In 1916, Don Marquis wrote a series of newspaper columns for the New York Sun under the name of Archy (or, more accurately, archy). Archy is a free-verse poet who has died and whose soul has transmigrated into the body of a cockroach. Archy the cockroach continues his literary career, typing his messages by hurling his tiny insect body onto the keys of the typewriter head down. Because he can't operate the shift key, his writings are all lower case, and unpuctuated because punctuation takes too much effort. Archy will change your attitude towards cockroaches, or at he'll least try!
Archy is a diminutive form of Archibald, a Scottish-Norman French-Germanic name meaning "genuine and brave," from the roots ercan and bald. The diminutive is more common than the full name, but neither is widely used in recent times. It reached its maximum popularity in Scotland at the beginning of the 20th century.
Archy's questionable colleague is Mehitabel, a wild, street-wise alley cat who is Archy's friend when she's not trying to eat him. "Toujours gai" is her motto, kid. Mehitabel is a Hebrew name from Genesis in the Old Testament, meaning "God makes happy." Common during the 1700s in the United States, this name is seldom used today.
When Mehitabel learns that Archy was once a free-verse poet, she claims to have been Cleopatra in a previous life. We are never sure whether or not to believe her. Cleopatra is a Greek name meaning "her father's glory," from the roots kleos and pater. This name has enjoyed moderate 20th century popularity among African-Americans.
Freddy the rat is a short-lived character who starts out as a bully and ends up as a hero. He dies saving the others from an evil banana spider. Freddy is a diminutive of Frederick, a Germanic name meaning "peace - ruler," from the roots fred and ric. Of this group of names, Frederick is by far the most popular, although we don't see many babies being given this name lately.
You can read
about the adventures of Archy and Mehitabel in The
Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel.