Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Gerard is a name you don't hear every day. I'm not entirely sure which category it fits in - vintage? This Old English name has an interesting meaning, "spear brave," partly sharing in the definitely vintage boy's name Gerald, meaning "spear ruler," which was also a 19th century revival name. Both come from Old German origin, but in the late Middle Ages, Gerard was more popular. The Normans introduced the name Gerard to England in the 11th century. "Spear brave" may seem a little obscure, but the meaning can be translated to "brave with the spear." It's common to hear this name in France, where actor Gerard Depardieu is from. The name can also be found on poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and painter Gerardo Richter, although I think most Americans are more familiar with the [very hot] Scottish actor from Hollywood, Gerard Butler (pictured above). There were also a few St. Gerard's, though the most well known, Gerard Majella, is the patron saint of pregnant women, often pictured as a young teen. St. Gerard of Brogne was of Belgian nobility, St. Gerard of Toul was of German nobility, and St. Gerard of Lunel was of French nobility.
Gerry is the most common and obvious nickname, while Geraud, Gerhardt, and Girault are a few variant forms. Herb-Gerard is a plant also known as gout-weed.
Gerard continuously ranked from 1889 until 2000, then once more in 2002 at #999. It ranked mainly between the mid 800s and high 200s, most popular in the 1950s. In 2000 it was #823, and we haven't seen it since. In 2015 it was given to 179 boys. Since it never reached the top 100 and White Pages reports that 38% of all men named Gerard are between the ages of 30 and 54, I do hesitate to label it strictly vintage. It still has quite a bit of charm and sophistication. Being a familiar name, yet off the charts for over a decade, it seems like the perfect unusual find for parents searching for that elusive "everyone knows it, but no one uses it" name. It is also a multi-national name, common for Dutch, French, Irish, Scottish and English speakers, but also for Spanish and Italian speaking countries as Gerardo. The Hungarian form, Gellert, and the Polish form Gerik, are nearly unrecognizable to English speakers. In America today, Gerard remains somewhat popular among Roman Catholics.