How popular is the baby name Benedict in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Benedict and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Benedict.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Benedict

Number of Babies Named Benedict

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Benedict

Babies Named for Jeanne d’Arc

Joan of Arc, Jeanne d'ArcJeanne d’Arc (1412-1431), known as Joan of Arc in English, was a French peasant, Christian mystic, and teenage warrior during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between France and England.

Well, she wasn’t a “warrior” exactly, as she never actually fought in battle. She was more of an “inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon.”

In any case, she ended up being captured by the enemy, convicted of heresy and witchcraft (among other things), excommunicated from the church, and burned at the stake — all before the age of 20.

But a few decades later the verdict was overturned, the excommunication was invalidated, and she was declared a martyr.

And during the centuries that followed, her reputation grew — especially among the French.

Despite all this, the well-known St. Joan didn’t officially become a Roman Catholic saint until the early 20th century. She was canonized in May of 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The same year, the full French form of her name, Jeannedarc, debuted on the U.S. baby name charts and reappeared several more times during the same decade:

  • 1927: unlisted
  • 1926: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1923: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1922: unlisted
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1920: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

And that’s not all. Records show that more than a few of the babies simply named Jeanne and Joan in the 1920s had as middle names “d’Arc” and “of Arc.” Two examples:

  • Jeanne D’Arc Florabel Menard, daughter of David and Georgiana Menard, born in Vermont in 1924.
  • Joan of Arc Mary Agnes Chabot, daughter of Thomas and Zelia Chabot, born in Vermont in 1923.

A disproportionate number of these 1920s babies named Jeanne d’Arc and Joan of Arc were born in the Northeastern U.S. to families of French (Canadian) extraction.

Interestingly, St. Joan herself only used the medieval spelling of her name, “Jehanne,” and never included the surname “d’Arc,” which was a form of her father’s surname. In fact, if she’d been forced to use a surname, she likely would have chosen her mother’s, Romée, as per hometown tradition. The surname Romée denoted someone who had made a pilgrimage (though not necessarily to Rome).

Sources: Joan of Arc – Wikipedia, Joan of Arc – Facts & Summary –, 7 Surprising Facts About Joan of Arc

Babies Named after the Pope’s Hospital?

During a pontificate that lasted over 26 years, Pope Saint John Paul II was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital nine times, spending “a total of 153 days and 152 nights there.” He was at Gemelli often enough that in the mid-1990s he jokingly dubbed it the “Third Vatican” — that is, the third papal residence after the Apostolic Palaces in Rome and Castel Gandolfo.

In early 2005, during John Paul II’s final months, he was taken to Gemelli for two long stretches: February 1 to 11, then again from February 24 to March 13. He passed away on April 2.

Also in 2005, for the first and only time, the baby name Gemelli appeared in the U.S. baby name data released by the Social Security Administration:

Agostino Gemelli
Agostino Gemelli
  • 2006: unlisted
  • 2005: 5 baby girls named Gemelli [debut]
  • 2004: unlisted

The Gemelli is a teaching hospital associated with Italy’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which was founded in the early 1920s by Franciscan friar and doctor Agostino Gemelli (1878-1959).

The Italian surname, which is identical to the Italian word for “twins,” comes from the personal name Gemello, which in turn comes from the Latin word gemellus, “twin.”

The baby names Johnpaul, Juanpablo and Gianpaolo also saw increased usage in 2005.

Benedict, John Paul II’s successor, was elected in April of 2005. The same year, the usage of Benedict spiked and the one-hit wonders Benedicte and Johnbenedict (the top one-hit wonder of the year) popped up on the U.S. charts.

Sources: The Gemelli: The Pope’s hospital, Gemelli’s John Paul II Statue Unveiled, Pope John Paul II Fast Facts

Curious Names from Berkshire

A few notable names from Berkshire County, England, that were collected in 1898:

Curious Christian Names. – There is not great originality as a rule in Christian names, but here and there one finds some treasures. Among various Registers of Berkshire country [sic] parishes I have found the following Women:– Tryphena, Cherry-truth, Weltham, Fettiplace, Bassilia, Parthenia, Sherlock, Shunamite, Temperance, Grecian, Amariah, Palaccia, Resbury or Rasbury, Vihannah, Antonino, George-anne, Massey, Aminadab, Druscilla, Prisis, Dorunda, Savale, Benedict, Cardilla. Men’s:– Vernall, Avery, Burian or Berry, Sharlick, Floris, Ginter, Epheldrum, Hanson, Manders, Alborne. Some of these are obvious Surnames, and I could extend the list of men’s names if I were to include all who bore Surnames in baptism. None of the above were provided with second Christian names; the interesting part is that the names are hereditary in families, and the discovery of a curious Christian name is a great advantage to the genealogist. –E. E. Thoyts.

I was slightly surprised to learn that “E. E. Thoyts” was female: Emma Elizabeth Thoyts (1860–1949), English historian.

Source: Thoyts, E. E. “Curious Christian Names.” The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Archaeological Journal 4.1 (1898): 63.

Pop Culture Baby Name Game Results, 2014

Here are the results of Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2014!

Some of the names below were already on their way up, so I’ll leave it to you guys to decide just how much of an effect pop culture had on each one.

Hazel, +828

  • Up from 2,049 baby girls in 2013 to 2,877 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie The Fault in Our Stars (2014).

Elsa, +567

  • Up from 564 baby girls in 2013 to 1,131 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie Frozen (2013).

Anna, +287

  • Up from 5,352 baby girls in 2013 to 5,639 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie Frozen (2013).

Margaret, +168

  • Up from 1,765 baby girls in 2013 to 1,933 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the television show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Augustus, +153

  • Up from 346 baby boys in 2013 to 499 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie The Fault in Our Stars (2014).

Azalea, +139

  • Up from 443 baby girls in 2013 to 582 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: rapper Iggy Azalea.

Peter, +53

  • Up from 1,846 baby boys in 2013 to 1,899 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: Peter Pan (both the live-action TV event and the upcoming movie).

Robin (as a boy name specifically), +33

  • Up from 155 baby boys in 2013 to 188 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the death of Robin Williams.

Zarina, +32

  • Up from 42 baby girls in 2013 to 74 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie The Pirate Fairy (2014).

Benedict, +29

  • Up from 108 baby boys in 2013 to 137 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Annalise, +28

  • Up from 665 baby girls in 2013 to 693 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the television show How To Get Away With Murder.

Judith, +28

  • Up from 251 baby girls in 2013 to 279 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the television show The Walking Dead.

Kristoff, +25

  • Up from 7 baby boys in 2013 to 32 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie Frozen (2013).

Shailene, +23

  • Up from 6 baby girls in 2013 to 29 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: actress Shailene Woodley, from the movie The Fault in Our Stars (2014).

Tauriel, debuted with 20

  • Debuted with 20 baby girls (the 5th highest debut!) in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: two of the Hobbit movies (2013 & 2014).

Amal, +17

  • Up from 69 baby girls in 2013 to 86 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: George Clooney’s marriage to Amal Alamuddin in 2014.

Odessa, +13

  • Up from 47 baby girls in 2013 to 60 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: rapper Dessa.
  • The name Dessa itself, though, actually decreased in popularity in 2014.

Scotlyn, +13
Scotland, +4 & +4

  • Scotlyn: Up from 50 baby girls in 2013 to 67 in 2014.
  • Scotland: Up from 8 baby girls and 32 baby boys in 2013 to 12 and 36 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the Scottish independence referendum.

Iselle, debuted with 13

  • Debuted with 13 baby girls (the 11th highest debut) in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: Hurricane Iselle.

Vale, re-entered with 12 & 8

  • After an absence, returned to the list with 12 baby girls and 8 baby boys.
  • Pop culture influence: a celebrity baby name (daughter of Savannah Guthrie).

Murphy (as a girl name specifically), +11

  • Up from 31 baby girls in 2013 to 42 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie Interstellar (2014).

Mandela, +10

  • Up from 6 baby boys in 2013 to 16 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the death of Nelson Mandela.

Rosamund, re-entered with 9

  • After an absence, returned to the list with 9 baby girls.
  • Pop culture influence: actress Rosamund Pike.

Noni, re-entered with 8

  • After an absence, returned to the list with 8 baby girls.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie Beyond the Lights (2014).
  • But another character name, Kaz, decreased in popularity in 2014.

Ansel, +7

  • Up from 101 baby boys in 2013 to 108 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the movie The Fault in Our Stars (2014).

Kaiser, +7

  • Up from 62 baby boys in 2013 to 69 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: a celebrity baby name (son of Teen Mom Jenelle Evans).

Pharrell, +6

  • Up from 16 baby boys in 2013 to 22 in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: musician Pharrell Williams.

Madiba, debuted with 5

  • Debuted with 5 baby boys in 2014.
  • Pop culture influence: the death of Nelson Mandela.

Lucas, unknown in NYC specifically, +55 in NY state, +564 nationally

  • The New York City 2014 data isn’t out yet.
  • Up from 975 baby boys in 2013 to 1,030 in 2014, in New York state.
  • Up from 11,514 baby boys in 2013 to 12,078 in 2014, nationally.
  • Pop culture influence: Venmo’s “Lucas” Ads in the NYC subway.

Names that went up by 4 or fewer:

Names that went down:

Names still not on the SSA’s list in 2014:

  • Arendelle
  • Diren
  • Ellar
  • Ferguson
  • Floribeth
  • Idina
  • Keke
  • Lammily
  • Ledisi
  • Maleficent (despite the pro-Maleficent comments I’ve been getting)
  • Odeya
  • Peaches
  • Philae
  • Rust
  • Seanix
  • Sibel
  • Ska
  • Vitruvius
  • Wyldstyle

Did any of these surprise you?

I’m particularly surprised that Lupita Nyong’o has had no effect on the usage of her name so far.

P.S. Some of the names from the 2013 game that have started/continued to do well: Cressida (re-entered list in 2014), Finnick, Llewyn (the top debut name of 2014), Neymar, Nori, Primrose, Sochi (debuted in 2014), Tessanne (debuted in 2014) and Zoella.

Pop Culture Baby Name Game 2014

pop culture baby name game 2014

Every year on December 2 (happy birthday Britney Spears!) we start another round of the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game. It’s not a “game” really, but more of a group brainstorm. Between today and next May, we try to guess which baby names saw increased usage in 2014 thanks to popular culture — music, movies, television, video games, sports, politics, current events, products/advertising, and so forth.

Here are all the 2014 predictions we’ve made so far. Many of the below come from longtime commenters elbowin and Julie — thanks you guys!

Which names would you add to this list? (Please remember to add a reason, so we all know the context!)

New Predictions as they come in:

  • Urban – from Diana (12/2)
  • Peter – from Abby (12/2)
  • Noni – from Becca (12/2)
  • Kaz – from Becca (12/2)
  • Murphy (for girls specifically) – from Becca (12/2)
  • Scotland/Scotlyn – from Becca (12/2)
  • Lupita – from Becca (12/2)
  • Benedict – from Becca (12/2)
  • Diem – from Becca (12/2)
  • Rosamund – from Becca (12/2)
  • Annalise – from Julie (12/2)
  • Azalea – from Gina (12/3)
  • Kaiser – from Gina (12/3)
  • Aman – from me (12/4)
  • Judith – from Dellitt (12/5)
  • Margaret – from jaime (12/6)
  • Vale – from Gwen (12/10)
  • Diren – elbowin (12/18)
  • Amal – from me (1/15)
  • Ledisi – from me (2/12)
  • Keke – 2/25

Previous rounds of the Pop Culture Baby Name Game: 2013, 2012, 2011 #1, 2011 #2, 2010.

Names Popular During the Victorian Era

Tuesday’s post about the Victorian-style Tylney Hall Hotel reminded me of a list of Victorian-era names that I’ve had bookmarked forever.

The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).

Victorian Era Female Names Victorian Era Male Names
  • Abigale / Abby
  • Ada
  • Adella
  • Agnes
  • Allie
  • Almira / Almyra
  • Alva
  • America
  • Amelia
  • Ann / Annie
  • Arrah
  • Beatrice
  • Bernice
  • Charity
  • Charlotte
  • Chastity
  • Claire
  • Constance
  • Cynthia
  • Dorothy / Dot
  • Edith
  • Edna
  • Edwina
  • Ella
  • Eleanor
  • Ellie
  • Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
  • Elvira
  • Emma
  • Esther
  • Ethel
  • Eudora
  • Eva
  • Fidelia
  • Frances / Fanny
  • Flora
  • Florence
  • Geneve
  • Genevieve
  • Georgia
  • Gertrude / Gertie
  • Gladys
  • Grace
  • Hannah
  • Hattie
  • Helen
  • Helene
  • Henrietta / Hettie / Ettie
  • Hester
  • Hope
  • Hortence
  • Isabell / Isabella
  • Jane
  • Jennie
  • Jessamine
  • Josephine
  • Judith
  • Julia
  • Juliet
  • Katherine / Kate
  • Laura
  • Leah
  • Lenora
  • Letitia
  • Lila
  • Lilly
  • Lorena
  • Lorraine
  • Lottie
  • Louise / Louisa
  • Lucy
  • Lulu
  • Lydia
  • Mahulda
  • Margaret / Peggie
  • Mary / Molly / Polly
  • Mary Elizabeth
  • Mary Frances
  • Martha
  • Matilda / Mattie
  • Maude
  • Maxine / Maxie
  • Mercy
  • Mildred
  • Minerva
  • Missouri
  • Myrtle
  • Nancy
  • Natalie
  • Nellie / Nelly
  • Nettie
  • Nora
  • Orpha
  • Patsy
  • Parthena
  • Permelia
  • Phoebe
  • Philomena
  • Preshea
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca / Becky
  • Rhoda / Rhody
  • Rowena
  • Rufina
  • Ruth
  • Samantha
  • Sally
  • Sarah
  • Sarah Ann
  • Sarah Elizabeth
  • Savannah
  • Selina
  • Sophronia
  • Stella
  • Theodosia / Theda
  • Vertiline / Verd
  • Victoria
  • Virginia / Ginny
  • Vivian
  • Winnifred / Winnie
  • Zona
  • Zylphia
  • Aaron
  • Abraham / Abe
  • Alan / Allen
  • Albert
  • Alexander
  • Alonzo
  • Ambrose
  • Amon
  • Amos
  • Andrew / Drew / Andy
  • Aquilla
  • Archibald / Archie
  • Arnold
  • Asa
  • August / Augustus / Gus
  • Barnabas / Barney
  • Bartholomew / Bart
  • Benjamin
  • Bennet
  • Benedict
  • Bernard
  • Bertram / Bert
  • Buford
  • Byron
  • Calvin
  • Cephas
  • Charles / Charley / Charlie
  • Christopher
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Clarence
  • Clement / Clem
  • Clinton / Clint
  • Cole
  • Columbus / Lom / Lum
  • Commodore Perry
  • Daniel / Dan
  • David
  • Edmund
  • Edward / Ned
  • Edwin
  • Eldon
  • Eli
  • Elijah
  • Elisha
  • Emmett
  • Enoch
  • Ezekiel / Zeke
  • Ezra
  • Francis / Frank
  • Franklin
  • Frederick / Fred
  • Gabriel / Gabe
  • Garrett
  • George
  • George Washington
  • Gideon
  • Gilbert / Gil
  • Granville
  • Harland
  • Harrison
  • Harold / Harry
  • Harvey
  • Henry / Hank
  • Hiram
  • Horace
  • Horatio
  • Hugh
  • Isaiah
  • Israel
  • Isaac / Ike
  • Isaac Newton
  • Jacob / Jake
  • James / Jim
  • Jasper
  • Jefferson / Jeff
  • Jedediah / Jed
  • Jeptha
  • Jesse
  • Joel
  • John / Jack
  • John Paul
  • John Wesley
  • Jonathan
  • Joseph / Josephus
  • Josiah
  • Joshua
  • Julian
  • Julius
  • Lafayette / Lafe
  • Lawrence / Larry
  • Leander
  • Les / Lester / Leslie
  • Lewis / Lew / Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Louis
  • Levi
  • Lucas
  • Lucian
  • Lucius
  • Luke
  • Luther
  • Matthew
  • Marcellus
  • Mark
  • Martin
  • Martin Luther
  • Masheck
  • Maurice
  • Maxwell
  • Merrill
  • Meriwether
  • Meriwether Lewis
  • Michael / Mike
  • Micajah / Cage
  • Mordecai
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Nathaniel / Nathan / Nate / Nat
  • Newton / Newt
  • Nicholas / Nick
  • Nimrod
  • Ninian
  • Obediah
  • Octavius
  • Ora / Oral
  • Orville
  • Oscar
  • Owen
  • Paul
  • Patrick / Pat
  • Patrick Henry
  • Paul
  • Perry
  • Peter
  • Pleasant
  • Ralph
  • Raymond
  • Reuben
  • Robert / Bob
  • Robert Lee
  • Richard / Rich / Dick
  • Roderick
  • Rudolph
  • Rufus
  • Samuel
  • Sam Houston
  • Seth
  • Silas
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • Stanley / Stan
  • Stephen
  • Thaddeus
  • Thomas / Tom
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Theodore / Ted
  • Timothy / Tim
  • Ulysses
  • Uriah
  • Victor
  • Walter
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • Wilfred
  • William / Will / Bill / Billy
  • Willie
  • Zachariah
  • Zebulon
  • Zedock

Which female name and male name do you like best?

Source: Victorian Era Names, A Writer’s Guide

Name Quotes for the Weekend #16

paloma picasso quote: "proud that name means peace"

From “A Fashionable Life: Paloma Picasso” in Harper’s Bazaar:

She produces two major [jewelry] collections a year [for Tiffany’s New York]. This year, to celebrate her 30th anniversary, she has already launched three new collections: Marrakesh (including the openwork bracelets), Hammered Circles, and Paloma’s Dove, which features, most appropriately, a dove pendant.

Having been named by her father in honor of the dove he drew that became the symbol of the World Peace Conference in 1949, Paloma went through a process for designing the latter that wasn’t easy. She did about 200 drawings. “I didn’t want it to look like a Pablo Picasso dove,” she explains. “One looked like a Braque, and I thought, ‘No! Can’t have that!'” She did finally settle on a perfect version. “One looked like an angel. I’ve always been proud that my name stands for peace, and I thought, The angel of peace; that’s my combination,” she says. “A dove that will protect you.”

From an ESPN article about NFL kicker Ryan Succop:

One of the very last entries under Ryan Succop’s biography in the Kansas City Chiefs’ media guide, under the section marked “Personal,” is the pronunciation of his last name.

“Full name: Ryan Barrow Succop (pronounced SUCK-UP)”

It’s a name that could lend itself to snickers, punchy headlines or flat-out ridicule, assuming he ever missed a kick. But the truth is that Succop is banging the football through the uprights with record-setting dependability.

From a review of the French film What’s in a Name? by Inkoo Kang of The Village Voice:

The premise of parents attacking each other for their taste in baby names sounds yawningly self-indulgent, even downright stupid. Yet the French chamber dramedy What’s in a Name is frequently delightful, full of ribald humor and compelling, intelligent debate. (One joke about fetal alcohol syndrome is a standout, while another comparing coming out as gay to confessing to dog murder somehow avoids offensiveness.)

Last sentence of Inkoo Kang’s twitter bio: “What you really need/want to know: it’s pronounced in-goo.”

From an NPR article about McSweeney’s:

[The new anthology] begins with McSweeney’s’ mock letters section, easily its goofiest offering. Typical to the section is a letter from one Tom O’Donnell:

Dear McSweeney’s,

I have a common name. According to some estimates, nearly 40 percent of men are named “Tom O’Donnell.” … In the time it took me to write this sentence, chances are you named at least one of your children “Tom O’Donnell.”

This would all be fine if it were still Bible times, but today it’s a problem. Why? Because it’s basically impossible to Google myself.

Tom O’Donnell hopes, in his increasingly demented letter, that McSweeney’s will hold a contest, or a poll, or perhaps a tournament to find him a new name.

I’ve narrowed down my list of potential replacements to the following … :

Vladislav Fukuyama-Gomez: I love names that combine several different ethnicities, because they’re used in movies to tell you it’s the future.

Dennis Pulley: I can think of no better way to honor my great-grandfather’s memory than by taking the name of the man he killed.

QUIZNOS Presents Todd DeMoss: Sure, it’s a mouthful — but so is the delicious Chipotle Prime Rib sandwich, only available at QUIZNOS.

From an essay on Dennis, the “most menacing baby name,” in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Normally, I’m not big on the idea that a baby’s name has any bearing whatsoever on his/her personality later in life — though I have noticed that anybody named Jack or Willie seems to have been born cool.

But the evidence suggests that Dennis is dangerous.

Dennis is charismatic, but he’s a rebel. He’s never a meek conformist who goes along to get along. He is often a big jerk, but not always. He can be a weirdo, a cynic, a lacerating wit, an obsessive nut job. But chances are, he’ll be what we say in polite company, “a strong personality.” Dennis can’t be characterized as any one thing, and that’s exactly the point. He’s doesn’t just march to a different drummer. He is the different drummer.

From a blog post by Celeste of The Reluctant Mom’s Blog:

I have always disliked my name – Celeste – I still really dislike it.

The main reason that it is probably a less than ideal name for me is that I have a lisp. Do you know how hard it is to say Celeste when you have a lisp?

It comes out “Tha-leth-t” and pretty much as spit on the listeners top lip. My spit on their lip.

This would usually require people to say “sorry, what was your name again?”

I would get more nervous and my lisp would be more pronounced. To make matters all the more tragic, I could not pronounce “r” or “s” until I was in Sub B/Grade 2.

Eventually I would be too defeated to repeat my name, just started going “yes, close enough…” and then let them call me Nancy or what ever.


On one occasion the person misheard me and called me “Chester” – so far that has been my favourite incorrect name.

I didn’t correct them – I wanted to be their ‘Chester.”

From “Racism And Meritocracy” by Eric Ries at Techcrunch:

I previously described on my blog one simple change I made to the hiring process at my last company. I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates — even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. If you’re screening resumes, or evaluating applicants to a startup school, I challenge you to adopt this procedure immediately, and report on the results.

From a Telegraph article about skier Bode Miller:

The legal saga of America’s most successful downhill male skier, two glamorous blondes and a bicoastal custody battle over a baby boy with two names has taken a fresh turn in a New York courtroom.

Bode Miller, the Olympic gold medallist, arrived for the hearing holding his nine-month-old son. But there he was required to hand the boy back — for now at least — to his ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna, a former Marine.


It was little wonder that the infant seemed confused as he was passed between parents who cannot even agree on his name: Ms McKenna calls him Samuel and Mr Miller prefers Nathaniel.

From a Metro interview with Benedict Cumberbatch:

What’s the story behind your fantastic name? There’s a sort of debate about that. Cumberbatch could be Welsh for a small valley dweller. The ‘cum’ in Cumberbatch is hill. I need to look into it. Benedict means blessed. My parents liked the sound of the name and felt slightly blessed because they’d been trying for a child for a very long time. I’m not Catholic, so it’s not that. They liked the idea of Benedict and Ben, the fact that it can be contracted. I think Toby was their second choice.

From a post about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad at Having a Word:

Nyad sounds like naiad – naiads in Greek mythology were water nymphs or spirits. That’s cute, I thought. Then I noticed that naiad is an anagram of her first name – Diana. *Cue dramatic chords* So, could this just be coincidence or is something else in play?

There is a notion – called nominative determinism – that a person’s name can somehow influence the type of work or activities they do, and maybe even their character.

The idea is an ancient one but the term nominative determinism was coined in the 1990s in the Feedback column of the popular science magazine New Scientist (one of the examples cited was an article on incontinence that had been published in the British Journal of Urology by J W Splatt & D Weedon.)

Related to nominative determinism: The Name Letter Effect.

For previous quote posts, check out the name quotes category.