Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Forrest


Time for a Halloween inspired name that isn't all about ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies and blood. Forrest is a on the list because - well, lots of spooky stories seem to take place in the deep dark forest. Such as Hansel and Gretel being abandoned by their father to wander aimlessly through the woods in search of safety, or Ichabod Crane fleeing from the headless horseman.

Forrest (pronounced FOH-rist) originated as an English surname, and derived from the Old French "de Foresta". The original "de Foresta" means 'of the forest' and similarly, the name Forrest now means 'dweller by the forrest'.

Forrest has been a quiet presence in the US charts. As a boys name, it peaked in 1899 at #175 when it was given to 83 boys, and fairly constantly hovered around the 200th to 400th position for a number of years before peaking again in 1994 when it was given to 1,344 boys, making it #217 that year. Incidentally, the movie 'Forrest Gump' was released that year, and it was also the year when the most girls (all 38 of them) were also given the name Forrest. It's popularity has slowed since then, and in 2004 Forrest slipped out of the top 1000 boys names. It also hasn't been given to a girl since 2002.

This is possibly a name destined for stardom, as there seem to be a high proportion of famous Forrest's for the amount of people  given the name. They include:
  • Actor Forest Whittaker,
  • Martial Artist Forrest Griffin,
  • Actor Forrest Tucker
  • Olympic gold medallist hurdler Forrest Smithson
  • Newsman Forrest Sawyer
  • Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg
  • Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Basketball coach Forrest "Phog" Allen
  • Basketballer Forrest DeBernardi
  • Olympic gold medallist hurdler Forrest Smithson
  • Pulitzer prize winner (for editorial writing) Forrest W Seymour
  • Pulitzer prize winner (for biography/autobiography) Forrest Wilson
  • Editor and author Forrest J Ackerman
Whew - quite a list! And all American, so it seems this name is yet to really take off outside the USA.

Forrest is a versatile name - an earthy nature meaning (I love nature names!) but with enough regular use to be a strong, established nature name rather than a 'hippy' nature name. The alternative spelling of Forest feels just a smidgen too woodsy for me personally, but Forrester is another version that is very appealing. It has more of the surname/occupational feel to it that is so hot right now, but is far less popular. Possibly because it's connection to the wealthy Forrester family on  long-running soapie 'The Bold and the Beautiful'. But if Taylor and Brooke can still be hot names despite the show, there's no reason the association should hold Forrester back.

Whether you prefer Forest, Forrest or Forrester, they're all great names. Like the forest they come from, they can feel serene and relaxing, or dark and mysterious - it depends on what you make it.

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