Hot Baby Names: Max in the Spotlight
Max can stand on its own or may be a short form of the ancient Roman name Maximus, which means “greatest,” or of Maximilian or Maxwell. It’s one of the down-to-earth cigar-chomping grandpa names last popular a hundred years ago and enjoying a huge revival now. Like brothers Sam and Jake, Max is unpretentious and friendly but also sounds cool.
Celebrities led the way in launching the revival of the name, starting in the late 70s and early 80s. Stars who are the parents of now-grown kids named Max include Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, Steven Spielberg, and Nora Ephron & Carl Bernstein.
More recent celebrity baby Maxes include:
Besides the character in the Maurice Sendak classic, other pop culture influences on the revival of the name include:
MAXWELL’s Silver Hammer – Beatles song
Maxwell has a somewhat different root: It’s an old Scottish surname meaning Mack’s stream, which derives from the Scandinavian Magnus, which also means great. (Will Ferrell and Kirsty Swanson both have little boys named the related MAGNUS)
All forms of the name have been rising on the popularity list in recent years. The name’s 2008 standings are:
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on November 2nd, 2009 at 3:14 am
You guys forgot Maxwell Alston, Trista from the Bachlorette’s son. Brother or Blakesley Grace
on November 2nd, 2009 at 4:15 am
There is also Max Detweiler in The Sound of Music.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 8:10 am
I really like Max but I wish celebrities would stop using so if I use it it won’t seem like copying.
I really don’t want it to get so common that it loses all meaning.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 9:29 am
Max was my dog’s name so I don’t care for it as a boy’s name.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 10:12 am
I do like Max! He’s one of the few mini names that feels like a full name to me. Friends of ours used it for their son. Because their firstborn was Zoe, they wanted their son to have an equally brief-but-complete name.
Maxx, on the other hand, always makes me think TJ Maxx – nothin’ wrong with discount shopping, but a weird association for a given name.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 12:27 pm
I love Maxwell Smart to the max. Would you believe… I’m glad you included him in your list of famous Maxes!
on November 2nd, 2009 at 2:55 pm
I like Max but it’s popularity, particularly in the last 5 years, has seriously dampened it for me. It has become like ‘The Gap’: while some people still think of it as “cool” or “classic” it’s completely unoriginal and can be found around every corner.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 3:08 pm
My cousin’s boy is named Maximus, but only called Max. I don’t know if it was appreciated when I asked if he was named after the character from “Gladiator.”
on November 2nd, 2009 at 4:45 pm
Max is such a great name, though I personally hate Maximilian. Maxwell or just Max are my favorites, though I can see Maximus maybe possibly growing on me.
I just hope it doesn’t get TOO popular. Not that I’d be using it any time soon.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 4:56 pm
A, shall we say original, feminine variation is Maximilienne, chosen by Victoria Recano and Tom Burwell, Victoria hosts E! or something. They call her Emme.
on November 2nd, 2009 at 4:58 pm
I have to say, this is one of my naming pet peeves, when someone picks a really original name like Maximilienne and then shortens it to something so much more pedestrian like Emme. Cute, yes, but distinguished? No. It’s kind of nicknaming down….
on November 4th, 2009 at 8:26 am
Ever since I was a little girl I knew if I ever had a son his name would be Max. Then with the increase in popularity I almost didn’t use it when the time came. I am so glad I did though- it’s a great name and we really don’t run into it often where we live. However, you missed the long form I chose for my now 6 year old son: Maxfield.
on November 10th, 2009 at 8:48 pm
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