It’s a gender neutral nature name, gentle and smart all at once.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Sage as our Baby Name of the Day.
Sage occupies a middle ground between the twentieth century girl’s staple Paige and nouveau names for boys like Gage. On sound alone, it is difficult to guess if Sage goes to Team Pink or Team Blue.
While botanical choices almost always lean feminine, that’s less true for spices – think of Basil.
The herb gets its name from the Latin salvus – healthy – via the Old French sauge and Old English sawge. It has been said to remedy of host of ailments, and was once common in kitchen gardens for both cooking and for use in home remedies. Apparently, an old saying went like this: Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto? In English: Why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?
Despite this noble description, sage’s other meaning – wise – comes from a completely separate source: the Latin sapere. The idea that a sage is a wise man traces to the fourteenth century, and was originally applied to a group of seven Ancient Greek philosophers and rulers.
But dig a little deeper, and there’s an appealing nuance to sage. It isn’t just about book smarts, but about taste and judgment, too. The Latin sapere originally meant “to taste.” Sap – liquid from a plant – shares the same root. This almost puts sage in the same category as modern virtue names like True.
The Seven Sages names would be wildly different today: Cleobulus, Thales, Periander, anyone? – but Sage has been gaining use for decades.
Sage entered the US Top 1000 for boys in 1991. It would be two years before Sage charted on the girls’ side.
But as of 2009, Sage ranked #761 for boys, and appears to be falling. On the girls’ side, Sage stood at #396, and shows signs of climbing. You may come across Saige and Sayge for either gender.
Despite evidence that Sage has gone to the girls, I suspect we’re one or two high profile Sages away from that being definitive. Should Pink or the Jolie-Pitts choose Sage for a son, that would change things. For now, the most high profile use of the name I can think of is Rebecca Woolf’s son, Archer Sage. It’s a great combination of the masculine and the less agressive.
Overall, Sage is a shape-shifter, equally at home on a son or a daughter. A humble nature name with intellectual overtones, a single-syllable, twentieth-century discovery with complex, ancient roots. There’s much to love about Sage.