Thanks to Virginia for suggesting Blair as our Baby Name of the Day.
Up until the 1980s, Blair was a boy. He wasn’t a very popular name. Even at his peak – in 1954, just inside the Top 500 – names like Darwin, Cornelius, and Bert ranked higher. Most of those male Blairs were probably wearing a family name.
As a surname, Blair comes from a Scottish word meaning field.
But then along came 1979’s surprise sitcom success The Facts of Life. The first season about a girls’ boarding school included lots of characters, but by the second season, it was whittled down to the core four – Jo, Natalie, Tootie, and yes, Blair.
Blair Warner was played by Lisa Whelchel. She was blonde, beautiful, and very, very rich. She was also a Shoppie McShopperson, and an unapologetic snob early seasons, though she matured over time. There’s a backstory for her boyish name, too: Blair is a family surname.
It wasn’t an overnight smash – neither the series or the name. But Blair cracked the girls’ Top 1000 in 1980 and had bounced to #423 by 1988, the series’ last year on the air.
By 2001, Blair had left the ratings, and she might have been gone for good.
Except that another gorgeous heiress was about to don the name. Cecily von Zeigler had called her poor little rich girl Blair Waldorf. The Gossip Girl series of books debuted back in 2002. BFFs and sometimes-rivals Blair and Serena were brought to the small screen by the CW in 2007. Leighton Meester played Waldorf, with her signature headbands and on-again, off-again affairs with Nate Archibald and Chuck Bass.
Suddenly, Blair was back.
There’s more to Blair’s return than another small screen character, though:
- Claire was a rarity worn by Molly Ringwald in the 1980s. But in the twenty-first century she’s a solidly established Top 100 classic for girls. Blair shares Claire’s spare style, and Claire makes it easy to see Blair as feminine.
- Speaking of spare, surname names like Sloane and Blake are in vogue for girls.
- Single syllable names in general are having a good run for both genders.
- A popular place name.
- A few of those place names were thanks to the wealthy railroad magnate turned philanthropist John Insley Blair.
- The surname of too many people to count, like Linda Blair, who rocketed to fame as Regan in The Exorcist, and fellow actress Selma Blair, who has had a long career.
- Indie horror flick The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999, at a moment when the given name was in limbo.
- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is another notable.
Overall, Blair is a tailored choice for a child. She’s less obviously feminine than Tess or Kate, but she’s not nearly as gender neutral as Quinn. Blair hasn’t ranked in the boys’ Top 1000 for a quarter of a century. It’s not unthinkable for a boy – a healthy few dozen were still baptized Blair last year. But this one is on the uptick for girls – a slim, trim girl’s name.
If you’re after a privileged, preppy choice that feels appropriate for a daughter but is completely free of frills, why not consider Blair?