Is this one too frumpy to consider? Or do her ancient roots and past Top Ten status make her prime for revival?

Thanks to K for suggesting Doris as Name of the Day.

Doris sounds like she must be related to Dorothy and Dorothea, but that’s not so. Instead, Doris is more like Delphina – a place name, but with many more associations beyond the geographic.

The Dorians were one of the three tribes that made up Ancient Greece. (For trivia purposes, the other two were the Ionians and Aeolians.) They’re living on the island of Crete in The Odyssey; Herodotus and Thucydides both mention them by name.

Their name is often translated as “people of the spear,” and reports tell us that the Dorians were handy in a fight. But spears were made of wood, and the Greek word doru could just as easily refer to wooded lands – making Doris more of a nature name.

A nature link for Doris would be fitting. The original bearer of the name was a nymph – one of Oceanus’ daughters. In fact, she was the mother of fifty nymphs herself, including Amphitrite. This makes her Poseidon’s mother-in-law.

It also makes her a logical choice for a ship’s name, and the Royal Navy first used Doris for a frigate back in 1795, and continued to use the name through the nineteeth century. At the same time Doris caught on for sailors, she was discovered as a baby name by those inventive Victorian parents.

By the 1920s, Doris was a smash hit, ranking in the Top Ten from 1924 through 1933, reaching a peak of #6 in 1929. Along with Alice, Frances, Lois, Phyllis and Gladys, Doris shared the popular ends-in-s construction. Dorothy was also a big favorite, ranking as #2 in the period.

But we don’t associate Doris with the Roaring 20s. Thanks to Doris Day, many of us think of her as a 1950s appellation. In fact, Ms. Day’s popularity did nothing to boost her name. Doris fell steadily after the 1930s, leaving the Top 100 in 1954 and falling out of the rankings entirely after 1992.

Doris Day remains a staple of classic films and a reminder of a gentler time. Every time we say “Que Sera, Sera,” it’s a tiny tribute to the mega-star. Born Doris Kappelhoff, she went on to win Grammys and Golden Globes. Today she is active in animal rights issues.

Doris might sound a tiny bit dowdy to modern parents – more Baby Boomer than Jazz Baby. But with Alice sounding fresh and current, Doris could make a comeback. She might even catch the eye of parents searching lists of famous actresses for the next Ava, Natalie or Audrey.

While Dorothy and Dorothea seem the more likely candidates for revival, don’t count Doris out. As the singer might say – in life and in baby name trends – whatever will be, will be.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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  1. My name is Doris. My nicknames have been D, Big D (I’m petite with a big personality..male friends in college gave me this one) and Dork(sounds awful but it was said affectionately and my last name starts with a K). I always wished my name was Heidi. My family is German and my mom was obsessed with Doris Day. People generally like my name more than me, but in the end I like that I don’t know a whole bunch of Doris’. It’s a very popular name for Asian women who take on an English name. It has served me pretty well overall. It probably helps that I’m not fat and frumpy:)