Name of the Day: Doris

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

20 Comments

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:)

My 99-year-old grandmother is a Doris – and I love her so dearly, even so much as to use the name Doris for a newborn. The 100 year rule can be broken for my nana! It’s actually a cute name if you blur your eyes a little 🙂 – My three-year-old is named Tallulah and I think Doris would go along nicely. But the nicknames for Doris, well, those I am not so excited about. Door/Dor? Dory? Sigh. Are there any other Doris nicknames that aren’t so dowdy?

I love Tallulah and Doris together! Dor is strangely appealing, but I’m a sucker for Noor. There’s also Dora, though Dora almost feels like another name. (And the cartoon character.) But I do think Dory is darling.

Very interesting to hear of the history behind this one. My (British) grandmas names are Doris and Lucy. My husband and I both really like the name Lucy, both I’ve never really liked the name Doris. I think it’s a little too early for a comeback, but I am starting to really like Dorothy and am surprised that that one has fallen so far out of favour.

I’m not ready for Doris just yet, I don’t know about anywhere else but in the UK old ladies are sometimes referred to as old Doris’ which I find more than a little off putting! Basically, she’s not old enough to be cool again – it’s the 100 year rule isn’t it? I’d love to say that I was ahead of the curve on this one but just can’t see it… Grr!

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about Doris recently. When I discovered about a month ago that it was a Greek nymph name, it suddenly went from being old-ladyish to really cool.

I’m not sure it’s one that would go over well now, but it’s one I just might have loved had I lived several decades ago.

Never considered this one before, but it’s really pretty charming. I’d be surprised and delighted to meet a little Doris. Personally I’d go with Dorothy myself, but I do really like this. I like the nickname Dora, reminds me of the girl in that movie Loser, whenever I see that movie, I think about how much I like her name.

Speaking of Dory being fishy… I know a woman named Dory Fish, no joke! Can you imagine what she thought when she saw Nemo for the first time? She had to have been thinking that her name would never be the same again.

I have two associations for Doris
1. frumpy, not “old-lady”-enough yet
2. a diminutive for Dora used by Spanish speakers

I prefer the simpler Dora.

I had no idea that Doris could be a diminutive – thanks for that, Christina!

Dorothy and Dorothea feel like more powerful Dora names to me. Oh, and Isadora, too – but I must say I like the “dor” element. And you’re right, Emmy Jo – when you know she’s a nymph, well … it does freshen up her image!

The fish thing is an issue, isn’t it? Nessa, I can’t believe you knew a Dory Fish!

Doris is one I don’t mind at all. I like it better than Madison, for sure! Doris is soft and sweet and I can see her appeal. But I’m more partial to -s enders for boys (-us enders in particular) so none of the girly S names are going to show up on my lists. I wouldn’t mind seeing Doris on someone else’s kid; Doris feels more retro than Heather (I know a 5 year old Heather) and cooler than Monica (I know a 6 year old Monica) and is nice & bubbly. I *do* like Doris. And Dory/Dorry/Dorrie is a cute possibility for a nickname (although Dory’s gone a bit fishy). All in all, Doris gets a :thumbsup: from me!