Friday, September 28, 2012

Percy

Logan Lerman plays Percy (Perseus) Jackson

Since the release of the Percy Jackson books and then the movie 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" (released in 2010) Percy has started to become a more attractive option to modern day parents. Admittedly, I have an extra reason to like Percy, as it was the middle name of one of my great grandfathers.

Back in the 1890's, Percy was hot stuff. It peaked at #111 in America, much more popular than the longer Percival that people often assume the name is derived from. Since that time, Percy has slowly slid into almost non-existence, not even mentioning a rating on the American charts in the 1990's.

There is some debate as to the origins of the name Percy. The main theories are:
  1. It is a short form of the French name Percival, which means 'valley piercer'
  2. It was an aristocratic Norman surname, which started as a place name from Perci-en-Auge
  3. The name is from the Greek Perseus, which is derived from p─ôrtho (to destroy).
It is the third alternative that is used in the Percy Jackson series, helping to give Percy the tougher image that it sorely needs. For some reason, over the past hundred years Percy gained a reputation as being a wimpy name. The negative comments I've seen about this name are:
  • It has been used as a name for men's genitalia (I had never heard this - oh the joys of the Internet)
  • And unfortunately also sounds similar to a slang word for a females genitalia
  • "for some reason Percy Filth was used at college as a euphemism about having it off" (I assume this is related to the first point?)
  • It reminds people of Percy Pig (I think this is a confectionery brand?)
  • People think of the wimpy Percy character in 'The Black Adder' TV series
  • Percy is the name of a train in 'Thomas the Tank Engine'
  • The Harry Potter character Percy Weasley was a nasty, supercilious traitor
  • The most famous Percy was Percy Bysshe Shelley, an English romantic poet
  • Percy is an effeminate, "sissy" name
This conclusion is quite surprising when you consider the earliest examples of Perseus and Percival. Percival was one of King Arthur's Legendary Knights. He was the only knight virtuous enough to be able to retrieve the highly coveted Holy Grail, making him a hero. Likewise, Perseus was a great hero in Greek mythology, credited with killing the famous snake-haired Medusa. Perseus has recently been depicted not only in the Percy Jackson series, but also by the very easy to look at Australian Actor Sam Worthington, in the movies "Clash of the Titans" (2010) and "Wrath of the Titans" (2012).

I'm sure that it is due to these dual Perseus depictions that the shorter Percy is suddenly back on the radar. It now has a tough image longer form, and a lot of people are really love Greek mythological names. Perseus is one that has flown under the radar for a long time, so it has a certain cool and unique factor about it. And as with many names, it will soon lose a lot of it's negative tarnish and be considered cool again. People have already started comparing it to Archie, Alfie, Perry, Freddie, Artie and Charlie. Could Percy possibly be the next big thing in the nickname-as-name trend? I think it could.

4 comments:

  1. Percy Pigs are hands down my favourite kind of sweet, so I actually see it as a good association rather than a bad one.

    I guess with the Percy Weasley thing, you could always counter that Dumbledore had Percival as a middle name ;)

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  2. Percy Weasley did realise the error of his ways in the end, and he wasn't nasty, although he was a bit supercilious until he learnt better. He was just very conformist.

    I think this is a great name (I just suggested it to some parents actually).

    I'm surprised you haven't heard the phrase, "Point Percy at the porcelain" as slang for going to the toilet; I think it was made up by Barry Humphries.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's strange :) My husband had heard it when I mentioned it to him, but only a few times. Maybe it's just not as common as it once was...

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  3. I don't think it was ever common, it's a line from the Barry Mackenzie movies. They invented a whole lot of fake Australian slang hoping to trick the English into thinking it was real. I think most of it was successfully accepted as genuine.

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