Although far from a new phenomenon, occupation names have never been more popular with prospective American parents, with Mason reaching #4 last year for the boys, and Harper coming in at #10 for the girls. Part of their appeal is their slightly androgynous and boisterous free, but they can also be very soft, sensitive and poetic too. Here are a couple of our favorites, from the super-popular to the less well-known:
Piper Piper is a prime example of just how fast occupation names have grown in popularity here in the States: in 1999 it first appeared on the SSA database, coming in at #697. It’s now an astronomical 630 places higher, #67 in 2016. It’s likely to continue to rise, riding on the popularity of Harper. Parents looking for something more unique could go with the equally musical Fifer, or for something really original: Whistler.
Scout Made famous by Harper Lee’s iconic heroine in To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout has become a serious option for wilderness lovers and literary fans alike. It has a wonderfully adventurous and outdoorsy feel and is a 100% unisex name. The similarly themed Hunter has a more masculine ring to it and is now firmly in the boy’s top 50. Another option is Ranger, which could be a very cool cowboy name!
Deacon An ecclesiastical title deriving its name from the Greek for ‘messenger, servant’, and is currently in the boy’s top 500, though it did see a bit of a drop in usage last year from 2015. Parson is also an option, as is Priestly.
Carver A little used occupation name, but one which could prove popular with parents on the lookout for a newer, fresher, Carter-alternative. The v-sound in the middle of the name gives it a unique ring and its association with wood-carving makes it a potentially artistic choice. Carpenter could also be used, but is perhaps a little too intricate as an everyday name.
Archer This soldierly name doesn’t sound at all too combative or quarrelsome, but it still has the very cool association with medieval armies, knights and quests. It’s not one-dimensional either though, and has a number of important literary and popular culture connections too.
Bard This poetic name and its Scottish variant, Baird, have a huge amount of substance and presence, particularly for a one-syllable name. It comes from the Scottish meaning ‘a minstrel, poet’, so it would be a good choice for an artistic soul. It was also the surname of John Logie Baird, the inventor of the television!
Banner Nowhere near as popular as the similar sounding occupational name, Tanner, we think banner is charming and meaningful. It’s the occupation name for old English flag bearers, so it has a deep heritage and a heraldic ring.
Fletcher A really quirky but cool name coming from the occupation name for arrow makers, giving it the same soldierly vibe as archer, but with a real down-to-earth vibe. It sounds unique (we can’t think of another like it!) but definitely doesn’t sound too bizarre or potentially out-of-place. We’re also major Murder, She Wrote fans, so that might be why we love it so much!!
Jetter This name is slightly different to the other names listed, both for its origins and its meaning. It is a Germanic occupation name for a weeder, but we don’t think this should throw people off! It is more substantial than the name Jet, and has a cool association with aviation! And sticking with Germanic occupation names, we quite like Kiefer, which was used for barrel-makers, and also means ‘pine’ giving it a lovely outdoorsy, woodsman feel.
Mercer Another occupation name of foreign extraction, Mercer is a French name for a merchant. It sounds light and breezing thanks to its Gallic origins, which makes it fairly unique among the occupation names.
Weaver Weaver could be one to watch out for in the future, but we’re still a little undecided about it. On the one hand, it has that occupation-sound we love, but it might just be too functional for its own good. Until it makes the shift, maybe go for Walker or Sawyer!!