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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Scipio


Posts that Mention the Name Scipio

Top Male Names in England, 1560-1621

A while back, I stumbled upon a register of people associated with Oxford University in the late 1500s and early 1600s. The most interesting part? The author of the register included a chapter dedicated to first names and surnames, and that chapter featured a table of male forenames ranked by frequency of occurrence from 1560 to 1621.

The author claimed that, for several reasons, these rankings were “probably…more representative of English names than any list yet published” for that span of time. One reason was that the names represented men from “different grades of English society” — including peers, scholars, tradesmen, and servants.

Ready for the list?

  1. John, 3,826 individuals
  2. Thomas, 2,777
  3. William, 2,546
  4. Richard, 1,691
  5. Robert, 1,222
  6. Edward, 957
  7. Henry, 908
  8. George, 647
  9. Francis, 447
  10. James, 424
  11. Nicholas, 326
  12. Edmund, 298
  13. Anthony, 262
  14. Hugh, 257
  15. Christopher, 243
  16. Samuel, 227
  17. Walter, 207
  18. Roger, 195
  19. Ralph (sometimes confused with Raphael/Randall in the records), 182
  20. Peter, 175
  21. Humphrey, 168
  22. Charles, 139
  23. Philip, 137
  24. David, 129
  25. Matthew (sometimes confused with Matthias), 116
  26. Nathaniel, 112
  27. Michael, 103
  28. Alexander, 98 (tie)
  29. Arthur, 98 (tie)
  30. Laurence, 90
  31. Giles, 88
  32. Stephen, 86
  33. Simon (sometimes confused with Simeon), 83
  34. Daniel, 79
  35. Joseph, 78 (tie)
  36. Lewis, 78 (tie)
  37. Andrew, 69
  38. Roland (also Rowland), 65
  39. Griffith (also Griffin), 60
  40. Evan, 55
  41. Abraham, 54 (tie)
  42. Leonard, 54 (tie)
  43. Owen, 53
  44. Gilbert, 52
  45. Morris (sometimes confused with Maurice), 51
  46. Bartholomew, 46 (3-way tie)
  47. Oliver, 46 (3-way tie)
  48. Timothy, 46 (3-way tie)
  49. Morgan, 45
  50. Martin, 44 (tie)
  51. Rice (sometimes confused with Richard), 44 (tie)
  52. Gabriel, 41
  53. Benjamin, 40
  54. Jeffrey (also Geoffrey; sometimes confused with Godfrey), 38
  55. Ambrose, 36
  56. Adam, 35
  57. Toby (also Tobias), 34
  58. Jerome, 33
  59. Ellis, 30
  60. Paul, 29
  61. Bernard, 28 (3-way tie)
  62. Gregory (sometimes confused with George), 28 (3-way tie)
  63. Isaac, 28 (3-way tie)
  64. Jasper (also Gaspar), 26
  65. Randall (also Randle, Randolph; sometimes confused with Ralph), 26 (tie)

Did the relative popularity of any of these names surprise you?

Entries lower down on the list included Lancelot (23), Jarvis (22) Theophilus (19), Marmaduke (18), Fulke (17), and Cadwalader (9).

The author also included every other Oxford-associated name from that general time period, so here’s a sampling of the rare names that popped up in the register just once:

  • Aegeon, Arundel, Aunstey, Aymondesham
  • Bamfield, Beauforus, Bezaliel, Bulstrod
  • Cadoc, Cannanuel, Chiddiock, Cosowarth
  • Dabridgcourt, Delvus, Deodatus, Donwald
  • Erisy, Esdras
  • Fettiplace, Florice, Fogge
  • Glidd, Gourneus, Granado
  • Hattil, Hercius
  • Jarniot, Jerameel, Jeremoth, Jolliffe
  • Kelamus, Killingworth, Kingsmell
  • Leoline, Levinus, Livewell
  • Maior, Maniewe, Marchadine, Moyle
  • Nargia, Nizael, Noye
  • Ogier, Olliph
  • Peleger, Periam, Pexall, Phatnell
  • Rimprum, Rollesley, Rotheram, Rumbold
  • Scipio, Snappe
  • Thekeston, Thrasibulus, Timoleon, Tournie
  • Ulpian, Umpton, Utred
  • Wallop, Walsingham, Warian, Willgent
  • Yeldard
  • Zorobabel

Source: Register of the University of Oxford, vol. 2, part 4, edited by Andrew Clark, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1889.

Name Quotes #85: Karen, Blane, Friedemann

pretty in pink, duckie, blane, movie, 1980s, quote,

From the 1986 movie Pretty in Pink, Duckie’s reaction to learning that Andie is dating a guy named Blane:

Blane? His name is Blane? That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!

From sociolinguist Robin Queen, an explanation of how ‘Karen’ went from a popular baby name to a stand-in for white entitlement:

By tracing the origins of Karen up until the Central Park incident, you can see how two separate threads of meaning converged to make Karen the label for an officious, entitled, white woman.

The first comes from African American communities, where certain generic first names have long been a shorthand for “a white woman to be wary of because she won’t hesitate to wield privilege at the expense of others.” Around 2018, people started posting pictures of white women calling the police on the mundane activities of black people. These individuals got labeled with hashtags like #bbqbecky, #permitpatti, #golfcartgail and #cornerstonecaroline.

[…]

The second thread emerges from stand-up comedy and Reddit. In 2005, Dane Cook performed a sketch comedy piece in which Karen is “that friend nobody likes.” In the sketch, she’s described as “always a douche.” This portrayal of a “Karen” is less about her racism and contains more gender-based critiques, which might be why some continue to call the Karen meme sexist.

New Jersey police officer Brian Porter — who delivered two babies during the first half of 2002 — regarding his success so far in having a baby named after him:

0-2.

(In the case of the second baby, the baby’s father and brother were both already named Bryan.)

From the “pejorative names” section of a 2019 academic article called From Enslavement to Emancipation: Naming Practices in the Danish West Indies:

“[I]njurious” names [were] intended to mark slaves out by drawing upon naming forms not used by the dominant class. For instance, some are not personal names, but refer instead to places (London, Madrid, Dublin), animals (Zebra, Fox), or qualities (Amor). Another popular category includes names of classical figures (Cicero, Ancilla, Cupido). Such names functioned as cruel jokes: for instance, Scipio, a common male slave name, referred to the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, whose agnomen, Africanus, meant “the African,” in praise of his triumphs in battle in North Africa. Names of Greek and Roman heroes, philosophers, and orators were popular choices for male slaves, underlining their degradation and emasculation via their juxtaposition with these great men. Meanwhile, as Saidiya Hartman has noted, names like “Venus” for female slaves reflected and licensed the lasciviousness of European slave-owners toward African women, making such behaviors “sound agreeable.”

From the funny April Fools’ Day video Pronouncing Friedemann Findeisen like a Bad-Ass German by songwriter Friedemann Findeisen [FREE-day-mahn FIND-ei-zen]:

Welcome to this German tutorial on how to pronounce my name, Friedemann Findeisen. In the past, many of you have wondered why I have such an unusual name, and why it sounds so German. Well, I am German. You just can’t tell because my lederhosen aren’t in the shot.

From the National Geographic article “Who’s the First Person in history whose name we know?“:

[T]o my great surprise—the first name in recorded history isn’t a king. Nor a warrior. Or a poet. He was, it turns out…an accountant. In his new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari goes back 33 centuries before Christ to a 5,000-year-old clay tablet found in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).

[…]

It’s a receipt for multiple shipments of barley. The tablet says, very simply:

29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim

(But we don’t know for sure that Kushim was a human name; it may have been a job title.)

A second theory, from the same article:

Dated to around 3100 B.C.—about a generation or two after Kushim—the tablet’s heading is, “Two slaves held by Gal-Sal.” Gal-Sal is the owner. Next come the slaves, “En-pap X and Sukkalgir.” So now we’ve got four names: an accountant, a slave owner, and two slaves.

(Some scholars are Team Kushim, other scholars are Team Gal-Sal.)

Revolution-Era Baby Names in France

Painting of the storming of the Bastille in 1789.
The storming of the Bastille, 1789

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that, up until the 1960s, the citizens of France were forced to obey a restrictive baby name law that was enacted in 1803.

Why did that law exist?

In order to curb the very non-traditional baby naming practices that had evolved during the years of the French Revolution.

It all started in September of 1792, one day before the French National Convention abolished the monarchy. On that day, a decree was issued. The decree allowed the citizens of France to change their forenames quite easily — all they had to do was “make a simple formal declaration before the registrar of their local municipality.”

Many people took advantage of this decree and chose new names with a revolutionary flavor (i.e., names that referred to nature, to the new republican calendar*, to republican virtues, to republican heroes, or to antiquity).

And, of course, they started giving their children revolutionary names as well.

Examples of these names include…

NameTranslation/Significance
Abeille“Bee” / refers to the date Germinal 15 (Apr. 4)
Abricot“Apricot” / refers to the date Thermidor 13 (Jul. 31)
Agricola-Vialarefers to Joseph Agricol Viala, child-martyr of the French Revolution
Ail“Garlic” / refers to the date Messidor 27 (Jul. 15)
Amour Sacré de la Patrie l’an Trois“Sacred Love of the Fatherland Year III”
Armoise“Mugwort” / refers to the date Thermidor 7 (Jul. 25)
Aubergine“Eggplant” / refers to the date Vendémiaire 26 (Oct. 17)
Bararefers to drummer boy Joseph Bara, child-martyr of the French Revolution
Belle de Nuit“Four o’clock flower”/ refers to the date Vendémiaire 16 (Oct. 7)
Betterave“Beet root” / refers to the date Brumaire 4 (Oct. 25)
Bitume“Bitumen” / refers to the date Nivôse 3 (Dec. 23)
Brutusrefers to ancient Roman politician Brutus
Carmagnolerefers to the song “La Carmagnole
Carotte“Carrot” / refers to the date Vendémiaire 7 (Sept. 28)
Calasrefers to executed merchant Jean Calas
Catherine Laurier ThimCatherine “Laurier-thym,” or “Laurustinus” / refers to the date Pluviôse 6 (Jan. 25)
Citoyen Français“French Citizen”
Cresson“Watercress” / refers to the date Brumaire 17 (Nov. 7)
Décadi“Tenth day” (of the ten-day week) / refers to the day of rest that replaced Sunday
Dix-Août“10 August” / refers to the insurrection of August 10 (1792) that overthrew the French monarchy
Dixhuit Fructidor“18 Fructidor” / refers to the Coup of 18 Fructidor in Year V (Sept. 4, 1797)
Droit de l’Homme Tricolor“Right of Man Tricolor”
Égalité“Equality”
Étain“Tin” / refers to the date Nivôse 26 (Jan. 25)
Faisceau Pique TerreurFasces,” “Pike,” “Terror” / refers, at least partially, to the Reign of Terror
Fédéré“Federated”
Fleur d’Orange Républicaine“Republican Orange-Flower”
Floréalbased on fleur, “flower” / one of the springtime months of the republican calendar
Fraise“Strawberry” / refers to the date Prairial 11 (May 30)
Franchise (frahng-sheez)“Frankness” / the root word, franc, is semantically associated with both “freedom” and “Frenchness”
Fructidorbased on fructis, Latin for “fruit” / one of the summertime months of the republican calendar
Fumier“Manure” / refers to the date Nivôse 8 (Dec. 28)
Guillaume Tellrefers to folk hero William Tell
Helvétius Mablyrefers to French philosophers Gabriel Bonnot de Mably and Claude Adrien Helvétius
Houlette“Shepherd’s crook” / refers to the date Floréal 30 (May 19)
Humain“Human”
Isabelle Civilis Victoire Jemmapes DumouriezIsabelle, “Civil,” “Victory,” Jemmapes [sic] refers to the Battle of Jemappes, and Dumouriez refers to general Charles François Dumouriez
Jonquille“Daffodil” / refers to the date Germinal 8 (Mar. 28)
Lagrenade“The Grenade”
La Loi“The Law”
La Montagne“The Mountain” / refers to a political group
Laurent Sans-culottesLaurent “Without Breeches” / refers to the common people
Le Peletierrefers to politician Louis-Michel le Peletier
Liberté“Freedom”
Lucius Pleb-EgalLucius “Plebeian-Equality”
Maratrefers to journalist and revolutionary martyr Jean-Paul Marat
Maratinerefers to journalist and revolutionary martyr Jean-Paul Marat
Marat, ami du peuple“Marat, friend of the people”
Marat, défenseur de la Patrie“Marat, defender of the Fatherland”
Minerverefers to Roman goddess Minerva
Mort aux Aristocrates“Death to the Aristocrats”
Mucius Scaevolarefers to ancient Roman youth Scaevola
Peuplier“Poplar” / refers to the date Pluviôse 9 (Jan. 28)
Philippe Thomas Ve de bon coeur pour la RépubliquePhilippe Thomas “Go with a good heart for the Republic”
Phytogynéantropeaccording to one source, it’s “Greek for a woman giving birth only to warrior sons”
Pomme“Apple” / refers to the date Brumaire 1 (Oct. 22)
Porte-arme“Weapon-holder”
Racine de la Liberté“Root of Freedom”
Raifort“Horseradish” / refers to the date Frimaire 12 (Dec. 2)
Raison“Reason”
Régénérée Vigueur“Regenerated Strength”
Rhubarbe“Rhubarb” / refers to the date Floréal 11 (Apr. 30)
Robespierrerefers to politician Maximilien Robespierre
Sans Crainte“Without Fear”
Scipion l’Africainrefers to ancient Roman general Scipio Africanus
Seigle“Rye” / refers to the date Messidor 1 (Jun. 19)
Simon Liberté ou la MortSimon “Freedom or Death”
Spartacusrefers to ancient Roman gladiator and military leader Spartacus
Sureau“Elderberry” / refers to the date Prairial 17 (Jun. 5)
Thermidorbased on thermon, Greek for “summer heat” / one of the summertime months of the republican calendar
Travail“Work”
Tubéreuse“Tuberose” / refers to the date Fructidor 6 (Aug. 23)
Unitée Impérissable“Imperishable Unity”
Vengeur Constant“Constant Avenger”
Victoire Fédérative“Federal Victory”

Though it’s “impossible to estimate” just how many revolution-era babies got revolutionary names, the number seems to be well into the thousands, judging by statements like these:

  • “[I]n the winter and spring of 1794 at least 60 per cent of children received revolutionary names in Marseilles, Montpellier, Nevers, and Rouen.”
  • “[I]n Poitiers…only 62 of 593 babies born in the year II [1793-94] were named after saints in the ancien régime manner. Instead, they were given names reflecting the contrasting sources of political inspiration.”

About a decade later, however, all this creative naming came to an end.

Under Napoleon Bonaparte, the French government enacted a law that restricted French given names to “names used in various calendars” (that is, the names of Catholic saints) and “names of persons known from ancient history.” In essence, the law was meant to “put an end to citizens bearing absurd names that signified inanimate objects, forms of vegetation, membership of the animal kingdom and abstract concepts.”

….And this was the law that gave the Manrot-le Goarnic family so much difficulty when they tried to give their children Breton names a century and a half later.

*The French republican calendar, in use from 1793 to 1806, was a secular take on the Catholic Church’s calendar of saints. The months “were named after natural elements, while each day was named for a seed, tree, flower, fruit, animal, or tool.”

Sources: