I have a thing for Spain, and I blame my grandma. She spent hours reading me this fabulous little book by Munro Leaf about a pacifist Spanish bull.
Thanks to Elisabeth for suggesting Ferdinand as Name of the Day.
Maybe it is silly, even unfair, that this name – regal, celestial and Shakespearean – conjures up a bull from a children’s book. But there it is. Penned in 1936, The Story of Ferdinand tells of a bull who preferred flowers to fights. Even when confronted with the matador, he simply sat down in the middle of the arena and blissed out on the scent of the roses tucked into the senoritas’ coifs.
This reduces the matador to tears.
Given the moment it was written, Ferdinand became both a left-wing staple, not unlike Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and an early subject for an award-winning Walt Disney short.
With girls named Eloise, Madeleine and Matilda, Frances and Olivia, why not a boy named Ferdinand? Beyond the bull, there’s:
- Many a regal and aristocratic Ferdinand, from countries ranging from Portugal and Spain to Bulgaria and Romania. Throw in a bunch of Holy Roman Emperors and Grand Dukes from Tuscany and Parma, and Ferdinand takes on a nicely pan-European feel;
- At least two saints have worn the name;
- Shakespeare chose Ferdinand as the name of King Alonso’s son in The Tempest. Prince Ferdinand falls madly in love with Miranda in the story. He’s obscure today, but with a big screen adaptation underway, that could change;
- One of Uranus’ moons wears the name. There are more than two dozen moons; Ferdinand is among the smaller and more recently discovered. When the satellite was named in 2001, there was already a Miranda orbiting the planet;
- Real-life Ferdinands include Ferdinand von Zeppelin, founder of the airship company;
- Ferdinand Porsche, Sr., designed the original VW Beetle. His son, known as Ferry Porsche, also designed cars, including the high performance racers that we know as Porsches today;
- Ferdinand Magellan lends the name an explorer’s dash;
- Early jazz innovator Jelly Roll Morton was born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe.
Then there’s Franz Ferdinand.
The 1914 assassination of the archduke is often considered the triggering event of World War I. And Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand will spring to mind for many modern parents.
In the US, Ferdinand peaked at #245 back in 1887, well before world events – or animated bulls or popular music – changed our perception of the name. Since 1971, he’s been out of the rankings entirely.
Could he make a comeback? His meaning – derived from the Germanic frith (protection) combined with nantha (boldness, readiness) is translated various ways, including “eager for peace” – just like the bull. It could appeal to modern parents seeking a name more subtle than Pax.
Ferdinand also popped up over on Nameberry’s message boards, in a thread titled “Outhip the Hipsters.” If Atticus and Silas are obvious, all of a sudden Ferdinand does sound fresh – especially if you borrow Ferry Porsche’s appealing diminutive.
Elisabeth, you read my mind. I was just coming over to post that Fred or Freddie would be a perfect nickname for those unwilling to use Ferry.
Thank you so much for featuring Ferdinand. I knew about Magellan and the emporers, the archduke and the band, but forgot all about the bull and The Tempest when I suggested this! It makes me love it even more.
Now for you haters… I’m not surprised. He couldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But a Ferdinand could well blend in around me, especially with a ready-to-wear nickname. Freddie? Fritz? Nando? And RF, I actually do adore Andy, so that could totally be a possibilty. OK, now that I have a host of nicknames I can still call myself a good parent should we use this some day. Haters.
The other issue is that I have something of a regional accent, and “Ferry” and “fairy” are not exactly homonyms. (They are, in English, of course. Unless you were born in eastern Pennsylvania. In which case …)
I can’t see it. Ferdinand already sounds like a foppish dandy, and then Ferry is the most likely nickname? Oh sure, every boy would just live to be called Airy-Fairy Ferdinand. Doesn’t work on any level for me, except maybe as a fictional name or for a pet.
Should read “love to be called,” not “live.” I gotta start cutting back on the caffeine.
Here’s the thing about Ferdinand – I live in a neighborhood with plenty of Latino families. Fernando isn’t exactly Jose, but I can list a few. (It was #164 in the US in 2008, and has been ranked at around the same level for a few years.) The nurse at my OB’s office has a toddler called Fernando.
I decided not to write about Nando, ’cause really? I couldn’t make it through the list of famous people with variants of Ferdinand, nor could I risk getting the ABBA song lodged in my head.
But IMHO, Ferdinand all of a sudden sounds more normal – because I do hear Fernando on a steady basis. My hang up with Ferdinand has been Ferdie – the logical nickname, I thought, until I stumbled across Ferry – which, truly, I kind of love. But now that I read your comment, I take the point that Ferry could be in for a hard road.
But Ferry as a young child’s nickname? I mean, sure, no boy as he gets older will probably use it, but a 3 year old hardly seems likely to suffer from Airy-Fairy syndrome 😉
I totally agree. Give me Ferdinand over most names that are in fashion these days…
I used to love Ferdinand, now, it does nothing for me.
Ferdinand, while not something I’d actually use, has a pretty cool history, reading the write-up. I’m having a hard time imagining it on a baby, but it’s not something I’d see as ‘torture’ for a child to wear… it’s just a big name for a little creature, but sometimes that can work.
Christina Fonseca says
I like the idea of Ferdinand, and I got a big smile on my face when I saw it was today’s name – but Ferry is an absolute NO.
At first, you think, “Ferry… Ferry! It sounds cute, and it’s close to the nickname Perry…” But then you realize it sounds exactly like what a boy would dread to be called: Fairy.
Ferdinand is just not my cup of tea. Too over-theatrical, and not exactly with the sophistication of Silas and Atticus. It’s beyond sophisticated — It’s stuffy.
I think this is pushing things. I dont know anyone who would do this – and also be considered a good parent. People who pick names like this tend to be concerned with the cool-factor of everything, rather than with whether or not they’ve given their child a good start in life. Name your child Ferdinand and I can guarantee he will hate it and he will be made fun of throughout his life. I mean, really.
I used to think of Ferdinand as kind of stuffy, despite my affinity for the peace-loving bull. Now I see him as less stuffy, but still a smidge over the top. Perhaps my love of the indie rockers has softened up the name…
I could definitely see him roaming urban streets along with Atticus and Silas. Ferry is kind of cool; and if he’s really desperate to fit in with the masses, Dan is a nickname option that springs to mind.
Ferdinand is wonderful!