How I Named My Baby: Osric Theo Peregine
Anna, a writer, and Ian, who works in metal recycling, live in Virginia with their four children: Adelaide Iria, Evelina Story, Seraphine Clementine, and Osric Theo Peregrine.
Their fourth and final child, Osric Theo, was born on July 5, 2021. Here, we talk to Anna about how she and Ian named their only son.
Tell me how you named Osric!
Osric was an early Christian saint and ruler of the province of England that is now Gloucestershire. My husband’s family is from there — he was born and raised in Gloucestershire, we met there, we got married there, and our first daughter was born there.
Osric founded the monastic house at Gloucester and Bath, which eventually became Gloucester Cathedral and Bath Abbey. The two buildings are not around as Osric knew them, but in their current forms are two of my favorite examples of Gothic architecture. I studied architectural history in college, so Osric’s name is a nod to that as well as a part of the world that I love.
People’s reactions have been very interesting. With the girls, it was very important to me that everyone said, “Oh, what a beautiful name!” Maybe it’s maturity, or the pandemic reducing everything down to the bare bones of what matters, but Ian and I were like, “You know what? We’re going to choose a name that we love.” Who cares what everyone else thinks?
The only thing people have struggled with for Osric is if the S is pronounced like an S or a Z. After he was born, we realized we pronounce it like a Z, but it doesn’t bother me when people say it like an S.
What’s the story behind Theo Peregrine?
We tried to do one kid’s middle name after each of their four grandparents. We weren’t sure if we were going to have a fourth child but thought since they each had their paternal grandfather’s last name, he would be the last one to be honored. His name is Derek.
I did some research, and Derek comes from Theodoric. I liked Theodoric, but you can’t do Osric Theodoric! Theo was a nod to the Theodoric. We use Osric Theo as a double first name, so I wanted something that he could use if he wanted to blend in, if Osric is just too out there for him at any point in his life.
We just like the name Peregrine. Ian said it’s too posh. I wasn’t aware of this, but the connotation in Britain is that it’s very upper class. So we didn’t consider it for a first name, but wanted to use it as a middle.
Peregrine means “traveler,” and there’s also the connection to Peregrin Took in Lord of the Rings. I am a huge Lord of the Rings nerd and we both love to travel, so it fit.
What were the other names on your list?
The top few names were Alcuin, which is another medieval reference — he was a monk and scholar from Northumbria who brought a lot of learning to England from the continent. Part of the reason we decided against that was the spelling, which isn’t intuitive. We thought we’d save him the hassle.
There was also Emmerich. I tried each of them out in my head, and Osric was first. It was great — it really fit in with the girls’ names — and none of the other names I tried seemed to stick as well.
I loved Alcuin and Emmerich, but both of those initials were taken by our daughters. Our oldest two are Adelaide and Evelina, so I thought it would be nice to have different initials for every kid.
Do you usually refer to him as Osric or Osric Theo?
I usually call him Osric. Ian sometimes calls him Osric Theo, and on formal stuff like our Christmas card I’ll put Osric Theo. But typically, just to make it easy, he’s Osric. His sisters have come up with all kinds of nicknames — Ozzy and Ozzo are the biggest. Seraphine came up with another nickname this week — Osri.
We’re not Ozzy Osbourne fans — he has a not-great history with animal cruelty — but Ozzy is still a really cute name. Ozzy Osbourne doesn’t need to own that nickname if we want to use it sometimes!
Did you think about girl names at all?
I had some in the back of my mind, left over from the lists for our daughters. Ian and I didn’t really talk about it, but my top girl name would have been Dulcinea or Corisande — something along those lines.
Ian likes offbeat names. He won’t usually suggest names — I make a list and he goes through and says yes or no. Then we talk about it and condense it down.
He had a few names that he liked when we first got married — Zion, Levi, and Acacia. They’re fine, but we didn’t end up using any of them. You can tell who has stronger opinions about names!
What would your younger self have liked to name a baby?
When I was a kid, I would always tell stories and invent fictional characters. At 12, I read a book with a character named Adelaide, and that was my first exposure to the name. I decided that my first daughter was going to be named Adelaide, and she is! I have a very sweet husband.
I remember liking names like Julie and Taylor back in the ‘90s, when I first started thinking about names. I loved the idea of sibling sets with rhyming names, like Lina, Mina, and Tina, which I would never do now for practical reasons. But when I was 10, I thought it was awesome.
One of our daughters, Evelina, is named after my grandmother’s Aunt Lina, so I kind of ended up using that one too, even though she doesn’t go by Lina right now.
When did you become interested in more unusual names?
I’ve always had that desire to be different. Names are a way I can be unique without incurring too much societal pushback. Most of my life is fairly conventional — I’m a stay-at-home mom, I live in a suburb — but this is something that without spending any extra money, doing anything nuts or too risky, I could express myself as being different.
I’ve always had a strong interest in history, so I wanted old names with connections to historical figures that my kids could look back on. Adelaide loves that there was a queen named Adelaide. She tells all her friends that she was named after a queen, which isn’t quite true, but close enough.
I remember keeping track of cool names I’d come across when I was studying history in college. A lot of names in English history are very conventional — Mary and John and all the royal names. I didn’t find a whole lot of inspiration in those!
A year ago, I was researching Anglo-Saxon names for a book that had Anglo-Saxon characters. I fell in love with so many. They have a lot of the same elements that are combined in different ways. A lot are very accessible! You see the elements os and ric a lot.
What are the trendy names in your social circle?
I know a lot of Jacksons — not surprising! But I have to say, our girls’ school is unbelievably diverse, with children from all different cultures and countries. My kids come home and tell me their friends’ names, and I’ve never heard of half of them before! By the time I was eight or nine, my idea of which names were normal, and which were different was pretty set. I love how they’re growing up without the judgment of names.
The one name I’ve seen across a wide variety of cultures is Zoe. Surname names are popular for boys, like Holden and Thatcher, but there’s a lot of variety within that.
Did you ever have any big fears related to baby names?
Osric felt more out-there than the girls’ names. There were definitely moments where I was like, “Oh my gosh — I don’t know if I like this! This is so out-there, and people aren’t showering it with praise like did with the girls.” I was worried it was awful. Ian assured me it was fine.
I overheard my dad saying to my cousin, “He’s just the cutest little boy and his name is Osric. It’s different, but I like it!” He didn’t realize I could hear him. I thought if that was what people were saying behind my back, we chose a good name.
What was the most surprising part of the baby name process this time around?
The distinct divide between how British and American friends and family responded surprised me. The British people were like, “Oh, how cool!” and the Americans were like, “Ohhhh. Say it again? What are you going to call him? Is that a family name?” No one was unkind, and people were just trying to wrap their heads around it.
What advice would you give someone who’s just starting the baby name process?
Keep a list of names you come across that you love. You might not end up using any of them, but it can be helpful to go through and find similarities and trends.
I love that so many of our kids’ names come from keeping my eyes open wherever I went. I found Osric’s name on a tomb in a cathedral! Not a lot of people name their kid after a tomb.
Kids today are raised with such a wide variety of names — depending on where you live, but certainly where I live. I didn’t realize that when we moved here, but my kids have such a broader experience of what “normal” means. I would tell people to be bold and not worry too much. If you fall in love with a name that’s out-there — as long as it’s not harmful to the baby — go with what you love. Don’t give up on a name that you love just because you’re worried that it’s “weird.”
Thank you so much, Anna!
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Photos via Bella Baby Photography and Anna Read