Harvey could follow Henry up the popularity charts.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
Harvey: Battle Worthy
If this name makes a comeback in 2017, it won’t be the first time.
Originally from Breton – a Celtic language spoken in the Brittany region of France – Haerviu comes from the words haer – battle – and viu – worthy.
The first famous bearer of the name lived his days as a hermit. Legend tells us that the future Saint Harvey was blind, but able to talk to animals. He’s depicted telling frogs to hush up or using a wolf to plow the fields. The sixth century monk is also known as Hervé, the French form of the name.
Normans brought the name to England, but it faded in use for centuries. By the 1800s, it had made a comeback, along with other once-forgotten choices like Ethel and Alfred.
Harvey: Former Top 100 Favorite
In the US, the name appeared in the Top 100 from 1880 through the 1930s. Plenty of famous bearers can be found in the history books and pop culture, including:
- The Harvey Wallbanger cocktail, said to be named for a surfer who had one too many and literally walked into a wall. While that’s probably fiction, pop culture references to the cocktail abound.
- It’s the given name of tire company founder Firestone; Oscar-nominated actor Keitel; and Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim character Birdman, a superhero turned attorney, to name just a few.
- Founded in London, department store Harvey Nicholas now boasts branches in several countries.
- Batman fans might think of Gotham City Police Department officer Bullock. The character also appears in Gotham.
It’s also a common surname, usually derived from the same source as the given name.
In 1944, Mary Chase penned a play by the name. Her story told of an invisible rabbit, seen only by an ordinary guy named Elwood P. Dowd. Jimmy Stewart played Elwood in the 1950 movie adaptation. The movie is considered a classic, and plenty of other movies, books, and shows refer to the rabbit.
In 1977, Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man to hold public office in the US, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. A former colleague assassinated him in 1978. Sean Penn played the politician in 2008 biopic Milk, bringing greater attention to his legacy.
Then came Suits. The legal drama debuted in 2011 on USA. Gabriel Macht plays Specter, a winning attorney with all the charm and good looks to match.
While not quite a role model, Specter’s character inspires – handsome, intelligent, and principled, even if flawed.
Harvey: On the Rise
Harvey returned to the UK Top 100 in the late 1990s. It seems like Ryan in the US – familiar, steadily used, if not especially stylish.
In the US, the name’s return to favor begins around the same time Suits debuted. In 2010, parents gave the name to 186 boys. By 2013, that number more than doubled to just over 400. And last year? Nearly 700 newborn boys answered to Harvey, returning the name to the US 500.
Harvey Beaks, a Nickelodeon animated series, also signals the name’s rise. Beaks is a good-hearted young bird enjoying all sorts of adventures in his forest home. A generation of future parents is growing up with the name.
Factor in the letter V, and this name sounds like a future favorite.
Crushed that Henry is so popular? Consider this storied, vintage name instead.
Would you consider this name for a son?
Originally published on December 18, 2008, this post was revised and reposted on November 17, 2016.
When I hear Harvey I think of: Harvey Fierstein, then Harvey Dent, then of Jimmy Stewart saying “Harvey” with his unique accent/intonation.
I <3 Harvey! Its definitely on my list for #2
We called our daughter Harvee, and are excited to find another girl in the world called harvey, have gotten some interesting reactions
my parents decided to name me Harvey and Im a girl. i havent ever met another Harvey let alone another girl Harvey. its funny that my name is the name of the day
I could definitely go for Kenneth, James, Frank, Harry, and Henry, but somehow Harvey still sounds too old-guy for me. The sound does not appeal to me much.
I’ll third Kenneth and James as suggestions for name of the day. I’d never considered Knenneth untill Lola mentioned him back along, since them I’ve really grown to love his proud and proper sound. And James, well as Lola has already mentioned – James is one of the few true classics that you never tire of hearing. He has strong family ties for me too, as he is (take a deep breath) my brothers name, my dads middle name, my grandad’s middle name and my great granddad’s first name plus my OH’s middle name – phew!
Back to the matter in hand: Harvey. I have say that I’m in a rather weird place with Harvey. Part of me feels that he has a very old school – cool, glamorous, off the beaten track, Hollywood movie vibe to him (probably brought on by a mixture of associations like the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail, Harvey Weinstein and Harvey Keitel). On the flip side, the fact that he has has achieved relative popularity in the UK in the last ten years makes him feel ultra modern – even though he’s not.
To give you an idea of his usage over here, I reckon that Harvey would more likely be the sibling of a Finley, Dylan or Callum than the more geeky-chic Gus, Bertie or Archie as you might expect. Personally, I just can’t reconcile his slightly off beat, cool feel with his popular usage – the two just seem so at odds.
Isn’t that interesting – Harvey and Dylan! In the US, I think it would be Dylan and Jayden.
Thanks Verity! Harvey’s one that’s been appealing to me for awhile now But haven’t put it forth for consideration yet. You forgot Harvey Fierstein! And I don’t think he’s a far stretch from Frank or Henry either, he sounds like a compatriot to me. I really like his two syllable swing and think he’s definitely ready for a revival. He never sounded as dated to me as Walter, either, maybe that huge rabbit keeps him youthful? (I have a soft spot for “Harvey” with Jimmy Stewart). He’s definitely going into consideration, Harvey’s a winner for me!
And may I second Kenneth? (James too, for that matter) I think Kenneth is turning into a beautiful classic very slowly, he’s never been off the charts! And I must admit a soft spot for him too, he’s my other half! I think he’d even be tickled to see Kenneth as a NotD. James is one of the few true classics I don’t think I’ll ever tire of, no matter how popular he gets (and is my OH’s middle)!
I’ve always liked Harvey and I’ve never understood why everyone thinks it’s so nerdy. The bully on Boy Meets World was called Harley, but turned out his name was really Harvey, and when the kids in the school found that out they made fun of him. I don’t get that. Harvey is cool sounding, to me. It’s definitely something I would consider.
I really like it. I think it has the potential to be the next Henry. I have a Great Uncle Harvey, and I have a soft spot for it. Once again, Harvey Huff just sounds silly, though.
FYI Vee, they’re inducing me tonight! Can I request James as a NotD for sometime in the future? If that’s too much, Kenneth?
Congratulations, Kayt! You must be a mother by now. That’s so fabulous!
James will be NotD on 1/7 and Kenneth on 1/9. I agree with Lola – I think Kenneth could qualify as a modern classic.
Don’t forget there’s the handsome Harvey Dent from the Dark Knight and Batman comics!
Don’t forget the boyfriend in the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” series. He was a great character, but I don’t know that I’d name my son after him (he was a bit of a dunce). Harvey sounds a little TOO casual if you ask me. I don’t think it’s really out there, and definitely doesn’t merit an eye-roll, he’s just not for me.
I quite like Harvey – it’s different, fun, and everyone will know the name – how to spell it and say it, even though it’s not a common one. Always a plus (I’ve saddled my daughter with a name that, in the US anyway, is confusing in both spelling and pronouncing). Maybe it doesn’t seem too ‘out there’ to me because I spent some years in England, but I don’t recall meeting any Harvey’s while I was there. If we have another and it’s a boy, I think I’d have to think about Harvey as a possibility. I think it works as well on a baby as on a grown-up and has a somewhat casual feel – it almost sounds like a nickname, but it’s not. Kind of like Harry, except that with that one you can go for Harris or some such more “formal” sounding name with the nickname… I can’t think of a formal version of Harvey (Harvis certainly doesn’t exist or work!) In addition, I think it passes the play-ground-test – I can’t think of any horrible rhymes or nasty things to call Harvey (another thing it’s good to consider with names). Yay Harvey!