Sloane was launched by a 1980s movie and a world famous princess, but this surname name is just catching on now.
Thanks to Christy for suggesting one of the names from her list as our Baby Name of the Day.
Sloane: Raider or Ranger?
As you can probably guess, this name started out as a surname. It comes from the Gaelic O’Sluagháin – raider. Along with pirate and marauder, it’s often used for sports teams.
But in the 1980s, this name took on a very different association, thanks to Lady Diana Spencer.
The woman who would be queen was part of a circle of young, fashionable, well-born Londoners called Sloane Rangers – after the name of the Chelsea square that served as their informal HQ.
The world watched as Lady Di became a princess in a fairytale wedding, and we all learned the term Sloanie – the rough equivalent of Preppy in US slang in the 1980s. Bestselling “official” handbooks were issued for both.
The square is named for Sir Hans Sloane, an eighteenth century physician and landowner, best remembered for donating a considerable collection of artwork to establish the British Museum.
It’s no surprise that the people’s princess didn’t inspire parents to name their daughter Sloane in her honor. Sloanie wasn’t exactly praise – and certainly wasn’t mentioned as a given name. The term is still around. (And for what it’s worth, has also been applied to another queen presumptive – Kate Middleton.)
Sloane: Save Ferris!
It was still the Reagan era when this name became a name, though.
The year was 1986. Matthew Broderick was Ferris Bueller. And Ferris? He was taking a day off.
The John Hughes classic sent Ferris on adventures across Chicago in the company of his best friend Cameron and girlfriend Sloane.
Mia Sara played the girlfriend, wearing an unforgettable white leather fringed jacket. As high school girl characters from the 1980s go, she’s memorable for being level-headed, and very kind.
The movie was a box office hit. Thirty years later, it remains a favorite for many.
Sloane: 21st Century
You might expect that the name would have taken off, bolstered by the combined power of Diana and Ferris.
In 1980, seven girls were given the name, along with ten boys. By 1990, those numbers were 67 girls and 5 boys.
A handful of uses kept the name in the public eye: essayist Sloane Crosley’s best-selling I Was Told There’d Be Cake, and recurring Entourage character Sloan McQuewick, an on-again, off-again girlfriend for Eric.
It might be the Entourage character who did the most to boost the name. She first appeared on the HBO series in 2005. That year, the name was given to 120 girls. By 2007, that number was 217.
Eric’s girlfriend spells her name without the final ‘e’ – and sure enough, Sloan also doubled in use between 2005 and 2007, going from 56 girls to 115 girls.
Sloane: By the Numbers
Even if the Sloan-sans-e tipped the name into wider use, the with-the-e spelling is much more popular. It broke into the US Top 1000 in 2008, and reached #327 by 2015.
Sloan also ranks, at #699 in 2015.
How high will it climb?
The name fits with current trends. It’s a surname name for girls like top ten favorite Harper. Other S surname name possibilities, like Sutton and Sawyer, are also on the rise. And with many parents favoring nickname-proof names in every style of name, this is definitely one that could appeal.
But for now, it remains a familiar, but not too popular, pick for a daughter.
What do you think of Sloan/e? Do you prefer it with or without the e?
This post was originally published on August 12, 2010. It was substantially revised and reposted on May 30, 2016.