The name means small – but the best known bearer scrapes the ceilings at 6’5.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting today’s Name of the Day: Vaughn.
Vaughn comes to us from the Welsh bychan or fychan, both of which mean little. The originals would’ve had a two-syllable pronunciation, but both of the Anglicized versions – Vaughan and Vaughn – are single-syllable stars. Depending on regional accents, they’re usually said vawn or von.
Vaughn may have sometimes referred to diminutive stature, but was commonly used more like the modern concept of “junior.” David Fychan was Little David, David’s son. Even if he grew taller than his dad, he would still be younger.
Indeed, Vaughns can be quite tall. The best known bearer of the name is probably actor Vince Vaughn. Since he comes in an at impressive 6’5, we figure he’s never been called shrimp.
Speaking of the actor, we suspect that his visibility is a big part of the name’s rise. Despite Vaughn’s long history of use as a surname, it first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 2000 at #916. That’s shortly after Vaughn’s breakout performance as the fast-talking Trent in the 1996 indie hit Swingers. A few years later, the actor appeared in the 2003 box office smash Old School, and has been much in the public eye ever since.
The other Vaughn attracting attention around the same time was Michael Vartan’s character on Alias. As Sidney Bristow’s colleague and crush from 2001 to 2006, Michael Vaughn probably inspired a few baby names himself.
While Vaughn is definitely attracting more attention, his slow climb up the charts is far from marking him as the next Jayden. In 2007, he came in a comfortably obscure #737 – that’s about 300 baby Vaughns. More boys were called Lamar or Giancarlo.
Variant spelling Vaughan has never ranked in the US Top 1000, though both are used as surnames. As a first name, we think Vaughn is the more straightforward spelling.
Vaughn can’t be considered hot, but he’s undeniably part of a bigger trend. Ever since the 70s explosion of Jason, Brian and Kevin, many popular choices have followed the two-syllable, ends-in-n pattern. Today, with so many boys receiving a variant of Aidan, even the least used choices in this category can feel almost oppressively dull.
Parents are breaking new ground by choosing ends-in-us ancient appellations (think Julius and Atticus), sprightly ends-in-o alternatives (Marco, Matteo, Diego) and three-syllable classics (Sebastian, Julian, Nathaniel).
But some are also turning to single-syllable options, ranging from nicknames you’ll hear as often in nursing homes as on playgrounds (Gus, Max, Jack) to modern discoveries (Finn, Kai, Sage) to names best suited for baby cowpokes (Gage, Colt, Bo) or even brutishly masculine monikers (Rex, Blaze, Kane).
Among this group, Vaughn sounds like a strong choice. He’s got more history and versatility than many of the options. Writers, artists, politicians and athletes have worn it as a surname.
We think Vaughn makes for a strong, distinctive choice – even if your baby boy turns out to be a towering tall center on his basketball team.