Just Be
Just Be by Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr

He’s a Top 100 choice for boys that was obscure just a few decades ago.

Thanks to Kassie for suggesting Brody as our Baby Name of the Day.

Look at the Top 1000 names in 1980, and you can see the seeds of the Irish surname trend.  There’s Brady at #339, Riley at #677, and Brody back at #968.  As Brian and Ryan gave way to other kelly green possibilities, parents embraced ends-in-y options for boys, and Brody was among them.

But Brody is more international than his cousins, boasting several distinct origins:

  • Spelled Bródy, the name is heavily used in Slavic countries.  Bród refers to a ford or crossing.  Not surprisingly, quite a few place names include this element, from Kostinbrod in Bulgaria to Havlíčkův Brod in the Czech Republic.  It is most common in Hungarian – which isn’t a Slavic language, but which has been heavily influenced by Slavic languages.  The -y ending indicates from, so from the ford, or from Bród.
  • There’s also a city called Brody in the Ukraine, historically an important center of Jewish life, and a crossroads on a major trading route.  Brody residents took the place name as a surname.
  • In Gaelic brothaigh refers to a ditch, or a muddy place – another possible origin for the name linking it to the map.
  • Lastly, many of the possible origins for Brady apply to Brody, too, including sharp-eyed, broad-chested, or from the broad island, broad place.

There are plenty of alternate theories out there, but mostly he’s an upbeat Irish surname with a less-than-attractive meaning.

Respell it Brodie, and he’s Scottish, with a few more possible origins.  Clan Brodie is an ancient tribe, dating back to the eleventh century or even farther, featuring in many key moments of Scottish history.

Brody could have caught on just thanks to his similarity to Brady, but there’s a whale of a tale here.

Make that a shark tale.

In 1975, police chief Martin Brody went up against a killer great white in the cinematic classic Jaws.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it is Brody who kills the shark by shoving a scuba tank in its mouth and shooting it to ignite, big ol’ explosion.  In 1976, Brody charted for the first time, at #981.

The ripple effect from Jaws didn’t last, but Brody slowly caught on.  His steady climb began in the 1990s.  Today Brody brings to mind sometimes-reality star Brody Jenner (born in 1983, but his given name is Sam Brody Jenner) and Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody.  There was a character called Brody on Roswell, and another on One Life to Live.

Much noise is made of Brody being borrowed by girls, but it is pretty rare.  Singer Brody Dalle was born Bree.  Adding up Brodie, Brody, Brodi and Brodee, fewer than 60 girls received the name in 2011.  Compare that to well over 5,000 boys, before counting elaborations like Broderick and Broden.

As he’s slowly graduated from surname to shark hunter to mainstream pick, Brody hasn’t lost his distinctive sound.  He’s been in the Top 100 since 2008, but has slipped to #83 in recent years.  Brody is a modern choice with history, comfortably on trend.

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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. Definitely a popular choice, less doused in pop culture than Brady. I know a handful of boys named Brody under five.

  2. I know of a baby Brody, named for his uncles Brady and Cody. I thought it was sweet and clever, but I’d I’d known before about the 16 and Pregnant couple, it probably would tarnish my opinion.

  3. Like Sarah A, Brody has a surfer-boy, jock vibe to me. Actually, it has a Patrick Sawyze in Point Break vibe for me, except that I double checked and his character was named Bodhi. I still just picture a Brody skipping school to go surfing. I’d prefer it on a pet.

  4. No offense to any out there, but I really don’t care for Brody. It seems too much like a small town surfer dude name, and not in a good way. Or maybe my opinion is too influenced by the small town Texas couple on one season of MTV’s “16 & Pregnant”. The teenage mom was Brooke, the teenage dad was Cody – so they smooshed their names together and named their son Brody. Yup.

    The only Br- name I really like is Bruce, which I know a lot of people dislike. To each their own 😉

  5. I don’t mind Brody, I think it’s a nice name. Not a fan of Brod or Broderick though, those I find quite ugly sounding.

  6. I love Jaws so for that reason alone, I’m partial to the name. It also helps that I have a friend who’s 18-yr-old son is Broderick (nn Brody). To me it’s masculine without being over-the-top as well as friendly and approachable. Brody sounds like someone who would get along with everyone.

  7. Despite my dislike of Br- names, Brody seems quite charming. Or maybe it is because I know two cute guys at Uni called this?