He’s a stylish surname bounding up the charts.
Beckett debuted in the US Top 1000 in 2006 at #749, and he’d raced up to #356 by 2010. He shows no signs of slowing down, either. At this rate, he could zip right past other boys’ -ett appellations, like:
- Garrett, #189
- Emmett, #273
- Bennett, #279
- Everett, #287
- Jett, #353
There’s also Wyatt and Elliott. In fact, I guessed Beckett might share something with Elliott and his cousin Elliot – I expected to see Becket gaining, too, but that’s not the case. The single t spelling is pretty rare. You’re more likely to meet a Beck or a even a Beckham.
Both Beckett and Becket share their origins:
- Beckett is a place name, found on the map in England. Beck is an Old English term for a stream, and that’s the most likely origin, but it might also be related to a given name combined with the word cot, shelter.
- It might have described someone with a prominent nose – a beak! In Middle English, the word was beke; in French, bec. Alternately, someone who gossiped could’ve been called a beke, too.
There are a handful of other possible origins out there, too, and it has such a long history of use as a surname that you can find plenty of notables.
But here’s the first one that comes to mind: twelfth century Archbishop Thomas Becket, also called Thomas à Becket. Tom went toe-to-toe with King Henry II over the rights of the King of England to exercise authority over the church. Just as the pair had mostly patched things up, Henry’s supporters heard him mutter something like “Will no one rid us of this pesky priest?”
The king’s loyal followers took it as an order, and off they went to kill the archbishop.
Within two years, Thomas had been canonized, adding him to the already long list of saints named Thomas.
Then there’s Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett, a native of Dublin, Ireland, famous for his play Waiting for Godot. Along with Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, and a number of others, his works are usually considered “Theater of the Absurd” – plays where the characters fail to find meaning or reach a defined goal. It’s something of a bleak worldview, not made for bedtime stories.
Beckett was a major force in 20th century literature, and if his perspective isn’t exactly upbeat, his accomplishments are many. He also earned the recognition of the French government for his work in the resistance during World War II, first in Paris, then in the countryside, with a Croix de guerre.
The two famous Becketts lend their best attributes to the name – principled, intelligent, creative, bold, brainy. Beckham feels like a fleeting pop culture reference, borrowed from a high-profile athlete. But Beckett feels like he’ll stand the test of time.
There are also pop culture references that keep Beckett top of mind: the protagonist of sci fi space travel show Quantum Leap was Sam Beckett. Today, crime drama Castle includes detective Kate Beckett. Lord Cutler Beckett is a bad guy in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
While he’s still relatively unusual today, Beckett feels like he’s headed for the Top 100, a successor to other popular surname choices like Landon and Carter, Cameron and Blake. The name’s main shortcoming, then, is that he could catch on.