If you look at the list of popular boys’ names—and some girls’ too—you start to feel that almost every conceivable surname has become a first. Occupational names like Mason and Sawyer, patronymics like Jackson and Addison, Irish surnames Nolan and Quinn, Old Hollywood glamour last names such as Harlow…the list goes on.
Of course the ideal scenario for coming up with a fresher choice would be to discover some surname surprise on your own family true, but that isn’t always possible.
So are there any more original choices in this category of surname baby names still to be discovered? Of course there are…in all the above modes and beyond. Here are a few ideas to get you started; some have been lightly used over the years, but they all rate consideration for wider use.
BRISCO/BRISCOE—An energetic English place name with the great o-ending. Lennie Briscoe was a long-running character on Law and Order played by Jerry Ohrbach. The Brisco spelling also relates to single-named American rapper Brisco, who was actually born with the first name British.
CAFFERTY—Everybody loves Rafferty, so how about cousin Cafferty, the meaning of which relates to horses?
CALHOUN—There are several cool paths to the nickname Cal other than Calvin, including Calhoun, Calvino and Callahan. John Calhoun was a historic 19th century US political figure; Noah Calhoun the character played by Ryan Gosling in the 2004 film The Notebook, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel.
DUGAN—An open, friendly Irish surname with the cheery ‘oo’ sound.
HUTTON—Kind of a cross between Hudson and Sutton. Remember that old advertising slogan, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” …? Also associated with heiress Barbara, hyperkinetic musical actress Betty and model Lauren.
KIMBER—Just drop the ly from Kimberly and you have a much stronger, more modern-sounding unisex name. Kimber is associated with a medieval convert to Christianity who founded a monastery and was venerated as a saint.
LORCA—Not completely undiscovered, this lovely Spanish name was used by singer/poet Leonard Cohen for his now grown daughter. Lorca is a place name in the Spanish province of Navarre, but more famous as the surname of the eminent poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca—the direct inspiration for the name of Lorca Cohen.
QUAID/QUADE—Quaid, as in the acting family of brothers, brings a perfectly usable first into the limited Q-field. The Aussies have been known to use the Quade spelling, inspired by rugby star Quade Cooper. Since it’s a Gaelic surname meaning “son of Walter,” there’s also a subtle raison d’être right there.
TOLLIVER—This Scottish occupational surname—it was used for metal workers—makes for a lively extension of Oliver, with Tolly as a charming substitute for Ollie. Melba Tolliver is a barrier-breaking TV anchorwoman; Cy Tolliver was a character on Deadwood.
Any of these appeal? Do you have any undiscovered surnames you’d like to share?