Emmett: Baby Name of the DayEmmett is strong and sincere, an old school name that feels fresh and interesting today.

Thanks to Jess for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

Emmett: Ermintrude’s Cousin

Some sources connect Emmett to the same Hebrew roots as Emmanuel, but this name is really a cousin to Emma.

Emma ultimately comes from ermen – universal. It was long used in names like Ermintrude and is also the source of Irma.

Emma, of course, came from France to England with the Normans. Emma of Normandy married Aethelred the Unready, and became Queen of England in 1002.

Emmett developed as an affectionate nickname for Emma. The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources lists Emot, Emmot, and several other spellings. The surname developed from all of those -ot and -et forms.

Emmett: One T or Two?

Both spellings have been around for years.

In terms of pure numbers, the ‘tt’ spelling has consistently been more popular. It’s one used by famous clown Kelly, outlaw Dalton, and Doc, from the Back to the Future movies. Emmett remains significantly more popular today, too. It was given to more than 2,600 newborns in 2014, versus just 218 newborn Emmetts.

Emmett: Smith and Otter

Parents today probably think of a few figures:

  • Football great Emmitt Smith – yup, it’s spelled with an i. The three-time Super Bowl champ went on to win the third season of Dancing With the Stars. He’s also memorable for a series of Visa commercials focusing on identity theft, with dozens of unlikely types declaring “I am Emmitt Smith.”
  • You might also think of Jim Henson’s 1977 Gift of the Magi-esque Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. It’s all about a young otter who does the right thing in tough circumstances and celebrates a happy ending just in time for the holidays. (Confession: it’s also one of my all-time favorite Christmas specials.)
  • It’s also the given name of Elle Woods’ principled and thoughtful beau in the Legally Blonde movies.
  • More recently, it’s the name of one of Edward Cullen’s vampire brothers in the Twilight series. The vamp is the physically strongest of the Cullen clan, and the actor who played him – Kellan Lutz – went on to appear on screen as Hercules.

Kids in 2016 will have a completely different association for this name: Emmet Brickowski, the hero of The LEGO Movie. The 2014 blockbuster will get a sequel in 2018. Emmet is an everyman character who has a series of unlikely adventures and saves the day – predictable, maybe, but still charming.

Emmett: By the Numbers

After years of sparing use, Emmett has followed other surname names into the spotlight. Along with Elliott, Elliot, Beckett, Bennett, and Everett, it’s among the most popular of the -t ending choices for boys today. In fact, Emmett’s rank of #156 makes it the most popular of the cluster of names.

While some parents hesitate to use baby names from Twilight, Emmett rose sharply in use after the first movie was released in 2008. Likewise, The LEGO Movie boosted the single-t spelling of this name. With another LEGO flick in the works, and the ongoing popularity of ends with -t surname names for boys, Emmett feels unstoppable.

Would you spell this name with one t or two?

This post was originally published on June 25, 2008. It was substantially revised and re-posted on Monday, April 26, 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. I LOVE Emmett! It’s such a sweet name, but I agree with Natalie that Emmett’s bound to be popular quite soon because of “Emmett Cullen” in the popular “Twilight” series. Twilght is all my daughter ever talks about. (She’s 14). I’m pretty sure when she has kids, names like Emmett, Jasper, Alice, Rosalie and all the other “Cullen” names are going to turn up on her baby list.

    Speaking of Cullen, what about Cullen for a NotD?

  2. Hooray! Another Emmett Otter fan here! I was born in 1977 yet I have vivid memories of this Christmas special.
    ***pops open another tab on Amazon to search for Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas on DVD***

    As for the name . . . I guess I should like it because it’s awfully close to Everett but for some reason I find it a bit effeminate. Maybe I’m assuming any Emmett would get “Em” occasionally and I’ve known too many Emilys and Emmas to swallow Em on a boy. I’m not a sports fan (or ballroom dancing), so Emmitt Smith really isn’t a strong association for me.

  3. Katharine, my husband was almost Elliot! He ended up Arthur instead. It suits him – I can’t imagine him as a Jason or Michael.

    And I don’t have a great place to put a “suggest future NotD” at the moment, so really any comment will do. I should get a button that says “Suggest a NotD,” though … adding it to my list of technological issues to work through. 😕

    Another, I’ll plan on a post called “Getting to Luke.” I’ve been meaning to do more in that series, anyhow, on how we can arrive at popular short forms. It’s not that Luke and company are too dull – on the contrary, I find the name quite dashing. But common names with lots of references throughout history and pop culture make the name posts nearly novel-length. And I tend to go on and on (and sometimes on) as is! So in the interest of saving myself editing headaches, I’ve decided to stick to the seldom heard. And, of course, it is *slightly* more interesting to discuss Ermintrude and Hector than Sara and Michael. 🙂

  4. Apologies, I had no idea that my post on future notd posted to this section – it certainly looks a bit random smack bang in the middle of a discussion about the name Emmett! it’ll be great to hear a bit about those names though… actually, I’ve heard of a couple of Loveday’s through work/friends etc and believe it to be an ancient Cornish name so I’m curious to see what you turn up!

    Re. Emmett: To me, the similarity to Emma/Emily renders Emmett too feminine for a boy, I have a similar problem with Elliot because the predominance of of Ellie/Ella/Eleanor.

  5. Luke Wilson played Emmett, hm…what about doing the name Luke? To me it’s old fashioned, but Lucas and Lukas are current trends. What about good old Luke? Interesting enough for a NotD?

  6. Emmett is an interesting one. Although i don’t personally like it i can see it’s appeal and also i can see it rising in popularity soon, due to the character “Emmett Cullen” in the best selling “Twilight” series which is now a teenage fave read. I think the “Emmett” boom will arrive in a few years when these teens begin to have kids.

  7. Lola my dear, I’m a mere six years your junior and consider myself very, very young indeed! I watched Emmet Otter live on TV, too – and the original Muppet Show!

    And I agree – Mitt is dead in the water as a nickname for the foreseeable future.

    Katharine, I’ve penciled in Ira for July 17, Gilbert for July 19 and Millicent for July 20. Assumpta scares me with those first three letters, but we’ll put her on July 22 – though I might chicken out and choose Asuncion! As for Loveday, I’m not sure I’ll turn up enough for a post, but I’ll give it my best shot on July 24.

    Another, I love Harris! I’m stealing him for my NotD on July 21.

  8. Can I suggest a few more names for notd?? ….Loveday, Millicent, Ira, Gilbert and Assumpta, what do you reckon?!!

  9. I remember Emmett Otter! I was 10 in 1977. (yes, I am old) And Emmett Smith is familiar enough to render Emmett completely masculine despite it’s similarity to the Em’s (Emily & Emma). Between the similarity to Emily/Emma and the surnamey feel of Emmett, it would be firmly middle name territory for me, if I liked it enough to consider it in the first place. I’m a nicknamer by nature and Emmett leaves me with nothing decent. Em’s gone to the girls, again, thanks to Emily & Emma and there’s maybe Mett/Mitt, which just makes me think of my former Governor, Mitt Romney. Eww. What else is there?
    But, like Everett, he’s got a snazzy sound and a snappy feel. He’s just not for me. From your list of names of similar popularity, I’d be more inclined to grab onto Malcolm or Ronan. It must be my style.. I prefer slick and smooth to open & fresh when it comes to boy names. *shrug* I never said I wasn’t odd. 😛

  10. I always think of Emmett “Doc” Brown of Back to the Future fame. This is where I first heard the name. And he was supposed to be an old guy – it is an exceedingly old fashioned name to my ears…and I never fail to hear Mary Steenburgen’s southern accent murdering it every time I read the name. (She was in BttF 3.) I’ll place this one above Everett, but probably below Harris on my list. For when I have another baby. Later. Not now. 🙂