Editor’s note: This post was originally published on October 27, 2008. It was substantially revised and reposted on October 29, 2012.
He was one of the most popular names of the 1970s. With Halloween just days away, you’ll also find him lurking behind a hockey mask in horror flicks.
Today’s Baby Name of the Day is Jason.
Well before Jason Voorhees terrorized teenagers, Jason was a popular choice. The first of eleven movies hit the big screen in 1980 – nine years after Jason cracked the US Top Ten. Despite his slasher flick associations, plenty of other associations keep this one wearable.
Jason first appears way back in Greek mythology as Iason, most likely from iasthai, to heal. The original bearer of the name was heroic, finder of the Golden Fleece and leader of the Argonauts. Yes, he jilted Medea. But the thumbnail sketch of Jason is mostly appealing. Stories tell us that post-Fleece, he sailed up the Danube, slayed a dragon and founded the city of Ljubljana, the capital of modern-day Slovenia.
Another notable Jason turns up in the New Testament. Jason may have been a Greek Christian variant of the Hebrew Yehoshua, more commonly translated as Joshua. Add in a fourth-century king of Thessaly and a few other ancient figures, and his roots are deep, indeed.
He was among the New Testament appellations embraced during the Protestant Reformation, and has ranked in the US Top 1000 every year since 1880. His climb started mid-century:
- He entered the Top 500 in 1948.
- Jason ranked #89 in 1966.
- When The Waltons debuted in 1971, Jason jumped into the Top Ten, staying there through 1983.
- He’s been falling ever since, but still stands at a comfortably common #71 in 2011.
There are many likable bearers of the name:
- Actor Jason Alexander, best known as George on Seinfeld
- Actors Jason Bateman and Jason Biggs
- Action film hero Jason Statham
- Singer Jason Mraz and country crooner Jason Aldean
- The fictional Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon
Odds are you know a few Jasons, too. Today he’s more likely to be the dad than the baby on the birth announcement. You’ll hear Jason in the UK and sparingly elsewhere in Europe, but he never reached the same heights outside of the US.
Jason once sounded trendy, but today he feels like a modern classic. He’s both the forerunner of Jayden, Jaylon and Jaxon, and a more restrained alternative to the 21st century’s creative two-syllable J names.
Respellings include Jayson, currently at #351. Short forms Jace and Jase fit in with Chase, Case, and Trace. At #106 and climbing, Jace could soon eclipse the original.
Jason splits the difference between of-the-moment names like Kaden and the evergreen possibilities like William. It makes him a good compromise name, one that fits the “familiar, but won’t be shared with every kid in the class” criteria. As former Top Ten hits go, this one is aging nicely.