She’s a game, a mask, a song, a Bond girl.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Domino.
Domino almost fits with Dominic, Dominica, and Dominique. In our age of girls’ names ending with -o, why not Domino?
All of the names come from the Latin Dominicus – of the Lord. The thirteenth century Saint Dominic founded the religious order that bears his name, and inspired many namesakes.
Then there’s the game.
Originally, a domino was a priest’s cloak, or maybe a hood. The game tiles were imported to Italy from China in the 1700s. It is thought that the name comes from the tiles’ black and white color, reminiscent of the cloak. Or maybe it is a more literal use of the Latin dominus – also the word for master, as in dominion and domination.
The name is also used for a half-mask, covering only the area around the eyes – just enough to obscure your true identity.
And this is where we go from accessories and game pieces to real life people.
In the late nineteenth century, French painter Henri Gervex painted a young woman wearing nothing but a mask. A few years later, Camille du Gast – a wealthy widow with an affection for parachuting, hot air ballooning, and other feats of derring-do, was in the midst of litigation with her family when the opposing side’s attorney accused Madame du Gast of being the model for La femme au Masque. She wasn’t, but it didn’t matter. Her character was besmirched – but that didn’t much matter, either. She went on to inspire admiration and scorn in equal measure.
It was a name worthy of a Bond girl.
She’s Dominetta Petacchi in the original Ian Fleming novel. 1965’s Thunderball calls her Dominique Derval. She re-appears in 1983’s Never Say Never Again. In every incarnation, she’s known as Domino.
The 1965 flick must have inspired the parents of Domino Harvey. She was born in 1969 to an actor and a model, and had a privileged, British upbringing. In an unlikely turn of events, she ended up working as a bounty hunter in Los Angeles. In the 2005 biopic, Keira Knightley played her, recounting the tale of a major robbery with a Robin Hood twist to the FBI.
Or maybe the Harveys – or Fleming himself – were inspired by music:
- First, there’s a romantic song from 1950. Bing Crosby is among the many to croon it: “Domino, Domino, you’re an angel that heaven has sent me …”
- Van Morrison recorded “Domino” in 1970 – okay, too late for the Harveys – in homage to Fats Domino – yes, that’s his real surname. You’re forgiven if you think this song is about a girl, too.
- Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke gave the name to his daughter. Now she’s a musician, fronting a band called Domino.
There’s also the pizza chain, a nineteenth century thoroughbred, and a member of X-Men spin-off X-Force.
As for real girls named Domino?
British aristocrat/model/designer/television host India Hicks gave the name to her daughter in 2007. In the US, there’s been a steady trickle of girls wearing the name in recent years – six in 2012; eight the year before. But she remains extremely rare.
And yet I’ll call her wearable – definitely daring, maybe a touch on the superhero side. But if we can call boys Axel, why can’t girls’ names be just as bold?