Vincent: Baby Name of the DayThis post was originally published on October 16, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 2, 2015.

Looking for a classic name less common than William or James?

Thanks to Another for suggesting one that fits – and to Brittany for suggesting the update! Our Baby Name of the Day is Vincent.

Vincent: Travolta

Back in the 1970s, Vinnie Barbarino was the character played by a young John Travolta, whose career was launched on ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Vinnie was one of the “Sweathogs,” the remedial students at a Brooklyn high school, taught by veteran teacher Gabe Kotter.

Barbarino fit the stereotype of a Vinnie: Italian, and maybe a little too smooth. The image persisted through 1992, when My Cousin Vinny gave us another Brooklyn-accented Italian with the name.

But then came a very different Vincent, also played by Travolta: Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega. The 1994 movie marked a return to stardom for Travolta, a major box office hit, and a pop culture phenomenon.

Since then, actor Vince Vaughn has also helped to change the image of this name from Brooklyn-bound to something very different.

Vincent: Classic Roots

English: Stained glass window of the Chapelle ...

You’ve probably heard Julius Ceasar’s vini, vidi, vici – I came, I saw, I conquered. Vincentius was an early name from the Latin vincere – to conquer.

Several early saints bore the name, with at least four on the record between the fourth and seventh centuries.

The most famous saint by the name comes later: Saint Vincent de Paul, born in the 1500s, who dedicated his life to serving the poor, mainly in his native France. He also founded several religious orders.

Vincent: van Gogh

de Paul makes this name saintly, but another famous Vincent makes it powerfully creative. Vincent van Gogh, the nineteenth century artist responsible for works like Irises and Sunflowers and dozens more, makes this name an artistic possibility.

Born in the Netherlands, but living most of his adult life in France, van Gogh is considered one of the forerunners of Expressionism and, indeed, all of modern art. His many paintings are among the most instantly recognized and most valued by collectors.

Vincent: Beyond the Church and the Museum

Vincent: Baby Name of the DayNoble Vincents can be found in several European families, including a Duke of Mantua in the early seventeenth century.

But the modern Vincents are plentiful, too, including:

  • Actors D’Onofrio and Kartheiser, as well as Vin Diesel – born Mark Sinclair Vincent. Adrian Grenier wore the name as a fictional movie star on HBO’s original series Entourage. It’s said that the character was named for a legendary acting teacher with the same name. And what would horror movies be without the legendary Vincent Price?
  • I’m a sucker for the underdog tale of former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale, whose story made into the 2006 movie Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg.
  • Vince Guaraldi is the composer behind the Peanuts music, and other musical Vinces range from Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil to Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill.

The name has appeared in the US Top 100 more years than not, ranking from 1910 to 1933, for most of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and again from 1983 to 1992.

That puts Vincent just outside of the most classic and enduring names for boys, and as of 2014, the name stood at #104.

All of this makes Vincent an appealing possibility for parents who want a strong name for a son that isn’t trendy, isn’t too common, and will travel well.

If you’re after an underused classic for a boy, Vincent is one to consider.

What do you think of Vincent? Does the nickname Vinny concern you?

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. Just checking in 12 years later, lol. Vincent is 14 now, and we have added Henry (11) and Guinevere (1.5) to our brood.

  2. Love this name! My top runner for a boys name! I think it will go well with my daughters name Arianna. My hubby is Portuguese/German and I’m Italian/German.

  3. Our little boy is a Vincenzo (after his grandfather) and I’m happy to report that we frequently hear compliments on his name. (He is already saying, “My name is VINCENZO!” – no being called “Vinny” or anything else!) 😉

  4. I can see how the mafioso impression of Vincent has taken root, but my main impression of Vincent is the sensitive artist–it’s Van Gogh and that syllable it shares with “innocent,” I think. But then you get the nicknames Vince and Vin (I’d prefer to sweep Vinny off the table, too) and the name does this personality switch into this iron-jawed, wisecracking warrior. It’s the amazing reversible name!
    Yup. I’ve now completely conVINCEd myself I need to use it someday. 😉

  5. My husband and I chose Vincent (Vince) for our son for many of the reasons mentioned in the article. Classic, familiar but not common. In our state it is not common at all. My husband and I debated a long time about names. He wanted a traditional name that could have a one syllable nickname. All the men in both of our families have these type of names, Mike, Steve, Mark, Dan, Jim, Jeff, Rob, and many more. I wanted something “different”. I didn’t want my child to go to school and be Jack B., I hope and pray that there will not be another Vince in Kindergarten. It was a bonus that this name continues the family “V” tradition, he is the 5th that I know of. My husband and I have zero Italian heritage, but we love this classic LATIN name anyway. We are considering a second child and need a name that compliments Vincent but is not too similar. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Vanessa,

      The name that springs to mind for a son is Calvin, nicknamed Cal. The only drawback is that Calvincent can be smooshed together. But he meets most of your criteria, I think. There’s also Henry, nicknamed Hank, or Jeremy, nicknamed Jem. But Jem might not meet the one-syllable nickname test quite as well.

      For girls: Veronica, Claudia, Lucia … and I just ran across an Antonella. It’s awfully frilly, but I kind of love it. Are there other criteria for a daughter’s name?


  6. One of our neighborhood kids is named Vincent. It still feels a little dated to me. And Vincent/Vinny still say Italian to me too. But Vince/Vin I think are fresh and less culturally specific. There’s also Vince Gill. (All the Vince’s I know are Southern. Hmmm….)

  7. Besides the Vincents already mentioned, there’s also Vincent Freeman, Ethan Hawke’s charactyer from Gattaca, and Vincent the dog who outlasts most of the other characters on Lost.

    I’ve known quite a few Vincents — most of them Chinese Canadians whose parents chose their name because of Vincent’s similarity to the word “win”, believed to bring good fortune to its bearer.