We all know the story of Cain and <a title=”Abel” href=”http://appellationmountain.net/2008/08/23/name-of-the-day-abel/” target=”_blank”>Abel</a>. But do you recall the name of their little brother?
In honor of my younger brother’s birthday – and neglected younger siblings everywhere! – today’s Name of the Day is <strong>Seth</strong>.
If we’re talking about the Biblical Seth, the name derives from the Hebrew <em>shith</em>, to put or set. As a name, it means placed or appointed. Even after their son Cain off’d his brother Abel, Adam and Eve weren’t soured on parenthood, and went on to have more children. Seth is the only one we know by name. More importantly, the Bible tells us that Seth went on to have children of his own – and his descendants include Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David and Jesus himself.
A second Seth – also written as Sutekh, Set and Sethos – was part of the Egyptian pantheon. This second Seth was bad news. His domain was chaos and destruction, and he ended up banished to the desert.
Your baby boy will probably have days when he’s more pint-sized tornado than future patriarch, so that’s not <em>necessarily </em>a deal-breaker.
Like many a Biblical appellation, we first find Seth in use post-Protestant Reformation. While he wasn’t terribly popular until the 20th century, a few do appear in the historical record. Most notably, Seth Warner was one of the revolutionary Green Mountain Boys, along with his cousin <a title=”Ethan” href=”http://appellationmountain.net/2008/10/17/name-of-the-day-ethan/” target=”_blank”>Ethan</a> Allen. He lends Seth a bit of colonial style.
Today, we find a handful of Seths in entertainment and pop culture, including:
<li>Seth Rogen, likable comedian and actor. His new movie, <em>Zack and Miri</em>, just opened;</li>
<li>Actor Seth Green, best known for playing Dr. Evil’s son in the <em>Austin Powers</em> franchise, a werewolf on <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em> and co-creating innovative sketch comedy series <em>Robot Chicken</em>; </li>
<li>Fictional Seth Cohen was played by Adam Brody on FOX’s teen drama <em>The OC</em>;</li>
<li>In the<em> Twilight</em> series, Seth Clearwater is a werewolf.</li>
In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, her main character was a female Sethe – with a two-syllable pronunciation. But we’ve never heard the feminine version on a girl in real life.
Seth peaked at #63 in 2000, so doubtless there are many more small Seths waiting to make their mark on the world. Today the name comes in at #117. Other single-syllable names like Blake and Cole are more popular, but Seth comes in ahead of Max, Gage and Troy.
Overall, we find Seth an appealing choice provided he works well with your surname. While that’s always a consideration, Seth’s sound seems a bit more difficult to work with than many other choices. With single syllable monikers for boys increasingly popular, Seth could be one to watch.