Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Howard

Howard is an old and noble English surname held by many illustrious Brits. The Dukes of Norfolk, for instance, are descended from Sir Robert Howard and share ancestry with King Edward I of England on their maternal side. The current Duke of Norfolk holds the high rank of Earl Marshal within the English monarchy today. Catherine Howard was one of King Henry VIII’s many wives (in fact, she was his last). Furthermore Lord Howard of Effingham was the commander-in-chief of the English Fleet which defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. In other words, the Howard family name is quite significant in Great Britain. There are several possible origins of this well-known English surname but most likely it was derived from an Old Norse personal name Hāvarðr from the elements “hā” meaning “high” and “varðr” meaning “guardian”. The “high guardian” etymology really lends itself nicely to the aristocratic beginnings of this name. Howard became a widespread given name throughout the English speaking world by at least the 19th century. Today, however, Howard has become an uncommon and old-fashioned choice.

All About the Baby Name – Howard



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Howard is a striking example of a once-popular American masculine name which has seen extreme declines in usage since the latter half of the 20th century. The name entered the 20th century at position #35 which made Howard a preferred choice among American parents. The name was quite fashionable for baby boys between 1880 and 1960 with the favorite decades being the 19-teens and 20s. Howard ranked as high as the 24th most commonly given boy’s name in the country (1919-1920). However, things began to turn southward for old Howard in 1959 when the name fell off the Top 100 list. At first the name showed mild drops on the charts but by the 1990s and 2000s, old Howard became ultra-passé. At this point Howard is akin to Ralph or Alfred – too old-manish by today’s naming standards. Although one name bearer, radio talk-show personality Howard Stern, is anything but old-fashioned and conventional. Parents picking the name Howard today are most likely driven by honoring some family member. This name is just no longer “hip” and happening otherwise. Plus there’s always the risk for an obvious schoolyard nickname “Howard the coward”. One interesting factoid: Howard Allen Frances O’Brien is the birth name of Vampire author Anne Rice (named after her father). Howie and Ward are both pet forms derived from Howard.

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Cultural References to the Baby Name – Howard

Literary Characters


Howard Roark is the protagonist of Ayn Rand’s bestselling 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, also made into a 1949 movie of the same name, with the steely-jawed Gary Cooper as Howard Roark. Howard is, above all, an individualistic architect who refuses to compromise his strongly held tenets and pander to public taste. This leads to his being dismissed from the school of architecture, losing commissions, being forced to work at menial labor, being arrested and losing the woman he loves – all this proves no deterrent to his loyalty to himself first. His lady-love, Dominique, actually marries Howard’s arch rival, Peter Keating, in order to immerse herself in a world completely opposite from Howard’s. After many trials and tribulations that only the truly egotistical could understand or withstand, Howard makes peace with Keating and they design a building together, with Howard’s insistence that his instructions be followed to the letter. Upon returning from a trip, Howard finds that Keating has had the monumental chutzpah to alter their plans, so with Dominique’s assistance, he dynamites the building. That’s right. Blows it up. To smithereens. And goes on trial again – and wins! Dominique, by the way, has come around to his way of thinking, after a couple of other marriage detours, and so now she and Howard are triumphantly married to each other (to the relief of the rest of us). It is said that Ms. Rand agreed to write the script for the movie on the condition that absolutely no word of it be altered. Now, of whom does that remind us?

Howard the Duck is a Marvel Comics character first introduced in 1973, who went on to fame in film, video, toys and games. Howard is a duck from outer space who is dropped into Florida and thereafter bumbles his bad-tempered way through the morass that is Earth. This involves bizarre encounters with such characters as Garko the Man-Frog, Turnip Man and Kidney Lady. Howard also acquires a lady friend, Beverly Switzler, an artist’s model who is all woman, that is to say, she is in no part duck. Further adventures involve Howard’s nomination for president by the All-Night Party, many travels, and the abandonment of and reattachment to Beverly. Howard’s actions are all accompanied by acerbic and sarcastic satire of every aspect of life as he sees it. In 1986, Lucasfilm produced a live action movie called Howard the Duck, with an actor in a duck suit, and Chip Zien, whoever that is, as the voice of Howard. It was a complete and utter bomb, and that is probably because the movie’s Howard bore only a passing, sickly resemblance to the fur and blood creation of the feisty comic character.

Margaret is the protagonist of E. M. Forster’s 1910 masterpiece, Howard’s End, a beautifully drawn examination of the English class system. Margaret is a sterling character (one thinks of Emma Thompson’s great portrayal in the 1992 movie), who addresses all of life’s conflicts with an even-handed , open honesty. She is not a creature of noblesse oblige; she truly connects to people and empathizes with them. She tries her best to right wrongs as she sees them, even while grave wrongs are being done to her. Her development over the years brings her into her own as a compassionate and caring woman, who will leave the world a better place for having inhabited it.

Childrens Books


We cannot find any childrens books with the first name Howard

Popular Songs


Howard Beware
a song by The Dead Milkmen

Catherine Howard's Fate
by Blackmore's Night

Famous People


Howard Stern (talk-radio host)
Howard Hughes (American tycoon)
Howard Cosell (sportscaster)
Howard “Howie” Mandel (comedian/TV host)
Howard “Howie” Long (football player)
Howard Hawks (film director)
Howard “Duane” Allman (guitarist)
Howard Carter (discoverer of the King Tut Tomb)
Howard Dean (politician)
Howard Duff (actor)
Howard Johnson (founder of a chain of hotels)
Howard Lederer (professional poker player)
H. P. Lovecraft (Howard Philips, horror writer)
Howard McNear (actor)
Howard K. Stern (Anna Nicole Smith’s attorney)
Howard Shore (film score composer)
Howard “Howie” Morenz (hockey player)
Howard “Howie” Dorough (member of the music group Backstreet Boys)
Howard “Howie” Epstein (musician)
Howard Allen Frances O'Brien (birth name of Vampire author Anne Rice)

Children of Famous People


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

Historic Figures


William Taft was America’s 27th President serving between 1909 and 1913. Taft was hand-picked by Teddy Roosevelt to carry out his plan after Roosevelt regrettably decided not to seek a third term. Only this didn't work out as planned. Taft was a reluctant leader and did not enjoy politics; in fact, his real dream was to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The other thing people remember about Taft was that he holds the record as our heaviest president (350+ lbs). He once joked about himself on a streetcar: "I got up and gave my seat to three ladies." Since Taft was not exactly into his position as President, he delegated a lot of power to his cabinet members who pretty much did as they pleased. This made Teddy Roosevelt crazy; he believed Taft was unraveling all of his work and became quite vindictive. In the 1912 election, TR tried to gain back the Republican nomination, but his party chose Taft (he was easier to control). Furious, TR joined a new "Progressive" party to run against Taft and the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson. Just like Ross Perot did in the 1992 election, Roosevelt split the Republican vote making it possible for the Democrats to secure the Executive Office.

The notoriously much-betrothed King Henry VIII of England had three wives by the name of Catherine – his first, fifth and last. The first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was a Princess of Spain when she came to England in 1501 to marry into the royal family (as such were predestined political alliances of the day). As Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon was unable to produce a male heir beyond infancy, and so the King quickly tired of her. In the meantime, old Henry knocked-up his mistress Anne Boleyn. Certain that the pregnant Anne was carrying his male heir and the future King of England, Henry VIII went to the Pope and requested his marriage to Catherine be annulled so he could swap “I Dos” with Miss Boleyn. But devoutly Catholic Catherine of Aragon was having none of that. Fortunately, she had her own “friends in high places” (her nephew was the Holy Roman Emperor after all), so the Church refused the annulment in her favor. Furious, King Henry VIII broke ties with Rome and created the Church of England instead! Catherine of Aragon and her one surviving daughter, Mary I of England, were banished from court yet remained steadfast loyal to Catholicism. The next Catherine, commoner Catherine Howard, met an even more unsavory fate. Accused of treason by reason of infidelity, Henry VIII ordered the beheading of his fifth wife when she was around 20 years old. The sixth and final wife of Henry, Catherine Parr, was ironically named after Catherine of Aragon (Parr’s mother had been a lady-in-waiting to the then-Queen of England). So Catherine Parr became the sixth wife of Henry, and he became her third husband at the ripe old age of 31. The King died during their marriage, and she went onto marry for a fourth time. After Henry’s death, Catherine Parr became the guardian of the future Queen of England, Elizabeth I (daughter to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn).