Old Testament Ezra feels exactly right in the twenty-first century.
Thanks to Bo for suggesting today’s Baby Name of the Day.
Turn on the radio in the spring of 1995 and you couldn’t avoid hearing this song:
Lookin’ around the house
Hidden behind the window and the door
Searchin’ for signs of life
But there’s nobody home
The song was called Good, and the artists were a previously little-known group formed back at Louisiana State University. The band is known as Better Than Ezra, and their success helped to quietly push the name back into the spotlight.
From 1994 to 1996, the name jumped nearly 150 places in the US rankings, and it’s yet to slow down.
As for where the band found the name? They’ve never said. But there’s no shortage of possibilities.
Ezra: Old Testament
The name appears in the Old Testament, sometimes as Esdras. He’s a poet and a scribe, a teacher and interpreter of Jewish law.
The name’s Biblical status explains why it’s remained in use over the ages.
An early president of Yale University wore the name, as did the founder of Cornell University.
It’s the first name of Fitch in Abercrombie & Fitch, too. Before the store peddled goods in shopping malls, it outfitted gentlemen outdoorsmen and adventurers.
But this name doesn’t seem scholarly or rugged as much as it leans literary. That’s thanks to two other figures.
Ezra: Keats and Pound
Born in the wilds of Idaho when it was still just a territory, poet Ezra Pound spent much of his adult life in Europe. His poetry endures, though his political views – he supported Italy’s fascist regime during World War II – ensure that he’s forever controversial.
On a happier note, there’s the classic children’s book The Snowy Day. Celebrated author Ezra Jack Keats wrote and illustrated the enduring favorite. It’s even inspired US postage stamps.
A literary pedigree and an unusual sound – the razor-sharp z-r, the -a ending – put Ezra on the quirky classics list for years.
Ezra: Rising Favorite
But as those children of the 90s started families of their own, Ezra continued to climb.
There’s well-known journalist Klein, one of the founders of the new site Vox.
And actor Miller has become a household name, thanks to turns in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and his role as The Flash in the DC Comics universe, with his own stand-alone movie expected in 2020.
Other factors pushed this name higher, too. We’re all about a-ending boy names, with Noah a recent #1 choice, and other names like Luca and Isaiah very much in favor. That high-value Scrabble letter Z helps, too.
But there’s one other factor to consider.
Disney’s animated series Star Wars Rebels takes place before A New Hope – the first Star Wars movie ever made – but after Revenge of the Sith. He’s Force-sensitive – that is, a potential Jedi – but he grows up an orphan, until he joins us with a band of rebels as the Empire tightens its hold. Bridger proves himself a capable leader, though he struggles to use his power for good.
He’s a popular character, and the series has been a success. It first aired in 2014.
This has surely boosted the name even higher.
Ezra: How High?
The only question remaining is how high will this name climb? It cracked the Top 200 in 2012, entered the Top 100 by 2015, and is now more popular than ever before, with no signs of slowing down.
What do you think of Ezra? Would you consider this name for a son?
Originally published on June 1, 2008, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on November 29, 2011, and again on December 26, 2018.