He brings to mind birds, a comic book sidekick and a bear.

Thanks to Bewildertrix and H. for suggesting Robin as Name of the Day.

Robin started out as a diminutive for Robert, in Norman England. Robert remains a classic today, but at #49, has fallen from his former #1 status.

Scholars disagree if Sherwood Forest’s charitable outlaw, Robin Hood, was real or not. The name appears in the historical record as early as the 1200s, but that’s more about how very common Robert/Robin and Hood were at the time. The adventure tales surface in the early fifteenth century. Some suggest that Robin Hood started out as a generic term for any criminal.

In the US, Robert held the #1 spot in the 1920s and 30s. Robin charted from the 20s right through 1999, peaking at #143 in 1956.

Some parents may have been inspired by fictional character Christopher Robin, a name author A.A. Milne borrowed from his own son for the boy who kept time with the ursine hero of 1926’s Winnie-the-Pooh.

Robin debuted as Batman’s comic book sidekick back in 1940, not long after the series began. He was a staple from the 1960s TV show into recent years – though he was not included in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

In music, Bobby Day scored his only hit with Rockin Robin’ in 1958; in 1972, it returned to the charts as an early Michael Jackson single.

You’ll spot the red-breasted bird in Europe, Australia and North America, though they’re actually different birds that just happen to share red feathers on their tums. The American Robin is a songbird and the state bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin. They’re plentiful elsewhere, too – we had robins nest in our tiny herb garden last spring here in Maryland.

Other notable Robins include:

  • Musical Robins, like Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, Procul Harum’s Robin Trower and indie legend Robyn Hitchcock;
  • Funnyman Robin Williams;
  • New York Times best selling doctor-turned-author Robin Cook;
  • Athletic Robins, from the figure skating Robin Cousins to stand-outs in track and field, weightlifting, cricket and baseball.

Robin entered the girls’ Top 1000 back in 1932, and peaked at #25 in the early 60s. If there was a literary or lyrical event that propelled her use for daughters, I can’t find it. Plenty of real Robins followed – from Robin Wright-Penn of Princess Bride fame to soap opera daughter Robin Scorpio on General Hospital. She may have been the most appealing way to name a daughter after a male relative called Robert – though Bobbie and Roberta were also in use.

If Robin had no history, it is easy to imagine parents inventing him in 2009 – think of popular picks like Gavin, Kevin, Justin, Austin, Devin, Colin, Griffin and the equally avian Corbin. He fits right in. With Robert at his least popular since the rankings started – plenty of parents may be seeking a fresh way to get to Rob. And with moms and dads reclaiming Ashley and Kelly for Team Blue, Robin seems just as likely a candidate.

Robin would take some daring to use, but overall? Robin rocks.

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. Just named my son Robin, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s so perfect for him, and I love that it is both classic *and* rare today. I also think his generation will think it perfectly normal as a boy’s name, even if my generation thinks of it as a girl’s name. Also, the new Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe coming out in April should help remind people of the masculine Robins of the world! 🙂

    1. Russell Crowe as Robin Hood! Well, we all know what he did for Maximus. 🙂

      Congrats on your new son!

  2. I’ve always loved Robin for a boy. If I were to name my son Robert [since I know so many, this would only happen if I were honoring someone specific], I would call him Robin.

  3. I adore Robin, primarily on a boy, though it doesn’t bother me on a girl (mostly because of the bird). I’d use it for a son if my husband would let me… Alas, it isn’t meant to me. I also love Dana and Kelly on boys, too.

    Count me a Robin fan 🙂

    The only thing I don’t like is the obvious robbin’ sound of it.., lazy robbing.

  4. I’ve known a number of Robins – all my age (30s) – all female. One in particular is one of the most difficult humans I’ve ever run across. Robin is like Jamie, though, I have no issues with it on either gender. (Even after my time in England, I have a little more trouble with Ashley sounding whole-heartedly male and Kelly works on a man if he’s Irish, but otherwise it seems a bit odd in my ears, by contrast. Too much exposure to these names on girls rather than boys.) I also think that the possibility that the child could go by Rob makes it a little easier to wear up-front on a boy. Another way that Robin is like Jamie, for me, is that I’m altogether ho-hum about the name. It’s fine but not compelling.

  5. WANT to use! Want to use for this child. Don’t have the ovaries right now. Middle name idea along with Ashley and Kelly.

    Undoubtedly an ultra fresh pick for a boy here. Actually, I never see it on young girls either so bonus points for that.

    I detest the Robyn spelling which is the ‘default female spelling’ here in NZ.

  6. Robin is very dated and boring to me, though when it was fresh, I can understand the appeal the parents saw.

  7. I’ve been watching Robin Hood on BBC so I’ve developed a bit of a crush on it. Sadly, I know a female Robin who has ruined the name for me. I think it would be a lovely surprise to meet a little boy Robin.