Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Devilish Names

Greetings, readers!

This past weekend I went to see Robert Eggers' The Witch, an excellent (albeit scary and really unusual) film about a Puritan family dealing with the supernatural. The references to the Devil got me thinking - are there any devilish names in use out there? I found some below!

I'm using data from 2014, since the 2015 records haven't been released yet! The names have been ordered by popularity, greatest to least (the numbers in parentheses show how many babies were given the name).

Lilith (447)
The popularity of cheerful Lily has given this name a boost, but the original Lilith was Adam's first wife in Jewish folklore. She refused to be subservient to him and left him, turning into a demon (I'm personally on her side in this debate). The connotation is preserved mostly in the Jewish tradition, but it's interesting to see such an innocent-looking name with such a diabolic origin story.

Loki (119)
The popularity of the Avengers character has surely boosted this name for both boys and girls. Loki is a trickster god in the Nordic tradition, but his name is attached to certain interpretations of the devil. Aurally and visually, it's a stand-out choice, and it will probably get even bigger as the Marvel movie universe grows!

Leviathan (24)
I can see why this name is especially appealing today - it looks like a mash-up of Levi and Jonathan. The name literally means "twisted", and often references sea monsters (some translate Leviathan as "whale"). In the Old Testament, or Tanakh, Satan appears in the form of a whale, hence the connection. I do like the name, though it's a lot to live up to!

Azazel (12)
Literally meaning "scapegoat", the name is associated with sacrificial rites in Judaism, and some traditions refer to Azazel as a fallen angel. I'm sure a lot of parents choose the name for the cool double-z sound - like Aziz or Aziza - and many are unaware of the demonic link. Still, the name hasn't been used enough for me to predict how it will fair in the future.

Lucifer (11)
The first name I thought of on this list, Lucifer has been recorded almost annually since 2002. The auditory similarity to Lucy or Lucian probably has more to do with its popularity than any devilish reasons. I tend to associate this name with the cat from Cinderella, but the name does have a positive meaning: "light-bearer".

Demon (8)
I'm surprised at the longevity of this name - Demon has been recorded as far back as 1969. It's similar to Damon or Damian - the name of the cursed child in The Omen - but Demon more directly references evil than any of the other names on this list. If anyone has a theory of how this name stayed on the books so long, tell me in the comments!

Yama (6)
The name of the god of the dead in both Hindu and some East Asian mythologies, Yama also translates to "mountain" in Japanese. I'd advise against any Western parents using it - see cultural appropriation - but it's a lovely, friendly name.

I'm including Diablo on the list, since it was recorded in 1975 - 5 babies were born that year named Diablo. Recently screenwriter Diablo Cody has jumped on the scene - she picked her name - and it's up for debate whether the name is okay to use.

I have to say, I'm relieved the following names never showed up in data: Satan, Devil, or Beelzebub.

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