He’s a logical successor to Max, with a meaning that will appeal to many parents.
Thanks to Virginia for suggesting Pax as our Baby Name of the Day.
Pax is one of those Latin words that many of us translate without thinking about it – peace, as in the Pax Romana, the long period in the first and second centuries free of warfare after Rome had conquered the world as they knew it.
The Emperor Augustus was the ruler responsible for the peace, as well as the propaganda machine that convinced the Roman people to embrace the unfamiliar condition. Around this time, peace was personified as the goddess Pax.
Yes, that’s right – goddess. The Greeks had a goddess of peace, too – Irene. But while Irene has always been feminine, Pax has simply been overlooked, at least as a given name.
There are two other places Pax surfaces:
- The Mayan solar calendar lists Pax as one of 18 months, the month for planting;
- Pre-Norman England knew the personal name Pæcc. It is tough to pin down, and while I think it is likely Saxon, there are other theories. Pæcc is the source of Paxton, the place name and surname.
The parents to put Pax on the map as a stylish baby name are, of course, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt is the second oldest of their international brood, but was the fourth to join the family, in 2007.
Even if Pax Jolie-Pitt had been named Bob, the name would likely attract some attention. In fact, it isn’t Pax but Paxton that’s really on fire these days. Pax has yet to appear in the US Top 1000. Paxton debuted in 1997 at #938, climbed to #563 the year the Jolie-Pitts adopted, and as of 2010, was up to #295.
That’s a fast climb, fueled by the fact that Paxton hits all the right notes:
- His meaning appeals – at least if you stick with the Latin peace;
- Like Alex and Max and Xavier and Jaxon, he has the x factor;
- Paxton picks up some starbaby glimmer without being too obvious;
- Surnames remain a popular category;
- Paxton is a shape-shifter – you can describe him as old-fashioned or modern. Either way, you’re right.
Unlike some invented surname-sounding names, Paxton is the real deal. A small town in Massachusetts was founded in 1749, and named after Charles Paxton, an early civic leader.
But Paxton also fits with a bunch of starts-with-Pax options that are nouveau: Paxon, Paxtin, and Paxson all feel vaguely pharmaceutical, but they’re in use. Unlike Payton and Presley, all of the Pax- variants are solidly masculine options.
If you’re looking for something short, but you find Max and Gus too common, Pax emerges as an option, along with a few other brief, modern names with appealing meaning like Lux and Kai. He’s also an interesting pick in the middle spot. And if you fret that Pax sounds too much like pox, there’s always Paxton.