The Beginning of Bode

bode miller, baby name, 1990s, sports
Bode Miller in 2008
A few weeks ago we looked at names that start with Snow-, so today let’s check out another name that many of us associate with snow: Bode.

Bode Miller is one of the greatest Alpine skiers in American history. He’s won six Olympic medals and competed in five Winter Olympics: 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City), 2006 (Turin), 2010 (Vancouver), and 2014 (Sochi).

Notice how the baby name Bode debuted in the SSA data in 1998 and spiked in usage every four years thereafter:

  • 2017: 170 baby boys named Bode
  • 2016: 203 baby boys named Bode
  • 2015: 264 baby boys named Bode
  • 2014: 294 baby boys named Bode
  • 2013: 115 baby boys named Bode
  • 2012: 166 baby boys named Bode
  • 2011: 190 baby boys named Bode
  • 2010: 287 baby boys named Bode
  • 2009: 94 baby boys named Bode
  • 2008: 105 baby boys named Bode
  • 2007: 143 baby boys named Bode
  • 2006: 235 baby boys named Bode
  • 2005: 82 baby boys named Bode
  • 2004: 55 baby boys named Bode
  • 2003: 60 baby boys named Bode
  • 2002: 131 baby boys named Bode
  • 2001: unlisted
  • 2000: 8 baby boys named Bode
  • 1999: 7 baby boys named Bode
  • 1998: 8 baby boys named Bode [debut]
  • 1997: unlisted

So how did Samuel Bode Miller — who was born and raised in rural Easton, New Hampshire — get that interesting middle name?

According to his 2005 autobiography, Bode’s name simply came from the English word bode. It “means to indicate by signs, but it was the sound of it that my mother liked.” He pronounces it BOH-dee instead of BOHD because, as he says, the “diminutive form stuck.”

And he’s not the only person in his family with an interesting name. His older sister is Kyla (no middle name, notably), his younger sister is Gennie Wren (in full: Genesis Wren Bungo Windrushing Turtleheart Miller), and his late younger brother was Chelone, nicknamed “Chilly” (in full: Nathaniel Kinsman Ever Chelone Skan).

Wren’s naming “was a family effort” said Bode:

Jo gave her the “Genesis Wren”; I called her “Bungo” after the Bungay Jar, the local wind, because it was so breezy the day she was born. Kyla gave her Windrushing for the same reason, and “Turtleheart” was the ever-present and recurring Woody-inspired turtle meme in our lives up on Turtle Ridge. The turtle may be Woody’s totem. It wouldn’t surprise me.”

(The kids called their parents, Jo and Woody, by their first names.)

And here’s how they chose a name for Chelone (chel-OWN):

My folks hiked Mount Moosilauke when my mother was good and pregnant with him and found a flower on top they liked so much that they brought it home. When they looked it up and found that it was an herbaceous perennial called chelone, also known as turtlehead, they considered it a nice omen and planted it outside the door.

Three days after he was born, my mother was headed into town with the new baby, named Thane at the time. She was going to the laundromat when she came across a turtle in the road. It was big and blocked their way, so she had to stop. As she watched the shell waddle across Easton Road, it occurred to Jo how little she like the name Thane, and how much she liked the name Chelone.

If you’re wondering about the name Skan, it’s “a Lakota term for the great spirit of the universe.” Kinsman is no doubt a reference to location: their childhood home was on the side of Kinsman Mountain. In fact, the mountain was named for early settler Nathaniel Kinsman — Chelone’s first two names.

But getting back to Bode…he has welcomed five children so far: Neesyn Dacey (daughter), Samuel Bode (son), Nash Skan (son, named in honor of Chelone), Emeline Grier (daughter, passed away in mid-2018) and Easton Vaughn Rek (son, named for Easton, NH).

So what are your thoughts on the baby name Bode? If you were going to use it, how would you pronounce it?

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Miller Bode 2008 by Hans Bezard under CC BY-SA 4.0.


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