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This name has been worn by a martyred pope and a teen idol.  How would it wear on an ordinary boy nowadays?

Thanks to Jessica for suggesting Fabian as our Baby Name of the Day.

Fabian: Teen Idol

In 1958, a Philadelphia record label discovered Fabiano Forte.  Forte was a local kid with a pretty face and a good-enough singing voice.  They made him a star, a regular on American Bandstand and the local radio.

Only Forte hated it, and he pulled the plug on his singing career after just a few short years.

It wasn’t the end of his heartthrob status, though.  Forte graduated to acting, and had a few successful years.

Credit the heartthrob with popularizing his given name.  Fabian was outside of the US Top 1000 in 1958.  By 1959, Fabian ranked #611.  By 1979 – as his career was waning – Fabian peaked at #417.

Fabian: Ancient Roots

Long before Philadelphia appeared on a map, this name was in use in the ancient world.

Fabian has humble roots.  It comes from Fabianus, via Fabius, which probably comes from faba – bean.

Famous Fabiuses were plentiful, including:

  • The Shield of Rome, dictator Fabius Maximus.  When Carthage threatened, with the bold and brilliant Hannibal at the head of the army, Fabius followed a strategy of delay.  Fabius figured out that meeting cut the enemy’s supply lines, and eventually wore them down.  Plenty of other members of the Fabii family held positions of authority in the ancient world.
  • Pope Fabian lived in the third century.  His term began during a time of peace, and he is credited with dispatching missionaries to Gaul and organizing roles within the early church.  But by 250, persecution was back – and the Pope died a martyr, likely while in prison.  He’s considered a saint.

Thanks to the saint, we can find a handful of men named Fabian over the years.

Fabian: As of 2014

The singer-actor is no longer a household name, but today’s parents might have a handful of references for Fabian.

  • In the Harry Potter franchise, a Weasley uncle is named Fabian.  There’s also a villain in the X-Men franchise called Fabian Cortez.  Nickelodeon’s House of Anubis series also includes a Fabian.
  • Of course, there’s Fabio – the Italian form – made famous by Italian romance novel cover model, Fabio Lanzoni.  It’s also one of many names that Dory calls Nemo in Finding Nemo.
  • Fabian Mansson was an early twentieth century Swedish socialist politician and elected official, and England’s Fabian Society is an organization meant to advance socialism.  But the English organization is named after Fabius Maximus, the name signifying their interest in gradual change.

It’s a fractured picture, and yet at #312, Fabian remains pretty popular.  Nearly 1,100 boys were given the name in 2013.

Plus, the similar Julian, Adrian, and Damian are all Top 100 picks.  Dorian, Gideon, Leon, Deon, and Kian have all climbed.

Overall, Fabian feels likes he’s in limbo – neither fashion-forward nor out of favor.  And yet he also feels distinctively different than the Top 100 favorites.

That could make this name the perfect choice for parents after an under-the-radar name for a son.

What do you think of Fabian?  Were you surprised to see that Fabian ranks #312?  Do you know anyone with the name?

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. Wow, I would never have imagined so many families are using Fabian in this era. It’s my great uncle’s name. He was born well before the teen idol was popular and I’m not sure why his Irish parents used the name but I’d guess for the saint. I can see the appeal and it would be neat to meet a child with this name.