We know a Hugh. In fact, we know a pair of Hughs, father and son. And the name has much to recommend it. It’s been worn by dozens of counts and kings, including Hugh Capet, the first King of France. There’s a Saint Hugh; there’s a Borg called Hugh on Star Trek: The Next Generation. You’ll see actors Hugh Laurie, Hugh Jackman and Hugh Grant on screens large and small.
But if you want a truly current name, we suggest you drop the final “h” and attach an “o” to arrive at Today’s Name of the Day: Hugo.
In truth, Hugh and Hugo are the same name. Hugo is simply the Latinized version of Hugh, which is Germanic in origin and means “mind, heart, spirit.” It’s also worth noting that Hugh is the preferred Anglicized form of several Gaelic names, each with their own origins to consider.
Call out Hugo on an American playground and odds are no one will answer. It’s never been out of use in the US, but it’s always been fairly obscure. In 2007, it was the 398th most popular name for boys – that’s just over 700 new baby Hugos, about as many as were called Justice or Davis, Ernesto or Finn.
But try that same exercise in Europe, and oh boy golly, will a lot of small heads turn! In 2006, it was the 9th most popular name for baby boys in Spain – that works out to nearly 4,000 Hugos. The name ranked #8 in Belgium and #3 in Sweden.
A host of Hugos have been quietly distinguishing themselves in nearly every field for generations. From Finnish painter Hugo Simberg to current president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez, Hugos pop up all over the globe. Australian actor Hugo Weaving played Elrond, the Elven Lord in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hugo Garay is an Argentine boxer. It’s a name that is impossible to pin to any specific place.
What makes us favor Hugo over Hugh is that fabulous “o” ending, currently seen on many stylish names like Leo, Theo and Diego. It’s fresh and vibrant, and manages to be masculine without being harsh. Hugh, while a storied name with long use, is perhaps a bit brief.
Of course, Hugo owes some of its fashionable edge to German design house Hugo Boss, home of immaculately tailored menswear. There is no Boss Baby line, but who knows? With all those starbabies sporting Burberry, it could happen.
There’s even a Hugo Award, given annually for achievement in science fiction writing. The awards are named in honor of early scifi author Hugo Gernsback. The association lends the name a certain creative, quirky edge.
Should you choose the name Hugo for your baby boy, you’ll be in the company of some famous fictional parents. In her epilogue to the final book in the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling reveals that Ron and Hermione tie the knot and go on to have children, including a son called Hugo Weasley.
It’s a name worth considering if you’re hoping for something simple but unusual, with a long history of use and true international flavor.