The Puritans of early New England sometimes gave their children virtue names to reflect their strong sense of morality. Examples of virtue names include Mercy, Temperance, Reliance, Experience and Patience.
As you can imagine, many of the virtue names that were fashionable during the Puritan era are no longer stylish. Names like Obedience, Silence, Chastity and Modesty tend to sound archaic -- even sexist -- to modern parents. And names Prudence and Constance, which were popular during the first half of the 20th century, sound dated today.
But certain virtue names have remained popular. The most enduring names seem to be the simplest: Grace, Faith and Hope. In 2009, these names were the 17th, 80th and 233rd most popular girl names in the United States, respectively. (The Spanish word for hope, Esperanza, ranked 966th.) Faith and Hope together also happened to be the the 2nd most popular pair of names for twins.
Charity, Patience and Felicity have recently become more common as well. Charity and Patience weren't often used in the mid-1900s, but they have since been revived. Felicity, on the other hand, is now becoming popular for the first time due to the success of the TV drama Felicity.
Even more interesting than the re-emergence of old virtue names is the creation of new ones. Serenity has soared in popularity over the last several years, and it now ranks 94th. The same goes for Liberty, 521st, and Harmony, 254th. (Harmony can also be viewed as a musical name.)
Masculine virtue names are popping up more frequently as well. Clement may be long gone, but Sincere has been popular for boys since the year 2000 (ranking 700th in 2009). There's also Justice, which has been used in equal measure for both boys and girls since the mid-1990s. It now ranks 428th for boys and 557th for girls.
Finally, there are the virtue names that have never been popular on a national level, but that have a good shot at making the list one day. Both Amity and Verity are pleasant-sounding names that have remained under the radar, for instance. I've also seen babies named Merit, Freedom, Wisdom and Charisma.
|10,000 Most Popular Baby Girl Names|
Want more than the top 100 or top 1,000 baby girl names? Here's a complete list of the 10,000 most popular baby girl names in the nation! Click to learn more.