Today’s choice is as Scottish as the thistle. Thanks to Bek for suggesting our Name of the Day: Gordon.

There are at least six theories about Gordon’s roots. Many are tied to the map: places called Gordon can be found in Spain; there’s a Gourdon in France; and Grodno, Belarus may have also produced some Gordons. There’s a Roman name Gordus and several Gaelic names that might have become Gordon through the years.

But the most common theory is that Gordon comes from the Celtic gor – great, vast – and dun – hill or possibly din – fort. The House of Gordon was among the most powerful Scottish clans. Many members adopted this as their surname, including the Marquess of Huntly, the aristocratic head of Clan Gordon.

And so while Gordon as a surname can reference many different backgrounds, as a given name it is sounds like a Scottish heritage choice.

In popular use, Gordon got a boost from a military hero. The nineteenth century British Major-General Charles George Gordon was a popular figure known for his campaigns in China and Africa. He was also a capable diplomat, negotiating several thorny political situations before meeting his death during the siege of Khartoum in the Sudan.

In the US, Gordon ranked in the Top 100 from 1911 to 1945, peaking in 1935 at #70. Many famous Gordons date from that era, including:

  • J. Paul Getty’s son and heir, now on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans;
  • G. Gordon Liddy of the Watergate scandal;
  • Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, probably best known for “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”;
  • Intel co-founder Gordon Moore;
  • Ice hockey legend Gordie Howe.

The most prominent Gordon of the moment is probably the foul-mouthed, Michelin star-studded Scottish celeb chef Gordon Ramsay. He’s achieved success in the culinary world and on television, hosting reality series Kitchen Nightmares in both the UK and the US.

Gordon also has comic book cred. There’s Commissioner James Gordon of the Gotham City Police, the man who dials the bat phone in Batman. And we can’t forget Flash Gordon, who stands up to Ming the Merciless in outer space.

For bad guy Gordons, there’s Wall Street’s corporate raider, Gordon Gekko. Michael Douglas nabbed an Academy Award for his role in the 1987 film.

Today the name stands at #989 – teetering on the edge of obscurity. But we wonder if Gordon – like Calvin, Walter, Raymond, Roger and Clarence – could be part of another revival, one in the not-so-distant future. After all, the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire featured David “Gordo” Gordon, a love interest for the main character. And kids still grow up with Sesame Street’s Gordon Robinson and family.

Overall, Gordon is familiar. There’s a real Scottish charm to him. And while he’s not quite fashionable, neither is he hopelessly clunky. Gordon could work nicely on a modern child – a pleasantly unexpected choice.

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. Gordon sounds very stout and gruff doesn’t he?! I don’t know why but for me, the name conjures up the image of a large man frowning! 🙂

  2. What about Gordonon Sesame Street? That’s my main association with the name. Can’t say I’ma fan – of the name. Love the character on the show. 😉

  3. Thanks for Gordon!

    This is my husband’s middle name, and he hates it with a passion. It was given to him because it’s his mother’s maiden name, but that doesn’t make him love it any more… I honestly love it and would gladly use it in the middle name spot for a child, but I admit I have a soft spot for the Scots – Gordon, Russell, Bruce, Douglas and Alasdair. I can see how some can’t feel the love, he comes across a bit frumpy for some, but I find him dashing. 🙂

  4. While I don’t get too excited about Gordon either, I think it does work for a child today. It’s not fashionable but nor is it, as you say, clunky..

  5. I mentioned Gordon to the spouse and he didn’t blink before coming out with “Gordon is a moron” – the Jilted John song… Of course, he’s a Brit and I don’t recall Jilted John here in the US (but I am familiar with song due to his bringing it up in the past). Just thought I’d throw that out there… maybe it’s part of my lack of excitement about Gordon.

  6. I’ll confess to a hufge soft spot for Gordon. I really do like him! I keep trying to sneak him onto my lists but he keeps getting shot down. he’s known too many Gordons for it to feel fresh for a baby, says he. I counter with, when? I’ve known him since I was 4, his sister used to babysit my siblings & I, and she often brought her kid brother along. I’ve known one, in college; what a hot guy! Of vourse, that may be the kicker, right there. he knoew that Gordon too and he may remember my reaction to that Gordon!

    But I do think he’s great, strong, handsome and he really does sound fresh again!
    Gordon gets a huge :thumbsup: from me. 😀