With a Happy Birthday to my sister, today’s Baby Name of the Day is Lark.
There are dozens of kinds of larks – the white-winged, the short-toed, the roufus-rumped and even the spike-heeled. But that’s amongst the avian population. As a given name, Lark has only darted into the US Top 1000 once in the 1880s – for boys. That might have been thanks to Larkin, an old school diminutive and a surname derived from the then-popular Laurence and Lawrence.
The word comes to us from the Germanic lerche – songbird. The verb lark – as in frolic – probably traces back to the Old Norse leika – to play.
I hear it and think Shakespeare. In Romeo and Juliet, the couple awakens the morning after their wedding night to birdsong. Juliet tries to convince her groom that he can stay a little longer: “It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.” In Cymbeline, it is “Hark, hark! The lark at heaven’s gate sings.”
You’ll sometimes see lark listed as the opposite of night owl – another term for a morning person.
Parents today might think of actress Lark Voorhies. As the privileged Lisa on 1990s teen comedy Saved by the Bell, she was an aspiring fashion designer. Voorhies went on to play a fashion designer on daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. As for where Voorhies’ mom found her name, I’ve read that it from was an early movie role for Margaret Avery. In 1972, Avery played Lark in Cool Breeze, a reboot of 1950’s crime caper, The Asphalt Jungle – though Jungle didn’t have a Lark.
Now here’s the twist: Lark was actually slightly more popular in the 195os than she is today, though the name has always been obscure. Perhaps the tiny spike in 1950s Larks was attributable to John Langstaff recordings of traditional English folk songs, including “The Lark in the Morn.” Or maybe the singing Mello Larks, part of pioneering late night variety show Broadway Open House.
Lark wasn’t much of a given name in recent decades, but you might think of:
- Copper brought nineteenth century miners to Utah. One of the communities they established was called Lark, though it is now deserted.
- Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Thurman Ruth was a member of The Larks, a vocal group from the early 1950s.
- In the 1960s, it was a brand of cigarette – and still is in Japan.
- Studebaker once built a Lark. Buick built Skylarks from the 1950s into the 90s.
- During the 1940s through the 60s, passengers could travel from San Fransisco to Los Angeles on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Lark.
Nature names are huge in 2013, as are spare name for girls. Back in the 1970s, Mia Farrow and Andre Previn welcomed a daughter called Lark. More recently, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany became parents to Agnes Lark.
Lark makes a lovely, unexpected middle. She’s also wearable as a given name, especially if you’re after a frills-free choice that doesn’t encourage nicknames. She might not share her name, but she’ll fit right in with Violet, Summer, and Rowan.