Name of the Day: Milo

by appellationmountain on December 15, 2009

Liv Tyler chose today’s name for her son, and she’s not the only one.

Thanks to Silent One for suggesting Milo as Name of the Day.

Miles is a Pilgrim, complete with over-sized shoe buckles and a serious face. The related Milo is nearly the same name, but with a twist.

To those of us who grew up with Jason and Mike or Gary and Bob, Milo sounds downright unusual. But the Nameberry gurus predict he’ll be among the Most Popular Names of 2019.

And why not? Leo is leaping up the charts, as are other ends-in-o names, from Diego to Hugo. And that long -o sound also features in Top 100 faves like Noah, Logan and Cole.

Descendents frontman Milo Auckerman is one notable Milo. Part of the late 70s punk rock scene, the Descendents managed to make book learnin’ rebellious and punk accessible. (Sort of. By today’s standards, they’re as mainstream as Green Day.) Auckerman went on to earn a PhD in biochemistry.

Today the name probably brings up Heroes‘ Milo Ventimiglia, who plays nurse-turned-superhero Peter.

Literature gives us Catch-22’s Milo Minderbinder, an opportunistic profiteer unlikely to inspire a child’s name. Professor Milo is Batman’s enemy in DC Comics. Alias plots often featured the manuscripts of medieval genius figure Milo Rambaldi. And the hero of The Phantom Tollbooth, a classic in young adult literature, is named Milo. He acquits himself admirably in Lands Beyond.

And then there’s the orange tabby cat in The Adventures of Milo and Otis. You might think that would put the brakes on this name, but it hasn’t hurt Otis.

To find more Milos, we need to step into the wayback machine:

  • Wrestler Milo of Croton threw his weight around back five centuries BC in ancient Greece. His feats have almost certainly been exagerated, but Milo was a big deal. Both Rabelais and Shakespeare mention the strongman;
  • He’s not a saint, but an eighth century Milo was Bishop of Reims and later Bishop of Trier.

That’s not heavy use, and it can be challenging to identify Milo in historical records – he could have been Latinized as Miles. His origins are Germanic and like many a similar moniker, the Normans brought him to England.

As for the meaning of Milo, there are a handful of theories:

  • The Slavic element mil means gracious, as in Milena;
  • In Latin, miles meant soldier. The influence can still be seen in words like military and militia;
  • Others link it to the name Michael;
  • The Germanic element milde became the English word mild – as in peaceful or calm, and the source of the name Mildred.

In Australia and much of the world, Milo isn’t a boy, but a beverage. Nestle manufactures a cross between an energy drink and chocolate milk by the name.

Elsewhere around the globe, Milo is in the midst of a revival. He’s a Top 100 pick in Sweden. After many years out of the US Top 1000, Milo reappeared in 2001. By 2008, he’d climbed to #449. Besides Liv Tyler, Ricki Lake and Camryn Manheim are also moms to boys called Milo. With Miles at #167, it seems like the Nameberry predictions are almost certainly correct – listen for this one on a playground near you!

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