Recent coinage as a given name, originally a nickname meaning ‘handsome’, as borne by the Regency dandy Beau Brummell (1778–1840), who was for a time a friend of the Prince Regent. The word was also used in the 19th century with the meaning ‘admirer’ or ‘sweetheart’. Its adoption as a given name seems to have been due to the hero of P. C. Wren's novel Beau Geste (1924) or to the character of Beau Wilks in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (1936), which was made into an exceptionally popular film in 1939. More recently, it has been associated with the American actor Beau Bridges (b. 1941) and has gained considerable currency. Its use as a girl's name is a recent development.