Parker Lewis Can't Lose

Parker has a long history of occasional use as a given name. Originally an occupational surname for a gamekeeper or geographic name for someone who lived near parkland, he’s charted as a boys’ given name in the US most years since 1880. In 2009, he entered the US Top 100 at #96, and in 2011, Parker reached #79.

Just like Larkin was a medieval diminutive for Lawrence, Parkin was a pet form of Peter. And between Spider-man’s alter ego, Peter Parker, and 90s Fox sitcom Parker Lewis Can’t Loose, lots of parents probably view Parker in a positive light.  There’s also Hardy Boys alum, actor Parker Stevenson, born Robert Stevenson Parker, Jr.

He’s a little bit preppy, a tiny bit Southern family surname: “Oh yes, my mother was one of the Providence Parkers” or “Great-great-grandfather Jebediah Parker first came to Atlanta after the War.” But he’s also in step with occupational surnames like Archer that seem so current right now, especially with that ends with r sound.

But what about Parker for a girl?

Indie darling Parker (Yes, it’s her birth name) Posey was named after supermodel Suzy Parker.

Parker Posey

As Posey’s star has risen, so has Parker for girls. She first charted at #875 in 1999, and has made a steady ascent to #502 a decade later, and #366 in 2011.

Two small screen uses of Parker keep me thinking of this:

  • In an ABC Family movie, Revenge of the Bridesmaids, Raven-Symoné played Abby and Joanna Garcia played Parker;
  • On TNT’s Leverage, Beth Riesgraf plays talented cat-burglar Parker – though her background is mysterious, and it isn’t clear if that’s her first name or last. (And if Riesgraf sounds familiar, it is because she’s mom to the oh-so-famous Pilot Inspektor, with ex-husband Jason Lee.)

I know many readers feel strongly that boys’ names should never, ever be used for girls, but in an era when the musical Harper and Piper are popular picks for daughters, it is easy to imagine some parents digging Parker’s nature vibe and thinking she’d be pretty in pink.

Readers, thoughts?

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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. I used to love parker lewis can’t lose but yet prefer it on girls. What would he/she Vd called for short ?

  2. I’m not a huge fan of Parker (boy or girl), I do like some -er enders though (obviously!), some surnames are nice enough, and while I’m generally not too excited about unisex names, there are some that I do like… and they are, admittedly, usually surnames.

    I’m in agreement with Holey that surnames seem like they belong to both genders equally and it’s pretty hard for me to come down to solidly on the “no to -son and Mac- names for girls” side of things these days, since I know a whole lotta girls with names that fall into one of those two categories.

    Would I use Parker? No. Would I use a surname on a girl? Sure, I’d consider it, even if it was “unisex/male sounding.” I like Harper for a girl… Linden on a girl… and if you go to the Elliot BNOTD post here on Appellation Mountain, I’m pretty sure I said I kinda like Elliot on a girl… I don’t like Madison or Addison or MacKenzie, but you know, I’d be lying if I said I *always* felt that way. Way back when, I really liked Madison and Addison… before every 3rd girl was called that… so it wasn’t the surnamey-ness, it wasn’t the unisex side of things, it wasn’t the -son ender, it was just plain ol’ fatigue that made me start to dislike those names.

    1. Yes, it’s mostly overuse that has caused me to dislike a lot of the names, too. Then there’s a few (Parker, Harper. Carson,Logan, Cooper, Wyatt, etc.) that have crossed into first name status enough that I like them all right. But, personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable using a really unusual surname, either, unless I had a family connection. For instance, on Nameberry, there have been a few threads of people who are asking opinions of the name Collins for a girl, after the character in ‘The Blind Side.’ I think that name is TOO unusual to use without a family link.

  3. Yep, I’m one of those who strongly feel that male names shouldn’t be used on girls. All I can picture when I hear Parker is a little boy.

  4. I wouldn’t really call this a boy’s name. Surname names – except the ones ending in -son or beginning with mac – should be fair game for both genders. I might also make an exception for surname names that have long been exclusively used by boys (i.e. Elliott).

  5. I love Parker Posey’s name, just flows so well together. I’ve never met a female Parker, but can see the appeal. Just love when you mention Larkin (my son’s name)!

    1. Oh, and I always explain that Jack is a nickname for John in a similar way as my Larkin is a nickname for Laurence (his given name).
      “During medieval times, the name John was altered slightly in the Germanic tongues to Jankin or Jackin. Out of that, we get the nickname Jack”
      Interesting stuff!

  6. My much younger teenage brother is a Parker. My daughter has a 3 yr old girlfriend named Parker. It seems to work equally well for both genders. In fact, it’s really one of the few surnames that doesn’t seem to definitively tilt one way or the other for me.