As devilish moniker becomes more popular than ‘Nigel’…. Is naming your child Lucifer a hellish choice?
By Helena Frith Powell
When our son was born, I tried to get several ridiculous names past my husband: Raphael, Salvador, Angelo, even Gabriel. But not at any moment in my postpartum confusion did it occur to me to suggest Lucifer.
I admit it has a certain melodic quality. It trips off the (forked) tongue quite nicely. But the fact that my child would be sharing the name with Satan would have put me off.
Yet, according to the Office for National Statistics, 15 women in England and Wales named their child Lucifer last year. I know 2020 was a bad one, but the fact Lucifer is now more popular than Nigel, Trevor and Gordon is shocking.
Do these 15 women know the origins of the name? Or are they just basing their choice on the pretty dismal Netflix TV show?
I was at university with a friend called Arthur. He was so embarrassed by his name that when friends called out to him in the street, he would look around as if to say, ‘Who’s the poor sod with that silly name?’
Funnily enough, Arthur has shot up 200 places in the past 20 years and is now number three on the list of most popular boys’ names, after Oliver and George.
Imagine calling Lucifer in a crowded supermarket. I, for one, would run for cover. Or what about in church? At a christening or in cherished wedding vows at the altar? That would be sacrilegious.
When our daughter Bea was given a furry toy dog as a confirmation present, she named it Lucifer as a joke, since this was meant to be the day she renounced evil for good.
But if you search on the internet for Lucifer, all you get is the TV show starring the devilishly handsome Tom Ellis.Imagine calling out ‘Lucifer!’ in a supermarket
There is no mention of John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost published in 1667, which also stars a flawed hero. Hailed as the greatest English poem ever written, Lucifer rebels against the tyranny of Heaven, declaring it is ‘better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven’.
I have nothing against unusual names. Although my husband vetoed my choices for our son, he did end up with an uncommon name inspired by a real hero: Leonardo.
But I draw the line at naming a child after the devil. Especially a boy who would presumably have to answer to the shortened form, Lucy.
For while a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, a child called Satan is just wrong.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019