Humphrey is one of those great names you actually find yourself saying again and again, just because it’s so much fun to say. Or is that just me? Either way, I’m fortunate enough to know one as a friend of a friend, even if he goes through his day to day life as a Harry.
Humphrey shares his Germanic origins with the name Harry, but they come from different sources. Whilst Henry means home ruler, Humphrey means peaceful warrior. The Normans kindly brought the name over to England with them alongside dashing William and friends, and it remained in relative use throughout the Middle Ages.
The name Humphrey has also seen use as a surname, either as he is or as Humphreys/Humphries. I know of a family with the latter surname and the parents deliberately gave each a child a three-letter first name because they thought their surname was too long for anything else. This always puzzled me, since my own surname is of similar length, but with an extra syllable and my parents stretched to 7 letters for the first name of one of my sisters. That said, I do share my surname with a tree, not that it helps people with the spelling of it.
What’s nice to note is that we actually seem to be embracing the name Humphrey more and more, as of late:
Either way, let’s now ponder about Olivet, who’s a super snazzy alternative to the current #1 in England&Wales:Olivia. One could go even further down the road to either Olivette or Olivetta. Or just cut it down to Olive or Oliva.
As a name, Olivia was created by Shakespeare, who was likely inspired by the pre-existing names Oliver and Oliva. A fun-fact to know is that the father of the identical Dionne quintuplets was called Oliva, a name which derives from the Latin word for olive.
Oliver does not come from this Latin source, however. He comes from the French name Olivier, which itself derives from Germanic name Alfher, which means elf army. The spelling of the name was, however, influenced by the Latin word oliva. The name Oliver fell out of favour in around the 17th century following the unpopularity of Oliver Cromwell.
Charles Dicken’s released the novel Oliver Twist in 1838 and with it came a revival of sorts of the name. He’s been going strong ever since, and has now been sitting at the top of the Top 100 in England&Wales for two years, first knocking Jack off the top spot in 2009.
Since Olivet has seen such little usage by the darling people of England&Wales, I shall instead treat you all to a popularity grid for Olive:
Clearly, a famous couple had a daughter named Olive in 2007, I’m hedging my bets that it was Sacha Baron Cohen’s daughter who helped accelerate the climb of a name which, to be fair, was already on it’s way out of the depths of unknown baby name land.
Oh, and a big thank you goes out to Anna for her lovely review of Mer de Noms, makes me feel all important and stuff like that 🙂