Bold Boy Names: How about Thor?
Should they name their son Thor? He’s big on the heroic heritage pick, but she fears it might be too much name for a mere mortal.
I’m writing with an odd conundrum. My husband is dead set on naming our son Thor.
My husband’s family is Norwegian and very proud of their heritage though they’ve been in the US for several generations. My father-in-law is named Thor. My husband is one of the few men in his family without a clearly Scandinavian name. He’s Kurt, with family members called Lars, Per, Nils, Ole, Bjorn, and even Torbjor.
But he doesn’t want just any Scandinavian name. He wants to name his son after his father.
I shut down the possibility the minute we started talking about marriage and kids. I adore my father-in-law, and he wears his name well. He even loves Thor movie memorabilia.
Therein lies my problem. I fell asleep during the Avengers movie. My favorite names are Henry, Thomas, Jack, August, or Jude. Maybe something from a novel. I don’t want to explain for the rest of my life that he wasn’t named after a superhero. I can’t stop thinking about the looks I’d get from other parents. (I know I shouldn’t care, but I do.) Plus, we plan on having more than one child. What would we possibly name a sibling for Thor?
And yet, since we found out we were having a boy, Thor is starting to grow on me! I love seeing how excited it makes my husband to talk about how much my father-in-law would love it. I know a little boy would probably love to be named Thor, and now a tiny part of my brain is considering it, which I never thought would happen. Am I going crazy? Can I name a child Thor? Should I?
The Name Sage replies:
Normally, I can advocate for nearly any family name.
But … Thor?
During your father-in-law’s childhood, Thor was the rough equivalent of Orion or Finn MacCool. Many of us know the legends and myths; if nothing else, it makes the name more familiar. Back in the 1950s and 80s and so on, Thor probably seemed different, even edgy.
Today, thanks to the Marvel universe, nearly everyone immediately thinks of the muscle-bound Asgardian warrior played by Chris Hemsworth. Word is that Marvel has mapped out another ten years – or more – of movies. Would a kindergartener like to share his name with a big screen hero? Sure. By middle school, that might not be the case.
Still, it’s impossible to know how your son will feel. Let’s focus on a few facts:
First, the name has steadily increased in use. Over the last decade, nearly 1,000 newborn Thors have arrived. Yours might be the only Thor in his class, but he wouldn’t be one-of-one. Credit the rise of other Th- names like Theo, as well as our affection for strong boy names. In fact, Thor started to rise a few years before the first movie debuted – so it’s not all about the big screen version of the character.
Big, bold names are more common in general, and Thor specifically has risen in use. Now factor in your family ties, and there’s good reason to consider giving this super-charged name to your son.
But if you’re still hesitating – or if you can’t quite bring yourself to imagine your son sharing his name with the hammer-wielding hero – let’s talk about some compromises:
First, you can pick a rock-solid middle name. You’ve noted that your husband won’t entertain Henry Thor. But how ‘bout Thor Henry? Because if your son does arrive at middle school and find himself really disliking his Marvel moniker, he can also be known as T. Henry.
Second, you might choose an elaboration of Thor. Thorin or Thorsen or Thorsten or Thornton all work, and most are derived from Thor. Or maybe Hawthorn, even? They’re still unusual, but they’re also easy ways to get to the nickname Thor. Pulitzer Prize winning author Thornton Wilder makes that option impeccably literary.
You might also include a middle initial that leads to a nickname. Thor James could be TJ. Thor Riley could be TR. The list is endless, but it’s yet another way to name your son Thor, but have a back-up name in place.
But there’s a second issue, beyond the question of whether Thor feels like the right name for this child. While every couple compromises when naming a child, it should never feel like you’re using a name that makes you uncomfortable. So if you cannot embrace the name, you and your husband should move on and choose something fresh, even if that means going back to other Scandinavian names or your original list.