He’s a nineteenth-century rarity, newly returned to the Top 1000 in 2009.
Thanks to Rachel for suggesting Archer as Baby Name of the Day.
In 1880, Archer ranked #642. By 1890, he was gone from the rankings, and he stayed gone for well over a century. But Archer re-appeared in 2009, at #679. This time, he seems destined for wider use.
Archie is retro-hot, a starbaby pick beginning to shed his comic book prison. And Archibald is a musty, grandpa name starting to sound quite cool once more. Little wonder that parents are landing on this surname pick as another Arch- appellation.
But it is his -er ending that makes him so likely to catch on. In the 2000s, Tyler, Hunter, and Carter all occupied the Top 100, prompting parents to seek out more occupational surnames in the same style, as well as popular choices like Connor, that just happen to end the same sound.
The US Top 1000 now includes:
- Occupational choices like Parker, Cooper, Sawyer, Spencer, Tucker, Walker, Chandler, Porter, Dexter, and Fisher;
- Names with a wide range of origins that happen to end in -er like Asher, Xavier, Jasper, River, and Elmer;
- Nouveau coinages that sound like both categories, including Skyler, Kyler, Zander, and Ryker.
An archer’s job was all about bowmanship. William the Conqueror brought archers with him from France in 1066. In Old French, the word was archier, derived from the Latin arcus – bow.
Archibald has different origins – he’s Germanic, but was also imported to England by the Normans. But his spelling evolved thanks to the Greek archos – master.
There’s no shortage of places expectant parents might hear Archer, including:
- Animated FX series Archer premiered in January 2010. Sterling Archer appears to be a super-spy, in the key of James Bond. Only he’s something of a bungler, more interested in the job’s perks than actually saving the day. It’s very much a grown-up cartoon, and maybe not much of an inspiration for a child’s name, but if all you’ve seen is the promos, it would put Archer in the back of your brain;
- Edith Wharton’s Newland Archer was usually referred to as Archer, lending the name some literary romance, though he’s quite the tortured soul in Wharton’s Pulitzer-winning Age of Innocence;
- The longest running soap opera is BBC Radio 4’s The Archers. Named for the radio program’s main family, the drama debuted in 1950;
- Robin Hood is known for being quite handy with a bow and arrow. The recent BBC television version of his life gave Robin of Locksley an equally skilled half-brother called Archer;
- In sci fi prequel Star Trek: Enterprise, actor Scott Bakula took the helm as Captain Jonathan Archer.
All of those Archers are fictional. There’s no shortage of real life people answering to Mr. or Ms. Archer, too, from athletes to writers to politicians. The seven Archer brothers were among the first settlers in Queensland, Australia, probably explaining Archer’s greater popularity there than elsewhere in the English-speaking world.
If you’re looking for an unusual, current choice, Archer is one to consider. But it is too soon to say if he’ll join his fellow ends-in-er names near the top of the charts. If you’re seeking something truly trend-proof, Archer might not be your best bet. Then again, if there’s an Arch- name on your family tree, Archer is an easy way to update an ancestor’s name for 2010.