Theological theme names in

So, thanks to Miriam I was enjoying the theme lists on and then I noticed the Theological names list had as a disclaimer: "These names are used to refer to (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) deities. They are not bestowed upon real people."

That of course made me curious, and I thought I'd do a little search to see if that was really true. I discovered:

In the most recent year, 12 female and 47 male babies named Adonai. 29 babies named Christ (all male), and 5 babies named Yahweh.  Additionally, in the last decade Allah is used 11 times (all male) and Jehovah 5 times (all male), both with a longer history of use as well. 

This is either going to make you feel better about the fact that Cohen shows up in the Canadian but not American theme list, or maybe not.  Is this equally surprising to all of you, or is there something else I should know about these names being used on actual babies?

On the plus side, there are no baby Satans listed in the SSA data (which doesn't actually mean it isn't being used, just less than 5 per sex per year). 



January 23, 2015 11:25 AM

There was a substantial Greek community in my home town, and several members of it were named Christ, pronounced Chris + t.  Whether that was the full name or short for something I do not know.

January 23, 2015 12:05 PM

I knew a guy in college who was from Cyprus. His name was Christos, but he occasionally went by Christ, pronounced the way Miriam describes.

By mk
January 23, 2015 3:45 PM

Different spelling, but there's also Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. He's Croatian, but I have no idea if that is a common name there.

January 27, 2015 2:29 AM

Ah, YES. The K-spelling seems like a totally different name to me, but you guys are completely right. I would bet variants of Christos with a pronunciation that rhymes with "grist". That makes much more sense!

ETA: there's actually a realtor named Crist who shows up every week in my paper, but I totally didn't put the two together either. What a difference an h can make in my perception of a name!

January 23, 2015 3:20 PM

I'm not Christian, so I'm probably missing the subtlety here, but what is the difference between naming a child Christ and naming him Jesus/Jesús? Is it a title vs. name thing?

The most surprising to me is Allah--I would think there might be some danger in some corners of the world in using this name, but maybe it's a natural outgrowth of the very common practice of using Muhammad et al?

It would be interesting to match up family religion to baby name (not possible, I know, but interesting). I remember when the Messiah controversy was hot a lot of folks assuming the mother was a-religious, but my assumption was always that she came from a messianic faith. I would imagine that babies named Christ or Allah came from Christian and Islamic families, respectively. On the other hand, I'd assume baby Adonais, Yahwehs, and Jehovahs did NOT come from Jewish families, but quite possibly Christian...maybe Christian fundamentalist? I wouldn't expect any of them to come from atheist families, and unlikely to be from families with non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths.

Also, there may not be Satans, but there are Lucifers--8 males in 2013. Maybe Satan just doesn't have a trendy-enough sound? Too close to Satin? Or maybe it's because the derivation of Lucifer is so much prettier...

By mk
January 23, 2015 3:49 PM

Perhaps because there are already names that begin with Christ-? Just a guess though.

January 24, 2015 2:18 PM

I think that naming after religious figures (Emmanuel, Jesus, Trinity) is very different in different cultural contexts. I would be very unsurprised to find a Jesus pronounced hay-SOOS but I would be very surprised to find a GEE-zus. 

Allah is indeed the most surprising to me - naming after a prophet and naming after a deity strikes me as very different, but perhaps it isn't. Im not religious and grew up in a very nonreligious context as well, which is why I was asking for explanations - I'm genuinely curious about these names and how they're motivated and perceived.

ANd, I agree with you that the religious distribution of those births would be very interesting. 

I think Lucifer is an instance where the name's incredibly fashionable sound (Lucy as a nickname! Ends like mega-hit of yore Jennifer!) is overcoming a world of negative associations. Satin (and Satine and Satina) do show up in the SSA stats periodically, albeit at low rates.

January 26, 2015 1:10 PM

I agree that Lucifer has a more fashionable sound than Satan, but I would have thought Lucy and Jennifer would cut against usage for boys--I've often seen advice against names like Elliott due to the similarity/possibility of Ellie. That's actually why I thought Satin might be a negative for Satan: too feminine. I wonder if it's part of the general up-swing of Luc- names (Lucas of course, but also Luca, Lucian, etc.)? Or is there a point at which a female association is subliminal enough that it's not a negative for boys' names, but actually a positive?

January 27, 2015 2:28 AM

You are so right! I somehow thought that the Lucifers out there were female, but no, they are all male! All of them! So my theory about it being used as a Lucy/Jennifer mashup name is totally and completely off-base. 

I think that the Luc of Luca/s and Lucian is pronounced differently enough from the Luc of Lucy (and Lucifer) that I'm guessing that it just registers as different entirely in an auditory perspective for most namers. The girl names all are LOOS -(even though Lucia can be LOOSH-ah, just like Lucian is LOOSH-an, I never hear that pronunciation, and only rarely the Loo-CHEE-ah). (OK, I guess there's Lucretia, too, but how often do you hear that one?)

Now that I am realizing that Lucifer is the only LOOS- name given to boys, I'm now even more intrigued that anyone is using it, and I would dearly love to interview those 8 parents.

January 27, 2015 9:08 PM

Here, Lucian is most commonly pronounced LOOS-ee-un - but maybe that's another Australian accent issue. 

February 11, 2015 9:47 PM

Yes, we liked the name Dexter Lucius, until the serial killer Fox show gave it a whole new meaning and made Lucius, which means light, seem very like Lucifer, and dark... though I remember my mum always joked about kids named Damien, I think the film, 'the omen' rather scared her. Checking my baby for 666 now...

February 16, 2015 10:26 AM

Just a thought on the Allah names. I thought one of two things might be happening:

1. The name is actually another name that got transliterated as the same as Allah. For example, I know a Muslim family living in the U.S. in which the husband is named Ala (where the last sound is a glottal stop, considered a consonan in Arabic) and the wife is named Ala (in which the first sound is kind of a choking sound that is a consonant in Arabic, but English speakers might hear as a vowel). English speakers heard those two names exactly alike, and would ask, "Why do you both have the same name?" Others would ask, "Why are you both named God?"!

2. The name was a compound name. There are a lot of Arabic boy names that have Allah as the second part. For example, Abdullah is really Abd Allah "servant of Allah". There is also Noor Allah "light of God", Najiy Allah, Najib Allah, etc. So maybe the name got recorded backwards, or one name left off, or some other such error.

Then again, maybe that is reading too many errors into the process.


February 16, 2015 7:08 PM

Great points, peacegeek!

February 16, 2015 10:02 PM

There is also a Russian feminine name which is usually transliterated Alla, but could conceivably be transliterated as Allah.

February 17, 2015 2:09 AM

Ah, that makes a lot of sense.

May 18, 2015 11:28 PM

My family is Greek, and, as such, I'm named after a patron saint with a Greek background: Philomena. It was torture growing up, but now, as an adult, I absolutely love the history of my name. I am still hesitant about telling superiors/administrators/supervisors my full name, but it's also funny to see reactions.