If you think the Puritans dug up all the best options from the Good Book, rest assured that there are plenty left to discover.
Thanks to Emmy Jo for suggesting a particularly promising one. The Name of the Day is Jair.
Jair appears in the Old Testament. The related Jairus pops up in the New Testament. Jairo is a Spanish variant of both. Maybe you haven’t heard them, but in Central and South America, they’re reasonably familiar. In fact, Jair and Jairo have both charted in the US Top 1000 for the past few years. In 2007, the ranked #778 and #579.
Most Spanish speakers probably read Jair as HY uhr. But the more likely pronunciation in English is JAY uhr – sort of like the initials J.R. Jairo, on the other hand, is almost also said HY ro, while Jairus is read JAY russ.
Despite potential pronunciation troubles, Jair has quite a bit of history and appeal.
Jair comes from the Hebrew Ya’ir and means “shining one” or “enlightened one.” The Old Testament figure was a judge from Gilead. Another Jair was a descendant of the patriarch Manassah. And Havoth-Jair – the settlements of Jair – is a collection of villages on the east banks of the Jordan.
Skip ahead to the New Testament, and Jairus seeks out Jesus to cure his sick daughter. By the time they reach the girl, she has died from her illness. But, thanks to her father’s faith, Jesus is able to bring her back to life.
While the name has been uncommon in the English-speaking world, there’s a long list of noteworthy Jairs from elsewhere:
- Brazilian footballer Jair da Rosa Pinto was among the most famous athletes in his country in the 1940s and 50s;
- Brazilian musician Jair Rodrigues also has a son called Jair. The son performed on a popular Brazilian children’s television show before moving to the US to pursue a musical career;
- Jair Benitez is a Colombian footballer;
- Jair Rosa is an Uruguyan footballer;
- Jair Baylón plays – you guessed it! – football in Peru;
- But Curaçao-born Jair Francoise Jurrjens plays baseball. He’s currently the starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves;
- Jair Lynch competed for the US men’s gymnastics team in the 1996 Summer Olympics. His mother is from Colombia.
Then there’s Jair-Rôhm Parker Wells, a bassist and experimental musician. His biography skims over his early years. I can’t help but think that his name is a creative respelling of Jerome – whether by his parents or by the artist himself, I can’t say.
Terry Brooks’ Shannara series includes a character called Jair Ohmsford. Brooks has been writing the series since 1977, so safe to say that many a sci fi and fantasy fan will recognize the name.
On balance, Jair is similar to names like Blaise or maybe Cillian. He seems trendy, even invented. But it isn’t so – Jair’s got history to spare. If you don’t mind explaining the pronunciation, this could be a great pick – fresh, but not new.