Our Baby Name of the Day comes from this list of classic boy names.
Fictional action hero-archeologist Indiana Jones started out life as Henry Walton 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 the 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.
Writer O. Henry makes it literary; Patrick Henry makes it revolutionary.
Other influential Henrys include:
- Explorer Hudson
- 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.
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. It ranked among 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.
CLASSIC AND TRENDING
Celebrities from Julia Roberts to Heidi Klum to Emily Deschanel chose the name for their sons over the last dozen years or so. It’s climbed from #126 in 2000 to #22 in 2016 and #16 in 2018.
That’s the kind of climb we sometimes associates with trendy names – think Mason or Jayden.
Except nothing could be further from the case. Henry has appeared in the US Top 150 consistently since the data was first collected way back in the 1880s.
Even if it hasn’t always been favored by parents, it would be tough to call the baby name Henry 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.
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 it seems like the baby name Henry had simply hibernated long enough to feel fresh again. With so many 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.
EVERYBODY LOVES HENRY
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. It feels timeless, as expected in a history book as it is on the playground.
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 the baby name Henry? Or is it just too popular to make your shortlist?
First published on May 22, 2008, this post was revised and republished on December 3, 2012, again on September 20, 2017, and again on June 19, 2020.