He’s an oversized fictional canine, and everybody’s favorite know-it-all postal carrier. Could he also be the perfect choice for your son?
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Clifford as Name of the Day.
Before there was the Big Red Dog and Cheers’ Cliff Clavin, Clifford was an Old English place name. If you happened to live by a cliff near a ford – the ledge or overhang by the crossing for a body of water – you might wear this name. (Or Cliff. Or Ford.)
In the US, Clifford regularly charted in the Top 100 into the early 1950s. He’s something like Adam today – never a chart topper, but not a surprising choice, either.
That means that plenty of dads and granddads wear this name – and yet Clifford dropped out of the US Top 1000 entirely after 2005. Short form Cliff has fared worse – never reaching the formal versions’ heights, Cliff dropped off after 1985. (For what’s it’s worth, Ford has fared worst of all – even before Detroit’s current round of woes.)
Non-canine Cliffords that might inspire you to reconsider this choice include:
- Playwright and social critic Clifford Odets. He’s best known for his 1935 work, Awake and Sing;
- Clifford Simak was a celebrated sci fi author from the 1970s and 80s;
- Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown lends the name some swing – though you’re more likely to hear him called Brownie;
- Other musicians who have worn the name include Ted Nugent’s drummer Cliff Davies and Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.
And yes, John Ratzenberger’s character on Cheers wore the full name Clifford C. Clavin, Jr.
Of course, Clifford has also been common in the surname spot, including:
- The aristocratic Clifford clan of England. There’s been a Baron de Clifford since the late 1200s, when Robert de Clifford won the title for his military service;
- Some years earlier, Rosamund Clifford was a celebrated beauty, and mistress to Henry II of England;
- JR Clifford was a pioneering attorney in the early days of the Civil Rights movement;
- Michael Clifford walked in space as an astronaut;
- John Clifford is a dancer-turned choreographer-turned founder of the Los Angeles Ballet.
While Clifford might seem like an unlikely bet for a comeback, he does have a few advantages. He combines the surname and nature name trends. Cliff sounds just right with other rising choices like Cade and Cole, but Clifford fills out the birth certificate. Parents could also opt for Heathcliff, but that’s just a smidge more dramatic.
Plus, he was at his most popular between 1900 and 1910, keeping company with Leo, Everett, Benjamin, Samuel, Arthur, Walter, Charles and Henry. With all of those names either sounding fashionable or even downright sensible, why not Clifford?