Thanks to Kristin for suggesting Adair as our Baby Name of the Day.
Edgar stretches back to the tenth century English king Edgar, picking up a literary sheen thanks to a fictional Edgar in a novel by Sir Walter Scott, and writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edgar Allan Poe. He occupied the US Top 100 into the 1920s; at #216 today he’s not rare, but he’s also not exactly stylish.
Adair first appears as a surname. The old Anglo-Saxon version of Edgar was Eadgar; drop the g sound and Adair and Adare follow. It’s equally common on the map, in both spellings.
In the nineteenth century, Captain John Adair made a mint in the US, then returned home to Ireland intent of building a palatial country home to rival the royal estate Balmoral. Adair’s Glenveagh Castle nearly succeeded. Adair’s widow, the American-born Cornelia, opened their home to wounded soldiers during World War I.
Other notables to wear the surname include athletes and scientists, as well as:
- If you’ve seen the Cary Grant classic Arsenic and Old Lace, then you’ve seen legendary vaudeville actress Jean Adair – she originated the role of the cheerfully murderous Aunt Martha on Broadway, too;
- Poet Virginia Hamilton Adair;
- Nineteenth century Cherokee Nation leader William Penn Adair – cowboy comedian Will Rogers was named in his honor;
- For over a century, there was an Adair Baronetcy, created in 1838, and extinct as of 1988.
Adair has never appeared in the US Top 1000, but that could change for two reasons.
First up: the short-lived Showtime series Dead Like Me. The main character was Georgia, called George, an eighteen year old slacker with a dead end job who meets a bizarre accidental death, only to find that she’s been assigned to another dead end job – literally. She’s part of the local crew of grim reapers, responsible for helping souls cross over into the afterlife. Daisy Adair is one of George’s fellow reapers, a former actress who claims to have died on the set of Gone With the Wind. The show ran for just two seasons, plus a direct-to-DVD movie.
It’s an obscure reference, but in the current US rankings, we find:
- The fast-rising surname Addison, #11 in 2010;
- Adalyn, #256, with the more traditional Adeline at #322;
- The regal Adelaide at #434;
- Compact Ada at #552;
- The spare Adele at #908.
Oodles of variant spellings dot the rankings. Beyond the Top 1000, there are even more options leading to Addie, like:
All of those are far more popular than Adair, only given to 22 girls in 2010. 67 boys received the name, suggesting that Adair remains possible for boys as well.
For the moment, Adair occupies that rare space – a gender neutral, undiscovered gem. The “dare” sound lends the name an adventurous spirit, while the history provides an anchor. It’s a fun refresh on Edgar, or even possibly a creative feminine form.