Cade, Slade, Chance and Trey all appear in the US Top 1000. Whatever happened to this single-syllable choice?
Thanks to Christina for suggesting Dirk as Name of the Day.
The short answer is that Dirk appeared in 1947, however in the 300s and 400s up until about 1970, then started to slip. By 1990, he’d left the rankings entirely.
Dirk caught on thanks to handsome British actor Dirk Bogarde. He’s best remembered for playing opposite Julie Christie in 1965’s Darling. His career spanned the 1940s through the 1980s, and probably helped keep Dirk visible.
It’s tempting to dismiss Dirk as a fhttp://appellationmountain.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2304&action=editleeting, even invented, 20th century choice. But that’s not the case. Dirk Bogarde was born Derek. And if you keep tracing the name back, you’ll arrive at the German Dietrich or Dieter and Dutch Diederick and the Germanic Theodoric. Over the years, Theodoric generated plenty of offshoots, including the Welsh name Tudor.
You probably recognize some of the elements. Ric, of course, means ruler. But this theo doesn’t reference God; instead, it comes from þeudo – people. Theodoric means ruler of the people, and he most certainly was. Kings of the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks and Anglo-Saxons bore the name.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Theodoric after the Renaissance, but variant forms have been steadily in use. Dirk Willems was a religious martyr back in the sixteenth century; Derek Keppel was a nineteenth-century born aristocrat in service to King George V.
Besides Dirk and Derek, you’ll come across men named Derrick, Derick, Derik, Dereck, Deric, Deryk and more.
Derek remains a Top 200 pick for boys in the US, but most of the others are out of fashion. Just as Dirk was fading from use for newborns, he exploded in pop culture, thanks to three prominent bearers of the name:
- Television actor Dirk Benedict made a splash in 1978 as Lieutenant Starbuck on the original Battlestar Galactica and later as part of The A-Team;
- In 1997, Mark Wahlberg landed his breakout role as Eddie Addams, an ordinary guy who took the stage name Dirk Diggler and found fame and fortune as a porn star;
- German-born NBA star Dirk Nowitski has played for the Dallas Mavericks since 1998.
Dirk is also a weapon. It’s not quite like calling your son Dagger, but there is something aggressive about the name. There’s debate about the word dirk’s origins. Some point to the Gaelic dearg – knife, while others cite a Germanic source. Regardless, Dirk would definitely sound more at home with a brother called Gunnar than one named Noah.
It is difficult to tell how Dirk would wear on a boy born in 2009. While he’s clearly fallen out of favor, hyper-masculine monikers are in vogue with some parents. Factor in his history and roots, and Dirk might be a more enduring choice than, say, Slade.