Along with Jeffrey and Jason, he’s more likely to be the dad than the newborn today.

Thanks to Meredith for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day: Jeremy.

You might think Jeremy is a classic, with a long history of use. That’s not entirely incorrect. He’s derived from the Biblical, bullfrog Jeremiah, so his roots run deep. But he’s also a relative newcomer to the US rankings. His first appearance was in 1942, and Jeremy became a popular choice for boys born in the 1970s:

  • In 1965, he ranked a relatively rare #467;
  • A year later, he’d leapt to #297;
  • By 1970, he had entered the Top 100 at #70;
  • He arrived at #24 in 1974 and peaked at #14 in 1976.

Today he still stands at #139. Those having children now might be put off by the popular Pearl Jam 1992 single “Jeremy,” a tale of a tortured young man who took his own life. It’s based on a true story. The video for the single scored the Best Video of the Year award in 1993.

But the meteoric rise of Jeremy is difficult to explain:

  • Some parents must’ve first heard Jeremy thanks to an English folk rock duo from 1960s, Chad & Jeremy. Both Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were using stage names. Their best-known single was “Yesterday’s Gone”, and their career was fading just as the name’s rise began;
  • Harper Lee used the name Jeremy for the little boy in To Kill a Mockingbird, except he was always called Jem;
  • In 1968, The Beatles’ trippy cartoon movie Yellow Submarine included a super-smart, not-quite-human character named Jeremy;
  • In 1973, heartthrob Robby Benson played Jeremy in a Golden Globe-nominated movie about a young Jewish cellist in love with a dancer.

Since there, there have been countless athletes and plenty of actors. Oscar winner Jeremy Irons’ career took off in the 1980s. In the past two decades, the small screen has featured Jeremy London (Party of Five’s Griffin), Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order’s Cyrus), and Jeremy Piven (Entourage’s Ari).

Jeremy’s popularity appears to have been mostly about his sound. He succeeded the fading Jerry, Gerald, and Jerome, to fit right in with other Top 50 picks from the 70s, including Justin and Joshua.

In the last decade, he’s lost ground to the original form of his name, Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. Several meanings are given, usually along the lines of “God will uplift.” He’s the bearer of bad news in the Book of Deuteronomy, and he has his own book, too. The Catholics consider him a saint, and he’s significant for Muslims and Mormons, too.

That’s a powerful choice for a child, and it isn’t surprising that the slightly shorter Jeremy developed as a vernacular form of the name. Early nineteenth century philosopher Jeremy Bentham is one of the earliest notables by the name, but Jeremy name can be found in use since the Reformation, and sparingly even before then.

Today Jeremiah stands out as one of the Biblical boys, a brother for Noah or Isaac, and a popular choice not necessarily related to the parents’ faith. He’d climbed to #65 in 2009, his most popular ever.

All of a sudden, Jeremy starts to feel like the enduring classic, an option for trend-resistant parents. It isn’t really so, but if you’re after the familiar-but-not-widely-used choice, Jeremy might satisfy.

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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  1. I can’t believe no one’s mentioned Beatrix Potter’s delightful use: The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher. This Jeremy was also a frog, so that doesn’t help the froggy connotations any. But I love the idea of children having a classic story that shares their name, so this one just ups Jeremy’s appeal in my opinion.

  2. Well, I have an ex-boyfriend named Jeremey, (that is really how he spelled it), so I can’t imagine using it for a future child! 😉 I was never a fan of the name even before he dumped me via text message-and now, well…I would rather use Jeremiah, anyway.

    Photoquilty-I have long adored the nickname Jem for a James, a la Anne of Green Gables. You could always use that one!

  3. I’m not a fan of Jeremy. Gerome, OK, but Jeremy – nah. And just like there are people who say Harry and hairy almost the same, I have heard some people who say Jeremy and germy very similarly… that doesn’t help the name (I actually *like* Harry, so I can live with hairy better, but germy is just another tick in the con column for Jeremy). All in all, this one is bland in my book, and not for me.

  4. I had a evangelical Christian upbringing and Jeremy/Jeremiah/Jeremias are all names that scream fundamentalist Christian to me. Probably because I’ve known a lot of preacher’s kids with one of the name’s variants. ( I have the same problem with Nathanael/Nathan.)

    Even if I wasn’t having such a visceral reaction, my other problem is the lack of a “good” nickname: Jerry, Jem, Jez? None of these win me over.

  5. I quite enjoy Jeremy, even though I’ve known quite a few people by the name. In the King James Version (and several other versions) of the New Testament, the prophet Jeremiah is referred to as the Prophet Jeremy (e.g. Matt. 27:9). But I am very curious about your statement that Jeremiah is a bringer of bad news in Deuteronomy. Considering that the narrative in Deuteronomy ends with Moses’ death, and Jeremiah’s story begins during the reign of King Josiah, surely you must have meant Lamentations?

  6. I was going to ask you to make Jeremy a name of the day so I’ve really enjoyed reading this post. I have no idea why I like Jeremy so much as he doesn’t fit in with my overall naming style – he’s a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine to be honest. I think the crux of it is that he just sounds like a really honest, decent, cheerful kind of chap. Plus, the fact that he’s familiar but not widely used really helps his case too (every Jeremy I know is in his 40’s)…

  7. Jeremy was on my list for both boys, but my husband vetoed it. I’ve always liked it. Jem is a pretty cool nickname, too. Jeremiah? Yuck. Too religious sounding, and also too froggy.