Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Gene

Gene is a short form of Eugene, a name brought to England by way of the Norman-French after the Conquest of 1066.  It’s the Old French equivalent of the Greek Ευγενιος (Eugenios) from “eugenēs” meaning “well born, noble” (from the elements eu- "good" and genos "birth").  The name Eugene was borne by a few early saints and four popes who helped to popularize the name in medieval times. However, it was a Frenchman named Prince Eugene of Savoy who really enhanced the attraction of the name in 17th and 18th century Europe. Considered one of the greatest military commanders in European history, Eugene of Savoy fought for Austria (and the Habsburg monarchy) against the Ottoman Turks. Eugene switched his loyalties from France to Austria because the French king Louis XIV denied him entry into the French army. Big mistake in hindsight because Eugene would later successfully fight against his own motherland thus saving the Austrian Habsburg Empire from French conquest. He also kept the Ottomans from moving west and liberated central Europe from Turkish occupation. In other words, Eugene of Savoy was a legendary figure in his own time and his military achievements on behalf of the Austrian Empire remain unsurpassed. Aside from Gene’s connection to Eugene, the biological term “gene” is also a vocabulary word first coined in 1905 in describing a unit of heredity that is transferred from a parent to his/her offspring; essentially a determining factor in the formation of the offspring’s characteristics.  In this sense, the word is ultimately traced to the Proto-Indo-European (prehistoric) root *gene- meaning "to produce, give birth, beget.”

All About the Baby Name – Gene

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME GENE

The Master Number Twenty-Two combines the traits of Twos and Fours into a powerful force. The references to The Master Builder and "large undertakings" serve to underscore the massive potential of this personality. They are extremely capable and therefore almost always successful. Twenty-Twos are courageous leaders, innovative thinkers, extremely wise and highly organized. As such, they are able to manifest something of major importance that will have a lasting impact on this world. Master Numbers carry with them a great sense of responsibility, so it can be a burden. However, Twenty-Twos are executors and action-takers. Further, this personality exhibits traits of the Twos, which brings sensitivity, spirituality and harmony, so their endeavors are likely to benefit mankind in some capacity.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME GENE

As a stand-alone name, Gene has been in circulation since at least the late 19th century. His heyday came in the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s when he was often found on America’s Top 100 list. In fact, 1937 was Gene’s best year ever – ranked #61 in popularity – probably owing to the fame of Gene Autry (aka “The Singing Cowboy”). The name held respectable positions on the charts for many years before declining noticeably in the 1980s.  Enter the 21st century and Gene is nowhere to be found (1999 marks the last year Gene would claim Top 1000 status in America). Only 65 baby boys were given the name Gene in 2013 (out of nearly two million). In other words, his fashionable days seem to be over.

Quick Facts

ON GENE

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

JEEN

SIMPLE MEANING:

Well-born, noble

Characteristics

OF GENE

The Master Builder

Leader

Large Undertakings

Confidence

Discipline

Organization

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Gene

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME GENE

Gene Forrester is the narrator/protagonist of John Knowles’ 1959 coming-of-age novel, A Separate Peace. Set in the summer session of 1942 at a fictionalized Phillips Exeter Academy, it tells the story of the friendship between two sixteen year old boys and its fateful outcome, all in the shadows of World War II. Gene is an introspective, quiet, insecure and studious boy who has rather a hero-worship “crush” relationship with his roommate and best friend, Phineas (“Finny”). Finny is everything that Gene is not – outgoing, brash, confident, extremely athletic and unselfconsciously rich. Finny is a person on a pedestal – and quite comfortable there, thank you very much. Our Gene is a mishmash of emotions with respect to Finny – he admires and envies him; he both loves and resents him (and there is no small suggestion of a homo-erotic overtone to the situation). The plot revolves around Gene’s “accidentally” causing Finny’s crippling fall from a tree and Gene’s coming to terms with the aftermath of this disaster. The “separate peace” that comes at great price to Gene is a result of his identifying with Finny to the point of almost becoming him, by assuming the highest and purest aspects of Finny’s character, and by moving from conflict into a state of pure love and devotion for the boy. By the time Gene enters the battlefields of war himself, he has already become a man.

Popular Songs

ON GENE

Sweet Gene Vincent
a song by Ian Dury

My Selfish Gene
a song by Catatonia

Mr. Gene
a song by Guided by Voices

Hedonistic Gene
a song by Inkubus Sukkubus

Gene by Gene
a song by Blur

Gene Autry
a song by Beulah

Gene and Eddie
a song by the Stray Cats

Famous People

NAMED GENE

Gene Autry (singer/actor)
Eugene "Gene" Hackman (actor)
Eugene "Gene" Kelly (singer/dancer/actor)
Gene Wilder (born Jerome Silberman, actor/comic)
Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz
rock star)
Eugene "Gene" Siskel (film critic)
Eugene "Gene" Upshaw (football player)
Gene Sarazen (golfer)
Gene Littler (golfer)
Gene Zion (children's book author)

Children of Famous People

NAMED GENE

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Gene

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME GENE

We cannot find any historically significant people with the first name Gene