Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 7, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on January 20, 2014.
He’s a saint and an animated cat, a staple name for boys boosted by that stylish letter x.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Felix.
Just a few years ago, Felix seemed like a daring choice. Today he seems pretty stylish. And yet, Felix’s actual rate of use hasn’t changed that much. He ranked #316 in 2012, and#347 in 1992, and #337 in 1972. He’s remarkably steady over the years, ranking in the 300s nearly every year since the 1950s.
And yet Felix feels more on-trend in 2014 than he did in earlier decades. Chalk it up to three things:
- His letter x. From traditionals like Alexander to nouveau coinages like Jaxon, the letter x is the Birkin bag of letters. Everybody wants one, and they’re not so easy to come by naturally.
- High profile parents have embraced the name, like X-Files alum Gillian Anderson and actor Hugh Grant.
- Lastly, Felix hits that sweet spot. If you’re avoiding all of the Top 100 names, but not willing to use something as out-there as Cuthbert, a name holding steady in the 300s, like Felix, is a good bet.
Plus Felix has a fabulous meaning – happy, fortunate, from the Latin felicitas.
It was big in the ancient world:
- The name was used in Ancient Rome, and a trio of Popes Felix reigned in Rome from the third through the sixth centuries.
- The first martyred Saint Felix was around the year 68, followed by at least a half dozen more saints Felix in the next three hundred years.
It remained in use, and a handful of European princes and such wore the name, including Count Felix Yusupov, who took part in the plot to murder Rasputin on the eve of the Russian Revolution.
The last century was an interesting one for the name:
- The black and white animated cat debuted in 1919. He was a silent film star, years before Walt Disney created his legendary mouse. Felix was chosen for his similarity to feline, as well as the associations with good fortune. He was a major star in the 1920s, but the studio producing Felix cartoons was slow to embrace sound – and that’s where the mouse enters the picture. Nonetheless, Felix remains a major cartoon icon, all these years later.
- Ian Fleming created Felix Leiter, a CIA operative and friend to legendary super-spy James Bond. Fleming borrowed both the first and last names from friends. Leiter has been played by at least seven actors, with a wide range of appearances.
- Neil Simon’s 1965 play, The Odd Couple, paired neat-freak photographer with slovenly Oscar Madison as newly divorced roommates. It became hit sitcom from 1970 to 1975. Updates and revivals have followed ever since, and word is that Matthew Perry is preparing to star as Oscar in another reboot.
- The first Harry Potter novel was published in 1997, and it would eventually introduce the potion Felix Felicitas.
- In 2012, Wreck-It Ralph was the villain-gone-good, and Fix-It Felix the perpetual hero.
Through in a few other people, real and fictional, an asteroid, and a hurricane, and Felix has quite the quirky pedigree.
If you’re after a name that is just slightly different, Felix has the potential to stand out while fitting in.