Seymour: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on October 23, 2012

Seymour River

Seymour River (Photo credit: Flickstorage)

We’ve talked about Sinjin and Santiago.  Here’s another place name mash-up with similarly saintly roots.

Thanks to Heather for suggesting Seymour as our Baby Name of the Day.

Seymour has deep roots.

The future Saint Maur or Maurus was born in the early 500s.  It was a fairly common Late Latin appellation, the forerunner of Maurice.  Maurus entered a monastery young, studying under St. Benedict, author of the definitive guide to monastic life, the Rule of St. Benedict.  Maurus was an early follower, and a model student.

St. Maurus went on to found the first Benedictine monastery in Gaul.  Churches and places names followed, and remain in use today.

Saint-Maur-des-Fossés is a village just outside of Paris.  An abbey was established there in the seventh century, and dedicated to Saint Peter.  In the 800s, a group of monks fleeing a Viking invasion took refuge at Fossés.  They came from the Abbey of Saint Maur de Glanfueil – that original monastery established by Saint Maurus – and brought the saint’s relics with them.  A pilgrimage to the re-named abbey was said to cure all manner of ills, including gout, and many made the trip.  There’s also a story that the name change was prompted by a drought, during which prayers to Peter failed to produced the needed rainfall.  Prayers to Maur, however, did the trick.

Smoosh together Saint Maur, import it to English with the Norman invasion, and you’ll arrive at Seymour.

Seymour could come from – or be influenced by – English place names like Seamer.  But the family that made the name famous came from the French village.  The Seymours were influential in Tudor England.  Jane Seymour was Henry VIII’s third wife, and mother of the future King Edward IV.

So Seymour, like Clarence, once dripped with history and aristocratic flair.

Circa 2012, Seymour feels like the kind of name used in a prank call.  There’s mama’s boy Seymour Skinner on The Simpsons and the hapless owner of a very hungry plant in Little Shop of Horrors.  Then again, Arthur, Frederick, Theodore, and Max once seemed crusty and fusty, and today they’re quite stylish.

Can Seymour be revived?

He peaked in the 1920s.  While some names from the era are back in force, others are … not.  Fellow jazz age boys Howard, Harold, Herbert, Earl, Earnest, Melvin, Floyd, Lloyd, Lester feel borderline unwearable.  Seymour left the US Top 1000 in the 1940s, and just six boys received the name last year.

On the pro-Seymour side:

  • JD Salinger gave the name to the eldest of the Glass children, though Seymour’s story is ultimately an unhappy one.
  • Actor Seymour Cassel has had a long career, including The Royal Tenenbaums - loosely based on the Glass family.
  • There’s also Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh.

I even found a scandalous eighteenth century noblewoman named Seymour Dorothy Fleming – she left her husband for another man.

But the most convincing case comes courtesy of a Babble article from the mom of a Seymour, who points out that it comes with ready nickname Sy.

Throw in artists, scientists, and politicians, plus Fry’s dog in Futurama and Seymour starts to feel like one that might be back, right around the time Floyd and Harold reach the playground.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

ebie778822 November 20, 2012 at 8:03 PM

I always think of Seymour from little shop of Horrors and the part when the Audrey II sings Feed Me Seymour. It also makes me think of the book Came Back To Show you I Could Fly by Australian author Robin Klein. Seymour is an 11 year old boy who becomes friends with the 20 year old Angie who is pregnant and taking drugs. Apparently it is a good book I have never actually read it. The name Seymour is very old fashioned to me.

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Julie October 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM

I’ve never been a big Simpsons fan, first thought was the joke name Seymour Butz. I guess I’m not ready to for it to come back, although I actually considered Clyde and Harold (my other-half wasn’t keen about either name.)

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Virginia October 23, 2012 at 4:27 PM

My mind went to the terminally dorky character named Seymour from the movie Ghost World played by Steve Buscemi.

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Kara October 23, 2012 at 1:25 PM

I immediately thought of the hapless nerd from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Hey, your kid would come with his own built in song, “Suddenly Seymour.” It’s still a little go to nerd name for me- kind of like Eugene, but i think it has potential to catch on.

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KO October 23, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Ditto! That song is great!

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Whitney October 23, 2012 at 11:15 AM

My fist thought is Clyde and Seymour, the names of the sea lions at Seaworld. Though it may be spelled Seamour. Not sure. Those are the character names for the sea lion show, kinda like Shamu is the character name for the orcas. Personally, I like the connection, but of the two, I would choose Clyde ;-)

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C in DC October 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM

I too thought of SeaWorld.

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Poesy Pop October 23, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Thanks for profiling Seymour. I love when you profile names like this. My first thought was absolutely Seymour Glass, and though his story is a sad one, next to Zooey he’s always been my favourite, and would certainly make a very interesting namesake.

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Megalady October 23, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Seymour… I can’t figure out if I like it. On the one hand he would fit in with the buttoned up adorables like Felix, August, Clarence, Philip, etc. But on the other hand he feels sort of like a punchline. The oft-used joke name and Phillip Seymour Hoffman both come to mind with the name, one association not so positive and the other fairly positive.

However, throw in a cute nickname or two, like Sy (though part of me wants to say Sam too), and I think he’s wearable.

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appellationmountain October 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM

I didn’t even think of Philip Seymour Hoffman – okay, add Oscar-worthy to the list of reasons to like Seymour!

Sam could work for Seymour, but I really love Sy.

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Bella October 23, 2012 at 6:56 AM

My first thought was Seymour Skinner from the Simpsons, and then I thought of Reverend Seymour (his last name), a minister from a nearby church. Both of these associations make difficult to see it as a kids name. Maybe if I met a little Seymour my opinion might change, but for now I just imagine the name as screeched by Mrs Skinner – ‘Seeeey-mooor!’

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Charlotte Vera October 23, 2012 at 4:53 AM

One of my first thoughts is actually Philip Seymour Hoffman. I don’t really have any other associations with the name. I obviously need to read more J.D. Salinger — I’m woefully illiterate when it comes to American fiction. I had to look up Salinger’s wiki page to understand your Glass family reference.

While I love Clarence (it was on my list for this LO, but Mark just made a face when I mentioned it), Seymour doesn’t do anything for me. I wouldn’t mind seeing more babies given the name (no pun intended!), but mine won’t be one of them.

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