The Jolie-Pitt twins celebrate their fourth birthday later this month. Vivienne has proven terribly influential, but how about her brother’s unusual appellation?
Our Baby Name of the Day is Knox.
Hollywood’s most daring duo of namers had already established a preference for ends-in-x boys’ names with Maddox and Pax. Knox fits that pattern just perfectly. He’s a surname derived from the Old English cnocc – hilltop. One famous bearer was sixteenth century Protestant reformer John Knox, known for his work in Scotland.
Plenty of surnames have occasionally appeared in the first spot, and Knox is no exception. He even registered in the upper reaches of the US Top 1000 twice during the nineteenth century. 2008 was a good year for the letter x, from Alexander to Max, but this wasn’t just a fashionable choice for the power couple. Brad’s granddad was Hal Knox Hillhouse, making their third son’s name a family heirloom.
The Knox that comes to mind for many of us is probably Fort Knox. The stronghold was named after Henry Knox, a Revolutionary War chief. Fort Knox is famous as the home of the United States Bullion Depository – gold, heaps of it, all stored in a state-of-the-art vault, the safe that everyone tries to crack in countless movies, television shows, and cartoons.
Despite Knox’s status as a surname and that stylish ends-in-x, he wasn’t universally embraced. Yes, some dared to knock Knox. But they were in the minority. In 2009, Knox re-entered the US Top 1000. By 2011, he stood at #434 and gaining. Kings of Leon guitarist Matthew Followill named his son Knox in 2011.
Of course, the current generation of parents might think of another Knox. Remember Dead Poet’s Society? Of course you do. The 1989 hit starred Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, and Robert Sean Leonard, but also launched the career of Josh Charles. You know Charles as attorney Will Gardner on The Good Wife, but back in the day, he was an impeccably preppy emerging poet at Welton Academy.
There’s also British punk rock pioneer Ian Carnochan, known as Knox – a very different direction for the name, but completely consistent with his edgy sound.
Drop the k, and Nox has a very different feel. He’s a cousin to Nyx, an alternate name for the Greek goddess of night, the mother of death. Nox also appears in the Marvel Comics universe, and a race of peaceful fairies in the world ofStargate. Noxious is from an unrelated Latin root meaning hurtful – but it would be impossible to see Nox and not thinknoxious.
Maybe that’s behind some of the speculation that Knox would not catch on, but the numbers suggest that Knox’s K is more than sufficient to distance the pretty-slash-Southern surname from the vocabulary word. Knox has emerged as a real possibility for parents seeking something strong, but modern, for a son.