Gus sounds like a brother for Leo or Max, but this name is just starting to catch on.
Our New Names series continues with our short, vintage, Baby Name of the Day.
Gus: Just Gus
From the late nineteenth century, when the US first reported name data, into the 1970s, Gus appeared as a stand-alone name. In fact, from 1880 through 1910 or so, it hovered around the Top 200.
No surprise, then, that plenty of notable men answer to the name. Athletes and musicians, an early astronaut, and plenty of fictional characters all claim the short, friendly appellation.
Gus: Nickname Name
Except that plenty of those men actually had a longer name on their birth certificates.
Astronaut Grissom was born Virgil Ivan. Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Bell was born David Russell. And early twentieth century songwriter Williams started out life as Gustave Wilhelm.
There’s no shortage of formal names associated with Gus, including:
- Gustav and company. The name traces its roots to either Old Norse or possibly Slavic, but has been most popular in Scandinavia.
- August and all associated forms. The average Gus born in 2017 probably answers to August, Augustus, or Augustine. Each name feels slightly different, but they all share the possible nickname.
- Constantine. This might not seem logical, but if you meet a Gus of Greek descent, there’s a good chance his formal name is Constantine. That’s because the Greek K sounds slightly more like a G than you might guess.
- Angus, Fergus, and other -gus/-us ending names. Some names contain the three letters; others, like Magnus, come close.
Gus: Friendly Nickname Name
File Constantine and Augustus with grand names. They feel the tiniest bit imposing.
Gus sends off the opposite vibe. It feels friendly and upbeat, a down-to-earth name that’s both approachable and a little bit different. You might think of the helpful mouse in Disney’s Cinderella. It makes an obvious name for the helpful bus driver, the neighborhood milkman – slightly old-fashioned, but in a good way.
For me, it brings to mind a storied eatery on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. No clue why the diner’s co-owners share the same name, but this place has been around longer than I’ve been alive, and makes for another happy association.
Gus: Comeback Kid
Sometimes the short form – think Hattie or Dash – proves far more popular than the formal version. But in this case, the longer names are carrying the nickname into wider use.
Gentle nature name August, imperial Augustus, and saintly Augustine have all ranked in the US Top 1000 for years. But just Gus recently returned to the US Top 1000 in calendar year 2016, making it a very recent revival.
Gus: Pop Culture
Dozens of pop culture references fueled the name’s rise, including:
- Dule Hill’s character on long-running USA Network series Psych got this nickname from his surname, Guster.
- Bakugan Battle Brawlers, an animated Japanese-Candian series, includes a human “brawler” character named Gus.
- The Fault in Our Stars gave this name to the male lead, in both the bestselling novel and the successful movie adaptation.
- Percy Jackson includes a minor character by the name, a demi-god son of Hermes.
- A character on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul also answers to the name.
The list continues, with plenty of notable characters putting this name in the spotlight.
Gus: The Next Jack?
With short, down-to-earth names like Jack and Max ranking so well in recent years, it’s easy to imagine parents embracing this one.
Of course, understanding the name’s true popularity might prove challenge. Are all of those August- names shortening to this? If so, it might be feel more popular than the numbers indicate.
But for now, it seems safe to bet that your son would be one of few with this cheerful, traditional, but not-too-serious name.
What do you think of this one? Do you like it better as a formal name, or a nickname?