RyderIt’s a surname name seldom heard before the 1990s. Now it’s in the US Top 100.

Thanks to Jen for suggesting Ryder as our Baby Name of the Day.

Ryder: Surname Name

At first glance, this name looks a little nouveau – a brother for Jaxon or Kayden.

But Ryder has roots. A rider was one who rode a horse into a battle – a knight, though that word wouldn’t enter English until after the Norman invasion. So Ryder beings as a surname name for a mounted warrior. Or possibly for a messenger who travelled by horse.

The German Reiter shares the same roots. And while the -ider spelling is slightly more common, there are good reasons why the -yder version might feel more familiar.

Ryder: Sport, Song, and Silver Screen

Red Ryder

Even if you’ve never met a child named Ryder, you’ve almost certainly heard the name.

  • Back in 1927, English businessman Samuel Ryder donated the trophy for a biennial men’s golf competition between the US and Great Britain. The Ryder Cup has become a major international sporting event.
  • James Ryder started his global shipping company in Miami in the 1930s. Now the trucks can be seen on highways across the world.
  • Blues legend Ma Rainey recorded “See See Rider” back in the 1920s. Rainey’s song was about an unfaithful lover – an “easy rider.” It’s since evolved into “C.C. Rider” as more artists have covered it, from The Animals to Bruce Springsteen.
  • Yet another artist to cover “C.C. Rider” was Mitch Ryder – born William Levise, Jr. With his band, the Detroit Wheels, he scored a bunch of hits in the 1960s, like “Devil with a Blue Dress On.”
  • Now – to the movies! If you know your A Christmas Story, Ralphie was longing for a Red Ryder BB gun. Red Ryder wasn’t fiction. It was a long-running cowboy comic strip, first published in 1938, and lasting 26 years. During the 1940s, there was a radio show, too – the one that Ralphie listens to during the 1983 holiday film.

Ryder: Rising

It might be that cowboy cool that boosted Ryder in the first place. 1960 was the first year Ryder was given to more than five boys. Westerns were huge in the era, from The Lone Ranger to Gunsmoke.

Ryder’s next big jump was in 1994, the first year it was given to more than 100 boys. Could actress Winona Ryder get the credit? She was the height of her popularity, starring in Reality Bites the same year.


The name picks up on so many trends:

  • Parents have fallen for cowboy names in the twenty-first century. Look at the current US Top 100: Wyatt, Colton, and Jace are all at home on the range.
  • Twentieth century favorites like Ryan and Kyle made the ‘y’ as long ‘i’ feel like a go-to choice for boys in the US.
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of end-in-r names for boys.

Ryder first entered the US Top 1000 in 1994. Ten years later, Kate Hudson and Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson gave the name to a son. Ryder went from #651 in 2003 to #341 in 2004.

The name has gained steadily since then, reaching #95 in 2014.

Today, Ryder feels like it could become a modern staple – not as traditional as Robert or even Ryan, but a wearable, current name for a boy.

What do you think of Ryder? How high do you think the name will climb?

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. Also, any one who grew up in the ’90s will remember actor Ryder Strong from “Boy Meets World” 🙂

    1. Oops, his name is actually spelled Rider. I think I like this spelling better…not sure why??