Names of the Week: Hawthorne and Nancy

Hawthorne was suggested by Tinder, Nancy was suggested by Ena

Yes, the Names of the Week feature has returned! Let’s kick it all off by looking at Hawthorne, the name Hawthorne strikes me as an interesting choice, it’s a soft-sounding all-male name, which is hard to come by today, and I find myself quite liking it. He is traditionally a surname in the English-speaking world, coming from Old English origins, and meaning where Hawthorn trees grow, not exactly earth-shattering, is it? But it gives me the urge to want to meet a Hawthorne/Juniper sibset.

The most notable Hawthorne to most will likely be the novelist, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Currently, trend-wise, Nathaniel is becoming more popular, as he has been consistently in the Top 100 since 1977, and this may be where Hawthorne can come into his own as he has not been in the Top 1000 in the past 100 years, so if you love the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, but not the popularity of his first name, then Hawthorne could certainly be an option. Or if you have a Juniper and need to name her little brother.

And then there’s Nancy, our female name of the week. I have a Great Auntie Nancy, circa 83 years old, and she’s currently suffering from illness, so I dedicate this post to her, and her health.

Nancy has a long history of being a nickname for other names, in the medieval times, she was the diminutive of Annis, the latter of which itself was a diminutive of Agnes, a name that comes from Greek, meaning chaste. Agnes is also associated with the Latin word agnus, which means lamb.

But back to Nancy. Circa the 18th Century, she began her use as a nickname for Ann(e), but this usage has since faded as Nancy is now regarded as a name in her own right. By the 20th Century she overtook Ann as the more popular name, and peaked in 1950 at #6 in the US Top 1000, and in the same year she also ranked as #846 for lads, however, nowadays [2009] she sits at a respectable, yet lower ranking of #469.

Part of Nancy’s demise could be due to the old slang, Nancy boy, meaning homosexual or effiminate. I can’t vouch for the usage outside of the UK, but it is certainly recognisable here, even today. And in Barbados, Nancy means without a cover, meaning someone who talks a lot.

But let’s not forget the city in the Lorraine region of France, Nancy, which derives from another source, as although evidence of human settlement dates back to 800 BC, in 1050 a small, fortified town was built there by Gerard, Duke of Lorraine. This town was named Nanciacum, in medieval latin, which has contracted over time to become Nancy.

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Hawthorne and Nancy

  1. Shae

    I never realised that Nancy was a nickname for Ann. How interesting, I have a friend who recently gave birth to a baby girl, named her Adriana, and then nicknamed her Nancy.

    As for Hawthorne, he’s a literature choice, but can also easily fit in with the other ‘cool’ psuedo-male names of today: Stone, Hunter et al.


  2. Ketty

    I have a Great Auntie named Nancy as well! She has two sisters: Anne and Agnes. What are the chances, eh?


    • Kendra

      Woah! I met a Sean, Ian and John sibset once, I guess these all come from a time before intense interest in names.


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