Though using last name baby names certainly has been done before throughout history, it truly only has been in the past 20 to 30 years that this naming trend has really taken off. Nowadays, using a surname as your baby's first name has less and less to do within acknowledging a name within your family tree, and seems to be more about simply picking a name that, for whatever reason, appeals to you.
What Started the Last Name Baby Names Trend? Blame Hollywood.
So what started it all? Honestly, I don't know for certain, but I tend to blame Tom Hank's 1984 breakthrough film as the start of it all. Maybe I am dating myself, but I can remember being awed during the scene from Splash when Daryl Hannah's mermaid-turned-human character picked her name for herself by looking to a New York City street sign for inspiration. (At the time, I thought it was terribly cool. Now, not so much).
Yep, Madison, a name that had not ever appeared in the top 1000 names for girls (and only sporadically peppered here and there on the chart for boy names), suddenly came on the charts at rank 628 the following year. By 1993 the name had cracked the top 100 names for girls. In 2001-2002 (coincidentally when all throse from my generation who had seen Splash as a child started having babies), Madison climbed all the way to the number 2 position and has remained in the top 10 names for girls in the years since. When you consider all the ways to spell Madison, it also makes for a very popular baby name.
It would seem that other surnames turned first names would ride the coattails of Madison's popularity - for both girls and boys. Currently, it continues to be a popular naming trend that accounted for over 150,000 of the top 100 baby's names in 2010. A similar naming trend, that of using boy's names on girls, is closely related.
What Are Some Popular Baby Boy Surname Names?
Just glance at current popular baby name charts and you'll find several common surname baby names making the list of boys. Here are just a few in order of recent popularity:
What Are Some Popular Last Names for Baby Girls?
I find it ironic that 3 of the most popular names for girls actually mean "son of... (Maude, Adam, and Coinnich)." But, given the fact that gender-swapping names (male names for baby girls) has become another popular naming trend in recent years, it should not be too surprising, I guess. Here is a quick list of some surname girl names - bear in mind that many of these names have many alternate spellings as well.
What Are Some Less Common Last Names That Make Great First Names?
The list does not end there. There are plenty of other last names that easily lend themselves to first names. You might consider some of these names to be strictly boys' names, others girls', and yet others to be unisex.
- Anderson: Scandinavian, Son of Anders.
- Beckett: English, Bee cottage.
- Brady: Irish, English, Spirited, broad island.
- Campbell: Scottish, Crooked mouth.
- Carson: English, Son of Carr.
- Cassidy: Irish, Clever, curly-haired.
- Davis: English, Surname derived from the first namr David.
- Dawson: English, Son of David.
- Grady: Irish, Noble.
- Grayson: English, Bailiff's son.
- Harrison: English, Son of Harry.
- Hudson: English, Son of Hudde.
- Jefferson: English, Son of Jeffrey.
- Jones: English, Child of John.
- Kennedy: Irish, Helmeted chief.
- Kramer: German, Shopkeeper.
- Lincoln: English, Settlement by the pool.
- Miller: English, Grain grinder.
- Murphy: Celtic, Sea warrior.
- Presley: English, Priest's meadow.
- Quinn: Irish, Short for Quincy (fifth son's estate).
- Reed: English, Scottish, Red-haired; slender piece of grass.
- Sawyer: English, Woodworker.
- Slater: English, Roof slater.
- Smith: English, Blacksmith.
- Thatcher: English, Trade name of a thatcher