Today’s pick is a Slavic classic that just screams spooky. Our Name of the Day is Boris.
Perhaps the best known Boris did indeed choose his name for its exotic flair. Actor Boris Karloff was born into a privileged English family back in the 1880s. While his siblings went into public service and led distinguished, proper lives, the black sheep caught the acting bug. He’s immortalized as Frankenstein’s monster in the 1931 film. As for his name? He adopted Boris because it was exotic and claimed that he found Karloff hanging on the ol’ family tree. Besides better suiting a monster movie star, Boris Karloff allowed him to attain fame without embarrassing the Pratt clan. That said, they were reportedly all quite proud of their little brother.
The roots of Boris are most likely Turkish, and he’s been a hit among Slavs since the early Middle Ages. While his etymology is debated, most agree that the original name was probably Bogoris. You’ll also find Boris used as a diminutive for Boruslaw or other elaborations.
Boris I ruled Bulgaria back in the 800s. Two more rulers of that nation wore the name. A steady trickle of notables have been Boris ever since:
- Saint Boris lived in the 1000s;
- Boris Gudonov was Emperor of Russia in the 1500s, though he’s probably better known as the subject of the Pushkin drama and the Mussorgsky opera;
- An animated Boris spied for Pottsylvania’s Fearless Leader and Mr. Big as part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle universe;
- The Who sang about Boris the Spider – if you’re downloading last minute playlists for a party, consider adding this to Ghostbusters and the Monster Mash;
- Boris Yeltsin served as president of Russia in the 90s;
While he’s flirted with the edges of US Top 1000, charting at the upper reachers in 1923 and again from 1961 to 1970, he’s about as rare as they come.
We’re not quite sure how to evaluate Boris. Would your kiddo be called Frankenstein from kindergarten through college? Or would it be easy to spin it as an authentic Slavic heritage choice? We’re leaning towards the latter.
Oops … that’s the doorbell. See you on All Saint’s Day.