Name of the Day: Regan

We’re just days away from Halloween, and so this week’s names are drawn from everybody’s favorite monster movies.

Today’s moniker is inspired by one of the scariest horror films we’ve ever watched with our hands over our eyes. From 1973’s The Exorcist, our Name of the Day is Regan.

Fictional Regan MacNeil seems an unlikely inspiration for a daughter’s name. After all, the poor dear is possessed by a demon and spends much of her screen time spewing profanity and split pea soup. But the tormented character did indeed spark the name’s popularity. Up until the movie’s December 1973 release, Regan was virtually unknown. Afterwards? Regan entered the girls’ US Top 1000 the following year. She debuted at #752 in 1974 and remained in the rankings until 1981.

Just like movie, this name returned for a sequel, re-entering the Top 1000 in 1991. As of last year, Regan remained uncommon, but not unheard, at #547.

If that seems unusual, consider this: in 1973, Regan didn’t fit the trends for most girls’ names. By 1991, surnames and gender neutral choices were very much in vogue. Regan sounds just right with current picks like Taylor and Madison.

Most agree that the name should be pronounced REE gan. We’ve also heard RAY gen, just like the fortieth president of the United States. And others favor REH gen. Regional accents are a factor, but we also suspect that many simply rhyme Regan with the far more common Megan.

As it happens, Regan was bad news centuries before The Exorcist. She was one of the disloyal daughters in Shakespeare’s King Lear.

The Bard borrowed the tale from earlier British myth, and so the three girls came pre-named: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Because King Lear had no sons, he planned to divide his lands among his daughters. Regan and Goneril got their hands on their treasure, then turned on dear old dad. Cordelia was disowned, but stayed loyal anyhow. The play has been adapted for the screen more than a dozen times, and a star-studded version is in the works for 2009.

Between a tortured tween and opportunistic offspring, it would be nice if we could come up with an uplifting meaning for the name. But no such luck. It’s almost impossible to pin down a meaning for the moniker. One possibility is to view it as a variant of Reagan, which is Irish in origin, from Ó Ríagáin. Riagán’s meaning is tough to confirm, too, but it might mean “impulsive.” Still, given Regan’s British roots, it seems a bit forced to connect her to the Irish name.

Speaking of Reagan, she’s currently the most popular spelling. As of 2007, she ranked #156. Variant Raegan came in at #397.

If you love gender neutral names, Regan isn’t a bad choice. She’s seldom-used and Shakespearean. But we can’t help note that her literary character was not noble, and she’ll still make many think of things that go bump in the night – probably not what you imagine for your darling daughter.

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15 Comments

I’m a Regan, pronounced Ree-gan and I love my name. I love that it’s unisex and unique although it’s tough because it’s almost always mispronounced. I’m looking for a name for my little girl now and trying to find something unique and unisex but easier to pronounce. Most people don’t mention King Lear and those that do feel they’re let in on a little secret and can share their literary prowess. And hardly anyone mentions the Exorcist. I was called President Reagan as a kid all the time but it never really bothered me.

Funny enough, the only place where nobody mispronounced my name is Spain. It was wonderful living there!

I named my daughter Reagan a year ago and get compliments on it ALL the time! Many women tell me they have put it on their list for their next child (what a compliment!) Her toddler friends/cousins call her “Reagie” (Re-gie); we call her our little “Reag-a-monster” and “Reag-a-muffin”.

We went with ReAgan (to seperate her from the Regan in The Exorcist.) No one has ever mentioned the Exorcist and when we bring it up, they always act surprised because they’ve forgotten that bit of information.
Elderly men ask us if we’re Ronald supporters once in a while, but other than that, no one mentions the previous president.

Overall, I feel it’s a name for a silly, spunky little girl who will someday accomplish great things with great confidence… and I couldn’t want more for my daughter. Her name fits her perfectly!

My name is Regan. It is sounded out RAYgen. I love the name no matter what you say. It makes me feel special because I only know one other Regan, a little four year old. I am elevven years’ old, almsot twelve. I kind of have nicknames, not really though. One of them is Reggie. You say it RAHgie, and its fun. I am the best pitcher for my junior softball team. When i am about to pitch i always hear people shout, “Come on Reiggie,” Or, “Come on Regs!”. Regs is sounded like RAYgs. If you think about having a baby name Regan, do it! It’s uniqu and you’ll be glad you did it. I am very athletic and get godd grades. If you don’t think it comes from the name then oh well. One of my best friends’ name is Megan. It’s super fun, because we kind of look alike and the teacher is very old. She always calls me Megan and her Regan. If this has helped at all Then my job is done, if not I am very sorry to have waisted your time. OK IM NOT, TO ALL OF YOU REGAN HATER, GET A LIFE, OR A BETTER ONE!

I really don’t like Regan, To me it sounds masculine, “surname-ish” and trendy. Although it has a literary background it just doesn’t appeal. LOVE Cordelia however 🙂

Don’t like it. I’ve mostly heard the RAY-gen pronunciation on little girls, andthat is way too close to Ronnie. No, thanks. The only REE-gen I’ve met was an infant last year, and her last name (to my horror) is Resig. REE-gen RES-ig. Yes.

I do like REE-gen more than RAY-gen to be sure, but would never name my child either one. Nor would I name my daugher Kennedy (and I wouldn’t name my son Clinton or Lincoln or Jefferson). For me, any President is out.

I don’t like Regan, but I assumed it’s a variant of Reagan, and I assume Reagan is masculine. It makes me feel better about girls I’ve met named Regan, but I still don’t care for it.

I know one Regan – a guy in his late twenties or early thirties. I guess that supports the idea that Regan feels like a unisex name!

Regan grates. Mainly because my first thought is “Lear” and not “The Exorcist”. I was 6 when it first came out and while my parents may have been nominal hippies, dragging me to Woodstock at 2, they were not about to let 6 year old me view that! It might have scarred me for life, rather than laughing at the pea soup at 12 when I first saw it on tv. Sorry, Regan’s only scary because she’s nasty. Reagan’s not much better, to me. He was probably my least favorite President of my lifetime (and I can only remember back to Nixon) .

Thankfully my other half’s not much into gender neutral names either, so while we’re Horror buffs, Regan’s not ever going to shopw up on a list of ours.

Cordelia might, though, even if I prefer Cornelia for “Willie Wonka”. (She’s mentioned in a “Hi” from Violet during her interview)

Alright, upon stewing for a few minutes, I now think Regan could be worse. (Morgan anyone?) I still heatrily dislike Reagan. I’ll always wonder if the parents of Regan bothered reading “King Lear” but I think I’d rather feel the literary link (awful as I think it is) to Madison, Morgan or Corbin (yeah, I met one of those at Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon, poor girl).

I like Regan… not for me, but I do see its appeal. It’s a good compromise name for couples. When the husband likes Madison and Riley and the wife likes Miranda and Katherine, a little Regan might be just the thing to satisfy them both. She’s got unmistakably feminine roots, but she’s nearly identical to the unisex Reagan. And although the Shakespearean Regan may not be the best role model for a daughter, she certainly gives the name an educated feel.