Category: surname names
Back in 2012, I heard about parents naming their babies Draper in honor of Mad Men. I remember thinking the idea was daring but a little silly. These people were taking the last-name-as-first-name trend to an absurd conclusion, I griped.
It had been a few years since occupational surnames like Cooper and Mason had become popular, and I worried that pretty soon every kid would be a Fletcher, Tanner or Jagger. Traditional names were a dying species.
Then I made a startling discovery.
I am currently catching up on the show Scandal, which takes place in the US Capital and involves the highest political figures of the land. The fictitious president has one of the best character names I’ve ever heard: Fitzgerald Thomas Grant. He is called Fitz by those close to him, and I can’t help but be drawn to it, especially since there are so many names that could lead to the nickname. Let’s take a look at the Fitzes!
Fitz is the Anglo-Norman version of -son and means “son of.” It eventually was used by the British family as a surname of the illegitimate children of kings and princes. Fitz is also a standalone surname of German origin.
There are a few Fitz names that are or have been used in the United States. In 2012, only Fitzgerald (12) and Fitzpatrick (7) were given to boys. Since 1880, the only other Fitz names given to 5 or more boys in any given year in the United States were Fitzhugh and Fitzroy. Fitz itself also has a history of use.
I love my job. Each September, I joyfully copy my second graders’ appellations onto name tags and into grade books – and then stand back to admire them. As I do so, I am often struck by the differences between parents’ choices here and in my own country. For their first homework assignment, I always ask my students to find out more about why their parents chose their name, and then to share this information with the class. As a name fanatic, I can’t help but devour these “name stories” and amaze at the naming differences on this side of the pond.
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.
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about Blaer Bjarkardottir.
She’s just won the legal right to use her name. Fifteen years ago, Blaer’s mom unknowingly gave her daughter a name that does not appear on the official list of 1,853 names permitted for baby girls in Iceland. The mistake was discovered only after Blaer’s baptism.
A Nobel Prize-winning novelist had used the name for a female character. Plus, Blaer’s mom knew another woman with the name – it’s where she got the idea in the first place.
It turns out that even in a country with official lists, things can be a little bit fuzzy.
There are no official lists in the U.S., but plenty of us might like to impose them.
Trouble is, even if there were rules at a given moment, they’re always subject to change. What was true in 1960 – or 1860 – won’t hold in 2013.
This brings us to a great quote from Swistle: “Names, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.”