Even if you aren’t keeping up with the Kardashians, you probably know a little tyke or two by this stylish name.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Mason.
Mason has always ranked in the US Top 1000, but he was fairly obscure for years. Back in 1972, he ranked a chilly #699. By 1982 he landed at #468, and Mason definitely gained momentum in the 1980s, and he continued climbing into 1990s. Mason had reached #89 in 1997, and showed promise. Still, it was hard to imagine that he’d leap to #2 by 2011.
Or was it?
Mason picks up on two trends, and also has a sound that’s appealed to parents for two generations.
First, he’s a humble workingman with an artisan edge. A mason is a stoneworker, an occupation around since the dawn of civilization. Someone had to engineer the pyramids, and certainly by the time Christians built soaring cathedrals in Medieval Europe, masons were much in demand. The word comes from masson - an Old French word with debated roots, though some trace it back to the Latin machina.
As a surname, it’s one of many occupational choices, just like Baker or Butcher or Thatcher or Cook. Some wear better, but many were popular in 2012. They manage to feel somewhere between preppy and homespun, and feel like honest and unusual names for a boy. Think of Carter and Hunter and Sawyer and Spencer.
There doesn’t seem to be a single explanation for Mason’s rise. Perry Mason was a television staple from 1957 to 1966. In 1970, The Grateful Dead recorded “Mason’s Children,” but that was never enough of a standard to make a splash. Actress Marsha Mason had a long career, earning two Best Actress Oscar nominations in the 1970s. Young actor Mason Gamble played Dennis the Menace in 1993′s big screen adaptation. The NBA’s Anthony Mason was at the top of his game in the 1990s when the name was headed for the Top 100.
Could it be the S.E. Hinton novel Tex? Published in 1979, it was adapted as a movie starring Matt Dillon in 1982. Dillon played Tex, the younger brother to the responsible Mason. Hinton’s books were a sensation, and the kids who grew up reading them have made Mason a hit.
But Mason seems to have attracted attention on his own merits. Today, he’s just plain everywhere. Two television werewolves answer to Mason: one from The Wizards of Waverly Place and a second from The Vampire Diaries.
Celebrities have embraced the name, too. Since the mid-1990s, Mason has been the choice for:
- Cuba Gooding, Jr.
- Laura San Giacomo
- Kelsey Grammar named his daughter named Mason Olivia
- Melissa Joan Hart
But it is Mason Dash Disick, son of Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick who garners most of the media attention. The reality show clan is a fixture in the tabloids, and Mason is often in the spotlight. While it was already on the rise, Mason climbed from #34 to #12, and then #2.
Overall, it is easy to see the appeal of Mason. His sound is upbeat and friendly. You can see him on a child or a grown man, a banker or a builder. But that’s just the catch – we have seen the appeal, and you’re likely to hear him on every different kind of boy over the next few decades. Mason is great, but he’s no longer surprising.