Ugly, you say? Pah! I love Prudence, and therefore will now devote an entire post to its charms.

So, let’s talk about the factual nuts and bolts. On the etymology bit, Prudence is very easy to trace, considering it’s a word as well. Very easy, as such: prudens–> Prudentius–> Prudentia–> Prudence. As we all know, the word indicates discretion, wisdom, and care with one’s own affairs, a good virtue to have, indeed. It was revived by the Puritans in their craze for virtue names, and was in the Top 1000 for the US up until 1948; as far back as the charts go (1880), it was never highly popular, though, peaking at 415 in 1880. This makes it familiar without being overly common, I think. The Beatles song keeps it more familiar than it would be otherwise, I assume, although I don’t listen to the Beatles.

Now, why do I love Prudence so? I don’t rightly know, to be honest. I will say that it does not remind me of prunes in the least; rather cranberries, for some odd reason, and I love cranberry juice, so that’s a good thing. Honestly, I just like the sound and associations, well, association, I have. I always imagine Prudence as an late teens/early 20s blonde Victorian woman with perfect long barrel curls, haughty but beautiful, in a red dress holding a riding crop. Of course, this is entirely due to one of my favorite books, which I’ve plugged here before; Misfortune by Wesley Stace. I can’t find a picture of my Prudence, but I’ll let you know if I find her. Of course, the Prudence in the book acts in a matter entirely contrary to her name, and is no character to want to take after, but I find her enchanting nonetheless; her icy beauty is what sticks in my mind.  Because of this association, I can’t see Prudence as an old woman name, as many seem to do. I don’t understand that anyway, seeing as Prue is such an uncommon name; not many people can know actual Prudences, can they?

Another reason I love Prudence is the easy nickname Pru/e. I find it strong and serious, but playful in its shortness. I also love that it is a slight reference to someone I love very much; my friend’s mother, maiden name of Proulx, pronounced in the same way. I can never decide which spelling I like best. Pru is short for an insurance company around here and looks awfully abrupt, while Prue is less intuitive and is a step closer to prune and prude. What do you think?

Visually, Prudence is a royal purple with pink in the beginning. It’s a fun but dignified color combo.

I don’t really keep any combos on hand for Prudence, but here are some attempts:

First Name

  • Prudence Rosemary
  • Prudence Elinor
  • Prudence Joanna Eve
  • Prudence Viola Lucienne

In The Middle

  • Rosemary Athena Prudence
  • Helena Prudence Ivy
  • Helena Prudence Margo
  • Susanna Prudence Elinor
  • Cecilia Prudence
  • Penelope Prudence Rosalind (I’ve been loving alliteration lately)
  • Penelope Rosalind Prudence
  • Viola Prudence

That’s all my brain can formulate right now, but I may be back with some more. Prudence just makes me so happy lately. I want to pair it with Jillian but haven’t discovered a satisfactory way yet.

So, all in all, I love this ugly old bird of a name more than I should, perhaps. I wouldn’t use it in the front, but I think it’s a great and unexpected middle choice, and I would use it in a heartbeat. Problem is, most of my other names tend to be “elderly” and just age when placed next to it; I don’t want Mildred Syndrome on my hands.

So then, readers, what do you think of Prudence? I realize many find her irredeemably ugly, so please, articulate why? How would you feel upon meeting a young one? An old one? Any combo ideas? Come on in and talk!