Hurricane Igor has formed over the Atlantic Ocean and, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, expected to reach a Category 4 status before it slams into the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. It will cross over the major Caribbean islands as it makes its way westward. According to the article, Hurricane Igor, “befitting of its name,” will become a “monster,” packing 135 mph winds. Undoubtedly, it will be a destructive force, but “befitting of its name”? A “monster”? Igor?
Although Igor isn’t euphonious, especially by Western standards, it certainly isn’t the worst name ever, not even by hurricane standards. Rather, Igor probably gets its reputation as an “ugly” name simply through pop culture bashing via books and movies, through the stereotypical henchman that aids Dr. Frankenstein to all the villains named Igor over the last few decades that connoted/implied their ties with the Red Menace, Russia, and Cold War antagonism. But the name of Igor isn’t monstrous, nor does the name mean “monster.”
Igor is the Russian derivative, according to Babynology.com, of the Swedish name “Ingvar,” which means “Ing’s soldier” or “Ing’s warrior.” Since Ing was the Norse god of peace and fertility, that would make “Ingvar” and “Igor” warriors of peace, a bit of a contradiction in terms but certainly understandable as a person who fights the good fight, championing peace and fertility (just an anachronistic way to say “prosperity”).
So… Hurricane Igor, if taken from the literal translation of its name, is not “befitting of its name” if it becomes a Category 4 storm and causes untold amounts of destruction and devastation. There is nothing peaceful about a hurricane, except for the deceptively calm eye.
But is the pop culture name and its association with things bad, ugly, terrible, and Russian more appropriate? Not really.
Igor did not exist in the original Frankenstein: Or ‘The Modern Prometheus.’ In fact, Mary Shelley’s protagonist worked in solitude. Igor was the creation of Hollywood and the movie popularization of the Frankenstein tale. He was the ambitious Dr. Frankenstein’s loyal henchman, often appearing somewhat dim-witted and hunchbacked. But Igor is a character of convenience, one that is controlled and/or duped, exploited, albeit loyal. In most of his incarnations, Igor is hardly a “monster.” That designation falls to the creation of Dr. Frankenstein and to the driven doctor himself.
Like the unfortunate monster itself, the name of “Frankenstein” has been applied often to the creation, even though the creature remained unnamed in the original work. In much the same way, calling Hurricane Igor a “monster” “befitting of its name” is very much misapplied.
None of this even takes into consideration how the U. S. National Hurricane Center bestows names upon its tropical storms and potential hurricanes. Names are taken from six distinct lists, one list per given year, which rotate in a six-year progression. The names since 1979 have incorporated both male and female names. Prior to 1979, hurricane names were all female.
So… Is Igor the an appropriate name for a Category 4 hurricane? As appropriate as Isabel or Emily or Karl, no doubt. Still…
Will Hurricane Igor be a “peaceful warrior”? Doubtful. Most hurricanes are far from peaceful.
Will Hurricane Igor become a “monster”? Probably. Category 4 hurricanes have a way of leaving death and destruction in their paths. But “monster” does not befit the name of Igor, except through its erroneously acquired reputation via pop culture.
At the end of the day, perhaps the National Hurricane center should name its storms after gods and popular characterizations that truly reflect death, mayhem, devastation, and evil.
Like Hurricane Shiva.
Update: The original story in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel with the partial line “Befitting its name…” and with the descriptor “monster” has been updated and altered and no longer uses the word configuration highlighted in this article.