The first time I saw Sage used as a name was on one of the children’s shows I used to watch growing up: Parsley the Lion. Sage was quite fittingly the owl; since both sage and owls have connections with wisdom.
This is because the name Sage is not only the name of a type of shrubbery, but was used as a name for a spiritual teacher who imparts wisdom. The wise old man persona frequents as a literary figure in many a tale, personally Old Wrinkly from How to train your Dragon is the first one I think of, but I’m no English Literature expert so there’s probably a really famous one out there. Two other words for wise old men that you may like to consider are senex and sophos. The latter is an origin for the popular name Sophie, a name my sister bears although she is frequently referred to as Dopey instead.
Fun fact, 7 boys born in 2009 in England&Wales were named Wisdom and the same amount of lads were named Wren. As for Sage, he doesn’t appear on the male list, but 3 little girls were named Sage in 2009, which is the minimum number of births required for the name to be recorded. Interestingly, Wisdom did not rank for females.
It’s also worth noting that in German and Dutch, the word sage does not mean wisdom, it means legend or myth.
As for the word sage, it ultimately comes from the Latin verb sapere, which can either mean to be wise, or to taste or discern, and the Latin verb itself has roots to the Proto-Indo European word sap, meaning to taste. Which makes it a good name for something that sits on the trusty spice rack. The roots of the wisdom meaning were first recorded circa 12th century.
It also has application to the Seven Sages of Greece, who are seven early 6th century philosophers who each represent a worldly wisdom:
- Cleobulus – moderation is the best thing
- Solon – keep everything in moderation
- Chilon – you should not desire the impossible
- Bias – most men are bad
- Thales – know thyself
- Pittacus – you should know which opportunities to choose
- Periander – be farsighted with everything
Since there aren’t many famous people named Sage, unless you count celeb-babies such as P!nk’s new little ‘un. However, I’m a huge fan of Morecambe&Wise, a British comedy duo that are much loved even today, even if they are sadly no longer with us. One of Ernie Wise’s best loved performances came in the Singin’ in the Rain sketch – where there was no rain, and if you love the sketch as much as I do, and the comedy duo likewise, Sage is a possible way to honour them without coming across as a groupie, since Sage means wise, and one of them was called as such. Just don’t let them take inspiration from them on how to make pancakes.