Monday, September 10

let's talk about: Solomon

detail of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon by Sir Edward John Poynter
Last Sunday night, I was watching a TV show and the villain's name —  Solomon —  stood out. I once used the name for a baddie-boy character, too, and a namer just can't resist a coincidence like that. Since then, Solomon's been on my mind. It's a name that's never made it onto my favorites list but that I've always admired, for its history, its surprising versatility and its lovely aesthetic appeal.

Solomon derives from shalom, the Hebrew word for peace —  a wonderfully simple meaning that's pretty hard to beat. The most famous Solomon was a prophet king of Israel renowned for his wisdom (baby-chopping and all) but not without his faults, who appears in both Judaic and Islamic theologies. Solomon is also used as a surname and place name, and even appears in the delightfully weird nursery rhyme "Solomon Grundy":

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

Solomon has been in the American top 1,000 for ages — back in 1880 it ranked #198. It stayed in the #200s-zone until the 1920s, when it began a somewhat steeper decline, falling to its lowest point, #711, in 1962. However, a half-century of decline is no big deal to a solid guy like Solomon. A decade later, it was sitting pretty at #669, and in 1982 it was back in the game at #496. Though its rise hasn't been the steadiest, in 2011 it ranked at #449, a number that puts it well within the comfortable "heard-of, but not overused" category. 

All it would take for Solomon to become a top 100 mainstay again is a little pop-culture nudge to tip it from "specifically religious" to "weighty, yet accessible." I even think it has a little bit of the cute-old-dude-in-suspenders air, and seems right at home next to more popular favorites like Henry and Oliver. The nickname possibilities are beyond adorable (I'm thinking Solly for a little boy and Sol for a teenager) and the soft Os and L make for a refreshing sound in a boys name. 

Not just for villains and kings, Solomon is definitely deserving of a spot on a few more favorites lists.

1 comment:

Names are all opinion -- share yours.