Max, the name of both the child hero and the young actor who plays him in Where The Wild Things Are, is one of the hottest boys’ names these days.
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 NoraEphron & Carl Bernstein.
MAX – female character played by Vanessa Redgrave in Mission Impossible
In AnnieHall, WoodyAllen and his best friend call each other MAX, though that isn’t the real name of either of their characters.
Starting as a Roman family name, Maximus was an early monk and theologian from Constantinople. Maximilian grew out of Maximus and has been born by saints, kings and emperors.
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. (WillFerrell 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: