It’s a classic cocktail and a medieval appellation. Would it be a possibility today?
Thanks to Findley for suggesting Pimm as our Baby Name of the Day.
I first encountered Pimm as a nickname for the heroine’s friend in the chick lit-ish Me Times Three. Then it was a mysterious concoction favored by all of the posh socialite types in Madeleine Wickham novels.
Pimm’s is a gin-based liqueur, touted as medicinal by inventor James Pimm in the 1820s. The original drink is Pimm’s No. 1 Cup. As the company expanded, additional blends were added, all with a number. Although it is now owned by global spirits conglomerate Diageo, Pimm’s still has a certain cachet – at least from an American perspective – thanks to its associations with Wimbledon, polo, and all things English country house.
The surname predates James Pimm, found on families back to the Middle Ages. There are two possible – and possibly overlapping – origins.
First Pimm could come from Euphemia – a Greek name that literally translates to “good speech.” The second-century martyr St. Euphemia is a major figure in Eastern Christianity. Chances are that she came to the attention of the English-speaking world thanks to the Crusades starting in the late eleventh century. The saint’s relics were captured by Crusaders, and her name begins to appear throughout Western Europe around the same time.
Effie and Phemie are the logical short forms of Euphemia, but why Pimm? It may have simply been a corruption, or it may come from the Middle English tendency to pronounce every letter. Many medieval Euphemias actually spelled their name with an f – Effemy is one vernacular form. Pymme, Pimme, and Pimm are all found, too.
Second, it could be derived from a Saxon masculine name Pymma. But whether your surname related to the Saxons or developed later would be difficult to say. A number of sites conflate the two, even though several centuries separate them.
There’s another masculine origin for Pimm. In Dutch, he’s a short form of Willem. Just like the English William can answer to Bill, Willem becomes Wim and Wim has morphed into Pim. Anne Frank and her sister Margot used this nickname for their father, though his given name was Otto.
Today you might catch financial journalist Pimm Fox of Bloomberg News – I’m not certain how he came by his unusual name.
You won’t likely meet a child named Pimm, though. It was given to fewer than five girls or boys in 2010, and has never registered in the US Top 1000. It’s so little used that gender is impossible to assign. On the one hand, Pimm has the same sweet simplicity as Nell or Ann. On the other hand, with short names like Finn and Flynn on the rise for boys, parents are considering choices like Penn or perhaps even Pimm.
The alcoholic associations are probably why more parents haven’t landed on this particular sound, but there’s enough history here to consider Pimm a possible choice in the middle spot. Or, if you dare, a simple, crisp given name that you can explain has origins that date back to well before happy hour.
I’ve begun calling my husband Pim occasionally, instead of Bill. I found out that it was a nickname for William when we were searching for names for our puppy — since I’m Panya and our older dog is Poe, it seemed right that the new dog have a /P/ name too. I giggled endlessly when I found Pim! I think it’s precious. I even debated using that for the puppy, but I thought it would be cute if we all had /P/ names, so he’s Pip and my husband has become Pim. 🙂
This name sounded so familiar to me for some reason, and then I realized Pim was the name of Phil’s little sister on the old Disney Channel show Phil of the Future. I used to watch it all the time.
Pimm is really really cute. What an interesting history.
Mmmm – Pimm’s and lemonade – we’re heading back to England this spring, just in time to hit the duty free and restock (we’re on our last bottle)! Oh wait, you mean name a *child* that – well, as a nn, fine, but as a given, I’d pass. Of course, I almost always go long and shorten and I’m not much for nn names as full given names (for myself – others can have at it!). I love Euphemia and Effie and so on… adding Pimm as a nn for Euphemia is fantastic!
I’m having trouble describing my aversion to Pimm, but basically I wouldn’t name a child Cosmo or Miller for the same reason I won’t use Pimm. Maybe the alcoholic association isn’t immediately obvious to most Americans, but I used to work for a liquor importer… so Pimm’s cup was my first thought.
One the other hand… I might be able to get behind Pimm as nickname for Phillip…
Sarah A says
I’m a non-drinker so the alcoholic associations went over my head. On sound alone I think I do like Pimm. But it still feels incomplete. I like Pimm for Primrose I guess, but Primrose has so many other fantastic nicknames I’d use before Pimm. And Penn is on our list solely as a nn for Peregrine. I do like that Pimm seems completely gender neutral. Maybe for parents upset that Finn has gone viral?
I LOVE Peregrine!!
Sarah A says
Peregrine is absolutely lovely!! And with so many amazing short forms: Pip, Pippin, Penn, Perry. DH thinks it’s too LOTR (and thus would make him look like a geeky fanboy), but I’m trying to work in Peregrine at least in the middle spot 😉
I love anything with a P.. I have never heard of Pimm.. I am in love, for some reason I lean toward a girl with this name, but I could see it go any way. Great Name!
pimm is going to become a little more popular too since she is a character in the Hunger Games trilogy…
No, Meg that’s a Prim, short for Primrose.
First may I say that I LOVE the nickname Wim for William? Just more reason why it makes me so sad that it is so over used.
All I can picture with Pimm is sitting in an English garden relaxing with a pitcher of Pimms. Lovely!
I like Pomme a bit better.
Nook of Names says
Could also be used as a short form of Primrose, as Lou demonstrated the other day when Elea did Primrose at British Baby Names!
For me, Pimm makes me think so much of Pimms, I’d be always adding the ‘s’!
I would add the caveat – make sure your last name and/or proposed middle name don’t start with a P.
I love Pimm! I read a lot of novels set in the Medieval era, so I’ve encountered this in quite a few of them. I’ve always thought it to be a name with a lively, happy sound. And I can just imagine a little Pimm with rosy cheeks and curls skipping around a playground. 🙂
Also, for some reason, it kind of feels like it came from Tolkien’s Middle Earth, as if a hobbit would wear it…