The baby name Warren feels traditional, but not quite classic. And it could be prime for revival, too.
Thanks to Photoquilty for suggesting our Baby Name of the Day, and to Sarah for requesting an update.
The baby name Warren conjures up a host of solid citizens.
There’s former California governor and Chief Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren; fellow Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger; President Warren G. Harding and investment guru Warren Buffet.
It’s a given name and surname at home in the history books. Not William or James, but somehow tough to tie to a particular era.
BY THE NUMBERS
The baby name Warren charts in the US Top 1000 every single year.
Of course, it peaked at #24 in 1921. Odds are the Warrens you know will be well past driving age, and possibly post-retirement.
But then again, maybe not. Because the baby name Warren stood at a chilly #514 in 2008, when this post debuted. It has since climbed to #349.
That’s still a ways from the Top 100, but it’s also far from obscure.
LA VARRENE + OTHER ORIGINS
So where does the baby name Warren originate?
It may be a French place name whispered down the alley from La Varrene to Warren. After all. plenty of Norman names transformed in English. La Varenne is the name of two tiny towns in France; it probably originally referred to the type of soil in the original settlement. (Varennes is even more common on the map in France and beyond.)
Or possibly it comes from an occupational name. The Old French warenne meant game park – an enclosed space for breeding animals. It may have derived from the Gaulish word varros – fence post – or the Germanic element war – to protect. There’s even an Germanic name, Warin, in use by the 1100s.
Eventually, rabbits became the most common animals bred in warrens, and so a warren is also used to describe close living quarters. (Apparently bunnies don’t need much by way of elbow room.)
HARDING, WARREN G + OTHER FAMOUS FIGURES
In any case, we’ve been using the baby name Warren as a first – and last – for generations.
Warren Gamaliel Harding won the presidency in 1921, so it is tempting to group this name with Carter, Kennedy, and Reagan. Except … if you know your American History 101, Harding is linked to the Teapot Dome scandal.
His election helped boost the already-popular name to its peak. But he might be the reason the name fell, too.
Other associations with the baby name Warren include:
Joseph Warren of the American Revolution. A doctor by training, Warren became a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Among his contributions? Dispatching Paul Revere on his midnight ride. He died at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Financial guru and noted philanthropist Warren Buffet. He remains a widely-respected figure, known as the Oracle of Omaha. (As in Nebraska. Omaha is his hometown.)
Hollywood leading man Warren Beatty. The actor lends the name some glam. After all, Beatty has been nominated for four Best Actor Oscars … and that’s just a start.
Rapper Warren G. scored a smash hit in 1994 with “Regulate.” And honestly? Warren G. might be the more familiar Warren to parents today. Born Warren Griffin III, the rapper helps make the case that this name will endure.
There’s also singer Warren Zevon, former Supreme Court Chiefs Justice Warren Burger and Earl Warren, Hall of Fame athletes Moon and Sapp (NFL) and Spahn (MLB), plus Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The first version of this post, published in 2009, described the baby name Warren as midway between “Walter and Calvin.” That still sounds about right.
Neither trendy nor out-of-step, familiar as a surname and a first, the baby name Warren is completely unexpected and instantly familiar – all at the same time.
What do you think of the baby name Warren?
First published on April 23, 2009, this post was revised substantially and republished on March 16, 2021.
And now I know where the name for a rabbit burrow comes from. I like Warren, though I can’t say I love him. One of my favorite uses: a character on the movie Sky High was named Warren Peace. I love puns. It’s right up there with Justin Case.
Rabbit burrows and tenement housing estates. Sorry, I can’t see any appeal. It’s similarity to Wayne is also off putting. I will borrow SophieGray’s term “bogan-ish”.
You’re right. See, I don’t watch the movie much, haha. But still gives me the same feel…
Call me crazy, but I really like this name, and would even use it for a girl!!
nope, Warren’s not for me. I don’t know about his use in the US, but down here I think most Warrens are around the late 40s – 60s age.
I end up putting him in the same category as Barry and Wayne, and similar names; they kind of sound a little ‘bogan-ish’ to me (without meaning to offend!), but I have no real pretense for disliking him.
Bek, the ex-bf in Legally Blonde was Warner. Similar, but not the same. 🙂
Oh, Photo, I think of Empire Records too. Love that movie 😉
On an unrelated note: Lola, most diners are open 24/7 in North Jersey, but some towns have curfew laws that make them close. Mine was unfortunately one of them. But luckily we had another 5 in an 8 mile radius to hit up late at night 😉
Now, on to Warren. Not a fan. Oddly, my first thought is of Elle’s boyfriend in Legally Blonde, a movie I don’t even remember seeing more than 2 or 3 times on TV… But he’s how I picture a Warren – stuffy, pretentious and kind of aloof. I can’t picture a down to earth kid with the name. Seems “Old Money” to me, which really isn’t my style in the least.
I think it’s all right. It’s not spectacular, but not awful. Definitely better than Wayne, my most hated W name. I am immediately reminded of Warren Beatty, then of Watership Down, and finally of the movie, Empire Records because of a shoplifter character who said his name was (again) Warren Beatty.
I like it, but not enough to use it. I’d be surprised if someone told me they were naming their child Warren, but less surprised if it were the middle name.
I don’t really like it. Probably because it does make me think of a Warren I know who is well past driving age and post-retirement age (though he still drives and works…). However, I like the similar Orrin. Wonder why that is? Is it the ‘O’ factor?
First thought: rabbits.
But I actually like the name a fair bit. Along wiith Darren, it has that 1950s feel to me. But I’m surprised to find that an -ar- name is not really getting me all excited – it’s just a “fine” name, not something more. (Probably because the vowel here is more an “or” sound when I say it). It also doesn’t have much of anything in terms of nickname potential. For boys this isn’t a deal breaker, but it is a bummer to me. The other thing aboutt Warren is that it’s a very grown up name in my mind. There’d be something slightly humorous to me in meeting a baby callled Warren. I think it’s a solid name, but it’s one for someone else’s boy.
I adore Warren and have long thought that despite scandal & mismangement, Warren Gamaliel is the most dashing pairing I’ve ever seen.
I knew a Warren at one point. During the “clubbing” years where I’d leave the boys with a babysitter and go out with a few girlfriends on a Saturday night, run the gamut of clubs in centeral & North Jersey, end at a diner by midnight and be home by 1am. We’d do that two or three times a month. it was fun and I met Warren at a club in North Jersey. In a group of 7 or 8, we hit a diner up there only to be informed that it was closing in half an hour so the kitchen was closed. Now, being from Central NJ, where everything is open 24/7, this was bizarre to me and I think I freaked him out by being completely hysterical over this “Diner closing” thing. We talked on the phone two or three times and went to dinner & a movie once after that but that was the end of Warren. Too bad, he was handsome and sweet! I was just a bit too unusual for him, I think.
So it’s a fond memory. 🙂 (Sorry about the length of that one)!
I find Warren warm, happy and charmingly dashing. A little stuffy but not too much so. I do hope he makes a comeback and doesn’t vanish forever. I like Warren a lot! His solid, fuzzy warmness gets an enthusiastic :thumbsup: from me!