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.