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Gender: M Meaning of Basil: "regal" Origin of Basil: Greek

Popularity: this week.

Although Greek in origin--in the fourth century, a bishop by that name established the principles of the Greek Orthodox Church--Basil for years took on the aura of aquiline-nosed upper-class Britishness of Sherlock Holmes portrayer Basil Rathbone, then spiced with the fragrant aroma of the herb that entered with the Pesto generation.

Now, it's time to take a fresh look at Basil.

Basil was on the U.S. popularity list quite regularly up till 1970, reaching a high of Number 328 in 1904. Its history includes several rulers of the Byzantine Empire and Eastern Orthodox saints, including one whose grandmother, father, older sister and two younger brothers were all saints as well.

Basil has also been seen as a figure of fun, as in the manic Basil Fawlty in the British TV comedy classic "Fawlty Towers," in the Disney movie "Basil of Baker Street," and as Basil Brush and Basil Wombat in other kids' entertainment.

The Russian version, Vassily, is another possibility.

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Famous People Named Basil

Basil Rathbone, actor famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
Basil Foley, son of actor Dave Foley

Pop Culture References for the Name Basil

Basil Fawlty is the main character of the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, played by John Cleese.

Basil (the polar bear) was a Canadian Sesame Street character.

Basil of Baker Street, mouse detective from Disney's "The Great Mouse Detective"

Basil Exposition - Character in the Austin Powers movies

Basil is the main character's betrothed in Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles) by Lauren DeStefano.

Basil Hallward being the artist who paints Dorian's portrait in the novel by Oscar Wilde, "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

Basil is an herb popular for culinary use.

Bas, Baz

Basil's International Variations

Basul (Arabic) Vasil, Bazil (Czech) Bale, Basile (French) Vazul (Hungarian) Breasal (Irish) Basek (Polish) Vasile (Romanian) Vasili, Vas, Vaslek, Wassily, Vasya, Vasily, Vassily (Russian) Bazyli, Bazel (Slavic) Basilio (Spanish) Basle, Basilius (Swedish)