HatcherH surname names are big for girls, from Harper to Hadley to Harlow.  How ’bout this occupational surname pick for a son?

Thanks to Leslie for suggesting Hatcher as our Baby Name of the Day.

This name screams occupational surname name.  But what job did a Hatcher hold?

Based on English as we speak it today, I’d guess he collected eggs from chickens, or maybe hatched plans for … well, for something or other.

But no.  Because yet again, this name can’t be understood without delving into earlier forms of English.  In Old English, haecc meant gate. It became hacche in Middle English.

So a Hatcher was a gatekeeper, in the old school sense – manning an actual gate to an enclosed piece of land.  Toller and Latman carry similar meanings.

As surnames go, it’s fairly common.  Actress Teri Hatcher, Desperate Housewives alum, is among the best known bearers.

The surname has also made it to the map.  There’s a Hatcher Pass in Alaska, named after prospector Robert Hatcher.

But does the name have any history of use in the first spot?

Sort of.

In 2001, six boys received the name.  By 2013, that number was up to 20.

Back in 1924, playwright Hatcher Hughes was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 1922 work Hell-Bent for Heaven. It became a movie in 1926.

I thought Hatcher might be his given name – he’s from North Carolina, Southern enough to be part of that family-surnames-as-first-names culture.  Alas, no.  The North Carolina encyclopedia gives his first name as Harvey.  Which is deliciously daffy, actually, and doesn’t necessarily hurt the case for Hatcher as a given name.  (Also, Hatcher had a brother called Cicero!)

Despite the relative rarity of Hatcher today, he feels like a promising possibility for a boy.  Ends in ‘r’ names are stylish for both genders, with names like Harper and Asher leaping up the popularity charts.

Rhyming name Thatcher was given to just two dozen boys back in 2000.  But fast forward to 2013, and 199 boys were named Thatcher.  Catcher has even seen some use in recent years, probably thanks to 2003 rom com Down with Love.

But the real rising stars of the ends-with-r trend are Top 100 favorites like Carter, Hunter, and Parker.  Right behind them are Asher, Sawyer, Ryker, and Tucker.

Hatcher would fit right in with those names, but for now he’s nearly unknown.  That might be an opportunity for parents after a stands-out, fits-in choice.

Do you think Hatcher will catch on?  Which do you like better – Thatcher, Hatcher, or Catcher?

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. We just named our son Hatcher. It is a surname on my husbands side of the family. We often call him Hatch. We believe, and have been told, that this name has real swagger. It is very unique, yet has a common timbre. We love it!

  2. I personally love this name it was my great grandfather’s first name and now my sons first name I’ve heard some really stupid first names lately Hatcher May be a unusual name but it sounds a lot better then what some people are choosing just because they want to be the only parents who choose it yeah right I am happy my son is named after his great great grandpa wouldn’t change his name for the world!

    1. It’s a lovely name to have on your family tree, cjb! How nice that you were able to pass it down.

  3. Absolutely ugly. Beyond a pastiche of the somebody-unrelated-to-me’s-surname-as-a-first-name trend. When there are so many bona fide first names out there why give any girl (or boy for that matter) this scratchy-sounding surname monstrosity? For a girl it’s particularly terrible – seems to suggest a fecund over-productivity in store for her, like some poor battery hen.
    Why burden a kid with somebody else’s occupational surname? I just don’t get it.

    1. Whoa! How did I not see this comment earlier? Jonquil, occupational surnames have a long history of use, and drawing a bright line around “bona fide” first names is a lot more difficult than you suggest. Creativity in naming is a good thing, and if Hatcher were, say, my grandmother’s maiden name, I’d certainly consider bestowing it on a son or a daughter.

  4. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of Hatcher before! I’ve run into Thatcher and Catcher, but Hatcher seems to work better than either of them do. What a great suggestion!