You probably shouldn’t name your son Frodo, but here’s a Tolkien-inspired name that’s more chic than geek.
Thanks to Charlotte Vera for suggesting Rohan as Name of the Day.
Long before Lord of the Rings, there was a section of northwestern France known as Rohan. (It’s a canton in Brittany today.)
Back in the eleventh century, native son Alain de Rohan became the Viscount de Rohan. (The family traces their roots back to a semi-legendary fourth century ruler of the region.) Over the centuries, the family held the titles Duke and even Prince.
Beyond the titles, members of the Rohan family distinguished themselves in military and religious roles. And while Alain’s direct line has died out, their palaces remain – in Vienna, Bordeaux and elsewhere.
Finding the origins of Rohan itself is far more complicated. Some suggest that it is related to a Gaelic word for red, or possibly shares origins with the rowan tree. (And the tree? The tree’s name might link back to the word for red, too. Or not.) None of the explanations seem perfectly reliable, so let’s just call this one a place name and a family name.
Unless, of course, you’re thinking of the Sanskrit rohana – ascending. In the 1960s, Indian cricket sensation Rohan Kandhai wore the name and led his team to a World Cup victory. You’ll find plenty of Rohans of Indian descent today.
But Rohan almost certainly owes his success in recent years to JRR Tolkein. (Though there’s ample evidence that the author borrowed the name for his fictional place from the noble family.) Rohan first charted in the US in 1995, some years before the 2001, 2002 and 2003 releases of Peter Jackson’s blockbuster adaptation of the trilogy.
Rohan climbed with the films’ success, and in 2004 the name peaked at #480.
About 4,000 boys have been given the name since 2000, so he isn’t a true rarity. But compared to more than a quarter of a million Jacobs, Rohan is fairly uncommon.
Today he stands at #528 – fading slightly, but still in use.
Similar names dot the US Boys’ Top 1000, including:
- Roman (#205)
- Rowan (#340)
- Ronan (#506)
- Ronin (#804)
The -ro sound also appears in the extravagant Romeo and Rolando, as well as trendy Brody and Brogan and the saintly-but-dated Jerome.
Rohan is heard throughout the English-speaking world with pronunciations ranging from RO han to ro HAHN to RO an. It’s one of the name’s downsides.
But overall, Rohan makes for a pleasing choice especially for parents seeking a globe-spanning name. With cultural associations from Ireland to India, Rohan boastst true international flair. Factor in that Bob Marley bestowed the name on his son (now all grown up and married to musician Lauryn Hill) and his cool factor is considerable.
Just don’t name your daughter Arwen, too.