Everybody loves Raymond. At least plenty of people tuned in for the long-running CBS sitcom. But would this name wear well on a real boy?

Thanks to Lola and Nicole (aka Dirty Hippy) for suggesting today’s Name of the Day.

Raymond entered the US Top 25 back in 1896, and stayed there for fifty years. By the time Ray Romano appeared on the small screen as Ray Barone in 1996, the name had fallen to #133 – respectable, but far from his earlier heights. While television shows often give names a boost, Raymond fell steadily for the next decade. Today, he’s at #202 – his least popular ranking ever.

Given his current “ay” sound – think Top 50 picks like Aiden, Jayden, Caleb, Jacob, Nathan and Gabriel – we’re surprised Raymond hasn’t fared better. It appears we’re back in Walter and Calvin territory. They could be the next wave of revivals, but they’re not leaping up the charts just yet.

Just like Walt and Cal, Ray seems like an ordinary fella. It’s surprising to realize that his history is quite noble. Back in the day, seven Counts of Toulouse were called Raymond between the 800s and 1200s. Other aristocrats wore the name, including rulers of Tripoli and Antioch.

A pair of saints were also known as Raymond. Raymond of Peñafort was a famous 12th century canon lawyer. Raymond Nonnatus helped ransom Christian captives back from North Africa in the 1200s; when he ran short of cash, Nonnatus exchanged himself for a hostage.

The name comes from the German elements ragin – advice or counsel – and mund – protector. The Germanic Raginmund became the Old French Raimund, and the Normans brought it to England. Variant spellings were the rule during the medieval period. We’ve found references to Reimund, Reinmund, Raymund, Reymund and Rayment just for starters.

It fell out of use sometime in the late Middle Ages – you won’t find many Raymonds after the 1400s. He was revived in the late 19th century.

In recent years, the name conjures up athletes and writers – from boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard and NFL linebacker Ray Lewis to detective fiction author Raymond Chandler and sci fi/fantasy/mystery powerhouse Ray Bradbury. And no list would be complete without mentioning Ray Charles.

You’ll meet men named just Ray, too – ranked at #639 today, it’s never achieved the popularity of Raymond. But it is the source of a misinterpretation of the meaning. Some sites list Ray and Raymond’s meaning as “beam of light,” from the Old French rai. It’s a tempting attribution, but the word referring to a ray of sunlight wasn’t used until the 1700s – centuries after Raymond was well established as a personal name.

Raymond is also worn by starbaby Raymond Nicholson, Jack’s youngest. (Though he’s now a teenager.) And Ray/Rae has been quite the popular middle name for girls, including Mark Wahlberg’s firstborn, Ella Rae.

Overall, we think Raymond is one of those curious choices. Stylistically, he’s in limbo – not yet in a revival, but certainly a candidate for rediscovery. If geek chic gives way to clunky cool, Raymond could be big again. In the meantime, it might strike some as hopelessly out of date. But with his long history of use and that snappy nickname Ray, it’s easy to imagine this one wearing well on a boy born in 2008.

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. Hello!

    I know this is an old post but couldn’t resist to look up if you’d ever done a post on Raymond. I am a mum of a Raymond who was born a few months before this post – he’ll be 5 in a few weeks time. He’s named after his great grandad and yes I agree Raymond has a very jazzy vibe and that was the reason why I agreed to this name, it was my partner’s first choice. So far people have received the name really well – we get many many comments of course but most people think it’s a very cool name especially because my little fella is quite the “cool dude”. Someone once said the name choice is “groovy” and only one man ever – an elder man – turned his nose up saying it’s an old persons name. Well quite right but I love grandpa names. 🙂

  2. I know a little girl, Madison Ray, who goes by Madison Ray. Her younger brother’s name is Raymond, and their dad is OBViously Raymond.

    My great uncle is Raymond, called Ray, and if my cousin Gillian Grace had been a boy she would’ve been Raymond William, called Will or Liam.

    I don’t really like Ray or Raymond, but I’d say that he was younger than Walter and older than Calvin.
    And I quite love Alistair/Alasdair.

  3. not crazy about Raymond but it’s not terrible either. It’s funny how tastes in names change… My cousin has the middle name Rae… it’s after her father’s middle name, Ray.. so not just filler in her case… she thinks her first name (Amy) is too plain so she decided to call herself Amyrae… looks a little strange to me.. someone might think it is “a-meer-ay”.

  4. Following on the heels of Callum and Malcolm, I have another name of the day suggestion. Have you done Alistair/Alasdair? It feels just a bit too daring for me to use, but I’ll admit it makes me swoon. Would you believe it has never been in the U.S. top 1000? And it’s a variant of your son’s name!

  5. I don’t think Raymond is quite ready for a comeback. I only know of one Raymond, a hard living man in his 50’s. I think eventually it could see a boost but I still think it’s too early. I don’t think names ending in “D” are quite ready for a comeback, although I think we will see Edward rising on the charts due to the popularity of the Twilight series.

    Now, the name Eamon I can see getting big soon. Stylistically it has the sound of Raymond with the initial R and ending D removed. It also has the triple threat of a Celtic heritage, an initial vowel and a N ending.

  6. I think Raymond’s got a jazzy vibe. He feels rather bluesy, you know? I like him. And Ray is just all sorts of cool to me, there goes those jazz vibes again. You forgot Ray Parker Jr.! (He of Ghostbuster’s song fame!) Ray Bradbury’s a good namesake as well (although Arthur Clarke is hands down my favorite with George Martin a very close second) (hey, what do you think of Arthur & George?).
    Another, no need to be forgiven, not every name is everyone’s cup of tuna! 😀 For what it’s worth, I agree, Rae on a girl is just awful, especially in the middle. I don’t feel the same about Mae/Grace/Marie, as they are more likely to be in honor of Grandma than “filler” these days. My older cousins are May/Mae/Marie/Anne middles, the ones my age are Elizabeth/Elisabeth (me), Theresa, Patricia or Rose in the middle. the ones younger than me are Jane, Lorraine, Tessa & Catherine/Katherine in the middle. Not filler exactly, the generation previous had them as firsts or middles and they got carried on. Thier kids have other cousins first/middles in the middle and so on. For mine, I reached back an extra generation, to the Great Aunts/Uncles or Great Grandparents. So my kids don’t sound filler but the family link is still there. (I’d love to see who could call Sebastian, Ambrose & Rosamel filler!)

    Back to Ray. Raymond’s cool & Ray is cooler still. And I’d use him if my other half didn’t bark every time I mentioned it. Ray was his childhood dog (nasty thing, I remember him well) But wow, I would not only hug the mom of a little Ray/Raymond, I’d invite her over for coffee!

  7. I’m not a fan of Raymond, but I don’t hate it either – what I do hate is Rae as a middle name. What a waste of space. Sorry – I mean what a filler name it is! Rae, Mae/May, Grace, Marie – they all irk me. Not that I meant to go off on a tangent or anything. Forgive me. Raymond is very eh – I wouldn’t use it, but I wouldn’t roll my eyes or laugh at the person who did use it.