Original (or Originald) was a male Christian name used until the 17th century in the North of England. It originated as a show of solidarity against Dutch immigrants in Lincolnshire.

The word "original" was used at that time to denote that something was British and not imported, quite different to the way we use it today when we mean to say "not fake" or "first".

In Northern social groups therefore the word "original" would be used when anything or anyone who was good, good being whatever was familiar and local.
It developed from this limited usage to mean something was valuable. It would be appropriate for example to describe someone as an "original friend" instead of a "best friend".

At some point this idea of general worthiness must have transgressed into proper nouns and the first "Mr Original Someone-or-other" would have emerged. This is not an isolated event, "Chastity" and "Faith" are girls names which are presumably supposed to encourage their namesakes. "Original" was probably intended to inspire boys to be good in the same way.

Of course this strategy doesn’t always work as Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner outline in their book Freakonomics. In his example, a man named "Winner" becomes a criminal whereas his twin brother; "Looser"; joins respectable society.
In the same way the only two examples of "Original" I’ve found, are names in court records.

Hardly conclusive proof, however the search for more "Originals" will be difficult, mostly because it is probably the hardest type of information to find using the internet. Searching for "original names" tends to bring up reams of websites for expectant mothers wishing to curse their babies with an "Acenzion", a "Sarika" or a "Taise".

To those parents I ask: How much more original would it be to name your child after the very thing you are so desperately striving for? The irony I’m sure will be uncovered by some.

Considering then that the name "Original" is based on the finest British traditions of assumed superiority, moralisation, criminality, idiocy*, and potential for irony; I am quite surprised that the name ever fell out of use.


A Glossary of Words used in the Wapentakes of Maningly and Corringham, Lincolnshire by Edward Peacock F.S.A. Published by the English Dialect Society 1877. (first edition)

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Published by William Morrow. 2005

*I am British and proud, the last sentence is mere self effacing humour - one of our more admirable national traits.

O*rig"i*nal (?), a. [F. original, L. originalis.]

1.

Pertaining to the origin or beginning; preceding all others; first in order; primitive; primary; pristine; as, the original state of man; the original laws of a country; the original inventor of a process.

His form had yet not lost All her original brightness. Milton.
<-- #sic. "her" refers to form, apparently considered feminine in gender. -->

2.

Not copied, imitated, or translated; new; fresh; genuine; as, an original thought; an original process; the original text of Scripture.

3.

Having the power to suggest new thoughts or combinations of thought; inventive; as, an original genius.

4.

Before unused or unknown; new; as, a book full of original matter.

Original sin Theol., the first sin of Adam, as related to its consequences to his descendants of the human race; -- called also total depravity. See Calvinism.

 

© Webster 1913.


O*rig"i*nal, n. [Cf. F. original.]

1.

Origin; commencement; source.

It hath it original from much grief. Shak.

And spangled heavens, a shining frame, Their great Original proclaim. Addison.

2.

That which precedes all others of its class; archetype; first copy; hence, an original work of art, manuscript, text, and the like, as distinguished from a copy, translation, etc.

The Scriptures may be now read in their own original. Milton.

3.

An original thinker or writer; an originator.

[R.]

Men who are bad at copying, yet are good originals. C. G. Leland.

4.

A person of marked eccentricity.

[Colloq.]

5. Zool. & Bot.

The natural or wild species from which a domesticated or cultivated variety has been derived; as, the wolf is thought by some to be the original of the dog, the blackthorn the original of the plum.

 

© Webster 1913.

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