With the 2012 summer games starting in just days, will the host city become the hottest appellation of the year?
Our Baby Name of the Day is London.
Place names have been all the rage for some time, but London is a late comer to the game. It first entered the US Top 1000 for girls in 1994, then disappeared, only to resurface in 1999 and climb steadily, reaching #94 in 2011. For boys, London debuted in the year 2000, peaked at #507 in 2010, and now seems to have been conceded to Team Pink.
You’re forgiven if the first time you heard the name you thought it might be a joke. Hilton heiress Paris Whitney was making noise in the gossip columns as early as 1993. Her reality show with fellow celebutante Nicole Richie made her a household name in 2003. Two years later, the Disney Channel’s successful original series, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, gave the name London Tipton to their resident hotel heiress.
But as international cities go, London is a pretty logical choice for a child’s name. When rocker Slash welcomed son London Emilio in 2002, Landon was gaining quickly. London is equally at home with modern girl’s choices, like Madison, Brooklyn, and Peyton.
The origins of the name give no clues as to gender. Romans settled the area back in the first century, but it was a town before they marched in. We’re not really sure what London means, though speculation abounds:
- King Lud may have ruled Britain before the Romans arrived. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Lud inspired the place name. Some also give Lud credit for Ludgate and Ludgate Hill, site of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but that’s contested. Geoffrey’s work is generally considered more legend than reliable history, so even if Lud ruled the future London, that’s not conclusive.
- Others have linked the name to various languages and characteristics of the early city, suggesting that London means boat river, swimming river, marsh, city in the grove, city in the valley, lake fort, marsh town, fortress of the moon or fortress of the ship. The moon suggestion is intriguing, as it is said that a temple to Diana, ancient Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon, once stood on Ludgate Hill.
- Lincoln, England traces its name to Lindon – the pool – which tracks with Dublin, Ireland’s name origins – black pool. Some suggest that London and Lincoln both share origins, or at least that London owes something to the early word for pool.
That’s just scratching the surface, and the truth is that no one really knows.
What we all know is that London enjoys a special place in world history – a center of culture and commerce for over a millennium, occupied for twice that long. From Shakespeare to The Smiths, it is easy to entertain romantic notions about the city. It’s the kind of place name that sounds like a given name, and the kind of place imbued with a certain easy cool. If you’re after a tailored, modern name, London might just fit the bill – for you, and for many other parents, too.