Where did the baby name Arkham come from in the 2010s?

Arkham Asylum as it appears in the video game "Batman: Arkham Asylum" (2009)
Arkham Asylum

The rare name Arkham first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 2014:

  • 2016: 14 baby boys named Arkham
  • 2015: 9 baby boys named Arkham
  • 2014: 7 baby boys named Arkham [debut]
  • 2013: unlisted
  • 2012: unlisted

Where did it come from?

Well, we know it came from Batman — from the Arkham Asylum, where Batman villains are sent for imprisonment/treatment.

But it’s hard to know what (if anything) caused the debut specifically. Arkham Asylum was being depicted in various media around that time, including…

  • the TV series Gotham (which premiered in 2014),
  • the direct-to-video movie Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014), and
  • several video games, such as Batman: Arkham Origins (2013).

Given the ubiquity of Arkham Asylum these days, it’s interesting to note that Arkham is a relatively recent addition to the Batman universe.

The first Batman comic book was published in 1940, but the comics didn’t introduce Arkham Asylum until 1974. (So, Adam West’s televised version of Batman wouldn’t have had any knowledge of an asylum in Gotham City back in the 1960s.)

According to the backstory, Arkham Asylum was founded in 1921 by psychiatrist Amadeus Arkham. He remodeled the Arkham family mansion into a hospital for the mentally ill following the death of his mother, Elizabeth. The asylum’s official name is the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

The word “Arkham” was taken from writings of H. P. Lovecraft, who used the Salem-inspired fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, as a setting for his unsettling stories. We don’t know how the town’s name was coined, but we do know that it was home to a sanitarium.

What are your thoughts on Arkham as a given name? Would you use it?


Image: Adapted from Arkham Asylum by Shane Crotty under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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