Leeuwarden by Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff via Flickr

Today’s choice is a masculine rarity with ancient roots.

Thanks to Claire for suggesting her son’s name, Siebrand, as our Baby Name of the Day.

Deciphering Siebrand isn’t too difficult.  His Germanic roots show through – sigu, as in victory, and brand – sword.  He’s another of the very many warlike Germanic and Old Norse appellations that filtered down through the ages.  Medieval history gives us lots of names sharing those elements, and many appear in the history books: Siegfried, Sigbjörn, Sigmund.  Surnames Brando and Branson are linked to the second element; Rembrandt, as in the legendary Dutch master, Rembrandt van Rijn, is another.

Given how widespread the names were, it is surprising that fewer of them have filtered into general use in English.  Siebrand suffers from two challenges: first, he’s composed of elements that are out of favor and have been fading from use for well over a century; second, there’s more than one possible spelling, making it tough to assemble him into a single, recognized name.  There’s Sigebrand and Siburn and Sibrant, and that’s just the beginning.

The first Siebrand that pops up in the record is an early leader of what would become the Teutonic Knights, the order behind many of the Crusades.  Master Siebrand was part of the organization’s early days, establishing the order’s first hospital for pilgrims, at Akkon in Galilee.

He was far from the last.  Others to wear the name include:

  • A thirteenth century abbot in Mariengaarde.
  • A sixteenth century historian known as Leo Sibrand or Sibrandus.
  • A sixteenth/seventeenth century theologian, Sibrand Lubbert.
  • He was among the more popular given names in seventeenth century Gronigen.

In 1911, a Siebrand Koning earned his pilot’s license in France, though the records list him as a native of the Netherlands.  Fast forward to this moment in time and there’s a very active Wikimedia contributor called Siebrand Mazeland.

It appears that Siebrand has remained in sparing use in the Netherlands, long after it has faded nearly everywhere else.  There were two Siebrands born in 2011, plus a Sijbrand and seven boys called Siebren – so the name still has some use.  The most popular Dutch names are given to hundreds of kids – #1 name Daan was bestowed on 875 boys.  And the most popular picks are almost all short – 11/20 are single-syllable names.  Siebrand must look old-fashioned, even in Dutch.

Could it be not just the Netherlands, but even a smaller slice of the population?  Looking at this map, Siebrand appears to be favored in the northern part of the country, roughly corresponding to Frisia.  This gets tricky – Friesland is a province in the Netherlands, where West Frisian is still spoken, but the larger historical region of Frisia extends from the Netherlands through Germany to the border with Denmark.  Leeuwarden – pictured above – is capital of the Dutch province, and it was the birthplace of Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia.

Overall, Siebrand is exactly what he appears to be – a name out of time and fading from use.  He’s more medieval than modern.  And yet, in an era when we’re all respelling Jayden to stand out, there’s nothing more daring than reviving a heritage choice.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Ugh…I went to high school with a jerky kid whose last name was Siebrandt, so that kind of ruins that name for me. Other than that, I could see it working for the right family.

  2. I am Dutch. Siebrand is pronounced as SEE Brahnt (with t sound at the end like Rembrandt) It does sound old fashioned but could get some use as the full name of a Northern / Frisian Dutchman with nickname Syb or Sieb pronounced SEEP.
    This because of a singer songwriter from Frisia called Syb, which is his full first name. The ultra short names are (unfortunately) still very popular, so I guess most modern day Dutch parents would opt for Syb or Sieb as the official name on the birth cert. Since 2000 we see both of these in the charts, but still quite rare (about 25 born each year). These versions came out of nowhere, probably because of the above mentioned pop singer.

    1. Thank you! What fantastic info … and how interesting to know that Syb/Sieb is the preferred form these days.

    2. I remember my dad and grand dad being referred to Big & Little Sieb. My grand dad, Big Sieb was some 6′ 4″ and my dad, Little Sieb, a mere 5′ 11″.

  3. I don’t quite like the looks of Siebrand. I’d be much more apt to use Sigmund. Still, it is a nice choice with history.

  4. How is it pronounced? I’m going with ZEE-brahn and I like it. But it it’s SEE-bran I don’t like it. Dutch is a cousin of German so I’m bound to believe the first. I would actually consider it for a child – similar to the slightly overwrought yet awesome Lysander.

  5. I think I like Siebrand. I’m not usually a fan of names that begin with s but some “Si” names appear to be an exception: Siegfried, Sigrid, even Sigourney. I’d be delighted if more parents chose to go with the ancient Siebrand, but I do wonder what nickname they’d plunk down on.

    1. A common Dutch nickname (or proper name too) is Sieb or Syb (pronounced: seep, like keep). I’ve seen some Siebe’s too (SEE-buh). Brand is an option as well, though not used in Dutch as far as I know.