Eric and Alan were 20th century staples. Does this old school smoosh work in the 21st?
Thanks to Charlotte Vera for suggesting Alaric as Name of the Day.
Alaric is Goth. Not the dark eyeliner, Siouxie Sioux Goth. Nope, we’re talking the havoc-making, Rome-sacking Visigoths.
Alaric I ruled the Visigoths early in the fifth century, establishing a new royal line and invading the Eternal City in 410. He was a big deal back then, and you’ll find references to him in art and literature through the ages.
Alaric II came along a few decades later, in 485. In between the two Alarics, Gesalec, Sigarec, Wallia and Thorismund held the throne, among others. Your average Visigoth monarch’s moniker would not wear terribly well circa 2009.
But Alaric is the exception. He sounds like a three-syllable combo platter made up of Eric and Alan, but he’s actually from the Germanic elements ala – all and ric – ruler, or something like “king of all.” It’s a fitting name for the founder of a dynasty.
Besides the Visigoths, there was a legendary king of Sweden called Alrek 0r Alrekr, and often Anglicized as Alaric.
While Alaric has never appeared in the US Top 1000, you’ll find Alaric in the census records. The Latin form of the name – Alaricus – pops up in medieval records, too, suggesting that he’s been in occasional use for generations.
But most modern parents probably discover Alaric in the pages of a book. If not history, then fiction:
- Katherine Kountz used Alaric for a character in her long-running Deryni fantasy series – he’s a duke, and a good egg;
- Stephen King used it for Roland‘s grandfather in his Dark Towers series;
- One of Anthony Trollope’s Three Clerks was Alaric Tudor;
- PG Wodehouse, best known for his Jeeves & Wooster series, also wrote about the inhabitants of Blandings Castle. The elderly, grouchy Duke of Dunstable is a frequent visitor – and wears the name Alaric.
The British Navy used Alaric for a submarine late in World War II, and at least one Alaric has served the US military with distinction – back during the Civil War, Union Army officer Alaric Chapin was awarded the medal of honor.
It’s difficult to decide if Alaric is over the top in 2009. Gavin and Tristan are Top 100 picks. Boys answer to Sebastian and Julian. Romeo ranked #466 and Orlando #419.
Perhaps the best way to describe Alaric is from the title of one of my favorite user-created lists at Nameberry: My Braver Alter-Ego Would Totally Use These. The list groups Alaric with other gems like Horatio, Junia and Crispin – quirky and stylish, but just a bit less accessible than almost mainstream choices like Asher.
Alaric offers a few nicknames – Al, Rick and Aric are the obvious three. If those don’t thrill you, proceed with caution. While more and more parents use – and prefer that others use – their child’s full name, there’s no guarantee what will happen when your son hits middle school. Or tuck Alaric in the middle spot, where he’d be a good substitute for Alexander.
Then again, what kid wouldn’t be delighted to learn that he was named after a barbarian king?