He’s a timeless classic and an impeccable Irish heritage choice.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting Patrick as our Baby Name of the Day.
There are two possible origins for Patrick:
- The Latin Patricius, from patrician – a nobleman.
- Patroclus appears in The Iliad, but he’s generally considered unrelated to Patrick.
But it doesn’t matter, because Patrick means Irishman.
St. Patrick was born wearing another name sometime in the fifth century. He was a Romano-Briton, shanghai’d by Irish raiders. He spent six years in captivity, then made his way back home. He became a bishop, and then a missionary who returned to Ireland and is generally credited with evangelizing all of Ireland. In his spare time, legend has it that he drove the snakes from the island. (Never mind that there’s no evidence that snakes ever lived there.) Popular lore also tells us that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity.
He’s been considered the nation’s patron saint for centuries. The Irish long felt his name too holy to bestow on a son, but that changed by the 1700s.
Most European languages have a version, from the Italian Patrizio to the Welsh Padrig. The most common Irish spelling also takes a d – Pádraig – hence the short form Paddy.
Pat is the obvious nickname, but the androgynous option is solidly out of favor today. Saturday Night Live featured the “It’s Pat!” sketches in the late 80s and early 90s. Feminine form Patricia was a Top Ten choice for girls from the 1930s into the 1960s, reinforcing the likelihood that Pat could be a she.
Today, Patricia is headed for obscurity. Patrick has had two good runs in the US Top 100, from 1880 to 1904, and again from 1937 through 2003. Today he stands at #143.
The best hope for Patrick’s revival is the possibility of using him without a nickname. If Pat is dated, Patrick feels fresh. Figures using the full name include:
- Actor Patrick Dempsey, best known for his work on Gray’s Anatomy.
- Jean-Luc Picard capably captained the rebooted Star Trek, played by talented actor Patrick Stewart.
- The late, great Patrick Swayze.
- The NBA gives us Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.
- Bret Easton Ellis used the name for his American Psycho leading man. Then again, Dexter seems to have been boosted by a fictional serial killer …
- Founding father Patrick Henry was an attorney and planter, a noted public speaker, and Governor of Virginia. He’s known for his “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!’ speech.
There are too many Patricks to list over the years. Then there’s the impact of St. Patrick’s Day. The March 17 holiday is an excuse for green beer excess in the US, but it is more of a religious observation elsewhere.
Overall, Patrick deserves to be considered as classic as William or David. He’s a great name, and in our era of two-syllable choices for boys, there’s no reason to worry that he’ll be automatically shortened. If Aidan and Connor are smash hits, why not Patrick?