Now that everyone has discovered Miles and Hugo, what are all those hipsters going to name their sons?

Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting Roscoe as Name of the Day.

Today’s parents might have grown up watching a bumbling lawman sport this name on television. The Dukes of Hazzard featured Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, henchman to the corrupt Boss Hogg. Nearly every episode included Rosco in hot pursuit, only to get left in the General Lee’s dust as the Duke boys made good their escape.

If not Hazzard County, Georgia, Roscoe might conjure up soul food resto chain Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. Roscoe’s was founded by Harlem-native Herb Hudson and became a favorite with notables from Redd Foxx to Snoop Dogg. Despite the celebrity clientele and California zip code, Roscoe doesn’t pick up any glamour from the establishment.

If Roscoe sounds impossibly hick to your ears, blame the Dukes and the chicken place. But his background is perfectly ordinary.

The original Roscoe is a place name. He’s lost from the modern map, though you’ll still find streets bearing the name in Lancashire, England. There’s some debate about whether the place name or the surname came first, but all roads point to this part of the world as the origin, sometime between the 1200s and the 1500s. It’s still a surname in use today.

As for the meaning, most agree that it comes from the Old Norse , for the roe deer, combined with skógr, a thicket of small trees. For years, Roscoe was in steady use, worn by notables such as:

  • Nineteenth century New York Senator Roscoe Conkling;
  • Daredevils like early racecar driver Roscoe Sarles and Army pilot turned barnstormer Roscoe Turner;
  • Hollywood’s Fatty Arbuckle was born Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle – named after the politician. He was a huge star in the earliest days of the movie industry, commanding a $1 million contract. Arbuckle fell from grace during a scandal and died before he could make a comeback, but he remains one of the big screen comedy’s pioneers;
  • World War I Navy Captain Roscoe Bulmer and first director of the CIA Roscoe Hillenkoetter are two 20th century leaders;
  • Banjo player Roscoe Holcomb was a folk music legend;
  • We all grew up with Roscoe Orman, Sesame Street’s Gordon;
  • Buffalo Bills’ wide receiver Roscoe Parrish lends the name some athletic flair.

Roscoe peaked in the nineteenth century, ranking #117 in 1888. He fell slowly from the 1920s on, leaving the rankings entirely after 1978.

Instead of heading for obscurity, today Roscoe is being rediscovered by the most daring of baby namers. Nameberry dubbed him a Rising Hipster choice. And the next generation of parents might think not of the General Lee, but of Radio Free Roscoe, a Canadian import than ran on TeenNick. None of the kids wore the name – they attended Henry Roscoe High, where they set up a pirate radio station.

For parents disappointed to discover that Oscar, Leo and Asher are mainstream, Roscoe could be an alternative. His roots run deep, but he’s just a little bit different, too.

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. Happily Roscoe not lost from the map! Look for Roscoe Low in Lancashire. Low comes from Old Norse for, surprisingly, a high place. The name is a remnant from the Vikings (from Norway) who settled extensively in the North and North West of England and parts of Scotland. Danish Vikings tended to settle in the South East

  2. I love this name, and was a top choice if my second babe had been a boy. Our biggest misgiving about it, though, was that we worried people would shorten the name to “Ross”.

  3. I really like Roscoe but my husband, who is a little older than me, associates it with the Dukes of Hazzard and isn’t a fan because he says that it’s a hick name 🙁

  4. Checked back to see if this stub had been expanded…I think the actual issue is that this entry didn’t translate over from your old site? I see “Today’s parents might have grown up” and then it stops. I’ll keep checking! 😀

  5. I’m in my early twenties, so fortunately I have no association of this name with the Dukes of Hazzard. In fact, Roscoe has recently rocketed up to my top 5. I think it’s perfectly on-trend with all the ends-in-‘o’ boys’ names; it’s got a sleek rockstar vibe, and I could see it on anyone from an infant to an old man, a janitor to a senator. I wish the Nameberry profile was longer! I would love to see what you have to say about Roscoe. This is my first stop whenever I discover a new name. 🙂

  6. Darn the Dukes of Hazard!!!…Roscoe was the name of my favorite great uncle…who was named after my great-great grandfather Rocco…My uncle went mostly by Rock and was a dashingly tall dark and handsome Italian man. I think of the ubber cool Rock Hudson…or my uncle Rock in a pinstriped suit and a fedora hat…Not stupid Rosco P. Coltraine and I HATE that people think it is a dumb hick name. I am a couple weeks away from giving bith to a little boy (who as of now STILL does not have a name!!!) and I have ALWAYS wanted to name my son Roscoe. BUT, my husband grew up watching D of H and REFUSES to use the name becuase of that association. What a waste of an AWESOME name! Thanks a lot writters of D of H!

    1. Oh that is the pits, Emily – so sorry! Would your husband consider using Rocco? I think Rocco is quite fashionable now, especially for parents seeking that elusive masculine name that will never be used for girls. But Roscoe is great, too – and I do know of at least one very fashionable mom who used it for her son.

      1. He would consider Rocco for a middle name, but it doesn’t work very well with our last name. I actually got him to agree to Roscoe for a middle name…Now if we could only come up with a first name!!!

    2. That’s too bad yo baby daddy didn’t like the name Rosco. I love it! I only meet dogs who share my name and that makes it so no body ever gets me confused with anyone else. I may be the only Rosco in the city of Seattle!