Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tucker: the Man and His Name

When I wrote a post about using auto-industry pioneers for baby-name inspiration, I neglected to mention Preston Tucker.

Tucker, immortalized by Jeff Bridges in the 1988 film, is famous for the Tucker Torpedo  a model that helped bring many modern features to cars, even though it was itself a failure.

The man's name also was ahead of its time. Preston climbed the baby-name charts in the 1980s and 1990s and remains popular. It ranked 137 nationwide last year, higher than Patrick, Edward or Mark. It's more commonly used now than it was when Preston Tucker was born in 1903.

The name Tucker, meanwhile, is a more recent phenomenon, part of the surnames-as-first-names craze. It essentially didn't exist as a given name until the 1980s, but now ranks 196 (and shows no sign of peaking yet, as you can see from this chart).

Melissa Joan Hart (of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" fame) gave the name an additional boost this week when she chose it for her third son.

Lest you think this was a quirky celebrity pick, consider that Tucker is more popular right now than Peter, Harrison or Stephen.

Let's hope no schoolyard children figure out that it rhymes with something.