Monday, September 21, 2015

Oscar Wilde Names

As an Oscar Wilde fan, I'm continuing my posts dedicated to my favorite names in his books and plays (as well as those of his two sons). You can check out my post about The Importance of Being Earnest here!

Dorian - The Picture of Dorian Gray
The twisted antihero of Oscar Wilde's only novel would make an interesting namesake for a child of readers: Dorian isn't much to aspire to. But his name is fantastic! The name comes from an ancient Greek tribe, and may have been first used as a name by Wilde himself. With its similarities to Damian, I think Dorian could be a great option.

Basil - The Picture of Dorian Gray
A personal name crush, but definitely has its cons: how many pesto jokes could one child handle? Older generations might also associate with early Sherlock star Basil Rathbone, though that reference is definitely decreasing. As for the pros: it means "regal", has quite a few saintly namesakes, and has the cute nickname Baz. And with other nature names moving up the charts - River, Forest, and Phoenix - it won't be too out of place.

Sibyl - The Picture of Dorian Gray
Another name with conflicts, but rising out of the negative shadows. While the multiple personality Sybil came out as a fake, fictional namesakes Sybil Trelawney of Harry Potter and Sybil Crawley of Downton Abbey make this name more desirable. It's also aurally close to Sydney, and has the excellent meaning of "seer" from ancient Greek mythology.

Rosalie - Lady Windermere's Fan
This name is trending up the charts quickly! And why not? It's got the popular -lee ending, three syllables, and a floral first part. Characters in Twilight and Grimm complete its trendiness. Yet Rosalie is an undeniable classic that won't result in eye-rolls. Wilde was more than ahead of his time!

Vera - Vera; or, The Nihilists
Another personal name crush, based on a dear friend. But my own bias aside, I think Vera is ready to come back in style. It's from the Russian for "faith", and has the same sound as Lena or Nora. Some great women working today are named Vera, including designer Wang and actress Farmiga. It also works well across cultures - Vera is currently trending in Sweden!

Salomé - Salomé
While it's a beautiful name that means "peace", the connotation with the seductress who was part of the death of John the Baptist might be a little much. If you can get past it, though, why not? Other similar alternatives include Simone, Selma, or Esme.

Cyril (Holland) Wilde - Oscar's older son
Not too far off from Cyrus or Silas, this name means "lordly". It's definitely got a pretentious air, but the right child could make it more friendly. Cyril was the favorite son of Oscar and his wife, Constance, who died in battle in World War I.

Vyvyan Oscar Beresford (Holland) Wilde - Oscar's younger son
While this name is definitely decadent, it's unusable quality stems more from Vivian's takeover by the female gender. Vyvyan's son Merlin would go on to be a major Wilde biographer, and Vyvyan himself published some memoirs on life with his notorious father.

Any names I missed, or mischaracterized? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Curiously enough, Dorian can be found pre-Wilde -- but as a feminine name! It shows up in a tax roll from Paris in 1421.

    1. Cool history! I wonder if it's related or Doris or Dorothy?