Where did the baby name Trapper come from in 1975?

The character Trapper John from the TV series "M*A*S*H" (1972-1983)
Trapper John from “M*A*S*H

The rather modern-sounding baby name Trapper debuted in the data in 1975:

  • 1977: 6 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1976: 11 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1975: 11 baby boys named Trapper [debut]
  • 1974: unlisted
  • 1973: unlisted

My initial thought on this one was Trapper Keepers, but they weren’t introduced until later in the decade.

An explanation that makes much more sense is television: the M*A*S*H character Trapper John (played by Wayne Rogers). The character’s full name Captain “Trapper” John Francis Xavier McIntyre, M.D.

How did he get his nickname? Here’s how the character Hawkeye explained it in the original M*A*S*H novel by Richard Hooker:

“When the conductor caught him in there [the bathroom of a Boston & Maine train] with his Winter Carnival date she screamed, ‘He trapped me!” and that’s how he got his name.”

Trapper was a lead character during the first three seasons (1972-1975) of the popular show, which followed a team of Army doctors and support staff stationed in South Korea during the Korean War.

In the fourth season’s hour-long first episode (aired Sept. 1975), Trapper had just been discharged from the Army. I think this emotional episode about Trapper (but not featuring Trapper) is what influenced the name in 1975 specifically.

A few years later, the character got his own show: Trapper John, M.D. (1979-1986). And, right on cue, the usage of the name “Trapper” increased.

  • 1981: 34 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1980: 32 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1979: 19 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1978: 5 baby boys named Trapper
  • 1977: 6 baby boys named Trapper

What are your thoughts on the baby name Trapper? Do you like it more or less than, say, Hawkeye? (The name “Hawkeye” didn’t show up in the data until 2012, btw.)

Source: Hooker, Richard. M*A*S*H. NY: William Morrow & Company, 1968.

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