North: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on June 21, 2013

English: Peary Sledge Party and Flags at the P... Photo credit: Wikipedia

It’s a directional name with a poetic feel.

In honor of the Kimye birth announcement, our Baby Name of the Day is North.

I’ve been fascinated by North for a while.  I’d imagined North as a boy’s name, with something of a modern virtue vibe, as well as a nature name, and a place name, too.

The word comes from the same Germanic soup as many of our words.  It was norð in Old English, nort in Middle Dutch, north in Old French.

North has long been a surname, typically for a family living in the northern end of a village, or maybe for someone who migrated from the north.

There’s also Norbert, an old Germanic name that has remained in sparing use.  There was an eleventh century Saint Norbert, plus Hagrid’s pet dragon in the Harry Potter series.  The nor- in the name comes directly from the direction.

But none of these are the reasons that North intrigues as a given.  Instead:

  • The North Pole makes it a place name, one that connotes adventure and daring, perseverance and grit.  Admiral Robert Peary usually gets credit for being the first to reach the geographic North Pole.  That’s his party in the picture.
  • True North is a poetic name for Canada.
  • North is one of the four cardinal directions, at the top of most maps and the direction we usually find first.
  • There’s a difference between magnetic north on a compass and true north.  It’s tricky to find, so when you determine true north, it means that you’re navigating capably – on the map or in life.
  • Frederick North was Earl of Guilford and British Prime Minister during the American Revolution.  He was known as Lord North.  The title Baron North was created in 1554, though it is currently in abeyance.
  • North has a seasonal vibe, like Winter or Frost or Snow.  While season names like Summer and Autumn have dominated in recent decades, Winter is definitely on the upswing, making a whole list of chilly seasonal choices fashionable.
  • Easton is a Top 100 choice for boys.  Weston ranked #171 for boys in 2012, followed by Westin at #756.
  • Celebs with directionally-named kids include Elisabeth Rohm’s daughter Easton and Jenna Elfman’s son Easton.  Nicolas Cage chose Weston for a son back in 1990, and Jenna Fischer used the name for a boy in 2011.  Marley Shelton and Randy Houser both have boys called West.

It all makes for an interesting possibility – a name with nature, place, and poetic ties that fits with modern trends but takes them one step further.

No surprise then that North has been in quiet, steady use as a boys’ name since the late 1990s.  13 boys received the name in 2012, and 20 the year before.

But for a girl?

North doesn’t feel feminine, but Nor- names are stylish for girls.  There’s Nora at #107 in 2012, followed by Eleanor (#135), and Norah (#210), plus the -or sound is found in rapidly rising choices like Cora.  Word is that the couple plans to use nickname Nori, an appealing sound – if you can overlook the edible seaweed.

North makes for an almost outlandish choice when paired when the surname West.  While the Pacific Northwest has an edgy vibe, thanks to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, I’m not sure a Kardashian-West kiddo is likely to pick up on that lifestyle.  There’s also Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 classic North by Northwest.

Overall, North could make for an appealing modern choice for parents after something meaningful but different.

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