The baby name Raymond was once worn by medieval knights. Today it’s a little bit of a dad and grandpa name, but short form Ray lends it plenty of cool, timeless style.

Thanks to Lola and Nicole for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day.

ADVICE and PROTECTION

The baby name Raymond comes from Germanic elements ragin – advice or counsel – and mund – protector.

Germanic Raginmund became the Old French Reimund or Raimund. The Normans brought it to England in the eleventh century.

It slowly transformed until it became the name as we know it today: Raymond.

Several noble families, including the Counts of Toulouse, embraced the name during the Middle Ages.

SAINT RAYMOND

Raymond was familiar across Europe, and so several saints claim the name.

Two remain famous even now.

Born outside of Barcelona in the late 1100s, Raymond of Penyafort became a Dominican friar. His life’s work was compiling canon law – church regulations. His work remained the go-to guide into the twentieth century. He’s since been recognized as a saint, and the patron saint of canon lawyers.

Around the same time, Raymond Nonnatus ransomed Christian captives back from North Africa in the 1200s. When he ran short of cash, Nonnatus exchanged himself for a hostage.

The story of his early years is debated, but there’s agreement on one thing: Nonnatus refers to his birth by Cesarean section. He’s the patron saint of pregnant women. Fans of long-running BBC drama Call the Midwife might recognize the name of Nonnatus House, a convent serving the poor, especially pregnant mothers and their newborns, in midcentury London.

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BY the NUMBERS

Given the saints’ popularity, the baby name Raymond is heard across European languages over centuries.

But it was relatively rare for a number of years, until enjoying a revival in the nineteenth century.

In fact, Raymond has never left the US Top 1000. In 1880, when US data is first reported, the name appeared in the Top 100.

Raymond ranked in the US Top Twenty from 1908 until 1938, and stayed in the Top 100 through the 1980s.

That makes Raymond pretty common in our family trees. It also explains why the name is still falling. As of 2023, Raymond fell to #360. That’s not obscure, but it’s the name’s lowest ranking yet.

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

If there’s an image of a Raymond, then long-running CBS sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond probably defines it.

Starring comedian and actor Ray Romano, the show debuted in 1996 and ran through 2005. Centered on Long Island resident and sportswriter Ray Barone and his extended family, the show picked up many an Emmy Award over its long run.

It also makes us hear Raymond as a quintessential dad name, even two decades later.

RAY CHARLES, SUGAR RAY, RAY BRADBURY

If Raymond is a dad name, Ray remains forever cool.

Ray Charles – born Ray Charles Robinson – went blind as a child. Despite that challenge, he became one of the most influential musicians of our time, a singer, songwriter, and pianist familiar to nearly everyone. His work spans R&B, jazz, rock, gospel, and country. “Georgia On My Mind” is not only his most famous recording, but the official state anthem.

There’s also Sugar Ray Leonard, born Ray Charles Leonard – and yes, named for his mother’s favorite singer. From the late 1970s onward, Leonard became a dominant force in boxing, as well as a celebrity. He even won an Olympic gold medal in 1976.

They’re not the only famous Rays, though:

  • Author Ray Bradbury’s works remain widely read
  • Screenwriter Raymond Chandler created detective Philip Marlowe
  • Actor Raymond Burr was most famous for playing Perry Mason
  • Ray Lewis spent a long career in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, winning two Super Bowls

The list goes on, and gets even longer when international forms, like the Spanish Ramón, are included.

RAE and REY

It’s impossible to talk about Raymond and Ray without mentioning Rey and Rae.

The Spanish word for king, from the Latin rex, Rey has been heard as a given name, too. Most recently it’s associated with Star Wars, thanks to a female character from the recent trilogy, Rey Skywalker.

Rae is more conventionally feminine, sometimes a feminine form of Raymond, and sometimes short for names like Rachel. Compound names like Raelynn have fared well in recent years, too.

TRADITIONAL and SURPRISING

All of this makes the baby name Raymond solidly traditional. And yet, it’s a little bit surprising as a given name in the 2020s, a stand out choice in a world crowded with Henrys and Theodores.

Nickname Ray fits nicely with so many Augusts-called-Gus and Calvins-called-Cal. That bright A sound is upbeat and spirited, too.

Overall, if you’re after a name everyone will recognize but few boys his age will share, Raymond deserves a place on your list.

First published on October 14, 2008, this post was revised and republished on June 9, 2024.

Raymond

traditional & surprising

A name with medieval roots, Raymond topped the charts in the US until the 1980s. Today it’s in dad name territory, but nickname Ray is forever cool.

Popularity

#360 in the US as of 2023

Trend

falling in use

Origin

From Germanic elements meaning “advice” and “protection”

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?

8 Comments

  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.