Finn: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on July 8, 2013

Finn Hudson GleeEditor’s note: This post was originally published on September 1, 2008 and was substantially revised on April 16, 2012 and again on July 8, 2013.

He’s simple, straightforward, and quite fashionable.

Thanks to Kim for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Finn.

Finn reads Irish, and indeed, the original Finn was Fionn mac Cumhaill – that mythological warrior better known as Finn McCool. Fionn means fair, and referred to the hero’s hair color.

McCool performed the requisite heroic feats: outwitting an evil fairy, catching an enchanted fish, pursuing a maiden transformed into a deer. Legend has it that Finn is not dead, but merely sleeping, and will reawaken and protect Ireland in her hour of need.

Some scholars suggest that the title of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake is a slurring of the phrase “Finn again is awake.”

He also appears as a minor dwarf in Old Norse mythology and as a legendary character in Frisian folklore. While the etymology of the Frisian name is lost, the Norse name Finnr is believed to stem from the Germanic finnr, which meant wanderer. Over time, it evolved to the name of Finland, and of course, the Finns themselves.

The most notable American bearer of the name was introduced as the juvenile pariah of the village … the son of the Town Drunkard. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is etched in the American imagination, headed down the Mississippi River with runaway slave Jim. The character lends Finn a maverick, footloose spirit and makes the name quintessentially American.

Most of the longer forms of Finn stay true to their shamrock green roots:

  • Finley (#794 in 2007, up to #547 in 2012, and also popular for girls, at #347 in 2012)
  • Finnegan (#653 in 2007, up to #491 in 2012)
  • Finbar (unranked, but used by the Kennedys)
  • Other unranked possibilities, like Finnian.

Julia Robert’s son Phinnaeus Walter, born in 2004, is part of the Finn phenomenon (Thanks to Corinne for pointing out the correct spelling!) He’s not Irish, but part of another trend – Biblical boys. Phineas or Phinehas is an Old Testament appellation, worn by two separate characters.

The popular Welsh Griffin is another possibility, and now The Hunger Games has given us the heroic Finnick.

But it is the single-syllable name at the top of the popularity charts. He debuted in the US at #833 in 2000. By 2007, he’d reached #387, in 2010 he stood at #300.  He’s reached a plateau, charting at #291 in 2012.  It’s too soon to say if he’s peaked, or if he’s just slowed down.  Tori Spelling welcomed son Finn Davey in 2012 – the high-profile family could spark more interest in the name.

Fictional figures include:

  • Quarterback-turned-glee-club-singer Finn Hudson is a staple on the cast of Glee.
  • Matthew McConaughey played Finn in Fool’s Gold.
  • The small screen also gives us characters in the animated Adventure Time, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gray’s Anatomy.
  • The Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers mascot bears the name.

Finn is a fresher choice than well-worn Gaelic favorites like Ryan and Aidan. He’s simple and masculine, but not aggressive like Slade or Buck.

The only downside to this name is that he’s caught on quickly in recent years. Your Finn will probably share his name with others his age – or maybe a Finnegan and a Finley.

And yet, meeting more little Finns isn’t such a bad thing!

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