The most famous bearer of this name is Basil Rathbone who portrayed the very British Sherlock Holmes in 1939. And of course, many of you probably already thought of the basil herb. It is usually pronounced Baz-uhl rather than Bays-uhl like the herb.
Let's try to see it from a different perspective than the above:
From the Greek name Βασιλειος (Basileios) which was derived from βασιλευς (basileus) meaning "king". There were many Byzantine Empire rulers named Basil, as well as some Eastern Orthodox saints. Saint Basil the Great was a 4th century bishop who helped to found the early Christian church. Basil is rich in history.
Despite its past-bearers, this name is definitely unique today. It has been used very steadily since 1880. It was most popular from 1912-1969. It fell off the Top 1000 chart in 1970 and hasn't ranked since! However, in 2012, it ranked at #2709 with 44 boys named Basil, and 20 girls! (Although there have only been a total of 69 girls EVER named Basil. It saw usage starting in 2006, with the exception of 12 named in the early 1900s.)
Today, Basil has been classified as a very fun name because of the manic Basil Fawlty from the British TV comedy classic "Fawlty Towers." There is also a Disney movie called "Basil of Baker Street" which stars "the Sherlock Holmes of the Mouse World."
If you still aren't sold, that's fine. I think this is an interesting name. It is on my guilty pleasures list so I can't blame any of you for not immediately using it for a son. However, there are other variations of the name that are interesting like the Russian Vassily or Vaska, the Ancient Greek Basilius, the French Basile, the Italian Basillo or the Polish Bazyli.
What do you think of Basil? Do you get the same unique and quirky, yet old-fashioned vibe that I get? Do you think it will ever be popular again, or is it too fusty?
Sibling Name Ideas:
Sisters: Beatrix, Celeste, Daphne, Eleanor, Lilac, Octavia, Sabina
Brothers: Dexter, Edward, Gideon, Luca, Otto, Rafferty, Tobias
Middle Name Ideas:
As a Middle Name: