64 Baby Boys Were Named After Rambo

First Blood movie poster, 1980s

This one is the MacGyver-topper, you guys. I thought it might be Cheetara, but no. It’s definitely Rambo.

Rambo as in vengeful Vietnam veteran John Rambo, the fictional character created by author David Morrell and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the movies First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988), and Rambo (2008). The cultural impact of the character was so great that “Rambo” is now found in dictionaries. Random House Dictionary, for instance, tells us that the noun Rambo refers to “a fanatically militant or violently aggressive person.”

How many baby boys in the U.S. were named Rambo after the movies started coming out? At least 64, according to the Social Security Administration:

  • 1990: 6 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1989: 6 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1988: 9 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1987: 7 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1986: 13 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1985: 18 baby boys named Rambo
  • 1984: 5 baby boys named Rambo [debut]
  • 1983: unlisted

Believe it or not, babies were named Rambo before the 1980s. For these Rambos, the name was likely a family surname. The surname, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, is “an old one in N.J. and Pennsylvania colonies of the U.S., originally Swedish, sometimes said to represent Swed. place name Ramberget, or to be from Fr. Huguenots who took refuge in Sweden.”

How did David Morrell discover the name? By eating a piece of fruit:

One afternoon while I was writing, my wife came home from a grocery store and said that she’d found a new kind of apple that she thought was delicious. Apples were the farthest thing from my mind while I struggled to find that character’s name, but politely I took a bite of the apple and discovered that it was in fact delicious. “What’s it called?” I asked. “Rambo,” she replied. This was in Pennsylvania, where the Rambo type of apple is grown and appreciated. Instantly, I recognized the sound of force.

But in his novel First Blood (1972), he didn’t give us a Rambo of Swedish extraction. Instead, he said the name came from Rambo’s Navajo father. Strange, because the Navajo (Diné) language doesn’t seem to include an r-sound. Artistic license, I suppose. :)

Source: Rambo – Online Etymology Dictionary

One thought on “64 Baby Boys Were Named After Rambo

  1. Rambo is back on the list!

    The 2012 names were released yesterday, and they reveal that 5 baby boys were named Rambo last year.

    So the new total is 69.

    UPDATE: Rambo was on both the 2013 and 2014 lists as well. 5 more baby boys each year.

    So the running total is now 79.

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