Kramer, the Seinfeldian Baby Name

Cosmo Kramer
Cosmo Kramer

Did you know that the TV sitcom Seinfeld first aired 22 years ago today?*

One of the Seinfeld‘s most memorable characters was Kramer, played by Michael Richards. (Kramer’s first name, Cosmo, wasn’t revealed until season 6.)

Kramer was rarely used as a baby name before Seinfeld came along, but after Seinfeld debuted in 1989, usage shot up:

  • 1993: 57 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1992: 62 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1991: 43 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1990: 68 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1989: 70 baby boys named Kramer (peak usage)
  • 1988: 15 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1987: 11 baby boys named Kramer
  • 1986: 9 baby boys named Kramer

It stayed relatively high until the mid-1990s, when it sank back down to pre-Seinfeld levels. In 1998, the year the show went off the air, a mere 8 baby boys got the name.

The surname Kramer is based on the German word krämer, meaning “shopkeeper” or “peddler.”

*I discovered this via Twitter, thanks to both @armadillosoft and @smithsonian.

UPDATE, 5/25/15: Check out the data for Kramer from Washington state specifically!

  • 1995: unlisted
  • 1994: 8 Kramers born in WA
  • 1993: 12 Kramers born in WA
  • 1992: 19 Kramers born in WA
  • 1991: 21 Kramers born in WA
  • 1990: 26 Kramers born in WA
  • 1989: 25 Kramers born in WA
  • 1988: 5 Kramers born in WA
  • 1987: unlisted

Either they really liked the show up there or (more likely) something involving the name Kramer was happening locally around that time. I don’t have an explanation yet, though. College sports maybe? Any ideas?

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