He’s a strong, masculine, single-syllable name with an almost virtue-name vibe. Why isn’t he more common?
Thanks to Nicole for suggesting Grant as Baby Name of the Day.
After decades of naming our sons Jason and Ryan and Aiden, parents seem to be turning away from the predictable two-syllable, ends-in-n pattern. Brevity is in, and we’re meeting more boys called Max – not Maxwell – and Jake – not Jacob – as well as newer entrants like Cole, Cade, Gage, Slade, and Blaise.
Grant isn’t exactly at the forefront of this trend, possibly because he’s just not trendy. Grant has been a steady presence in the US Top 1000 since 1880, and he’s ranked in the Top 200 since 1983.
As a word, grant comes from the Old French granter, which was a spin on creanter, from the Latin credere – to trust. But as a name, he’s almost certainly related to the Anglo-Norman French graund – tall. Just like William with brown hair became William Brown, the tallest guy in the village named William became William Grant.
That’s an oversimplification, of course – like many a common surname, Grant absorbed many similar-sounding choices over the years. He’s especially common in Scotland – there’s still a Clan Grant, complete with a tartan and a crest.
But it was probably American Civil War general turned US President Ulysses S. Grant inspired parents to use the name for their sons. (You can actually find more than a few boys called Ulysses Grant Lastname from the Civil War era into the late 1800s.)
Grant also got a boost from fiction, when Jules Verne used the name for his 1867 novel In Search of the Castaways, known as Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant in French.
Notable Grants since then have included:
- Iowa-born painter Grant Wood, best known for American Gothic;
- Grant Withers was a Hollywood leading man as silent films gave way to talkies, but he’s best remembered as the first husband of a then very young Loretta Young;
- NHL Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr;
- Former Hüsker Dü drummer and co-songwriter Grant Hart;
- Melrose Place heartthrob Grant Show;
- NBA star, currently with the Phoenix Suns, Grant Hill;
He’s even more popular as a surname. For one thing, the surname takes him to Hollywood, where it has been worn by handsome leading men from Cary Grant to Hugh Grant.
And yet despite all of these figures, with their diverse accomplishments, Grant has stayed middle of the road. So much so that a pair of parents landed on Grant after building an algorithm designed to rule out names that were too unusual, as well as those that were too trendy. The mom’s take? She’s not sure that she loves it, but they can live with it.
Of course, their nifty algorithm was built with historical data, and names, well, they can change. With all of those single-syllable choices catching on, it is possible Grant will graduate from the ho-hum middle to the ranks of the fashion-forward. Grant ranks in the Top 100 of many a midwestern state. In Utah, that hotbed of new trends, he keeps company with Bridger and Chase.
Could more parents discover Grant’s strong, masculine, but not over-the-top appeal? Maybe. But for now, he remains a safe bet for a nickname-proof option that will fit right in while standing out just a little bit.
Thanks for highlighting this great name! My Grant is 2 1/2 and it is the only name we liked, for all the reasons here (uncommon not weird, strong and manly, but not sounding like a brand of energy drink, distinguished but not clunky). People thought it wad weird for a baby but at 2 he’s more than grown into it. He loves when i sing the Batman song with “grantman.”
We’re now stuck trying to find something similarly perfect for boy 2! My top choice, Avett, i just decided would be a weird man name even though it’s cute for a kid, kinda like that comment someone made about am 18 year old Jayden being weird. I’m thinking maybe Flint? I liked your article on it (“maybe it’s not TOO tough-guy”. Thanks for the more in-depth looks you give names! Much more helpful than the list sites.
the link talking about the couple with the name algorithm is dead – i was hoping to find that they have a site with a name generator on it, any ideas if thats the case? im in the same boat they are trying to find good boy names that arent too trendy or too clunky. cant use the fabulous Grant because thats my husbands name ^_^
Lady Gwyn says
One of my mom’s cousins is named Grant, and oddly enough, he is verrryyy tall! He is only about ten years older than me, and I always associate that name with my handsome, fun, older “cousin”. I quite love this name, and it would fit in well with my other favorites of Edward, Theodore, Cordelia, and Emelia!
Emmy Jo says
I live in California, and I think I’ve only known two Grants that I can remember. One I went to middle school with, so he’d be almost 30 now. The other is my friend’s 4-year-old son, Grant Kenneth, the older brother to a William Charles. I have a lot of respect for the name. It’s a strong, handsome choice — and it does do a great job splitting the line between historical/contemporary and uncommon/”normal”. It is the sort of name that you feel like you couldn’t go wrong with.
That being said, maybe it is destined to rise in trendiness… I have a friend with a son named Kaden who is pregnant with her second baby. Their top girls’ picks are Madison and Emma. And their favorite boy name? Grant.
Grant does inspire respect, doesn’t he? But Kaden and Grant – would NOT have expected that. Emma and Grant, sure.
What do you mean “why isnt he more common?” I know plenty Grants haha. Maybe its just where I live. I’m with the people that say Grant is a little too bland for me.
Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities says
Have always loved the name Grant. So string and distinguished. Alas, no boys to name around here 🙂
My family is art of the Grant Clan, or so I am told. We’re not very in touch with our Scottish roots, but supposedly my grandpa was in line to be the head of the clan, like if a bunch of people died first, lol. My cousin’s middle is Grant. And I think it’s great that it means tall, because my family is tall! Long is a family name on hubby’s side that means the same thing, pretty cool.
I was just last night trying to convince Chris to switch his love for Clark over to Grant. To me they’re very similar, but Clark is too similar to Cole (our nephew). I love Grant. Almost every name on our list is one syllable, so I guess I like the trend!
Oh, I love Clark! But with your family ties, Grant seems perfect, too.
In my area, Grant had ranked in the top 75 for at least 15 years, so I’m surprised it not as popular nationwide. Like Estella, I’ve known men named Grant my whole life; it feels a little formal and reserved, but it’s a nice name.
Charlotte Vera says
I tend to find a lot of single-syllable names a little too wishy-washy for my taste, but Grant is definitely a strong name despite its brevity. I wouldn’t use it, but I’d encourage anyone considering the name to go for it.
Off topic, but last night, while flying home to visit my parents for Christmas, I caught an interview with young St. Louis Blues NHL 2010 draft pick Jaden Schwartz. I must say, it felt a little strange to see a name I associate with children on an adult. Yes, at 18 he’s a very, very young adult, but he’s still a lot older than the Jadens (etc) I know. I wonder if his parents were inspired by the Hebrew Jadon, or whether they were just ahead of the trends? I rather think the latter, since he has an older brother named Rylan.
Sarah A says
Charlotte – I had a similar experience in NYC the other night when our waiter was Tanner. He was early in his early 20s and quite handsome (probably an aspiring actor!), but I had to do a double take. Tanner sounds to me like a little kid’s name and the Tanner family from the show Full House.
As for Grant, LOVE it!! And Nicole, Grant Edwin is simply amazing!! Strong, old-fashioned, and modern all at the same time. I am seriously loving single syllable boys names right now.
This is completely unrelated, but Zac Hanson and his wife, Kate, had their second child! Her name is Junia Rosa Ruth, and she joins big brother John Ira Shepherd (“Shepherd”).
Zac’s brother Isaac has two kids, Clarke Everett (“Everett”) and James Monroe (“Monroe”), with his wife, Nikki. The third Hanson brother, Taylor, has four kids – Jordan Ezra (“Ezra”), Penelope Anne, River Samuel, and Viggo Moriah – with his wife, Natalie.
Those Hanson brothers are inspired namers, right?
They really are quite talented! Thanks for sharing here … I’ve taken to putting baby name news mostly on Facebook, but I need to figure out a way to post them here, too!
I really like it! I was on a Chase kick a while back, and then it switched to Grant – oddly enough, I went to school with a pair of cousins called Chase and Grant. Weird! Anyway, I think Grant is sturdy and handsome yet playful enough to not feel uptight. It’s great!
When I first really started liking grant, I decided I was going to use Quinn, Tess, Grant, and Reid for potential children. A far cry from my typical Alice, Charlotte, Henry, and Isaac…
Grant is my nephew’s name, so I was delighted to see it highlighted today. The name is indeed nickname proof. Actually, when Grant was a tiny helpless infant, his name probably seemed too strong. My brother and his wife often called him G-G, G-man and Boo.
As for Grant meaning tall, our Grant is heading that way, for sure!
I live in the South and while it’s not a super trendy name here, it’s a name I’ve heard all of my life for men of all ages. I probably would never pick it as it’s a little boring to me.
Thanks for doing this one! Grant is on our short list. His middle name will be a family name Edwin, which doesnt go very well with the ends in -en trend, but I think goes great with Grant. Grant holds steady on our list with Heath and Bram. It seems I have a thing for one syllable masculine nn proof names. I love that it evokes good looking and charming to Panya, cause I get that feeling too!!! I like that Grant is recognizable, but not fashionable, and very spell-able. I think it will age nicely and isnt very tease worthy. I was so interested to see what you dug up on the name. Overall I love him!
I first heard it on the character Grant Harrison on the soap Another World [which I would watch when I came home from school]. I thought Mark Pinter [the actor playing Grant] was so handsome. So that’s the impression I get from the name — someone who’s good-looking & charming.