Before young Mr. Bueller took a day off, this name was already associated with carefree risk-taking and the silver screen. But go farther back, and his roots reveal a surprising strength.
Thanks to Angel for suggesting Ferris as Baby Name of the Day.
In 1986, Ferris Bueller took a day off, and his neurotic pal Cameron saw his name leap into the US Top 100. But Cameron was already on the rise. Girlfriend Sloane is just seeing her name catch on now. And Ferris? Ferris has yet to inspire parents.
But he’s a legitimate surname choice, the kind of mother’s maiden name promoted to the first spot a handful of times – just never enough to register in the US Top 1000.
There are two possible origins for the name. The first links Ferris to Fergus, and all of the Scottish and Irish related names, usually said to mean something like vigorous, especially since the first famous Fergus was a warrior from Irish myth.
Then there’s the theory that Ferris – like Farrar, Farrow, and Ferrier – has something to do with the Latin ferrum – iron, possibly via occupational surnames for those who shod horses.
If you wanted to really stretch, you could cite the Arabic Faris, too, but he’s not related.
But there were famous men answering to Ferris, in the first and last spot, before John Hughes ever penned a screenplay:
- George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., is remembered for inventing the Ferris Wheel for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The engineer also developed materials used to build bridges and railroads. The Ferris Wheel was conceived as a one-up to the Eiffel Tower built for the Paris International Exposition of 1889. The Chicago organizers initially dismissed the idea as unworkable. Not only did Ferris convince them, he found enough private investors to build the wheel. I’ve no idea if John Hughes knew George Ferris’ backstory when he sent his namesake singing “Danke Schoen” down the streets of his beloved city, but it just fits;
- On another movie history note, Ferris Webster was an Academy Award-nominated film editor. His long career spanned the 1940s into the 1980s, including classics like The Manchurian Candidate and The Great Escape;
- In the 1940s and 50s Ferris Fain played baseball in the Major Leagues;
- Woodbridge Nathan Ferris was governor of Michigan and founder of Ferris State University;
- Perhaps the earliest mention was another politician, the nineteenth century Ferris Jacobs Jr., a member of Congress from New York – but he was a junior, so clearly Ferris goes back farther still.
Name your son Ferris and no one is going to ask if he was named after the Michigan politician or the Academy Award nominee. Nope, it will be all about Bueller … Bueller … Bueller.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The reference to iron gives him just a hint of nature name strength. The Ferris Wheel bit is just plain fun. The connection to Chicago might appeal to Windy City natives. So you could have a deeper, more meaningful backstory than wanting to ditch school in your best friend’s dad’s Ferrari.
And if you don’t? It hasn’t stopped scores of parents from naming their kids after Huckleberry Finn.
Ferris is a neutral name used throughout the Brittish Isles. I’m a female named Ferris and have met others females named Ferris. We used to be in touch. Many years ago, I met a writer who was searching for a first name for the main character of his story. Upon hearing my name, he said that he very much liked it and was going to use it. The author introduced himself as John. I’ve always wondered if it was John Hughes, the writer of Ferris Bueller. I remember what he looked like but haven’t seen a photo of a younger Hughes.
All this said, the name has pros and cons. It is unique. People remember and it’s a conversation starter, an ice breaker. The pro/con side is always being assigned a locker in the boys’ locker room. I used to hate it, but now I’d appreciate it!
Nota Wheel says
Well, I’m female and my first name is Ferris. There are a few of us around and we are in contact. BTW, my friends sent me a shirt from Ferris State. I wear it proudly!
Ferris Crane says
I have one too! And, I’m also female.
I suggested Ferris to a friend, just this past summer. She wanted a familiar, but uncommon name and I thought Ferris would be perfect. I’m really surprised that Ferris isn’t more popular, it’s easy to spell/pronounce and would fit in perfectly with Charles and Jonas. I wonder if parents associate it with the 80’s and therefore think it must be much more common.
(My friends named their son Javan.)
Hmmm … I like Ferris WAY more than Javan!
How in the world do you pronounce Javan? Jay-ven? Jah-vahn? Javin? Too bad she didn’t listen to you.
Not really, it reminds me of ferris wheels, and if your last name were Wheeler: Ferris Wheeler… that just made it more ‘no’ for me
See, I think the Ferris Wheel makes it more of a yes …
Ferris has an interesting history, but it’s not for me. I know a Beagle named Ferris so I think of first Ferris Bueller and than the dog. 🙂
i like the name personally, but it wouldn’t work here in michigan. it’d be along the same lines as naming your child “central”, “western”, or “state”, after one of our other fine universities. to add to that, ferris state university also has a reputation as a bit of a party school, owing to the fact that there’s not much IN big rapids, michigan except the university, frat houses, and bars.
it’s great to learn the history of the name, and i can see it catching on in other areas of the country, but as an FSU graduate, i can tell you that this is not one of those names that fellow grads will be naming their children to honor their alma mater.
Oh, right! Arthur is from Michigan – how could I forget Ferris State? Of course, I know a James Madison alum who says lots of his classmates used Madison for their daughters …