You might be wild about Harry, but we’re mad about Marco. Today’s Name of the Day goes out with an early Happy Birthday to M.M.

Visit the ApMtn headquarters around eight o’clock most nights, and you’ll hear the sounds of Seuss. We’re working our way through Theodor Geisel’s fanciful canon. Two of our favorites? Early efforts McElligott’s Pool and To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. Both tales feature a young boy called Marco. The first imagines that a shallow lake might connect to the ocean, allowing him to catch the most delightful – and outsized – aquatic life imaginable. And the second transforms a plain horse and cart into a full-on parade on his walk home from school.

While Mark was a Top Ten pick in the US from 1955 to 1970, and remained in the Top 100 until 2002, Marco is less often heard. Of course, toss in Marcus, Marc and a host of other variants, and this moniker emerges as a truly universal name, found in nearly every culture and time. As of 2007, Marco ranked a respectable #209 – popular, but not nearly as chart-topping as Joshua or Aiden.

His origins are Latin, most likely as a given name in honor of the Roman God Mars. Mars was, of course, the god of war, and probably borrowed his moniker from a similarly-named Etruscan deity, Maris, who was much less bloodthirsty. Marcus would’ve been the original Latin appellation, as worn by Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, among others.

Saint Mark wrote a book of the New Testament and plenty of other saints have been baptized Mark. Giving the moniker a literary twist, Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clemens, though in his case, “mark” was a noun meaning that the water level was safe for a riverboat to pass. The list of notable Marks and Marcs is way too long to consider here. And despite the notable bearers, we find Mark a trifle abrupt and even, dare we say it? Ordinary.

But Marco, the Italian and Spanish variant, is downright endearing. Like Hugo, Giacomo and Cosmo, it shares that great final “o,” but seems like a slightly more accessible name for a boy.

The explorer Marco Polo lends the name a certain intrepid and adventurous air. After all, Polo was among the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China. Of course, he’s also lent his name to a game of aquatic tag that either conjures up fond memories of summertime swimming pool antics, or leaves you with an aftertaste of chlorine.

For families hoping to choose an Italian or Spanish inspired appellation that easily converts to a plain vanilla moniker, Marco is one of a small set – along with Matteo – that transition flawlessly from Meditteranean flair to buttoned-down middle America. It’s a great compromise name for families torn between the enduring classics and the slightly more style-forward.

While Marco is not the most daring Name of the Day we’ve covered, that’s his strength – he’s just interesting enough for nearly any child to wear, be he a sketch in a children’s story book, or your brand new baby boy.

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. I have two sons named Nico and Marco. I chose Marco for my second son because it sounded hispanic/Italian and it wasn’t as common as Mark or Mario. I love the name, think it has a universal appeal and seems to go well in most cultures. There is a very famous singer in Mexico named Marco Antonio Solis and the Puerto Rican/American salsa singer, Marc Anthony, was born Marco Antonio Muñiz. My son Marco is in the 2nd grade and so far no one has ever called him “Marco Polo” and he’s never been in a classroom with another Marco either. No one has ever tried to shorten it to Marc or Marky either but I wouldn’t mind if they did. I know in Italy it is very popular but other that that don’t think it’s super popular in other countries.

  2. Marco’s a winner for me! He’s another awesome -o ender (as you’ve mentioned). And I love -o enders. One and all. Wrong type of name for me, with his overtly Italian & Spanish roots, he clashes a bit with my surname, but thanks to a childhood friend, I have a fondness for Marco. He’s sweet yet manly and nobody’s patsy. All in all Marco’s great. Easily accessable for many. I would love to know a passel of Marcos! 😀