Pastoral names are names culled from pastoral literature, art and music, where the city is shunned and agricultural settings such as farms, shepherds and country life is elevated and idealized. Think of lovely, bucolic settings and romanticized works from writers like Shakespeare, Shelley, and Virgil; Renaissance poets and classical works. An expectant parent seeking lovely names rooted in the country, with a dreamy-eyed gaze should find pastoral names fitting. Perhaps as a resistance to harsh, fast, modern era life, some people yearn for peaceful settings and lives, and want to capture some of that in the name they chose for their child.
A pastoral name will often have Greek roots, as many writers and artists looked to the Greeks for inspiration in their pastoral works. That's why many of the names may be rather rare or virtually unknown to the average modern parent. However, with their lilting sounds and romantic origins, many pastoral names are very attractive to parents today. When choosing a pastoral name it's important to consider how the chosen name sounds, not in isolation, but along with the last name. If the balance isn't good, perhaps choosing a pastoral name as a middle name may be best. Or maybe the pastoral name will be the first name, but the child will typically be called by a more accessible nickname.
Arcadia is a place name for an area of Greece that is both a real geographical place still existing today, but also a sort of mythological place often idealized in pastoral literature. The utopian version of Arcadia was the home of the god, Pan, the forest creatures such as dryads and nymphs, as well as the god Hermes at times, and the goddess Atalanta. Arcadia from Greek origin means, "pastoral simplicity and happiness." If you trace the name to its Latin roots, the name becomes "adventuresome." Arcadia is a girl's name; the boy's version is Arcadius, and was the name of two saints. Arcadia would be easily shortened to Cadi, Cadia, or Ari. Those considering Arcadia as a name for their baby girl should probably go with a simpler, one or two-syllable middle name. The idea of an idyllic place where gods and mythological creatures roam may be just the right pick for those who like the idea of a country paradise represented in a name.
Christopher Marlowe was an influential 16th-century poet and playwright, considered only second in terms of plays to Shakespeare. He wrote pastoral poems, so his name brings up pastoral themes, but it definitely has a modern sound to it for a name. Marlowe has recently popped up in celebrity circles, as Sienna Miller named her daughter Marlowe Otteline, and Jason Schwartzman named his baby girl Marlowe Rivers. The name means "from the hill by the lake." That makes it is a doubly pastoral name, having been the surname of a pastoral poet, and the name celebrating an ideal place. In terms of actual numbers, the name just missed making the top 1000 in 2016, coming in at #1009. However, Marlowe is much used as a surname, and as such could lend itself as a boys' name, and there are options of course, to drop the final "e." Nicknames for a girl would include Marly (various ending spellings), Mar, Mary or Marl. For boys, an obvious shortened form would be Mo.
Lord Alfred Tennyson was a rock star Victorian poet who wrote pastoral poetry, making it a great namesake of the era. Apparently, actor Russell Crowe thought so when he named his son Tennyson Spencer. Tennyson the poet was perhaps best known for Idylls of the Kings. The name actually literally means, "Dennis' son." As a girl name, Tennyson came in at #5681 in 2016, while the boy version actually was roughly half as popular. That means those who shun too rare or unusual a name may not be so inclined to go with Tennyson, while those who love the offbeat or different may find it just right. Tennyson could be shortened to Tenny, or Ten like the Disney cartoon character Tennyson, whose alter ego is Ben Ten. As the name is a bit of a mouthful, with three syllables, pairing it with a simpler middle name would be probably the best choice.
Corydon is a masculine name traditionally, and was a sort of default name for a shepherd boy in ancient Greek pastoral works of art. Corydon comes from Greek roots and the meaning is either, "a lark," or "ready for battle," depending on the source. Far from common, the name ranked at #12009 in 2015. However, the nickname Cory for a boy ranked at #920 in 2016, and just a bit lower, at #9737 for girls. Corydon while unusual seems like an alternative to Corey, Cory or even Corie. A poem by Thomas Bailey Aldrich was titled "Corydon: A Pastoral," was published in the 1700s, and Nicholas Breton wrote, A Pastoral of Phyllis and Corydon in the early 1600s. It has deep history yet since fitting to modern tongues, so a good compromise for a couple split over old-fashioned and modern sounding names.
Philomena was a princess in Greek mythology who was turned into a nightingale to escape her creepy brother-in-law's attack. Philomena was also the name of a third century saint, who was said to be the protector of infants and children. She was also a martyr. Other notable Philomena's include a character in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Philomena was also the name of a 2013 Judi Dench film about real-life Philomena Lee, a woman on a quest to find the infant who was taken from her and adopted out. Philomena means loved, and strength. Philomena is definitely not the average baby girl name, ranking in the mid-5000s. It had its heyday in the early 20th century, hitting #355 in 1915. Philomena would be an alternative to the perhaps better known Wilhemina. It could be a more discreetly placed middle name, or could be shortened to Phil, Mena, Philo or could be spelled Filomena or Filomina.
Sonnet is a rhyming poetic form, consisting of 14 lines which was mastered by none other than Shakespeare. The typical topic of a sonnet is love, and other poets known for their sonnets include Wordsworth, Petrarch and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sonnet actually is an Anglicized version of the Italian, "sonetto" meaning little song. It is a dreamy, romantic name appreciated by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, as he named his daughter Sonnet Noel in 1996. Sonnet barely cracked the top #1000, so it would qualify as an unusual name. For those looking for a feminine name that celebrates the written word, Sonnet should be a fitting choice. Sonnet sounds modern and romantic, and could be shortened to Sonne, Nettie or other variations of those. Sonnet could also be a girly middle name to pair with a more plain-sounding, or perhaps longer name.
Rosalind didn't have the most romantic start with its Germanic origins meaning, horse, and gentle. Later it spread to different regions, before finally being traced to Spanish roots and with the much more romantic meaning, "beautiful rose." Rosalind was a favorite of pastoral literature, appearing in 16th century poet/writer Edmund Spenser's works, as well as Shakespeare's "As You Like It," comedic play. Rosalind was a more popular baby name choice in the 1930s to 1960s, and landed at #2691 in 2016. Rosalind could be spelled in numerable other ways, such as Rozalind, Rosalinde or Rozalinde. It can be shortened to Rosa, Rose, Rosie or Lindy. More modern sounding nicknames may include Ro, Roz or Lind, or even Lin. It would be difficult to find a more definitely feminine name than Rosalind. Rosalind would also work well as a middle name, especially to a one-syllable first name.
Depending on the source, Orlando means either "land of gold," or "famed land." There are some famous men who bear the name, including actors Orlando Bloom and Orlando Jones, to athletes such as Orlando Pace, a Hall of Fame football offensive lineman, or current Cowboys' cornerback, Orlando Scandrick. Orlando is featured in William Shakespeare's "As You Like It," as the romantic lead in the comedic pastoral play. Orlando in 2016 came in at #806, making it none-to-common, but not quite super rare, either. Orlando of course, is also the name of that American city of vacation pilgrimage, Orlando, Florida - home of theme parks and fun, most famously, Walt Disney World. Orlando sounds more modern than it is, and has a Spanish flair, even though its roots are straight German. Orlando could be a middle name, or as a first name, could be shortened to Orly, Lando or Lan.
Aminta is a Greek name that has been popular in pastoral literature in various forms. It was the name of a shepherd in the same-named play by Italian poet, Torquato Tasso, which is considered a pastoral masterpiece published in 1573. Feminine representations of Aminta, including Araminta have been used in a number of pastoral pieces of literature. Amyntas was also the name of several subsequent Macedonian kings around the 3rd century BC. The name Aminta means defender or guarding in Greek. Aminta is fairly rare, coming in at #14,692 in 2016. Aminta could be altered in a number of ways, such as the aforementioned Araminta, Amina, or Amintah. Nicknames include Ami, Amin, Min or unfortunately some kids may go for calling an unlucky classmate, Minty. Aminta is traditionally also a masculine name, but in modern names, it's much less likely to be used for a baby boy.
Daphnis is thought to be the name of the originator of pastoral poetry, a shepherd who was the son of Hermes and a nymph. Daphnis is said to have promised fidelity to his love, a nymph, but was seduced after another female got him drunk on wine. I know, excuses, excuses! His love then blinded him as a punishment for his unfaithfulness. Another Daphnis in Greek mythology was one of the three prophesying virgin sisters, the Thriae, who were nature goddess nymphs of Mount Parnassos. Daphnis and Chloe is a play by Longus, and also a ballet by Ravel, about children who grow up together and fall in love. Daphnis means, "laurel tree." Daphnis therefore is either for a boy or girl, at least historically. It's a rare name, so it's unlikely anyone parents may know have ever met a Daphnis of either gender. Daph and Daphni are the two most logical diminutives to use as nicknames.
Chloe is a Greek name meaning "verdant, green and growing or blooming." Chloe is mentioned in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul, and was associated in summertime with Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility. Chloe appears as the main female character in the pastoral romance, Daphnis and Chloe. Chloe is fairly popular in the US, coming in at #38 in some rankings. However, it's popularity is higher in Europe, particularly in France, but also in the UK, Canada and Belgium. Chloe was a character in Uncle Tom's Cabin, the name of a film starring Marion Cotillard, and is the actual first name of Pulitzer-prize winning author, Toni Morrison. Various moderately famous actresses, athletes and singers are dubbed Chloe. Chloe can be spelled with an accent mark, or as Khloe, Chloe or Cloe. There really isn't a natural sounding nickname for Chloe, but it does function well as either a first or middle name.
Una appears in one of the most classic pastoral pieces of literature, Spenser's Fairie Queene, as a representation of truth, and is a meek, beautiful lady with inner strength. Sometimes Una is spelled Oona, and the name means, logically and perhaps obviously, one. Some trace the origins to mean a lamb, as well. Una ranked around the #3000 level in the US in 2016, so it's particularly common. Some people may think of the actress with a similar name, Uma Thurman of Kill Bill fame. For those desiring a unique name for a daughter, with a short, striking sound to it, Una may work well. It also works as a middle name, especially for a more complex, longer first name. Classic writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne of The Scarlet Letter had a daughter named Una, and the name appeared in the Anne of Green Gables books.
One of the most romanticized characters and stories in all of English literature, Arthur appeared in Sir Thomas Malory's 15th century Le Morte d'Arthur, in Spenser's Fairie Queene, and countless works of literature, TV and film, as well as comics and video games. The mythological original king of Britain may or may not have been a real person, who headed his Round Table of knights. Arthur translates roughly to "bear," and/or "king." Arthur is a name that, according to the Today Show, came in at #68 in 2016's names for boys in the US. It ranks higher in European nations such as the UK (naturally) as well as France and Belgium. Famous folks named Arthur include Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes books, Arthur Ashe, tennis legend, and Arthur Miller, American playwright. Arthur is an old-fashioned name, of course, but in some ways seems fairly timeless. It could be shortened to Art, Arty or Artie, and Ary.
Tristan is a very old name whose ratings came out of the basement in modern times with Brad Pitt's portrayal of a character of the name in the movie Legends of the Fall. It means either a loud boy, or the sad, depending on how you trace it. It probably originated from the French Drustan, then combined with Latin word tristis, meaning sad. Tristan was in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur as one of the knights of the Round Table. He appears in Wagner's opera Tristan and Isolde, which is a continuation of that tragic love character. The opera became a film in 2006 starring James Franco. The name is more popular in the US than most of Europe, with the exception of France and Slovenia. Tristan is sometimes borrowed as a name for baby girls. Alternate spellings include Tristen, Tristin, or Trystan. Nicknames include Trist, Tristy or Tristie, or possibly even Stan.
Amaryllis, meaning "sparkling," was the heroine of Virgil's epic poem, " 'Eclogues." A lovely flower was named after this pastoral character. Less than 50 baby girls were named Amaryllis in the US, making it a rare name. There's a 16th century pastoral work named, Daphnis and Amaryllis, and the name appears in many examples of pastoral poetry, as a favorite name for heroines. Celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay opened a restaurant by this name in Glasgow, Scotland. Amaryllis is decidedly feminine, and while it may be flowery, it lends itself to all manner of nicknames, including Amy, Amary, Ryllis or Mary, Rylli or Rylie. You could even call an Amaryllis Lissy or Lis. Amaryllis in literature has primarily been used for a shepherd girl or a simple, yet lovely, country girl. The Spanish version of the uncommon name is Amarilis.
Pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, i-SOL-dah or i-ZOL-dah, this name is rather like Arthur in its intertwining of myth and cultures. It may have come from a German name, or from Ireland. Isolde was a princess engaged to the King of Cornwall in the Arthurian legends. Tristan was sent to gather her for the king, and on their journey, they accidentally ingest a potion which makes them fall, (tragically) in love. It became the basis of a Wagner opera of the name Tristan und Isolde. Some of the meanings attributed to Isolde include "fair," "ice" and "iron," or "battle." Isolde is quite rare, both in the US and across Europe, along with the rest of the world. Not even a movie starring James Franco based on Wagner's opera sparked much interest in the name to allow it to chart. Isolde is sometimes spelled Isold.
Colin has a few different variations in both pronunciation and meaning, either COH-lin or KAH-lin. If traced from the English form, shortened, of the Greek Nicholas, it means "victory." If traced from the Irish Cailean, it means "dove." Based on its heritage you may expect it to be a popular name in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales, but it's not really that big there. It's in the top 200 in the US typically, but it's popular in Sweden and Switzerland. Famous Colins include contemporary figures such as football's Colin Kaepernick, actors Colin Firth and Colin Farrell, and the first African American Secretary of State, 4 star general, Colin Powell. Colin figured in pastoral literature by being the key male character in Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar. Alternative spellings could include Cullen, Coln, Colun or Collin, or even Collen. Nicknames are limited since it's already a short name, but would definitely include Col.
Damon comes from Greek origins and means "tamed," but due to the myth of Damon and Pythias, has come to symbolize loyalty and friendship. In the myth, Pythias was imprisoned and sentenced to death. His friend, Damon took his place and before the execution, the king pardoned Pythias after being impressed by the depths of their loyalty and friendship. Damon has been a popular name since the 20th century. In the US, it ranked at #496 in 2016. Damon was also a philosopher in the 5th century, and his students included Socrates. Modern Damons include Damon Wayons, actor and comedian, and Damon Dash, successful music producer and executive. Versions from around the world include: Damyan (Bulgaria); Damian (Polish); Damiaan (Dutch); and Damien (French). Negative connotations may include references to the 1976, The Omen, where Damien is the Antichrist and son of Satan.
Marvell is a rare name today, last charting in the US in 2014 near the 7000 level. It comes from the French word, merveille, meaning "miracle." It became marvel in English, meaning a wonder, something marvellous or extraordinary. So for parents wanting to set the bar quite high for their child, probably a son, this may be a good option. Andrew Marvell was a 17th century marvel himself, serving in the House of Commons, a diplomat, satirist and one the greatest poets of the 1600s. He was responsible for some of the most loved and well -known pastoral poems of all time. Marvell was credited with freeing the poet Milton from prison, and most likely saving his friend's life in the process. Marvell would lend itself to being shortened to Marv or Marvy, or possibly Marvie. Other options include Vell, or Mar.
Spenser is a Middle English vocational name, for a "dispenser of provisions." It's more commonly spelled Spencer. It's moderately known, coming in at #241 in the US in 2016. It's about twice as popular in the UK, however. Spencer as a name has a close link through the influential 16th century poet, Edmund Spenser, whose Fairie Queene and Shepheardes Calendar are staples of English literature. He was also active in politics under Queen Elizabeth. He is buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. He is not the only notable Spencer however. One of America's best loved actors was Spencer Tracy, the long-time love of Katherine Hepburn. And Spencer Haywood of Detroit was one of the greatest forwards in NBA history, as well as a Hall of Famer. He was also the first player to be allowed to enter the pros without going to college for 4 years, but he had to fight as a hardship case to save his mother from her lifetime of picking cotton. Spencer or Spenser could be shortened to Spence.
Dante means "enduring or lasting," and is an Italian name. The most notable Dante in history has to be Dante Alighieri, the 13th century poet and author of The Divine Comedy, which made the phrase "Dante's Inferno" famous. He invented a poetic form, the terza rima. Enduring is a fitting name for the poet, of whom poet T.S. Eliot said, "Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them, there is no third.” Dante came in at #295 in US 2016 baby name surveys. The popularity in the UK and Netherlands is quite similar, but is much more common in Italy (go figure!) and Chile. Dante actually came from the medieval form of the name Durante. Celebs who names their sons Dante include actor Christopher Meloni, singer Jordan Knight, and politician Bill de Blasio. Most people tend to avoid nicknames with the first name Dante, but it could be shortened to Dan, Tay or Te.
Lyric comes from the Greek for "lyre," or "songlike," and is where we get our word for the words to a song. Lyric is primarily used for girls, but boys are sometimes named this moniker as well. Lyric ranks in the top 300 in the US for girls, and closer to 900 for boys. A pastoral lyric is a short poem celebrating rural beauty and idealized country settings as the background. Lyric has been used by celebrity parents in recent years, including actor Robby Benson, actress Kyla Pratt, basketball player Kenny Anderson and rappers D-Nice and T-Pain. The latter named his daughter with the variant spelling, Lyriq however. Lyric is a very romantic name, and may have a smidgen of hipster or hippy sound to it. Lyr or Ric are natural nicknames for children named Lyric. The name hasn't shown up in Europe or any other countries at this point.
Shelley is an English place name meaning "clearing on a bank," which qualifies as a topic of pastoral literature. However, a key poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, also makes Shelley a pastoral themed name. Shelley's wife, Mary Shelley, wrote the classic book, "Frankenstein." Shelley went from surname to feminine first name in the 1940s in the US. Famous Shelleys in more modern times include the actresses Shelley Long, Shelley Winters and Shelley Duvall. Shelley has virtually disappeared from current name charts, barely making the top 1000 in 2016, at #14,692. One of Percy Bysshe Shelley's important works was a pastoral elegy by the title, "Adonais." Shelley could be spelled Shelly, Shellie, Shelli or shortened to Shel or Shell, or even Lee or Ley.
Adonais is a pretty uncommon name, and only charted at #3933 in 2016, and was used virtually only for baby boys. The related name, Adonis ranked at #406. Adonais is seen primarily in the US, but also in the UK and France. Other countries with boys named Adonais include Chile, Portugal and Brazil. Adonais is most likely linked to the Hebrew word for the Lord, Adonai. If traced back to the Greek name Adonis, it means manly beauty. In Greek mythology Adonis was the god of beauty and desire, and after he was killed in a hunting mishap, Aphrodite loved him and would bring him to life for part of the year, annually. The connection of the name Adonais to pastoral themes is that it is the name of Shelley's pastoral elegy, "Adonais." Adonais could be converted to Adonis, or spelled in a different way, such as Adonas, Adonase, Adonus and shortened to Adon, Don or Donny.
Phebe is a Greek name meaning, "bright," and has has traditionally been a feminine name, and has not been used in modern times as anything but a girl's name. Phebe is also a name mentioned in the Bible, specifically the New Testament. The pastoral connection is that Phebe was a character in Shakespeare's pastoral comedic play, "As You Like It." Phebe plays the typical pastoral country girl character who initially rejects the boy who is in love with her, then falls for someone through mistaken identity, but ultimately ends up with the first boy who loved her, happily. Phebe ranked #3773 in 2016. It can also be spelled Phoebe, Phoibe, and Febe. Phoebe was a main character in the TV series Friends, played by Lisa Kudrow. This won't be a relevant distraction for any baby named today, as no kids growing up now would likely be familiar with the show. Phebe or Phebs are natural nicknames.