It’s hard to imagine the Late Latin name Columba taking off as a boy’s name circa 2008. But with a bit of modification, that just might happen in the US – and has already happened in the UK.
Thanks to Unknown for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Callum.
Early saints’ names are often recorded in multiple versions – the Latin, the vernacular, the variant spellings common to their time. Columba is no exception. He’s listed as Columbanus, Columba and Columb, and is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland. A second saint by the same riddle of appellations brought Celtic monastic practices to Italy and France. A trio of female saints were also called Columba, one living in Cornwall in the same century as her masculine counterparts.
The name means dove, and today is worn by a constellation and a type of pigeon. Columba appears to have been used for sons and daughters in about equal measure through the early Middle Ages, but the Celtic variants with the longest staying power are all boy: Colm and Callum, with Columb and Calum popping up from time to time, too.
But it’s Callum that has been white hot in the UK in recent years. He’s ranked in the Top 25 for the past five years, peaking at #13 in 2006. But stateside, he’s never even cracked the Top 1000.
While the pronunciation is straightforward – KAL um – some parents report hearing “column” or “Calvin” instead. The similarity to callus and callous probably doesn’t help.
But baby names that heat up in the UK often make the leap across the pond, and we’ve heard several parents consider Callum. (Though we’ve yet to meet one.)
It’s an ideal choice for parents seeking something simple and nickname-proof that fits with Celtic charmers like Aiden, Liam and Connor, but is far less frequently heard. Callum also offers a distinctive twist on the ends-in-en, two-syllable trend in boys’ names – fresh, and yet completely current.