The unusual name Bocephus first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1986:
1986: 7 baby boys named Bocephus [debut]
Where did it come from?
The 1986 song “My Name Is Bocephus” (pronounced boh-SEE-fuss) by Hank Williams, Jr.
Billboard described the song as “Muddy Waters-style blues” in its review of Hank’s album Montana Cafe, which reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart in September. The song was also released as the B-side to the single “Mind Your Own Business,” which hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart later the same year.
“My Name Is Bocephus” apparently became popular enough on its own, though, to warrant the making of a music video. That video, which came out in early 1987, ended up winning the CMA’s Music Video of the Year award.
So…why would a guy named Hank write a song declaring that his name is “Bocephus”?
Because Bocephus was his childhood nickname. And a rather public one at that.
Hank, Jr., was born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to country music legend Hiram “Hank” Williams and his first wife Audrey. Hank, Sr., nicknamed his son Bocephus after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy.
Hank, Sr., died on the first day of 1953, when his son was three-and-a-half. During the short time they had together, though, he would end his radio performances with a message to his son — something like “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” In this Feb. 1951 “Mother’s Best” radio show, for instance, you can hear Hank say “Bocephus, see you directly son” at 27:09.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word charade as “an empty or deceptive act or pretense.”
Given this rather unsavory meaning, it’s surprising that a handful of parents named their baby girls Charade in the 1960s:
1967: 5 baby girls named Charade
1964: 6 baby girls named Charade [debut]
So what was the influence here?
That debut in 1964 can be attributed to the movie Charade and/or the movie’s theme song, also called “Charade.”
The movie was a romantic comedy/thriller starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant that came out in December of 1963 (less than a month after the Kennedy assassination). Here’s how TCM sums it up: “A beautiful widow tries to find her husband’s lost fortune while eluding the killers who want it themselves.”
(Interesting fact: The movie fell out of copyright immediately upon release because the word “copyright” was mistakenly omitted from the title screen.)
The song was a sad-sounding Parisian waltz composed by Henry Mancini with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Henry Mancini’s version reached #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of 1963. Crooner Andy Williams also released a version that managed to reach the top 100 that year (but just barely — 100th place in January).
The following baby names add up to 155, which reduces to two (1+5+5=11; 1+1=2).
“155” boy names: Krystopher, Chrystopher, Muhammadmustafa
What Does “2” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “2” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “2” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“2” (the dyad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“The dyad is the first to have separated itself from the monad, whence also it is called ‘daring. ‘ For when the monad manifests unification, the dyad steals in and manifests separation.”
“Among the virtues, they liken it to courage: for it has already advanced into action. Hence too they used to call it ‘daring’ and ‘impulse.'”
“They also gave it the title of ‘opinion,’ because truth and falsity lie in opinion. And they called it ‘movement,’ ‘generation,’ ‘change,’ ‘division,’ ‘length,’ ‘multiplication,’ ‘addition,’ ‘kinship,’ ‘relativity,’ ‘the ratio in proportionality.’ For the relation of two numbers is of every conceivable form.”
“Apart from recklessness itself, they think that, because it is the very first to have endured separation, it deserves to be called ‘anguish,’ ‘endurance’ and ‘hardship.'”
“From division into two, they call it ‘justice’ (as it were ‘dichotomy’)”
“And they call it ‘Nature,’ since it is movement towards being and, as it were, a sort of coming-to-be and extension from a seed principle”
“Equality lies in this number alone…the product of its multiplication will be equal to the sum of its addition: for 2+2=2×2. Hence they used to call it ‘equal.'”
“It also turns out to be ‘infinity,’ since it is difference, and difference starts from its being set against 1 and extends to infinity.”
“The dyad, they say, is also called ‘Erato’; for having attracted through love the advance of the monad as form, it generates the rest of the results, starting with the triad and tetrad.”
“2” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Two – divided” (reading 261-14).
“Two – the combination, and begins a division of the whole, or the one. While two makes for strength, it also makes for weakness” (reading 5751-1).
Does “2” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 38, 47, 83, 101) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “101” reminds you of education and learning new things, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 2, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
Some recent and not-so-recent baby names from the news…
Abhinandan: Multiple babies born in India in March of 2019 were named Abhinandan following the release of mustachioed IAF wing-commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistan. (India Times)
(And, on March 4th, Pizza Hut India offered free pizza to anyone named Abhinandan.)
Audrey Claire: A baby girl born Pennsylvania in April of 2019 was named Audrey Claire after Philadelphia restaurant Audrey Claire. (The Inquirer)
Brady: A baby girl born in New Hampshire in February of 2019 (on Superbowl Sunday) was named Margaret Carter Brady, second middle name in honor of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. (WMUR)
Camden and Maxwell: Twin baby girls born in North Dakota in February of 2019 were named Isla Camden and Eloise Maxwell — middle names in honor of their late brothers, Camden and Maxwell, who’d died in a car accident a year earlier. (Today)
Danielle: A baby girl born in Blackpool, England, in mid-2018 was named Danielle after nurse Danielle McLardie, who had cared for the mother during a pregnancy-induced bout of sepsis. (BBC, via Clare’s Name News)
Desai: A baby boy born in Oklahoma in January of 2019 was named Desai after obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Sneha Desai, who delivered the baby. (KXII)
Gopay: A baby boy born in Indonesia in February of 2019 was named Gopay after Go-Pay, an Indonesian e-payment platform. The parents received Go-Pay credit from the parent company, Go-Jek, as a gift. (Coconuts Jakarta)
Henderson: A baby boy born in England in February of 2019 was named Henderson, nickname Hendo, “after Sheffield’s famous Henderson’s Relish!” (The Star)
Logan: A baby girl born in Saskatchewan in June of 2018 was named Logan Humble in honor of Logan Boulet, who was killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash, which the baby’s mother had witnessed. (CBC)
Margaret: A baby girl born in Nairobi, Kenya, in March of 2019 — just after her mother had started a 2km “pregnancy walk” hosted by the Beyond Zero campaign — was named Margaret after First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, founder of the campaign. (Evewoman)
Miraj: A baby boy born in Rajasthan, India, in February of 2019 — minutes after IAF fighter jets carried out the Balakot airstrike — was named Miraj after the jets: Dassault Mirage 2000s. (Mumbai Mirror)
And, finally, a pair of pop-culture influenced names that made headlines: