"What's in a name?" It's a question both Juliet and parents across the globe ponder. When we're considering a name for our child, we want it to have meaning, to hold some weight, to sound beautiful and look good on paper. So, where to begin?
Shakespeare is always a good start.
For parents looking for unique, timeless names, here are 35 Shakespearean baby names.
For girls ....
1. Viola -- The lead character in Twelfth Night, as well as an instrument. Famous Violas include Viola Davis and Gwyneth Paltrow's character in Shakespeare in Love, Viola de Lesseps.
2. Susanna -- Not a character in one of the famous author's plays, but Susanna Hall was one of the daughters of Shakespeare.
3. Celia -- One of the main characters of As You Like It. Described by Orlando (another character) as a "fair and excellent lady." Saint Celia is the patron saint of musicians.
4. Luciana -- One of the characters in The Comedy of Errors. It's an elaborate version of Lucy. Carnie Wilson named her daughter Luciana.
5. Cordelia -- One of King Lear's daughters. Nicknames include Delia and Cora. And if you're on the fence about the name, consider this quote from Anne of Green Gables: "I would love to be called Cordelia. It's such a perfectly elegant name."
6. Beatrice -- Heroine in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice, which means "she who brings happiness," has recently seen a surge of popularity. Bryce Dallas Howard named her daughter that in 2012.
7. Sylvia -- From Shakespeare's poem, Who Is Sylvia? Other famous Silvias include writer Sylvia Plath and psychic Sylvia Browne.
8. Rosalind -- Rosalind, one of the heroines in As You Like It, means "pretty rose."
9. Paulina -- Paulina is one of the characters in The Winter's Tale, and also the name of famous '90s model Paulina Porizkova. Means "small."
10. Helena -- A sweet version of "Helen." Helena appears in both A Midsummer Night's Dream and All's Well That Ends Well. Famous Helenas include Helena Bonham Carter and Helena Christensen.
11. Olivia -- A beautiful, noble character in Twelfth Night. Olivia Munn, Olivia Wilde, and Olivia Palermo are other famous women who go by the name. Olivia is incredibly popular right now -- it ranked 4th on the Social Security Adminstration's Top Baby Names in the United States for 2012.
12. Titania -- Titania, which means "giant," is the beautiful queen of the faries in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
13. Ophelia -- Means "help," and Hamlet's tragic heroine. Author Roald Dahl named his daughter Ophelia.
14. Juliet -- Most famous for Romeo and Juliet, but other famous Juliets, or Juliettes, include Juliette Binoche and Juliette Lewis.
15. Adriana -- Character from The Comedy of Errors. It's the feminine form of Adrian.
16. Hermione -- Originally made famous by The Winter's Tale, but made much more famous by the character in Harry Potter.
17. Perdita -- A Shakespearean invention for an abandoned baby in The Winter's Tale, but given a positive spin, thanks to one of the dogs in Disney's 101 Dalmatians.
For boys ...
1. Balthazar -- Romeo's servant and trusted friend in Romeo and Juliet. Can be a mouthful, so "Balt" is a cute nickname. Unique but not too out there. Other famous Balthazars include actor Baltazar Getty. Balthasar can be an alternative spelling.
2. Julius -- From Julius Caesar. A cute alternative to the growing-in-popularity Julian. Julius was an extremely popular Christian name in Roman times and wasn't used in English-speaking countries until the 19th century.
3. Lysander -- Lysander is most famous for being one of the two star-struck men in A Midsummer Night's Dream, but the name also belonged to an esteemed Spartan naval commander.
4. Iago -- A cute and original name, but if associations freak you out, beware. Iago was the manipulative villain of Othello who's responsible for the demise of Othello and Desdemona. Talk about unique -- this name barely hits any of the popularity charts.
5. Jaques -- An alternative spelling to the popular French name, Jacques. Jacques, from As You Like It, is thought of as a typical Elizabethan comedy character. Also consider Jack.
6. Orlando -- Also a character in As You Like It. Famous people who share this moniker include Orlando Bloom, Orlando Jones, and Orlando Brown. Also the name of the town Disney World resides in.
7. Horatio -- Horatio is the name of Hamlet's loyal friend. Like Horace, it's a variation of the Latin Horatius. Although somewhat uncommon, Horatio isn't unheard of in modern times. David Caruso's character in CSI: Miami was named Horatio Caine; and Horatio Sanz was a former Saturday Night Live actor.
8. Nick -- Nick Bottom is a character in A Midsummer Night's Dream. A popular name on its own, but beware if you're looking to name your little boy after a Shakespeare character: Nick's head turns into the head of a donkey after a prank. Nicholas and Nico (which is rising in popularity) are alternatives.
9. Sebastian -- Sebastian, from Twelfth Night, is Viola's twin and the eventual lover of Olivia's. In 2012, Sebastian was the 64th most popular name for boys born in the United States, up from 152 in 1999.
10. Lorenzo -- An upstanding character in The Merchant of Venice, Lorenzo is the fourth most popular name in Italy, and it's gaining traction in France right now, as well. Sadly, though, if you're not a fan of Jersey Shore, you might want to think twice about naming your son Lorenzo, as it's the name Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi gave to her baby.
11. Demetrius -- One of the four main characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream. It's derived from the name of the Greek goddess, Demeter.
12. Cassio -- Michael Cassio, or simply Cassio, is a character in Othello. Cassio Ramos is a well-known soccer player from Brazil. And cute nickname? Cass, of course.
13. Lucio -- Lucio is a character in Measure for Measure. It's the Spanish variation of Lucas. It's also an Italian surname.
14. Robin -- One of the main characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream (referred to as "Puck"). Robin means famed; bright; shining. It's not just for girls as Robin Williams, Robin Thicke, and of course, Robin Hood demonstrate.
15. Quintus -- From Titus Andronicus. Quintus means "fifth" in Latin, as it was traditionally given to the fifth child.
16. Hugh -- Sir Hugh Mortimer is an uncle of Richard Duke of York in Henry VI. Other famous Hughs? Hugh Laurie; Hugh Grant; and Hugh Dancy. Nicknames for Hugh include Hud, Hug, Huey. This is a great choice if you are looking for something original -- the popularity of Hugh has taken a nosedive since 1880, according to Nameberry.
17. Romeo -- Sure, Romeo from Romeo and Juliet is the most famous Romeo of all, but Victoria and David Beckham made it cool again when they bestowed that name unto their second son.
18. Cato -- Cato is originally a character in Julius Caesar. But the name also appears in the Hunger Games, which has inspired many baby names.
Which one of these names do you like best?
Image via Alberto G/Flickr