Editor’s note: This post was originally published on May 22, 2008 and was substantially revised and republished on December 3, 2012.
He’s an enduring classic with a long history of use. Today he’s also among the most stylish of choices for newborn boys.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Henry.
Well-known Henrys are plentiful. There’s Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., who went on his first adventure back in 1981, though we usually call him Indiana. The much-married King Henry VIII might be the best known Henry. England’s Prince Harry was baptized Henry Charles Albert David, and while it is not likely he’ll inherit the throne, King Henry IX is a possibility.
Monarchs in France and Germany have answered to the name. Hudson Bay is named after explorer Henry Hudson. And then there’s Henry Ford, credited with the success of the modern automobile. It’s also:
- A saints’ name, thanks to a trio of men.
- The given name of baseball legend Hank Aaron.
- Actors, including Henry Fonda.
- The pirate Henry Every – great name, right? – captained the most successful raid in history, taking down a Mughal ship, after which he apparently retired to a quiet life.
- Poets, like Longfellow, and authors, like Thoreau and James.
- Fictional characters abound. It is the first name of Dr. Jekyll. There’s Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray. And My Fair Lady was a romance betweenElizaDoolittle and Professor Henry Higgins.
- The cast of Thomas the Tank Engine includes a train by the name.
- Folk hero John Henry is another well-known figure.
He’s a Germanic name that translates roughly to “home ruler.” He migrated to England with the Normans. This means he’s not as ancient as Julian, but boasts a long history of use nonetheless. It’s also a surname, and plenty of other surnames, like Hendrix and Harrison are related to Henry, too.
While he’s always been in the 150 most popular boys’ names in the US, today it is fair to call him fashionable. He’s been climbing since the 1990s, re-entering the Top 100 in 2006 and reaching #57 in 2011.
Viggo Mortensen, Heidi Klum, and Julia Roberts are just a few of the Hollywood parents to embrace Henry. His vibe is brainy, and a tiny bit geek-chic, too. But he’s not as out-there as Milo or Edwin. A baby Henry is likely to get mostly positive response now-a-days. It’s a top search on Nameberry, and listed as readers’ favorite Top 100 boys’ name, suggesting that Henry will probably gain when the 2012 rankings are published in the spring.
All of this is Henry’s only drawback. While he’s a great, classic name with a sound that is both upbeat and serious, chances are that you know a little boy named Henry. Along with Max, he’s one of the names that I hear everywhere. And yet, Henry has made my personal shortlist for a second son, despite the fact that we already know a few. Like Elizabeth or William, he’s the kind of enduring appellation that is too good to dismiss just because others love him, too.