Baby Names

Southern Charm: 30+ Southern Baby Name Trends and Ideas

southern baby names"
southern baby names
Source: @loree.1
Source: @loree.1

Georgia peaches, Tennessee whiskey, and Tupelo honey are just a few things our southern states are known for. Not to mention the expansive Appalachians and unparalleled Southern hospitality. But something else that gets slight notoriety from pop culture, word of mouth, and the SSA’s list of most popular baby names by state, is undeniably the charm of southern baby names.

Whether you’ll be raising a little one south of the Mason-Dixon Line or not, the southern states have some notable traditions in the world of baby names worth considering. Anyone going through the somewhat daunting task of choosing the perfect baby name knows that inspiration is everywhere. That’s why we looked to our friends to the south. Here, we’re examining their baby name traditions that are oh-so-lovely, as well as highlighting some of our favorite options for each trend. Read on for our favorite southern baby name trends and ideas.

Double Names

A fun trend in the world of southern baby names is the use of double names. Think classics like Mary Lynn or Amy Sue. As lovely as the names can turn out to be, the history behind the tradition is just as charming. It goes back to 17th-century Europe, which had strong ties to the Roman Catholic faith—especially people from Scotland, Ireland, and France. Parents loved the idea of naming their children after saints—especially their little girls—but quickly realized the number of Annes, Catherines, and Marys was adding up fast. To pivot, they started adding a second name to distinguish them.

As European immigrants made their way to the United States, the tradition followed. It’s likely carried on in the South to this day as a way to keep family names or honor a loved one while putting a more creative spin on the title.

Cute Double Names for Babies

  • Amelia Rose
  • Lyla Anne
  • Sylvia Mae
  • Ava Grace
  • Evelyn Belle
  • John Patrick
  • Carter Davis
  • Thomas Jay
  • Wells Edward
  • Kingston James
southern baby names
Source: @akdphoto

Family Names

Carrying on family names when welcoming a newborn is another Southern naming tradition. Think Hank Williams Jr., Martin Luther King Jr., or Dale Earnhardt Jr.—all born in the South. Coined “honor cultures,” the southern states historically place a great deal of importance on the reputation of their families. Passing a name down to their children also passes on their reputation. This may be why we’re more likely to meet Juniors or IIIs in the South than throughout the rest of the country.

A researcher from the University of Oklahoma, Ryan Brown, looked into this phenomenon more. He and his team turned to the Social Security Administration’s list of the most popular baby names for the years 1960, 1984, and 2008 by state. What they found was that there were more Juniors, IIIs, and IVs in honor states than anywhere else.

All this to say, if you’re looking to pull a Lorelai Gilmore and name your newborn after yourself, take inspiration from the South.

Spiritual and Biblical Ties

It’s no secret that the South is known for its strong ties to the Christian faith. Even sometimes referred to as the “Bible Belt,” the states in the south, in general, tend to keep church attendance high. The world of baby names is no stranger to Biblical ties. Biblical baby names like Daniel, James, and Elizabeth are mainstays in the top baby names and have been for decades.

The South’s love of tradition is different in one unique way, though. While they hold affection for the classics as well, they’ve also taken a more spiritual approach. Modernizing the practice, names like Zion, Messiah, and Genesis have become increasingly popular.

Southern Spiritual Baby Names

  • Christian
  • Elijah
  • Josiah
  • Noah
  • Thaddeus
  • Saint
  • Naomi
  • Tamara
  • Trinity
  • Halo
Southern baby names
Source: Etsy | Shop Urban Baby Co

Historical Ties

Another creative way Southerners select their baby names is outside of the family tree or the good book. It’s not uncommon for them to draw inspiration from southern cities/states or influential historical figures. Authors, activists, municipalities, and the like that are significant are often chosen to honor the person or place. Think Carolina or Georgia for geographical names. Or Harper after Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, or King in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Southern Historical Baby Names

  • Montgomery
  • Memphis
  • Louis
  • Henrietta
  • Savannah
  • Nelle (Harper Lee’s first name)

Alternative Spellings

Perhaps even more so than the originals, southern parents are drawn to respellings of common names. Names like Lukas or Ashleigh may be easier to find than their more traditional counterparts. Some sources suggest the creative spelling is thanks to a large proportion of Black Americans in the South who may be honoring their ancestry with the use of alternative spelling.

Adorable Alternatively-Spelled Baby Names

  • Jaxson
  • Karter
  • Ryleigh
  • Elyse
  • Londyn
  • Journee
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