Siegfried is best reserved for Las Vegas lion tamers and Wagnerian dragon slayers, but this related surname choice could wear quite well on a boy born in 2010.

Thanks to Karen for suggesting her son’s name as Name of the Day: Seger.

There’s more than one possible source for Seger, but most lead back to the Germanic element sigu – victory. In German legend, Siegfried is a tough guy who wins fair maiden and brings down the monster. The German hero owes his story to an even earlier Norse figure called Sigurd, a name later worn by kings of Norway.

Throw in Sweden’s Saint Seigfried and the ill-fated prince from Swan Lake and Siegfried has history aplenty. He also leans villainous, thanks to a fleet of German U-boats and the comic bad guy on television’s Get Smart. But he does feel a bit much for an American boy born today.

Say Seger in the US, and most people probably think music – and not opera, either.

Charles Seger graduated from Harvard, taught music at Berkeley and Julliard and protested American involvement in World War I. He’d become a leading ethnomusicologist, but is probably best remembered as the father of folk music’s Pete Seger.

Pete Seeger’s musical career started in the 1940s, but he’s best known as an activist from the radical 1960s. Even if you don’t recognize his name, odds are that you’ve heard “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” or “If I Had a Hammer.”

Then there’s Detroit’s Bob Seger, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who hit it big in the 1970s. A few of his hits have earned their place in pop culture, too. “Old Time Rock and Roll” conjures up images of a young Tom Cruise dancing in his skivvies while “Like a Rock” brings to mind Chevy truck commercials.

If the idea of promoting a last name to the first space troubles you, there’s also a medieval given name Sayer, Sagar or Segar, brought by the Normans to England.

But it is Seger’s status as a trade name that best prepares him for success. A sawyer was someone who earned a living sawing wood. In Middle English, the term was saghier, bridging the gap between Sawyer and Seger.

Few musician surnames have entered the mainstream – Lennon and Marley might qualify – but occupational choices are as commonplace as names that end in -aiden.

The -er/-or ending has been heard in favorites like Connor and the newly fashionable Asher. But most in this category refer to a line of work:
  • Hunter (#54)
  • Carter (#65)
  • Cooper (#92)
  • Parker (#103)
  • Tanner (#161)
  • Sawyer (#225)
  • Tucker (#237)
  • Chandler (#457)
  • Porter (#481)
Throw in Bridger, Archer and Fletcher and it is easy to imagine Seger fitting right in while still sounding distinctly different.

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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  1. First thought Pete Seeger, then his sister Peggy Seeger.

    I love the association, as he’s a bit of a hero of mine, but I would prefer Sigurd to Seger.

  2. It would be SEE ga here and people would assume you named your child for the video game corporation. That and I want to sing “Against the Wind”.

    Still, it’s actually preferable to me than some of the other occupational surnames doing the rounds such as Porter, Tanner or Photoquilty’s mention of Thatcher. It sounds so damn filthy but I do live in the gutter. Can’t be helped.

    1. I like Thatcher! Except for the Margaret Thatcher reference. But my real love is Archer … too close to Arthur, though …

      But Tanner? Yes. I agree with you about tanners.

  3. If I were the type to use surnames as first names, this would make my list. I grew up listening to the music of Pete Seeger. I’ve seen him perform live, he came to visit my camp for a mini-concert, he’s pretty much a hero to my family. 🙂 By the way, his name is spelled Seeger. However, I’m not the type to use a surname for a first name, so appreciative though I am, I wouldn’t actually use it.

    1. And by the way, you left Thatcher off your list, another occupational name I keep seeing around. Blechh.

  4. I hear Seger, and I think Bob. Sorry, that’s it. I can get behind Sayer though; it doesn’t immediately look or sound like a medieval occupation.

  5. Well, I thought “Bob” the second I saw the name… and not that I have a huge issue with Bob (or Pete) Seger, I just don’t put them in the Lennon/Dylan/Marley category as far as name inspiration goes. I don’t hate it, but Seger isn’t for me.

  6. Forgive me, but I’ve got no clue how to say it. I’ve got a few versions going in my head and I can’t figure out which is the way to go… I’m guessing See-ger, though