Sunday Summary 9.24.17How’s this for #namespotting: a baby Roger!

Okay, I’m 99% certain that I overheard a mom calling her toddler son Roger. They were seated one row in front of us in church last week, and I think I heard it clearly, more than once. I’d love to ask – and we do see them around the neighborhood from time to time – but their kids are much younger than ours, so it might be the slightest bit awkward.

So instead I’ll just speculate online, which isn’t weird at all.


Anyway, (probably) hearing the name on an adorable, curly-haired little boy got me thinking. Roger came to England with Normans, and was well-used in aristocratic circles for a time. Rogers and Rodgers are surname forms; Dodge, Hodge, and Hodgkins, too. But then it fell out of favor – hard – only to return centuries later. It features in American history, and gives us plenty of pop culture figures – The Who’s Roger Daltrey; actor Roger Moore of 007 fame; baseball legend Roger Maris. It brings to mind pirates – the Jolly Roger has been the name for the flag flown over pirate ships since the 1700s.

If there weren’t so many grandpa Rogers around today, it’s easy to imagine Roger fitting in with boys called Carter and Hunter and Connor and Asher.

But the name is off-cycle at the moment. Just 407 boys were named Roger last year, down from a peak of around 13,000 in the middle of the twentieth century. And it did seem surprising to hear Roger used as a child’s name.

Still, I think there are tremendous strengths to off-cycle names. They’re instantly familiar, but seldom shared with classmates. A name like Roger will almost always be spelled correctly. There’s something to be said for that, right?

Moving on:

  • The new Top 100 names in England & Wales are out! Laura Wattenberg has the analysis on the fastest-rising names. (Hint: the force is strong with these names.) Eleanor Nickerson has a comparison of English versus Welsh names here. Lots to think about – quite a few of their Top 100 could inspire American parents looking for that elusive familiar-but-different name.
  • While we’re in the UK, there’s a Florence Lillie Magdalene Victoria in the latest edition of British Baby Names birth announcements. We’re slowly getting to used to bonus middles in the US – my daughter has two middle names, and she’s not alone – but what do you think of three middles? Too much?
  • In praise of boring names, by Andrew John Martin. His parents’ theme? Un-memorability. He makes a good case for the conventional, but I wonder if this really boosts the idea that a bold middle is always a good idea.
  • Star Trek: Discovery debuts tonight! This time, the lead character is a woman, played by Walking Dead alum Sonequa Martin-Green. Her character’s name? Michael. Could it be the next James? Interestingly, there’s a longer history of women named Michael than you might guess. Emmy-winning actress Michael Learned played Olivia, the matriarch on long-running series The Waltons. She was often billed as “Miss Michael Learned” and said in interviews that her parents never explained their motivation for her unconventional name choice. One possibility: in the Old Testament, Saul has a daughter named Michal. Close enough to cause confusion? Maybe. From the 1930s into the 1990s, Michael appeared in the US girls’ Top 1000, and the numbers were significant enough to suggest that it wasn’t just a recording error.
  • Good advice on naming a sister for Poppy.
  • Oh, I think they really should use Arden Mary. I understand that Mary might strike some as specifically religious, but it’s also a significant family name – and that matters more.
  • New baby name blog alert: check out Lil Button, written by Kate Oczypok.
  • Contracted names are one of my favorite categories.
  • A fascinating find on the #WhereIsMyName campaign from the New York Times, via the ever-marvelous Clare’s page.

That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

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 quite like Roger too but here in the UK (not in the US I assume) it’s quite rude slang! To roger someone means to have sex with them!

  2. I also adore Roger, but I’m a big fan of the Who. Except, I already named my dog Daltrey… which might make naming the baby after the dog a little weird.

    *Daltrey btw is a rocking surname name that would totally work on a human baby of either sex too… if I hadn’t used it on the dog already.

  3. I love, love, love Roger (and have ever since reading the Outlander books in my teens). Perhaps the mom is a fellow Outlander fan? Unfortunately we’re cursed with an -er last name, so Roger’s off the table for us.

  4. With regard to “boring” or “common” names, I find it interesting that parents seem more and more concerned with their children’s names standing out in the digital age, rather than blending in. A byproduct of our celebrity culture perhaps? Although I value originality in virtually everything, as a young adult I personally found it disconcerting that when someone typed my name into a search engine, the (English) results were virtually guaranteed to pertain to me. (Thankfully all positive.) I had nothing to hide, but wished, nevertheless, that I could. I didn’t like the idea of being so easily found and “known” simply because both my first and last name were unusual.