Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Norman

Originally rendered as Norðman in Olde English, Norman is an Old Germanic epithet referring first to Scandinavian settlers in pre-10th century England and then later to the Vikings who overtook and settled in Normandy, France. “Norðman” essentially means “North man” signifying the direction from where these people came (i.e., the Scandinavian countries in present day Northern Europe – Denmark, Norway and Sweden). The byname Norðman was also somewhat interchangeable with a “Norwegian” specifically (Norway is the northernmost nation in Scandinavia). The Normans were first identified as an ethnic group after the Viking chieftain Rollo was granted permission to settle in Nuestria in the early 10th century which was then a region of the West Francia kingdom. The Frankish King Charles III allowed Rollo and his fellow invading “North men” to take the land in a peace treaty in exchange for becoming the king’s vassal and aiding the rest of West Francia against further Viking raids. This land would eventually become known as the Duchy of Normandy and Rollo is considered the principality's founder and first ruler. He and the other Norsemen intermixed with the region's native Franks and ultimately became known as the Norman-French. These Northmen would ultimately adopt the Frankish religion (Christianity rather than their native paganism) and the language of the Franks (the Italic language of French rather than their own native Germanic Old Norse language). Rollo was notably the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror (the dude who conquered all of England in 1066). So there you have it. Norðman was originally an English nickname referring to “men from the north” or “Vikings” but it would later develop into a common medieval forename after the Norman Conquest. Thanks to the Vikings, a Norðman was considered a ruthless plunderer and devious invader; but later became an adjective for one who was admired for other qualities: “fierce, ferocious, fiery, fearless, full-bodied and full of pride”. Stormin’ Norman! The name fell out of circulation in the later Middle Ages but then enjoyed a revival in the 19th century. Today the name is back to being considered old-fashioned and out-of-date. We should also mention, however, that Norman is a fairly familiar Jewish-American surname originating out of present day Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine as Novominsky (but Anglicized to Norman when the families immigrated to America). Perhaps from the Ukrainian element нове (nove) meaning “new” plus the Low German element “minsk” meaning “man” (related to the Yiddish “Mensch”). From this perspective, Norman is an excellent name choice for a “new” Jewish baby boy.

All About the Baby Name – Norman

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME NORMAN

The Three energy is powerful and enthusiastic. These personalities are cheerful, full of self-expression, and often quite emotional. They have an artistic flair and "gift-of-gab" that makes them natural entertainers. Their joyfulness bubbles over, and their infectious exuberance draws a crowd. The Three personality is like a child - forever young and full of delight. They are charming, witty, and generally happy people. The Three personality lives in the "now" and has a spontaneous nature. Threes seem to live with a bright and seemingly unbreakable aura that attracts others to them. In turn, they are deeply loyal and loving to their friends and family. Luck also has a tendency to favor number Threes.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME NORMAN

Norman reminds us a little of Harvey. It’s considered passé, yes; but it’s also got a lot of character. In our opinion, this one is old-fashioned in a charming sort of way and therefore a neglected option for parents looking for something more original (yet familiar). More than 100 years ago at the turn of the 20th century, the name Norman was quite in vogue and a Top 100 favorite for American baby boys. The name remained on the U.S. Top 100 list for over 50 consecutive years before finally falling off in 1955. The height of Norman’s popularity came in the 19-teens, 20s and early 30s when he was on America’s Top 50 list (his best year ever was 1931 when the name ranked #36 most common in the country). One would think we’d see a great decline in the name’s usage circa 1960 when the film “Psycho” was released featuring the “psychotic” character of Norman Bates, but the movie did little to send the name into a free-fall. Rather, this is a name that pretty much dropped from circulation during the 1990s and early 2000s (2005 is the last year Norman made an appearance on America’s Top 1000 list). Only 180 baby boys were called Norman in 2012. This old “north man” has actually taken a trip southward in popularity.

Quick Facts

ON NORMAN

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

N/A

PRONUNCIATION:

NOR-mən

SIMPLE MEANING:

Northman (Viking)

Characteristics

OF NORMAN

Communicative

Creative

Optimistic

Popular

Social

Dramatic

Happy

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Norman

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME NORMAN

Norman Bates is a strong contender for the creepiest fictional and film character of all time, as conceived by Robert Bloch in his 1959 novel, Psycho, and as immortalized by Anthony Perkins in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name (you can forget that ridiculous remake of 1998 – Vince Vaughan??! Puhleeze – or any sequels). Based upon a true-life murderer, Norman is a classic case of the smothered Mama’s boy gone bad. Subject to an emotionally abused childhood in which his mother impresses upon him the inherent evil nature of women, Norman grows into a young man who is severely disturbed, and who kills his mother and her lover, making it look like a murder-suicide pact. But that’s just the tame beginning. Norman then props up his mother’s corpse in the house and goes about managing their nearby motel as if nothing has happened. He alternately assumes his mother’s personality with his own (along with her clothes and a wig), making sure that she flies into rages every time he is attracted to a woman. Not-so-innocent Marion Crane stumbles into this little ménage-a-deux, mixes up the juices, and pays dearly for it. Those who follow in her footsteps looking for her come to the same fate. The beauty of the movie is that we are as clueless as Marion et al until the denouement, when all is made clear to us – with screams and sound effects that have a lasting effect on one’s psyche. A masterpiece of almost laughable evil, Norman continues to haunt us well after his unveiling, when even the local sheriff remarks, “Why, Norman wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Norman May is a kind and intelligent young man in Charlotte Mary Yonge’s 1856 novel, The Daisy Chain, the story of a large middle-class family in England and their various trials and accomplishments. Of both, there are many. At the outset, Mother May is killed and daughter Margaret crippled in a carriage accident, while Father May struggles to keep up alone with the rest of the family – eleven children! Norman is actually probably in the Mensa class, but like so many of his Victorian brothers, he suffers from depression and self-doubt. In the final analysis, Norman becomes a clergyman – an excellent choice at a time when people were actively striving to discipline their baser natures into choosing the higher path of divinity. At least, we hope it cheered him up a little.

Popular Songs

ON NORMAN

Norman Normal
a song by Peter, Paul & Mary

Norman
a song by Sue Thompson

Famous People

NAMED NORMAN

Norman Rockwell (illustrator)
Norman Mailer (writer)
Norman Kerry (actor)
Norman (Norm) MacDonald (comic)
Norman Reedus (actor)
Norman Cook (British DJ Fatboy Slim)
Norman Granz (jazz mucisioan)
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. (Army general)
Norman D. Vaughan (explorer)
Norman "Norm" Nixon (basketball player)
Norm (the Computer Guy)

Children of Famous People

NAMED NORMAN

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

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME NORMAN

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