Horatio: Baby Name of the DayHoratio appears in history, literature, and on the modern small screen. And yet this name trends towards obscurity.

Thanks to Paul for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Horatio: Horace’s Sprightly Cousin

Back in the first century BC, Quintus Horatius Flaccus penned some of the greatest works of the Ancient World. We know the poet as Horace. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll know his words. Carpe diem, anybody?

The name comes from hora, the Latin word for hour or time, making that business about carpe even more appropriate.

Along with Homer and Virgil, Victorian parents with an affection for the classics embraced Horace. The name ranked in the US Top 100 most years through 1902, and remained in the Top 250 into the 1940s.

Horatio, on the other hand, has never really caught on.

Horatio: Post-Poet

And yet the name remained in use over the centuries.

Shakespeare used it for one of Prince Hamlet’s hangers-on.

Lord Nelson answered to the name. Yes, that Lord Nelson, the one who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar. A famous statue to the admiral stands in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The war hero took his unusual name from his godfather, the 2nd Baron Walpole. His mother came from the powerful English political family. Most of the men in the family seem to be called conventional names like Edward and Robert, but there are at least five Horatios, along with a Horace.

Horatio: Hornblower

CS Forester wrote the Horatio Hornblower novels between the 1930s and 60s. His fictional hero’s name nods to both the Hamlet character and the real-life admiral.

Gregory Peck starred as Hornblower in a 1951 movie. From 1998 through 2003, Ioan Gruffudd took on the role for an ITV and A&E production.

Horatio: Alger

Then there’s nineteenth century writer Horatio Alger, Jr. Known for a specific type of American tale.

Alger’s stories followed a formula: boy from humble means works hard, does the right thing, is richly rewarded. The up-by-your-bootstraps narrative became so popular that we often call rags-to-riches stories “Horatio Alger stories.” It lends the name an almost virtue vibe.

Horatio: CSI

Just as Hornblower was ending its run on A&E, another small screen character gave it life.

David Caruso played a character by the name on CSI: Miami. The show debuted in 2002, and ran for a decade.

The combination of the literary figure and the small screen hero combined to briefly boost the name. By 2007, there were 40 newborn boys called Horatio.

Horatio: Ready for Revival?

We’re wild about o-ending names for boys lately. Leo, Mateo, and Theodore rank in the US Top 100. Choices like Arlo, Milo, and just-Theo feel like the most fashionable of choices for boys.

If Santiago can trend, why not Horatio?

A clever user list at Nameberry titled “My Braver Alter-Ego Would Totally Use These” included the name, along with Crispin, Thora, and Sylvanus. I think that’s exactly the right note. Parents may love the sound of this name, but it’s trending towards obscurity. A mere nine boys were named this in 2015. That’s fewer than Savior, Carrick, Ruston, or Flavio. In other words: seriously rare.

One challenge: despite the -o ending, this form of the name isn’t known in Italian or Spanish. It’s Orazio and Horacio, neither of which fared much better in recent years.

Still, bold namers after a stands-out, fits-in choice would be well advised to consider the historic, literary, and bold Horatio.

What do you think of this name? Does it have a chance of catching on?

First published on October 6, 2009, this post has been revised substantially and republished on April 26, 2017.

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. One of the few “ends in O” names I like. My son is big on maths and when I mentioned it he said “Wow, it has ratio in it … I’ll take it!” Hope he remembers when his time comes!!

  2. I think of Horatio Sanz first [who was born Horacio in Chile], then of Horatio Caine on CSI: Miami; those are the only associations I have with the name. I like it both as the English pronunciation of Horatio, and the Spanish Horacio.

  3. This is currently one of my favorite boy names. It was the Hornblower series that really made me love the name because I admired the character so much. Plus it rolls off the tongue in a beautifully Latin way. I’m a bit surprised it’s so far down the list on popularity. I would’ve thought there would be a few more avant-garde parents out there giving it to their sons. Personally, I’d happily give it as either a first or middle name, but would probably favor putting it in the middle.

  4. @ Lynsey, nice, wonderful, I am glad, you won the battle with your husband.
    Best wishes


  5. I have called my little boy Horatio, after a long battle with my husband, everyone loves it and there are no other children with that name so when I call him at pre school he is the only one who comes running unlike other parents. He is called Harry by Grand parents and grate grandparents as it is easyer and his sister (age 13) calls him the BIG H,