Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Basil Got His Name

When naming our new pug we wanted to choose a name that was appropriately dignified, but that also had a playful quality to it, like the breed.

"My name is Basil, and I'm here to inform you
how to pronounce it correctly!" 

As MD insisted many years ago when I consulted her as to what to name our previous pug, a dog's name should have dignity to it, and also be a good calling name.  She didn't approve of silly names for one's dogs.  And I respect her for that, as she was the one who came up with the name Pompey, after all.

"It is not pronounced Bay-zil,
like the leafy herb used to make pesto."

We initially thought of naming our new pug Bamboo, but quickly dispensed with such a choice because it wasn't properly respectful.

"My name may be spelled the same way as the herb,
but it isn't pronounced the same way.  Much like
someone from Poland is "Polish," and not "polish."

And, besides, Boy couldn't bear the thought of being a middle-aged, gay New York decorator walking through the showrooms at the D&D building with a pug named Bamboo.  It was simply too much.

"My name isn't pronounced the same way as
Basel, Switzerland is pronounced, either."

So we cast around to see what other names we could come up with for our new little fellow.  After lots of backing and forthing I suggested that we name him Basil.

"Basil is not pronounced the same way as Basel,
which is correctly pronounced Bah-zl."
Image courtesy of Amy Park Design

Basil seemed an appropriately dignified name to me, and I liked it because it was rather Wodehouse-ian, in an Englishy, drawing room comedy-ish sort of way.  Much like our own names, Reggie Darling and Boy Fenwick are.

"It is not pronounced Bah-zeel, either,
as in Giambattista Basile, the Italian poet."
Image courtesy of Bridgman Art Library

Besides, I had rather fond associations for the name Basil, as I have always admired the actor Basil Rathbone, and I adored the character Basil Fawlty played by John Cleese in the hilarious English television comedy Fawlty Towers.

"It is pronounced Bazzle, the same way
that the actor Basil Rathbone
pronounced his first name."
Image courtesy of the Basil Rathbone Gallery

For those of you who may not be sure how to pronounce the name Basil, at least in the way it is/was pronounced for the Messers Rathbone and Fawlty, it is pronounced to rhyme with razzle, or dazzle.

"And the same way that Basil Fawlty, of Fawlty Towers,
pronounced his first name, too."
Image courtesy of Wikimedia

And it most decidedly is not pronounced the way the herb basil is, which rhymes with hazel.

"So, don't even think of calling me Bay-zil, okay?
It's pronounced Bazzle!" 

And, unlike Reggie's and Boy's names, which are silly made-up ones, Basil's name is actually his "real" name.  He really is named Basil.  So please, Dear Reader, do him the favor of pronouncing it correctly!

Photographs of Basil (the pug) and basil (the herb) by Boy Fenwick.  All others as noted.


  1. Oh thank goodness! I was convinced that since an announcement was in order it might be to correct against the pronunciation "Bazzle" in favor of "Bazel". Your choice seems perfect for you.

  2. Welcome to dear Basil, who will no doubt provide much razzle-dazzle in the household!

  3. Basil Rathbone was always my favorite Sherlock Holmes. I think the name fits your new little guy very well!

  4. I for one am so delighted to know how Basil got his name. I keep saying his name over and over. I love the story and the pronunciation.

  5. We Aussies say 'Bazzle' for the herb as well but it is a suitably dignified name. Love Basil Fawlty too and while there is one scene where Manuel asks about his employer's health, Bas ill? as opposed to Man well about himself, the Basil Rathbone reference makes it very clear. Great choice and I am enjoying reading about his new life in your household.

  6. He's a sweet dog. Basil seems to go with a pug I think but would never work with a corgi!

  7. It is funny to thing of Rathbone and pugs. His patrician beak and a pug nose couldn't be any more different. Here's to the launch of the good ship "Bazzle" in your household. Long may he reign.

  8. What a charming introduction! Basil the Pug is so much cuter than Basil the Hamster, late of Fawlty Towers.

  9. I enjoyed the story of naming the new princeling at Darlington House.
    Basil appears to be very much at home.
    And now to new adventures for all.

  10. My great aunt Barb had a shihtzu named Basil. He was a happy and dignified dog. It's a great name. In England we pronounce the herb the same as the name.
    Great Aunt Barb always pronounced shihtzu as "she zoo", out of a sense of propriety I suppose, but I've always called them "shit zoos". Never known which is right.

  11. Hello Reggie, Well, if Basil decides to switch pronunciations, at least he'll have lots of honorable alternatives. I have just been checking out 'Stories from Pentamerone', by Giambattista Basile, whom I had never heard of before this.

  12. Dear Reggie,
    I have just returned from hols and so am only catching up with the news now. My commiserations on the passing of Pompey. I know too well what that can be like.

    Young Basil looks like being a charmer from Day One!

  13. Wonderful.

    And some of us call the herb Bazzle too:).

  14. Well of course your name is pronounced as in Fawlty and Rathbone. There is no other way, is there? We Brits also pronounce basil, the herb, in the same manner (oh, and don't get me started on the correct way of pronouncing "herb" either).

    Basil has the sweetest little face.

  15. No confusion here Reggie we pronounce the herb Basil btw that's herb with an H.

    Did you follow Fashion week in NYC ? some great designs now over to London !

  16. For some reason, I'd assumed he would be called "Bazzle" since he's quite handsome. Baysel wouldn't do at all.

  17. Oh that beautiful face!!! What a treasure ! Perhaps a lucky thing he isn't a puppy! Ever since we started getting only "rescue dogs"; I am convinced that these dogs whose circumstances "improve" are deeply and eternally grateful!!

    And, being the "only dog" at YOUR house is a HUGE improvement over being a "kennel dog" even at the best of kennels!

    Bravo! You are all lucky!

    When we lost our "Georgie", after 16 years , (she was a "corgi mix"
    I personally followed for a mile and a half through "gang territory" in Los Angeles with Adam following me thinking any second I would be mugged; and two gang members helped me get her)

    Adam was devastated......he described as a "hole in my heart"!

    That says it all!

    He doesn't replace Pompey (you will always miss him....what a special dog); but it will fill the "hole in your hearts" with another, different pug!!!

    Good job!!!

  18. Hello Basil, I love pugs. Your name is gorgeous just like you. My late Pug and best friend was Barkley. He was very handsome and dignified too. Enjoy every moment Basil!

  19. Whatever his name is--this is one adorable pug. King Basil.

  20. That first photo: KILLER.

    So very, very handsome! Enjoy the mutual blessings in having found each other -- wishing the three of you many happy days and years together.

  21. Undoubtedly King of the Castello:)

  22. I'm absolutely positive that Basil will razzle-dazzle everyone with whom he comes in contact!

  23. Dear Reggie,
    Basil is a very dignified name for your quite handsome pug!
    That first image; I would have that painted for posterity!

    2013 Artist Series!

  24. Basil is a lovely little gentleman :)
    I knew it was Bazel because of Mr Rathbone and other English gentlemen .. unless you named him after an herb which I doubted.

    I need a new pup. My sweet Tate died at the age of 12 while we were still living in Argentina. Now back in the US .. I think I am ready for a new pup to come live with us.

  25. He does have the sweetest face! Basil Darling so fits him!

  26. Will he be called "Baz" in casual moments?

  27. Razzle, Dazzle, Basil! You have the cutest face ever. Makes one want to come and give
    you a big hug. Just returned from a visit with
    a friend who is owned by a dear Pug who is
    very sweet. Wish you a happy life with Boy and
    Reggie at Darlington House.

  28. Basil from Fawlty Towers is one of my most favourite characters!

    Congrats on your new pug! He is adorable!

  29. I suddenly turn and see, your fabulous face.

  30. Dearest Reggie,
    I haven't blogged all summer, so to hear of Pompey's passing was quite a shock. My sincere sympathy for the loss of your beloved Pompey.
    It's wonderful to hear of the new addition to the family. I love the name and have no doubt we will be dazzled by this little Darling!

  31. Oh he's just darling!! (woops! no pun intended :-) )
    and Basil is an absolutely capital choice. Well done!
    Wishing you scores of happy years together.

  32. You're cooling... I've noticed a rather disturbing trend of decreased posts over the last few years. At this rate, we could see 25 posts over 2014, 15 in 2015, 9 in 2016, 5 in 2017, 2 or 3 in 2018 and by 2020... you've gone the way of the dodo. We all beg of you, find your second wind.

  33. Bazzel, indeed! What an adorable face...

  34. Basil always sounds so regal to me, so I love that it's the name of your little dog! He seems absolutely lovely.

  35. Basil Fawlty is one of my most favorite characters ever: wonderful choice for the new one!

  36. Dear RD of AD,

    Tee hee! I love his face, he is GORGEOUS! I laughed when I read your comment about "Boy" being in the D and D with a dog named, Basil is perfect! One can see from his handsome pug mug, why people like the Duchess of Windsor had so many- and one of the decorators I worked for in NYC had three ! Cooper, Wyatt, and I forget the third one's name- Anderson? not sure- anyhoo, I enjoyed this post immensely, even though I haven't had a dog of my own since I was a child. Penelope, there was once a lady I knew, a Baroness by marriage, and she frog marched me to the east side branch of the Humane Society, where I was expected to pick out a poor homeless puppy- but alas, I couldn't seem to "connect" with any there- too bad!

    Dean Farris

  37. Reggie,
    Just wanted to alert you and Basil to being "immortalized" by "pve" - I just posted his mug.
    What a sweet thing, you say Basil, I say Bazzle.

  38. I took up fencing 10 months ago and named my fencing foil Basil in honor of Basil Rathbone. Great name. Two weeks ago, Basil and I beat our teacher in a 10-point bout.

  39. What a AMAZING post:) your blog Is so beautiful you have bloglovin??

    Check my blog...with stylish Swedish fireplaces:)

    Have a great Sunday

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis - inredning it's, Swedish for decor :)

  40. To gently correct your Italian: Giambattista Basile's surname is correctly pronounced "Bah-SI-lay," not bah-zeel. The final E is never silent in Italian (cf. campanile, stile, grazie, etc.) ... keep this in mind next time you're in Rome or Milan!


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