Where did the baby name MacGyver come from in 1989?

The character Angus MacGyver from the TV series "MacGyver" (1985-1992).
Angus MacGyver from “MacGyver

A few months ago, in a post about creative baby names in Latin America, I mentioned “Makgiber” — a take on MacGyver, the name of both the popular American TV show MacGyver (1985-1992) and the remarkably resourceful lead character of that show, secret agent Angus MacGyver.

It made me wonder…have any U.S. babies been named after MacGyver?

Turns out the answer is yes!

The name MacGyver made its first appearance in the U.S. baby name data a bit belatedly, in 1989:

  • 1991: 7 baby boys named MacGyver
  • 1990: 6 baby boys named MacGyver
  • 1989: 6 baby boys named MacGyver [debut]
  • 1988: unlisted
  • 1987: unlisted

In my opinion, MacGyver might be the best ’80s-inspired baby name of all time. Seriously. How could anyone with even a passing interest in pop culture not appreciate this name? The main associations are inventiveness/ingenuity, cheesy ’80s TV, Scotland, mullets, and possibly duct tape.

The surname is a variant spelling of MacIver/McIver, which is based on a Gaelic phrase meaning “son of Íomhar.” The name Íomhar is based on the Old Norse name Ívarr, made up of the elements ýr, meaning “yew” or “bow” (bows were made yew wood) and herr, meaning “warrior.”

In mid-2015, MacGyver — long used informally as a verb — was added to the Oxford Dictionary. To “MacGyver” is to “make or repair (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.” “[H]e has a shock of short red hair and a pair of rectangular-framed glasses MacGyvered with duct tape”.

What are your thoughts on MacGyver as a baby name?

Sources: How ‘MacGyver’ became a verb, MacGyver – Oxford Dictionaries, SSA

Image: Screenshot of MacGyver

10 thoughts on “Where did the baby name MacGyver come from in 1989?

  1. We named our son MacGyver. He’s a teenager and loves his name. Only problem we’ve seen so far is not being able to get an account on facebook. They were making us jump through hoops, so we gave up on it.

  2. @Donna – The same thing happened to me on Quora. Someone at headquarters apparently believed “Nancy Man” was a slang expression. I didn’t have to jump through too many hoops to get the account activated, but having someone question my name was irritating.

  3. I found that I had so much in common with him that when I was the right age I had my name change for resons I won’t go into. But know that peolpe here in england don’t know how to spell or say the name correctly.
    I now love my name and .

    p.s. thank I may be only girl

  4. My real names MacGyver, and I also had a problem with Facebook. I’m finding more and more stuff in common with him, I love technology and mechanics, and I wanted to be a Physics major before I ever knew he was! :)

  5. My name is MacGyver, I used to find it annoying but as I got older I got used to it.

  6. We have a son named MacGyver, he is 3 years old. I grew up with the show and now we watch it on Netflix. When people ask us his name, sometimes they say “like the show” and when we say “yes” they usually respond with a “cool name”.

  7. My son was born November 2019 and we named him MacGyver Allen Groves! Here in the US everyone wants to add a U to his name but for the most part everyone says it’s cool! It really fits his personality! We picked that name because my husband used to watch that show with his grandpa and it’s sentimental. I usually call him Gyver myself. But lots of people call him Mac.
    We’re considering a Chuck Norris themed name for his brother. Or Quaid because we both love Dennis.

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