Laurence wears a bowtie, but this Scandinavian variant is pure heavy metal.
Thanks to Kristin for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Lars.
I’m quite fond of the story of Saint Laurence. The name probably started out as a reference to Laurentum, an ancient city pre-dating Rome. The city likely took its name from the laurel. Laurence and company have been common for centuries. In the 200s Saint Laurence was martyred after being ordered to round up the riches of his church and hand ’em over. Laurence gathered the poor and presented them as the true wealth of his faith. Legend has it that he was roasted alive.
Despite this gutsy and grisly tale, Laurence feels like an academic today – an English professor, or maybe a banker or a graphic designer. Larry – a short form that was a Top 20 pick from 1937 through 1955 – is your grandpa, or maybe your neighbor who can fix anything, the one whose kids are all in high school or out of the home.
As for medieval diminutive Larkin? He could be spotted on a boy, but Lark is almost certainly a new baby girl.
Then there’s Lars. He has a long history of use in Scandinavia, where he’s not a nickname – he’s just the Swedish and Norwegian and Danish form of Laurence. He’s also heard in Dutch, and popular in Belgium and Germany.
Like the white-hot Axel, this import has a certain heavy metal undercurrent.
- Guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen’s given name was Lars.
- Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen was born in California, but his mom was born in Denmark.
- Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich truly puts the heavy metal umlaut in Lars. The Danish-born drummer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has had a successful career since the early 1980s. Metallica has racked up nine Grammy awards – and I have to add this: they’ve just collaborated on a new album with Lou Reed called Lulu.
In 2007, quirky little indie flick Lars and the Real Girl made waves. Danish film director Lars von Trier has been sparking controversy and winning accolades since his career took off in the late 1980s. Von Trier’s latest film, Melancholia, helped Kirsten Dunst nab a best actress award at Cannes.
All of this lends Lars some serious edge. But in the US, his sound is slightly out of step with current trends. In fact, Lars did appear in the Top 1000 steadily from 1958 through 1976, and a few times before and since. His last appearance was 1984.
Overall, this makes Lars a heritage choice with a certain offbeat vibe. His sound is masculine, but not nearly as aggressive as Slade or Cannon. Thanks to his saintly origins, Lars has a certain evergreen quality that makes him a good choice for parents who want unusual something that screams tough guy while still staying within the lexicon of established appellations.