Rawr! Here Come the Bears…

bear, baby name, boy name

The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).

Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:

  • 2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
  • 2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
  • 2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
  • 2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
  • 2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice

In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:

  • 2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
  • 2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
  • 2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
  • 2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
  • 2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
  • 2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]

The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:

  • 2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
  • 2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
  • 2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
  • 2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
  • 2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]

But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.

Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?

*I assigned rankings to the E/W names the same way the SSA assigns rankings — breaking ties by assigning rank in alphabetical order.

2 thoughts on “Rawr! Here Come the Bears…

  1. The problem with the name Bear is the homophone word “beer”, to me a very obvious obstacle.

    But there are a lot of traditional Germanic names containing the name element BER(N)- meaing “bear” that are usable as well: Bernhard, Berwin, Bernulf, Bernward, Björn, Bjarne, and more.

  2. That’s true about the Bern– names. Right now, though, none of them are being used as often as Bear. The most popular is Bernadette, with 145 baby girls — well outside the top 1,000.

    The words “bear” and “beer” are similar, but…I’m not sure if I’d call them homophones. At least not in American English.

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