Thanks to Zuleika for suggesting Rufinian as our Baby Name of the Day.
You’re forgiven if you imagine that Rufinian is a smoosh of Rufus and Finn, with the -an ending tacked on. Maybe it could be, but it just isn’t.
Instead, this is a rarity with history galore.
Rufinian is a form of Rufinianus. All paths ultimately lead to Rufus, by a process of adding and then subtracting syllables:
- Rufus comes from a Roman cognomen, originally a nickname of sorts, usually given to someone with red hair. There’s a Rufus in the Old Testament. King William II of England is typically known as William Rufus thanks to his red hair.
- Rufinus is another form of Rufus used in ancient Rome. There were early saints known as Rufus and Rufinus.
- Then came Rufinius, a form of the name used later in Roman history.
- And then there’s Rufinianus, an elaboration of an elaboration.
Rufinius and Rufinus are more common in the historic record, but the full -inianus ending is found, too.
There’s a third century senator or two, and a few military officers, dating to around the same time, give or take a century.
A Catholic bishop by the name appeared at the Conference of Carthage in 411.
It’s said that brothers Rufinus and Rufinian were martyred during one of the early persecutions, making this a saint’s name, too.
There are also two sisters from Seville, Justa and Rufina, martyred during the 200s.
It’s a family of names that doesn’t have much history today, but once may have been as familiar as names related to Alexander are today.
Rufinian: In the New World
It doesn’t appear in my go-to for French names, Meilleurs Prenoms. But then, not every name popular in Quebec over the years necessarily does.
Apparently, longer ends in -n, -nd, and -nt were popular in French-speaking Canada. I’ve covered a few other names that seem specific to French settlers in the New World, like Trasimond.
An early bishop of Avignon was named Rufus. Maybe that’s why the Ruf- names are popular with French families?
In the US, there have never been even five boys named Rufinian in a single year, and I couldn’t find even one in the 1940 US Census.
Rufinian: Wearable Rarity
Despite the name’s very limited history of use in the US, Rufinian isn’t such a leap as a given name. After all:
- It falls somewhere between Roman and Sebastian, sound-wise.
- Longer, more elaborate names like Santiago are mainstream in the US today.
- There’s at least one obvious, built-in nickname: Finn! Ian might also work, too, or possibly Rufus – though it’s hard to think of Rufus as being short for anything.
It’s definitely one of the rarer names covered at Appellation Mountain, but I think it’s on the right side of wearable.
What do you think of Rufinian? Is it too out-there to consider for a child’s name?