Dashiell: Baby Name of the DayLooking for a literary name with ties to Disney and style to spare? Consider the dashing Dashiell.

Our Baby Name of the Day goes out to Lyndsay’s son.

Dashiell: Surname Name

Back in 1894, Richard and Anne Hammett welcomed son Samuel. Anne came from an old Maryland family, and her maiden name became Sam’s middle.

Their son grew up, launched a writing career, and dropped his traditional first name. We know him as detective novelist Dashiell Hammett.

Sam grew up, promoted his middle name to the first spot and became the detective novelist Dashiell Hammett.

The surname started out as de Chiel, a family of French Huguenots who moved to Scotland, then England, before finally settling in the New World.

The family also included a US Congressman, as well as other civic leaders. American Civil General George Dashiell Bayard may have been a cousin.

Dashiell: Nick and Nora

Even in a distinguished family, we remember Hammett best of all. He pioneered what became known as hardboiled detective fiction.

Hammett’s characters – aloof, confident, tough – inspired more fictional heroes that you can count. Even if you’ve never read his novels, you know their names: Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles.

Dashiell: By the Numbers

For generations, Hammett kept his name all to himself.

Fewer than five boys received the name most years during the twentieth century.

That started to change in 1979. What explains the rise?

Hammett died in 1961. In 1977, the movie Julia included Jason Robards as the writer. Robards won a best supporting actor Oscar for the role.

Perhaps that triggered a wave of interest, because a 1979 biography followed. Alice Cooper named his son Dashiell in 1985, one of only 19 boys that year. (His daughters answers to Calico and Sonora – no surprise that Alice is a daring namer!)

The numbers remained small – 20 or fewer most years into the 1990s.

Things started to change then:

  • Actor C. Thomas Howell gave the name to a son in 1997, but the former teen heartthrob kept a much lower profile by then.
  • In 2001, Cate Blanchett welcomed her first, a son named Dashiell John. Blanchett put the name in the spotlight. The name rose in the years that followed.
  • In 2004, The Incredibles gave us Dash Parr. We later learn that the schoolboy superhero’s full name is Dashiell.

Dashiell: Versatile

Besides the ties to the Disney-Pixar film and a few high profile births, the name fits two opposing trends.

Dash is every bit as cool as Cash and a generation of brisk boy names. But say it in full, and the name fits with softer names for boys like Elijah and Sebastian.  Together, the nickname and name make this a versatile choice for a child.

Dashiell: Next

No surprise that the name continues to rise. By 2015, 173 boys received the name – that’s not far behind the 202 births required to boost a name into the Top 1000.

Alternate spellings Dashel and Dashiel are also seen. Very occasionally, the names are given to girls. Paul W.S. Anderson and Mila Jovovich welcomed daughter Dashel Edan in 2015.

But overwhelmingly, this name remains literary, rare, and oh so very wearable. It makes a great choice for a son today, just under the radar enough.

What do you think of Dashiell?

This post was originally published on February 20, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on October 3, 2016.


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. This has been a favorite boy name of ours for years, and we may have a chance to use it soon—but I worry about the spelling. Does dropping the second “l”—ie: Dashiel—forsake its roots too much? In my mind it *could* make it more pronounceable as it more closely resembles Daniel, by feels less phonetic than Dashel.

    I don’t know! I do love the sound though, and the nn is perfect. If we ended up using it, he would be a brother to Meredith, Nolan, Felicity, and Beatrice.

    Naming is hard!

  2. I know this is an old post but I am wondering what the consensus is, if any, to spelling Dashiell phonetically. This is our #1 name and though our Son will be called Dash, I do worry (for his sake) about the correct spelling being butchered.