American names come from a lot of different languages, thanks to the country’s multicultural roots. The diversity of the country is reflected in its names, but there are certain names that have a stronger connection to certain regions of the country. The American South, for example, has a lot of names that we have come to think of as Southern, even though the names might be used in other parts of the country, and even in other parts of the world.
While the South is still part of the United States, its culture is different in a lot of ways. It has its own distinct accent, and many different customs and cuisines. Many of the names that we associate with the South reflect the uniqueness of Southern culture. If you’re looking for a Southern name for your baby, here are some of the most charming ones that the region has to offer.
Scarlett is one of the most well-known Southern baby names thanks to the heroine of the book and film Gone With the Wind. The name Scarlett originally comes from a last name, which was reflected in the book where it is explained that Scarlett’s name comes from her grandmother’s maiden name. The name exudes Southern charm and sophistication, but that doesn’t mean it is only used in the South. Scarlett has grown quite popular in recent years and is trending not just in the United States, but also in Australia, Canada, England, Wales, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
Fictional characters aside, this name has also been made even more famous thanks to actress Scarlett Johansson. While, unlike her literary namesake, Johansson isn’t from the South, she does carry on the legacy of charm and grace that was epitomized by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.
Another name fit for a Southern belle is Susanna. This ancient name has a long history. Derived from the Greek name Sousanna, the name is rooted in the Hebrew name Shoshannah which comes from the word "shoshan" meaning "lily" in ancient Hebrew. The name has been around so long that its root word now also means "rose" in modern Hebrew. In its Hebrew incarnation, the name Susanna can be found twice in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.
The name was immortalized in the song "Oh! Susanna," written by the legendary American composer Stephen Foster. While Foster himself was not from the South (he was born in Pennsylvania and died in New York), the song follows someone from Alabama to Louisiana, giving it decidedly Southern roots. The original version of the song was overtly racist, but these days the recognizable melody has been paired with better lyrics that have brought the name Susanna into the 21st century.
Dallas is more than just the name of a city in Texas — it’s also a baby name that’s on the rise. The moniker was originally a last name, derived from a Scottish place name that means "meadow dwelling." While the city of Dallas, Texas, was named after a man whose last name was Dallas, it’s uncertain exactly who that person is — although, many people think it was named after George Mifflin Dallas, who was the vice president of James K. Polk.
As a given name, Dallas has traditionally been used for boys, but that’s starting to change. The name started to gain a little traction as a feminine name in the 1990s. While it didn’t quite catch on, and fell out of favor as a name for girls for more than a decade, the name started gaining popularity again in 2012. Today, the name is on the rise for both boys and girls, making it safe to call Dallas a gender neutral Southern name.
This rarely used name is a hidden gem. The origin of the name is Dixie is uncertain, but it’s thought that it might come from "dix," the French word for "ten" which was printed on New Orleans’ ten dollar bills. Another likely possibility is that the name "Dixie" referred to the land below the Mason-Dixon line, which separates the northern and southern states. From there, the name went on to become synonymous with the South — especially after Daniel D. Emmett’s song Dixie became a Southern anthem.
Referring to the southern part of the United States isn’t just an old-fashioned tradition. Even in modern times, the name Dixie conjures up images of the South. The name is still so strongly associated with the South that it has become prominent in country music as the name of the country music group the Dixie Chicks.
What could be more Southern than the magnolia tree? Magnolias are so beloved in the South that they have become symbols of not just one, but two states: It is the state tree of Louisiana, and it’s even more popular in Mississippi where it is both the state tree and the state flower. Magnolias are so much a part of Mississippi that it has become its defining characteristic, giving the state its nickname of "The Magnolia State."
The name Magnolia comes from the name for the flower, which was derived from the name of a French botanist, Pierre Magnol. While it has been a given name for decades, it has faded in and out of popularity over the years. The name was used far more frequently in the 20th century, before falling out of favor in 1941. Generations passed before Magnolia saw a well-deserved revival. The name started gaining popularity again in 2013 and has slowly been climbing up the charts since then.
Gone With the Wind imparted such a timeless legacy on American culture that even the name of its iconic plantation, Tara, is now thought of as a Southern name. The book and film helped to popularize the name of Scarlett O’Hara’s home, which actually comes from an Irish place name. Tara is the Anglicized form of Teamhair. Its meaning isn’t certain, but is possibly Gaelic for "elevated place." Teamhair was the name of a hill near Dublin where the high kings of Ireland once lived.
From its ancient Gaelic roots, Tara has transformed into a given name. While it has seen a decline in popularity in America in recent years, having peaked in the 1970s, the name is still popular in many parts of the world. Tara is, not surprisingly, well-loved in Ireland, but it’s also quite popular in Croatia and Slovenia where it is ranked in the top 100 names for girls.
Literature has a huge impact on names. One of the most treasured books of the 20th century, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, featured a character named Atticus Finch whose commitment to justice has caused the name to be associated with integrity and goodness. Set in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird is often studied in American schools, so many people are familiar with Atticus as a character of the South.
While the name Atticus is easily recognizable to anyone who read Lee’s classic, its roots go much further than the 1960 novel. It comes from a Roman name, which means "from Attica," referring to the region of Attica in Greece. In spite of the popularity of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus never quite caught on as a name, and has only begun to see widespread use in recent years. Its growing popularity combined with its literary legacy makes Atticus a charming choice for a Southern name.
Blanche is one of those names that is so quintessentially Southern, it can be hard to believe that it wasn’t actually invented there. In classic literature, we have Blanche DuBois, the protagonist of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. She’s not the only Southern belle to bear the name, though. Fans of The Golden Girls will remember the Southern drawl of Blanche Devereaux, played to perfection by the actress Rue McClanahan.
While American audiences might think of the name as Southern, Blanche actually comes from a French nickname which means "white" or "fair." The French variation of the name comes from the Germanic word "blanc." Versions of the name have been used for centuries. In the 12th century, Blanca of Navarre married Sancho III of Castile. Her granddaughter, who was named after her, would go on to marry Louis VIIII of France, popularizing the name in that country.
Charlotte is another name that came to the South by way of France. The feminine form of the name Charles, it was introduced to the English-speaking world in the 17th century. The name is wildly popular these days, thanks in part to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge naming their daughter Princess Charlotte. While the name is frequently used around the world and is in the top 100 names for girls in several European countries, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the U.S., in American culture, the name is often associated with the South.
Part of this is because of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is one of the biggest cities in the South. It was named after the wife of King George III, but soon became an American landmark. In the film The Princess and the Frog, the character of Southern belle Charlotte La Bouff reinforced the name’s connection to the South.
As one half of the Mason-Dixon Line, the border which separates the northern states from the southern states, the name Mason already has a Southern ring to it. The name is made even more well-known, however, thanks to Mason jars, which are a staple of Southern practicality and decor. These ubiquitous jars are used for everything from storing food to serving as table decorations. They can be repurposed in a multitude of ways, such as being used as vases and glassware.
The name might have a distinctly Southern flair in America, but it took a long journey to become associated with the region. The name Mason was originally an English last name, coming from an Old French word derived from a Germanic term. In English, the name means "stoneworker." The name is a hot one in the United States, and is also popular in other English-speaking countries including the U.K., North Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The name Mason is even popular in mainland Europe, where it is in the top 40 names for boys in the Netherlands.