The New Generation of -Er Baby Names

Apr 27th 2016


In English, the suffix -er spells action. Those two letters point to a doer: a mover and shaker, or at least a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. That -er energy and industry fueled a generation of popular baby names based on tradesman surnames. Today, though, a new wave of names is picking up on the action sound while leaving the trades behind.

Take a look at some of the hottest -er baby names of the year 2000, and their occupational origins:

Carter (hauler of goods)
Chandler (candle maker)
Cooper (barrel maker)
Hunter (hunter or birder)
Parker (gamekeeper/keeper of a manor's hunting park)
Spencer (dispenser, who distributed the goods of a grand household)
Tanner (tanner of animal hides)
Tucker (cloth finisher)
Tyler (roof tiler)

Image via Sandra Gligorijevic/Shutterstock

Now look at the -er names that have soared in popularity since then:


As a group, they're a far cry from the traditional tradesman of the earlier list. Yes, there are some occupational names among the new hits, but even those come across more like action heroes (Gunner, Ryder) or literary homages (Sawyer, Harper) than village blacksmiths.

Now a new, up-and-coming generation of -er names advances the trend. These new names may take their style cues from the -er tradesmen, but they're not "doers." They carry their own meanings and associations, from nature (Juniper) to Star Trek (Ryker), from prayer (Vesper) to rock & roll (Seger), all with an energy boost from the action -er ending.


Adler   Evander   Pepper
Bridger   Ever   Ruger
Calder   Fraser   Ryker
Caliber   Grayer   Saber
Clover   Iver   Seger
Copper   Juniper   Silver
Cypher   Jupiter   Thunder
December                         Kaiser   Timber
Denver   Kimber   Vesper
Dieter   Laker   Whisper
Elder   Leander   Wilder
Ember   Lucifer   Winter
Ender   October    
Escher   Ollivander                           


Read More: 66 Fresh Masculine-Sounding Surnames


April 28, 2016 4:43 PM

My son is Tr3mp3r. It's a family name and very unusual.  we have no idea where it came from. 

April 28, 2016 5:50 PM

Wow! I love finding out all the 'occupational names' that I can. This list has heaps!

April 28, 2016 6:14 PM

Gosh, I'm guessing Dieter is pronounced Dee-ter but when I see the name it just makes me think it's someone who goes on fad diets all the time. Are these all names that have had multiple births with the name in the last year?


By ejh
April 28, 2016 7:34 PM

Maybe I'm dating myself, but when I hear the name Dieter, I still think "Now is zee time on Sprockets ven vee dahnce." 

April 29, 2016 8:01 PM

Ivymae, I did a double-take on Dieter, too. That's exactly how you spell the English word meaning "someone on a diet". It's also the correct German spelling of this German name, but it's a demonstration that some things don't cross language boundaries quite as readily as others.

May 2, 2016 4:11 PM

Dieter threw me for a loop, too. I think it was encountering it in a list of -er words that made the diet+er pronunciation spring to my mind first. If I saw it in context as, say, Dieter Schmidt, I don't think I'd think of the losing weight interpretation.

May 2, 2016 4:59 PM

The one that throws me for a loop is Lucifer. 

May 2, 2016 8:26 PM

I didn't even notice that one, Elizabeth T, but now that you mention it, my mind is boggling.

May 6, 2016 11:18 AM

One of my sons is Springer, a family name.  

May 8, 2016 11:29 PM

Leander and Evander seem like spin offs of Alexander. That has been perennially popular, but not mentioned anywhere in this post. 

May 10, 2016 9:13 AM

Happy to see Ender! I would also like to see Alper, Ilker :) 

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