One of the (many) benefits to maintaining a baby name blog is that you can discover a naming style that you didn't even realise you loved until it reveals itself through the names that you feel inspired enough to write about. If you're a regular reader reader here at Baby Name Pondering you might already be able to tell what type of style I am referring to by today's chosen name, Abercrombie. Apparently it turns out I have a bit of a love affair with the preppy sounding surname name.
To address the elephant in the room up front, for Americans Abercrombie is so entwined with the clothing label Abercrombie and Fitch that it would take quite a brave person to use it. The label has often faced controversy, providing plenty of good reasons to avoid having your child forever associated with their brand. And indeed Abercrombie has never charted as a given name on the SSA lists. So US readers might want to pretend there's no such thing as Abercrombie and Fitch for a few minutes and look at this name with fresh eyes.
Like many surnames, Abercrombie (pronounced ab-err-CROM-bee) started as a place name. It comes from the Scottish Gaelic words aber meaning 'confluence' and crom meaning 'crooked', which gives it the meaning of 'confluence of rivers at a bend' or 'mouth of the bendy river'. The original Abercrombie is in Fife, Scotland, but other Abercrombies are also located in Nova Scotia, Alabama and North Dakota. There's also an Abercrombie Mountain in Washington, and Abercrombie River, Caves and National Park in New South Wales Australia, so there are plenty of places to be inspired by.
There are also several famous figures sporting the surname Abercrombie, such as:
- Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie
- Scientist and politician Sir Charles Abercrombie-Smith
- British Fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie
- Australian Rugby players Gordon and Jim
- English actor Ian Abercrombie
- American Musician Jeff Abercrombie
- Sir Patrick Abercrombie, British town-planner instrumental in the re-development of post-war London
However there seems to be just one well known person bearing this as a first name - botanist Abercrombie Lawson, who was also a professor in the subject who taught at Stanford University, University of Glasgow and University of Sydney.
Yes indeed, Abercrombie would make for a very rare given name. I've seen a couple of people toying with it as a girls name with the nickname Abby, but this is one that I personally much prefer for a boy. Maybe because it has notes of boys name Ambrose. It feels a little stronger and more solid than an Ambrose to my ears though. And obviously I like it's preppy feel.
Back to the clothing reference though. Much as I like Abercrombie and would like to think the American label doesn't have any impact in other countries, the fact is that it is iconic and recognisable almost worldwide. Making me think that true lovers of this name would be best using it in the middle position, and even then possibly only if it is a family name. Seems a shame.
Then again, Abernathy could be a viable alternative - a similar sound, origin and meaning without elitist connotations.......what do you think?