Spotlight on: Thaddeus

After spotlighting some surprisingly ordinary names, such as Susanna, Martha, and George, and doing a post featuring “white bread” names, it’s time to go with old-fashioned and bold again in the same vein as Ferdinand. It is also time to revisit the much neglected boys.

Thaddeus is like the suitor who makes a lukewarm impression on because his profile picture isn’t conventionally cute. Maybe he has an unusual feature, like an off-center pointy nose, or maybe he has cow licks.

But since he seems nice, the girl will agree to one obligatory date with low expectations. After that she finds herself hooked, as she discovers his hidden magnetism and talents. She can’t believe she almost dismissed him since in an off-beat way, he is really rather handsome. Suddenly the other girl who rejected him for the prom is envious. His eyes are intelligent and captivating. And cow licks can be adorable!

Thaddeus didn’t impress me right away. He seemed like so much of a name. Frankly, he left me a little overwhelmed. And I love to push the name envelope.

My first encounter with Thaddeus was when I discovered Thaddeus McCotter, a representative from Michigan who had a brief presidential bid in 2011. Thaddeus was also the name of a character, an autistic boy, in an episode of The Dead Zone.

While this name has never been extremely popular, it peaked at 309 in 1918. It only exited top 1000 territory twice since 1880; once in 1895 and again in 2009. (The variation Thaddaeus has never been in the top 1000.) Overall, while Thaddeus’ popularity has ebbed and flowed, he hasn’t seen any dramatic ascents or descents in the rankings. This is a good thing for anyone who wants a different name, but wants to avoid any name likely to go from fresh to stale in a short 5 year period.

As I often do when discovering a new name, I looked up Thaddeus in The Baby Name Wizard. If I remember The Baby Name Wizard’s description, I know I have found a name that will eventually stick with me. The Baby Name Wizard describes Thaddeus as the perfect name if, “your tastes run fanciful, but you don’t want your son to resent you for it.”

And while Thaddeus might seem fanciful, he manages to seem masculine too. Thaddeus can be a politician, a musician, a doctor or a side-show performer. He can sit on either side of the political aisle. In his spare time he can be a hunter or a chess player. As the idea of Thaddeus begins to sink in, his boldness, intelligence, and style begins to resonate. I might have found my latest name crush!

Thaddeus is also among a group of names, the us-enders, that I feel are on the cusp of being discovered. Of that group, I feel he is one of the most usable. He doesn’t give off the supercharged-testosterone vibe of Titus, and he doesn’t seem as pretentious and arrogant as Leviticus.

He strikes the right balance of toughness and refinement, despite the length. And like a lot of long unusual names, he has a couple of short versions: Thad and Tad.

For those who want to temper Thaddeus’ unusualness with a bit of familiarity, there is also Ted, but many may assume Ted is short for Theodore. Nevertheless, for those who like Ted, but don’t like Theodore, and still want a long version, Thaddeus may be a viable alternative.

For those looking for an obscure Biblical name, Thaddeus fits that requirement.

Thaddeus has been mentioned in the book of Matthew as one of the twelve apostles. If Thaddeus was one of the apostles, then why is he obscure? Because in later books of the New Testament, Thaddeus had been replaced by Jude, which happens to be a fashionable name for boys at the moment.

While Thaddeus and Jude are believed to be different names for the same man, the two names seem very different in style. For those who like Jude, Thaddeus may seem a bit much. Thaddeus is not a good match for parents who like Celtic-Modern style names like Colin and Declan or Western inspired names like Hunter and Wyatt.

One downside to Thaddeus is finding an appropriate sibling match. I have a friend who named his son Thatcher. While Thatcher has grown on me, I would have loved to see him and his wife name their son Thaddeus. Yet, in my book, having a son named Thatcher rules out Thaddeus for a second son. The beginning sounds are too similar, while the styles clash completely.

Thatcher and Thaddeus as brothers leaves the same impression as a lady wearing a heavy wool, over-sized, cowl neck sweater with thin, flowing, shiny silk pants. I would never recommend appearing in public that way, even if both pieces are fuchsia. Especially if both pieces are fuchsia.

Initially I planned to research some possible siblings for Thaddeus, but one of the series planned for Upswing Baby Names is a series on Name Games. Finding siblings for Thaddeus may just be our first Name Game Challenge.

Feel free to add sibling suggestions in the comments, since anyone who comments is still eligible to take part in the Name Games later.

In the meantime, what are your feelings on Thaddeus? Is Thaddeus usable? Can you picture Thaddeus or one of its short forms on a baby or a grown man?


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  1. I love this name for all the reasons you discussed….and because I just like the sound of it. To me, it rolls easily off the tongue and settles comfortably in the ear. I also think it sounds appropriate for both a baby and an adult — a very important factor to me. I’m not a big fan of nicknames in general, but I really like Thad. I actually had a classmate name Thaddeus when I was in college.

    • I have never met a real-life Thaddeus, but I think the name has a similar style to the popular Sebastian, but is so much more manly. Maybe Sebastian would make a good brother name for Thaddeus, but I find Sebastian too prissy,

      • I also don’t think it makes the transition from child to adult nearly as well; I have a hard time envisioning a baby named Sebastian

  2. OOOooh I haven’t really heard this name much, but I really like it!

  3. I don’t know anyone named Thadeus. We’re still trying to decide on a baby boy name, BTW. Less than a month to go! I think it’s an ok name, though I’m not sure I’m completely sold on it for my son. Haven’t really thought too much about it!

    • At lot of it depends on your naming style and what kinds of names you picked for your older children. If you like old-fashioned names, then Thaddeus could be a good fit. If you like more modern names, then maybe you would like something like Thatcher. If you like traditional names, then Theodore or Theo could be a good fit.

  4. I think Thaddeus is a really handsome name, and the meaning of “heart”, as in “my dear, my beloved” is so lovely and sentimental. There’s so few male names that speak of loving in general, so this one is a real find.

    Oddly enough, I think it goes well with Jude – I think Thaddeus Jude would be a good combination, although I can see why you might feel weird using it.

    As someone not in the US (haha how did you guess???), to me it does actually seem quite Western, as in our stereotypes, cowboys etc always have names like Tad or Thad or Jed or Jud or Jeb or Jub.

    However, as the only new “name category” I’ve come up with is Unisex Cowboy, my ignorance on the subject is massive.

    Non-Americans may well find Thaddeus quite Western enough for their needs. To me it’s not a clash.

    • I never considered Thaddeus Western, but I can see how Tad or Thad could have a Western feel. When I say Western, I mean Western U.S. as in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico. Now that I think of it, if Tad or Thad is used I can see Jude being a good match for a brother.

    • Thad and Tad are southern colonial charmers or upper crusted New Englanders BUT NOT western, the term western in America is directly connected to pioneers and Indians. Western names are like Davey Crocket, Boone, Johnny Appleseed, or look at the 1930’s with the John Wayne era of western names which all later took on a HillBilly vibe thanks to Jed Clampett, Ellie May, Jethro, Granny from the show Beverly Hillbillies. Now, the colonial South had names like Thad, Tad, Rafe, Archie, Brick for Bertram, Freddie, Leif, and Red on the boys and Dimity, Iris, Parthenia, India, Caroline, Virgilia, Temperance , Augusta, Hettie, Julia, Amy, were seen on the girls. Simultaneously, is was seen in the New Englander states, but some became most common in the South. Think Gone with the wind marries North and South 1985 , the version where is starred Patrick Swayze. These names were of handsome men exceedingly wealthy but have new money, not old, therefore, their social circles/pedigree isn’t old/well endowed. The money is earned in cotton or mill factories. Their societies are ran differently than the Brits, but desperate British Aristocracy father’s would be forced to turn cheek to and still wed their daughters off too in order reclaim their name and wave off the creditors, in order to hope to keep some claim on their birth right/lineage and accept the American ways, despite how entitled and outlandish it stood. It kept the farthers’ from much bigger embarrassments. This tradition continued well into the 1930’s it even included American heiresses. To give a better understanding connect it to names like Vanderbilt (railroads), LaRoche (pharmaceuticals) , Rogers (oil), Whitney (trolleys). These big hitters took it to the extremes in 1885 onwards, also known as the gilded age after the American civil war, and made it the fashion and the talk in the papers….

  5. Hmmm…Thaddeus. I think it works for an adult. Not sure about a kid. DH used to work with a man named Thad. I’m guessing it was short for Thaddeus.

  6. sibling name for Thaddeus is Gloria

    • I would have never considered Gloria, and while I have since thought of some brother names for Thaddeus, I was still stuck on a sister name. Good idea.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I have a cousin named Thaddeus. He has 2 brothers named David and John.

  8. Our 3rd son is due in 6 weeks and we are seriously considering the name Thaddeus. Our older sons are Silas and Eli, and we really want a Biblical name that isn’t too common. We like either Thaddeus Jude or Jude Thaddeus. I think Thaddeus is a strong masculine name that could fit several different types of personalities. It does appear that a hard and fast meaning is hard to come by. I’ve found “heart”, “courageous heart”, “praise” (same meaning as Jude), or “gift of God” (same meaning as Theodore, as some sources say it’s an Aramaic form of that name). All good meanings in my opinion.

  9. Too funny, I googled the two names Thatcher and Thaddeus together because if I ever had twin boys that’s what I would name them, I love them together Thatch and Thadd. I have two girls Larkin and Daphne and I think they’d all go….so my problem is if I only have one (and it’s a boy) which would I go with I love them both!

  10. We have a Thaddeus! He’s four and is starting to get called Thad at pre-school. He has an older sister named Ada, and a baby brother named Christian. The name was a tough sell to my husband, but now we both love it.

  11. I named my son Thaddeus Samuel. He was born this past March. Beware if you pick this name…I got sooooo much grief for it but my husband and I loved it so we didn’t care. We call our son Tadd or Taddy (since he is a baby). He has an older brother Thomas (Tommy). I really hope Thaddeus doesn’t become popular though. I always had my heart set on naming one of my sons Jack but when it came time to name our son Jack was suddenly super trendy. I hate names everyone else is picking. I want something unique for my child but not “made up” if you know what I mean.

  12. My little grandson’s name is Thaddeus and his parents call him Tad and Taddy. His big brother’s name is Thomas and we call him Tommy. Thaddeus was a hard name for me to digest at first but it has grown on me. I would love that little guy even if his name was Eubaldo!

  13. I have twin grandsons named Thadeus and Sebastian. Thad and Bash. Names fit them perfectly.

  14. Frances H says:

    Our son is named Tadhg (pronounced as the first syllable ‘tig-‘ in the word ‘tiger’). This is a very old and original Irish name which was translated in the past as the equivalent to Thaddeus and also Timothy by the English. I had never heard of the name Thaddeus before we named our son so I am very interested to hear about this name and that people are also using it. Also it is interesting that Tad and Taddy are nicknames for Thaddeus, as I was worried that non-Irish people may call him that as the spelling and pronounciation of Tadhg is difficult for non-Irish speakers.

  15. We named our son Thaddaeus, for lots of reasons 0 but primarily it ended up fitting best out of the three other choices we had. His older sister’s name is Saphira. I hadn’t thought of it in advance, but realized a few months after his birth that I had two children with classical greek names. Probably most names in that genre would go together as a sibling pair.

  16. We love the name Thaddeus! We’ve decided on it for our second. We wanted something that wasn’t super popular but also wasn’t too “off the wall”. Our first son’s name is Lincoln and we think the two names mesh pretty well.

  17. I loved this! I realize I’m about 3 years late in reading it but still loved it.

    My 5th child is named Thaddeus, he will be 5 next month. We have not shortened it, however from time to time we call him Jude due to the biblical reference.

    As for siblings he has 6 and their names are: Lincoln, Samuel, Vincent though he goes by Vinny, Elsbeth which we have shortened to Elsa, Augustine (a boy), and last Pennyanne.

  18. We have a Thadeus (removed the d for ease of spelling and perceived pretentiousness). His siblings are Jamieson (m) and Bentley (f).

    We call him Thaddie or T. But he likes and refers to himself as Thadeus and other kids don’t struggle with it. Only the adults!

    One cautionary note , the ‘th’ sound is one of the last sounds kids develop. So at the moment he refers to himself as ‘Tsadeus’ which is harmless and cute.

    Everyone in our family hated the name.

  19. Thad R. Riddle II says:

    The name you have spoke about is close to my name (Thad R. Riddle II) and you have nailed every detail of the name and I thank you for getting it right. You are the first person I have seen get the full history of that name.


  1. […] in first names reminds me that I’m less adventurous than I thought (I was slow to embrace Thaddeus, and nickname names don’t always go over well with me), my tastes in middle names reminds me […]

  2. […] Julius Junius Leviticus Lazarus Linus Magnus Marcus Marius Mateus Mattaeus Remus Rufus Seamus Thaddeus […]

  3. […] the response to our Spotlight on Thaddeus was overwhelmingly positive. To some readers Thaddeus was a new discovery. I just love helping […]

  4. […] I know more than one family with kids that repeat initials while clash style-wise sort of like my hypothetical example of Thaddeus and Thatcher. Off the top of my head, I know of at least one family that repeat an initial with two of the three […]

  5. […] relate. I instinctively felt a pang of remorse seeing some of my favorites, Felicity, Hugh, and Thaddeus rise in […]

  6. […] Aida Aletha Aloysius Amos Begonia Bianca Clive Eartha Effie Elihu Emma Etta Ferdinand George Geraldine Golda Huey Martha Perry Petula Rhea Ross Susanna Thaddeus […]

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