Noble Names: Earls, Dukes, Kings and Queenies
When Guiliana and Bill Rancic recently named their son Edward Duke, the Edward was for family members on both sides, but they always intended to call him by his middle name, because, said Guiliana, Duke is such a strong name. And she’s not the first celebrity to think so. Diane Keaton bestowed it on her son in 2001, and Justine Bateman followed suit the following year.
In fact, several of these blue-blood titles have been a lot more popular than you might imagine.
Earl is the one name in this category that came to be accepted as a name apart from its noble heritage—but has anything but a lofty image—especially since My Name is Earl. But Earl didn’t fall off the list until 2006—before that it was a Top 50 name until 1939 and then stayed in the Top 100 through 1954, attached to such distinguished figures as Chief Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, banjo player Earl Scruggs and jazzman Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, as well as basketball star Vernon Monroe known as “Earl the Pearl.” Perry Mason-creator E. Stanley Gardner spelled his first name Erle. Is it possible that Earl could follow sister Pearl back into favor?
King was in fashion at the turn of the last century, when captains of industry might be referred to as King Such-and-Such and musicians had royal nicknames like King Oliver and Count Basie, and an important early Hollywood director was christened King Vidor. Today King might still be used on its own—as more than 700 American parents did last year—or as a short form of Kingston or Kingsley.
Prince—Yes, the singer’s birth name is really Prince Rogers Nelson (a salute to his father’s stage name, Prince Rogers, and yes, Michael Jackson’s sons are named Prince Michael Joseph Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II (aka Blanket). Now that we’ve got that straight—you may be surprised to know that Prince has not been restricted to singing stars or vets’ waiting rooms: at this moment, Prince ranks at Number 481, the highest it’s been since 1910! A prominent example of human-canine crossover.
Princess, on the other hand, has remained more of a nickname for Daddy’s little girl, just as she was in the 1954 Father Knows Best. Exception: prominent British celebs Katie Price and Peter Andre who named their daughter Princess Tiaamii—a choice met with considerable derision.
Duke—But back to Duke. Used much more as a nickname—as it was for John Wayne and Edward Kennedy Ellington, Duke has been chosen as a first by others than Diane Keaton and Justine Bateman. After being on the list sporadically—reaching as high as 719 in 1956—it fell off in 1971. But between that E!Entertainment couple and hunky characters like Channing Tatum’s Duke Orsino in She’s the Man—we think it could make a comeback.
Baron has a certain sophistication—if you don’t let The Red Baron or Baron Munchausen get in the way. Baron Davis is an admired basketball player, and the Donald Trumps spelled their boy’s name Barron, as in the financial newspaper; hotel magnate Barron Hilton is the grandfather of Paris and Nicky.
Marquis— A marquise is a nobleman ranking between a duke and earl or count. The name Marquis has had some popularity among African-American parents, especially in the 1980s and 90s. Rapper 50-Cent named his son Marquise, David Caruso has a Marquez—which just might be after the great Colombian writer.
And now we get to a few variations on the theme:
Queenie—Queenie takes the royal image, does a flip, and turns it on its head. Saucy showgirl that she is, Queenie was a turn-of-the-last-century fave, inspired by Queen Victoria, and stayed on the US list most years until 1927. Lisa Bonet, Rachel Ward and Taraji P.Henson have all played characters named Queenie.
Rex—Unlike most of these names, the dashing Rex, Latin for king, is an up-and-comer, nowhere near his Top 300 highs from 1911 to 1966, but on the rise, along with all the other x-men. Several celebs have fallen in thrall to Sexy Rexy, including Will Champion, Natascha McElhone, Sophie Kinsella and Niki Taylor.
Regina—Rex’s consort has had a steady presence on the popularity list, never sky high, but on it from the beginning. Her high point was the 1960s, when Regina was a Top 100 name; she’s now at Number 561. An infamous namesake is Regina Giddens, the indelible central character in Lillian Hellman’s play The Little Foxes. Modern bearers include actresses King and Taylor, opera diva Resnik, and Russian-American singer-songwriter Regina Spektor. Trivia tidbit: Regina is the birth name of Jenna Fisher.
Would you consider any of these noble names?
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on October 31st, 2012 at 11:27 pm
I LOVE the name Regina. Too bad my husband doesn’t.
on November 1st, 2012 at 12:09 am
Reina/Raina is on our possibility list.
Rex has a dashing Prohibition-era feel to me, because of Rex Stout who wrote the Nero Wolfe mysteries.
on November 1st, 2012 at 6:15 am
Regina, Duke and Baron are “useable” to me
on November 1st, 2012 at 6:53 am
My name is Reine. I am one of the 700 people in the US with that name. And believe me, the pronounciation is all but obvious. My parents pronounce it Rainy, but the correct pronounciation is closer to Wren then Raine.
And, I’ve heard fourteen different pronounciations. Go with Reina instead.
Knight is a potential name choice for me- simply because my favorite teacher’s surname was Knight.
on November 1st, 2012 at 7:58 am
This is very odd, and I never put all of these coincidences together, but — I have a student in my 6th grade class this year named Queenie (I think it’s adorable, maybe because she’s such a great kid), a coworker named Reina (also a beautiful name), and one of my closest friends is named Royale – and every time she introduces herself to someone new, she’s met with the same reaction – “Ooo, what a pretty name!” I have a lot of royalty in my life, I suppose. 🙂
on November 1st, 2012 at 8:33 am
Title names are not my favorite. I wonder if they work better in the US than overseas where families still have them as titles. I went to a private school in Germany and had a Countess and a Duke in my class (titles not names). I think using any of those as a name would feel odd to me. (Though I can see Rex if it didn’t remind me of the famous German TV “Comissar Rex” – which is about a German Shepard police dog named Rex.)
on November 1st, 2012 at 9:02 am
You forgot Reina. It means Queen in Spanish.
on November 1st, 2012 at 9:45 am
I’m not a big fan of title names, but I do like Duke and Royal is growing on me.
on November 1st, 2012 at 10:27 am
My grandfather’s middle name is Earl (it was my great-grandfather’s first name). I wonder if I will fall in love with it when it comes time to name my children. In fact, I might not even like the name if it didn’t remind me of Papa. I like Early as a middle name alternative to Earl, but I don’t love that either. I am not a fan of any of the other names on this list.
on November 1st, 2012 at 10:28 am
This kind of relates to this post, but when I was born my grandparents met parents of a baby girl who was born around the same time as I was. They told my grandparents they were going to name their daughter Cinderella! They were 100% serious about this name and to this day I wonder how she got along in her childhood, especially being in high school now. My grandmother tried to convince them to name her maybe Cindy or Ella or even a different princess name! But in this post, I do know someone named Queenie, Regina, and I also know a Reyna and that name is growing on me!
on November 1st, 2012 at 10:52 am
“and the junior Donald Trumps spelled their boy’s name Barron”
Barron Trump is actually the son of Donald Trump Sr. & Melania Trump. Donald Trump Jr. does not have a son named Barron.
on November 1st, 2012 at 1:18 pm
I once babysat a girl named Queen. Not Queenie, just Queen.
on November 1st, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Oh I love the name Rex!! These names seem slightly more appropriate for … dogs. But I do see their appeal. I think Contessa is a really pretty name, but oddly it’s not on nameberry so I’m not sure if it’s related to Countess.
My favorite name meaning queen is Malka.
on November 1st, 2012 at 2:00 pm
I stand corrected!
on November 1st, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Forgive me for putting a downer on some wonderful names, but in some countries isn’t it against the law to bestow a given name which may be mistaken for a title? So that would rather rule out most of these names for certain areas of the world?
on November 1st, 2012 at 3:14 pm
Queenie is absolutely lovely! I especially like it as a nn for Victoria/Elizabeth.
I like Regina based solely upon the reference to Friends (IE: ‘Regina Phalange’ hahaha, I love Phoebe). Although thinking about it, it IS very pretty.
on November 1st, 2012 at 4:27 pm
The only name I really like on this list is Laird. It’s on my list but I can’t get hubby onboard. I have a cousin Barron so I like this name also since he’s great but I obviously wouldn’t be able to use it.
on November 1st, 2012 at 4:51 pm
I think title names are usually either lowbrow (Princess, anyone?) or confusing (as with military titles, such as Major or Ensign, or professional titles, such as Doctor or Dean). Best avoided either way in most cases.
on November 1st, 2012 at 5:29 pm
I know two guys named Rex, one is in his 30s the other is probably 90. I think it’s a nice name and never associated it with dogs or found it too hard to wear.
I also know a guy named Duke and the royalty thing never really crossed my mind.
on November 1st, 2012 at 5:32 pm
As someone who grew up in Detroit–where minority poverty is rather high–I’d have to say that these names scream “low class” to me. I have known a number of Princess’s, Prince’s, King’s, Marquis’s, Queenie’s, and also Diamond’s, and one “Famous.” I have always, ALWAYS associated these names with low-class, obnoxious, disrespectful, fist-throwing, unteachably unintelligent minorities in poverty. I would not recommend using these names for you children if you live anywhere near Detroit or another big city where there are high numbers of poverty; your kids simply WILL NOT find a job. They will not get far in life. They will just end up changing their names. That being said, all of these are fine as nicknames if you don’t mind the association with dog’s names.
on November 1st, 2012 at 6:37 pm
I went to school with siblings named Prince, Princess, and… Mercedes.
on November 1st, 2012 at 7:20 pm
dayjoysky2815, what about people who pluralize with apostrophes?
on November 1st, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Royal names might get more popular because of the new show, Once Upon a Time. The evil queen’s name is Regina… Awesome show if you haven’t seen it!!
on November 1st, 2012 at 10:58 pm
I have known Princess, Duke and Baron (sibset) and Marquis (pronounced with a “qu” like “queen”). I’ve also known a Sir and a Precious which I think kinda have the same inflated feeling. I wouldn’t use any of the names except Royal, which I love but would probably have to be a mn. I first heard it on the title character in The Royal Tenenbaums. He’s not the greatest guy but the name’s awesome.
on November 5th, 2012 at 4:22 pm
I had a dog named Duchess, but I can’t really see it being wearable for a person.
on April 2nd, 2014 at 9:10 pm
In French, “reine” is pronounced “ren”, like “wren”, not “rain”. So it isn’t a homonym of rain. Just saying 🙂
on March 21st, 2020 at 12:32 am
Replik AR Fabrik
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.