Today’s choice traces his origins to myth and legend. But for many parents, he brings to mind not the classics but the boxing ring.

Thanks to Lola for suggesting our Name of the Day: Hector.

Hector’s origins are appealing. From the Greek hektor, it means “holding.” The verb is ekhein, “to hold or possess.” Attributed meanings like “steadfast” or “determined” are reasonable interpretations. He first appears in the Iliad as the son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Hector distinguishes himself in battle, but is killed by the Greek hero, Achilles.

In the early fourteenth century, Hector gained popular renown when Jacques de Longuyon named him one of the Nine Worthies. His collection (Pagan heros Hector, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar; Jewish leaders Joshua, David and Judas Maccabeaus and Christian rulers King Arthur, Charlemagne and Godfrey of Bouillon) was chosen to embody the ideals of chivalry. Jacques’ Nine found themselves the subject of many a tale and song, and so Hector would have been familiar.

A second Hector pops up in another set of legends – King Arthur’s foster father is called Sir Ector or Sir Hector. Add him in with the classical Hector, and it’s no surprise we find his name in occasional use throughout the Middle Ages.

Hector also received a boost as the favored Anglicization of Eachann, an unrelated Scottish name.

But in 20th century English use, Hector has a handicap. Sometime in the late 1600s, Hector the hero became a verb – in an ironic turnabout, to hector is to be the opposite of heroic – to bully.

References to both the hero and his opposite persist in pop culture. A troublesome truck bears the name in Thomas the Tank Engine; but a lesser-known DC Comics’ Justice League member is born Hector Hall. It’s equally appropriate for the villain and the hero.

Today the name is far more vibrant among Spanish speakers. He ranked in the Top 25 in Spain, Top 100 in Chile and in the US ranks #183 – but comes in higher in Arizona, California and Texas, states with large Latino populations.

Perhaps some of this is in homage to Héctor Comacho, a Puerto Rican lightweight boxing champ from the early 90s. While he’s not as storied or well-known as many a prizefighter, Comacho certainly kept the name visible. Actor Héctor Elizondo is another famous bearer of the name.

Like the similar Oscar, this one can be viewed as either a stylish literary moniker or a Hispanic heritage choice. Some parents tend to shy away from names strongly identified with an ethnic background other than their own. Then again, we rather doubt that all those little Aidans trace their families back to the Emerald Isle.

We like Hector’s ancient style, and while his double meaning concerns us, we think it’s certainly worthy of consideration.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. As a Hector myself, I can’t help but be amused by the ‘hispanic’ connection to the name as mentioned by Lola.

    I would submit that here in Scotland, Hector, without being common is fairly well used.

    We have several historic Hectors, one of the famous ones being Hector ‘fighting Mac’ MacDonald in the late 1800s fighting the boer wars.

    Eastern Canada is heavily populated by Scottish descendants, specially Nova Scotia, and most of them came in the famous ship ‘Hector’, in fact, most Nova Scotians are known (or used to be anyway) as ‘Hector’s People’

    I am absolutely happy to be a Hector, as it is a name that grows on you as the years go by.

    Slainte mhahr!

  2. Well done Lola, Hector is smashing isn’t he?! He sounds so refined and regal yet I can imagine a cute little Hector, in fact Hector is the sort of name you see on one of those fabulously lengthy Telegraph brith annoucements, something like: Hector Montgomery Hugo, brother to Xanthe, Benedict, Honor, Agnes & Cassius… Can you see I’m having fun here! 🙂

  3. Has anyone else heard of the Shel Silverstein poem “Hector the Collector?” It’s a cute poem and worth a read. It was also my first encounter with the name. Where I live in south Texas, I have heard the name occasionally on young boys from Spanish-speaking families, and I am finding that I like it very much.

  4. I adore Hector. So strong and classical. Eric Bana as Hector in the recent movie Troy totally sealed the deal for me . . . so handsome and strong and manly.

    This name was a serious contender for me but I backed off because only the most die hard name nerds seem to see the light with this one. My little sister, who has fine baby name taste (she’s hoping for a Gino or a Louisa in 2009) laughed out loud in my face.

    It’s a fabulous name, but I don’t know if the world is ready yet or not . . . *sigh*

  5. I don’t know why but these “Hispanic crossovers” are really appealling to me these days. Might be that I’m loving in the middle of a very large Brasilian community.
    I find Hector dashing, handsome and completely appealing. I like both his Arthurian link and his brutish boxer-like link. But then, I find I go either way with brutish names (Bruno) or ultra refined (Felix). Hector sort of straddles the line for me. I have no worries about his “other meaning”, I mean, how often have *you* used hector, in that sense? I think my Mother did, once. Other than that, I don’t hear it used, period.
    So Hector is a winner for me! Clean, strong and handsome and no ‘n’ ender! Huzzah for Hector! 😀