Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Miles

Miles is a name adopted among the English by way of the Norman-French. Essentially, it’s the Norman-French version of Milo, itself the medieval written form of the Latin miles meaning “soldier.” Further connecting this name to “soldier” or some such military attribute is the theorized belief that Miles is also a Medieval Norman-French pet form of Michael (the patron saint of soldiers). From this perspective, Michael is originally Hebrew in origin, from Mikha’el, meaning “Who is like God?” with the question mark intended to convey a sense of humility because the question is rhetorical, i.e., no one is like God. The name’s association with Michael appears valid for two reasons. One, Michael was the soldier angel of God and the leader of heaven’s armies; and two, St. Michael was invoked for protection during the Medieval Crusades. Further evidence cementing Miles’ significance as a “soldier” can be found in the Medieval French chansons de geste (songs of heroic deeds) which were early French epics celebrating the gallant bravery of knights around the time of the Crusades. Such poetic epics at the dawn of French Literature often featured Miles as a character name for a knight. Among the English, Miles (or Myles) has been in regular use since the 16th century. For Americans, this name has two points of historic significance. One, it’s the name of a famous Mayflower passenger (Captain Miles Standish) who was embroiled in a well-known love triangle with Priscilla Mullins and John Alden as depicted in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1858 poem The Courtship of Miles Standish; and two, for music aficionados, it’s a name strongly associated with the iconic genius of jazz, Miles Davis (1926-1991).   

All About the Baby Name – Miles

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME MILES

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 MILES

 
Miles has been around longer than you may think. Consistently on the U.S. popularity charts for over a century, Miles has experienced pretty moderate-to-low levels of use. That makes it a unique choice without “trying too hard.” Right now, the name Miles is experiencing its highest point on the naming charts since the government began tracking naming trends 130 years ago. Since the passing of the last century, Miles has been on an upward trajectory on the charts and is advancing closer toward a spot on the Top 100 list of most-favored boys’ names in America. Miles has a “coolness” factor that’s hard to describe or put a finger on – we’re certain this has to do with Miles Davis (the definition of a cool-cat). Even though the name has endured since the colonies, it has never been trendy or over-used. And even though the name has been acquiring currency lately as it advances up the charts, it still remains an off-beat choice. We give lots of smiles to the name Miles!

Quick Facts

ON MILES

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

115

PRONUNCIATION:

MILEZ

SIMPLE MEANING:

Soldier

Characteristics

OF MILES

The Master Builder

Leader

Large Undertakings

Confidence

Discipline

Organization

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Miles

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME MILES

The Courtship of Miles Standish is a narrative poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1858. The poem is set in the early days of Plymouth Colony settled by pilgrims fresh off the Mayflower ship, and during a time of Native-American unrest (1621). It is the story of a love-triangle between Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, and John Alden, and is said to be true and passed to Longfellow (an Alden descendent) through oral tradition. Captain Miles Standish is the middle-aged, brave, swaggering military hero if a bit rough around the edges, and who just lost his wife and seeks to marry Pricilla. John Alden is Standish’s young and handsome roommate whom he asks to deliver his (Miles’) marriage proposal to the beautiful Pricilla on his behalf (fearing he lacks the right way with words). John Alden goes to Pricilla to deliver the proposal but is clearly enamored with the young beauty himself; thus, he innocently bumbles the message, clumsily attempts to recover, and muddles that effort until finally Pricilla makes her famous retort: “Prithee, John, why do you not speak for yourself?" In the end, John gets the girl and Miles “standishs” aside having given his blessing to the young lovers. It’s an optimistic ending; a fresh start for these new settlers in this new land.

The Courtship of Miles Standish is a narrative poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1858. The poem is set in the early days of Plymouth Colony settled by pilgrims fresh off the Mayflower ship, and during a time of Native-American unrest (1621). It is the story of a love-triangle between Miles Standish, Priscilla Mullins, and John Alden, and is said to be true and passed to Longfellow (a descendent of John Alden himself) through oral tradition. Captain Miles Standish is the middle-aged, brave, swaggering military hero if a bit rough around the edges, and who just lost his wife and seeks to marry Pricilla. John Alden is Standish’s young and handsome roommate whom he asks to deliver his (Miles’) marriage proposal to the beautiful Pricilla on his behalf (fearing he lacks the right way with words). John Alden goes to Pricilla to deliver the proposal but is clearly enamored with the young beauty himself; thus, he innocently bumbles the message, clumsily attempts to recover, and muddles that effort until finally Pricilla makes her famous retort: “Prithee, John, why do you not speak for yourself?" In the end, John gets the girl and Miles "standishs" aside having given his blessing to the young lovers. It’s an optimistic ending; a fresh start for these new settlers in this new land.

Miles is a central character in Henry James’ 1898 gothic suspense novella, “The Turn of the Screw”. He is a 10 year old precocious schoolboy, and one of the two children a governess is sent to care for at an English country estate. Miles is perhaps a precursor to Damien from “The Omen” in that he is an innocent, well-mannered, and handsome child who enchants the new governess. She overlooks his misbehavior due to his “positive fragrance of purity” and his unusual beauty. However, she begins to observe the disturbing detachment the boy exhibits, an impersonality that lends itself to the novella’s overall suspense. Supernatural events (visions of ghosts) are observed by the governess and she becomes suspicious over Miles’ connection to the otherworldly encounters. Her fear grows over his perceived “wickedness” assuming that he is just too “exquisite” to be normal. The reader is never quite sure if the horrors of the ghosts are real or a product of the governess’s declining mental state. One of the first suspense horror novels of its kind, we’ll never be certain of the true nature and intentions of this little boy.

Popular Songs

ON MILES

18 Miles to Memphis
a song by the Stray Cats

Famous People

NAMED MILES

Miles Davis (jazz musician)
Miles Austin (football player)
Miles Browning (World War II admiral)
Miles Standish (famous pilgrim)

Children of Famous People

NAMED MILES

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME MILES

One of the Mayflower passengers, Miles Standish was an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims as a military advisor for the Plymouth Colony. A defining characteristic of Standish's military leadership was his appetite for defensive action which resulted in at least two small scuffles on different groups of Native Americans. During these actions, Standish exhibited considerable courage and skill as a soldier, but also demonstrated a brutality that angered Native Americans and disturbed more moderate members of the Colony. One of the best known depictions of Standish in popular culture was the 1858 book, The Courtship of Miles Standish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Highly fictionalized, the story presents Standish as a timid romantic. It was extremely popular in the 19th century and played a significant role in cementing the Pilgrim story in American culture.

Miles Davis was an iconic genius of jazz music. A trumpeter and composer, Davis’s contributions to the genre pushed jazz music into new territory. Born into a middle-class family and raised in East St. Louis, Miles inherited his musical talent from his mother. He became influenced by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and would eventually drop out of Juliard to play in a jazz quintet with “The Bird” (Parker) in 1946. Keeping up with Parker and his breakneck tempos and chord substitutions proved a humbling and invaluable experience for the young musician. He would go onto join other musicians who were playing a more relaxed, less volatile style of jazz. In the early 1950s, Miles’ contribution and standard of play would wane due to his heroin addiction, but in a few short years, he would clean-up his act and go onto form his first quintet (which included another jazz great, John Coltrane). This group would produce widely popular and great jazz music. In the 1960s, Miles moved onto another quintet that included, among others, Herbie Hancock. At this point in his career, Davis and his group improvised and experimented with new sounds – open forms of free jazz – which dazzled critics and avid jazz fans alike. The 1970s was a time when rock-and-roll was replacing jazz, and so Miles and his group experimented with fusion between the two genres and are considered pioneers of jazz-rock. Miles Davis is a giant among jazz musicians; his brilliance and contributions still influence music today.