History and geography tend to go hand-in-hand, but you might find yourself wondering whether a place was named after a person or the opposite. Or… you don’t give a hoot about the names/history and are just here to snag some monogram printables. If it is the letter A, D, or S you’re looking for, bingo; check ’em out below!
These classic and elegant baby names have lots of history, plus a geographic component. It appears most of these names originated as individual ‘given’ names, surnames, or, if not that, tribe names. A habitational name is when a name can be traced back to a place where presumably a person’s ancestor lived.
Letter A • Pink & Grey
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Surveyor-general William Light selected the site for the capital of the new colony in December 1836 and chose its name. He named the place after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, the queen consort to King William IV of England.
Born in 1792 as the eldest daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, Adelaide was about 44 years old when she had the pleasure of a city named in her honor.
Adelaide is a French take on the Old German Adalheidis. Not much ambiguity here, as the compounds ‘athal’ (noble) and ‘haida’ (hood) give a clear meaning to this elegant girls’ name.
Initially a surname, Hudson literally means son of Hud. Good to know if you are considering this name for a girl… Not that it can’t make a fine name for a beautiful girl; you just need to be okay with the fact that etymologically it is unambiguously male.
The Hud- component, as a first name, has various potential (and uncertain) Saxon, Germanic or Olde English origins.
Hudson Bay and the Hudson River are some of the most well-known East Coast landmarks. The Hudson Bay and river ware named after Henry Hudson, an English explorer who first sailed the bay in 1610 with his ship the Discovery.
He worked for the Dutch East India Company and (as you probably guessed) was trying to find his way East. That would have taken a while, especially since the Hudson flows North-South. But the history of one the East coast’s main waterways didn’t start with colonialism.
The Iroquois, who used the river for travels, called it Muh he kun ne tuk. The water that moves both ways. Indeed, on one end the Hudson flows land inward from the Atlantic Ocean and on the other end, it flows away from its starting point, Lake Tear of Clouds in Canada. (Is it just me, or does that make you wonder what goes on right in the middle?)
As a place name, Dallas has done rather good for itself. Initially a small rural village in Scotland, it got promoted to one of the major cities in Texas.
A nice example of the habitational naming concept mentioned in the beginning, Dallas went from being a location to being used as a surname for folks from said location to becoming a first name as well.
Now, about the actual meaning of the word, it is believed to be a combination of old British terms for meadow (dol) and dwelling (gwas).
While we can be relatively certain that the city in Texas was named for someone with the surname Dallas, it is unclear who that would have been. John Neely Bryan, a trader, farmer, lawyer, and land speculator, founded and named the town.
John Bryan has left no personal notes or journals so the only thing to go off is the word of an acquaintance who Bryan supposedly told he named the town after a friend. Which friend is the big mystery, as there are a few contenders. To dive deeper into this piece of history, check out the Dallas city hall website.
If you’ve ever read Asterix & Obelix, you’ll remember the capital of France being called Lutetia – not Paris.
Around the third century BC, Paris was renamed after a Celtic tribe, the Parisii. The Romans called it Lutetia Parisiorum, Parisiorum being the adjective indicating the home of the Parisii people.
One source says this was a Saxon tribe living beside the Humber river in Lincolnshire Since Wikipedia extensively supports the theory that it was indeed a Gallic/Celtic tribe that lived where Paris is now, we’ll go with that.
In English, Paris can be a surname, since it was commonly given to immigrants after their town of origin.
So how is Paris, the city of light, related to Paris, the cowardly younger brother of Hector in Homerus’ Iliad? (Played by Orlando Bloom in the movie Troy.)
Turns out it isn’t! The (mis)adventures of Paris and Helen of Troy predate the alleged naming of the French city by a century or five (the Iliad dates back to the 8th century BC). However, the Greek name Paris is possible of Hittite origin, another tribe found in the area of nowadays Greece/Turkey. Son of Priam is another potential origin there. The Greek thread is not as clearly defined as the Celtic and French one, so basically the experts aren’t really sure.
Either way, Paris is an elegant name with a lot of interesting history behind it.
Austin is an English derivation of the Latin name Augustine.
Settlers called modern-day Austin Waterloo in 1837. Two short years later, in 1839, the place was renamed Austin after Stephen F. Austin who was the Republic of Texas’s first Secretary of State.
I’m sure it can be told in much more detail, but this is the very concise tale of how Austin was initially a first name, then someone’s last name, then a city and throughout all of that never lost its cool as a given name.
The river Shannon is the longest river in Ireland and called Abha an tSionainn in Irish. There is also an Irish goddess named Sionann. It is possible the river was named after her, however, experts say the opposite is more likely, the goddess having been named after the river.
The root of the name may be the old Irish word sen, meaning ancient. In Irish the name Seanán, a diminutive of sean, means the same. Note that the sense in which old is meant here very much has a positive connotation, as in: wise.
There’s also Gaelic, a fascinating language of the same family, in which we find the origin of Shannon broken down similarly: sean (old) and abhann (river). Various websites and books about the origin of names mention Shannon’s meaning as either “old river” or “wise river”.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, was founded 7000 years ago. That makes it one of the oldest cities in Europe, right up there with Plovdiv (also in Bulgaria) and Athens (Greece).
It was only in 1376 that it was renamed Sofia in honor of the Church of Saint Sofia. Sredets was the original name.
The story of Saint Sofia (or Sophia) isn’t a very happy one. The woman refused to renounce her Christian faith even after her three girls aged 9 – 12 were tortured to death by (people working for) Emperor Hadrian. Say what now?! Letting your children take the fall for your convictions? Nice work, lady. I sure would have told the mf’er that pigs could fly to save my kids.
The name’s original meaning is absolutely beautiful: Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. True wisdom transcends religion or the nitpicking of religious beliefs; it’s universally awe-inspiring.