Dusty: Baby Name of the DayDusty surprised the world when Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo announced their daughter’s name earlier this year.

Celebrity Baby Names Week 2016 begins with this retro Baby Name of the Day.

Dusty: Nickname Name

Chances are that any Dusty you meet is actually a Mary or a Ruth, an Allen or a David.

Or possibly a Dustin.

Dustin comes from the Old Norse name, Torsten. Torsten means Thor’s stone. Dustin and Justin became 1980s favorites.

Credit goes to Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman filmed The Graduate in 1967. His given name debuted in the US Top 1000 in 1968, and remains there today.

But the popularity of Dusty predates Dustin, so that’s not the name’s origin.

Dusty: Springfield

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien adopted her childhood nickname and became recording artist Dusty Springfield. Her career began with 1963’s “I Only Want to Be With You.” The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer remains an icon of the Swinging Sixties. Her 1969 album, “Dusty in Memphis” appears on many Best-of lists. Today’s generation knows her as the singer of Pulp Fiction soundtrack single “Son of a Preacher Man.” Her fame endures, and she might be the most famous bearer of the name.

Dusty: By the Numbers

You might expect that the name would follow Dustin up the charts, but it isn’t so. Or you might guess that Miss Springfield would spark a rise in the name for girls. That’s not exactly the case, either.

Instead, the name first appears in the Social Security charts for boys in 1927, and entered the boys’ Top 1000 in 1954.

For girls, it debuted in the Social Security records in 1944, and entered the Top 1000 in 1972.

Of course, those numbers reflect only a small percentage of those answering to the name, since so often it’s a generic nickname like Buddy.

Dusty: Dust

Maybe the meaning comes from the word itself. Dust has been associated with death for centuries. We’ve been biting the dust since the eighteenth century, and we licked the dust before that. On the romantic side, we find gold dust and stardust. On the other hand, in the 1930s, extended drought turned the American Plains into the Dust Bowl, part of the Great Depression, immortalized in works like Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

We sweep away dust. We even bust it, and yet it’s not quite the same as dirt. There’s something appealing abut dust.

Cowboys adopt the nickname Dusty. A Dallas character wore the nickname; so did George Strait’s character in 1992 movie Pure Country. (The movie flopped, but the soundtrack became a hit.) To be dusty is to be trail-tested, at home on the range.

Several plants are called Dusty Miller. They tend to be silver-white. I believe they get their name from millers, because the plants look dusted with flour.

Dusty: Rose Levine

As of 2015, the name seemed headed for obscurity. 47 boys and 15 girls were given the name. It had settled into a pattern of steady, sparing use.

Then came the Adam Levine-Behati Prinsloo birth announcement. Levine shared that Ellen DeGeneres suggested his daughter’s unusual name, after rejecting the couple’s favorite.

The first-middle combination is actually a soft shade of pink, associated with bridesmaids dresses and all things 1980s – though I’ve heard talk that the color is back. And color names? That’s a winning trend today.

Overall, this name feels romantic and vintage, though the year it hearkens back to is more recent than many a revival. It works for a boy, especially if you love a Western vibe. But star power might push this one more decidedly towards the girls.

What do you think of Dusty? Will it catch on?

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. It’s my name and I hate it. I find that no one takes me seriously because of it. People also ask “Is that your real name??” “C’mon, what’s your real name?” If I was a famous actor, it might be okay. The only person who made the name remotely cool was Mark Wahlberg in the comedy Daddy’s Home.

  2. In Australia this is a boy’s name linked to one of our best country music legends ‘Slim’ Dusty. It would be very surprising on a girl but I kind of like it. The only Dusty I know in person is about 14 and Male. It is a traditional nn for anyone surnamed Miller and I’ve heard of a few of those.

    1. My dad maintains to this day that if I had been a boy I would have been named Dusty Slim, because of that I find it hard to picture on a girl. That said Australian comidenne Kate McLennan has a young daughter named Dusty.

  3. I went to school with a female Dusty (she would be about 30 this year). I always kind of liked the gentle feel of the name!

  4. I went to school with two Dusty’s–both males, born in the mid-90’s. In addition, my mother considered the name for my little sister in 2006, but ended up deciding that the tomboyish sound didn’t match styles with the names of her older kids.

  5. My sister-in-law has a friend named Dusty. He was born in the early ’50’s I think, in a little West Texas town. I assume this is his given name. I have never heard him called anything but Dusty or ‘Dut’ as a kind of nickname.

  6. I truly dislike this name as a given name. I generally like informal names, but this one connotates “dirty”, “outdated”, and feels like an insult or a setback. To those who acquire this nickname later in life, there was at least some personal choice involved. I just can’t see saddling a baby girl with this name. I think Ellen may even be as surprised as me that her ( joking?) suggestion was taken to heart.