At first, names from weaponry seem like an unthinkable source of inspiration. It’s a joke that one of The Royal Tennenbaums grandsons is named Uzi, a sign of the family’s tremendous dysfunction. And when Levi Johnston, former prospective son-in-law to Sarah Palin, welcomed a daughter named Breeze Beretta with his new girlfriend, the reaction was generally negative – at least to the origins of the middle name, even if the sound is pleasing.
Look a little deeper, though, and words associated with weaponry aren’t always destructive. They can refer to precision, to aim. To truth and honor, even.
Some, like Blade, feel too aggressive. Others, like Gunnar, have deep roots that offset their sound. And not all of them are obviously tied to bows and arrows, guns, or heavy artillery.
With Hunter ranking as a Top 100 name for boys since 1993, no wonder that some of these are starting to sound very wearable for a boy – and a few for a girl, too.
Ready, Aim, Names from Archery
First there was Robin Hood. Now there’s Katniss Everdeen. Throw in The Avengers’ Hawk, and archery is cooler than cool. And while it can be deadly – see The Hunger Games for ample proof – it is also seen as a gentler pursuit, more sport than assault. Unless, of course, you’re a dedicated bow hunter, in which case, well … these names will probably feel very appealing.
Archer – He’s a stylish up-and-comer, midway between Hunter and Archibald.
Arrow – As a word name, Arrow should feel aggressive. But arrows fly straight and true, conjuring up ideas about accuracy and goals. It makes Arrow feel more modern virtue than killer instinct.
Artemas, Artemis – She’s the Greek goddess of the hunt, traditionally shown with a bow and arrow. The spelling Artemas is more common for boys – there’s a Saint Artemas mentioned in the New Testament and a Revolutionary War general – but fictional figure Artemis Fowl blurs the boundary. For a girl, Artemis is as fierce as Katniss, but less tied to pop culture.
Beau, Bo, and Bow – Plus the more subtle Bowen, Bowman and Bowie, though Bowie feels more like Lennon or Presley than a name related to archery. I found an archery forum that veered into baby name territory, with several of the (mostly male, I think) posters suggesting Beau Hunter as the perfect name for a son. Beau and Bo have lots of possible origins, and Bow has multiple meanings – from bending to gift wrap to music to archery. But “bow and arrow” is a familiar enough phrase that these names all have a hint of archery about them. Longer names, like Beauregard and Isabeau, are even more subtle possibilities.
Easton – The sports manufacturer makes equipment for baseball and ice hockey, too, but makes this list thanks to their archery equipment. For a real enthusiast, Easton is a great compromise choice. It’s common enough that it doesn’t scream “my parents named me after their hobby” quite the way that Beau Hunter might.
Fletcher – He feels preppy and buttoned-up, but Fletcher is an occupational surname for one who makes arrows – from the Old French fleche – arrow.
Hoyt – Hoyt makes the list for the same reasons as Easton, except that Hoyt only makes products for archery – in fact, they make the bow used by Katniss in The Hunger Games movies.
Ready, Aim Names from Guns
These names always take me by surprise. A gun seems like a mismatch when it comes to baby naming inspiration, as potentially inappropriate in a nursery as alcohol or death metal. At a minimum, they’re very intense names. And you really, really shouldn’t name your child Glock.
But then again, shooting is a sport with a long history, and a hobby enjoyed by many. If musicians can choose names like Chord, why shouldn’t some of these names appeal?
Beretta – If not for the Italian gun manufacturer, betcha I’d think Beretta was a swell name for a girl. After all, it comes from an Italian word meaning bonnet, or hooded cloak, and was an occupational surname for one who made such garments. But the best-known Beretta started making guns back in 1526, and has never stopped. That makes Beretta an aggressive choice, even though she’s a sound-cousin to Brett, Britta, and Birgitta.
Caliber – With firearms, caliber expresses the measurement of the barrel – like a .22. But caliber can also refer to a level of skill – the high caliber of her work, for example. It can feel like a synonym for excellence, and so fits with modern virtue names for boys.
Citori – It sounds like it should have meaning, doesn’t it? But Citori was invented for a Browning double-barreled shotgun that’s been around for forty years. I almost dropped Citori from the list when I realized she was an invention – but then I found her mentioned on a baby name forum and decided to let her stay.
Colt – Despite his potentially negative associations – malt liquor, guns – Colt has fared well in recent years. Colton has been in the Top 100 since 2008, and Colt currently ranks in the 300s. It’s also a term to describe a young horse, a subcompact car, and Indianapolis’ football team.
Gage, Gauge – To gauge means to measure. It’s a noun, too, one that refers to diameter of a gun barrel. As connections go, this one is pretty ignorable – more like naming your kiddo Bo than Arrow. Gage ranked #172 in 2012, while Gauge came in at #741, with Gaige also charting in the Top 1000.
Gunner – Spell it Gunnar and I’ll have no doubt that you’re honoring your Northern European roots. And Gunther is a great, clunky Germanic name, worn by a fifth century king who met his death at the hands of Attila the Hun. They derive from words meaning war and warrior, so he’s a tough guy even without his similarity to the English word gunner – one who operates canons on a ship, or the machine gun on a fighter plane.
Flint – Flint is a nature name, but he makes this list thanks to the flintlock, a seventeenth-century innovation in firearms. Striking flint – a kind of quartz – against steel creates a spark that can ignite gunpowder. The flintlock mechanism was popular for over two centuries, though today it is an antique. Modern parents probably think of Flint more as a nature name for boys, a brother to Jasper and Onyx, but I thought he deserved a mention here, too.
Remington – Until Pierce Brosnan became the fictional detective in a 1980s television show, it was hard to imagine Remington as a given name. Even in the series, it was chosen for its over-the-top masculinity. But this English place name-turned-surname has been in steady use for years, currently ranking #421 in the US. Eliphalet Remington designed and built his first gun in 1816 – a flintlock rifle – and Remington Arms has been in business ever since.
Winchester – Another place name-turned-surname, Winchester is associated with many things. One of them is the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, and the Winchester rifle. The company no longer exists, but their designs are still produced by another company.
Ready, Aim Names from Artillery
Cannon – Ranked #527 in the US, Cannon is a relatively familiar name for a boy born in recent years. Besides its associations with weaponry, Cannon and Canon are surnames with multiple origins. But they’re definitely weapons, too – invented by the Chinese, and in use in much of the world between the 900s and 1200s, give or take a few decades.
Cason, Caisson – I know that Cason owes his use to our affection for Jason, Mason, and Grayson. After all, he’s sometimes spelled Cayson and Kason and Kaesen and so on. But it always makes me think of that lyric from the Marine song – caissons go rolling along. Strictly speaking, a caisson isn’t a weapon – it is the cart that carries ammunition – but it is definitely a battle-tested piece of equipment. At #465, Cason is fairly popular. And Kason ranked even higher in 2012, at #385.
What do you think of names with ties to weaponry? Are there any on this list that you might use? Are there any that I’ve forgotten?