Once upon a time, he was more common than Andrew or Alex.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Elmer as Name of the Day.
They’re not exactly inspiring images for a child’s name, and they’re deadly wedded to poor Elmer.
The animated Elmer J. Fudd usually found himself bested by that famous bunny, Bugs. Fudd was, of course, “hunting wabbit” in virtually every cartoon. He’s been around since the 1940s.
There’s also half of that famous bovine power couple, Elmer the Bull. Wife Elsie the Cow promotes Borden Dairy products; back when Borden’s chemical division needed a mascot, they dispatched her husband, Elmer. (The couple have four children, at least one named in a national contest: Beulah, Beauregard, Larabee and Labelia.) They’re no longer owned by the same parent company, but Elmer is just as much an icon as his better half.
Before the hapless hunter and the adhesive shill, Elmer was a given name and surname, with many earlier forms:
- There’s the old English Ædelmær or Aethelmaer, probably from the Germanic Adelmar. The first bit – adel – means noble, while mar means famous;
- Then there’s Aylmer, which may simply be the Norman version of those Old English appellations;
- Lastly, it could be a variant of Elmo, a name that – years before the furry red monster – was once reasonably common.
Just like many a surname, there are famous bearers galore, including an early American political family. (Brothers Jonathan and Ebenezer, as well as Jonathan’s son Lucius, were all members of Congress.)
While many surnames were only sparing used in the first spot, Elmer was his generation’s Jackson. Between 1880 and 1932, Elmer ranked in the US Top 100 every year, peaking at #32 in 1893. And while he’s fallen steadily, in 2007 he still held on to the US Top 1000, at #893.
Famous Elmers include:
- Sinclair Lewis’ fictional bad boy, 1926’s Elmer Gantry;
- Artist Elmer Bischoff, active in San Francisco post-World War II;
- Oscar-winning film score composer Elmer Bernstein.
There’s a crater on the moon named Elmer, after astronomer Charles Elmer. And El Morocco, once the Manhattan hot spot, was nicknamed Elmer by those in the know.
While Elmer seems destined for obscurity, he just might strike a chord with hipster parents. After all, Oscar and Atticus are nearly mainstream these days. And Eli, Elijah and Elliot are all El- names for boys that have found widespread acceptance, while Carter, Conner and Tyler make the -er ending perfectly popular.
It’s a bit of a risk right now, but Elmer just might sound fashion forward in another few years.
British American says
My first association is Elmer the elephant. “Elmer the Patchwork Elephant is a children’s picture book series by the British author David McKee.” So that is more positive than glue and Elmer Fudd. Kids these days might be more likely to know the elephant than Elmer Fudd. Though the similarity to Elmo is a shame.
I kind of like the name. 🙂
Oh, no. Elmer’s an unfortunate name that I just don’t think can be salvaged. I immediately picture Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel from the Simpson’s. I met an Elmer at the hospital where I evaluate patients last year; he had downed a 12 pack of beer and then dove head first into shallow water. If memory serves, he had a negative tooth-to-tatoo ratio. Seriously, unless you have an uncle named Cooter and a deep and abiding for the Confederate flag, steer clear of this one.
Elmer Fudd seriously ruins the name for me, I hate to say. And it’s similarity to Elmo – whom Matilda cannot get enough of – And he also reminds me way too much of this grouchy lady named Alma that used to babysit us as kids.
Bad associations aside, I can see a hint of style going on, not sure it’s enough though.
Fudd, Fudd, Fudd. It’s overwhelming for me. Fudd. Even the glue can’t budge my Fudd association.
Elm is a fun nn and I would have overlooked it. I can’t fault that. And I could see people embracing thee name going forward, perhaps, but it will take a critical mass of usage to overcome the Fuddiness for me.
Oh *smack* I can’t believe I didn’t think of that one, Great catch, Emmy Jo!
Now all we need is for Gwyneth to get pregnant again. Apple, Moses & Elmer? Yeah, why not? 😀
Emmy Jo says
Lola — I think Elm would work as a nickname. What with being a tree and all, it’s got that cool naturey vibe a lot of people are going for.
We were just talking about Elmer the other night! We were rewatching “Thirteen Days” and this dude: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2858951/ was in the credits. I think he’s from the Philippines. Being the avid credit watchers we are (I’ve always been, he’s learned), a hot discussion ensued. “Elmer’s glue” he said. “Elmer Gantry” I rebutted. And so it went. In the end, Elmer won a small victory ala Elsie. If Elsie can come back, even as just a nickname, then there’s still a bit of hope left for Elmer. If Bill Murray would ever have another kid, I’d toss Elmer at him, I think it would appeal to his sense of the absurd.
Or maybe Jack Nicholson? Lorraine, Raymond & Elmer? Maybe? How about Richard Gere? Homer & Elmer? Aww, c’mon, we need a Celebrity to grab Elmer and run with it.
I think Elmer’s got a bit of style, ala Clyde, which is a definite “Why not?” in my circles. He feels kind of fresh & funky to me, which means in about 5 years, everyone else will start seeing him as fresh & funky (whch is how it always seems to go for me). I like Clyde. And if we don’t have another boy, it’ll go on the next cat (I think). If Elmer had one, good nickname, I think he’d come back a whole lot faster. But I can’t find any in him. El? too similiar to all those Ellie’s out there already. E? isn’t that slang for a drug? Nope. Mer? What? no. So there, I think is his problem is, no decent nicknames, nothing cute to call him when he’s little. (although I suppose the non name things would work: Buddy, Skip, etc.). I think Elmer’s got a chance, he’s so out there he’s almost cool! 😀
Emmy Jo says
I don’t know if I could go for Elmer. I immediately thought “Elmer Fudd” and then “Elmer’s glue,” just as you had predicted.
I can see how he would appeal to those who love Oscar (which I don’t much care for), but I think parents using this are taking a huge risk.