Where did the baby name Daren come from in 1922?

The book "The Day of the Beast" (1922) by Zane Grey.
“The Day of the Beast”

We already know that a character from the TV show Bewitched popularized the baby name Darrin (and similar names like Darren, Daren, and Darin) in the 1960s.

But that wasn’t the first time one of these names was influenced by pop culture.

The first of the group to appear in the SSA’s baby name data was Daren, which was the top debut name of 1922:

  • 1924: unlisted
  • 1923: 14 baby boys named Daren
  • 1922: 35 baby boys named Daren [debut]
  • 1921: unlisted
  • 1920: unlisted

Here’s the SSDI data for the period, for a different perspective:

  • 1924: 5 people named Daren
  • 1923: 12 people named Daren
  • 1922: 30 people named Daren
  • 1921: 2 people named Daren
  • 1920: 1 person named Daren

What caused that spike in the usage?

A book called The Day of the Beast (1922) by writer Zane Grey.

Although Grey was well-known for his Westerns, this one wasn’t a Western. Instead it was a morality-heavy drama about a wounded World War I veteran named Daren Lane* who, upon returning to his hometown, began crusading against the declining morals of 1920s America.

The modern reviews I’ve read have been mixed or negative, and even contemporary reviewers did not seem impressed. One writer from the 1920s noted that the book was “mighty good reading as a denunciation, but not so much as a novel.”

So The Day of the Beast wasn’t a high point in Grey’s career, but it made enough of an impression upon readers to influence American baby names.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Daren? Which spelling do you prefer?

*Several of the 1920s babies named Daren — like Daren Lane Biggers, and Daren Lane Cantrall — did indeed get “Lane” as a middle name.

Source: “Book Reviews and Literary Notes.” Oakland Tribune 12 Nov. 1922: 42.

One thought on “Where did the baby name Daren come from in 1922?

  1. I will never be able to see that name and not see the two Richards from Bewitched (didn’t like either actor)
    Funny how something like that can “ruin” a name.
    I like Darragh better anyway (a character name for one of my books) Reise Darragh Rex Corrach -Traveling Giant/ Oak Tree/ King/ Dwarf (sound kind of like Thorin Oakenshield?? lol yeah I needed to take the fictional fantasy name and make it into a fictional “real life” name- I love name etymology!!!!)
    DA-rah
    Irish”oak tree”

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