Thanks to Rachel for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.
19th CENTURY RARITY
The baby name Archer appeared just a few times in the US popularity rankings during the nineteenth century.
It last charted in the year 1889.
The name would remain outside the rankings for well over a century.
Most years, a handful of newborn boys received the baby name Archer. But so few that it probably never crossed most parents’ minds.
ARCHIE and ARCHIBALD
Archibald evolved from two separate roots.
The Germanic Erchambold came from ercan – genuine – and bald – bold. That’s quite the meaning! But the Greek archos means master. Put them together, and Erchambold becomes Archibald – eventually.
Scottish nobles embraced Archibald during the Middle Ages, giving the name a sort of appealing castle-on-the-heath vibe.
That said, Archibald nickname Archie now outpaces the formal name. It’s a Top 1000 favorite and rising, chosen by celebrities and royals.
While all three names share a first syllable, Archibald, Archer, and Archie are connected only by sound.
The baby name Archer comes from the Latin arcus – bow, via the Old French archier, one who hunted or served in the military armed with a bow and arrows.
William the Conqueror brought archers with him from France in 1066.
King Harold’s army had a few, too, but the Saxons were outmatched.
Prior to the Norman conquest, Englishmen were known as bowmen. That changed during the eleventh century, and there have been archers ever since.
Archery as a military weapon of choice faded. Today the term suggests someone who shoots for recreation – probably at paper targets – rather than a soldier.
ENDS with R
The baby name Archer might’ve fallen out of use as a given name during the twentieth century, but it endured as a surname.
And that put it in the company of an entire category of names parents discovered late in the twentieth century. Tyler, Hunter, and Carter were all early favorites – occupational surnames ending with R.
Other names, like Connor and Xavier, shared the same sound and rose at the same time.
While the exact R-ending surname (and similar) names have changed over the last few decades, plenty of options remain quite stylish today. Walker and Parker, Jasper and River all count among stylish baby names of the moment.
REFINED and RUSTIC
One of the appealing things about the baby name Archer is that it combines the rustic and the refined so gracefully.
You might think of Edith Wharton’s Newland Archer – usually referred to by his surname – in her Pulitzer-winning 1920 novel, Age of Innocence. He’s a Gilded Age New Yorker, rich with privilege, when he falls in love. It’s an enduring tale, one remade for the big screen in 1934 and 1993. The novel remains widely read.
If that’s the refined version of Archer, then BBC Radio 4 lends it some rustic.
The Archers debuted in 1950.
It’s still going strong today, the world’s longest-running drama. Initially meant to be edutainment, mixing practical tips for farmers in with tales of small-town life, it’s grown beyond that. The show deals with both everyday problems and current events.
The show lends the name a sort of practical, down-to-earth vibe. And while The Archers isn’t well-known outside of the UK, it’s worth noting that the name is rising in use there, too.
No question, though – the baby name Archer’s biggest boost came from an animated adult sitcom on FX.
In 2009, the world met Sterling Archer, a tale of a super-spy in a dysfunctional intelligence agency. It’s a little bit James Bond, a little bit The Office. Or maybe Mad Men.
The twelfth season premiered in 2021, so Archer is still going strong.
2009 also marks the year the baby name Archer returned to the US Top 1000, doubling in use and ranking #682.
Along the way, other fictional figures have helped boost the baby name Archer.
From 2006 to 2009, the BBC’s Robin Hood retold the beloved tale. While it’s mostly faithful to the traditional story, it adds a half-brother for Robin. His name? Archer.
Star Trek: Enterprise ran from 2001 through 2005, a sort of prequel to later installments in the franchise. Scott Bakula played the main character, Captain Jonathan Archer.
As of 2020, the baby name Archer reached #160.
It feels like a traditional name that we’ve long overlooked, probably because it shares in Archie and Archibald’s historic sound.
But truly, Archer has never been more popular than it is today.
SHARP and STYLISH
Overall, the baby name Archer makes for a sharp and stylish choice.
It’s familiar, but not chart-topping.
And while it’s thoroughly modern, we think of it as rooted, thanks to Archibald.
Nickname Archie is darling, but this name requires no shortening.
If you’re crushed that Hunter and Carter are so very popular, then Archer might be a great alternative.
What do you think of the baby name Archer?
First published on October 10, 2010, this post was revised substantially and re-posted on October 27, 2021.