Where’s That Name?: Place Names for Babies

The line between place names and personal names has always been blurry; Adelaide, Australia was named after a human name, while the newly popular baby name London came from the city in England. Below are some place names that could cross over to become people names.

Cairo- This name, new to the top 1000, combines the popular Cai- sound with the common –o ending for boys. It comes from the name of the city in Egypt, whose name in turn comes from the Arabic meaning “victorious.” Cairo is also a homonym for “Chi Rho,” the name of the monogram sometimes found on Christian symbols. (This cross has a Chi Rho in the center.)

Nashua- The New Hampshire river and city takes its name from the Native American meaning “river.” With the rising popularity of Nash for boys, Nashua could make an excellent option for parents looking for something more formal.

Laramie- The name of the third-largest city in Wyoming comes from the surname of French explorer Jacques, who disappeared in the Laramie mountains in the early 19th century. “Third-largest city in Wyoming,” however, isn’t very large: Laramie has less than half the population of Utica, NY or Trenton, NJ. Laramie’s similarity to names like Jeremy and Emory make it seem like a great candidate for a unisex name. There is a bad association with the name: the Laramie Project, a film and play frequently produced at colleges, centers around murder and hate crime victim Matthew Shepard.

Tempe- The cities in Arizona and Australia are named for The Vale of Tempe from Greek mythology. Apollo and the muses lived in Tempe. Like most Greek –e names, the final E is pronounced: tem-pee.

Alamo- Along with the Alamo Mission in Texas that we all remember, there are towns called Alamo in California, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, Mexico, and others. The ubiquitous Al- beginning, coupled with the 3-syllable –o ending, makes Alamo see feasible as a name.

Novara- This name combines two very trendy elements: Nov-, as in Nova and Novalee, and Ara, as in Chiara. The city is located in Northwestern Italy and got its name from the prefix nov- (meaning “new”) added to Aria, the name of the surrounding region.

Juneau- Alaska’s capital is a homonym of Juno, the Roman name of Zeus’ wife Hera, and Junot, as in writer Junot Diaz. Ju- names like June, Julian, and Julia are trending, so Juneau may not be far behind.

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