He’s been worn by a German saint, a famous hotelier, and a fictional pop star – and he’s showing the faintest signs of revival for newborn boys, too.
Thanks to Annabel for suggesting Conrad as Baby Name of the Day.
Conrad is undeniably German in origin. Some of the earliest bearers can be found in places like Konstanz and Württemberg beginning in the ninth century.
The well-born Saint Conrad served as a bishop. In the 900s, Conrad the Elder assembled what would become the Duchy of Franconia and established the powerful Conradiner family. He passed the name on to his son, Conrad I of Germany; Conrad the Elder may have been named after a grandfather himself.
More titled and faithful Conrads followed. German poet Konrad von Würzburg made his mark in the thirteenth century. The name had made its way to Poland by the 1100s. Conrad of Gelnhausen was a 14th century theologian and canon lawyer.
Composed of the element -rad – counsel, along with either kuoni – brave, daring or kuni – people, there’s a positive meaning buried in the name.
It was the 1800s before Conrad entered wider use in English. Conrad Nicholson Hilton was born in 1887, and built a hotel empire over the next century. His seven siblings have noteworthy names, too: sisters Felice, Rosemary, Eva, and Helen, and brothers Julian, Carl, and August. They’ve kept the name in the family. The most famous Hilton of our era is the first Conrad’s great-granddaughter, Paris, but she has a brother named Conrad, too.
Conrad ranked in the high 200s when Hilton was born, peaked at #215 in 1931, and then slowly slid towards obscurity.
More recently, Timothy Hutton won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Conrad Jarrett in 1980’s Ordinary People. He played the guilt-ridden younger son suffering after his older brother’s tragic death. Hutton’s role did little to reverse Conrad’s slide, though he may have encouraged the adoption of Jarrett.
Then there’s the fictional Conrad, the Elvis Presley-esque figure from Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie. Set in 1958, Conrad Birdie was headed off to the Army, but had pledged One Last Kiss to one lucky girl before his departure. Innocent hijinks ensued after the contest winner, Kim MacAfee of Sweet Apple, Ohio, was selected. The musical was a hit, as was the film adaptation. Choose this name for your son, and it will be difficult to block out the number where Birdie’s fans sing “We love you, Conrad, oh yes we do …”
Parents today probably think of Conrad Bain, who played the dad on Diff’rent Strokes, but there’s also the character from Weeds. In some adaptations of The Cat in the Hat, the boy’s name is given as Conrad.
The Italian variant, Corrado, could make for a daring choice. But Conrad himself recently reversed course. After ranking in the low 800s, he’s climbed back to #747 in 2009. That’s far from trendy, but list him with hipster boy names: Rufus, Dexter, Homer, Kai. He fits right in.
So if you’re seeking something distinctive, but not yet discovered, Conrad might be the right choice.