Last week marked the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who‘, the highly anticipated special anniversary episode watched by avid fans (or Whovians) worldwide. The show captivated audiences from the start with its’ creativity and imaginative story lines that attracted viewers. The last of his race, the Doctor travels through time and space in his blue police box spaceship the TARDIS , regenerating each time he dies.
He travels with many different companions, many of whom are beloved by fans and have received their own spin-off shows, but the true heart of the show is the Doctor. With each regeneration the Doctor has the same memories but a distinct and different personality, meaning that each actor can put their unique stamp on the role, and all have become household names. If you’re a fan, perhaps you may like to honor your child with the name of your favorite Doctor.
William Hartnell (1963-1966)
His Doctor was an “amiable-yet-tetchy patriarch”. William is an enduring classic – and very popular, currently #5 in the U.S. Meaning ‘resolute protection’, there are plenty of Williams (and Wills) to inspire parents. Hartnell however has never charted so would be very distinctive, and comes with great short form Hart.
Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
Thanks to St Patrick‘s day, Patrick has a rather Irish feel. It has never fallen out of the top 200 in the U.S and has the benefit of feeling equal parts friendly and warm and preppy and noble. Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor was as an endearing “cosmic hobo” type.
Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
During Jons’ stint as Doctor the character was exiled to Earth. His scientifically minded Doctor has been described as “an active crusader with a penchant for action and fancy clothes”. The name Jon is much less popular than Jonathan or the traditional spelling John, but feels like a sleeker and more modern choice.
Tom Baker is one of the more beloved actors to play the Doctor – his trademark long striped scarf is iconic among Whovians. He was often brooding and aloof but had an eccentric style and whimsical charm. Tom is a short, friendly feeling name which consistently ranked in the top 200 in the U.S until 1969, when it began to fall rapidly. Longer form Thomas has never been out of the top 100 though. Surname/occupational name Baker feels more current, but is much less popular.
Peter Davison embodied a more vulnerable, reserved Doctor. The name Peter means ‘rock’ and is currently at its lowest ebb in the U.S, ranked at #205 in 2012. Peter is nonetheless an enduring classic and will likely remain in popular use for years to come. While Peter has been in regular use for centuries, surname Davison (meaning David‘s son) first appeared on the SSA charts in 1980 and is rarely used.
No relation to Tom, this Baker‘s Doctor was flamboyant, brash and overbearing. Colin is a short form of Nicholas and an Irish name meaning ‘pup’, and has a steady history of use, slowly climbing for a number of years. Irish actor Colin Farrell has likely been the biggest positive influence in recent years.
Sylvester McCoy was initially comedic, but became one of the darkest and most manipulative of the Doctors. The name Sylvester tends to bring to mind whiskers and tweety birds or the muscled action hero, both at odds with a name meaning ‘wood or forest’. It has been falling in popularity, eclipsed by the fast rising McCoy in 2010. This Irish name meaning ‘fire’ is currently benefiting from a love of all names Mc, and the positive association with the phrase “the real McCoy”.
Paul McGann (1996)
Another Mc name, although lacking the panache that McCoy has. While McGann is not a likely name choice, Paul has been in use since ancient times. It means ‘small’ but the number of influential Pauls to look up to is anything but. While Paul has never been in the top ten on the boys SSA list, it has also never been out of the top 200 – yet. This Doctor was debonair, with an enthusiasm that hid an old soul.
Christopher Eccleston (2005)
Christopher Eccleston was chosen to bring the Doctor back to television screens in 2005. He embodied an intense yet enigmatic leather-jacket-wearing Doctor. The name Christopher is another well loved classic. In the U.S, he was a top ten name for four decades. The variety of possible nicknames help to keep Christopher feeling current – Chris being a classic choice, Topher a modern one and Kit and Kip funky ones.
David Tennant (2005-2010)
David Tennant tops the polls as viewers favorite Doctor, his charismatic, witty and light-hearted portrayal causing his Doctor to be voted the “coolest character on UK television”. Tennant has the makings of a good modern hero name, but as a word name it’s meaning will probably mean it’s most often used in the middle position. David however suffers no such problem. A Hebrew name meaning ‘beloved’, David has long been a popular choice.
On this list of popular, classic boys names, Matthew (or Matt) can certainly hold his own. Almost everyone knows a Matt – he’s familiar and likable, like an old friend. Smith has a different feel, a little more mature, preppy and serious. Actor Matt Smith has brought a youthful exuberance to the role – and made bow ties cool.
Peter Capaldi (2014)
We’re yet to see what fresh spin this Peter will bring to the role. Maybe in the next few years we’ll start to see the name Capaldi in birth announcements if he does the role justice.
Who is your favorite Doctor, and would you honor him in your child’s name?
Brooke Cussans – better known on the Nameberry forums as bluejuniper – is based in Melbourne, Australia and is the author of name blog Baby Name Pondering. She especially loves rare and unusual names.
By E. Wittig, aka “Frankie“
We’ve just entered the period of the sign of Sagittarius, the archer. Sagittarius, ruled by Jupiter, is the ninth sign of the zodiac and is represented by a centaur drawing a bow. Traits said to be shared by people born under the archer are generosity, honesty, and compassion as well as foolishness, pride, and frankness. They are ethical but impulsive, and have a love of excitement and adventure. Though the turquoise is their main gemstone, a handful of others represent them as well.
Other elements associated with this sign are the color purple, the narcissus, and the dandelion. The archer is one of three fire signs along with Leo and Aries. Here are some astrological names for a baby born between now and December 21st which reflect these attributes:
Adara - Hebrew, fire
Aine - Irish, fire
Ascella - a star in the Sagittarius constellation
Calida - Latin, fiery
Camilla - an Italian fire goddess
Celosia - Greek, burning
Eldrid - Norse, beautiful fire
Eleanor - Greek; shining one, compassion
Fiametta - Latin, little fiery one
Gwenaëlle - Welsh, generous and noble
Ione - the name of a nymph; it means violet, a shade of purple
Mercy - English, compassion
Seraphina - Hebrew, ardent, fiery
Sholeh - Persian, flame
Theodosia - a Greek name combining the elements “generous” and “god”
Verity – Latin, truth
Aidan - Irish, little fire
Apollo - Greek archery god
Ash - usually a short form of other names, but also an English word referring to the powdery residue of a fire
Atar - Iranian fire god
Bowman - English surname for an archer
Brande - English, firebrand
Chiron - a centaur in Greek mythology
Idris - Hindu, fire; also Welsh, ardent lord
Jupiter - the ruling planet of Sagittarius
Karim - Arabic, generous and noble
Kaus - three stars in the constellation, and a word meaning bow
Makrim - Arabic, generous and noble
Nunki - one of the stars in the constellation
Theodosius - a Greek name combining the elements “giving, generous” and “god”
Toxotes - (like Socrates) the Greek name for Sagittarius
Artemis - Greek goddess of archery
Nuri - an Arabic and Hebrew name meaning “my fire”
Phoenix - a mythical bird reborn in its own ashes
If these none of these names appeal, but you’d still like a connection to the stars, here are the names of a few modern and historical Sagittarians:
E. Wittig is a stay-at-home mom to two well-named girls and is a big fan of unconventional names. She also writes novels.
Caspian is a character in C.S. Lewis’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. As a young boy in Prince Caspian, he had to fight for his throne against his usurping uncle to become king of Narnia, and as a youth in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader he led a daring expedition to the end of the world. In The Silver Chair, we meet him as a very old man, having reigned wisely and well, but also suffering personal tragedy. Because of his great sea voyage, he is known as Caspian the Seafarer. Perhaps because of this connection, Lewis named his character after the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest inland body of water; Caspian is a romantic geographic name which sounds rather like Casper with a Latin -ian ending. Actress Neve Campbell used it for her son.
Dexter Morgan is the protagonist of the Dexter series of psychological thrillers by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter works for the police as a forensic blood spatter analyst, but is a serial killer in his spare time–though only killing murderers, rapists, and other criminals. Dexter is an English occupational surname for someone who dyed cloth, literally “dyer” in Anglo-Saxon. The word was originally feminine, but Dexter has overwhelmingly been used as a male name. Dexter also happens to coincide with the Latin for “right handed,” with connotations of being skilful. The books have inspired a popular television series, with Michael C. Hall in the title role, and since Dexter began airing in 2006, the name (which was about to slip off the Top 1000) has gone steadily up in popularity in the US; it is currently #362. It may seem strange that a serial killer could save the name, but Dexter Morgan is an oddly sympathetic murderer and (perhaps slightly worryingly) female viewers find the character very attractive. Dexter fits in the surnames-for-boys trend, and has a cool X sound in it.
Dorian Gray is the protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. An extremely handsome young man who wishes his portrait could age while his own beauty remains changeless, his narcissistic wish is granted, and he spends his life in debauchery while retaining a youthful appearance, as his hidden portrait bears the mark of his every corruption. It is usually assumed that Wilde took the name Dorian from the Dorian people of ancient Greece–the Greeks did have names from this source, such as Dorieus and Doris. However, Dorian is also an Irish surname from O’Deoradhain, meaning “son of Deorain.” Use of the name predates the novel’s publication, and in Eastern Europe it may be a pet form of Teodor. Dorian is sometimes used for girls. Despite Dorian Gray being an evil character, the name has remained in use, and is #558 in the US, and #549 and rising in the UK.
Heathcliff is the male lead character in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, the foster-brother and love of Catherine Earnshaw. The novel explores the deep and obsessive love that Cathy and Heathcliff have for each other, and how the thwarting of that love turned Heathcliff into a tortured monster, though many think of Heathcliff as the Byronic hero and romantic lover whose passion lived beyond the grave. In film, he has been portrayed most memorably by Laurence Olivier. Heathcliff is an uncommon English surname meaning “heath on the cliff”; it doesn’t seem to have been used as a personal name before Wuthering Heights, and only rarely since. Actor Heath Ledger was named after Heathcliff (and his sister after Catherine!), and as Heath is a fashionable name at present, Heathcliff doesn’t seem too bizarre as a long form, although admittedly a bold choice.
Huckleberry “Huck” Finn is the protagonist of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the best friend of the hero in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The son of the town drunk, a neglected vagabond who lives a carefree existence until he is adopted and “civilised,” he runs away with an escaped slave named Jim, and the two travel down the Mississippi River by raft in search of freedom. Huck has been portrayed on film by Mickey Rooney, Ron Howard, Elijah Wood and others. Huckleberry is North American dialect for the bilberry, although in practice applied to several wild berries. The word has long been part of American slang, usually to suggest something small and insignificant – the perfect name for Huck Finn, a child of little consequence in his town. Later it came to mean “companion, sidekick”. Huckleberry was in occasional use as a personal name prior to the publication of Twain’s novels. This would make a sweet, offbeat name, while Huck is a hip short form.
Rhett Butler is the love interest of Scarlett O’Hara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. A black sheep, he becomes entranced with the spirited Scarlett, and admires her will to survive. Although viewed as a cad by polite Southern society, Rhett is tall, dark, handsome, charming, intelligent, and has a very good understanding of human psychology – especially female. He is the only person who can stand up to Scarlett, and beat her in a battle of wits. In the 1939 movie, the biggest box office smash in history when adjusted for inflation, Rhett is played by Clark Gable. Rhett is a surname which comes from the Dutch de Raedt, meaning “counsel, advice”. Mitchell seems to have chosen the name as an allusion to her first husband, “Red” Upshaw, on whom the character of Rhett Butler is based (with a dash of Rudolf Valentino). Rhett is a sexy bad boy name; in the U.S. it is #508 and rising.
This is an adaptation of a blog on Anna Otto’s site Waltzingmorethanmatilda.com. You can see the full, expanded version here. Anna blogs about a wide variety of Australian names, and Aussie name trends, at Waltzing More Than Matilda.
There’s a theory that baby names come back in style about every 80-100 years. Names that come back in style after 80-100 years are often called vintage or revival names.
Based on that theory, baby names from the 1930s (about 80 years from time of writing) should be the next wave of vintage revival names, poised to appear on monogrammed nursery accessories within the next 10-30 years.
But here’s the thing: the biggest revival names aren’t usually the mega-hit top 10 names from 80-100 years ago. The biggest revival names are usually the names that were moderately popular the first time around.
A perfect example of the 80-100 year rule is 2012’s top girl name, Sophia. Sophia had been somewhat popular over a century ago and then gradually declined, only to turn around in the 1990s when it rapidly climbed the Social Security list. However, Sophia is a lot more popular now than it was during its first peak back in 1882 at #116.
Based on that knowledge I set out to find names from the 1930s that weren’t always super common top 10 names, but rather names that peaked during that time and seem to represent the style of the decade.
Summarizing the decade’s style is challenging because fashions were in a state of flux at the time. As the provocative dress of the 1920s flappers was replaced by more sensible depression era attire, homespun names of the early 20th century such Emily, Ruby, and Sophie were stepping aside for Betty and Sally.
1930s name can be described as a mix of elegant / refined names such as Franklin, Marilyn and Sylvia, boyish nicknames such as Billie, Patsy, and Robbie, and (by 21st century standards) geek-chic names, such as Doyle, Gilbert and Norman.
Some of the names on this list didn’t even make the top 500 in the 1930’s but these names all peaked around that time.
These names were picked because they are very uncommon now, making them unexpected on modern babies and prime revival candidates. A few of these names, such as Betty and Joan, went from top 5 status to not even the top 1000 in the course of 80 years. The only name still in the top 200 is Kenneth.
Perhaps many modern parents have a hard time imagining what their great-grandparents saw in these names. However names that were once ridiculed become revered and vice-versa–often in the matter of a few short years.
Besides Marilyn, which names on this list do you feel have the best comeback potential?
Arrietty Clock is a teenage “borrower” from Mary Norton’s classic children’s fantasy book series, The Borrowers. The borrowers are tiny people who live by “borrowing” everyday items from the Big People they call “human beans.” Because of the spirited Arrietty’s curiosity, she and her family have far more adventurous lives than the average borrower. The borrowers’ names have also been “borrowed,” and used in new ways. Arrietty is reminiscent of the word arietta, meaning “little song, a small aria” in Italian. It is also similar to the name Harriet, and the short form Etty. As Aria and Harriet are quite popular, and Etta very hip, Arrietty is one of those invented names which we are half-surprised wasn’t used before the books’ publication.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, Arwen Undómiel is an Elven princess, said to be the most beautiful of the last generation of the High Elves. She is the lover of the hero Aragorn, and because she is an immortal, Arwen must sacrifice a great deal to be with her love. In the Elvish Sindarin language created by Tolkien, Arwen is said to mean “noble maiden.” However, Tolkien did not invent the name itself, which is a modern Welsh name. It may be a feminine form of Arwyn, which I have seen translated as “very fair, greatly blessed, splendid.” In the UK, Arwen began charting around the time The Fellowship of the Ring came out, and is currently #654 and rising.
Bellatrix Lestrange is an evil witch in the Harry Potter series, the Dark Lord Voldemort’s most faithful follower. Bellatrix was born into the Black family, and like all members of that clan, she is named after a star. Bellatrix is the common name of Gamma Orionis, a bright star in the constellation of Orion. Its name is Latin for “female warrior.” Bellatrix Lestrange’s name is apt because she is a skilled warrior for Voldemort, and has won many duels. It sounds very usable, because it has the popular Bella in it, and the -trix from hip Beatrix. However, while the Harry Potter character has raised the name’s profile, it’s also a stumbling block, because the character is evil – and not in a cool “strong yet misunderstood woman” way. Bellatrix is a fanatical racist with a love for murder and torture, and a starstruck Voldie fangirl with an annoying little-girl voice. So on one hand: great name. On the other: horrible association.
The Lorelei is the name of a famous rock on the River Rhine, and also that of a beautiful water sprite or siren associated with the rock, who is supposed to lure men to their doom. The character of the Lorelei comes from a nineteenth century German ballad which poet Heinrich Heine turned into a poem called Die Lorelei, where a golden-haired siren unwittingly distracts men with her beauty so they crash onto the rocks. The poem has often been set to music and is part of German popular culture. The name Lorelei is a combination of German dialect and Celtic, and means “murmuring rock,” and is the name of the alluring blonde in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, played on screen by Marilyn Monroe. The name also features in garrulous gabfest Gilmore Girls, where both mother and teen daughter share the name Lorelei (the younger goes by Rory). Pronounced LOR-uh-lie, it is #531 in the U.S.
Pollyanna Whittier is the title character of the Pollyanna books by Eleanor H. Porter, an eleven-year-old orphan who is sent to live with her Aunt Polly in New England, where her sunny disposition soon teaches her stern relative, and the whole town, how to play the “Glad Game” – where you always look for something to feel glad about. While many are charmed by the heroine’s upbeat view of life, cynics find her too syrupy and her philosophy simplistic. Because of this, the word Pollyanna has entered our language to mean someone optimistic to the point of naiveté. This would be a difficult name to give a child in many ways, but would make a sunshiney middle, and easily shortens to Polly.
Velvet Brown is the heroine of Enid Bagnold’s novel, National Velvet, about a teenager who rides to victory in the brutally difficult Grand National Steeplechase jump race. The story is about the ability of ordinary people to achieve great things – Velvet is a plain, rather sickly girl from a working-class family, and the horse she wins on is a piebald. The movie version chucks most of this inspiring message aside so they can show a radiantly pretty pre-teen Elizabeth Taylor galloping about on a chestnut thoroughbred. Velvet is a fabric that was originally very expensive to make, and therefore associated with nobility and royalty. The word is from Old French, from the Latin for “tuft, down”, because of velvet’s distinctive texture. It has been used as a name since the nineteenth century, and has been given mostly to girls.
This is an adaptation of a blog on Anna Otto’s site Waltzingmorethanmatilda.com. You can see the full, expanded version here. Anna blogs about a wide variety of Australian names, and Aussie name trends, at Waltzing More Than Matilda. Boys’ names will be coming soon.