He’s a classic, worn by Ancient Greeks and Christian saints, as well as musicians and athletes in the modern world.
Then there’s the whole spawn-of-Satan angle.
Thanks to Emma for suggesting our Name of the Day: Damian.
The earliest notable Damians included an Ancient Greek scientist and a physician. Saint Damian, a healer, was martyred under Diocletian in the 300s, along with his twin brother Cosmo. The Coptic Orthodox Church lists another Saint Damian dating from the 500s.
Saint Peter Damian served as a Cardinal in the eleventh century, and is considered a Doctor of the Church. Dante meets him in the seventh sphere of Heaven in the Divine Comedy.
A handful of other notable Damians includes:
- Bob Marley’s youngest son. Damian Marley is a Grammy-winning artist in his own right;
- Damian Green is a British politician who traded news broadcasting for Parliament in 1997;
- Dancer Damian Woetzel retired from the New York City ballet and now works in arts administration;
- Fictional Damian Grimaldi has been a character on soap opera As The World Turns since 1993;
- USC wide receiver Damian Williams is considered a future NFL superstar.
The name can be found in use from Poland to Ireland and Ecuador to Greece. The meaning comes from the Greek damao – to tame.
But ever since 1976 blockbuster The Omen hit the big screen, this name has an edge.
Damien is actually the French spelling. It isn’t clear why screenwriter David Seltzer picked the name, though perhaps the superficial similarities to the word “demon” influenced his choice. It’s a creepy flick, and the sinister small fry is downright scary.
Another horror classic from the 1970s also featured the name – the priest charged with saving the soul of Regan in 1973’s The Exorcist was Father Damien Karras.
A handful of pop culture references have cemented Damian’s reputation as bad news. Batman’s bad boy son is called Damian Wayne; a South Park episode had the son of Satan joining the boys’ class.
None of this has dulled the name’s appeal. In 1977, Damian stood at #210 and Damien at #246. The year after the movie came out, Damien leapt to #161.
It seems unlikely, but after all, The Exorcist boosted Regan, too.
Today Damian stands at #137 and Damien at #182. Both are rising, though the “a” spelling clearly has the edge. As parents move away from two-syllable choices for their sons, Damian fits with popular picks like Adrian, Julian and Sebastian.
So while the horror film connection might give some parents pause, perhaps Damian’s biggest shortcoming isn’t that your son might be a terror.
It’s that there will be too many of them.