She’s short and strong, but undeniably feminine – even though her name comes from a word meaning “little boy.”
Thanks Mariuccia for suggesting our Name of the Day: Paige.
Once upon a time, a page was a boy preparing to become a knight. While the page was a servant, his background was rarely humble. Instead, most pages were from aristocratic families and expected to use their time in training to advance their interests and those of their families.
The term survives today. Ambitious high school juniors can apply to serve as US Congressional pages, managing phones and relaying messages. While the tasks are simple, the prestige is considerable. And, as anyone who’s tuned into 30 Rock knows, there’s a similar apprenticeship program at NBC.
Page comes from the Greek word paidion, meaning young boy. The Italian is paggio and Old French page or paige. It’s been a surname in Ireland since the 1500s and also appears in Germany and France.
While many surnames inspire parents to choose them as given names, Paige’s path is unclear. She first appeared in the US rankings in 1952. Perhaps Paige felt like an alternative to the Top Ten Patricia. But it is an unusual debut. Similar choices Brooke and Blair were still solidly in the boys’ camp throughout the 1950s.
What seems most likely is that parents borrowed the name from actress Janis Paige. Never a huge star, Paige nonetheless worked steadily throughout the years. Her movie career began in the 1940s. In 1960, she appeared in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies with Doris Day. She worked on television in the 1980s and 90s, including stints on soap operas General Hospital and Santa Barbara.
Another possibility is that Paige honors baseball legend Satchel Paige. His career was ending as the name was heating up – and choosing boys’ names for girls would’ve been quite daring until recent decades – so I’m less confident of the connection.
There’s also Patti Page, the Oklahoma-born singing sensation from the 1950s. She recorded the best known version of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” as well as “All My Love” and “Tennessee Waltz.” The advent of rock’n’roll blunted her career, but she remains among the best-selling artists of all time.
In any case, Paige gained steadily. (Page has never charted in the US Top 1000 for girls, though it was sometimes heard in the nineteenth century for boys.) By 1990, Paige had entered the Top 100.
Then came that television show famous for removing ceiling fans across the country – Trading Spaces. Perky host Paige Davis became the host in 2001. The next year, Paige leapt from #71 to #50. The name peaked at #47 in 2003 – about the height of the show’s popularity, too.
Today, Paige stands at #89. While she’s not new, she continues to satisfy parents looking for a tailored choice that isn’t gender neutral. Her “ay” sound keeps company with Kayla, Hailey and Aidan. More adventurous parents could consider Blythe or Wren, but if mainstream is your preference, Paige remains surprisingly distinctive despite her popularity.