Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 11, 2010 and was substantially revised and republished on March 25, 2013.
Trade names are hot, and if boys can be called Mason and Cooper. Why not this equally workaday appellation?
Thanks to Corinne for suggesting Shepherd as Name of the Day.
Shepherd peeked into the US Top 1000 just once, in 1887. It takes some digging to find a real-life bearer of the name. I’m guessing that most of those early Shepherds were wearing family surnames.
While some occupational surnames are mysterious, their trades unknown in modern life – think Tanner – or simply forgotten – like Thatcher, Shepherd is transparent. From the Old English sceap – sheep – and hierde – herd, the name means to round up the livestock. Crook-carrying nomads have done this work for generations.
Archer might shoot arrows. Taylor is all about stitching. But a shepherd’s flock can be spiritual as well as woolly. The Latin term pastor literally means shepherd, and pastorem means “to lead to pasture.”
The parallel between sheep and souls isn’t new. The second century work The Shepherd of Hermas, remains an influential piece of Christian writing today and was once considered scripture by some. In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I penned Cura Pastoralis. Plenty of churches are known as Good Shepherd and Jesus himself is often depicted as a shepherd.
If you’re looking for a masculine choice with a healthy dose of spiritual sensibility, Shepherd is an option.
Notable bearers of the name include:
- Shepard Fairey, a street artist with serious high brow status. Among other notable images, he designed the Obama HOPE poster. Shepard was originally his middle name – his first name? Frank.
- Shepperd Strudwick was an actor from the 1930s through the 80s, known for a handful of small roles in notable films. He was born John Shepperd.
- In the 1950s, Shepard J. Crumpacker, Jr. served as a Congressman from Indiana.
- Shepard Menken actor graduated from the radio to other mediums, frequently working as a voice actor. His most notable role was as the animated, valiant mongoose Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in the 1975 film adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling tale.
Shepherd is on the rise in recent years. Chalk it up to two small screen influences: a television reporter and a space odyssey.
First there’s FOX Report with Shepard Smith. The FOX News anchor was born David Shepard Smith Jr. His career has progressed steadily throughout the 2000s.
There’s also the short-lived, but much-lauded Joss Whedon production Firefly, later reborn for the big screen as Serenity. It’s a blend of the Wild West meets outer space in the twenty-sixth century. Shepherd Book was a pastor of an unspecified Christian faith. Shepherd was his title, but his first name was never mentioned in the series.
Shep is the logical short form – but somehow Shep feels like a dog name. This name works best if you’re inclined towards nickname-free options.
Overall, Shepherd makes for a intriguing choice. More than 100 boys received the name in 2011, suggesting that he’s not completely undiscovered.
There’s also Shepard Rose from Southern Charm and Relationshep.
The religious connotation of Shepherd feels subtle and sweet. This is a friendly sounding name.
I am clearly a fan, My 7 mo old son is named Shepard! We often call him Shep. I tell people he named himself b/c before we found out we were having another boy the name just came to me and my husband was on board. Very different naming experience then with our 3 yr old son, Archer. Once he was born and we announced his name we found out my husbands great great (maybe even one more great) grandfather was named sheptzel! The kicker is my son looks a lot like Sheptzel!! Kind of crazy!
Now that is a fabulous coincidence – and a great name!
My son’s name is Shepard! One of the 100 born in 2011!
I absolutely love it and could not see my son as any other name.
I’m not a huge fan of people calling him “Shep” but I don’t hate it if he wants to go by that when he is older.
It’s gonna match great with him brother Holden on the way 🙂
Oh and he was named after my husband’s friend who died when they where deployed together. So it has huge meaning to us!
Love Shepard and Holden together – very handsome! And what a great honor name. 🙂
I love this name but spelt Shepard. I don’t know why it just’s looks better on the eyes. I think his middle name will either be James or William which our my brothers name’s. I agree with the person ( JNE ) that said it doesn’t fit with the stated occupation names for some reason I can’t see the correlation between Shepard and Mason but can see Shepard being in the same group as Theodore or Fredrick. It just look’s better to my eyes. All in all I love Shep as a nickname and I love Shepard with my last name so Shepard it will be whether people like it or not lol.
I rather like Shepard! I know a couple who named their son this. Their daughter is Ginger and I’m anxiously awaiting the name announcement of baby #3, because I admire their naming style!
Sarah A says
I love Shepherd!! I recently read a short story and the hero was Shepherd who went by Shep and I fell in love. It’s funny that I love it because Shepherd isn’t my usual style. I’m not a big fan of occupational names or surnames unless they’re on my family tree. I love that it’s got a religious vibe but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it (like Ezekiel or Nehemiah, two names I’d use in a heartbeat!)
I don’t think Shep is any more ‘country bumpkin’ than Lee or Earl, and I would love to meet a little boy called Shep. I think Jericho would make a great brother name for Shepherd!
Shepherd was my great-grandfather’s name — and so it’s in contention for us, if the little one we’re expecting turns out to be a boy. I’m on the fence about “Shep” as a nickname; on the one hand it seems unpretentious and down-to-earth, but veers a little close to the country bumpkin end of the spectrum for my taste.
For me, the family connection is what makes this a real contender. We’ll see!
I know of a couple that recently named their son Shepard. I want to say his middle name is David, but I can’t remember for certain. I don’t particularly care for the name, but prefer Shepherd over alternate spellings. I get the opposite vibe from Shep than quite a few of the previous posters. To me, Shep is rather a country bumpkin. I’m sure that has to do with the region where I was raised.
I really like Shepherd.
But then again I really like country clubby things, & I am very Southern. =p
About a couple of years ago, Zac Hanson of the Hanson brothers band named his son John Ira Shepherd Hanson but planned on calling the baby Shepherd.
It’s interesting that the Hanson brothers name their kids often intending a middle name to be what the child goes by.
I don’t mind it as a middle name, either a religious reference or a family name, but that way the child could “hide” the name if he wished. As a first name it’s too much.
Shepherd is very nice; I like it as an alternative to Christian or Christopher. It does make me think first of Jack Shephard on Lost. (That’s the way it’s spelled.) OTOH, Shep makes me think of the mechanic in Fargo, Shep Proudfoot!
From an episode of Frasier, when Niles and Daphne needed a baby name (for an application to a prestigious preschool, even though they weren’t even pregnant):
(Niles on the phone with Daphne)
Niles: Okay, so “Delilah” is out? No, that’s fine, that’s fine.
What are your ideas? … Taylor. Fletcher. Cooper. Tanner?
Where are you getting these, the Big Book of Medieval
British American says
It makes me think of Jack Shepherd on ‘Lost’.
I agree with UrbanAngel though, that with Jesus being *the* shepherd it makes it a little awkward as a name for me personally.
Shame about ‘Shep’ instantly bringing to mind dogs too.
I really like Shepherd. I could definitely imagine myself using it, but I’m over the adopted surname thing. (If it was in my family, I’d use it in a blink.) There’s something very Southern about it to me, even more than some other surnames as names. I think that comes from the Shep’s (Jr and Sr) in the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Maybe also b/c of Shep Smith who’s from Mississippi.
It’s on my middle name list. I think it’s handsome and unexpected, and I like the religious reference. As a first name I find it pretentious unless it’s a family surname. Shep has an annoying country club feel to me. I expected the name to have a moderate rise after Patrick Dempsey’s character on Grey’s Anatomy, but that probably would have happened by now.
I like Shepherd! Maybe I’d nickname him Pepper which isn’t too much of a stretch?
I prefer Thatcher though, but Shepherd is awesome as well 🙂
But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to suggest (read: BEG) you to have -Comfort- as name of the day some time! (and Remember, Morning, Clemency and Glory and such unused word names, but mainly just Comfort!)
Hmmm… too sheepy for me… I’m not a fan of the nn Shep and it’s kinda equivalent to naming your kid “Cowboy” or “Farmer” to me. I mean, I get that all those other occupational names are the same sort of thing, but somehow they’re not – maybe it’s transparency of Shepherd that you point out that makes it less usable to me. And then it’s very religious sounding to me which is off-putting. This one just isn’t working for me.
There’s nothing wrong with it & I don’t have any problem with people using it;but, it’s not for me. I think I probably prefer it as a middle or last name.It’s a bit awkward for me to personally use as a first because Shepherd is one of titles of Jesus, like Son etcSo,personally, it feels a bit awkward.In saying that , I do know of someone who named their son Saviour & they are in the theological field.
There’s something very ‘ good guy in a Hallmark movie who helps everyone out, whether he is acting in Cupid’s role or helping out troubled teens’ vibe to Shep, for me. Also, Lost might influence the like/love for this name.It’s done the same with Sawyer & Evangeline
Oddly, Cooper,Mason,Taylor are more first-namey as opposed to surname-like, to me.Surnames here are more along the lines of Du toit,Labuschnage,Viljoen, Van de Westhuizen etc