drift.) “Variant” spellings like Naveah are even dumber, because they take away any meaning this “name” might have. Let it go back to the bowels of hell from whence it came!
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