Looking for a name that’s rich with history but still feels edgy and cool? Here’s one that fits the bill.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Bruno.
Bruno: Traditional Choice
Bruno simply means brown – think brun in French. It would have once been given to someone with brown hair, or some other association with the color. Or possibly it’s a surname from a place with the name, of which there are several.
Bruno has been in use for centuries. A Duke of Saxony wore it in the 800s. In the 900s, Archbishop Bruno of Cologne was among the most powerful men in Germany. At least three saints answered to the name over the next two hundred years or so. Bruno was the given name of both Pope Gregory V and Pope Saint Leo IX.
Bruno: Tough Guy
In recent decades, the name took on a tough guy vibe. Credit goes to Angelo Bruno, the mastermind of organized crime in Philadelphia. While there was a minimum of violence on his watch – he was nicknamed “The Gentle Don” – he’s still lent the name a certain thuggish tone.
Or maybe that’s thanks to wrestler Bruno Sammartino. (Yes, that’s his real name!) Sammartino was one of the WWE’s most popular wrestlers from the 1960s into the 1980s, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
- Brown University’s mascot is a bear by the name.
- Lewis Carroll’s fairy siblings are Sylvie and Bruno.
- Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson gave the name to her son.
- Happily, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2009 farce Bruno wasn’t a hit, so while a handful of people might think of the fictional faux-hawk sporting Austrian fashion reporter, it’s probably not a major concern.
It’s been in the Top 100 in Spain in recent years.
But the first person that probably comes to mind is the chart-topping singer-songwriter-producer Bruno Mars.
He was born Peter Gene Hernandez, but got his nickname from the wrestler. (His dad thought young Peter looked quite a bit like Sammartino!)
Mars had a breakthrough in 2009, when he sang the vocals on rapper B.o.B.’s hit “Nothin’ On You.” A few months later, he sang on Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” and released his debut album. It’s been hit after hit ever since.
Over the last five years, Mars has become one of the best-selling artists of all time, collected two Grammy Awards, and been named Billboard’s Artist of the Year.
It’s the kind of meteoric rise than can really boost a baby name.
Bruno: By the Numbers
In 2009, Bruno ranked a chilly #863. That’s not the name’s lowest point – Bruno left the Top 1000 entirely during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. But it’s far from popular.
Today? The name comes in at a respectable #670 – still not too common.
Mars gets some of the credit, but Bruno is also rising because:
- It fits right in with romance languages names like Luca and Mateo/Matteo. Madonna, of course, has a Rocco.
- The name’s heyday was the 1910s, when Bruno reached as high as #270. The hundred-year rule signaled that the name was ready for a comeback.
If you’re after a name that’s familiar, but not common, colorful and creative, but still tough, then Bruno could be the name for you.
What do you think of Bruno? Do you think this name will catch on, or is Mars so popular that parents might avoid it?