It’s a hero name, and it fits the emerging trend of one-syllable choices for boys perfectly. And yet, we have our hesitations.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting our Name of the Day: Lance.
Lance didn’t start out as a spear. Instead, he developed from the Germanic Lanzo, meaning land. By the 1300s, the Latin lancea – spear – entered common usage and the two words have been linked ever since.
We find Lanzo well represented in the Middle Ages, along with possibly related names like Lando and Landobert. Plenty of surnames appear to trace back to the root, too, including the Italian Lanzo and the English Lancey.
There’s also Lancelot. He was King Arthur’s most trusted knight until he ran off with Guinevere. It’s a fanciful name for a boy, and one that very few parents have dared bestow on their sons. The only bearer that springs to mind is 18th century landscape designer Lancelot Brown – and he’s best known by his nickname, Capability.
Today, it’s tough to divorce the name Lance from the weapon. Spears are among the oldest tools known to man, so it’s impossible to link it to a specific culture or historical era. Still, Lance has legitimate history as a given name, so this isn’t quite as violent as calling your boy Pike or Uzi.
If anything, Lance might be a shade closer to names like Deacon and Duke. Lance Corporal is a common military rank. A relative newcomer to DC Comics’ Justice Society is known as Lance. The character – David Reid – earned his alter ego because of his military achievements in Iraq.
We first find men named Lance in the US in the early 20th century. In fact, he dipped a toe in the Top 1000 in 1900, 1901 and 1902. But he gained steamed in the 1940s, the same era that incubated names like Scott, Brad and Chad. His peak of popularity came in 1970, when he reached #76.
Today you don’t have to look far to find a famous Lance, including:
- Record-breaking cyclist Lance Armstrong, who made all of America pay attention to the Tour de France as he won the race seven times after beating cancer;
- Baseball’s Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros;
- The New Orleans Saints’ Lance Moore;
- ‘N Sync alum and recent Dancing with the Stars contestant Lance Bass.
To our ear, Lance sounds both hyper-masculine and surprisingly lightweight. It’s an unusual combination, but one that might be his fatal flaw. After all, one-syllable names for boys are big, and Lance should fit with Top 200 choices like Luke, Cole, Gage, Jace, Zane and Jude. Perhaps it is his vowel sound. Is the softer a out of fashion?
Lance ranked #376 last year. After Armstrong’s first Tour de France win, the name briefly gained in popularity, but has been sliding for the past five years. We think that trend is likely to continue. He’s just not tough enough to satisfy parents leaning towards rough’n’tumble choices like Cade, Cruz and Mack, nor is he a throwback like Max, Gus and Jack.
We won’t go so far as to say “don’t go there” regarding Lance, but he’s far from fashionable. If anything, his medieval predecessor Lanzo sounds intriguing circa 2008.