Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Peregrine is a favorite for name enthusiasts, and it always get mentioned around Thanksgiving. This is because the first child born off of the Mayflower in the New World was named Peregrine White.

Peregrine (pronounced "PER-ah-green" or "PER-ah-grin") comes from the Latin name Peregrinus meaning "traveler" or "wanderer." In Ancient Rome, Peregrinus was their term for someone who wasn't a citizen of the empire. It's also where the word "pilgrim" comes from. The name was used a lot by early saints, so one might say that it used to be quite popular.

A Neo-Pagan is likely to get excited about this name for two reasons. One is that it's a nature name. A peregrine falcon is also known as simply the peregrine, and sometimes as the duck hawk. They are bluish-black to slate gray with white underparts. Females are noticeably bigger than males, which is common for raptors. They love to live in mountain ranges, coastal regions, river valleys, and are increasingly found in cities. It is the fastest member of the animal kingdom, it can fly at speeds up to 202 mph (325 km/h for you non-American folks). They use this skill to hunt small to medium size birds, small mammals, small reptiles, and insects. Along with kestrels, they are a favorite for falconry. It can live nearly everywhere on earth except for polar regions and New Zealand. Despite this, peregrine falcons are endangered because of the pesticide DDT which causes a weakening of their eggs. But since DDTs have been banned, the population has recovered. This bird has long been associated with royalty and bravery. Mississippian Native Americans would bury powerful men in costumes associated with peregrines because it was a symbol of celestial power.

The second association is from The Lord of the Rings. Peregrin Took is best known as Pippin, a Hobbit who plays a major role as one of Frodo's friends. He is the son of Paladin Took II and Eglantine Banks, and has three sisters named Pearl, Pimpernel, and Pervinca. He is best friends with his cousin Merry, who also plays a major role in the books. Many Neo-Pagans love The Lord of the Rings. I am not one of them, but if my partner turns out to be a huge Tolkien fan I would push for Peregrine.

This name is mentioned in many other contexts as well. In astrology, Peregrine is a name given to any celestial body lacking in "essential dignity," which basically means that it has no strength in the zodiac. Howell Peregrine was the name of a British mathematician. There are other fictional namesakes as well, like the charmingly named Peregrine Pickle. But Pippin is the most famous.

Perhaps not surprisingly given today's trends, some parents have given this name to their girls in recent years. There was a female Peregrine in the reality television show Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, but it's possible that that is a nom de plume. I have to admit that it would make a charming girl's name, but I still prefer it for a future son. It has never been in the top 1,000 for either gender, at least not while there has been a top 1,000. Other variations include Peregrino and Peregryn.

I adore Peregrine, and I know that there are others that share my love. So hopefully I will have the opportunity to use it.


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  1. I love Peregrine. How funny we should both touch upon the name pretty much simultaneously!

  2. Peregrine is great -- I always liked it, but it shot to the top of my list after I learned that my husband's mother is directly related to good old Peregrine White!

  3. Peregrine is a fantastic name! I know it comes from pilgrim, but I cannot disassociate it from the falcon.

  4. My son's name is Peregrine. He was born on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend in 2009 (Advent 1, which has special meaning for me). It's a name that shows up in my family history, from the Mayflower connection on my father's side to 12th century merchants on my mother's side. We love it! He usually goes by Perry, and sometimes Pip. I do hope he is a traveler, this boy of ours.


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