Blame L’il Abner, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Andy Griffith and even The Simpsons, for the fact that some names have long been stereotyped as aw shucks, rube, hick, hayseed, country bumpkin names. Well, one of our causes here at nameberry is the slaying of stereotypes, and we think there are names here that are definitely worthy of resuscitation. Some of them are already making their way back from that cartoony pigeonholing—there have, for example, been starbabies and civilian named Chester, Gus, Homer, Jasper, and certainly lots of Lukes—but they all deserve a second look–I think several of them have a nice, down home, funky appeal.
BARNEY (has other problems related to prehistoric purple)
It doesn’t seem fair. Why have some perfectly good names become permanently tainted by their links to a particular fictional character while others haven’t? How come Olivia is OK despite her porcine persona, all Oscars aren’t considered grouches, and even Dexter‘s popularity seems to be rising in spite of his avocation on TV as a serial killer, while Jemima and Jethro, Elmo and Eloise remain somewhat stigmatized? I say let’s take another look at some of these names and see if we can’t get them out of quarantine.
ELMO–A lively O-ending saint’s name, Elmo is the patron saint of sailors, and the legendary St. Elmo‘s fire is a bright glow that sometimes appears on ships during thunderstorms, as well as being the name of a seminal 1980’s Brat Pack film.
GROVER–A fine upstanding Presidential and nature-ish (originally given to someone living near a grove) surname crying out to be considered for its own spunky self.
KERMIT–Enough with the ‘It isn’t easy being green’ froggy references. Instead think of its relation to the well-liked Dermot, Kermit evolving from the Irish surname MacDermot, or son of Dermot. And Teddy Roosevelt used it for his son
And a couple of others with kiddie references:
ELOISE— Long associated with the imperious little 6-year-old who ruled the Plaza Hotel, Eloise is the most likely on this list to redeem herself, what with the growing popularity of similar names like Eloisa and Elodie.
LINUS–No, using this name does not condemn your baby boy to clinging to his security blanket for life a la the Peanuts character. Linus has considerable grown-up charm and some interesting associations: in Greek mythology he was the inventor of rhythm and melody who taught music to Hercules, and a distinguished modern namesake is Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel prizes. And, believe it or not, cinema characters named Linus have been played by Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Matt Damon and Harrison Ford.