If boys can answer to Leo, what other great names are waiting in the animal kingdom?
Thanks to Linda for suggesting Fox as our Baby Name of the Day.
Fox may be borrowed from the natural world, but it was a supernatural drama from that put him squarely in the given name category in the US.
In 1993, the world met Special Agent Fox Mulder. He’s the whip smart, paranormal-obsessed investigator on The X-Files, partnered with the equally sharp, but skeptical, Dana Scully.
Some speculated that the character’s name came from Fox, the upstart network that was still less than a decade old when the series debuted.
If that were true, then Special Agent Mulder would ultimately pay homage to William Fox, the early twentieth century entrepreneur who founded what would ultimately become 20th Century Fox and the Fox Broadcasting Company. He was born Wilhelm Fried – presumably inspiration for his new surname came from his mother’s maiden name, Fuchs.
Fuchs became fox in Old English ages ago. It refers to the animal’s bushy tail. Plenty of people wear some form of the name as a surname. Todd also comes from fox, via a separate Middle English word.
The creature has taken on lots of other attributes in myth and folklore. He’s clever and resourceful, but not always pure of heart. There’s Aesop’s fable, and many more in literature through the centuries, right up to Dora the Explorer’s badly-behaved Swiper.
Foxy is something of a compliment, having more to do with good looks, as in the Jimi Hendrix song.
But Special Agent Mulder wasn’t named after William Fox or his many corporate descendants. Instead, X-Files series creator apparently knew a boy called Fox years before he dreamed up the show.
The handful of men to answer to the name prior to the 1990s are almost certainly wearing their mother’s maiden name.
But after 1993, he picks up as a given name for boys, and Special Agent Mulder almost certainly gets much of the credit. 96 boys received the name in 2012 – a new high.
More than a notable namesake, Fox fits with a trifecta of trends:
- We love nature names for our children, from gentle River and Willow to fierce Hawk. Fox falls neatly in the middle.
- He also fits with ends-with-x names for boys. If Max is a retro classic and Jax a modern favorite, why not Fox? Let’s not forget Dex, Felix, Dax, Alex, and scores more names with the high value Scrabble letter.
- Boys’ names that are brief and complete are having a good run. From just Gus or Tom on the birth certificate to mini names like Cade and Cole, parents are keeping it simple these days – and that minimalist approach is good for Fox. He packs a lot of style into just three letters.
Farther back in history, there’s New York Times columnist Fox Butterfield and World War I military leader Fox Conner, the mentor of Dwight Eisenhower. And, of course, there are too many notables with the surname Fox to even begin to list, though Michael J. Fox and Megan Fox are pop culture fixtures for modern parents.
All in all, this makes for a surprising choice for a son, but a thoroughly wearable one. It sounds like a given name, but remains distinctive. If you’re after a daring name that isn’t in any way invented, Fox is one to consider. Better yet, check your family tree for a Fuchs or some other similar surname. You might be surprised!