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Western Names: Meet Me at the O.K. Corral

Name Dropping

Searching for an unusual or rare western name? Get some maps of western states such as Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, and start searching for place names that interest you.

With the passion for using place names as given names these days, it's no surprise that many western place names are gaining favor with today's parents, who, quite frankly, are probably choosing them just because they're neat-sounding names.

  • Austin: The last name of Stephen Austin and the Texas capital, Austin has been popular for some time now.
  • Cheyenne: The capital city of Wyoming draws its name from the Native American tribe that called Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana home. This name was extremely popular in 1998—it ranked 68th on the national most popular list for girls.
  • Cimarron: Cimarron is a city in western Kansas and a river than runs from New Mexico to Oklahoma. Although it doesn't rank in the top 100 most popular names, it does appear on both the boys' and girls' rosters at a somewhat lower level.
  • Colby: It's a city in Kansas and an Old English place name meaning “the dark farmstead.” This name is riding up the popularity charts on the coattails of Cody.
  • Dallas: The bustling Texas metropolis is named for George M. Dallas, vice president of the United States under President James K. Polk.
  • Laramie: This Wyoming city was home to Fort Laramie, a military post on the Oregon Trail. It's not being used yet as a given name, but it's a good contender for the popularity charts.

  • Jackson: Another city in Wyoming, although most parents who choose this name are probably linking it more to U.S. President Andrew Jackson or to Civil War General Stonewall Jackson.
  • Montana: The state gets its name from a Spanish term meaning “mountainous.”
  • Reno: The famed Nevada gambling town is named for Jesse Lee Reno, a Confederate general.
  • Sierra: It's from the Spanish word for “jagged” and, as it appears in mountain names like Sierra Madre and Sierra Leone, is appropriately applied. In 1998, this name ranked 39th on the most popular list for girls.
  • Sonora: It's the name of the desert in Arizona and a state in northwestern Mexico.
  • Travis: Colonel William B. Travis led the battle over Texas back in the mid-1800s; the county that Austin is located in and a lake in Austin bear his name, which is an occupational name meaning “toll taker.” Actor Kevin Bacon and his wife, the talented Kyra Sedgwick, liked this name for one of their children.
  • Tucson: This Arizona city also lent its name to Tucson Smith, the character played by noted cowboy actor Harry Carey in Powdersmoke Range, a classic “B” western and the first of the Three Mesquiteers films. It's not on the name charts yet, but it will be.

Six-Shooters and Sunbonnets

The symbols and icons of the Old West are yet another group of words that can be transferred to given names. Some are already in fairly broad use as names; others are uncommon and ripe for the picking.

What's in a Name

Calico was the given name chosen by musician Alice Cooper for one of his three children. The other two are named Dashiell and Sonora Rose.

  • Blaze: It can be used to describe the white stripe that runs down the front of the nose on some horses, or a crackling campfire.

  • Calico: Although originally a cotton fabric from India, this tough, coarse fabric with its small flower patterns is familiar to anyone who has watched a western on a movie or television screen.
  • Colt: The first successful revolver was a six-shooter designed by Samuel Colt of Connecticut. Invented in 1830, this was the gun that was most likely to be pulled out of a holster during the settlement years of the Old West. Colt, the noun that describes a young male horse, is also an Old English occupational name describing a person who breeds or trains colts.
  • Dimity: This sheer cotton fabric was one of several used by frontierswomen to make their frocks.
  • Marshall: The keeper of law in the West. It's an occupational name meaning “horse keeper.”
  • Remington: Remington was a gunmaker in the Old West; Frederick Remington was the famous painter and sculptor who caught many of the images of the West that we know so well today. Actors Tracy Nelson and Billy Moses tapped this name for their daughter.
  • Sage: In this setting, it would refer to the low-growing shrub of the western U.S. It's somewhat uncommon as a given name, but it does appear on both male and female sides of the name charts.
  • Stetson: The 10-gallon hat made by the J.B. Stetson hat company, worn by cowboys in the late nineteenth century. The name is probably an Old English surname, meaning “Stephen's son.”
  • Whip: Born Charles Meyer in Pecos, Texas, Whip Wilson was the cowboy star of many low-budget westerns of the late 1940s and early 1950s. His weapon of choice for defending himself against his enemies? A whip, of course!

More on: Choosing a Name

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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