Whether it's the sweet tea or magnolia trees, the South's particular blend of refinement and down-home culture inspires a wealth of Southern baby names that perfectly encapsulate that certain something called Southern charm. From Blanche to Beau, Rosa to Charles, these names are lifted directly from film, literature, and history to bestow upon your little one a bit of that languid grace and spiritual fortitude that epitomizes the region below the Mason-Dixon Line.
Aside from the traditional first name/last name construction, Southerners are well known for their creative use of nicknames, double first names, middle names used as first names, family names as first names — regardless of gender — and all kinds of unique moniker styles that are distinctly Southern. It may not make a lot of sense to someone from say, Pennsylvania, but there really are standard procedures that rule who is called Bubba, who goes by their initials, and which kid is the "knee baby" or the "hip baby."
If you're not inspired yet to dip down South for a baby name, don't forget the celebrities who go by a distinctly Southern moniker. Beyoncé uses a derivation of her mother's maiden name as her first, Reese Witherspoon uses her one of her middle names — also her mother's maiden name — as her first name, and Selma Blair shares her name with Selma, Alabama.
If you're expecting, here's your chance to take a trip to the steamy South for the perfect sweet or stately name for your littlest one.
Charming, tenacious, and sparkly like a firecracker, Scarlett O'Hara from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, who was played to perfection by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 film, is the quintessential Queen of the South and her name is sure to impart a bit of spitfire personality on a little girl.
Short for the surname Beauregard, this nickname is a common one for little boys and might be bestowed on a little one who is devilishly handsome, since its second meaning is "beautiful" in French.
A common name in the South during the early 20th century, Earl has been declining over the past few decades and might be in line for a resurgence.
Short, sweet, and reminiscent of the languorous heat that characterizes the region, June is a simple name that will grow gracefully with a little girl.
Playwright and screenwriter Truman Capote is one of the region's most celebrated artists, having penned works like Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood.
Former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman — best known for helping black slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad — would be a great namesake that conveys strength, resourcefulness, and bravery to a little girl.
Derived from the English surname meaning "willow grove," Shelby is the optimistic young woman in Robert Harling's play Steel Magnolias, later adapted to film in 1989 with Julia Roberts playing the part, who forges ahead with marriage and motherhood in the face of serious illness.
Loretta Lynn is a country music legend and her famous, autobiographical song about virtuous hard-living in coal country, "Coal Miner's Daughter," epitomizes Southern values of family devotion, hard work, and fortitude.
Originally a Roman name that meant "man from Attica," most Americans recognize the name as belonging to Atticus Finch, the attorney who serves as Maycomb County's moral compass in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. The character is in a class all his own in American literature, and bestowing it on a little boy will make everyone who did their required ninth grade reading call to mind a person who is honest, consistent, and fair-minded.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee also created one of the best depictions of a scrappy little girl in Scout Finch, the book's main character and daughter to Atticus. A girl named after her is sure to be inquisitive, outspoken, and honest.
A former slave and celebrated abolitionist, Frederick Douglass is a wonderful namesake for a boy if you want a son who champions equality, dialogue, and equanimity.
Though actually a former slave in New York, Sojourner Truth's activism as an abolitionist and women's rights had far-reaching effects into the South and is credited with the phrase "Ain't I a woman," which was translated into a Southern dialect from her original Dutch language. This name would convey the ideals of high-mindedness and activism on a little girl.
African-American author Zora Neale Hurston is best known for her works Their Eyes Were Watching God and the account of former slave Cudjo "Kossolo" Lewis in Barracoon: The Story of the Last 'Black Cargo.' Her contributions to black literature make her a wonderful namesake for a little girl.
Zelda Fitzgerald was a writer and the Southern socialite wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who dubbed her "the first American flapper." A daughter named after her is destined to be audacious, witty, and a whole lot of fun.
Best known for launching the Montgomery Bus Boycott that helped end segregation in the South, Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks has a very long list of accomplishments and holds a special spot in Black History. Quite possibly the best Southern namesake for a girl you want to stand up for herself and others.
Looking for a little cowgirl spunk? Abilene, a city in Texas with a pretty, feminine name, might be what you're looking for. Originally meaning "grass," the name calls to mind the windswept Great Plains the city calls home.
Latin for "magnificent," the Georgia city of the same name took its moniker from Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, mother of England's George III, making it a suitable name for your own magnificent princess.
A popular girl's name, this Georgia city embodies the languid grace of the Old South with its misty rivers and coastal charm.
Charles II is the namesake of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the oldest and most storied cities in the U.S. Long known for its residents' refinement and pedigree, the town would undoubtedly lend a boy named after it a bit of class.
Commonly a nickname below the Mason-Dixon Line for a big sister, Sissy can also be short for Cecilia, but I think it's cute enough as it is.