Cool Name of the Week: Ruth

Do you have a cool grandmother? For me, that was always my Grandma Ruth. She was the grandmother who always had a well-stocked candy jar and a pack of Juicy Fruit gum in her purse—and never said no when we clamored for some. You could count on her to fulfill the top wishes on your Christmas or birthday lists. Hers was the house of Sunday dinners, of wild game nights that fed my competitive streak, of sleepovers and fun. She simply loved to spend time with family, plain and simple. And in all the time I spent with her, I can only remember her yelling at me once—though I’m sure I deserved it far more often.

I am so thankful to say that she’s still with us, just a few months shy of her 90th birthday. Two weeks ago, we almost lost her after a routine surgery became anything but. But she’s lost some of that spunk and that zest for life—and I am aware that every moment I spend with her now, may be the last one I get.

And right now, I’m wishing I could think of another way to honor her. But since I can’t have another little daughter to name after her, I’m thinking I could try to coax one of you into considering her name.

Ruth is an Old Testament name, and there’s a whole book devoted to her story, where she’s depicted as a loyal, obedient and kind woman. (She’s considered an ancestor to Jesus, since Joseph falls along her family lines.) The name means “compassionate friend.” It’s kind of steadied out in the mid-300s in popularity here in the U.S. since the 1980s, after spending more than half a century in the top 20, which probably explains why all the Ruths I’ve ever met are ladies in the nursing home.

As far as famous faces with the name, you can’t get much bigger than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and of course, legendary slugger Babe Ruth.

Even if the famous bearers are older, I think it’s a name worth considering, a la some of the other old-fashioned names that are coming to the forefront, such as Rose, Harriet or even Esther. Some users even choose the nickname Ruthie (as some call my grandmother)—that’s what’s used for the Depression-Era American Girl doll who bears the name.

Ruth can take a longer, more exotic middle name paired with it. Consider Josephine, Annabelle, or Isabella. If you aren’t keen on Ruth in the first slot, try it in the middle. It sounds lovely with names with vowel endings—think Vanessa, Zoe, or Margo.

What’s your grandmother’s name? Would you consider it for your daughter?

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