The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is a presidentia...
Grant Memorial; Image via Wikipedia

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.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Have always loved the name Grant. So string and distinguished. Alas, no boys to name around here 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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…

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.