Name of the Day: Delilah

Hey there, Delilah.

She’s rapidly shedding her bad girl image and could become one of the hottest baby names of 2015. Thanks to Kim R. for suggesting Delilah as Name of the Day.

Kim R. originally suggested Delilah way back, but I dismissed her as too tarty to be bestowed on an innocent babe.

Shows what I know.

In 2002, Friends’ Rachel says Delilah is her favorite name but worries it has a “whiff of Biblical whore,” Delilah ranked #706. (Emma, her ultimate choice for her daughter, ranked #4 and has since taken over the top spot.) Rather than damage Delilah, by 2003, the name had climbed to #614.

Along with Lily, Layla, Lila and other la, la, lovely L names climbing up the charts, Delilah is as hot as it gets, reaching #193 in 2008. A parent might rightly feel that her Biblical baggage is a non-issue.

Still, the original Delilah casts a long shadow. Her name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to weaken” and she did just that. Delilah tempted Samson to reveal the secret of his considerable strength. He confessed that his mojo was in his flowing locks and Delilah sold him out to the Philistines for cash money.

Trouble ensued.

Renaissance and Baroque painters depicted her treachery, from Titian to Tintoretto, Rubens to Rembrandt. John Milton retold the story in his late seventeenth century Samson Agonistes. Camille Saint-Saens’ 1877 opera Samson et Dalila remains oft-performed. Delilah became a synonym for temptress.

Pop culture references continue to drive the point home – from a recent episode of 30 Rock to more songs that you can list. Whether you’re into the Grateful Dead or the Judds, the Pointer Sisters or the Pixies, choose your genre and you can find a single about Delilah and her shears.

Many a female character has been redeemed, or at least re-examined, in light of twenty-first century values. Once upon a time, Eve and Pandora, Helen and Delilah were all dismissed as troublemakers. While many of their reputations have been restored, there’s been less of an effort to recast Delilah’s actions. Instead, parents seem to simply overlook the reference. In some cases, Delilah’s meaning is given as delicate – not inaccurate, but the most favorable spin possible on her linguistic origins.

Of course, modern parents might be more familiar with syrupy easy listening deejay Delilah Luke, known for reaching millions of listeners with her syndicated call-in dedication show. Of course, this could be just as powerful an unpleasant association.

But the radio is boosting Delilah, too, thanks to a gently romantic hit single. The Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” took a few years to catch on, but eventually nabbed a 2008 Grammy nomination and the number one slot on the Billboard Hot 100. The real Delilah – and yes, there is one – is a squeaky-clean Olympic hopeful, interviewed by the Today Show.

Where does this leave Delilah? Many names, like Chelsea, were lifted up by a chart-topping single. But those were names that were either unknown or little used prior to the song. Delilah is truly remarkable because she’s overcoming the same sort of stigma that stops us from calling our girls Jezebel.

Regardless of the reasons, let’s call Delilah one name that has shed her shady past to take her place solidly in the mainstream.

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29 Comments

Let’s reclaim Delilah as our sister…she was surviving using her wits; a strong intelligent woman who knew what we all know…man will always cast aspertions on a strong woman whose power they can never reach. They called her a whore…I call her an empress. Naming a child Delilah is asking our daughters to reclaim the true feminine, know their strength and demonstrate their beauty, without any apologies.

This is rather late, but as to historical usage, my great-great-great-great grandmother was named Delilah, as was one of her granddaughters (my great-grandmother’s Aunt Dill.) Aunt Dill was born in 1893 (and was a rather remarkable woman, refusing to marry and having a distinguished career as a military nurse), and her grandmother was born around 1835 to German Americans in Appalachia. Of course, there are all kinds of unusual names historically used in the Appalachian region.

I’m planning to name my girl delilah. She’s due in September 2011. I think it’s a beautiful name. The sound of the name makes me think of a beautiful woman. The woman who tricked Samson might be a whore called delilah but this doesn’t mean that all delilah’s are bad (hopefully). I know some girls called Eve, who aren’t very nice girls.
I’d say the name does deserve a comeback. The name just sounds too beautiful to be wasted; especially not because of a ‘biblical whore’ :))

Love,
Seline

I don’t like Delilah. For me, it is a reminder of the upscale strip club/gentleman’s club in Philadelphia (I am originally from Philly) called Delilah’s Den, so all I can think of when I hear the name is ‘stripper’. No offense. I like Lila and Leila though, and Layla is alright. Lily is nice too. I just wouldn’t use them on my child. Too popular for my taste. I would be more likely to name her Lilia or Delia.

Yeah that would pretty much take a name off my list, too – though the strip club where I grew up was called Erv’s BYOB Gentleman’s Club, so … no names tainted by that one.

I think Delilah is so pretty and sultry. Lilah is such a sweet nickname option and the meaning is quite nice. My turn off is the Biblical story, religious or not, I think the name will always have dubious associations, especially in a Judeo-Christian society.

Thanks, British American! It’s gone over pretty well IRL with this pregnancy. It’s funny the marked difference I can see in just a few years, since our top girls names haven’t changed.

And thanks for the link, AM. I thought I had remembered seeing it, but the search function does give me difficulty on occasion. 😛

Delilah is intertwined with Lilah in my head (which reminds me of how far I’ve come with names. When we didn’t yet know the gender of my first son, we chose Ava, which everyone here IRL loathed, even though it was ranked in the 20s at the time. When I found the SSA list, we changed to Lilah, but then its rise scared me a bit too. On to Willa, which has been our #1 name for three pregnancies, and the one I get to use now. 🙂 How’s that for a random tangent?). When names soar like Delilah and Lilah, it turns me off. There’s too much of a date stamp, in my opinion. Lilah is the nicer name to me. It’s prettier without that Duh- and less fussy too. Each of those names has somewhat of a down-market vibe to me as well. Delilah, Lilah, Scarlett, they seem like they could be a stone’s throw away from Crystal in this next crop of babies. My family would probably be horrified if I used Delilah, though I wouldn’t anyway. Now Eve I would use in a heartbeat.

Delilah’s not one I either like or admire on other people. Maybe it’s because I’m just past 40 but she’s always the treacherous, greedy biblical tart to me. No song or time itself changes that. Delilah? Blech. Give me simple Lila any day!

Lyle? I actually think it would appeal more on a girl (*horrors*) but yeah, I’d give the girls Lyle, (and Kyle too, for that matter!) if I could have Remy & Clancy for the boys! 😀

I’ll let everyone know you’re willing to broker that deal, but I’d like to add Kelly to the list of reclaims for Team Blue. 🙂

Juliet, I hear you – I don’t know what our priest would say if we baptized our daughter Delilah!

I stumbled across a claim that Delilah was in use by Puritan parents, but then apparently one or two of them really did name their kids Flee-Fornication so I’m not sure that’s a ringing endorsement … and I didn’t verify the Puritan claims …

I know what you mean! I think the name is beautiful;but, because of my environment & the Biblical reference I wouldn’t use it.Also, since my fav name is Eden & I desperately hope to use it one day, I think Eden & Delilah would be a bit ironic & a bit much considering everything lol