Hoyt Arboretum - Portland, Oregon
Hoyt Arboretum – Portland, Oregon (Photo credit: Dougtone)

He’s a nickname turned surname turned True Blood character.

Thanks to C in DC for suggesting Hoyt as our Baby Name of the Day.

On True Blood, Hoyt is a sweet Southern boy, loyal to his mama, who falls in love with a girl.  A vampire girl.  There’s romance and tragedy over the course of several seasons.

It’s enough to put Hoyt on the radar of modern parents, an alternative to the Top 100 Wyatt.  Like Wyatt, he’s a surname derived from a personal name.  The Middle English hoit means stick, and so someone called Hoit or Hoyt was a tall, skinny person – a stick.  Hoyt would’ve originally been a nickname, and became a surname the same way that Brown caught on.

Some sources try to give him a Norse backstory, and høy means tall in Norwegian.  Still, I can’t confirm that he’s ever been used as a given name anywhere in Scandinavia.

In fact, Hoyt is surprisingly overlooked in baby name resources, despite a long history of use.  He ranked #979 back in 1880, peaked at #429 in 1909, and remained a Top 1000 name most years into the 1960s.  It’s not unlikely that you’ve met a Hoyt.

Notable Hoyts include:

  • Country music’s Hoyt Axton.  He was more successful as a songwriter than a singer, though he had a career as both.  Axton also graduated to acting in television and movies.  One of his more memorable roles was in Gremlins – he’s the dad who brings home the first Mogwai, Gizmo, as a pet for his son.
  • Hoyt Wilhelm was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as possibly the most successful relief pitcher ever, and one of the longest-playing pitchers in professional baseball.  He retired a few days shy of his fiftieth birthday.
  • General Hoyt Vandenberg retired from the US Air Force to run the Central Intelligence Agency.  Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is named in his honor.

As a surname, Hoyt is even more visible:

  • Hoyts is an Australian movie theater chain.
  • Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood was developed by Charles Hoyt and Russell Nevins.  Hoyt Street bears his name.
  • Hoyt Archery is a major manufacturer of bows and other archery supplies.  From The Hunger Games to The Avengers, the sport is quite stylish these days.  If you can name a son Archer, why not Hoyt?
  • Portland, Oregon’s Hoyt Arboretum was named after Ralph Warren Hoyt, a County commissioner and proponent of the arboretum’s establishment in the early twentieth century.

The question, though, is whether Hoyt works as a child’s name circa 2013.  81 boys were given the name in 2011.  That means you’re more likely to meet a Hezekiah.  And yet:

  • Only five names in the 2011 Top 1000 included the oy sound: Joy, Joyce, Troy, Roy, and Royce.  (In 1909, that number was 20.)  But Royce is a stylish up-and-comer.
  • From Hunter to Henry, H is a letter with lots of potential.
  • He picks up on both the single-syllable names for boys trend, as well the Southern gentleman/hickster trend.

Hoyt feels down home and down to Earth, and that’s a winning combination.  If you’re after something nickname-proof and unusual, Hoyt could be the name for you.

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. I love Hoyt! So simple and with such great letters! It looks wonderful on paper, but out loud it sounds like the noise you make before you spit…forgive me! I hate the reference because I love the way the name looks so much! My husband vetoed it for us.

  2. I live in Portland, OR! I was thrilled to see the Hoyt Arboretum shout-out.

    Hoyt……not sure what I think. Now Hezekiah I love! I think it’s a great name, and fits in with the Bible trending names currently. I think it’d work today!

  3. Hoyt is one of my favourites 🙂 I love the sound of it, and the southern gentleman feel.

    But again, don’t think I’d use it here in Australia because of the cinema chain.

  4. I come across Hoyt SO MUCH doing genealogy research. Hoyt seems to have been especially popular in the late 1700s/early 1800s.

  5. I do love Hoyt on True Blood (although I haven’t seen the last couple of seasons because we stopped getting actual discs from Netflix, blah, blah, blah.) A “sweet Southern boy” sounds about right.

    I can’t really see it working in any other region though.

  6. Hezekiah I actually love.

    My husband has vetoed it and that makes me sad. Also sends me back to the simpler ones… of which Hale or Heath appeal a lot more than Hoyt.

  7. I’m going to say no on this one. I don’t like the sound of it. I like Hoyle possibly more than Hoyt, but not by much.

    Now Hezekiah, there’s a cool name.

  8. Living in New Zealand, Hoyt[s] is all movie theatre to me. I think it would sound really odd on a child here or in Australia. It also makes me think of those old-school vaudevillians with really exaggerated accents who essentially said that something “hoyts” instead of “hurts”. However, that last reference isn’t really a drawback worth much of anything, so, outside of the South Pacific, I could see this name working, particularly if it’s in the family tree.

    1. Same here, I can only think of this as a cinema. I do think it would work elsewhere though, although it makes me think of the word “hoity-toity”.