Names of the Week: Becket(t) and Monroe

That famed scene from Seven Year Itch, from

I’m in the market for some new glasses since mine have never been the same after I temporarily lost them in a most pit a few weeks ago, plus I’m due for an eye examination, which will inevitably result in an updated prescription. I’ve been wearing glasses since the age of 9, and my eyes get progressively worse each year to the point that I’m now somewhere around the -6.5 mark.

By chance, I stumbled upon Warby Parker the other day, who don’t actually ship internationally (although there are ways around that) My current glasses are called Nightshade, but the names Warby Parker give to their glasses are slightly more usable than that. We’re going to look at two I picked mostly at random.

My secondary school was Catholic, and loved talking about Thomas Becket, the famed Archbishop, who was murdered on the order of Henry II in Canterbury Cathedral. It caused widespread scandal at the time, and indeed probably would do today. This means I’ve always spelled the name with just one t because that’s how I learned to, but indeed everyone else seems to have a different idea.

Thomas Becket was a friend of the King and Lord Chancellor prior to becoming Archbishop. Indeed, Henry II believed that Becket would continue to put Government first, hence giving Henry II some control over religion. Becket had other ideas and a feud developed between them.

In terms of the use of the name today, Stella McCartney’s third child is called Beckett, brother of Miller, Bailey and Reiley. There’s also a character in the American crime drama Castle who bears the name as a surname.

The name could come from the Old French bec, which in Middle English was beke, and therefore used as a nickname for someone with a prominent nose. It may also come from the Middle English bekke, which comes from Old Norse and means stream or brook.

In terms of popularity, only 3 boys were named Beckett in England&Wales in 2010. It worth noting that the name Beckett was one highlighted by the economics book, Freakonomics, predicted would be one of the most popular baby names in 2015. That is, in the States however, not here in England&Wales. Baby Names Garden has been tracking his progress however, and he currently [2010] stands at #356.

As for our loosely female name, Mariah Carey recently named her new daughter Monroe after Marilyn Monroe, the famed actress who was born as the less-than-glamorous Norma Jeane. Of Scottish origins, the name has several variations: Munroe, Monro and Munro.

Scotland names any mountain in their fair land over 3,000ft in height a Munro, which are named after Sir Hugh Munro who, in 1891, first pulled together a list of such mountains. The best known Munro is Ben Nevis with an altitude of 4409ft, making it the highest moutain in the British Isles.

There is a Scottish Highland Clan named Munro, first established under Donald Munro who came to Scotland from Ireland around the 12th century after being granted land from King Malcolm II for his efforts in defeating Viking Invaders. The name Munro is likely to be a place name, alluding to the River Roe in Ireland where Donald is thought to have his origins, which is the traditional belief of the clan. Many members took on the name Munro, or a variant of it, as their own, hence why so many variants exist today.

Either way, the name does not rank in any variation for females in England&Wales in 2010, although 3 lads were given the name Munro. This is clear evidence that the name, at least here in England&Wales, is still mostly considered a male name by the general public. It’s so underused, however, that one could potential ‘get away’ with using Monroe for a female, and it makes sense why the name hasn’t caught on because the most famed bearer is a female, famed as much for her beauty as for her acting.

Categories: Names of the Week | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Becket(t) and Monroe

  1. Awkward Turtle

    Beckett almost seems feminine (a Becca/Margaret mash up perhaps?), but I hope no one else notices. it’s such a great boys’ name.


  2. Becket does seem a name that’s going places; not sure about Monroe, which is a name that comes with pronunciation issues. I have heard Ms Monroe called MUN-ro, muhn-RO, MOHN-roh and mohn-ROH, and that’s all just from one person! (Throw in some alternative spellings to the mix, and it all seems pretty confusing). Basically if I saw someone’s name written as Monroe, not only would I not know their gender, but I’d have no idea how to say their name either.


  3. Pingback: Name Spot of the Week: Sailing Across the Sea « Mer de Noms

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