Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 4, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-published on February 11, 2013.
He’s the Italian form of the evergreen James and Jacob.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Giacomo.
Back in 1995, Sting and Trudie Styler welcomed their youngest son, Giacomo Luke.
In Italian, he’s jah KO mo. Technically, the first syllable is pronounced like Gianna, with a two syllable gee ah, but if you listen to native speakers say the name, it sounds shorter.
In English, it sounds just a little bit different. I hear JAH ko mo.
Then again, Giacomo has never cracked the US Top 1000. Giacomos who came to the US probably became James or Jim or maybe Jack or Jake.
He remains common in Italy, however. So let’s call him traditional south of the Alps, rarer elsewhere in Europe and downright daring in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Famous Giacomos abound:
- Sixteenth century mapmaker Gastaldi
- Opera’s legendary Puccini
- The adventurer – and writer – Casanova
- Painters Ceruti and Balla
Plenty of other notable Italians have worn the name. And then there’s a famous Giacomo from Kentucky.
He’s a racehorse.
Giacomo won the 2005 Kentucky Derby.
The horse is named after – wait for it – Sting’s son. Jerry Moss, Giacomo’s breeder, made his fortune co-founding A&M Records – Sting’s label.
Ends-with-0 names for boys are quite stylish these days, and the current Top 1000 gives us lots of reasons to think Giacomo could wear well these days:
- The equally Italian Giovanni ranked #117 in 2011.
- Leonardo, Mateo, Matteo, Mario, Marco, Lorenzo, Enzo, and Rocco are all in the top 500 names for boys in the US.
- The Spanish form of James – Diego – has had a great run in recent years.
- The popularity of Jake and Jack, James and Jacob should mean that parents like the sound of Giacomo, too.
Wondering about the connection between all of these names? The simplest explanation is this: at one point, the Latin form of James was Iacomus, and Giacomo became the Italian vernacular form.
Another reason to consider Giacomo? His built-in theme song.
“Iko, Iko” is a traditional New Orleans song about Mardi Gras.
One of the features of Mardi Gras are the tribes of Indians – revelers who dress in fantastic versions of Native American traditional wear. Part of their tradition is confrontation between tribes. Today is symbolic – pure performance. Once it was the cause of real violence and bloodshed. The lyrics recall some of this “My flag boy said to your flag boy, I’m gonna set your flag on fire.”
The words and lyrics are subject to debate, and they’ve changed over the years. They may be Louisiana creole, or their roots may be older. It sometimes sounds like they’re singing Jockomo, and that’s sometimes given as the title of the song. There’s a fascinating story here – Yaquimo was a common name amongst Haitians, and could have come to Louisiana with slaves from the island nation. I’d guess that Yaquimo is yet another version of James.