Our Baby Name of the Day is inspired by smash hit television series Yellowstone.
JOHN DUTTON III
Yellowstone debuted in June 2018, and immediately generated plenty of buzz.
Taylor Sheridan and John Linson created the Paramount network show based on Sheridan’s personal experience living in rural Wyoming and Texas.
But this story was set in Montana, on the fictional Yellowstone Dutton Ranch, adjacent to the famed national park and a fictional reservation known as Broken Rock. (Though it’s filmed on the very real Crow Indian Reservation.)
The story focuses on the Dutton family and their expansive Montana property. The Yellowstone comes into conflict with their neighbors on the reservation, as well as property developers. And running the state’s largest ranch brings plenty of drama of its own, too.
So do the family members.
John Dutton III, played by veteran actor Kevin Costner, is the patriarch. The family includes sons Lee, Jamie, and Kayce, as well as daughter Beth. Both John’s wife, Evelyn, and their firstborn Lee, are both seen mostly in flashbacks.
The show quickly became a smash hit.
The fifth and final season debuted in 2022, but a second half of the concluding season is expected later in 2023. Prequels, spin-offs and more promise to keep the Dutton family legacy alive.
It may be the last name of the fictional family, but it is very much a real English surname.
Dutton comes from the personal name Dudd or Dudda.
There are plenty of possible meanings and origins, but none of them are certain.
It’s also possible that the late name Dutton comes from words meaning “hill” and “settlement,” which would make Dutton purely based on place.
It almost doesn’t matter, though. In 2020s America, Dutton means strong, independent, principled, and looks good in a cowboy hat.
POP CULTURE POWER
Plenty of surnames owe their popularity to a television character. That’s true for Dawson and Nash and Carter, too.
But few characters define a name as completely as Costner’s John Dutton.
That’s probably because the name was so-little used prior to the series’ premiere.
Still, Dutton now signals qualities many parents look for in boys’ names.
As we watch our favorite TV show over months and years, it’s not surprising that Dutton has started to sound like a perfectly appropriate choice to fans of the neo-Western hit.
MOST POPULAR NAMES
When the Social Security Administration’s 2022 data was released, the most popular baby names included two clear Yellowstone-inspired picks for the first time: Kayce, from one of John’s sons, and Dutton.
Another reason for the name’s appeal?
Classics like James and William along with Theodore and Benjamin rank in the US Top Ten. We still often play it safe when it comes to naming a son.
But Dutton combines the traditional D of Daniel and David with the unisex name Sutton, making it seem more solidly masculine. It fits with other established surnames like Harrison, too.
It’s fresh and different … but still has a surprisingly traditional image.
No surprise, then, that Dutton became the fastest-growing baby name of the year.
BY the NUMBERS
The baby name Dutton first appeared in the US data in 2018.
That’s unusual – most surnames see at least some use over the decades. To never appear means that it wasn’t given to even five boys or five girls in 2022.
But then Yellowstone’s 2018 debut put Dutton on the very first rung of the popularity list. Five boys received the name.
By 2020, that number was 27 boys – still tiny.
As the show found its feet, transitioning from buzzy newcomer to must-see-TV, Dutton soared.
In 2022, 291 boys were named Dutton, putting the name at #835 in the US popularity ranks.
It wasn’t the only newcomer from the series, either. Kayce was the 587th most popular name for boys in 2022.
That one-two punch has focused a lot of naming attention on the show, and it’s warranted. Other names of supporting characters and the actors themselves, including girls’ names like Lainey, seem to be rising for the same reason. (Lainey was among the fastest rising girls’ names in 2022.)
RUGGED and DISTINCTIVE
2022 marked Liam’s sixth straight year as the top name in the US. Other Top Ten favorites include Noah, Oliver, James, and Elijah for boys; Olivia, Emma, Charlotte, Amelia, and Sophia for girls.
Dutton fits right in to that group, but it’s a little different, too. John Dutton III makes the name feel thoroughly rugged.
And even though we’re used to favorites like Mason and Hudson and Logan, Dutton’s sound is just different enough to be considered distinctive.
After all, classic baby name John continues to fall in use. Parents are attracted to the character’s qualities, but want to make it clear that they’re inspired by a very specific bearer of the name – John Dutton, not Lennon or Kennedy or Legend.
No surprise, then, that parents have embraced the family’s last name as a first name, putting Dutton among the top baby names embraced by new parents last year.