American names, angel names, Aramaic names, Biblical names, celebrity baby names, english names, European name popularity, famous namesakes, fictional namesakes, Greek names, hebrew names, imperial names, Latin names, literary names, locational names, modern names, mythological names, name history, name meaning, name popularity, name trends, names from films, names from television, names of bands, New Zealand name popularity, nicknames, papal names, Puritan names, Romani names, saints names, Spanish names, surname names, UK name popularity, US name popularity
An audit of Featured Names on the site has revealed there are less boys names than girls, so I’m going to cover two lots of boys names this month to give them a chance to catch up. These names seem “fresh” because they don’t have a history of charting in Australia, aren’t popular, and are rising in other countries. They are ones to keep an eye on!
May be a variant of the surname Arlow, a corruption of Harlow. Arlo is the Anglicised form of Aherlow, and the Glen of Aherlow is a picture-postcard valley in Ireland. Its name comes from the Irish eathralach, meaning “between two highlands”, as the valley is nestled between major peaks in the Galtee Mountains. The name became part of English literature when Edmund Spenser used Arlo Hill as a place name in his poem The Faerie Queene; Spenser’s estate in Ireland was near the Glen of Aherlow. Arlo has been used as a boy’s name since the 18th century, and originated in the United States: I think probably from Arlow, used at the same time, and in a couple of records the person is listed as both Arlow and Arlo. One of the its most famous namesakes is folk singer Arlo Guthrie, although you may also think of street skater Arlo Eisenberg, and agent Arlo Glass from TV series 24. Around the 200s in Australia, Arlo is climbing steeply in both the US and UK, and is already popular in New Zealand. Arlo fits in with the trends for an AR sound and O-ending, and being chosen for their sons by both Toni Colette and Kasey Chambers can only have helped.
In Buddhism, bodhi is the deep understanding gained about the true nature of reality; this understanding is part of the Buddha’s liberation on the path to Nirvana. It literally means “awakened” in Sanskrit and Pali, but is often translated as “enlightenment”. The great spiritual teacher Gautama Buddha is said to have attained bodhi while sitting under a sacred fig tree in India, now known as the Bodhi Tree, and Bodhi Day is celebrated by Buddhists on December 8. Bodhi has been used as a personal name since the 20th century, with a surge of interest in the 1970s, when all things Eastern became trendy. The name received a notable outing in the 1991 cult film Point Break, with Patrick Swayve as a rebel surf leader named Bodhi. The film ends at Bells Beach in Victoria, which may help explain why Bodhi is such a favourite in Australia, and around the 200s. It is much rarer in other countries, but climbing steeply in both the UK and US. Apart from the spiritual meaning, Bodhi fits in with names like Beau and Brody. Chosen for his son by actor Cameron Daddo, this is a relaxed surf-friendly name.
A form of the name Jasper, which has a huge number of European spelling variants. It’s been in use since the Middle Ages, when it was most common in Central Europe. Today Casper is a popular name in The Netherlands and Scandinavia, and rising briskly in the UK, where it is in the 200s. It is around the 400s here, and would make a great alternative to popular Jasper – especially as Casper the Friendly Ghost is no longer much of an issue.
Nickname of the great French jazz guitarist, born Jean Reinhardt. Reinhardt was of Romani descent, and his nickname means “I awake” in the Romani language”: it is pronounced JANG-go. There was a revival of interest in his “gypsy jazz”sound in the 1960s, and Django’s musical influence can barely be overstated; he has been an inspiration to generations of guitarists. His music has been used in movie soundtracks, and Djanjo himself is a character in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo, while being referenced in other films. Djanjo is the main character in a popular series of spaghetti Westerns, and got a reboot in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, with Jamie Foxx as freed slave Djanjo Freeman. Django isn’t common in any country, but has been rising in the UK since Tarantino’s 2012 film. Cool and on trend, this is a musical name with a cowboy vibe.
In the Old Testament, Ezra was a scribe and priest, and according to Jewish tradition is credited with introducing several of the main aspects of Jewish law and teachings. This makes him a greatly respected figure in Judaism, and also in Islam and Christianity. His name is translated as “help”, although it may be a contraction of the Hebrew name Azaryahu, meaning “God helps”. Ezra has been in use as an English name since since at least the 16th century, and has been more common in the US; a famous namesake is the American poet Ezra Pound, and it’s referenced in the name of rock band Better Than Ezra. Ezra is around the 300s here, but is rising steeply in the US and UK; it is only just outside the US Top 100. This is becoming an increasingly hip choice.
In the Old Testament, Micah was a prophet of Israel. His name looks a lot like Michael, and has a similar meaning: “who is like Yahweh?”, while Michael means “who is like God?” (in both cases, it it is rhetorical, as nobody is God’s equal). Micah’s prophecies became especially relevant to Christians, as one was interpreted as meaning the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and Jesus referred to the Book of Micah several times in his teachings. Because of this, the prophet is regarded as a saint, and the name Micah has been used since the 17th century, introduced by the Puritans. Micah is around the 100s here, and is even more popular in the US, although not so common in the UK. The name has become a favourite in horror and fantasy works, and will appeal to people who like Michael, but want something with a more contemporary feel.
From the Hebrew name Rafa’el meaning “God heals”; the name is often spelled Raphael, with Rafael most common in Spanish-speaking countries. In Jewish tradition, Raphael is one of the seven archangels, and mentioned in the Old Testament. He is an angel of healing and protection from demons, and venerated in Christianity and Islam as well as Judaism. Regarded as a saint in Catholicism, St Raphael is the patron of pilgrims and travellers, as well as of medical workers. The name Rafael has been in use since the Middle Ages and was common in Spain. A well-known contemporary namesake is Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal. Rafael is around the 100s here, and in the 200s in the US and UK. It is a popular name in Europe, especially in Portugal, and is rising in France and Switzerland. Romantic and with strong, positive associations, this comes with the obvious nicknames Raf and Rafe.
Derived from the Latin name Romanus, which simply means “a Roman” to signify a man from Rome or a citizen of the Roman Empire. There are a number of saints named Romanus, including an early martyr, as well as a pope and several Byzantine emperors. The name is particularly associated with Russia and Eastern Europe, as there were quite a few Russian, Romanian, and Bulgarian leaders named Roman. However use of the name was internationally quite widespread, and can be found in Spain, Germany, and England from early on. There are two famous film directors with this name: Roman Polanski and Roman Coppola, the son of Francis Ford Coppola. Roman is around the 200s here, and is rising very steeply in the US and UK, only just outside the Top 100 in both countries. Rom- names are on trend, and this is a stylish multicultural choice which was selected for her middle son by Cate Blanchett.
In the New Testament, Silas was an early Christian leader chosen to be a companion of St Paul. The pair were briefly imprisoned together, until a convenient earthquake broke their chains and burst the prison doors open. Paul refers to him by the Roman name Silvanus, which is from the Latin silva meaning “forest”; in Roman mythology, Silvanus was the god of forests. This would identify Silas as the same person as Saint Silvanus, who was one of the disciples of Jesus; tradition says he became a bishop and died a martyr. If so, Silas could be a nickname, or understood as a Greek form of Silvanus. However, Silas is a Greek form of the Hebrew name Saul, meaning “asked for, prayed for”, which was also Saint Paul’s birth name. Whether Silas was two people or one is a question for the scholars, but Silas became an English name by at least the 16th century because of this character. Here the name Silas is around the 500s, but it is far more popular in the US, and rising in the UK. In popular culture, it has become associated with villains – the creepy albino monk from The Da Vinci Code, and serial killer Silas Blisset in British soap Hollyoaks. The wicked factor has actually boosted the name’s popularity.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Jude is usually identified as being the same person as the Apostle Judas Thaddeus, called so to differentiate him from Judas Iscariot. Thaddeus (said THAD-ee-us) seems to be derived from tadda, the Aramaic word for “breast, heart”, perhaps an affectionate nickname in the same way we might say dear heart or bosom buddy. It could also mean “hearty”, to suggest someone strong-hearted or warm-hearted. Perhaps the closest thing in English is the familiar piratical address my hearty, which has connotations of strength and courage, but also loyalty and camaraderie. Sometimes the name is given as Lebbeus, which could come from leb, the Hebrew word for “heart”, and thus be a translation of Thaddeus. Another theory is that it is from Todos, an Aramaic form of the name Theodore, although this fails to explain why the Bible also translates it as Lebbeus. It is unclear whether Judas Thaddeus is the same person as St Thaddeus, said to be one of the disciples of Jesus who was a missionary in Syria. In use as an English name since the 17th century, and given impetus by American Puritans, Thaddeus has a strong history in the United States. It is in the US Top 1000 and rising, and has been rising steeply in the UK since 2013. It’s very rare in Australia, but this is a handsome traditional name with a great meaning – Thad, Tad, Ted, and Teddy are obvious nicknames.
People’s favourite names were Arlo, Rafael and Casper, and their least favourite were Bodhi, Thaddeus and Djanjo.
(Picture shows a poster for the movie Django Unchained, with helpful pronunciation guide)