This post was originally published on May 31, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 17, 2014.
Over the past few years, this name has gone from daring rarity to mainstream darling.
Thanks to Kayt for suggesting today’s Baby Name of the Day: Piper.
Piper: Musical Surname Name
In 2008, I wrote: Piper is one of those fabulous names, long underused, that is set to soar.
Speaking of soaring, since the 1930s, Piper Aircraft has been known for manufacturing small airplanes. It took its name from early investor William Piper.
It’s right on trend. Piper is:
- A tailored surname name, just like many a Top Ten choice and rising favorite.
- A musical name, just like Harper and Lyric and Aria.
- An ends-with-r choice, putting her in the company of vintage Esther and Eleanor, and modern Skylar and Taylor, too.
- You have piper nigrum in your kitchen – black pepper – making this a spice name and a nature name, too.
It’s a recipe for success.
Piper: Pop Culture Creation
While Carter and Mason are more common for boys, this surname name has been almost exclusively feminine ever since Rosetta Jacobs signed with Universal Studios in the 1940s.
Never heard of Rosetta Jacobs? Her screen name is Piper Laurie, and she’s worked steadily for decades, quietly scoring Oscar and Emmy nominations over her long career.
Laurie inspired namesakes almost immediately. By the mid-1990s, this name was on the rise.
Pop culture also gives us:
- Rowdy Roddy Piper, the bagpipe-playing professional wrestler from the 1980s. Probably not inspiration for a child’s name.
- Actress Piper Perabo, born in the 1970s – one of those early namesakes.
- In 1998, Aaron Spellling’s series Charmed debuted. Charmed focused on the lives of three Haliwell sister-witches – Prudence, Phoebe, and Piper – and their lives in San Francisco. It was a huge success, running for eight seasons.
Credit Spelling with giving this name a turbo boost. In 1999, Piper cracked the US Top 1000 for the first time.
Piper fit right in many a Top 100 name of the era: Mackenzie, Taylor, Jordan.
Piper: of Hamelin
If you don’t think of Laurie or the television witch, maybe Piper makes you think of a medieval legend.
The story goes something like this: the town of Hamelin was overcome with rats. One day, a musician dressed in multi-colored (pied) clothes appeared, and promised to rid the town of its pests for a price. The piper’s music successfully lured all of the rats into the river, where they drowned.
But the townsfolk balked, and refused to pay as promised. So the stranger played another tune, and lured away all of the town’s children.
Piper: Top 100 and Rising
Nevermind the medieval legend these days.
Piper cracked the US Top 100 in 2012.
This time, it’s prison inmates instead of witches fueling her rise.
Orange is the New Black started out as a bestselling 2010 memoir by preppy, well-educated Piper Kerman, who fell into an international drug-trafficking ring. You know the rest: the book became a Netflix original series, starring Taylor Schilling in the title role.
As of 2013, Piper charted at #97. Even without Orange, the rise of Harper and other ends-in-r surname names would’ve helped the name catch on.
Piper still feels fresh in 2014 – even though this name is no longer rare. It’s the kind of name that defines twenty-first century preferences, a name as right for our era as Betty in the 1930s or Jennifer in the 1970s.
What do you think of Piper? Will this name continue to rise?