The Baby Name Anzac

ANZAC posterI didn’t know that Anzac Day existed until a few days ago, when I read about people named Anzac at the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda.

Anzac Day is celebrated in both Australia and New Zealand every April 25.

ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps” — the group of soldiers Australia and New Zealand sent to fight in WWI’s Gallipoli Campaign, which began on April 25, 1915.

The campaign failed, but the efforts of these soldiers gave the two fledgling nations a much-needed sense of identity, and pride.

As a baby name, “Anzac” has been used more often as a middle name than as a first name, and it’s given more often to boys than to girls.

Some WWI-era examples of the baby name Anzac include Anzac Gallipoli Claude (boy), Verdun Anzac Jane (girl), Dardandella Anzac (girl), Anzac Cavel Vardon (girl), Winston Anzac (boy), Maple Anzac (girl), William Anzac France (boy) and Clover Anzac (girl).

Not all people feel that Anzac is an appropriate baby name, though.

In 2004, Melbourne couple Reimana Pirika and Gaylene George (of New Zealand and Australia, respectively) decided to name their newborn son Anzac. This angered veterans, who saw it as improper use of the acronym.

Australian politician Danna Vale’s opinion was pretty interesting:

She said that after World War I some children were named Anzac in the “spirit of the times”.

“Over the passage of time views have changed, and I, too, encourage the family to consider the concerns of the ex-service community on the use of Anzac as a child’s name.”

Ms. Vale said she would speak to the RSL about action that could be taken to stop Anzac being used as a name.

Are certain baby names only appropriate in the “spirit of the times”? Do they become inappropriate after too many years/generations have elapsed? What do you think?

Source: “Veterans angry over baby named Anzac.” New Zealand Herald 7 Feb. 2004.
Image via the State Library of Queensland, Australia.

4 thoughts on “The Baby Name Anzac

  1. I’m Australian, and I think Anzac is fine for a name. I’d never choose it, but I think, just like other names that are really symbolic of a social struggle they belong to everyone in society, not just a few.

    Other names that are highly emotive: Martin Luther, Roosevelt, Lincoln (in the 19th Century), Liberty and Independence and Lafayette and Freedom and Philadelphia (American war of Independence), Sophonisba and Sojourner for feminists, Leninova (early 20th Century Russia), Ardenne/Ardennes (after WW1), Shiloh or Beauregard or Sumter during/after Civil War, or the number of kids called Wellington or Waterloo after defeat of Napoleon.

  2. Danna Vale was known for being a bit of a nutter, and in this case even the RSL realised they had gone too far. Because of this story though, I have seen lots of people falsely claim that the name ANZAC is banned as a baby name.

    But yes, I have heard that argument, that only those who have fought for Australia or New Zealand during wartime should be allowed to call their children ANZAC.

    It’s definitely on the list of controversial names.

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