Jericho: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on October 17, 2012

Jericho Jericho (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)

It’s an ancient place name with an appealing sound.

Thanks to Jenny & Jonah for suggesting Jericho as our Baby Name of the Day.

With children named Camden and Savannah, Brooklyn and Boston, place names are old news.  But while some place names have made the Top 100, others are rare, even surprising.  Think of Alicia Keys’ son Egypt, or Drea de Matteo’s daughter Alabama.

Jericho definitely belongs with the rarities, but it isn’t unknown.  Just five girls received the name in 2011, but 184 boys were called Jericho.  This one definitely leans masculine.

Maybe that’s because he shares his first syllable with names like Jerome, Jeremyand Jeremiah, all recognized masculine names with a long history of use.

Back to the map.  Jericho has been inhabited for eons.  Evidence of human habitation dates to 9000 BCE – it’s up there with Jerusalem and Damascus.

With such an ancient place, there’s bound to be some debate over the meaning of the name.  But the official website of the city “welcomes you to the City of the Moon.”  This reflects the dominant theory that Jericho comes from the Hebrew yareakh - moon, or possibly a related Canaanite word sharing the same meaning.  Yerach may have been a name for the original moon god, a name that survives as Jerah, a name that appears in the Book of Genesis as one of the descendants of Shem.

There are countless stories about Jericho, but the most famous comes from the Old Testament.  Joshua’s army of Israelites set out to conquer Canaan, and Jericho was a key city.  It is said that Joshua brought down Jericho’s walls by following God’s instructions to repeat a specific ritual every day for seven days.  On the seventh day, when they’d completed circling the walls of the city, they were to blow their horns and then shout their war cry.

There’s lots here for scholars to unpack.  Site excavations confirmed that walls once stood in ancient Jericho.

Let’s move on to the city’s more recent history.

If you’re looking for reasons to discount the name, Jericho has been the site of much strife.  In the last century alone, the city has been ruled by the British, the Jordanians, the Palestinians, and the Israelis.  It is now officially part of the Palestinian Authority.

But if you’re religious, choosing a name from the Holy Land might appeal.

Plus, Jericho is near the Dead Sea, known for its palm trees, and rich in history.  Even if the city’s role in Old Testament isn’t meaningful to you personally, the idea of choosing a name rich in history could appeal.

There’s also the short-lived television show Jericho, a post-apocalyptic vision of small town Kansas.  It aired only two seasons, but its storyline continues in comic books.  Other uses include:

  • The Israelis have a series of missiles called Jericho.
  • While the Kansas town is fictional, places in Vermont and New York bear the name.

You’ll need to determine whether the meaning works for your family, but with his vibrant, upbeat sound, it is easy to imagine parents embracing Jericho.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mia April 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

I like Jericho as a name a lot. It was on my list as a middle name to go with Edmund. I still like that combo.

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Emily Chapman April 28, 2013 at 12:19 AM

Jericho definitely sounds masculine to me. I think you could make it feminine by naming a girl Jericha.

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Panya April 28, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I knew a girl named Jerica — I never thought of Jericho in relation to her name before — it does make sense.

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Panya November 13, 2012 at 7:40 AM

I used to think of Chris Jericho, then of the show [my mom was a fan], but now it makes me think of hippie-ish Jewish parents using the name on their baby.

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Jenny & Jonah May 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM

We’re definitely the hippyish-Jewish parents who suggested the name; although I should mention that our other children’s names are Joshua, Jacob & Peliah.

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Panya May 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM

Aw, yay, I was right! ;-)

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Julie October 19, 2012 at 2:58 AM

I get a really butch vibe off the name. I guess that’s the influence of the Biblical story and the militant turn the TV show took… so the idea of Jericho on a girl kind of amuses me. I like Jericho, but I can’t shake the idea that it feels “trendy”. Maybe because I imagine his siblings are named Jayden and Brooklyn?

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Dellitt October 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM

I like Jericho for a girl. It would be fine on a boy, though, so I guess I think it’s unisex. But I see a lot of place names that way – Alabama could be a boy or a girl in my opinion. I love the tie to such an ancient civilization, the moon god, the Biblical story is great, and with the whole walls coming down with the blast of horns thing, I think I could get away with the nickname Echo here, another girl name I love. Erica would be another possible nickname. I doubt I would actually use Jericho, but I think it’s neat. And I would be happy to meet a boy or a girl Jericho, I would think that was awesome.

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Megalady October 20, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Other nicknames I think are cute for a girl Jericho: Jo and Coco

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Bella October 17, 2012 at 4:20 PM

This definitely seems to be a masculine name. I don’t think I would use it on a real life kid – but if I did, I think the nn Ricky is very cute (or Rick when he gets older).

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Kristin October 17, 2012 at 3:47 PM

I’m not a fan of Jericho. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. For some reason, it makes me think of American Gladiators from when I was a kid. Was there a Jericho on that? Hmm.

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Jordanna October 17, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Chris Jericho the pro-wrestler, maybe?

I’m related to a Jericho who was NNed Jake. I really like it, though of course with such a distinctive name so close in the family, I wouldn’t use it.

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Megalady October 17, 2012 at 2:40 PM

I like Jericho, and the moon tie is intriguing. And with a Jerry in the family, he makes a great honor option, though he’ll have to compete with Jeremiah.

Great post.

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Sarah A October 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

I’m kind of surprised but I actually really love Jericho. 3 syllables, ends-in-o, Biblical, uncommon; that combo makes a winning name in my book! I’m not usually a fan of place names or names without much history on real people, but I do quite like this one. I’d love to meet a little boy named Jericho :)

My mother’s bad news father was Jerrold who went exclusively by Jerry, so if I ever named a boy Jericho I’d be tempted to nn him Rico if anything.

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The Name Station October 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Where I live, we’ve got a Jericho Beach and huge Jericho Park right by it. I love that place! But this name is still too Biblical for me to use, and the strange thing about it for me is I see it as almost an asexual name. (Maybe I should finish my coffee before I analyze names…no?) But I don’t see a unisex name, I see a name not really suited to either sex, in my opinion. I could imagine a guy named Jericho being accused of having a “girly” name, and a girl named Jericho accused of having a “boy’s” name. Either that, or I see people with this name going by Jeri/Jerry most often, anyway.

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SkyeRhyly October 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

One of my favorite place names! I think the -o ending makes it masculine too

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C in DC October 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Agreed. This reads boy to me, too.

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