Daily Operation

(Don’t Get the Wrong Idea)…The Battle of Boys’ Names


No, we’re not pregnant. No, we’re not planning. It’s a simple exercise in name generation. I went to a conference last week in New Orleans and during long and sometimes boring, lifeless label presentations, I started daydreaming about boys names. Normally, this process starts with hearing a name or a series of words and then my mind begins chopping up and rearranging certain sounds and series of syllables until I arrive at far less-than-common names. I then will text them to my lovely wife ultimately to have her put a Hakeem Olajuwon block on it (hmm, Olajuwon Wyrick?). This is just a process by which we start banking names in the case that God blesses us with another baby and, by some freakish 50% chance, that baby is a boy. These are early forerunners (on my list…my lovely wife’s list is much different and filled with contemporary favorites like “Ben” or “Blake” or “Nathan”).

Griffin: \g-riffin, gr(if)-fin\ as a boy’s name is pronounced GRIF-en. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Griffin is “hooked nose”. In Greek mythology and medieval legend, the Gryphon was a fierce creature with the foreparts of an eagle (hence the hooked nose) and the hindquarters of a lion. Use as a name may be linked to the heraldic use of the animal. Griffin’s pretty hood. I mean, foreparts of an eagle and hindquarters of a lion? Who’s picking a fight with that? That’s like if a centaur had arms made of boa constrictors. That’s much cooler than names that mean “guardian” or “great warrior.” It seems that every name means “angel” or “great warrior.” Imagine being a kid on the playground explaining that your name comes from a Latin word describing a fierce creature that had a beak and the ass-end of a lion. Watch the kids flock in absolute fear. And according to thinkbabynames.com, Griffin’s maintaining a pretty decent level of popularity after explosive growth in the nineties. Around the 200th best name. Of course, try writing a list of 200 baby names for boys. It’s harder than you think. I guess 200 ain’t very popular at all. Either way, here’s the insignificant graphing of Griffin’s popularity (just ahead of “Zion” and “Zane”…the wheelhouse is in the top 50 and, after that, everything’s pretty much evenly unconventional). 

Langsdon:  \l(a)-ngs-don, lan(g)-sdon\ as a boy’s name is a variant of Langston (Old English), and the meaning of Langsdon is “long stone”. Okay, so it’s not quite as cool of a meaning as “Griffin.” Nickname would be Lang which I think is pretty sweet and “Lang” means “tall one.” Who cares, really. Langsdon owns as a name for a boy. Yeah, I know that no one names their kid Langsdon. That’s probably why I like it. No one names their baby girl Ellison either, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for that name. Langsdon’s the new Ellison. Here, just in case you need proof that no one names their kid “Langsdon” is the graph illustrating the popularity of “Langsdon.” I think this officially means that no one has named their kid “Langsdon” since Langston Hughes (which is actually spelled with a “t”). Nothing more meaningless than a graph with no lines.

Thaddeus: \th(ad)-deus\ as a boy’s name is pronounced THAD-ee-us. It is of Aramaic origin, and the meaning of Thaddeus is “heart”. Also possibly derives from Theodorus, meaning “God’s gift”. Biblical: one of the 12 apostles (although I thought the apostle was Thaddaeus pronounced tha-DAY-us…but, of course, I could be wrong). Jude is another form of the name. Lousy Aramaic meaning, but “God’s gift” works pretty well. Although, I think that’s one of those meanings that most people say their name means. Put that up there with “warrior,” “protector” and “handsome.” I like the nickname: Thad. Or you could do two “d’s” as in Thadd. Both are pretty rad. Isn’t it sad that all names can’t be quite as bad as the one you wish you had…dad. Don’t be mad. Here’s the graph of Thaddeus’ popularity. Pretty bleak future for the name. But hey, someone’s gotta keep the funk alive.Thaddeus had a decent year in 2002, when it appeared to be turning around the pitiful drop in popularity, but then fell flat the next year with one of its worst year-on-year comparative. It now barely registers on the popularity scale just between “Odin” and “Leonidas,” both of which are names that will guarantee you at least ten fights in grade school and precisely three of which that can be classified as “asswhoopins.”

That brings us to my lovely wife’s choice, Oliver: \o-li-ver\ as a boy’s name is pronounced AH-lih-ver. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Oliver is “olive tree”. Name of one of Charlemagne’s knights in the 12th-century poem “Chanson de Roland”. Also possibly from Alfihar (Old German) “host of elves” or Olafr (Old Norse) “ancestor”. Biblical: the olive tree is a symbol of fruitfulness, beauty, and dignity. Today “extending an olive branch” traditionally signifies an offer of peace. Peculiarly is the “host of elves” or, as some sources translate it, an elf army. Man, and I thought that Griffin’s meaning was dicey. Otherwise, decent name. Nickname would be “Ollie” or “Liver.” O-names are rare, it seems. I know an “Oscar” and an “Oran,” but that’s it. Just two. If you look at it’s performance on the popularity graph, however, it’s seen nice organic growth since 1960 when it bottomed out in popularity. In fact, it’s nearing more popularity than it experienced right after Charles Dickens died in the 1870s and 1880s. If Oliver was a business, this is a healthy graph.

Another week closer to the one year birthday celebration. Invites have been made and addressed. Now I’m working on 1) the movie which will be completed in the coming weeks and 2) ideas on how to entertain 10-15 screaming kids without it involving missiles, stainable paints, pyro or fighting dogs. Any ideas? Message me.

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