He brings to mind birds, a comic book sidekick and a bear.
Thanks to Bewildertrix and H. for suggesting Robin as Name of the Day.
Robin started out as a diminutive for Robert, in Norman England. Robert remains a classic today, but at #49, has fallen from his former #1 status.
Scholars disagree if Sherwood Forest’s charitable outlaw, Robin Hood, was real or not. The name appears in the historical record as early as the 1200s, but that’s more about how very common Robert/Robin and Hood were at the time. The adventure tales surface in the early fifteenth century. Some suggest that Robin Hood started out as a generic term for any criminal.
In the US, Robert held the #1 spot in the 1920s and 30s. Robin charted from the 20s right through 1999, peaking at #143 in 1956.
Some parents may have been inspired by fictional character Christopher Robin, a name author A.A. Milne borrowed from his own son for the boy who kept time with the ursine hero of 1926’s Winnie-the-Pooh.
Robin debuted as Batman’s comic book sidekick back in 1940, not long after the series began. He was a staple from the 1960s TV show into recent years – though he was not included in 2008’s The Dark Knight.
In music, Bobby Day scored his only hit with Rockin Robin’ in 1958; in 1972, it returned to the charts as an early Michael Jackson single.
You’ll spot the red-breasted bird in Europe, Australia and North America, though they’re actually different birds that just happen to share red feathers on their tums. The American Robin is a songbird and the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin. They’re plentiful elsewhere, too – we had robins nest in our tiny herb garden last spring here in Maryland.
Other notable Robins include:
- Musical Robins, like Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Procul Harum’s Robin Trower and indie legend Robyn Hitchcock;
- Funnyman Robin Williams;
- New York Times best selling doctor-turned-author Robin Cook;
- Athletic Robins, from the figure skating Robin Cousins to stand-outs in track and field, weightlifting, cricket and baseball.
Robin entered the girls’ Top 1000 back in 1932, and peaked at #25 in the early 60s. If there was a literary or lyrical event that propelled her use for daughters, I can’t find it. Plenty of real Robins followed – from Robin Wright-Penn of Princess Bride fame to soap opera daughter Robin Scorpio on General Hospital. She may have been the most appealing way to name a daughter after a male relative called Robert – though Bobbie and Roberta were also in use.
If Robin had no history, it is easy to imagine parents inventing him in 2009 – think of popular picks like Gavin, Kevin, Justin, Austin, Devin, Colin, Griffin and the equally avian Corbin. He fits right in. With Robert at his least popular since the rankings started – plenty of parents may be seeking a fresh way to get to Rob. And with moms and dads reclaiming Ashley and Kelly for Team Blue, Robin seems just as likely a candidate.
Robin would take some daring to use, but overall? Robin rocks.