Henry proves that names can be both the height of tradition and the definition of stylish at the same time.
Our Baby Name of the Day comes from this list of classic boy names.
Henry: So Very Famous
It’s the given name of fictional action hero-archeologist Indiana Jones.
England’s Prince Harry was baptized Henry, too, with a mouthful of middles. (Charles Albert David, if you’re curious.) British royals have used the name steadily over the years, though last reigning Henry is remembered most for his many wives.
Factor in plenty of other European monarchs, as well as a few saints, and this name appears regularly in the history books.
Other influential Henrys include:
- Explorer Hudson
- Inventor and entrepreneur Ford
- Legendary baseball player Hank Aaron
- Poets, like Longfellow, as well as authors like Thoreau, Miller, and James
- Fictional characters galore, including the first name of Dr. Jekyll and My Fair Lady’s Dr. Higgins.
Keep digging, and you’ll discover a pirate, a member of the Thomas the Tank Engine universe, a folk hero, an animated monster, and dozens upon dozens more.
Henry: Home Ruler
Like many a Germanic name, this one came to England with the Norman invaders. For many years, Harry served as the preferred form in everyday life, even as Latin preserved the name as Henricus. Data suggests that it would have been one of the most popular names in the English-speaking world throughout the Middle Ages.
Surnames from Hendrix to Harrison also come from the many forms of the name as it traveled across Europe.
The Germanic original looked more like Heimrich, derived from the elements heim – home – and ric – ruler. It eventually became Heinrich. Other international forms include the French Henri, Italian Enrico, and Spanish Enrique.
Henry: Classic and Trending
Celebrities from Julia Roberts to Heidi Klum to Emily Deschanel have given the name to their sons over the last dozen years or so. It’s climbed from #126 in 2000 to #22 in 2016. That often signals a trendy name – the next Aiden or Jackson.
Except nothing could be further from the case. Henry has appeared in the US Top 150 consistently since the data was collected way back in the 1880s.
Even if it hasn’t always been favored by parents, it would be tough to call this name anything other than classic.
Today, given the name’s quick rise along with its status as a go-to for many stylish families, it’s that rare name that feels both timeless and very of the moment.
Henry: Former and Future Chart Topper
What sparked the name’s revival?
With so many famous figures, it’s tough to pin down the reason this name reversed course. But reverse course it did. A Top Ten pick in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the name left the Top 100 after the 1960s, and reached an all-time low in the 1970s and early 80s.
Prince Harry gave the name a bump – even in the US – following his 1984 birth. Kenneth Branagh’s Oscar-nominated 1989 adaptation of Henry V seems to have helped, too.
But here’s my best guess: the name had simply hibernated long enough to feel fresh again. If you already knew boys called Andrew and Nicholas, Matthew and Daniel, Henry presented a traditional-but-different alternative.
Nickname Hank feels like a friend for Max and Gus, and a few daring parents have even used Huck as an alternative short form.
Henry: The Only Drawback
This name’s considerable popularity presents the only real drawback. Henry feels smart and cool, a name that works for a small boy or a grown man of accomplishment. You can’t pin it to a specific era, but you’re not surprised to hear it on a boy born today.
If you don’t mind the possibility that your son will have to share his name with others, Henry feels like an unassailable classic with a serious cool factor.
Readers, would you consider this name? Or is it just too popular to make your shortlist?
Note: First published on May 22, 2008 and this post was revised and republished on December 3, 2012 and again on September 20, 2017.