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Occupational Names

Most occupational baby names were originally surnames that described a person’s job. Names related to jobs have taken on significant style value over the past years and are destined to rise even further.

Harper is the top occupational name for girls while Mason is the most popular occupational name for boys. Along with Harper and Mason, occupational names ranking in the US Top 100 include Skylar on the girls' side and Carter, Hunter, Carson, and Cooper for boys.

While technically gender-neutral, occupational names have traditionally been used more often for males and still are more often given to baby boys. Unique occupational names we like for either gender include Baird, Booker, Dancer, Drummer, Fielder, Fifer, Mercer, Painter, Poet, Sailor, Shepherd, and Whistler.

Occupational names can work as a nod to parents' or grandparents' professions or a family business. Or you can choose them, of course, because you simply like the sound and feel.
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ArcherHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "bowman"
  • Description:

    Archer is an Anglo-Saxon surname that feels more modern than most because of its on-target occupational and Hunger Games associations. And it's a nice way to bypass the clunky Archibald to get to the cool nickname Archie.

SawyerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "woodcutter"
  • Description:

    Sawyer is a surname with a more relaxed and friendly feel than many others, and is one of the hottest occupational names right now, with the Nameberry seal of approval. Sawyer is becoming one of the top unisex names. Both Sara Gilbert and Diane Farr used Sawyer for their daughters, while it was given a boost as a boys' name by the character Sawyer on Lost, an alias for the character really named James Ford.

HarperHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "harp player"
  • Description:

    Harper is a red hot name for girls, having jumped from obscurity to near the top of the popularity list in less than a decade; it entered the Top 10 for the first time in 2015, and has stayed near there since. Harper is a prime example of the trend of surnames that turn into boys' names and then become girls' names. Harper was rarely heard for either sex before the mid-2000s, entering the girls' list in 2004. (For boys, it was in use until 1906 when it dropped off the scope and didn't reappear until a full century later.)

HunterHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "one who hunts"
  • Description:

    Hunter has been dropping a bit for the past few years but is still one of the leaders of a distinctive band of boys' names that combines macho imagery (Hunter, Austin, Harley) with a softened masculinity. Hunter was for years attached to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson; Josh Holloway used it for his son.

PiperHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "pipe or flute player"
  • Description:

    Piper is a bright, musical name that entered the list in 1999, one year after the debut of the TV series Charmed, which featured a Piper, and it's been a consistent riser since. Piper Kerman is the memoirist whose prison experiences provided the basis for the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
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ParkerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "park-keeper"
  • Description:

    One of the first generation of surname names, along with Porter and Morgan, Parker's still one of the most appealing and remains firmly in the Top 100 for boys. About three times as many boys as girls get this occupational name. The association with Charlie Parker gives Parker itself a jazzy edge, and it also has a nature-related meaning. Rosie O'Donnell has a son named Parker.

CarterHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "transporter of goods by cart"
  • Description:

    Carter has been popular for almost two decades, but it only cracked the Top 30 in 2014, leaving the other upscale occupational surname names behind. Having hot characters named Carter on both Gossip Girl and The OC probably didn't hurt, and for fifteen years on ER" Noah Wyle's Dr. John Carter was always called by his last name. Carter also, of course, has presidential cred.

CasperHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch form of Jasper, Persian
  • Meaning:

    "bringer of treasure"
  • Description:

    This ancient name, also spelled Caspar, is finally shedding its ghostly image and moving into the 21st century. Popular in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where it's sometimes shortened to Cas, Casper could ride the style coattails of cousin Jasper. Casper was one of the Three Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus along with Melchior and Balthasar.

CooperHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "barrel maker"
  • Description:

    The genial yet upscale and preppy Cooper was one of the first occupational last names to catch on -- and Cooper remains a pleasing option.

RexHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "king"
  • Description:

    Now that many dogs are named Max, it's safe to use this sleek, solid, regal name again for your child. And with the charm of its final x, its regal meaning, and its offbeat simplicity, Rex is definitely one to consider.
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CormacHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "charioteer"
  • Description:

    Both offbeat and upbeat, this evocative traditional Irish name that runs through Celtic mythology is known here via award-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy (born Charles). The author's adopted name is related to Cormac Mac Airt, one of the great legendary high kings of Ireland.

DexterHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin
  • Meaning:

    "dyer, right-handed"
  • Description:

    The jazzy, ultra-cool Dexter, like most names with an "x," has a lot of energy and dynamism. Over the years, it's been attached to a number of diverse real and fictional personalities—C. K. Dexter Haven, the witty Cary Grant character in The Philadelphia Story; Dexter Green, the protagonist of the F. Scott Fitzgerald story "Winter Dreams"; great jazz tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon; the boy-genius protagonist of cartoon Dexter's Laboratory; and the most recent TV series Dexter based on the books by Jeff Lindsay, whose lead happens to be a genial but sociopathic serial killer.

CohenHeart

  • Origin:

    Hebrew
  • Meaning:

    "priest"
  • Description:

    Cohen is a common last name among Jews and a royal name in the Jewish religion, standing for someone who is the priest in a temple. Cohen is now gaining an unlikely following as a first name among people unaware of its religious heritage, possibly because of the character Seth on TV's The O.C. who was commonly called by his last name Cohen. While many may be attracted to the name's fresh, modern, strong sound, you should be aware that its use as a first name may be offensive to some on religious grounds. Forms Coen, Koen, Cowan, and other spellings may stem from different sources.

SpencerHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "house steward, dispenser of provisions"
  • Description:

    Spencer is a name that has everything: it's both distinguished sounding and accessible, dignified but Spencer Tracy-like friendly. Picked by several celebrities (a couple of times even for a girl), adding up to an enthusiastically recommended choice.

FletcherHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "arrow-maker"
  • Description:

    Fletcher is a common surname with a touch of quirkiness; it definitely fits into the So Far Out It's In category--and moving further in all the time along with other occupational names from Parker to Forester.
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PaigeHeart

  • Origin:

    English, occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "page to a lord"
  • Description:

    Paige is more name, and less word than the occupational Page. Paige is also sleek and sophisticated a la Brooke and Blair and reached as high as Number 47 in 2003, when there was a very popular television show, Trading Spaces, hosted by the energetic Paige Davis.

ForestHeart

  • Origin:

    French occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "woodsman or woods"
  • Description:

    The Forest variation of Forrest, used by actor Whitaker, nudges the meaning more toward the woods and away from the woodsman.

DeanHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "church official"
  • Description:

    Dean may sound to some like a retro surfer boy name, but it is once again climbing up the popularity chart in the USA. For decades it was associated with Dean (born Dino) Martin; more recent representatives include Dean Cain, Dean McDermott and Dean Koontz -- not to mention Jared Padalecki's dreamy Dean Forester in Gilmore Girls.

TylerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "maker of tiles"
  • Description:

    The presidential Tyler rocketed up popularity charts in the late 1980s and early 1990s (it ranked Number 9 for that entire decade), along with cousin Taylor, becoming almost pandemic across the land-- and to make matters more confusing, both (especially Taylor) have been used for girls as well.

ClarkHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "scribe, secretary, cleric, scholar, clerk"
  • Description:

    Clark seemed to have been Gone with the Wind, but parents looking for a short, strong boy's name are now beginning to appreciate its cool combination of Gable charm with Superman power.
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TaylorHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "tailor"
  • Description:

    Taylor is one of the prime unisex surnames used for girls and has also been a soap opera favorite. Taylor was in the Top 10 for the last several years of the twentieth century, so that now it tends to feel a little nineties – though Taylor Swift is keeping it in the spotlight and Tay is a charming nickname. Garth Brooks and Bryan Cranston have daughters named Taylor; Taylor Schilling portrays lead Piper Chapman in Orange is the New Black.

WalkerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "cloth-walker"
  • Description:

    Walker is both a Waspy surname name—as in the W in George W. Bush—but it also has a gentle ambling quality and a creative connection to such greats as writer Walker Percy and photographer Walker Evans, whose father was also named Walker.

ShepherdHeart

  • Origin:

    Occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "sheep hearder"
  • Description:

    Shepherd is an occupational surname with a pleasant pastoral feel. It was chosen for their son by the Jerry Seinfelds, which might inspire others to follow their lead.

ThatcherHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "roof thatcher"
  • Description:

    Thatcher is an open and friendly freckle-faced surname, fresher sounding than Tyler or Taylor, that dates back to the days of thatched-roof cottages. It is catching on with modern parents—it reached the US Top 1000 for the first time in 2013.

DeaconHeart

  • Origin:

    Greek
  • Meaning:

    "messenger, servant"
  • Description:

    This name was transposed from the word for a church officer to a baby name when Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe chose it for their son, after a baseball player ancestor, and Don Johnson followed suit. Its popularity also got a boost from Nashville character Deacon Claybourne -- only to fall a bit in recent years.
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LutherHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "army people"
  • Description:

    Once restricted to evangelical Protestants honoring the ecclesiastical reformer and theologian Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant revolution. In more recent times it has been favored by parents wishing to honor civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. Luther was a Top 100 name at the turn of the last century, but fell off the list in the early 1990s.
    Luther Burbank was an eminent botanist and Luther Vandross was a popular R&B artist. It's the name of a main character on the Disney series Zeke and Luther. The name was given a shot of contemporary energy via Idris Elba's dynamic performance in the eponymous BBC crime drama.

TuckerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "fabric pleater"
  • Description:

    Tucker has more spunk than most last-name-first-names, and also a positive, comforting ("Tuck me in, Mommy") feel.

FarmerHeart

  • Origin:

    Occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "farmer"
  • Description:

    Shepherd is soaring in the charts, so why not Farmer? Perhaps because, unlike some of the occupation names that are so popular today, it is still an everyday word. Even so, if you're looking for a name that fits modern trends but no one else is using, Farmer could be the one.

MarshallHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "one who looks after horses"
  • Description:

    Marshall is an occupational surname, not having to do with anything military or martial, but stemming from the Norman French for someone caring for horses. It's been used as a first name since the nineteenth century and has been on the Social Security list since it started to publish its data in 1880.

TravisHeart

  • Origin:

    French occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "tollgate-keeper"
  • Description:

    Has a laid-back rural feel some would associate with country singer Travis Tritt; Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon chose it for their son. Travis Scott, born Jacques Webster Jr., a popular rap artist, is another famous Travis.
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BaileyHeart

  • Origin:

    Occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "law enforcer, bailiff"
  • Description:

    Bailey -- a jaunty surname -- was first used for a female TV character in 1978 in the show WKRP in Cincinnaati, then caught on big time. Bailey's still an appealing choice, though, and a celebrity fave. Parents of daughters named Bailey include Scot Baio and Stella McCartney.

JaggerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "carter"
  • Description:

    Jagger is a swaggering Rolling Stone of a name that's been picked up by a number of fellow celebs, including Lindsay Davenport and Brett Scallions--while Soleil Moon Frye pulled a gender switch when she bestowed it on her daughter. It's edgy with a touch of danger.

FosterHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "forester"
  • Description:

    Foster is one commonly heard last name that makes a fine first. More unusual than Forrester or Gardener yet eminently first-name-ready, the only problem with Foster might be its association with "foster child."

KaiserHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "Emperor"
  • Description:

    Kaiser, as in roll and Wilhelm, appeared for the first time on the US Top 1000 in 2017. It fits the two-syllable -er ending style that's all the rage, and it lends itself to the short form Kai. But we hope this Germanic version of what is essentially a title rather than a name doesn't keep rising on the charts.

KylerHeart

  • Origin:

    Dutch
  • Meaning:

    "bowman, archer"
  • Description:

    A favorite among younger parents, this is one of the names that rose to the surface when Tyler and Kyle started to sink.
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PorterHeart

  • Origin:

    Latin occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "gatekeeper"
  • Description:

    A quintessential yuppie name, this surname name reentered the US Top 1000 in 1999 after a forty-year absence and has risen almost every year since.

DevinHeart

  • Origin:

    Irish
  • Meaning:

    "poet"
  • Description:

    Devilishly handsome, Devin arrived as Kevin was moving out. Not to be confused (though it often is) with the English place-name Devon. While both Devin and Devon are flagging somewhat for boys, the names have dropped out of the Top 1000 for girls, making it more a masculine and less a unisex name these days.

RangerHeart

  • Origin:

    French
  • Meaning:

    "forest guardian"
  • Description:

    The list of occupational boys' names continues to expand, and this is one of the latest to ride onto the range. And, as trends collide, it also has the popular western, cowboyish feel. A much better choice than the increasingly (and scarily) heard Danger.

ToddHeart

  • Origin:

    English
  • Meaning:

    "fox"
  • Description:

    A 1970s beach boy surfing buddy of Scott, Brad, and Chad, Todd is given to relatively few babies these days.

MillerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "grinder of grain"
  • Description:

    Miller is an up-and-coming choice in the stylish occupational genre, chosen by Stella McCartney, Melissa Etheridge, and by Tea Leoni and David Duchovny.
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ChandlerHeart

  • Origin:

    French occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "candle maker"
  • Description:

    For a generation, this name will always be linked to 1990s hit TV series Friends. Whether this is a positive or a negative will depend on your fondness for the show, and character Chandler Bing, but this name deserves consideration beyond these connotations: Chandler is a fresh take on the professional surname names.

BookerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational surname
  • Meaning:

    "scribe"
  • Description:

    Booker would make for a very cool name, for writers, reformers, R & B fans and those wanting to pay tribute to Booker T. Washington.

FisherHeart

  • Origin:

    Occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "fisherman"
  • Description:

    As a member of two trendy name categories, animal and occupational, this name broke into the Top 1000 in 2004 and would make a nice tribute to an angler Grandpa.

TannerHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "leather tanner"
  • Description:

    One of the hot two-syllable T names of the nineties (along with Tyler, Trevor, and Taylor), and well represented on soap operas; Tanner is still widely used, but its popularity is declining.

BaylorHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational surname
  • Meaning:

    "one who delivers goods"
  • Description:

    Baylor's 2014 ascension to the US Top 1000 for boys is probably thanks to its fashionable two-syllable, r-ending, occupational surname feel. Think of it as Taylor with a twist.
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SailorHeart

  • Origin:

    Occupational name
  • Description:

    Supermodel Christie Brinkley launched an entire name genre when she picked this breezy occupational name for her daughter in 1998, and it has become more prevalent in recent decades. The Saylor version, which you might consider a spelling spin or a surname-name, is now among the Top 500 names for girls, given to three times as many baby girls as the Sailor spelling. Counted together, Saylor and Sailor were used for about 1000 baby girls in one recent year in the US, versus about 100 boys.

KnightHeart

  • Origin:

    English word name
  • Description:

    Knight (as opposed to Night) is a name clad in shiny armor. This high-ranking word name was introduced by singers Kelis and Nas. Knight might join brothers King, Royal, and Noble in a new definition of royal baby names.

WayneHeart

  • Origin:

    English occupational name
  • Meaning:

    "maker of wagons"
  • Description:

    When Marion Michael Morrison became John Wayne around 1930, his last name took on an air of cowboy cool that lasted about thirty years, but by now it's strictly a dad or granddad name.

KieferHeart

  • Origin:

    German
  • Meaning:

    "barrel maker; pine"
  • Description:

    Kiefer is a strong occupational surname associated with "24" star Kiefer Sutherland, but one that could well join the other 'er' surnames currently in favor. Keifer is a German surname transferred to first name use, derived from two old Germanic words, kien and forhe, both of which mean "pine tree."

BanditHeart

  • Origin:

    Word or occupational name
  • Description:

    We hesitate to call Bandit an occupational name, any more than Rogue or Vandal are occupational names, yet its use by one of the bandmembers of My Chemical Romance (for his daughter: we're not even going to go there) undoubtedly owes a debt to occupational cousins from Pilot to Parker. Recommended for use by rock stars with full-time nannies only.
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