While I don’t think Winchester will grace the top 1000 any time soon, it’s hard not to see the potential this ancient place name carries as a baby name. According to SSA data, this debuted in 2014 as the first name of just 5 baby boys; 9 boys were named Winchester in 2015. Expect to see even more in the 2016 set!
Winchester fits within several ongoing American trends. As I’ve mentioned, Winchester is a place name. Several cities and many more municipalities bear the name. Personally, I consider these two locations the most important – Winchester (U.K.), an ancient city that boasts one of the largest cathedrals in Europe; and Winchester, Virginia (U.S.A.), which was an important spot in the Civil War and the hometown of musician Patsy Cline. Geography always seems to inspire baby names, though the favorites change. Some of the big cities like London and Paris are starting to seem like they’ve already hit their peaks as baby names, though other city-names like Memphis, Cairo, and Adelaide are still climbing the charts.
The appearance of Winchester in the SSA data probably has nothing to do with the cities that share its name, but with Winchester-branded rifles and shotguns. Guns are “in” as baby names. Remington is trendy for both genders, ranking #299 for boys and #621 for girls. Wesson, like Winchester, debuted with only 5 boys – that was in 2004. Now, over a decade later, Wesson is poised to make a top 1000 debut. If the future is this bright for gun names, Winchester probably won’t be in single-digit usage much longer.
“Win” names themselves are apparently trendy. Winston is making a comeback (though he never really left). In the 1990s, Winslow was given to fewer than ten boys each year; now, it’s unisex! Royal Windsor is also unisex, though increasingly female. Even Winifred made huge gains in 2014 and 2015! Will Winchester ride on the coattails of these other “winners” to establish himself?
Finally, Winchester has decent nickname potential. You can call him Chester or Chet. If Winchester eventually emulates other “win” names and goes unisex, you may encounter the nicknames Winnie and Winter too!
What do you think of the name Winchester? Do you think Winchester has the ammunition to succeed like Remington and Wesson, or maybe via the impending success of other “winners” like Winston and Winifred? Or, do you think Winchester will remain rare?