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!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. I’m probably in the Bodhi camp, since he looks more like a name to me than a verb, although it does look like how a young child learning to spell would write the word body.