Name of the Day: George

by appellationmountain on December 12, 2008

He’s a curious monkey, a mad king and a nursery rhyme, plus we’re all carrying him around in our wallets. But how does this choice wear on a real child?

Today’s name is in honor of a local birthday boy: George.

Georgia is fashionable these days. George meets most of the requirements for a pleasing throwback choice, too, but he’s lagged far behind other regal appellations like Henry and William.

It’s a bit of a mystery, but we submit that George would fare better if we reclaimed his old nickname – Geordie. Maybe George feels too formal for a small child, but we can easily imagine Geordie running across the playground with Charlie and Theo.

Odds are strong that you’ll find a George on your family tree. The name was a Top Ten staple in the US through 1937; remained in the Top 50 until 1974 and even today ranks #147. It’s almost George’s worst ranking ever, but it still keeps him about even with Oliver (#140) and Edward (#145). The difference is that Ollie and Eddie are climbing, while George seems likely to slide even further.

The name has been in use since early days, and easily translates into virtually every Western language. The Greek Georgios means farmer, from the words ge – earth – and ergon – work. We haven’t turned up a famous Farmer George, but that’s about the only of field of endeavour where a notable is lacking. Consider:

  • Saint George, a Roman soldier. He was probably real; his dragon-slaying activities, not so much.
  • Kings of England, Greece and, naturally, Georgia, have worn the name. King George III – known for his less than stable mental condition – was on the throne with the American colonists staged a revolution.
  • George Washington eventually became the first president of the new country, post-revolt. Plenty of politicians and officials have worn the name since, including Presidents George Bush and George W. Bush.
  • There’s also George Marshall – general, Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work rebuilding Europe following World War II.
  • A number of athletes have been called George, including World Heavyweight Boxing champ George Foreman – who used the name for all five of his sons. One of his daughters is Georgetta. (Four more girls escaped the Georgian naming machine.)
  • Inventor George Eastman is partly responsible for those snapshots of our adorable children.
  • Comedians include George Carlin and George Burns.
  • Pianist and composer George Gershwin is one of several musical bearers of the name. There’s also country music’s George Jones and George Harrison of The Beatles.
  • George was the pen name of choice for George Orwell – born Eric Arthur Blair, George Eliot – born Mary Ann Evans and George Sand – born Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin.
  • Besides the monkey, fictional Georges include Seinfeld’s George Costanza and Harry Potter’s George Weasley.
  • Georgie Porgie kissed the girls and made them cry in the traditional nursery rhyme.
  • This list could not be complete without Hollywood leading man George Clooney.

It’s a classic name that defies type-casting. Choose your passion, and there’s a George that has distinguished himself in that field.

If we follow the English, as we so often do with baby naming trends, George is due for a comeback. He currently ranks #14 in the UK. Even without that boost, we’ve noticed plenty of parents reviving George – perhaps enough to propel him back in the Top 100.

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