Spotlight on: Aloysius

Like Effie from a couple of weeks ago, this week’s spotlight name is another name inspired by the British teen TV drama Skins. Alo is a farm boy, whose real name is discovered to be Aloysius in the episode featuring him and his relationship with his overbearing parents. He’s a skinny red-headed guy who is kind of cute in an off-beat way.

As if often the case, once I have a face to put with a name, even a fictional one, I can more easily see the name on a real person. I suspect I’m not alone.

However, if Aloysius was simply an unusual name for a TV character, he wouldn’t have much going for him. If anything, an association with a TV character can be a drawback.

Many parents don’t want to admit they named their kid for a TV character, especially one with a slacker reputation from a show with a scandalous reputation. Luckily for this name, Aloysius is also a Catholic Saint who was born in northern Italy, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, also known as Luigi Gonzaga.

Aloysius is pronounced sort of like al-eh-WISH-us. It is the Latin form of one of my personal favorites: Louis. Other variations are Alois and Aloys. Incidentally, if you remove the A from Alois you get the feminine Lois. But as far as I know, Lois is not a feminine diminutive of either Louis or Aloysius. However, Lois can be masculine and another form of Louis.

Suddenly Aloysius became a glaring omission from the list of us-enders. Ideally spotlight names may seem a bit outside the mainstream, but not completely off-the-wall. I may have omitted Aloysuis because I was unsure of pronunciation and wasn’t sure it was usable in modern parents’ minds. But as usual, there is an appealing, on-trend short version. Alo is very similar to up-and-coming Arlo.

Back in 2008, Appellation Mountain did a feature on Aloysius. The overall conclusion from the comments was that Aloysius might be too much to saddle on a child and is best suited as a middle name. I wonder if almost four years later if readers might be more willing to place this daring choice in the first spot?

Like many spotlight names, Aloysius is a name that has never been extremely popular, but at one point was more popular than one might imagine now. Aloysius hovered between the 300s and 500s from the 1880s (the earliest decade data is available) to the 1920s. The name peaked at 311 in 1893 and has not revisited the top 1000 since 1940.

Let’s track how many boys were named Aloysius in the past decade. Just to be clear, the numbers are not rankings, since Aloysius has not been in the top 1000 recently, but actual numbers of boys named Aloysius in the U.S. for these years:

Year # of boys
2000 16
2001 8
2002 13
2003 7
2004 14
2005 11
2006 13
2007 14
2008 10
2009 15
2010 14


So far Aloysius has remained consistently obscure in recent years. But he’s going on my watch list, because I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Aloysius.

Readers: What do you think? Is Aloysius usable as a first name, only usable as a middle name or completely unusable?

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  1. I love all of the “us”-ending names for boys, just as I love all of the “ella”-ending names for girls (as opposed to simply “elle”).

    I think if I were going to use Aloysius, though, I would prefer Al or Lou as a nickname, instead of Alo. Those would give it a more mainstream appeal.

    • You might be right about Al or Lou being more mainstream than Alo. Alo has sort of a hipster vibe going on. In Manhattan, perhaps, Alo might be mainstream, but in Boise, Idaho maybe Al or Lou would work better.

  2. Aloysius was the name of the teddy bear in “Brideshead Revisited”!!! He was named after the saint; the novel is all about Catholicism.

  3. There’s a college near me with Aloysius in the name (at least I think that’s how they spell it), so any time I hear that name, I think of college. It never ocurred to me that it could be a boys name.

  4. I see a lot of potential for being made fun of. I wouldn’t make fun, but I can totally see kids doing it.

    • I parts of the country, I could see the potential for teasing too. But I firmly believe some kids will be teased no matter what their name and others will never be teased no matter what the name. For someone who is already awkward, Aloysius might be an additional burden, while a kid with swagger could pull it off.

  5. Aloysius is what we’ll be naming our son due in August. He will be joining his brother whose name is Wolfgang. We’ve gotten alot if crap for both names so far, but my husband and I (and our families) love the names!!

    • Aloysius seems startling at first, but as I become more familiar with the name it really grows on me. The name has a fascinating history. I applaud you for having the guts to use it – and Wolfgang.

  6. i love the name aloysius so much so i almost convinced my 3year old it was a better name for him than his name, pregnant again so aloysius he shall be,but seeing how luther is known as lulu , gertrude is known as tru, im sure aloysius will be known as wish for some time

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