Thursday, March 13, 2014


You may remember a 1997 movie that featured Bruce Willis in an orange singlet, Milla Jovovich with orange hair, and a man named Ruby. 'The Fifth Element' is a futuristic sci-fi action adventure in which Willis plays Korben Dallas, an ex-taxi driver who finds himself tasked with saving the universe.Willis is great in this, and the movie itself is fun and funky, filled with snappy dialogue and somewhat bizarre characters.

Korben is a variation of another name, although there is some debate as to whether it stems from the Latin Corbin or the Hebrew Korban. They all sound alike (pronounced KOR-bin) and are so intertwined though that it's probably a bit of both.

The Latin Corbin meaning 'crow, raven' or 'raven-haired' is name that was once used by the Anglo-Normans in Old French and Old English times. It's thought it may have started as a shorter form for the longer and less wieldy Corbinian - a seventh century Frankish saint. Possibly it was just used a nickname for people with dark hair. It also saw use as a last name.

The Hebrew Korban (or Corban) is a biblical name, meaning 'gift or consecrated to God'. It wasn't used as a person given name though, it seems if was more another term for a gift, the purpose of which was to bring one closer to God. Many theorise that this is more like a sacrifice or sacrificial offering than a gift, and hence feel it can have negative undertones, but your viewpoint may depend on your religion.

What we do see here though is a myriad of spellings. With C and K spelling both having "legitimate" origins, this is one name where spelling it with a K isn't necessarily a case or Kardashian syndrome, or trying to create a "trendier" spelling. Variations that charted in the U.S in 2012 (in order of popularity) were Corbin (#221), Korbin (#559), Korbyn (#1052), Corban (#1069), Corbyn (#1166), Korben (#1422), Corben (#1992), Korban (#3932). Spellings Korbyn, Corbyn, Corbin and Korbin also chart for girls, but at a distant #4875, #7848, #11414 and #18167 respectively.

What I do like about this particular spelling - other than the sci-fi action hero reference - is that it lends itself to the nickname Ben, which is a great friendly and familiar nickname. Especially for a more distinguished, somewhat formal sounding name such as Korben. These contrasting feels makes this a very wearable name - a man with this name could be Ben when out drinking with the guys, but the respectable Korben when in the boardroom.  And I feel that in this particular case the K does make it a more powerful, masculine feeling name.

It's easy to pronounce, not super popular but still easily recognisable. It may look invented, but it has some very respectable origins And it doesn't hurt to tell your son that his name was inspired by an action hero who saved the universe.

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