Baby Name of the Day: Bode


Bode Miller at the 2010 Winter Olympic downhill.

Bode Miller at the 2010 Winter Olympic downhill; Image via Wikipedia

He’s a modern moniker made famous by an Olympic star.

Thanks to Meredith for suggesting Bode as our Baby Name of the Day.

Skier Bode Miller won two silver medals at the Salt Lake City games in 2002, and scored gold at Vancouver in 2010. His unusual name suited his take-no-prisoners style.

Then there’s Bodhi Pine Elfman, husband of actress Jenna Elfman, dad to Story Elias. That’s his real name – his dad, Richard, was a founding member of Oingo Boingo, along with brother, Danny.

Are Bodhi and Bode the same name? How ’bout Bodie, a spelling found in the first season of Dawson’s Creek?

Bodhi is a Sanskrit term usually translated as “enlightenment.” That’s a big idea, but it is something of an understatement. In Buddhism, it is the end of suffering, a state of freedom from earthly desires and distractions. A bodhisattva is one who seeks to attain this lofty state, and the Bodhi Tree is the fig tree under which the future Buddha sat to attain enlightenment.

So Bodhi seems like a pretty significant name, as rich with meaning as Trinity or Cohen. When you read about Bode Miller’s childhood, it seems plausible that his parents were inspired by the Buddhist term. His older sister is Kyla and his given name is actually Samuel Bode, but their younger siblings are Genesis Wren Bungo Windrushing Turtleheart and Nathaniel Kinsman Ever Chelone Skan. They spent their early years in an isolated log cabin in New England, off the grid.

All of this makes the name both hippie chic and Eastern leaning. But there is yet another possible option, one very much in step with another current trend. Boda, Bode, or Bodo was a medieval given name originally – or possibly interchangeably – used as a title for a minor official.

Bodo hangs on longer than you might expect. I anticipated finding them in the 800s and 900s, but I was surprised to find a Bodo resurgence in 1950s Germany, on both sides of the wall. There’s a folktale about a giant called Bodo who chased the princess Brunhilde. She escaped by leaping a giant gorge, but the giant plunged to his death. The river that drowned him bears his name.

Boden isn’t just a colorful British clothier – it also a surname related to Bode. It’s not too far outside of the Top 1000 today. Brody is an unrelated Irish appellation currently in the US Top 100.

I’ve also found references to Bode as a Yoruban name, and there are definitely Bodes from West Africa.

The thing about Bode that gives me pause is this: spell it Bodhi and it is spiritually charged; spelling it Bodie or Bodee and it looks trendy. Bode is the most restrained spelling, but it also reminds me of foreboding – a sense of impending doom.

Still, if you’re into something that is fresh and current, without a long history of use, Bode is one to consider. He has meaning and precedent, but chances are you won’t meet a grandpa Bode – at least not for a few more years!

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24 Comments

One reference most might forget is that Bodie is a name of a character from the HBO show, The Wire. Bodie is a low level drug dealer but gets a great amount of character development throughout the series. People from all walks of life love The Wire and Bodie was the surprise winner of the fans favorite character from the series. While his environment has put him in a distasteful occupation, he is extremely smart, dutiful, loyal and maintains a code of ethics despite knowing that it may result in his demise… One of the greatest characters on modern tv.

Apart from how easy it is to mispronounce it, this name is definitely gaining in popularity! I don’t mind it, really, at all!

Bodhi might be too much, but I definitely prefer that spelling to others. Perhaps it’s odd, but it feels the most familiar and thus intuitive. Bode just looks like “abode” and it makes the E seem like it should be silent. Like if someone spelled Cory, Core, when core is an actual word in English with a silent E.

I get kind of a hipster, cool, laid-back vibe from Bodhi and I actually kind of like it.

My nephew has a friend named Jobe, pronounced like JOE-bee. I’ve known the kid for years, but I still want to pronounce his name like Job. I know I’d the same problem with Bode.
As for the other spellings, Bodie looks like a nickname and I don’t like the idea of non-Buddhists using Bodhi. I feels a lot like non-Jews co-opting Cohen, because it sounds cool.

We have a fairytale book with story about Brunhilde, but in that version the giant is female, I’ll have to give it another look sometime.

When I see it written, I think, “This does not bode well.” Then when I try to get my brain to pronounce it differently I begin to think of bidets since my husband always pronounces the word like “BO-day” (which incidentally isn’t correct).

I’m afraid I’m not very familiar with the skier.

Not sure about Bode on its own; makes me think of the verb “to bode” which is usually followed by “ill” or expressed negatively — “it doesn’t bode well.” My Small Child is obsessed with Boden clothes, so that name is far too associated with online shopping sprees. I do rather like Bodo, though :); it’s got a certain je ne sais quoi.

Great post. I just wanted to add that Bodie is a scenic ghost town near the California-Nevada border. It’s been preserved as some kind of historical park, and tourists stop by. I know of one Californian Bodie named for the town.

I like Bode, I do. But, I’m oft tempted to pronounce it like [bohd], as in “humble abode.” Clearly, Bode Miller is fairly well-known, so perhaps people would get the pronunciation, but it isn’t the most intuitive, and I don’t think Bodhi is as attractive, myself.

I encountered a little girl at the playground named Bode or Bodhi – I’m guessing it’s Bodhi since her sister was called Phoenix. But then, the girls and their mom looked very athletic so it’s possible she was named for the Olympic athlete.

I don’t think it bodes well to use this name (sorry couldn’t resist :P). I’m just not crazy about the sound of it – I like the much softer Bo or Beau as a nickname for Bonita or Beauregard.

My college-student brain immediately goes “Broderick Bode from Harry Potter!” , so that’s a reference that will be pointed out immediately by his classmates. He got hypnotized, made to think he was a teapot, and strangled by a plant, but like Lauren said his career was to protect secret things at the Ministry, so… he was probably a decent man? Anyway I’d think the name would be considered cool.

Ooh I hadn’t thought of that! That’s really interesting… although I think Bode is superior to Spode, both as a name and a character. 🙂

Oh wow, I’d never even noticed the rhyme! Maybe “oderick ode” just sounds well together! I’m a big fan of Roderick, but I just can’t get behind Bode.

Since Bode is a minor figure whom we never really get to know (prior to his going crazy), I’d vote for Spode as a superior character for the simple fact that he actually *has* a character.

I had the same immediate Harry Potter reaction, and I’m glad I’m not the only one, he was a pretty obscure character (btw, Broderick Bode was definitely not a Death Eater, wasn’t he Imperiused by one?). And coincidentally, I was reading a Wodehouse book just last night and noticed the Roderick Spode / Broderick Bode connection. So funny!

About the actual name: I’m not a fan. It reminds me of the word ‘bode’, I think it has an ugly sound, and it’s pretty trendy.

Some notes about Bode:
1) I’m pretty sure there was a Death Eater in Harry Potter called Bode. He was an Unspeakable and hung out with a guy called Croaker.
2) In North Carolina, where Dawson’s Creek was shot, “Bodie” is pronounced like “body” at places like Bodie Island and Bodie Light. The story is that the island and the lighthouse got their names from the bodies that washed ashore after every shipwreck.