Thanks to Melissa for suggesting Dominic as Name of the Day.
You’re forgiven if you find Dominic a teensy bit manicotti-bighair-LongIsland. Italian-American families have embraced him for generations. Dom DeLuise cemented that image. And if you’ve ever heard Lou Monte sing 1960’s holiday novelty tune “Dominick the Christmas Donkey,” well … yes. Yes, there’s a certain amount of whatsa-matta-you to this name. But put down that cannoli and read on, for there’s far more to Dominic.
Dominic is deeply religious. He comes from the Latin dominicus – “of the Lord.” The designation A.D. is short for Anno Domini – medieval Latin for “in the year of our Lord.” File him with John, Michael and Christopher. They’re traditional given names with decidedly Christian meanings.
Take that, Nevaeh.
Then again, dominus was a secular title before it was used in a religious sense. Diocletian, best known for pitching Christians to the lions, adopted it as an honorific. Our words dominate and domain relate back to the original. Portuguese bluebloods still use the title Dom, a rough equivalent to the English Lord.
It isn’t just Dominic’s etymology that lends him a spiritual sensibility. It’s also a handful of well-known Saints Dominic.
- First came Dominic of Silos, in the eleventh century. He built a monastery and ransomed Christians from the Moors;
- He also inspired parents to use the name for their sons, as was the case with the twelfth century Saint Dominic. He founded a religious order known as the Order of Preachers, but usually referred to as the Dominicans, in honor of their founder.
More saints followed, several of them no longer acknowledged in the official register, like thirteenth century choir boy Dominguito del Val. As anti-semitism crested in Medieval Spain, rumor spread that a group of Jews had kidnapped the boy for use in a ritual sacrifice. Evidence is nonexistent, but he was considered a martyr for years.
If you’re up on your saints, you might also know that all three mentioned above are Spanish, though the Dominicans were founded in France. That’s the thing – Dominic might be stereotypically Italiano, but he’s in use throughout Europe. Notable bearers of the name illustrate his pan-European appeal:
- British actor Dominic Monaghan donned Hobbit feet to play Merry in The Lord of the Rings trilogy before appearing on the small screen’s Lost and FlashForward;
- Retired nine-time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins is American, but was born in France where the -nique version is gender neutral;
- Czech-born Dominik Hašek is a record-setting NHL goalie known for his stint with the Detroit Red Wings.
In the US, Dominic has been on the rise for decades and in the US Top 100 since 2002, though he has slipped slightly from his peak of #81 in 2003.
Perhaps Dominic’s most appealing feature isn’t his meaning or his three-syllable sound. It’s that last syllable – nic. Nicholas has been Top 100 since 1972, and ranked in the Top Ten from 1993 to 2002. Dominic offers a slightly less common way to get to Nick, Nicky or Nico.
Dominic’s meaning is meaningful, his sound is current and his history clearly takes him beyond an Italian heritage choice. But beware that you aren’t the first to discover the appeal of Dominic.