An acquaintance recently named their son Thanos! Thanos is traditionally short for Greek Athanasios, which means ‘immortal’ or ‘without death.’ On the other hand, you can probably make it a nickname for Thanatos, which does mean ‘death’ and was the Ancient Greek personification/minor god thereof. Ultimately, all of these names are rare. Recent appearances of Thanos in the extended data don’t necessarily correspond to religion or heritage.
This name benefits from the Marvel treatment. Thanos is basically an evil space alien who looks a bit like Azog from The Hobbit – if Azog were built like a football player, that is. Thanos has a cameo in the Avengers (2012) and then shines in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe as popular as it is right now, that’s a lot of exposure for a rare name.
According to data from the Social Security Administration, Thanos was the first name of 12 baby boys last year, up from 5 in 2014. I find it interesting that Athanasius also peaked in 2015 at 16 uses, up from 5 the previous year too. Original Greek Athanasios was down from a few years earlier at 18 uses. It wouldn’t surprise me if the concurrent rises of Thanos and Athanasius are merely coincidental; one now strongly associates with a fandom and the other has deeply religious connotations. Catholics designate St. Athanasius of Alexandria as a “Doctor of the Church.” This begs the question: did anything significant happen last year with him? It isn’t impossible that Athanasius became more popular to conceal the Marvel connection, and it isn’t impossible that Thanos became more popular just because Athanasius was trending; but I don’t buy either theory by its lonesome. Neither explains why Athanasios is trending downwards.
What do you think of Thanos? Athanasius? Do you think either will pick up more steam?
Personal musings: I don’t think my acquaintance is Greek or particularly religious, but the baby seemed to have a middle name from another fandom. Sure, the Marvel character’s a villain, but my inner nerd loves this. Congrats on becoming a parent, and kudos for the epic appellation!
Links for name data: