Whether you're expecting or you simply like to plan far, far ahead, reading about baby names, whether charming and timeless or spunky, is always fun. Some of our favorites as of late? We're finding ourselves drawn to destinations east of the Mississippi River. In fact, they offer so much lyrical beauty and retro-cool vibes that we're tempted to legally change our own names.
Which is why we're taking a deep dive into the history of 11 of our favorites and highlighting 44 extras with a similar twang. Some are inspired by Southern cities, a few pay homage to musicians and literary greats from the region, and others simply exhibit the charm and natural beauty of the landscape. So scroll through for some Southern baby name inspiration to call your little one something extra special.
Behind the Name: Since Hollis is a surname, it's great if you're looking for a traditional moniker that also has a modern twist and endless nickname opportunities. It's especially popular in South Carolina, where a local community hero Pete Hollis was a teacher, mill worker, and YMCA chapter leader.
The Meaning: "Dweller at the holly trees"
Similar Monikers: Ellis, Emerson, Harper, and Sawyer
Behind the Name: It was super popular in the early 20th century and has German roots, but it also reminds us of the bayou. Adelaide is sweet and full of endless nickname potential. It's slightly more uncommon than popular names like Madeline, Alice, and Eleanor. Something about it also feels regal, but not in a snobby way.
The Meaning: "Noble"
Similar Monikers: Mirabella, Alma, Aurora, and Annabelle
Behind the Name: Dixie is a nickname for the whole American South, and it has a bubbly, spirited sensibility. It can also be an abbreviation of longer names like Richard, though we tend to think of the Dixie Chicks.
The Meaning: There are few theories, the first being that it's a nickname for the states that fell below the Mason-Dixon line, while the other origin story is that it came out of the French word for $10 bills used in New Orleans.
Similar Monikers: Daisy, Dottie, Paxton, and Tillie
Behind the Name: If you're from Tennessee and want to instill some state pride in your little one, consider this name pick. Aside from evoking a sense of place and paying tribute to Tennessee Williams, this name has a nice poetic sound to it that rolls off the tongue.
The Meaning: "Winding river"
Similar Monikers: Austin, Virginia, Raleigh, and Georgia
Behind the Name: Who wouldn't want to name their child as an ode to the inimitable Southern singer-songwriter Johnny Cash? And even if you don't, Cash still has a lot of other cool associations—for example, the beloved swish of dollar bills. Before you get hung up on the literal meaning, though, remember to never underestimate the power of irony.
The Meaning: "Hollow"
Similar Monikers: Ace, Duke, Beau, and Cruz
Behind the Name: Melodic and modern with a vintage twang to it, Delilah is full of personality. It feels both delicate and strong, creative and timeless, and bohemian and traditional. Delilah was the woman in the Old Testament who tricked Samson into revealing the secret behind his strength, though we're willing to reinterpret her reputation or just forget the reference altogether.
The Meaning: "To flirt, delight, and tempt"
Similar Monikers: Tallulah, Magnolia, Willow, and Savannah
Behind the Name: Though it's an old English name, the meaning of Sutton makes it fitting for anyone looking for a name that speaks to the American South. There's also a famous Appalachian bootlegger and moonshine brewer named Popcorn Sutton. Aside from those references, it's a unique and precious name.
The Meaning: "From the Southern homestead"
Similar Monikers: Dakota, Carson, Mercer, and Winston
Behind the Name: Despite being derived from Welsh and Dutch names, Rhett will always call to mind the dashing hero from Gone With the Wind. Fill your little one with a spirit of romance without picking the old English moniker Romeo (unless, of course, Shakespearean names are more your speed).
The Meaning: "Advisor"
Similar Monikers: Rufus, Rita, Harriet, and Weston
Behind the Name: For an offbeat name that also stems from tradition, consider Clementine. Yes, there's a muppet called Clementine, and it may remind you of the fruit, but there are also plenty of cultural representations too, from Kate Winslet's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to the heroine in the folk song "Oh My Darling, Clementine."
The Meaning: "Mild and merciful"
Similar Monikers: Clover, Beatrice, Mabel, and Penelope
Behind the Name: When it comes to contemporary literary heroes, it's hard to beat the Finch family (plus Boo Radley, of course) if you grew up thinking To Kill a Mockingbird was "our national novel," as Oprah once said. Scout is an especially nice name with a sharp, distinctive sound. Though Go Set a Watchmen tarnishes Atticus's once honorable reputation, Scout, aka Jean Louise, maintains a sense of playfulness, strength, and integrity.
The Meaning: "Explorer"
Similar Monikers: Piper, Finn, Huck, and Sadie
Behind the Name: Finally we present you with this old-fashioned Scottish surname that has started to gain more popularity in recent years. Knox is connected to the South in a few ways, including the town of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Fort Knox, which guards heaps and heaps of precious gold. Though it has a lot of history behind it, Knox sounds decidedly edgy and current.
The Meaning: "Top of the hill"
Similar Monikers: Quinn, Nash, Axel, and Maddox
Get Ready for Your Little One...
This story was originally published on March 18, 2018, and has since been updated.
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