This post was originally published on January 3, 2009. It was substantially revised and re-posted on December 22, 2014.
Despite a bold, modern sound, this name has history galore.
Thanks to Mariuccia for suggesting the Name of the Day: Blaise.
Blaise: Saintly Appellation
In Latin, blaesus means to stutter or stammer, to lisp. From this unfortunate root came the given name Blasius.
Like many an ancient name, Blaise endures thanks to a saint.
Saint Blaise was born in Sebastia, part of modern day Turkey. He served as bishop, and may have had some medical training.
Legend tells us that he healed the sick – people and animals, be they domestic or wild – and famously saved a boy from choking to death on a fishbone. Naturally, this makes Blaise the patron saint of throats.
His healing powers made him especially popular during outbreaks of plague, and Blaise is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers to invoke against illness.
Because of the popularity of the saint, the name can be found throughout Europe. At least half a dozen place names are related to the name, including The Gate of Blasius in Basel, Switzerland, and Bristol, England’s Blaise Castle, named for nearby Blaise Hill.
The best known Blaise is the seventeenth century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal.
Pascal was a whipsmart kid, fascinated by science and math from his earliest days. His first major piece of work – still known as Pascal’s Theorem – was completed when he was just sixteen. Rene Descartes dismissed it as far too sophisticated to be written by one so young.
His final work was Pensées – thoughts – an incomplete document, meant to be the philosopher’s comprehensive defense of Christianity. Despite its unfinished state, it remains widely influential.
The scholar’s reputation lends a brainy edge to Blaise. Another bonus? Even if we’ve never met anyone named Blaise, Pascal is so familiar that chances are good that we’ll recognize it as a given name with long history.
Blaise: 21st Century Boy
Blaise has had a good run in France, peaking around the year 1900, but still in use over the years.
French poet Robert de Boron included a priest called Blaise in his poem Merlin, penned around the year 1200, making the name legendary and literary as well as accomplished and smart.
In the US, it’s a slightly different story.
Blaise darted into the US Top 1000 in 1953 and 1962, and remained on the edge for years. Since 1996, the name has charted every year, except for 2008.
Minor Harry Potter character Blaise Zabini could get credit for some of the uptick. But chances are that Blaise’s combination of modern sound and long history is appealing to some parents.
Blaise: The Flammable & Bold Forms
Take an obscure saint’s name, re-package in a superhero cape and you have Blaze.
And wouldn’t you know it? Blaze is solidly more popular than Blaise. As of 2013, there 322 new boys named Blaze, versus just 225 with the original spelling.
Fiery Blaze comes from the Old English blaese – a flame. But it can also mean to lead the way, to blaze a trail, probably a word meaning mark. The trailblazer was the first to travel a path, cutting marks on trees to show the route.
If you’re after an obscure saint’s name for a child, Blaise is the best of both worlds – a meaningful choice with a cool, modern sound. But if you’re after something really daring for a son, Blaze is your boy.