Celebrity Names Blog

Shakespeare Names: The Winter's Tale

Shakespeare Names: The Winter's Tale
RAM/Fame Pictures: Emma Watson plays Hermione in the Harry Potter films

These summer nights in New York City's Central Park, Shakespeare fills the air.  The Public Theater's Shakespeare In The Park is in full swing, with The Winter's Tale and The Merchant of Venice running in repertory.  (Tickets are free and available for all intrepid line waiters.  Apparently if you want to see Merchant, plan on getting in line before 6am -- the name Al Pacino perhaps a bigger draw than even that of Shakespeare.)  Shakespeare is great with stories, the messiness of life, and emotional truth.  Another talent: he's great with names.  So today we look at the names of The Winter's Tale, and next Tuesday we'll take a look at The Merchant of Venice.

The Winter's Tale


  • Lots of recent attention given J.K. Rowling's choice of the name for her Harry Potter character.  Might Rowling have been inspired by this Hermione, who shows her honor, integrity and heart in a very trying situation?  Also, Rowling's Hermione dabbles in time travel, as does Shakespeare's Hermione -- in a sense.
  • In the play, Hermione is Queen of Silcilia.  This names sounds as elegant and regal as Margaret, Catherine, Victoria.
  • Not all that nickname friendly -- if you go with this name, plan on using it in full. 


  • Strong and feminine name.  Could this name have a future?
  • Definitely some nickname potential.  Paulie for a girl fit could fit in with the androgynous naming trend.  
  • One celeb baby with this name: Paulina Sophia Piazza


  • While Leontes not a common choice, Leo is well-know, thanks to Mr. Dicaprio.  
  • Check out Monica Bellucci's recent choice of Léonie for her newborn.  Leonine is another Leo-based name for a girl -- sounds unusual and yet strong and cosmopolitan, perhaps a good choice for a celeb baby. 


  • Not likely to be topping the charts.
  • But could the shortened form Polix be the next Felix?


  • Though this name graces the Prince of Bohemia in this play, it is perhaps slightly feminine sounding in today's naming climate.  Do you think this name could work for a boy or girl?
  • The name sounds botanical, as if it could be the name of a flower.  There's something lovely, romantic, and ephemeral to the name


  • Comes from the Latin for "lost one" -- if you know The Winter's Tale story-line, this is a very apt name.  And while this character is the epitome of grace and beauty, might parents these days hesitate to give their child a name meaning "lost one"?  In sound, is the name too close a relative to the word perdition?
  • Pronounced in the Public's production Purr-duh-tah.  
  • Possible nickname: Perdy.


  • Safe to say, will not be making the top 10 boys names any time soon.


  • While this name has never ranked in the top 1000, its day may be on the horizon.  We've overheard the name on the playground more than a few times recently.  The name sounds sophisticated and European, and fits in with the OscarsHugos, and other more formal sounding names that are popular these days.  


  • Brings to mind Maximillian, which has been quite popular lately.  Connects also to the name Maximus.  The -us ending is not all that common these days.  Any thoughts on why name tastes have trended away from that sound? 


  • Sounds awfully close to Antigone, who had a pretty rough go of it.  And there's the -us ending, like Mamillius, which we don't seem much of in 2010.


  • This Sicilian lord's name is not likely to be topping the charts.  But Cleo -- now that name definitely has potential, for boys and girls.  It particularly strikes our ears for girls.  Popular in the late 1800s/early 1900s, Cleo fits in with the old lady naming trend and harkens to one of Shakespeare's most famous female characters, Cleopatra.

Thoughts?  Any catch your attention?  Love, hate, ambivalent?



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

July 17, 2010 11:33 AM
By Cassie (not verified)

Isn't Perdita the name of the mama Dalmatian in Disney's "101 Dalmatians"?

I love the name Cleo and Paulina is nice, too. :)

July 17, 2010 3:55 PM
By Heather-bo-bether (not verified)

Camilo is very close to the name of a highly ranked and popular professional golfer, Camilo Villegas.

July 17, 2010 10:56 PM
By Sebalek (not verified)

I love HERMIONE, and would use it despite (and b/c of) the Harry Potter connection if I could get my DH on board with it. It's a lovely old Greek name that comes from Hermes and was the name of Helen of Troy and Menelaus's daughter. You could also use MAYA as a nn if you really felt the need (which I wouldn't), but thought that might soften DH towards it a bit...it didn't...oh well.

PAULINA is pretty, but nms. PERDITA is indeed the mother Dalmatian from "101 Dalmatians" and they do call her Perdy for short. FLORIZEL is interesting, but sounds very fem. given the current -belle/-elle ending trend. CAMILLO is cool, though I don't see that one being a big hit in the States anytime soon. It's fem. version, CAMILLA, however, fits in with the old lady name trend so I could see that taking off.

July 19, 2010 12:11 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have loved the name Lavinia for a long time - though the character from Titus Andronicus has a particularly gruesome fate. I may use it as a middle name if I have a daughter.

July 20, 2010 2:45 PM
By Essy (not verified)

I knew a girl named Herminia (her-min-ee-ah), and we called her Hermi (her-mee), which could also be a NN for Hermione or possibly Mione (my-on-ee)

I really like the name Camillo! it could be pronounced numerous ways though and it shifts very easily into the fem./ I don't get the similarity with Oscar or Hugo though as I hear those as much more North Western European whereas Camillo sounds more Mediterranean to me which is just a completely different flavour for me

I love names from Shakespeare particularly Hero for a girl (Much Ado About Nothing)

July 20, 2010 3:43 PM
By Kate (not verified)

I love the idea of Polix from Polixenes as a substitute for the popular and adorable Felix, but I feel like "Polix" sounds a bit like "bollucks" which is a bit of a turn off for me.

July 20, 2010 7:27 PM
By Anya (not verified)

Perdita has the same issue as I mentioned with Portia, only worse. In Russian it sounds almost exactly like "per-DIT", meaning (pardon my French) "he/she farts".
Sorry, all the Perditas out there...

July 20, 2010 9:03 PM
By Katie (not verified)

Florizel and Camillo were pleasant surprises for me. I quite enjoy Florizel actually!

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