Nevaeh strikes many as too religious. Ditto old school Biblical picks like Hezekiah or extreme virtue names like Prudence. But this choice is surprisingly mainstream.
Thanks to Shannon for suggesting Christian as Name of the Day.
You probably wouldn’t call your kiddo Islam. But despite Christian’s ties to one of the world’s major religions, he is perfectly mainstream in 2010. In fact, Christian has hovered around #25 in the US since the mid-1990s, and ranked in the Top 100 since the mid-1980s.
The average baby name book will probably give you a definition something like “follower of Christ.” It isn’t exactly that straightforward. Christ wasn’t a given name, but a title worn by Jesus of Nazareth. It comes from the Greek khristos – the anointed one. In turn, the Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word messiah. The term was probably first used in the Septuagint, the first translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, completed between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC. Over time, christianos did indeed come to mean follower of Christ.
As a given name, Christian has been around for centuries. In Medieval England, it was solidly gender neutral. Suggest this name for a daughter today, and you’d probably face some criticism for stealing another one from the boys.
Most of the notable bearers of the name have been male, from John Bunyan’s protagonist in 1678’s The Pilgrim’s Progress to modern day figures like:
- A handful of medieval religious figures, including at least one Saint Christian, the thirteenth century Bishop of Prussia;
- Actors Christian Slater and Christian Bale;
- Fashion designers Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix and Christian Louboutin, plus past Project Runway winner Christian Siriano;
- Ten kings of Denmark, from the mid-1400s right into the 20th century. Preschool-aged Prince Christian is the firstborn son of Denmark’s current crown prince, and presumably will eventually follow his father and grandmother to the throne as King Christian XI;
- Early skateboarding star Christian Hosoi, as well as athletes from ice hockey to beach volleyball.
Christian has international reach. He hovers near #10 in Denmark, and also places in the Top 100 in Australia, Austria, Norway, Germany and Spain. You’ll also hear him in Canada and the UK. In some languages, he’s actually pronounced with three-syllables – kris TEE ahn.
It would be wrong to classify Christian as trendy, but it is impossible to deny how nicely he fits current trends:
- He’s two syllables (at least in English) and ends in -n;
- Just like Jackson takes his queue from the evergreen John, Christian owes something to Christopher, a Top Ten pick since 1967;
- Unlike Christopher, Christian is nickname-proof;
- He fits in with softer boys’ names like Noah and Isaiah.
Variant Kristian is seen, but has yet to challenge the more conventional English version in the US. The Latino Cristian is actually more common – he’s appeared in the mid-100s for a decade, and ranks in the Top 100 of both Chile and Spain.
Interestingly, Christian did gain for girls in the 1980s, at the same time the name was accelerating in use for boys. But it didn’t stick, and left the US Top 1000 entirely after 2004. Christina, Christine, Cristina, Kristin, Krista, Crystal and even the intoxicating Cristal rank in the girls’ Top 1000, but that’s no longer true for Christian.
Overall, he’s a solid choice – in keeping with trends, but with a long history of use. If you don’t mind – or can embrace – his spiritual side, he makes for a nice compromise between buttoned-down classics like William and nouveau appellations like Jayden.
Perhaps his only shortcoming is that so many others have discovered him already!