Name of the day: Huckleberry


Huckleberries are the small, dark blue berries produced by the North American huckleberry shrub.

For a time, “huckleberry” was also slang for something that was small or humble. This slang definition is likely what Mark Twain has in mind when he chose the character name Huckleberry Finn. According to the book America in So Many Words, Twain said he’d “tacked” the name onto the character because:

‘Huck Finn’ was all that was needed to somehow describe another kind of a boy than ‘Tom Sawyer’ — a boy of lower extraction or degree.

Huckleberry also happens to be the name of professional poker player Huckleberry Seed. Here’s what Huck told The Missoulian about his name:

“That’s my real name,” said Huck. “When I was 7, I asked my dad why he named me what he did. He told me that he figured if I was ever famous – if I were to ever become, say, a famous baseball player – I wouldn’t have to make up a name,” he said smiling.

The name Huckleberry wasn’t common enough to show up in the U.S. baby name data until the early 2000s:

  • 2008: 21 baby boys named Huckleberry
  • 2007: 6 baby boys named Huckleberry
  • 2006: 6 baby boys named Huckleberry [debut]
  • 2005: unlisted
  • 2004: unlisted

The name has been in use much longer, though. The earliest example I’ve found is Silas Huckleberry Hartwell, born in March 7, 1839, in North Vernon, Indiana. And I’ve got few more from the 1840s. After that, nothing until the late 1870s (post-Tom Sawyer, which was published in 1876).

What do you think of the name?

Image: Adapted from Wild huckleberry by Bruno.karklis under CC BY 4.0.

6 thoughts on “Name of the day: Huckleberry

  1. Actually my husband and I are expecting and we are very excited to have a little huckleberry in our family! WE can’t wait!!!

  2. Have any babies been named Huckleberry since 2006 ?
    We have a little Huckleberry (Berry – to people who just can’t handle the challenge of a name that is so different !!) – and she is 3 years old now …..
    a beautiful little girl and none of her little friends have a problem with her name – the adults are a different story !
    By the way, it absolutely suits her !!

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