Saturday, September 27, 2014


Walt Longmire, played by Australian actor Robert Taylor

Since watching the TV show 'Longmire' (based on the Walt Longmire mystery novels by Craig Johnson), I've slowly been falling more and more in love with this name. A few years ago, all it made me think of was Disney. Now however it makes me think me think of a stoic, steadfast cowboy.

The meaning of Walt seems to point more towards this impression of the name too. Walt is a form of Walter, a Germanic name meaning "commander of the army" or "ruler of an army". Although with the empire that Walt Disney has created, there's no denying he must be a pretty good leader and commander himself.

The popularity of Walt and Walter is quite interesting. Walter was brought to Britain by the Normans and has been used fairly steadily there for the past 900 years. It seems to have been much more popular in the U.S though. Walter has never dropped below the top 400, and was actually a top 20 name until 1931, and a top 100 name until 1973. I've seen some say that thanks to the character Walter White on 'Breaking Bad' and a current love of "grandpa" names, Walter is ready for  revival. But can it really be called a revival when it seems Walter has never truly fallen completely out of fashion?

Walt on the other hand is a very different story. It feels like a largely American name, mainly because the two most famous bearers are American. One being Walter "Walt" Elias Disney (1901-1966), founder of The Walt Disney Company; and the second one being poet Walter "Walt" Whitman (1819-1892). But note that it's two most famous bearers are actually Walters, and maybe it's easier to understand why Walt is rarely seen as a given name. It is extremely rare outside the U.S, but even in the U.S it is by no means common. Despite being given to more than five boys in a year almost every year since 1914, it has only cracked the top 1000 a handful of times in the 40's, 50's and 60's. This is possibly an indication that the Walt Disney connection is just too strong for many to think it is usable.

But I don't think this has to be the case. One thing I like abut Walt is that it feels like be would fit in well with many names styles. He could be a cowboy with friends named Hoyt, Duke and Cord; a preppy boy who hangs out with Tripp, Ames and Spencer; a mate to Will, Rafe and Ned. I could go on, but all you would have to do is picture him alongside the names on your own list to see if you agree.

What do you think - is Walt an under-appreciated gem that deserves more attention, or does it remain rarely used for a reason? And if you were choosing between Walter and Walt, which would you choose?

1 comment:

  1. I do LOVE the name Walt. If it worked better with our surname, I'd use it in a minute!
    It feels easy-going, unpretentious, and reliable.
    For some reason, this seems like a first name that needs a harmonious middle name for when he's being called. "WALT!" feels too short for yelling well. "WALT ROY!" or "WALT JEFFREY!" or "WALT HOWARD!" seem easier to shout.
    I like Walt as a nickname for Walter and Walton... but not Wallace.
    GREAT name choice!